Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Interviews from 1968/74: Stan Lee on Critique; Vanderbilt University with Lee, Kirby, Trudeau and Wilson

I thought it would be fun to look back at two interviews: one from 1968, the other from 1972

In the first interview, Joel Scott for Critique, on WFMU radio, interviews Stan Lee about the Marvel Age and it's readers, who Stan says are “...sort of one big happy family.”

Later the same year, at Vanderbilt University, Stan is interviewed along with Jack Kirby, Garry Trudeau and Gahan Wilson, not a group you’d expect to see together.  Portions of this, I believe have been printed elsewhere, but this is the complete version.

Critique, January 1968 on WFMU radio

Joel Scott: Mr. Lee, what is with the Fantastic Four lately?
Stan: They are back on Earth after a sojourn in the stars. They’re back in their headquarters in New York.
Joel Scott: Have you always written super hero comics?
Stan: No, I’ve written every type of comic book: westerns, adventure, funny animal, war, just about every type.
Joel Scott: When were you born and about how long ago did you first start writing comics?
Stan: I was born Stanley Lieber in 1922. I started writing comics about 26 years ago.
Joel Scott: How did you get the name Marvel? Did it have anything to do with Capt. Marvel?
Stan: No, actually Capt. Marvel was published by a competitor of ours, Fawcett, in the 1940s. We had the name Marvel for six years (starting in 1961). Now, we have had many names and when we started this new line of superheroes (in 1961), we decided we wanted something different, so we chose the name Marvel.
Joel Scott: Where did the name Golden age come from?
Stan: When this new age started, the readers termed the old age, the Golden Age. We actually had nothing to do with it.
Joel Scott: Have you revived any of your Golden Age heroes?
Stan: Yes, Capt. America, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, but we have changed them. Take Capt. America, he is the same but we made him into sort of a Hamlet, always soliloquizing and having his secret sorrows and psychological hang-up problems.  The Sub-Mariner we changed from a wild Altantean to the majestic Prince of Atlantis speaking aquatically. The Human Torch we changed from adult android to a teen member the Fantastic Four.
Joel Scott: Why did you change your heroes?
Stan: We wanted to try a new approach. We wanted to aim beyond the bubble gum brigade. We wanted adults to read our titles and we did this through human characterization, humor and satire.
 Joel Scott: I don’t understand, how did you humanize the characters?
 Stan: Well, actually we tried to make fairy tales for grownups. Once the fairy tale’s outlook of the hero was accepted, we placed him into human society. We changed the illogical to the logical
Joel Scott: Do you think that it is successful because of the times now?
Stan: No, if it had been done 20 years ago it would have been just as successful
Joel Scott: Were you (Marvel) always on top?
Stan: We have always been financially a success but now the impact on our readers is different.
Joel Scott: Have you improved over the years as a writer? Have you changed your style?
Stan: I have always been a good hack writer.  I’ve always been able to write whatever has been necessary. For example, in the Army I used to write training films and I had never written films before. But they turned out great. I’ve written advertising, novels, just about everything. My style has changed only recently when we started our new line. The style I am writing in now is the one I am suited for, though.
Joel Scott: Is the super-hero your company’s only best seller?
Stan: No, we have several war books which are written in the same style as the Fantastic Four and they sell just as well.
Joel Scott: It sold just because they were Marvel?
 Stan: Well, that would be true for  maybe the first or second or even third issues, but it’s sold through all the way.  It’s just that our magazines are written pleasingly, they contain a large degree of satire, we avoid a standardized comic. All our titles are written differently.
Joel Scott: What’s your competition? Is it strict?
Stan: Well they sell more but they cater to younger age group and so as far as I’m concerned we have no competition.
Joel Scott: To what things do you attribute your success?
Stan: Well, our magazines are basically pleasing, well-written, beautifully drawn and we treat the whole thing as an advertising business. We are informal with the reader. He feels that he’s in sort of in a club. Sort of one big happy family. It’s a fun thing and we tried to make it this way. Also, we don’t write them for youngsters in fact, the only concession we give our younger readers is that our magazines contain no sex and no real violence.
Joel Scott:  I’ve noticed that none of your heroes get killed off. Could you comment on this?
Stan: Well, one reason is that they are too popular to kill off. We’ve killed off a few that we got a flood of letters protesting. So I had to bring them back.
Joel Scott: So far you have stressed that you make your magazines to entertain. I don’t think so. You do it to preach and give your beliefs and ideas to the readers.
