Q: They say print is dead. Are comic books?
A: Not at all. I'm no prophet, but the surge in popularity of graphic novels tells you something. Kids are still interested in great stories told with great picturesand when I say kids, I'm talking about 40-year-old lawyers and doctors. But what's really driving comic books is Hollywood. As long as they keep turning these stories into movies, the superhero industry is going to stay strong.
Q: X-Men, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Fantastic
Four, and Iron Man are successful movie franchises. You must
be very proud, not to mention very rich.
A: I've been very lucky. All I wanted was to pay the rent. Then these characters took off and suddenly there were Hulk coffee mugs and Iron Man lunchboxes and The Avengers sweatshirts everywhere. Money's okay, but what I really like is working. I'm 85 and I still can't wait to get to the office every day.
Q: What's a new idea you're kicking around at
A: Well, I'm doing something now with God. And something with Paris Hilton.
Q: Really. What are her superpowers?
A: The thing is, she's the least likely superhero. But we give the gal a power that will knock your socks off. We're also working on something with Hugh Hefnerhe's one of the great superagents. The times he's saved our world are innumerable.
Q: In these dark times, who do we need to save us?
A: Economist Man would be helpful. Foreign Relations Man. Being president these days is too big a job for someone with just one superpower. Though I do think Obama has a certain Mr. Fantastic quality. And I hear he is a collector of Spider-Man comic books.
Q: Do you have Spider-Man No. 1 hidden away in a
A: I never saved them. Most people say, "If I only had that comic-book collection I had as a kid . . . " They're disposable to me.
Q: But so many people still remember characters you created
in the fifties and sixties. Why?
A: I don't know the exact answer. In the case of Spider-Man, he's easy to empathize with. I specifically didn't want him to be a big, strong, handsome guy. They didn't have the word in those days, but he's a nerd. He had problems: He didn't have any money, he wasn't a major hit with girls, his aunt who he lived with was always ill. He was unique. He wasn't from another planet like Superman. He wasn't a millionaire like Bruce Wayne.
Q: What's it like being the king of the geeks?
A: I can tell you they're not geeks anymore. President Reagan, I've heard, would wake up in the morning and the first thing he would do is read the Spider-Man comic strip. I got a kick out of that. I've met Bill Clinton. I'm supposed to meet President Bush in a week.