When Stan Lee came to UT Austin, everyone was trying to get tickets. Except for me. Stan Lee, for those who are too cool to know, is famous for creating Spiderman, The Hulk, and other comic book characters. I've never once read a comic book, and despite being one, I have no particular affinity for superheroes. The night that Stan was to talk, one of my friends came over. He had somehow gotten ahold of several VIP tickets to the appearance. VIP tickets were up front.
The year before Ben Stein had come and gave a very interesting speech. Afterwards I went up and got him to sign a one dollar bill. In retrospect, I wish I had a Doubly Deuce at the time. I figured that I would temporarily suspend my gangsta lifestyle and see what this nerd comic book crap was all about.
[I know this seems like it will be a boring story. It won't be, so stop whining and read to the end. Then leave a comment and tell me I was right.]
Stan Lee was an excellent speaker. He started off by telling us that he didn't have a speech written, and started rambling on and on about the early days of comics. Despite having zero interest in comics, most of his stories were fascinating.
For example, have you ever wondered why the Hulk is green? Me neither.
At first the Hulk was grey. I guess he was supposed to look like he was made out of stone or something. However, back in the triassic period, when comic books were cool, the printing technology was really poor. The Hulk would sometimes appear as black as I do, and other times as black as Michael Jackson does. His editors told him that the hulk needed to be a different color
Why green? Because no major superhero was green.
As the speech drew to a close, he announced that he would be answering questions before his time was up. Two microphones were brought to the aisles - one menacingly close to where I was. When he announced that he would be taking questions, you could see certain portions of the demographic quiver in joy.
I knew exactly what I should ask.
I looked around the room. There were a lot of people there. How would they take my question?
I jumped up to get in line. I was second.
The first guy blabbered on with some stupid question like "Do you feel that any of the characters you've written about have shaped your political views?"
You could see from his facial expression that Stan regarded it as a totally useless question as well. He answered politely with a reply that ended in "... so I hope that answers your question."
Then it was my turn. Thousands of eyes were on me. I cleared my throat.
"Well, Stan," I started, "I've been giving a lot of thought to becoming a superhero lately..."
The crowd started to chuckle. Stan interrupted, "You should!"
"... but the problem is that I can't think of a good name. Can you help me?"
The crowd cheered, lifted me up above them and sang my praises while showering me with money and the phone numbers of their sisters. When that was over, Stan answered.
"Well... you're putting me on the spot a little bit. Hmm.... If I had to come up with one right now... Quintessential Man."
Whoa! It was as if he knew me. What a perfect name! So from now on, whenever you see me fighting crime, feel free to call me Quintessential Man.
This is a fun story, Tynan! It is also a mirror image of something that happened to me over 20 years ago.
In my version, the luminary giving the talk at the university (Furman) was Kurt Vonnegut. For no particular reason, I was wearing a big, bushy, heavy metal-style wig over my regular, conservative haircut when I went up to ask my question: "Do I look better with long hair..." removed the wig, "..or with short hair?"
"You look fine either way," he said, "but if you want to get a job, keep it short."
The most amazing thing is how the audience reacted EXACTLY the same way you describe, with the cheers and money and phone numbers and such!
yeah i wouldnt have known who Stan Lee was if it wasn't for Mallrats. Hooray Mallrats.
And you're right Quinty (mind if I call you Quinty? Quintessential man is too much to type), it did seem like it would be boring and then it wasn't :)
The Hulk would sometimes appear as black as I do, and other times as black as Michael Jackson does.
this is why i love you so
ok, it was a good story. Don't forget explanations of difficult words like 'quintessential' for us non-native speakers :)
For the rare native Danes...
For the rest of the world...
It's a fancy way of saying 'perfect'
It's a dangerous night to be walking outside. Not for me, but for the tiny little frogs that dot the gravel road. I swish my overpowered Surefire flashlight across the dark gravel trying to avoid stepping on them. When I get close they freeze in their tracks, making them harder to see. This would be a good reflex if I was trying to eat them, but it's working against them tonight.
I'm walking down to the beach for old times' sake. It's 2am and I'm in Milton, Vermont. Calling it a beach is generous. Shale rocks densely scattered over green outcroppings of weeds lead up to murky water. There are a few docks and a few boats pulled up out of the water. They're not locked to anything - they're just sitting there.
I crouch, pick up one of the little green frogs, and watch him slowly climb around my wrist as I rotate it. I probably haven't touched a frog in ten years. Playing with frogs used to be my favorite thing to do when I was in Vermont. I liked to catch them in a bucket and then empty it into the nearby creek and watch them swim away. Sometimes we'd throw them in the air so that they'd land in the lake. That seems a bit inhumane now, but we didn't know better back then. We were kids. I lower my arm to the ground and nudge the frog off of my wrist.
For some arbitrary reason, I enjoy thinking of my favorites. Whether it be musicians, sports teams, or really anything else, I have this urge to occasionally "categorize" myself (despite the fact that I detest labels and believe we should stray away from them). That being said, I always wondered who my favorite superhero was.
Now I never really grew up with superheroes. I wasn't an avid comic book reader like your stereotypical nerd (any Big Bang Theory fans?). Really, my only experience with superheroes are the few mainstream movies I've watched recently. This blog post is an effort to dive into this realm I've never ventured into.
For time's sake, I'm only going to look into a few of these individuals. This selection is mainly based on popularity because I don't really want to look closely into obscure superheroes (who the hell is Plastic Man?).
My choices were Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Thor. All are pretty well-known, but I tried to incorporate both icons and a few darkhorse candidates. I do realize I don't have any women choices, but that's because there are no recent well-known movies about female superheroes.