As Comic-Con San Diego nears, I thought I would share this little vignette from the recent Emerald City Comic-Con.
My Close Encounter with Stan Lee
My Emerald City Comic-Con hook up was running late. So rather than stand around the all too crowded, and under-seated lobby of the Washington State Convention Center, I walked across the street to the Sheraton Hotel. I found a bench in the lobby, took out my iPad and keyboard and started writing a review on an iPhone this or that.
Comic-Con was not the only game in town, and certainly not the most interesting depending on your perspective. The woman seated next to me was a English professor attending a comparative literature conference. Her topic: incest among royalty in the middle ages. I’m sure a few Game of Thrones fans would have signed up to help edit her paper (or even better, attend her lecture).
As I looked up from my tablet, Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1 and SyFy’s Sanctuary walked by. Patrick Warburton, AKA The Tick, held a conversation with his entourage, though he seemed very nice and not all that entourage-like. John Wesley Shipp, the latest incarnation of Henry Allen, Barry Allen’s incarcerated father on the CW’s Flash, also strolled by. The Dark Horse team, orchestrated by PR Master Aub Driver, also held court in the lobby.
And then, walking at a steady pace away to my right, was Stan Lee. A few minutes later, Stan walked back around toward the main doors leading to the Bell Desk. I packed up my stuff and strolled out. Standing in front of me was Stan Lee and a couple guys. Probably Agents of Shield disguised as bouncers. Not all that great a disguise. Across the driveway several paparazzi with long lenses snapped away at the comic icon and movie mogul.
Stan was waiting for a car to take him over the convention center. If you are Stan Lee, you don’t walk two blocks through the wilds of downtown Seattle. Though the wilds of downtown Seattle aren’t all that wild, usually (unless there is a WTO meeting in town). On this day it was hard to tell the actual homeless people from those dressed up as Walter Joseph Kovacs.
Remember, Stan is 92, so our brisk Seattle morning was a bit cold. He headed inside, agents in tow. The camera crew traipsed across the driveway clicking away. They congregated in front of me. Stan took refuge near a glass side door, only one agent covering the open space before him.
I took that as a sign. I walked through the paparazzi and re-entered the lobby. I made a sharp left and there stood Stan and his agent. I asked if I could say hello and give Stan my card. The agent asked Stan. Stan said yes. I gave the agent my card. He handed off to Stan. Stan said, “I can’t read this.”
So I told him who I was. A SciFi guy and comics reviewer. As the car arrived, I said, “please call, I would love to interview you.” Stan left to collect his $70 autograph fee and $88 solo photo op fee. Nice to see Stan still working it like all the other celebrities. His code number for Emerald City Comic-Con was Celeb 10.
As is tradition, I wore a Star Trek communicator pin to the conference on the lapel of my sports coat. Fandom’s easiest costume. Stick a Star Trek pin on anything and instant away mission. Well, Stan hasn’t hailed me yet, nor has my phone been jingled by the alter egos of Mr. Fantastic, Daredevil or Thor. But Stan Lee has my card. I have this story. And both are pretty good outcomes for a morning spent hanging out in a lobby waiting for a Comic-con badge. That was my close encounter with Stan Lee.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.