It was one of the great, mythic misfires of the Marvel Age of Comics. Looking for ways in which he could spread his wings and move from being just a comic book editor and writer, Marvel’s Stan Lee presided over a one-night-only event at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan on Wednesday, January 5th 1972. Reportedly, the whole thing was weirdly and half-assedly conceived; a combination of the casual lectures that Lee had been giving at Colleges and similar institutions concerning the Marvel books with performances and music and celebrities who were marvel fans and Marvel artists doing drawings. If nothing else, by every account, it was an experience, and a never-to-be-repeated moment in Marvel history. The thing wasn’t recorded by anyone so far as I’ve been able to work things out, but there were a number of accounts of that evening in the fan press (as well as a largely fictitious one given in Marvel’s own Bullpen Bulletins, which appears to have been written and sent to press before the show ever took place.)
One of the more comprehensive accounts as to what transpired all throughout the event saw print a few months later in the pages of Comic Fandom Monthly #6, a fanzine produced by Joe Brancatelli, whose Inside Comics column ran in several different places, notably in the Warren Magazines, and who was one of the first to really explore the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the industry. This piece saw print in February, 1972, so less than a month after the events described transpired.
Another piece, somewhat less favorable, ran in the pages of the Monster Times #3, a newspaper-style fanzine devoted to monster and science fiction films with a smattering of comic book coverage. It was dated March 1, 1972 (the Monster Times saw print every two weeks at that point.)
3 thoughts on “A Marvel-ous Evening with Stan Lee”
Great descriptions of the evening are recorded in these examples – while the evening may have been a bit lacklustre/corny it would have been interesting to see so many creators appearing live.
Also makes you think how much of a difference social media makes now. Once upon a time the comics reading experience was complimented heavily by the positive, fun image built up in letter pages and bullpen bulletins that were found in the publications. Here we see a more sarcastic/derogatory approach (with repetitive references to Stan as Funky Flashman, a nasty dismissal of Trimpe as an artist etc.) reflecting a very different point of view found in some amateur publications, one that is now magnified many times on the internet boards, youtube etc.
I attended this event as a 15-year-old. I remember some of the details described in these articles, but not all.
I do recall feeling (and I believe I wasn’t alone in this) that it was not what I expected, but that I didn’t know what to expect in the first place, so it was only disappointing in a vague way.
Rosco hit the nail on the head: it was corny and awkward, but so great to see Stan, Roy and the rest of the creators in person. And in a time long before Hollywood and the general public embraced the idea, it was great to be a member of the choir as the preachers reminded us that comics are hip.
I was the bass player with the Marvel Comics Band, consisting of amateur players who were cartoonists and staff at Marvel and ringers like me who hung out with artists. It was an unorganized zoo backstage, including Andre the Giant who walked with 2 canes. I gratefully don’t recall the set but it was awfully embarrassing.