As we head into this year’s San Diego Comic-Con this week, and the massive convention celebrates its 50th anniversary, there’s one notable Comic-Con icon who may be gone but will certainly not be forgotten – Stan Lee.
This is the first SDCC since Lee passed away last year, and his absence will be very much noted. Multiple panels are devoted to looking back at the Marvel legend and his massive impact on both comics and pop culture at large, thanks to characters he co-created like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, and oh-so many more.
For decades, Lee was a huge part not just of San Diego Comic-Con, but of the convention landscape in general, appearing several times a year at many such events. If you’re a frequent conventiongoer, there’s a very good chance you have a Stan story, or at the least can recall a Stan sighting.
In honor of Stan, Fandom collected memories from actors, members of the Fandom community, and our own staff of a few such Stan convention encounters…
– Angel, Person of Interest, The Gifted
We had a group Stan Lee encounter at Comic-Con the first year we went with The Gifted.
He had done a cameo in our pilot, which I randomly was able to help facilitate because my roommate from college was running Fan Expo Dallas, near where we were shooting the pilot. I ran into [The Gifted executive producers] Derek and Matt trying to track Stan down and hooked them up with my roommate Dana who made the connection and somehow it worked out that, in his like 24 hours in Dallas, he was able to do the cameo!
So then, [a few months later] we ran into him as a cast backstage at Comic-Con and everyone was really excited. We got to take a group picture with him and then we were rushed off in different directions. It felt special to meet him while being part of the X-Men universe.
-Fandom Community Member
As a Wikia member I was picked to attend a conversation with Stan Lee at Nerd HQ during San Diego Comic-Con. It was a perk for being a member. I was able to tell Stan how much I loved Marvel and the books he created. Now that he has left us I’m glad I was able to tell him face to face the joy he had brought me and countless others.
– Fandom Senior Producer
This was back in the day when I was working for TV Guide Network (which would later become Pop TV). I was a PA at the time and that meant I had to be the camera operator for our reporter for all of the press lines. It was the first day of Comic-Con and I woke up early and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby to wait for my supervising producer. It was about 7:15 in the morning, so I was pretty tired, and I slumped down on a couch and put in an ear bud, leaving one out so I could hear when my producer was coming.
There were four older gentlemen sitting behind me and I overheard them dropping names like “Kirby” and “Ditko” and I thought “Man, these old guys are legit old school about their comics!” So I started listening to them talk about how comics were made back in the day and how much it’s changed and reminiscing about characters and storylines. There was a moment I was tempted to turn around and join in the conversation and “um, actually” them on a few finer points, but in hindsight, my guardian angel prevented me from turning around and completely embarrassing myself. They wrapped up their conversation and wished each other well and to “have a good show.” I figured these guys have probably been selling comics for decades and have a booth on the floor. I was half right.
Three of the gentleman walked one way and the fourth man walked right past me. It was a comic salesman alright… it was Stan Lee. It sunk into my brain that I had just listened to the creator of my childhood heroes waxing poetic and reminiscing about the days of old and I was just a couple of feet away from them. I quickly tried to grab a picture on my flip phone because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. It ended up being a blur, which just added to the “urban legend” of the day I “met” Stan Lee.
Years later I would actually get to properly meet Stan and work with him for a few years. But those 15 minutes of nosily eavesdropping on comic royalty is easily my fondest SDCC memory.
– The Dark Knight, Ant-Man and The Wasp
My first San Diego Comic-Con was in 2012. I had just moved to LA and had worked on the film Sushi Girl. We were doing a big crazy panel at SDCC and I was sitting there with Mark Hamill and the rest of the cast as we were getting ready to go do our panel. Suddenly Stan walked by.
Mark and Stan apparently knew one another and they stopped to say hi to each other. I didn’t introduce myself to Stan at that point because I was so nervous and freaking out and thinking “Oh my God, I’m standing here with Mark Hamill and Stan Lee. This is INSANE.”