 Stan: Our first aim is to entertain. Our second aim is to sell magazines. We are in the business to make money. However once we are popular, we do give a message because we realize that we are  sort of the “father” to a large group. We are well aware of the responsibility that we have. We have  run stories against bigotry and dropping out of school. We don’t quickly take sides, though we support the boys in Vietnam, but we don’t say we think we should be there. We just aren’t qualified enough to do so. We are definitely in favor of patriotism and civil rights, however.
Joel Scott: I can see your point. They worship and admire you. Especially the youngsters. You can mold all the young minds so yours is a wise choice.
Stan: We are aware of this.
Joel Scott: How do your super heroes now differ from those in the Golden age?
Stan: Today we have a different degree of satire and our heroes are treated differently. But our competitors still basically treat it the same. Take, for example, in our competitors’ magazines, if a hero walks into a restaurant and orders something, none will notice him. But in our magazines, they will, realistically, make a fuss over him and say, “Who is that weirdo.” In a nutshell we add more realism in ours.
Joel Scott: Could you talk about your villains and how they are treated?
Stan: Surely. Firstly, he has to have a power equal or greater than the hero because if he was weaker it just wouldn't be fair and we’d get thousands of letters thinking that our hero was beating up on someone. Also, his crime is almost always on a grand scale because of the Comics Code, which is sort of like the movie censor in Hollywood, which states that if a criminal commits a crime, he has to be punished.
Joel Scott:  Who is your publisher?
Stan: Martin Goodman has been my boss for 27 years now, I consider him the greatest publisher in the world. I am only the art director and the editor of the comics.
Joel Scott: Why haven’t you gone out on your own? You certainly are successful enough.
Stan: Actually, I didn’t think about it. Besides I’m not interested in working for anyone else.
Joel Scott: Are you the only writer of the comics? Can anyone write comics?
Stan: We have hired two really bright writers, Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich. I can’t possible do all the  writing. Not just anyone can write comics. It has to be the perfect marriage of script and art so the writer has to have a knowledge and feeling for the art. Also they have to be comic magazine oriented and a good writer. We have had professional writers come in and try to write for us and it just didn’t work out. There are many comic oriented artists who have no talent at writing.
Joel Scott: How does Jack Kirby help you?
Stan: Well, to begin with, Jack is the greatest artist in the world. He also is a great story man. He does all the breakdowns and basic plots and I dialogue. We didn’t start that way but Jack and I think so much alike. It isn’t the same with every artist. Some artists I have to sit with three or four times and sit down and type out a detailed script.
Joel Scott: Which characters are your favorite?
Stan: All the ones I am writing now Spider-Man, Thing, Thor, Hulk, are all my favorites, and I like Capt. America because he is such a big cornball.
Joel Scott: Have you done any research for say, Dr. Strange, or for any other characters?
Stan: No,  but I read a lot when I was young. I have no time now. We make up all the terms in Dr. Strange, etc. We create the whole thing.
 Joel Scott: What are the common fads among your readers?
Stan: Jean Shepherd, Tolkien, Mad Magazine, Playboy. I’m flattered that we are there too.
Joel Scott: Do you feel that parents are in favor of your comics?
Stan: We have almost no complaints from any. In fact,  many of our fans are parents. I could see their parents in the 40s but now we write them for adults. We wouldn’t use a word just because of we were afraid a younger reader might not understand, for example.
Joel Scott: Do you do TV shows about your heroes?
Stan: No, we don’t. We only give them the rights to use them. Gratray-Lawrence and Hanna Barbera. Our older readers, of course, don’t like them and the younger readers do. They are for the younger readers. We, in fact, are not at all concerned with the show. We are concerned only with the magazines. Most of our readers know this and accept this.
Joel Scott: Do you put your own characterizations into your characters?
Stan: Yes, I guess I do. I guess that when Spidey talks it is Stan Lee talking. I don’t think of myself as the Hulk, though.
Joel Scott:  Do you enjoy what you do?
Stan: Well, I work seven days a week and if I didn’t enjoy it would be hell. We live with these books. Every two days we do one book, you know.
Joel Scott: Would you like to get closer to fandom? Have they been mad because you aren’t available?
Stan: No, they understand we read all the letters and answer them so we are available. I hope the readers liked me: I like them. We want them to be friendly with us.
Joel Scott: Do some people think Stan Lee doesn’t exist?
Stan: Yes, in fact one of our competitors stated that Stan Lee is just 12 different writers signing one name. We, however, tell our readers exactly who writes and draws them because they like to know.
