Saturday, July 05, 2008

Stan Lee visits Google

Last Wednesday, Stan Lee spoke at Google Santa Monica!

It was a thrill to meet this American icon, and he was a great speaker. I'm on the
Authors @ Google team, which brings in writers to speak to Googlers. Google buys books for the attendees and puts videos of the talks up on YouTube. A colleague from our headquarters in Mountain View met Stan at a convention and invited him to speak. Stan graciously agreed, provided he could come to Santa Monica since he lives nearby. And so we quickly prepared for our biggest local authors event to date!

I was impressed by how friendly and accessible Stan was, posing for pictures with Googlers (including one in a Spiderman costume) and signing autographs. I was also wowed by his energy and passion for new creative pursuits, given than he's 85 years old. He continues to create characters and develop projects through his new company, POW! Entertainment. Stan presented his new book Election Daze, a collection of wacky captions he wrote for political photos. We had about 75 people locally attend the talk and many more from 10 offices who viewed the talk via videoconference. Stan put up a photo of Obama and allowed Googlers to come up with captions. The winner took home a signed Election Daze publisher proof.

Stan took many questions from the crowd. When asked his favorite movie cameo, he said it was in Iron Man, when he had fun with his resemblance to Hugh Hefner (and got to work with some lovely blonds). He said he had been pleasantly surprised with the success of Iron Man and also approved of the latest Incredible Hulk movie and the Spiderman films. He said he hoped Fantastic Four would get on track in the next movie. He took several digs at rival DC Comics, while admitting if pressed to name a non-Marvel comic character that he liked, he would go with DC's Lobo, which he said was unusually original for them. Stan told us he was a big fan of Google and that he couldn't live without it.

Stan wanted to do a public signing, and since we can't let the masses into our office, I coordinated with the Santa Monica Public Library next door to hold the signing there. While waiting for that event to get started, we got the chance to pose for photos with Stan. My teammate Susanna told Stan, "You're being very gracious and accommodating." He replied, "I tend to be." He was affable and self-effacing. I saw Hancock the night before this event, and it occurred to me that movie probably couldn't have been made without Stan Lee, who first introduced human failings and crises into the superhero psyche.

I recommend Election Daze if you need a laugh in this tiresome election year, and I am grateful to Stan for visiting Google! Check YouTube for a video of the talk - coming soon.

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