Stan Lee's writing process


Peter Relic writes:

Stan Lee, aka Staggerin’ Stan Lee, is the 86-year-old writer and co-creator (with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby) of more classic Marvel Comics characters than you can shake a Galactus-caliber prong-horn at, including Spider-Man, the Uncanny X-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and the homey Doctor Strange. Last year I had the chance to meet Staggerin’ Stan at his Beverly Hills office, where, looking like a grinning, perma-tanned carny barker covered in liver spots, he sat behind a desk covered in photographs of his offspring (his comic book creations, that is, not his actual family). Preparing for the interview, I’d run across the old photograph above, of Stan standing at his typewriter in his backyard in Long Island. Figuring it might provide some insight into his process, I asked Stan about the photo, and this is what he said.

Q: Did you feel you got more power from typing standing up?

Stan Lee: I didn’t do it for power, I did it because I knew a few writers who were terribly out of shape, had potbellies. I didn’t want to get like that. So I put a bridge table on the terrace behind my house, and stacked a stool upon that, and put my portable typewriter upon that, and that was just the right height for me to type standing up. And I loved the sun, in those days I didn’t realize how dangerous it was. So I’d keep moving the typewriter a little bit so I could keep facing the sun. I worked for hours out there in the sun. My wife would have company, she’d have her friends over and they’d frolic in the yard and I would type, and they would pay absolutely no attention to me. I’m standing there trying to write and they’re talking and singing and yelling at the kids and partying and I’m enjoying it while I’m writing. It was a very strange situation but I loved it.

I had a Remington noiseless portable. It had a small carrying case. It wasn’t really noiseless, but it didn’t make as much noise as typewriters that weren’t called noiseless. When you wanted to use it you took the lid off, then there was a little knob on the side and you pushed the knob towards the back and the keys lifted so you could type. When you were finished you pushed the knob back again and then the keys went down and you closed the set.

Because of that typewriter I came closer to getting a divorce than any other time in my life. One day my wife got angry at me, I don’t remember why, and she grabbed the typewriter and threw it down and it shattered. I said to her, “If I don’t divorce you for that, there’s nothing you could ever do that will make me divorce you.”