Todd McFarlane's relationship with Stan Lee began years ago, when the creator of Spawn and co-creator of Venom was just a teenager at the baseball camp who stayed at a hotel while a comic convention was being held.
One of the guests at the convention was Lee.
"For me, Stan Lee, at that time at 16 trying to get into comics, is the Pope," he says. "Because every comic you buy, your name is on top." Stan Lee Presents. "All the books: Stan Lee, Stan Lee, Stan Lee, and how, oh, my God, here it is. Me, so I went to him.
McFarlane says that Lee pulled up a chair and stayed there for seven hours, while he peppered the legend of the comics with questions.
McFarlane eventually joined the ranks of Marvel in the late 1980s, illustrating "Incredible Hulk" and "The Amazing Spider-Man." At that time, Lee had forgotten the interaction with a 16-year-old nerd who played baseball, but the memory I never left McFarlane. He said that the day the Marvel boss treated him "like royalty" is still "cemented" in his brain.
"I see the giant he is, both from a creative point of view and more from my point of view," he says. "Just the way he interacts with fans, and the way he treated people and how he was kind enough to give me seven hours of time when he was 16. He tried to do almost the same, but condensed it into fragments 30 seconds for each person in front of him, his energy level was really amazing, and I think it's part of the reason why if he started acting like an old man in the end here, we forgot that he was. "
Lee died on Monday at the age of 95. A month before his death, McFarlane visited the comic book veteran, concerned about the recent headlines alleging financial problems within Lee's estate. During the visit, one of Lee's requests regarding his deceased wife, Joan, affected McFarlane.
"A couple of times [during my visit] He would say: "Todd, I just want to go see Joanie & # 39; "says McFarlane." Near the end a bit, he [said]"I just want to see Joanie." So I hope that, depending on the spirituality of all, whatever it is that people believe, I hope that I have achieved that desire. "
In an interview with HuffPost, McFarlane talked about his last visit with Lee, providing an insight into the life of a legend that even his most fervent fanatics might not know.
So, how was your visit with Stan a month ago?
He was in his house every time he came to Los Angeles. I tried to do everything possible, if I was awake or at home, go by and say "hello" only for 10 to 20 minutes. It was great to give people stories. I had a thousand stories. That's a great thing about having a long life: you get great stories. Even when I was on stage with him, I told this story to everyone, and I was deeply entertained. When we were in the car together, he told stories. And then he would go to his house, it would be a private place and he would tell stories.
The last time I went to see him, I noticed that the tables had rotated a bit. I could see that he was tired. The energy was not there, so I said, "Hey, Stan, you know what, you're always telling me stories, let me tell you some crazy stories about my life and my wife and my career a bit, and I can lighten your load here during one hour ". One thing that is not attractive when you turn 95 is that the body has a tendency to betray you a bit. His eyesight was getting very bad and his hearing, so it was a frustration for him, especially with the loss of his wife a year earlier. "I can not enjoy life, I can not even see it, and by the way, even if I want to enjoy it, my wife is not here anymore." But I suppose that is not something totally unique for people who live as much as he does.
I also know people who think that what they did was silly. Because it was such a high energy, you go, ah, he gets like this in this kind of act. I got off the plane sometimes and he met me and we shared the taxi ride where we were going, and he just left, he had recordings of him, just joking and telling jokes [with] Me being the butt of their stories. Like: "I do not understand why you're here, I'm the nicest of the two, this is going to be such a terrible panel with you in it," and blah blah blah. Something of what I had heard before, but as I said, I marvel. I have a father who still has a lot of energy, so I marvel at the people who still see the glass of the world half full.
With the headlines we have seen about their heritage, how was it to visit it?
Besides being a dear friend, the other agenda was simply to make sure this old man was good, right? My father is still alive, so he was probably projecting because, again, you're in business here. You read all the stories. Where do reality and fiction begin? I was in the middle of all that, so maybe one day I'll tell my story, but I'm just going, I have to go see to make sure that when different people were close to him, he was at least being treated with the reverence that A man 90 years old should have done it. Only common decency. I just hoped he was comfortable with common decency. That is all.
