Friday , October 22 2021

Stan Lee: My last Saturday with a comic icon


Former editor-in-chief Roy Thomas talked to Spider-Man with the comic book artist and showed him photos of the upcoming biography: "He still talked about making more scenes."

Roy Thomas was employed by Stan Lee in 1965 and replaced him as Marvell's editor in 1972, when Lee became the publisher. Two days before Lee's death on November 12, Thomas spent the last Saturday visiting his former boss and longtime friend.

When Stan first moved to California in the early 1980s, he invited my wife and me to the place where he lived before he bought the house. It was a rented place on Westside with marble floors. At some point, he apologized and came back on the rollers. I do not know if the people who owned this place appreciated him skating on the marble floor. I have never seen anyone skating on the marble floor.

On Saturday I was with Stan. It was organized a week earlier to come back east. I was told Stan said he did not want to see anyone, but when they mentioned my name, he said, "I'd like to see Roy." Which was very flattering. I was with him for half an hour, less than 48 hours before he died. He was lying on the sofa in front of the pool, he had a view. He was bored and so on. He simply did not have the energy he saw when I saw him for the last time. He looked frail, but he moved and walked alone.

He seemed happy to see me. It was something other than the usual round of his life, the last few months when health failed him. He asked about the Spider-Man comic strip, which I wrote for 18 or 19 years. A few years ago he was working on it with me.

Somehow the subject [Marvel publisher and Lee’s uncle] Martin Goodman appeared. He did not look for excuses to speak unkind things about people. But in the last few decades of his life he fell into a shortened version of how "Martin thought people would not like spiders" and "a child can not be a hero". He drew his feelings. I told him, "I think the last big creative decision that Martin Goodman ever made was to tell you that you have to create a group of superheroes, and then I thought he might get out of the way." Stan thought it was good.

We had a copy of the new book that just appeared, Stan Lee's storywhich I wrote for the publisher Taschen. Stan had glaucoma at this stage of his life. We looked at the book and talked about some of the paintings. He said he would have to check if he could connect his magnifying glass and everything and look at it. In the book, we found pictures of people he had talked about for years, but no one has ever seen this picture. We found a photo of this teacher, which he liked so much, which he always said. We had to put a pillow on his legs because this book is so heavy. Then we opened them. This gave us the chance to talk about a few things and we went through several things.

I think he was ready. But he was still talking about making more scenes. As long as he had energy for it and did not have to travel, Stan was always ready to do more scenes. He threw more of them than anything else.

Posted by John Cimino on Monday, November 12, 2018

The version of this story appears in the November 14 issue The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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