Comics legend Stan Lee lent his voice to “Mad TV” for “The Amazing Man-Spider” sketch, focusing on the spider who bit Peter Parker, then ended up with all the weaknesses of a human. CBR TV was able to nab a few minutes with Lee to discuss his experience with “Mad” magazine, his upcoming plans for POW! Entertainment and his “Iron Man 3” cameo appearance. Check out the video and the full interview transcription below.
CBR TV: Your earliest days at Marvel were somewhat concurrent to Mad’s debut, do you have fond memories of Mad from that era?
Stan Lee: I have great memories of “Mad” when I was working at Marvel. I wish that we also had a magazine like “Mad,” because I was one of the biggest fans. It was clever, it was smart, it took all sorts of risky chances. It was surprising and it was great to read. I knew a lot of the people working at “Mad.” In fact, we even tried a magazine like that. I did a magazine called “Snafu.” We did three issues — I thought it was funnier than “Mad,” but we got so busy with the super heroes, we had to make a choice. “Snafu” or heroes, so we gave up “Snafu,” which was a lucky thing for “Mad.”
Why do you think “Mad” has been able to transcend media by going from a magazine, to television, to animation, to the web and beyond?
One of the great things about “Mad,” it has such universal appeal that it’s funny in almost any medium. Now with all the new Internet things and all the different ways in cartoons, animation, that you can project “Mad,” it’s good in all of them. I mean, the type of things “Mad” does, lend themselves to animated cartoons and certainly to spots on the Internet. I think “Mad” is the perfect parody humor, and parody lends itself to any form of expression or presentation.
In “Mad’s” early days, many parents felt it was a bad influence on children. Any truth to that in your opinion?
I’ve never run into anybody who said “Mad” was a bad influence. That’s ridiculous. “Mad” is simply humor in one of its cleverest forms. If parodies are bad for people, then it’s bad, but I don’t think parodies are bad for people, I think people love them. All they do is usually make the thing that’s being parodied more popular than ever.
What are some of the other ongoing projects you have in the works?
I have this company called POW! Entertainment. P-O-W, exclamation point. The exclamation point is so that you won’t think it stands for “Prisoner of War,” instead of the very clever thing it does stand for, which you’ve probably figured out already — POW! Purveyors of Wonder. Anyway, we’re working on — we have some motion pictures in development, we have two TV series in development, we have a big outdoor arena show we’re going to do in Macau, in Asia. We have a book line, “Stan Lee’s Children’s Books” that we’re just getting started with. And a few other things. We’re really pretty busy, but no matter how busy we were, it was great to come over here and do this with “Mad.”
Do you have cameos in any upcoming Marvel movies we should watch out for?
Those cameos that I do at the Marvel movies, you may think it’s just for entertainment and just for amusement. There’s a real financial reason behind that. Take “The Avengers.” I had a very small cameo and it came at the end and it went by very quickly, so a lot of people might have missed it. Well, if you miss one of my cameos, what do you do? You go back to the box office, you buy another ticket and you watch it again more carefully. That’s the reason — although most people don’t realize it — that “The Avengers” sold so many tickets. Now, I do have a great one coming up. The cameo I did some time ago for “Iron Man 3” … I think it’s the funniest one. It also shows another side of me. It displays my histrionic talents. I just hope I don’t detract enough from the main cast, because my role is so meaningful and so absorbing.
Stan Lee and Alfred E. Neuman sit down to dinner. What’s the conversation going to be about?
Let’s see. If I was at dinner with Alfred E. Neuman, and of course me — I’d have to be there if I was at dinner — I think the conversation might be a little difficult. I think Alfred E. Neuman is very funny looking, but I’ve never seen, read or heard anything he’s said. I think his big attraction is just the way he looks. I have a feeling if he started to speak, the glamor would all be gone.
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