In getting rid of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, I came across this advert a couple of days ago in a British Planet Of The Apes weekly comic from 1975 – Stan Lee, live at the Camden Roundhouse.

He presented a slide-show, with tickets priced at 60p. I absolutely would love to see Stan Lee – I think as a writer, he’s one of the greats of the twentieth century. So many household names flowed out of his head in such a short span of time (about four years in the mid-60s, many of them in collaboration with the artists Jacky Kirby and Steve Ditko) – Spiderman, The Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, Doctor Octopus (surely one of the greatest villain names ever?), Dr Doom, The Avengers, Daredevil, Dr Strange; the list just goes on and on.

It was about this time that the first comic shops started opening in London (one of the very first was Dark They Were And Golden Eyed, which moved around Soho throughout the seventies), but it’s sad to see how many of them have closed in the last decade. It’s a combination of the industry destroying itself in the 1990s by pandering to speculators and taking their eye off of stories, the growth of a few professionally-run shops (the Forbidden Planet was always number one by a long chalk, even when it was in a dusty, wooden-floored Denmark Street shop), and the fact that kids these days have more exciting things to do that open comics. They can play Fallout 3 for God’s sake, and given the choice between reading or killing mutant dogs, who can blame them?

I think Stan Lee might be the one single author whose work I’ve spent the longest time reading, and have enjoyed the most. He seems like a completely untortured, friendly, unpretentious genius, and he’s had more of an effect on global culture than pretty much anyone else in the last fifty years, and what’s more, in an entirely positive way.

I’d happily pay a lot more than 60p to see him do a slide show today. Hey, I’d pay more than 60p just to have him shout a trademark ‘Excelsior!’ right into my face.

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