Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 3, 2005

Stan Lee on 60 Minutes Wednesday

I don't have anything too clever to say about last night's broadcast of 60 Minutes Wednesday featuring a post-decision catch-up with Stan Lee. It's a giant piece of shit, though, I'll tell you that. You can read the transcript here.

I think what's particularly galling about the segment isn't that The Man is put over as the sole creator of all the Marvel characters several times, but that the story asserts the judge somehow awarded Lee the 10 percent of profits figure, rather than simply enforced the contract and the figure that Marvel awarded Lee in 1998. So it's not the complexity of comics getting in the way: the main thrust of the story isn't even correct. You could do worse than writing a firm, non-insulting on-paper letter to CBS if you have similar objections: CBS News, 524 W. 57th St., New York, NY, 10019.

Both Mark Evanier and Heidi MacDonald have written about the piece. I like both entries, but I think both of my colleagues may be too quick to absolve Stan Lee of the role he plays in this. It's very, very true that Lee says nothing objectionable in the 60 Minutes Wednesday piece, except perhaps his really strained portrayal of Marvel as a company that always did right by its editors and creative people. He could have made lovely, inclusive points, joining arms with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, that didn't make it on the air. We really don't know.

We do know what's out there now. In modern sports lingo, the 60 Minutes Wednesday piece "is what it is." I reserve the right to be disappointed if there's not a follow-up effort by Lee's camp to correct last night's mistakes, and to start making this issue a point in pre-interviews, and, as best as he can, to advocate on behalf of the other creators generally.

Here's the thing: Lee uniquely profits from this kind of news coverage, just as he now stands to profit from his unique position at Marvel that led to the '98 contract. Whether it fits his orientation or not, Lee finds himself in a position that asks he become that much more aggressive about making sure others receive their due, however defined.

You could even say he has a greater responsibility to do so.

UPDATE: I've received a couple of e-mails from people who said that Lee was much better about noting his own co-creator status during his appearance on CBS' Late, Late Show, which is great.
posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink

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