‘Excelsior!’

Comic-book icon Stan Lee jokes with CSULB students in discussion of his life, superheroes

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Stan Lee was a guest speaker at Cal State Long Beach on Monday as a part of the University Student Union Program Council’s “An Evening With ...” series event. The iconic comic-book writer spoke about his favorite heroes and how he came up with them, and he also answered questions from the audience.

Photo by Yasmin Cortez

Renowned for his iconic comic-book characters and stories, and more recently his cameo appearances in various Marvel films, Stan Lee made yet another appearance on Monday night, this time to an audience of eager students at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Cal State Long Beach.

It wasn’t long before Lee started making his way onto the stage that the students rallied in applause for the man who introduced them and the world to so many of Marvel’s now illustrious characters.

“Now that’s how you make an ovation,” Lee said with a gleeful smile as he began the evening.

Hosted by the school’s University Student Union Program Council, the talk was dubbed “An Evening With Stan Lee,” part of an ongoing series that brings students entertaining and educational events.

Students were given exclusive access to the event, accessible to those who obtained tickets with a valid CSULB I.D. card.

Stan Lee was witty and playful in his responses to questions from both the student moderator and a select few from the audience.

He answered questions about his favorite heroes and how he came up with them, and he gave some detail on his personal life and interests.

“What inspired me to write for comics? I’m going to be honest here in my response– greed,” Lee said jokingly in response to one of the many questions. “If someone paid me to write lady romance stories, I’d do that!”

Observing a common housefly on the wall in the bathroom gave Stan Lee the idea for Spider-Man, his favorite hero, and whom he lovingly decided to “just for fun … give him a lot of personal problems, just like I do.”

Lee said he attempted to make his stories not as heavy in tone and more about entertainment.

“A superhero is like a fairytale for grown-ups,” he said. “I get asked ‘Why do people like them?’ People grow up with fairies and goblins … but then you get superheroes, who are just as colorful, but people identify with them.”

Other heroes he made but never got published included Father Time, who, as his name implies, can control time and The Destroyer. However, Lee did point out that a character by the name of The Annihilator will be produced soon.

As an aside, Lee said that a hero with the power of luck would be the greatest power you could have, “A guy shoots you, and he misses. How great is that?”

Influences of Lee include Jules Verne, Mark Twain and “every guy who wrote a decent story.” Lee joked that his mom would point out that if he wasn’t reading, he would go into the kitchen and read a ketchup label.

“I had to read,” Lee said. “I always wondered, ‘I had to write like these guys!’”

As advice, he suggested always being honest with yourself as a writer or an artist. Lee said to always compare any type of work to the best, and “that makes the difference between something that’s really good and something that’s great.”

In closing, Lee once again joked with the audience. “When I’m home,” he said, “my wife doesn’t give me as much attention as you guys!”

Lee then expressed his love of working with audiences by saying,“I wish you guys could hear me talk all night.” ✦

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