Joel Scott: Mr. Lee, one last plaguing question. Who is Irving Forbush?
Stan: Well, we thought up a name to wrap up a lot of humor around. It caught on and we almost find yourself believing in it.
Joel Scott: Thank you Mr. Lee I wish to congratulate you for making these books, and making so many happy with your realm of fantasy.



  Vanderbuilt University, 1974 Stan Lee; Jack Kirby; Dave Berg, Gary Trudeau and Gaham Wilson

Question: Mr. Wilson, do you feel your work has been influenced by Charles Addams?
Gahan Wilson: Who’s Charles Addams?
Question: Mr. Berg, if someone had a story for Mad and drew up the completed story with finished artwork and sent it in, would there be a chance of having it published?
Dave Berg: Not with the art. There is a pretty fixed art staff. But writers they’re always looking for. Type up your script, mail it to the editor. It will be looked at. They have a staff to look at it. Believe me, they’re always looking for writers. That’s the hardest job of all. Look at it this way: it’s harder to write a short letter than a long letter, and it’s harder to write a short story than a novel, and novelists tell me that the kind of work we do at Mad is the hardest work of all. Now does not make me smarter than them—it makes me stupid for taking the hardest work in the world. But if you have a script, send it. It will be looked at.
Question: Who is Charles Addams?
Lee: Charles Addams is the New Yorker cartoonist who draws those macabre cartoons. I gotta mention one thing. I was stationed with Addams in the army, and you know he always drew this one gal, a sort of Vampirella type, with the long black hair, the straight, stringy black hair. Well, I met Charles Addams’s then-wife at the time . . . beautiful, but she looked just like her.
Wilson: One of the great compliments, and seriously, yes ,I do know who Charles Addams is, and yes, he was a very definite influence, and all that, you bet! But one of the great things, and I’m very proud of this, is that I remember when I was a kid there was a recurrent rumor that Charles Addams was put away annually in a booby hatch. And now I hear the same rumor applies to me.
Question: Mr. Lee, when will you solve the problems of characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk?
Lee: Well, if I can help it, never. I’m sure Allen (Saunders) will agree with me that as long as these characters have their problems we hope that that holds the audience. I think all of you here are interested in characters who have problems, so maybe I’ll never solve them.
Question: Mr. Lee, who is your best-selling character at Marvel, and who is your favorite character?
Stan Lee: Well, the best-selling one is Spider-Man. Spider-Man is absolutely amazing. It’s been the best-selling one ever since it started. That’s been over ten years, and it’s never not been the best-selling comic. And I really don’t have a favorite. It’s like asking a parent who’s his favorite child. Whichever one I write at the moment is my favorite at that moment. But I like them all, really.
Question: Mr. Lee, as a satiric story, how do you think the idea of a “Student Prince”, possibly as a loser in a student/college environment, would fare in comics form?
Lee: Well, the funny thing is that anything is a good idea. I would say that would be perfectly fine. When people say, “Where do you get your ideas from?”—not just to me, but to everybody here and in any creative field—I find myself that ideas are just about the easiest thing. The original idea is easy. It’s then what do you do with it? Now your “Student Prince”—fine. Maybe I could come up with something great if I used that idea and maybe I’d fall on my face. Maybe Dave could take it and make it a great feature in Mad, or Allen could use it in Mary Worth, or Gahan in a cartoon. There’s no such thing, to me, as a really bad idea or a really good idea. Everything depends on how it’s executed. I hope I’ve evaded your question successfully.
Question: Mr. Lee, why do the monsters always have such terrible dialogue?
Lee: Why didn’t I stay home? Well, I don’t know. I guess you can have such dialogue if you’re being satirical. Maybe the dialogue sort of points out the satire. Anyway, any monster who has dialogue—well, you were being satirical by asking the question and thank you for giving us a laugh.
Question: Mr. Lee, how do you keep your head straight trying to keep up with so many characters?
Lee: I don’t. I have a lot of assistants like Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich. Every time somebody says to me, “Hey, Stan, what happened to so-and-so,” I say, “Hey, Roy, what happened to so-and-so?” Now Roy is the greatest; this man is all memory. If I were to write something, he’d say, “No Stan, you wrote that in issue #12 of the Hulk” or something. With guys like that I don’t need a memory, and that’s lucky for me because I’m afraid I don’t have much of one. But our stories aren’t all that authentic, as some of you have intimated, and the big thing is that we just keep rolling along and hope that there’s enough excitement and enough going on that people won’t realize how many boners we’re making.
