RIP Stan Lee. Humans entertain, gods bore.

A bright light has gone out in the world. I was but a kid when Spider-Man and Fantastic Four were first published. Compared to DC Comics at the time, Stan’s characters were more flawed, more human, more fun. Super Holly Hansson is the Superman of my writing world, but she is not a perfect boy scout. She is a geek girl with a short fuse. Lesson learned.

John Trumbull ran an article a while ago that showcased Lee’s dialog when some of the jerkier fanboys would say it was ALL Kirby and ALL Ditko and Stan just took all the credit. In the article, John showed a panel from Fantastic Four, Lee’s writing and Kirby’s art.

And one from New Gods, Kirby’s writing and art.

Have I mentioned that one way to have Super Holly Hansson give you a fat lip is to call her a goddess? Putting “Gods” in a title puts me off. Fellow writers tell me that they like how Holly is “very human.”

On Stan Lee’s Fresh Air interview, he asked Terry Gross to imagine a monster: 12-feet tall, purple skin, breathing fire, two heads. In the 1960s, a typical superhero would have said, “A creature from another world – I’d better capture him before he destroys the city.” Spider-Man might say, “Who’s the nut in the Halloween costume?” Stan said he tried to do dialogue that represented the way real, flesh and blood, three-dimensional people would talk. What better writing advice can I get?

Stan loved making original sound effect words: “btkooom” (the third O is, of course, silent) and “PFZZAKT” (a bullet going through a wall). I have been a little lax with crazy original sound words lately, but I admit that I still love Harry Headbutt punching Super Holly and then she clobbers him with five: THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!! THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

Stan said he used those fun alliterative names (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Sue Storm) because he had a bad memory. I use them too, I like their sound: Holly Hansson, Katsuko Kimura, Cal Critbert, and my favorite: Harry Headbutt! (Nice when the name says a bit about the character.)

P.S. I was going to have a Stan Lee type character in my stories: Dan Mann. But I already have three older men in Super Holly’s life: her Uncle Pops, Bennie the rubber cop, and Lash the barber. So I am gender-flipping Dan Mann into Fran Lee. When I FINALLY finish The Comic Book Code, Fran will be the head of a Marvel-type company who publishes Holly’s graphic novel, The Last Super. She will know comic book history. She’ll be Jewish. And she will have some of HERstorian and writer Trina Robbins in her soul.


Should Stan Lee wear a skirt?

bechdel-testThe Bechdel test (from Alison Bechdel‘s comic strip, “Dykes to Watch Out For”) asks whether a work of fiction (1) features at least two women (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man.

Who does Super Holly Hansson talk to for more than a page in my upcoming novel? Dan Mann: Stan Lee mentor. Cal Critbert: Batman / Roger Ebert love interest. Uncle Pops: Patton father figure. My writing FAILS?!?!

I’m thinking about turning Dan Mann into a her. Keep a lot of Stan Lee, but stir in, oh, Trina Robbins for comic book cred. What women have spice? Eartha Kitt? Julie Newmar? Madonna? Whoopi Goldberg?

Hey, my women blog followers! Any advice for a writer who needs good female personality templates?

(Added on Dec. 20: A name like Fran Lee, or Anne Lee? I like the sound of that. The idea is taking root!)

What I would miss if I became the next Stan Lee.

Most aspiring authors with unrealistic expectations say, “I’m gonna be the next J.K. Rowling!” Since I write superheroine stories, I prefer to say, “I’m gonna be the next Stan Lee!”

But I had an interview at LinkedIn today for a technical writing job. Tech writing is how I earn my living. The subject came up of what job would be my ideal one. It made me think. And I had to say that even if I became a best-selling author, I would miss technical writing. I love getting to know engineers, working with them, and working with cool tech. (Ah, RhoMobile and its cross-compiler! Write an app once in Ruby, compile to iOS and to Android!)

A theme in my Super Holly stories is that even though Holly’s graphic novel is a best-seller, her day job is being the mightiest super of all, the one they look up to. And Holly can’t hide from being the Superman because my superheroes do not have secret identities, that has been done to death!

I’m a tech writer. I like it. That’s been my day job, and I expect it will always be so.

Ahoy, matey, here be me onomatopoeia!

ARRR!!! I be one day late fer Talk Like A Pirate Day! But I be doin’ it now because, like a pirate, I be breakin’ the rules when I write my action-packed and comic book goofy prose stories! Firstly, I be writing accents into me dialog! Like I be doin’ right now! Secondly, I be using plenty of exclamation points!!!!!!!!! And thirdly, I be writing sound effects words! Why not? They be words on the page, adding sound! YARRRRRR!!! Here be some of me sound effects booty in me Super Bad Hair Day short stories!

Them scallywags Harry Headbutt and Super Holly fight toe-to-toe and scowl-to-scowl, and for every one of Harry’s punches, Holly clobbers him with five! THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW! THOOM!! POW POW POW POW POW!! THOOM!!! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

SHPLLLPTT! A big fat bug hits Super Holly’s face mid-flight!

KERR-RUNCH! SKKKKKTT! Holly accidentally punches a parked car, caving in its driver side door and skidding it onto the sidewalk, good thing she has insurance!

Harry Headbutt be blowin’ a motorcycle-revving super-raspberry: “BBBBBTTTHHHHHPPPPP, BBBPPPP, BBBPPPP, BBBTHHHPPPPPP!” Now that be WET!

Apricot Computer CEO Chris Jobz kisses the evil Karate Queen’s feet: MMM-WAH, MMM-WAH!

BUMP WHUMP BUMPLE THUMP! A beat-up ninja be tumbling onto a stage!

FLOOOFFF! The inky cape of the Intellectual be billowing!

TOK! Holly’s pen bounces off her signing table. KAH-LATTER! And hits the floor. FLUR-FLUFFLE! Followed by some of her comic books.

BTFFFT-KER-SPLLLLLUP! A giant spider web be blanketing all the geeks in the Geek Guy’s comic book shop!

Holly Hansson’s pre-super fist plows into John Glutt’s doughy cheek: SHHPLLLUUUDDD!

YARRRRR, those were FUN to read aloud at open mics!!! I be learning from the masters! Like Stan Lee, who said that the third “O” be, of course, silent in BTK-KA-THOOOM!!!

And Charles Schultz! Linus be throwin’ one snowball at Lucy — WHAP! — and then Lucy be clobberin’ him with five: POW! POW! POW! POW! POW!

And the master of mayhem, the prince of percussion, the super scholar of sound effects: Mad Magazine’s Don Martin! (Update: I fixed the link!) Dive yer eyes into the briny deep of this alphabetic list with such shiny doubloons as SHKLIKSA! (clam squirting man in face), or ONNNNNGHK FWEEEEEEEEE (husband snoring) or KACHUNK KACHUNKA KACHUNK KACHUNK (a cake baking machine).

Paste yer peepers below for Don’s sheer genius! ARRR, there be so much more mayhem fer me to learn!!!




A tantalizing little bit of Holly’s Super Bad Hair Day short story.

I just put some of Holly’s upcoming story onto my Upcoming Stories page. Check it out. Get your cash ready to spend, all 99 cents of it. (That’s the going rate for a short story, I think.) And, I hope, get ready to laugh.

Now I know what Stan Lee meant when he said of Peter Parker (Spider-Man): “I just can’t resist torturing the poor guy.”