Ian Punnett (Twitter) welcomed journalist Abraham Riesman who shared stories from his biography of Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. "Everybody knows Stan Lee, but nobody knows Stan Lee," Riesman said, noting most people only know the copyrighted, intellectual property version of Stan Lee made famous from his cameos in Marvel movies. Riesman suggested Lee created the character of Stan Lee and in someways even became the character, but that is not the whole story. Riesman commented on the dispute between Lee and comic book artist Jack Kirby. Lee was editor/co-writer and Kirby was writer/artist of many Marvel titles from the 1960s, including Fantastic Four, Black Panther, X-Men, and The Avengers, he explained.
The big question is who was the initial person to create these famous characters. "Stan was over-credited, was miscredited, and Jack Kirby and other collaborators were under-credited," Riesman revealed, noting comics from that era were created using the Marvel method. According to Riesman, Lee might have only come up with a premise which Kirby then developed through his artwork into an entire story, but Lee was still credited as the writer. Marvel perpetuates the myth that Lee was a singular creator who dictated to others who simply executed his vision, he continued. However, Lee could not draw and as comics are a visual medium the characters were actually designed by the artist, Riesman added.
Open Lines followed in the latter half of the program. Randy from in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, told Ian his best friend gave him a few Marvel comics in the 1960s, including an issue of Ironman, The Amazing Spider-Man #33, and a Daredevil #6 or #7. "I immediately got hooked on it," Randy admitted, adding his father told him to read the comics only once and put them away as they would one day be worth money. Randy took his dad's advice to heart and ended up with a 30,000-plus comic book collection, which he sold in chunks the late 1980s. "When the price got up to about a dollar and a quarter a comic I got out of it," he said.
Joe in the Bronx revealed he was an avid comic book and baseball card collector as a kid. He asked Ian what he thought was a turning point in the storied history of Marvel Comics. According to Ian, the turning point for him was post-Captain America when characters "got kind of real and earthy... much more terrestrial." Marvel turned a corner when the characters got less fantastic and more realistic, and the stories were about more than just stopping bank robbers, Ian noted. He credited Jon Favreau with guiding the MCU to great success with the Iron Man franchise, as well as The Avengers film series which he produced.