Question: Mr. Saunders, do you write your strip in day-by-day pattern or in a continuous sequence?
Allen Saunders: I am a creature of habit and over the years I’ve found that the simplest thing to do is to sit down in my little cubbyhole of an office—I can’t work at home because there’s too much confusion and I might be asked to rake the yard or something—so I come in and decide,
“Well, today might be a good day to write a week of Steve Roper or a week of Mary Worth” and I write the copy for one week almost always in one day—that’s six dailies and a Sunday page. Then these beautiful drawings have to be done, and I go home and sit in front of the television set—I used to do this with radio because you could draw and listen and nothing happened, and I thought when television came in “Why, those days are gone forever.” Seems they haven’t gone forever at all since there’s so little on television that you really want to look at. I can still sit there in front of the television and draw. So I do the entire copy for one strip in the daytime, and put the sketches in that night.
Question: Mr. Lee, do you enjoy seeing the Marvel characters on television, and do the TV shows affect your books in any way?
Lee: Well, from an aesthetic point of view I think it’s horrible, because we try to do Spider-Man for an older audience, and on television they do it for the six-year-olds. I don’t think it helps or hurts. I think that the people who watch it on television don’t necessarily buy the books, and the people who buy the books don’t necessarily watch it on television. It’s a totally different market. And I was very interested in the television series in the beginning. I flew out to the coast, and I discussed these things with Hanna-Barbera and Krantz Films and so forth, until I realized discussing it meant nothing because all they’re interested in doing is pleasing the sponsor. Not the network, not us, but the sponsor. But the sponsor is only interested in the four, five, and six-year-olds who will buy the breakfast food or whatever. So it is such a totally different thing that, except for having the names of our characters, there’s almost no relationship.
Question: Mr. Lee, approximately what age audience do you try to pattern your comics for?

Lee: We try the impossible. We try to gather everybody together as our audience. But what happened is: in the beginning comics were read by kids from four years old up to about twelve or thirteen, and maybe an occasional serviceman in World War II, and that was about all. But little by-little, and I’d like to think since the advent of Marvel, we have been upgrading the audience, too the point now where just about every college and university has a core of Marvel fans. There are adults who read them, so it’s certainly not unusual to see seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen year-olds reading Marvel. To answer your Question more specifically, what I try to do in writing the stories is to get enough human interest, drama, good characterization, dialogue—as much as we can within the confines of the comic strip format to interest the older reader, and we try to get enough color and action and excitement not to lose the younger reader, and it’s very difficult. We’re always straddling the fence. If we get too good we lose a lot of the younger readers and we really can’t afford to do that; we need those sales. If we cater to the younger readers, we’ll lose the older readers, and we certainly don’t want to do that. So it’s a real ulcer situation.
Question: Mr. Lee, I was looking at the cover of this comic handed to me at the door, and it says “Approved by the Comics Code Authority.” I was wondering if that was composed of people in the industry or the Subversive Activities Control Board or what?
Lee: It’s like the Motion Picture Authority, really. Years ago there was a psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham who decided that all the ills of the world were caused by comic books. He got a lot of publicity, and he was really hurting the comic book business, and he was about to go after other industries in the media, so we banded together and the publishers appointed a “comic book czar”—not a man in the industry, actually he was a judge at the time. He has since resigned, and there was a woman who was head of many women’s organizations who did the job. There is now an attorney who has the job of “comic book czar.” Totally independent of the publishers, and we really listen to them. If they find something that’s objectionable, they tell us and we change it. But that happens very rarely. In comics, really, the most you can object to is that they might be boring, you might have read the story before, or we might have made a lot of mistakes. But I don’t think there’s anything for anyone to make a big fuss over.
Question: Mr. Wilson, how closely do you work with Hugh Hefner?
Wilson: Well, that’s very interesting. Hef wanted to be a cartoonist; he’s a failed cartoonist. He really is. He did cartoons, tried to sell them, failed. Actually, they were awful. He went to great expense to publicize them, went on TV shows, and in early issues of Playboy you find several cartoons signed “Hef.” But he went on to become a very good editor and realized he was a lousy cartoonist and fired himself. As an editor though he’s really the best. No kidding! The best I ever worked with. Lots of times cartoon editors will give you lots of talk, and it really doesn’t sharpen the cartoon. But Hefner has a really extraordinary ability to take the particular artist, and his criticisms will be supremely apt for that artist. Beautifully so, I mean he’s really good!
