I had intended to do something, say something, when Stan Lee passed away. I’m not Stan’s biggest fan, if I’m being honest. I think that, yes, he was integral to Marvel’s success and survival in the Silver and Bronze Age, and even if he wasn’t writing or acting as an editor, he was still a huge presence and that is hard to accomplish. How did he accomplish it? On the backs of others. That’s not to say that Stan was untalented, or that adoration was unwarranted. I think Stan earned his spot in the industry, no doubt, but how he got that spot was kind of a bum deal. It’s hard, however, to hate Stan. At the very least, I think it’s hard for anyone who wasn’t in the Bullpen to hate Stan, which would include me. I genuinely got a kick out of him, although I never met him. As an ambassador of the comics industry, his reach was vast and long. As a personality, he was ubiquitous, and I truly believe that for some, you can’t think of comic books or the comic book industry without thinking of Stan Lee, and that’s just not possible, even in the generation of social media. Stan occupies a very rarified place in pop culture that only a few can. Hulk Hogan, for example. It’s 2019 now and there’s young fans coming into pro wrestling fandom who know who Hogan is, and that’s because he was the one who did the press tours, commercials, cartoons, comics, everything. Stan, very early on, would talk at colleges, which I’d love to hear one of those addresses or speeches because I can’t imagine he would have anything of merit to talk to a bunch of students about, but that’s because I wasn’t there. It’s hard to truly know. I didn’t know Stan, and I never met him, but we had a few interactions (through mutual friends and social media) and, at one point, I almost worked for him. Sort of.

I resigned my position as Assistant Manager and Events Coordinator at Jim Hanley’s Universe on December 21, 2011. For an entire year, I sat at home and did nothing but develop new ideas (STRAY was one of them) and pitched to whoever I could to get paying work. I’m blanking on the details right now, but somehow, one year and one week after I left retailing, I found myself with ChrisCross on a train to the Archie Comics offices. If I remember correctly, we had met Paul Kaminsky and Mike Pellerito at New York Comic Con, and after pitching a Black Hood mini series and a Shield mini, we were invited up to the offices. We kept making plans, only to have to cancel, so there we were, right before the New Year, on the train heading to “Riverdale.”

I had been to the DC Offices many times and had visited the Marvel offices on probably ten different occasions. I visited Valiant some time after this trip. Paul picked us up at the train station and escorted us around the offices. Then he told us about SLAM 7 (aka Stan Lee and the Mighty 7). It was a property that had kind of faltered initially (for reasons unknown to me…it had a mini series but I think they were looking to do something a little more mainstream). We got our Black Hood opportunity (see THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS: THE LOST CRUSADE for that and more), and we got offered a SLAM 7 mini (predicated on editorial approval AND Stan’s approval). We went home, and I went to work.

Well, it was a few years ago, so obviously, it never came to pass. But I thought I would share what we did anyway.

You may see this reworked by me in some fashion or other, obviously without Stan. And that’s unfortunate. I’m sad we never got this off the ground as I thought it was a lot of fun.

*All characters are either owned by Stan Lee/POW Entertainment or Archie Comics.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

On Ditko