A few years later, after I’d gotten to know Stan through the Ant-Man world, I was invited down to Stan’s Comikaze convention. I brought my son with me and Stan sat and talked to us for a bit about how much he liked the film and he gave us some cool comics – including an Ant-Man comic! It was yet another of those surreal moments for this lifelong nerd.
– Fandom Community Member
I crossed paths with Stan Lee two times. The first time I remember was during my first NYCC (my first convention ever). I went to a panel that Stan was doing for a manga he was involved with called Ultimo (there was a promo image of Stan as a manga character) since I wanted to see him in person. The panel was fun, filled with lots of jokes and talk about Ultimo, as well as fans asking Stan all kinds of questions during the Q&A section of the panel. I remember vividly one of the women there who asked a question about the X-Men to Stan, and she broke down into tears because Stan Lee was speaking to her (my dad couldn’t believe the kind of reaction he was seeing from people for someone involved with comic books).
After the panel was done, both my father and me left the panel room and walked slowly with the crowd. After about a minute or so, we both noticed someone coming up behind us walking somewhat faster in the same direction. It was Stan Lee leaving the room and waving everyone goodbye. He walked by both me and my dad, gave us a smile/wave and said hello before proceeding on his way (me and my dad both had a moment taking that in). Not even a minute or so afterwards, a crowd of people followed Stan in the same direction – a large group of people. The best was to describe it in that setting was that Stan was like a Jesus-figure among every comic fan there. It was not only awesome but surreal.
– Ash vs. Evil Dead
I was a guest at a convention in 2016. A volunteer at the con was escorting me to the professional photo-ops area for my allotted time slot to take solo photos with fans. As we approached my room, I saw what had to be 1,000 people in line. Ummm…WHAT?! It can’t be. No way. “There’s no way that line is for me,” I told her. She said, with sweet positivity, “Yeah, I think it is!”
My stomach flipped like I was on a rollercoaster. Could it be? While I had a handful of conventions under my belt at this point — including NYCC and SDCC, which blew my mind with awesomeness — I certainly wasn’t delusional. Only one season of Ash Vs Evil Dead had aired, and I found it hard to believe that I could have garnered that many fans already. There must be some mistake.
As we walked to the back area of photo-ops we were greeted by the photo-op coordinator with a clipboard. My escort asked, “Dana DeLorenzo is in room 2A, right?” Coordinator checks clipboard. “Yep!” Again I say, now more definitively, “There’s no way that’s my line.” Coordinator smiles big and says, “Well it is girl! Own it!” My stomach flips again with giddy-nervousness at the shocking possibility that my character on the show had become this popular. As we walked down the long hallway, the coordinator called out, “Love you on the show by the way!”
We entered the room and the photographer looks up from his test shots and asked, “Can I help you?” Welp, that’s not a good sign. “She’s here for her photo ops.” The photographer looked at me, then back at the volunteer. “Ok.” There was an awkward silence so I said again, this time with a knowing hesitation, “There’s no way that line is for me…”
The photographer looked back at the line, then at me, and said as gently as he could, “Yeah… no. It’s Stan Lee’s line.” OF COURSE IT WAS STAN LEE’S LINE. “Ahh, now that makes sense!” After a brief exchange between escort and photographer, she asked if he knew what my room was changed to. “I don’t, sorry. But we’re about to bring in Mr. Lee so… could you….?”
And as we turned to leave, I felt this presence behind me. All at once there were five more people in the room, surrounding the great Stan Lee, who was rocking his tinted glasses. He was the epitome of cool. Mr. Lee had the air of a Don. I stopped breathing for a second. Stan Lee had that thing. That intangible but palpable je ne ce quoi. That particular magnetism that comes with greatness.
I wanted to say something to him, but my brain was blinded by his sheer presence and it took all of my focus just to walk out of the room without tripping over the lights. Luckily, I didn’t trip in front of him. I tripped after that walking into my (correct) photo-op room.
