Friday, February 04, 2005

"Artist Stan Lee"?

I don't watch a lot of TV, none of it on Wednesday nights, so I didn't see the big show... by which I mean, of course, 60 Minutes and its story about Stan Lee's lawsuit against Marvel Comics. (What's that? Something else was on? State of the... what?)

But Mark Evanier did see it, and has some comments and follow-up. As with most mainstream media, CBS News' reporters don't understand how comics are created, and referred to "artist Stan Lee" without knowing or caring (pick one or both) that Stan is a writer. It's possible they don't know comics have writers.

The show also perpetuates the myth that Stan created Marvel Comics singlehandedly out of thin air. This Mark blames on CBS, not Stan. Stan Lee is not shy about self-promotion, it's true, but (according to Mark, who would know) he's also sensitive to charges that he takes credit for things he didn't do, and is careful to point out in interviews that (to pick two conspicuous examples) Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko had a lot to do with it as well.

It's not Stan's fault that, in the few minutes of footage they used, they chose not to mention that Stan even had colloborators, let alone name them.

But here's the part I like:
It's the responsibility of any TV reporter to do at least a little independent fact-checking on their interviewees. Can you imagine a newsman going out to do a story on Paul McCartney who didn't know of John Lennon? I don't know how you could fact-check Stan Lee in the slightest and not discover that Spider-Man has been hailed by everyone, including Stan himself, as the joint creation of Lee and Ditko.

...And just think: As I write this, these people are covering the State of the Union address, the War in Iraq and the proposals for revamping Social Security...all, probably, with the same dedication to accuracy.
Every bit of it, I'm sure. It's a wonder they get George W. Bush's job title right. That's probably why they put it on the podium when he speaks.

UPDATE: See also Variety's Bags and Boards and's The Beat.

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