Question: Should a cartoonist be ethical?
Berg: On the Question of being ethical, Mad Magazine was in peril when a mid-western minister wrote an article about Mad which eventually turned into a book. It was Rev. Vernon Ellar, and the book was called The Mad Morality, where he claimed Mad was often better than Biblical ethics. He made the point that we don’t think things are evil, we think things are stupid. Now Mad was terrified that the “Establishment” was cheering us. One of the things he said, for instance, was that “underneath the pile of garbage that is Mad Magazine beats the heart of a rabbi.” Now frankly, I don’t know who he’s talking about, because I’m not a rabbi—a prophet, maybe—but not a rabbi. It really got us uptight.
Question: What restraints do you feel you’re working under? Are they political, or social or .. .
Lee: (facetiously): Economic. If something can make money for Marvel Comics, it is good. What’s good for Marvel Comics is good for . . . Stan Lee’s country . . . but I don’t know. As far as what’s right and what’s wrong, I don’t think those things ever really change. I think everybody has a different conception. It seems to me that anything you can do that doesn’t hurt anybody else and pleases you—that would seem pretty right to you. My only taboo is something that might be injurious in some way to other people, and if it isn’t, I don’t care what anybody says, we’ll go ahead and do it . . . unless we lose money.
Garry Trudeau: But how do you think such a thing can be determined? I’ve found that there’s a complete double standard as to what’s acceptable on the comics page and what’s accepted in the rest of the newspaper. There are so many subjects which editors feel should not be found with the comics—that it should be a tranquilizing experience.
Lee: Well, let me tell you a story about the newspapers. This may be a little known fact, but I had a couple of newspaper strips a few years ago, and it was a frightening experience. It was like Alice in Wonderland. I had an editor, who shall be nameless, and I remember I did a gag, and I thought it was kind of funny, and the punch line involved a pogo stick. I don’t remember what the gag was, but the two words pogo stick were part of the punch line. This editor, in his benign wisdom, said to me, “You know, Stan, you’re from New York.” Well, I didn’t think that was so terrible, but what does that have to do with a pogo stick? “Our strip goes all around the country, boy, and there are people who don’t know what a pogo stick is. You know in Slow Falls, Iowa, they may not know that. We better appeal to everybody.” And he told me to change it to roller skates. Now as I said, I don’t remember the gag, and you’ll have to take my word for it. This gag was not funny in the context of roller skates. You know, it’s like the word pickles which is funny, and the word peach isn’t funny. Now pogo stick had a funny sound. Anyway, he was the editor, and we changed the words to roller skates, and I might add that the strip was eventually dropped by the newspapers, and this is my defense: I was working for an editor who thought that roller skates were better than a pogo stick. But this type of censorship, to me, is almost indecent.    
            Whether the artist is Garry Trudeau or the writer is Allen Saunders or what, you hire somebody, I assume, for the talent they have, and there might be certain taboos. But it seems to me that if a person is doing something creatively, and he feels that’s the way it ought to be done, you’ve gotta let him do it. That way you either don’t let him do the strip at all, or let him do it his way. But I think too many strips, too many motion pictures, too many books have failed because at some point they were emasculated by an editor. And because the artist, or the writer, or the musician, or the actor, or whatever is desperate for the job, he compromises, he feels it should be done one way, the editor wants it done another way, and they compromise. I don’t think anything good artistically has ever been accomplished that way. And excuse me. I didn’t mean to make a speech.
Trudeau: Are there any questions from the audience?
Audience member: Would anybody care to comment on the connection between writing as an art and the art itself?
Lee: I’ll make this short. The art of writing is to write the story, and the art of drawing is to draw the pictures. Now some people just write the stories, some people just draw the pictures, and some guys do both. And if anybody can add anything to that .. .
Jack Kirby: I’ll grab hold of this. I’ve worked with writers and artists. I know that the writing helps the art, and the art is supposed to help the writing. Combined, they’re supposed to have an impact upon the reader. Some cartoons don’t have writing at all, and I suppose you can call that graphic manual art. That’s what makes them work. Sometimes the writing will make an adventure strip work. Sometimes, if you get the right man to write the strip, you can get a strip with a lot of impact. So the writer is necessary to the strip because that’s been the format all along. Someone has to write the balloons. If you’re an extremely talented artist you can write the script yourself; that’s been done too. Writing and drawing are both arts, and the combination of both fields can make a very fine product. They’re separate arts, but not inseparable. They help each other in the best way possible.