Everything else, that he was Stan Lee and everything else, was secondary to me. I wish he was not there. I wish I had left saying: "I had a beautiful wife of 70 years and I left the top." And there was not this little cloud that had revolved around him during the last year. But Todd only rhymes with God.
What is it like to look back on your legacy?
In the comics, he is at the top. He is at the top for two reasons. You can go vertically, and the vertical is the number of characters and ideas you created, and then you start stacking them one on top of the other. So he created this gigantic column of exaggerations that some of us simply pretend to go to our grave after having made a fraction of what he did. That in itself is almost incomparable. Then it begins to become horizontal and the spread of those characters around the world, especially in the last 10 to 20 years with the films he created, this wide range of characters, spread throughout the planet. Who does that
You start to enter those categories, you start counting those creative people with the fingers that have that kind of impact. I am speaking in all the countries of the world. From a strictly creative point of view, the only other one I can remotely think of in that category is Walt Disney. He also built an empire and spread it throughout the nation. I have to believe that the goal of any creative person is that you create something that will ultimately outlive you, which means that it was relevant and important to the lives of enough people. Disney did it, and now we are decades after his death. Obviously, let's see that Stan Lee had a giant impact like that, if not more grandiose.
What is something that fans do not notice Stan Lee or do not appreciate?
When talking to him, he was so nervous about his creations and if his ideas were good enough like the rest of us. All those same doubts that permeate any amateur or professional person who simply says: "I'm doing it, right?". Now we have hindsight to say that they did it and it worked, but when he talked to me about when he was creating them. – I did not know I was about to unleash unprecedented creativity in front of us. He thought that some of that could fail miserably. I think it's a lesson that should be taught to everyone that even the great ones do not know when they are being excellent. He was as fallible at the beginning of all this as we were, and he would be the first to admit that he was very lucky on his side and that things came out of his side. I am sure that if he could have waved a wand and shared it with many people he would have.
Were there characters that you thought would not be successful? As if he ever said: "I did not know about Spider-Man."
Take Spider-Man. Spider-Man entered a comic called "Amazing Fantasy", and the reason was because they were basically going to get rid of the book. Because he was staggering. So they said: "Hey, find something and maybe the book could bounce or we could continue for a couple of months more". Maybe he had been thinking about it for a long time. Maybe he's going, "Hey, great name."
But it could easily have been the last issue of "Amazing Fantasy", and that was the end of that character. But with Jack Kirby showing this great outfit, and then Steve Ditko giving us the artwork, it ends up having the opposite effect. Oh, my God, we can not cancel this book. We're going to have to keep this character going, but … let's turn the "Amazing Fantasy" book into "Amazing Spider-Man." And from there, since "Fantastic Four" had just come out, that was basically the foundation on which Marvel was built, those two early ideas.
I do not think people understand the story of what happened with comics. We came from the Senate hearings in the war zone, "comics were bad for society." He was entrusted with trying to find something that was purer in the United States, so to speak. The code comics [Authority] He comes in, so he was trying to do a little more cheerful things, so Peter Parker is a bit silly. Even the Thing … played very lightly on her.
I also knew that when you have those components, you must have a great villain opposite so that the hero seems much more inspiring. When you talk about it, it's almost like an architect telling you how he's going to build a building. Then you expect me to endure in bad weather. He just kept taking them out and kept doing it.
I asked him before … there is a reason why many of his characters have names that start with the first and last letters: Peter Parker, Doc Doom, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Bruce Banner. Part of that was that he was doing a lot of work and his memory was not so good. He then said that "it's like I have to find a trick to remember all these characters, I was creating at such a rapid pace." When I was in the middle of it, I would say, "I do not know what's going to stay here, so I have to discover these shortcuts in the creative process so that everything works, I hope something sticks." And the vast majority did.
He was also linked to some brilliant artists at that time who helped glimpse the stories you wrote. I think he would be the first to admit that he stumbled over a lot of good fortune. Maybe that's why he loved fans so much, because he knew that if they did not like what he was doing, he would not have any career. He was grateful that they gave him a career.