[12 July 2012]
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
LOS ANGELES — “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” are both doing heroic business at the box office this summer, but Stan Lee won’t be at Comic-Con International this week just to bask in the fanboy glow of his Marvel Comics legacy.
He’ll be there to promote his latest venture, the new YouTube channel Stan Lee’s World of Heroes.
“I’m happy as hell that Marvel’s doing so well, but I don’t spend that much time thinking about it,” Lee said during an interview at his POW! Entertainment.
“The fun of what we do is that we’re always moving ahead.”
Lee’s innate salesmanship and relentless sense of wonder overpower any nostalgia, which is why his name is on a steady stream of projects every fiscal quarter. One of the latest is a new batch of heroic adventures on the World of Heroes, which had a soft launch last month as a collaboration between POW! and Vuguru, the digital studio created by former Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Michael D. Eisner.
The 89-year-old Lee will appear on a panel Thursday to formally announce the new channel’s lineup, which includes a mix of reality and scripted programming focused on the world of superheroes and geek culture.
Among the shows are “Adrianne Curry’s Super Fans,” a look at the lives of hard-core fans hosted by reality star (and noted geek) Curry; “Head Cases,” a scripted comedy series set in a bar frequented by superheroes and villains; “Stan Lee’s Academy of Heroes,” a reality series taking real people and giving them the training they need to become heroes; an animated show about superhero foul-ups called “Bad Days”; and “Geek DIY,” a crafting show hosted by Bonnie Burton (author of “The Star Wars Craft Book”), who shows you how to make anything from a steampunk ray gun to your own robot costume.
But among the most distinctive aspects of the lineup are the shows Lee himself is most directly involved in — “Stan Lee’s Super.Model,” about a trio of superpowered women; “Stan’s Rants,” a video version of Lee’s old Stan’s Soapbox column; and “Cocktails With Stan,” which refashions the comic book icon as a kind of Regis Philbin alongside co-host Jenna Busch.
“I’m a little bit of a ham and I do enjoy being on camera,” Lee explained. “Plus, I get a free drink…. I feel like a reincarnated Johnny Carson.”
Vuguru President and Chief Executive Larry Tanz said this year’s sold-out Comic-Con underscores the broad appeal of this type of storytelling.
“It’s gone really mainstream,” Tanz said.
This isn’t Lee’s first foray into the digital realm.
In 1998 he inaugurated a superhero series under the banner of Stan Lee Media, but the company filed for bankruptcy and descended into a series of lawsuits. In 2009, POW! teamed with Disney to release the 10-part digital motion comic series “Time Jumper” through iTunes.
The YouTube channel is just part of Lee’s current digital efforts, which also include his own website and more digital comics, including “Stan Lee’s The Mighty 7,” published by Archie Comics.
Indeed, Lee has long cultivated a special ability to connect with fans and understand what they’re thinking.
“I’ve been in this business so long dealing with fans that I can really, after launching anything, I can tell within a couple of days of receiving the fan mail and fan emails whether or not we’re on the right track,” Lee said.