Saunders: I think a badly drawn strip is the hardest thing in the world to sell next to rotten eggs, or something like that.
Audience Member: What do you think of comic books like Green Lantern/Green Arrow which use relevance as a theme?
Lee: Is that for me?
Audience Member: That is for you and Mr. Kirby.
Lee: Well, let Jack go first.
Kirby: I feel that doing any story on a very serious situation in a comic book is wrong. Because of the restrictive nature of its own format, a comic book cannot do a definitive analysis of a given issue. It can do it in a general way, it can probably gloss over it or mention it or maybe devote a segment of the story to it, but it cannot give a definitive opinion of the issue. If I thought Green Lantern had done anything constructive in that direction, it would be fine. But I thought they couldn’t have given the whole story and possibly left out an important part of the issue. So I felt they were right by doing it, but they missed the point by not doing it in a different format. They should have done a bigger Green Lantern, a book of say 200-250 pages. That would tell a really good story on any given issue, and it would have meant something. Because those issues are not entertainment; they’re really problems. And I feel a problem should be extremely well-defined. A comic book, as it is now, really labors to put it across. Certainly, those books did a good job, as far as they went. But I feel they should have been given more of a chance to really tell the story. Because that’s what you want, if you have a serious issue, you should get the story, every detail. And that’s my opinion on the Green Lantern book.
Lee: Well, since Green Lantern is a competitive magazine of ours, I think the book is already too big. I must disagree; I don’t agree with Jack about comic books not being a medium for serious messages. I’ve always felt that comics are a legitimate art form, really no different from movies, radio, television, novels, plays, what have you. I think that anything you can say in any other medium, you can say in a comic. Years ago, when I was in the army, one of the things I did was write comic books on very serious subjects for training. I taught people how to operate Sherman tanks and how to avoid venereal disease. Very important subjects, but they used the comics format. We were able to get a message across clearly, succinctly, and briefly and very effectively we found through the use of comics. As far as Green Lantern is concerned, basically, I think the editors of National Comics and we at Marvel have basic, have a total disagreement in editorial policy on the way these things should be handled. I do agree when Jack said comics are entertainment; of course they are. Our purpose is to entertain our readers as best we can. I love trying to get messages into the stories. I love trying to moralize, sermonize, but it has to be done in a subtle way, in almost a subliminal way. On the other hand, at National they love the idea of their books being “relevant” now. And my own feeling is a personal feeling—they try to hit the reader over the head with their “relevance.” Their covers say, “Hey gang, this is a relevant issue. Look at the guy with the needle in his arm.” and they may be right, but it is totally in opposition to the way I feel about these things.
Kirby: May I add just one point? I think that’s one thing they did right. And I think that’s one thing the other books did right, is the fact that they do show that. I felt that, as long as they did do it, showing the problem as it is, the needle in the arm is the only way to portray the drug, the only way to portray the issue. Because that’s essentially what it is. There’s no other way to do it. Green Lantern from that point of view I think was good. They didn’t take any other way around the issue. I felt that they didn’t say enough.
            I wanted to see a bigger Green Lantern in a more definitive way to tell the real story of drugs. When the real story is told and people can take a good look at it and see what it’s really like, then I think the people who are inclined to slip into that sort of thing will hesitate to do so. So the needle in the arm, I think, is a symbol of what the problem really is, and if it’s ugly, let’s face it, it’s ugly, and we have to show it. And I think they were very honest to do that, and very right to do that.
Audience Member: I was wondering, I have a comic here, and it has these ads on “How to throw a groovy party for under $5” and “How to lose ugly fat.” I was wondering if these things were really necessary to be in your comics, for them to go on sale. Do you need these to make it economically possible?
Lee: Let’s try to dispose of this quickly. I couldn’t agree with you more. Yes, they are necessary in order for the comics to be financially successful, but they show a tremendous lack of judgment and discretion on the part of our advertising department. For years the ads in comic books have been a source of great embarrassment to me and as soon as possible I intend to try to upgrade them. We had one I thought was a horror, and I insisted they remove this ad. I didn't know about it until I saw it for the first time in the book that I was reading. I don't know if you remember it from a few months ago, but it said "You can be taller. Increase your height by three inches." And I went to my then-publisher and I said, "How can you allow a thing like this in the book?", and so we did take the ad out. Unfortunately, it's just one of the things we haven't had too much time to think about, but I agree with you 100 percent.  

1 comment:

  1. The Vanderbilt University panel is apparently from April 1972, not 1968. An interesting read, however.