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Fri, May 19, 2000
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Famed Comic-Book Creator
Stan 'The Man' Lee Goes Online

By Andrew Hay  Reuters
NEW YORK — Wham! Bam! ... doubleclick! Stan Lee, the creator of comic book superhero Spider-Man, is taking to the Web.

AP/Wide World
Marvel Comics Chairman Stan Lee chats with Spidey

The 76-year-old founder of Marvel Comics has dreamed up a team of Internet superheroes that will bust onto computer screens this summer. They are his first new characters in 30 years.

Lee, who created figures like The X-Men, Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four, has teamed with Web design company Organic to build a comic book site known as Stanlee.net. The Internet site is part of Stan Lee Media Inc., a company that intends to cast Lee's new characters in electronic games, movies and cartoons.

The six or seven new superheroes will each come from different parts of the globe. The characters, which include an Egyptian superhero, derive their powers from the Internet.

"The Internet is going to be the biggest thing in the world," Lee said, with his charismatic grin and swept back mane. "Here is a chance to tell new stories." Lee helped found Marvel, the world's largest comic book publisher, in 1961 and has been creating comics since 1940. In the last 30 years he says he has filled three filing cabinets with ideas for superheroes.

Lee's Internet venture will for the first time afford him the chance to own his creations. Marvel Enterprises Inc. owns the rights to many of his other characters. Marvel emerged from bankruptcy in Oct. 1998, as part of Toy Biz Inc.

Lee's Internet hub, located at http://www.stanlee.net, will be aimed at 10- to 20-year-olds and will offer free Web pages, e-mail, games and areas to buy, sell and trade comics and merchandise.

Stan Lee Media intends to become a public bulletin-board company within the next six months.

Lee, whose name and image have appeared in an estimated two billion comic books in more than 100 countries, said his new superheroes will have similar traits to those he created three decades ago.

But whereas characters such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four defended us from villains with atomic weapons, Lee's new Internet heroes are more likely to protect us from germ warfare and pollution.

Lee's original characters are still hugely popular. There are more than two million pages on Internet community GeoCities dedicated to Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. Lee himself is something of a superhero. He draws crowds of thousands at comic book conventions around the world.

Lee said his new characters can be just as popular.

"People are interested in interesting, colorful people and it was that way in 1492 and it'll be that way in the Year 3000," he said.

Stanlee.net will join a range of online comic offerings that include Marvel online — http://www.marvel.com — and a host of sites dedicated to Japanese "anime" cartoons, a type of animated cartoon. Marvel online offers subscriptions, games and clubs.

Peter Paul, co-founder of Stan Lee Media, expects the "Stan Lee" name to lift Stanlee.net above the fray.

"Stan is a unique global brand," said Paul, who Lee describes as "the brains" behind Stan Lee Media.

Lee said that for the second time in his life he feels like he is in at the ground floor of something big.

"When I started comics it was really a brand new industry," he said. "It's like I have a second chance to do that again."

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