DCC 2011: Stan Lee and John Romita, Jr. Marvel the Crowd With Comic Book Insights

During this past weekend’s Dallas Comic-Con, thousands of fans flocked to see the legendary Stan Lee and John Romita, Jr. Autograph lines snaked down and around the length of the Irving Convention Center’s walls and halls for these two greats of Marvel Comics. A real convention highlight was the hilarious Q&A session with Stan “The Man” Lee, moderated by John Romita, Jr.

Now, the dynamic between these two simply inspired the comedy that was to befall the fans that crowded into the Main Stage room. There was good-natured ribbing between Lee and Romita throughout the session. Lee’s hearing is not as great as it used to be so Romita would sometimes reinterpret the fan’s question in a blunt and humorous way. This Q&A was lively and kept the crowd laughing through the entire duration. I’ve put together some paraphrased highlights below and also have included an audio file of the Q&A for your listening enjoyment.

Fan Q: What is Stan Lee’s favorite story that he’s written?

Stan Lee : “I really don’t [have a favorite]. I love them all. I gotta tell you something, you won’t believe this but I am my biggest fan. [laughter from crowd] I love everything I’ve written. Sometimes I look at an old book I’ve gotten to autograph and say ‘Did I write that? Wow, this is great!’”

Fan Q: What story failed to work?

Stan Lee: “Only one… Diablo.”

Fan Q: What’s the best thing Romita’s ever done?

John Romita, Jr.: “The 36st issue of Spider-man and A Man without Fear with Frank Miller.”

Fan Q: What’s the worst thing Romita’s ever done?

John Romita, Jr.: “Dazzler.”

Fan Q: Why do so many of your characters have alliteration in their names (ie Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards)?

Stan Lee: “I have the world’s worst memory. I hate to admit that I have a flaw [jokingly]. I couldn’t remember the names for my characters… And I got fan mail from people saying ‘Don’t you know the names of your own characters? It’s Bruce!’ So I figure I’m going to give every character if I can, the same letter for his first name as his last name. So if I remember one name, it gives me a clue to what the other name begins with! And that’s why I did it!”

Romita’s Q for Lee: “When they did the series in the seventies, with Bill Bixby, they named him David Banner instead of Bruce. There was a rumor that the name Bruce, and I swear this is a quality rumor, that it was too effeminate.”

Stan Lee: “It’s true. The network, those morons, said they wanted to change his name. I said ‘You can’t change his name, it’s Bruce Banner.’ ‘No, Bruce sounds a little effeminate.’ You know, like Bruce Jenner the Olympic champion! But anyway, we couldn’t talk them out of it. He became David Banner. So naturally, I roll with the punches and I said, as everybody knows, his name was Bruce David Banner!”

Fan Q: Who would win a fight between the Hulk and Juggernaut?

Stan Lee: “Anytime you want to know who would win a fight between the Hulk and Galactus or Spider-man and the Human Torch or anything, the correct answer is it depends on who’s writing the story and who he or she wants to win. Because the writer is like God. A writer can kill a character; a writer can bring a character back to life. The writer can do anything!”

JRJR: “I have an answer for you: The Juggernaut does not increase in strength and the Hulk’s strength increases exponentially depending on how pissed off he is.”

Fan Q: How do you feel about the direction comics are taking as far as continuity?

JRJR: “Comics goes by the way of business now not just by creativity.”

Stan Lee: “It’s always been a business and now, it’s a big business. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know about the direction comics are taking because I really don’t have time to read the books. I have not been following… I don’t have the time. So I don’t know about the direction but I’ll tell you this, as long as the movies keep coming out comic books are an incredibly big business.

And now screenwriters and novelists and playwrights all want to write comics because they are all thinking ‘If I do a good enough comic, and [a major studio] likes it, they may make a movie out of it.’ So suddenly comics have become the basis. Like [John’s] comic, Kick-Ass. He does this innocuous little comic Kick-Ass and it suddenly it becomes a big movie and they’re probably planning a sequel. So that’s what comics have come to.”

Romita touched briefly on his cameo, or lack thereof in the Kick-Ass movie:

JRJR: “I actually got a cameo in Kick-Ass but they edited me out. [crowd is disappointed] And the reason was that I didn’t ‘look authentic enough.’ It’s supposed to be about a bunch of mobsters in New York City and I didn’t look authentic enough? [He lay on a thicker Italian-American accent]”

Fan Q: Have you ever based any characters off of a character that wasn’t yours?

Stan Lee: “Not often! Two things: There had been a character called Daredevil many, many years ago. And it appeared for a while and then they dropped it. And it was totally different than our Daredevil. And I liked the name and since it was available, I called our character Dare Devil.

But I wasn’t ever really influenced by any other story. I didn’t have time to read the other stories. I was too busy writing.”

Fan Q: Did you realize that you were dispensing therapy through characters like Peter Parker?

Stan Lee: “I’ve always hated teenage sidekicks… one day I said ‘why can’t the teenager be the hero?’… and why not give him the same problems that teenagers have? I went back to my publisher and said “Look, I want to do this story about a teenager who’s got a lot of problems and I want to call him Spider-Man. Well, my publisher looked at me like I was from another planet. He said, ‘Dummy, a teenager can only be a sidekick. A hero can’t have all those problems. Don’t you even know what a superhero is? And you can’t call him Spider-Man because people hate spiders! So you have three strikes against you.’

We had a book called Amazing Fantasy that we were going to kill. It wasn’t selling well. Well, when you put out the last issue of a book you’re about to kill, nobody cares what you put in it. So I featured Spider-Man on the cover and I put it out there just to get it out of my system. The book sold so well that my publisher came in when he got the sales figures and said, ‘Stan, you remember that character Spider-Man that you and I liked so much? Why don’t we do it as a series?’”

Fan Q: Will you ever bring back your show “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?”

Stan Lee: If ever a show bombed! They had a good idea there but it didn’t do well. But on the History Channel, they have a show called Stan Lee’s Superhumans. Believe it or not, it’s a big hit! They’re shooting a new season now. When it comes out again, don’t miss it!

Dallas Comic-Con: Q&A Session with Stan Lee, Moderated by John Romita, Jr.


This Q&A was seriously funny and totally enjoyable. Listen to the session with the audio player below to get the full hilarity of Stan Lee and John Romita, Jr. playing off each other. And Stan and John, we’re sorry about that bear that wanted to dance with you. That was… odd!

In case you missed it, Stan Lee did reveal what his cameo will be in the next Spider-Man movie. Check it out here!

There’s more to come from Dallas Comic-Con! Keep it here on SciFi Mafia for more coverage.

Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer
Written by Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer

is Senior Managing Editor for SciFi Mafia.com, skips along between the lines of sci-fi, fantasy, and reality, and is living proof that geek girls really DO exist!