When Stan Lee says he has an announcement, it just might be something super. Last Friday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles during the convention that bears his name, Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo, Lee unveiled the cover art for an upcoming children's book that will be the first international title in the Stan Lee's Kids Universe line.
Partnering with advisors and creatives in China, Stan Lee's Kids Universe will release its most ambitious book yet: "Dragons vs. Pandas," written and illustrated by Chelsea Kenna. It's the company's first international release and its first book published in both English and Mandarin. For Stan Lee and his publishing partner Terry Dougas, this is the culmination of their goals with Stan Lee's Kids Universe. Working with locals in mainland China, the aim of the book is to raise cultural awareness and understanding between both countries. They chose two of China's most iconic figures (real and fictional) to tell the story, which is scheduled for release in the US and China in the third quarter of 2016.
At the press event, Stan Lee's Kids Universe also unveiled "B is for Blobfish," by Kev Payne. Dougas described it as dedicated to all the "unusual and unloved" creatures in the animal kingdom. One of the many running themes seen in the books published by Kids Universe is how differences do not divide us, and this book seems to stress that.
"These stories will tear your heart out... it's very emotional for me," Lee said, explaining that by focusing on animals that were the "underdogs" of their species, they would be able to tell stories that needed to be shared.
Stan Lee is famous for his legendary comic book work, but many may not be aware of his namesake company that publishes children's books. They're not the panels on pages variety, either -- they're illustrated stories of a more traditional kind.
In his own words, Lee says one of his favorite things to do is start companies. The co-creator of many of Marvel's most famous heroes and villains teamed up with Terry Dougas and Paris Kasidokostas-Latsis of 1821 Media and formed Stan Lee's Kids Universe, which launched in 2013. Their mission: to expand kids' imaginations, promote cultural awareness through art and story and fight illiteracy across the globe -- using cute, often misunderstood animals, rather than the superheroes he's known for.
"When I used to go to book stores, the only books I would pick out were ones that looked like they were different than anything I would normally read," Lee said. "Otherwise it's the same old stuff. So we at POW! Entertainment, and our company [Stan Lee's Kids Universe], have always tried to come up with things that nobody else is doing."
Stan Lee's Kids Universe already has a few books out for purchase, including debut title "Monsters vs. Kittens," as well as "Reggie the Veggie" and "Dex T-Rex." Thanks to a new deal with Scholastic, these books will be available through the "Firefly" Reading Club to school children in the United States beginning in March, with other titles to follow in the fall of 2016.