Tuesday , July 27 2021

Stan Lee: My Final Final Saturday with Comic Book Icons

Former editor-in-chief Roy Thomas talked to Spider-Man with the comic book creator and showed him photos of the upcoming biography: "He is still talking about doing more cameos."

Roy Thomas was hired by Stan Lee in 1965 and replaced him as Marvel's chief editor in 1972 when Lee became a publisher. Two days before Lee's death on Monday, Thomas spent one last Saturday visiting his former boss and old friend.

When Stan first moved to California in the early 80s, he invited my wife and I to the place where he lived before he bought his house. It is a rented place on Westside with marble floors. At one point he forgave himself, and he returned with roller skates. I don't know whether the people who owned the place appreciated roller-skating on their marble floors. I've never seen anyone in roller skates on a marble floor.

I was just with Stan on Saturday. It was arranged a week before for me to come from the east again. I was told that Stan said he did not want to see anyone, but when they mentioned my name, he said, "I want to see Roy." That is very flattering. I was only with him for half an hour, less than 48 hours before he died. He is on the sofa, facing the pool, has a view. He is well-dressed and so on. He just didn't have the energy he had the last time I saw him. He looks weak, but he goes around and walks alone.

He seems happy to see me. It was something different from the usual cycle of his life, the last few months when his health failed. He asked about the Spider-Man comic book that I wrote for 18, 19 years. Until a few years ago, he worked with me.

Somehow the subject from [Marvel publisher and Lee’s uncle] Martin Goodman appeared. He is not looking for an excuse to say bad things about other people. But in the last few decades of his life, he will go to a short version of how "Martin thinks people will not like spiders" and "a child cannot be a hero." He let out his feelings. I told him, "I think the last big creative decision Martin Goodman made was when he told you to form a superhero group. After that, I thought he could get out of the way." Stan's thinking was good.

We have a copy of the new book that just came out, The Stan Lee Story, which I wrote for the Taschen publisher. Stan has glaucoma at this stage of his life. We were looking at a book and talking about some pictures in it. He said he had to see if he could put up his magnifying glass and everything and see it. For this book, we found photos of people he talked about for years but no one had seen a photo. We found this picture of the teacher he really liked that he always talked about. We had to put pillows on his feet because the book was very heavy. Then we open it. That gave us the opportunity to discuss a number of things, and we did a number of things.

I think he is ready to go. But he is still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he has energy for it and doesn't need to travel, Stan always does some cameos. He kicked out of them more than anything.

Posted by John Cimino on Monday, November 12, 2018

This version of the story appears in the November 14 issue The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive a magazine, click here to subscribe.

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