– Spider-Man: Far From Home
Editor’s Note: Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home actor Tony Revolori recently wrote a story for Fandom about his experience going from a Marvel fan to a Marvel actor, which included a memorable Comic-Con encounter with Stan alongside his Spidey costar Jacob Batolan. Jacob added his own perspective for us…
That was when Stan Lee gave me the Ned Leeds comic books! He handed me the first issue where Ned appeared in the comics. I remember him being so proud of Tony and I being Flash and Ned.
He was a sweet, amazing guy who I am so thankful for. Genuinely, without him none of us would be doing this. For me, it wasn’t really like a full on conversation. Mostly it was an understanding of who we were playing and like “That’s amazing. I’m very proud. It’s a great way for you guys to be in the movie.”
It was a very sweet gesture of him. To know he was supportive of us was enough.
– Scooby-Doo, DC Super Hero Girls
We were in the green room together at Comic-Con about 10 years ago… I can’t remember what we were promoting. The Super Hero Squad Show, I think? He wanted me to sit next to him because his hearing was going a bit and I helped him by re-asking questions into his ear and just being a general “second pair of ears.”
Well, he always wore the most gorgeous and SOFT cashmere sweaters and I remember that I had been sitting next to him for about 20 minutes and petting him for about 5 of those. I was horrified and apologized profusely. He was very sweet about it but I’m sure I seemed like a total creep.
– Fandom Managing Editor
While I had some notable moments spotting Stan at San Diego Comic-Con through the years, including a big geek out when he walked by me at the Marriott at one of my first SDCCs in 1999 and then seeing him sitting and chatting with Lucy Lawless at a party several years later, my biggest Stan convention encounter came at New York Comic Con in 2012.
I was working at IGN at the time and the room we had for interviews was notably larger than we needed – we were only using the back half of it, essentially, with the front filled with empty tables and chairs. On top of that, the room was located right next to the doors used to access the backstage area to get to the main stage, so we had a lot of notable people walking by on their way to their panels. At one point, a small group came by with none other than Stan Lee. They explained his panel was in a little while but wanted to know if he could sit at one of the aforementioned empty tables and take a breather in our room for a bit until they needed to go on stage. Obviously, the answer was yes! We were all delighted to have Stan Lee just sitting and chilling in our room.
What happened next though was what was really fun. Our scheduled interviews that hour included The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and the cast from the series Da Vinci’s Demons, including that show’s creator, Blade and Batman Begins screenwriter David S. Goyer. Kirkman and Goyer happened to arrive within a couple of minutes of each other and when they saw Stan, each had a similar reaction, immediately lighting up and quickly making their way over to him to say hello, with a huge grin on their face.
Stan was as friendly and gracious with his two hugely successful admirers as you’d expect, with the trio soon excitedly chatting and laughing together, joined by some of the Da Vinci’s Demons cast. It was really cool to see a couple of people so directly influenced by Stan, who had reached such heights with their own work, getting their own chance to have an understandable “excited fan” reaction.
And yes, my coworker Mike Aransky and I got a photo with Stan before he left our room for his panel. It didn’t turn out so great thanks to the overly bright lighting above, but we were still psyched. And as luck would have it, I was wearing an Avengers jacket that day!
– Fandom Community Member
During SDCC 2012, I was staying at the Marriott. For whatever reason, I decided to cosplay as Mercury from the New X-Men, silver body paint and white contacts and all. I hopped into the elevator heading down to the lobby and was thankful no one else was in it. It stopped at the floor below mine, and who should step in but the man himself, Stan Lee.
I really didn’t know what to say, and I was especially shy because of the cosplay. So we kind of just rode in silence. He smiled at me before he stepped out into the lobby. A guy saw him, freaked out, and raised his hand for a high five. Without missing a beat, Stan Lee went, “Nah,” and kept walking. He came back a minute later and gave the guy a high five and laughed. Took a photo with him, too.
For those attending SDCC in person, you can also find us at the ScreenJunkies/Fandom panel on Friday, July 19th at 8:30pm PT in Room 6A.