Robot 6

‘I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee’

adventures of superhero girl

Nah. I like doing my own stories. There are some characters at DC and Marvel that I’m fond of, but I can’t really see sinking years of my life into working on those characters. I like my own characters, and I want to spend time with them. I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee.”

Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl, when asked whether there’s a comic-book character she dreams of drawing one day



But the Marvel characters are Stan Lee’s characters and stories.

^ Yeah, Stan Lee created his own characters, too. Granted, he didn’t draw them himself, but he did his own stories.

Well, what Stan Lee actually created and what was created by the artists on his stories is debatable. But yeah, I get what Ms. Hicks is saying here, and it doesn’t actually make sense the way she said it. It would be more logical and accurate to say “I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Geoff Johns”, or some other writer/artist who has never (or extremely rarely) created anything himself.

Maybe she means she wants to remain a productive, bankable artist and not become an aging huckster living of the tangential accomplishments of decades ago. That said, I have never read Bone or the othe work Jeff has done. I love Marvel characters but Stan appears to have so little to do with the actual of the development of the characters I dont think much of him. He’s a great barker but much of the talent.

@ Michael: I wouldn’t diminish Stan’s accomplishment’s though. After reading “Marvel: The Untold Story,” it’s pretty amazing how his basically kept the image of the company going despite an era where there was no physical Marvel Bullpen and guys like Kirby and Ditko kept to themselves mostly. The idea of the Merry Marvel Marching Society was a pretty big part that helped Marvel develop the coolness cachet in the early years, and Stan was a big part of that. No one has ever been able to replicate that sort of manufactured enthusiasm, really, come to think of it.

(Seriously, Kirby without Stan is basically The New Gods, right? It’s a great concept, but you need a Stan Lee to be able to sell those ideas to the teenagers out there. It Stan had been at DC to drum up interest in the New Gods, I think that those titles wouldn’t have been cancelled.)

This is pretty interesting. I run a blog, and I got a solicit from someone trying to promote a female cartoonist as the next Stan Lee. I think that it’s:

a.) A pretty weak understanding for what Stan Lee did at Marvel, and
b.) is anyone really looking for the next female Stan Lee, anyways? There hasn’t even been a male Stan Lee, outside of the original, of course.

I would be happy being able to play in the Marvel or DC universes.

The point she’s making (perhaps a little unclearly) is that she doesn’t want to write someone else’s characters and concepts. She’d prefer to create her own and do the work only she could do. Oh yeah, and she’d like to own it as well.

Stan Lee may have co-created Spider-Man –but he doesn’t own him and neither does Steve Ditko. Seeing all that Lee created before the Marvel Universe, and all that he’s created after… it’s pretty obvious who did the heavy lifting in the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee partnership. And we all know how the King fared on that deal.

In almost every interview or panel with a comics creator, there comes the question, “Which character would you most like to work on?” As if the highest achievement anyone could have in the medium is to work on Batman or the X-Men, etc. It’s really refreshing to see this line of thought being rejected by a lot of new writers and artists.

Hicks probably didnt mean it, but it did sound a tad arrogant saying she didn’t want to be Stan Lee. The guys a legend and an icon. She’d be lucky to enjoy a millionth of his success.

It seems to me that in this context Stan Lee is the sort of person who created characters that have lived for years in the public consciousness and sparked the imagination of countless people to where there are still people writing them today

It’s not arrogant for her to say she doesn’t want to be Stan Lee, or write and draw the characters he helped create. She’s not putting him down by saying that. She would just prefer to follow in the footsteps of Jeff Smith, who went his own way and created his own work that he owns the copyright to.

Put another way: Why would you want to play in someone else’s universe when you could have the mad joy and thrill of creating your own? And being able to say, “I created this and it’s all mine.”

With all that Jack Kirby created in his lifetime he should have left his family as billionaires. That’s not the case though is it?

Good for her for wanting to go her own way and sticking to her own creations. It’s decisions like hers that will save the comics medium in the long run, not writing/drawing yet another Batman comic.

what about that Wolverine story she did

You’re right, Jeremy, a 12 page short story is the equivalent of sinking years of her life into a character. Thank god you’re around to point that out.

I love how Revisionist History 101 is trying to convince us that Stan Lee had nothing to do with the Marvel characters that he co-created. To quote John Byrne: “And your office was on what floor at Marvel back then?”.

Lee/Kirby/Ditko: Take any one of the creators out of the equation and you have something vastly different than what we have now.

I understand her point, but even in context, it seems a tiny bit disparaging. Stan Lee also is kind of a puzzling analogue to use regarding working on characters that you don’t own – I think it’s painfully clear from a lot of interviews I’ve read with Lee that he’s really proprietary about some of the characters he co-created. Even though the characters owe just as much to Kirby and Ditko and were designed in some cases to be taken over by other writers, it’s clear that Stan views The Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, and the FF as “his” characters.

People who argue like that are people who will never get a great standing, without much editorial interference (like Morrison, Johns, or Snyder for example), in DC or Marvel anyway, so…

I really think, if you love superheroes and are allowed to work with your favorite fictional character, with a lot of creative freedom, like Morrison did, its one of the coolest jobs in the world.

Faith is not arrogant. All she’s saying is she likes creating characters she will own and that won’t be taken away from her. There’s a whole world of comics out there, beyond DC and Marvel, and Faith does well there. She’s a great young cartoonist with a huge talent.

I can imagine worse fates than Stan Lee’s. Ask him if he regrets anything. The man got paid to dream for a living, and did quite well by it. Jeff Smith worked on Monster Society of Evil too. There are many shades of grey.

If Stan Lee had died in the 1980’s or early 90’s I don’t think Stan would be as big a deal. Furthermore, what if the Jack Kirbys and Bill Fingers of the world outlived the Stan Lees and Bob Kanes, how would the story of who created what go?

I can understand what she is saying…and she does not come off as arrogant in the least…

How many comic creators make a living off of their own properties that are solely their own?

Jeff Smith? (Yes, he did Monster Society of Evil, but did he have to in order to pay the bills?)

Bryan Lee O’Malley?

Others, like Eastman and Laird, Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman were able to parley their properties into a living…

Nothing wrong with wanting something like that…

Brigid Alverson

August 18, 2013 at 4:23 am

Actually, Hicks makes a living solely from comics now. She has written extensively about the financial side of being a comics creator at her blog. Not all her properties are solely hers, because she sometimes illustrates work that was written by other people (Bigfoot Boy, with J. Torres) and she did a game comic for Dark Horse, The Last of Us. But everyone takes a side gig now and then. Most of her work is with characters and stories that she created herself, and that belong to her, which was the point of her quote.

As for other creators, you’d be surprised. Terry Moore, David Petersen, Jimmy Gownley, Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, Joe Harris, Colleen Doran all spring to mind, if only because I have talked to most of them recently. And there’s a pretty big cadre of webcomics creators—Andrew Hussie (Homestuck), Howard Tayler (Schlock Mercenary), Randall Munroe (xkcd)—that are making it on their work alone (including T-shirts and other merch, of course).

It’s not always a great living—Carol Tyler’s interview with Tom Spurgeon a couple of months ago was heartbreaking, because her work is so good that she should have servants bringing her sweetmeats on silver trays—but it’s working for many, many independent creators and that’s one reason why the creator-owned comics scene has become so vibrant.

I think a lot of young creators feel the same way, but capes make the most money… Working for the big two gets you cash and name recognition (and for a certain generation, a chance to work on characters you grew up with). Becoming a stable horse is starting to have a different connotation than it has for the past fifteen or twenty years.

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