On Day two we had a lot of autograph seeking to do. Ron Perlman either wasn’t there Friday or we just missed him, and he was a big highlight for the rest of my family. I enjoy Hellboy and his character in Pacific Rim but not quite enough to want to pay for his autograph. My prime autograph target for Saturday was Stan Lee, and I also wanted to hear Stan Lee’s panel.
We didn’t arrive at the con until after noon. I walked in the door right in front of ballroom 203 which is where Stan Lee was scheduled to speak in about 45 minutes. I figured I’d go in, grab a seat, and listen to whoever was speaking now. I was surprised to find a pretty good seat to hear Adam West and Burt Ward in the middle of their panel. They were both engaging and entertaining as always (I’ve seen them once or twice at other conventions). Someone asked Burt Ward if he would ever wear the costume again. He said “I only wear it for trick or treating and private moments with my wife.”
Shortly after that Adam West in doing the Batusi, which is not something I think any of us were prepared for. There were a lot of questions which boiled down to “Do you like the new Batman movies?” Adam West in one response noted that “the new Batman kills more people on the way to the rescue than we did in the whole series.” Burt Ward was asked about working with Bruce Lee. He told the audience about working with Bruce Lee and noted that Lee’s first ever filmed fight scene was fighting Burt Ward on Batman. They were also asked about the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman and the crowd booed heartily. Ward and West ducked the question graciously, although West said “for $20M he could have shaved his beard.” All in all I was very glad I caught some of their panel, even if by accident.
Stan Lee was five or ten minutes late but immediately won the crowd over. He told the story of how he met his wife. He was set up on a blind date with a hat model. When he went to the modeling agency the girl who answered the door looked exactly like the picture of the perfect girl that he’d been drawing for years. They wound up going out for lunch, falling in love and getting married.
Lee also talked about his struggles with writing comics for kids, as his publisher wanted him to do. He was going to quit comics but his wife convinced him to write a story the way he wanted to write it. That story became Fantastic Four #1. When the sales figures came in, his publisher asked Lee why he didn’t write more stories like that. Lee said, “that’s when I learned not to trust the experts.”
Lee was also asked a lot of questions about the movies. He sounded sad when he remarked that in the first Fantastic Four movie they just didn’t do Dr. Doom right. Lee was asked about Mallrats and said “Kevin Smith is the nicest dirty talking guy.”
At one point Lee recommended that one of his questioners Google something. Then he said, “Googling is wonderful. I think Google is the greatest superhero.”
When asked how he comes up with his villains, Lee said he comes up with the name first and then tries to find a personality to fit the name. He also at one point mentioned that he doesn’t know the meaning of the word “no.” He generally agrees to do what people ask him. It struck me later that that’s something he and Shatner have in common. Shatner wrote about not saying “no” in one of his books, and how that lead to Priceline and other opportunities. Interesting that two highly successful people who have done a lot of different things may have gotten a lot of those opportunities simply through a willingness to try new things.
Later that day we stood in line to have our picture taken with William Shatner. His photo op line was two or three times longer than any other I saw. Unlike Stan Lee, we were not forbidden to shake Shatner’s hand or otherwise touch him, so when we finally got up to meet him I put my arm around him for the picture. He didn’t bristle or otherwise seem annoyed as the photographer snapped a quick pic and we thanked him.
Edit January 29, 2014: As requested, some more pictures from the Adam West and Burt Ward panel follow.