Stan Lee’s voice was so powerful and distinctive that, like the character Black Bolt that he co-created alongside Jack Kirby, it could stop you in your tracks with a few words.
Many know this fact. I’ve interviewed Lee many times over the years — at Comic-Cons, E3, his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, charity events, etc. — but it wasn’t until an interview with him at the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books in 2016 that I really saw it in action.
We spoke before going on stage in a small room on campus. His voice filled the room without even having to project. I was told to make sure I spoke my questions loud and clear. Not sure if I succeeded in that. We were going to chat about his autobiography — “Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir” — but he said to ask him anything on any subject. I told him that he would probably have an answer for whatever I could come up with and he laughed and said "You'd be surprised."
In front of the main library in the center of campus at USC, we talked on an assembled stage for 20 to 30 minutes about a wide range of topics.
I was engrossed in his answers and stories, but took the time to look out at the growing crowd. It was obvious that many were just people passing by that couldn’t even fully see the stage as the audience grew to a couple hundred people. But with speakers booming out his voice, anyone close enough on campus seemed to turn and walk in our direction.
It’s happened when just walking down a hallway with him without the benefit of 6-foot-tall speakers, so this magnification was just another illustration of his — and the term is not used lightly -- legendary popularity.
Take a look at the videos below to see excerpts from our chat.