Stan Lee, the mastermind behind Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man and many others is to be in charge of Branson bankrolled Virgin Comics’ new line of superheroes.
The LA Times broke the news this morning, revealing that the 85 year old Lee will work on a superhero team that is possibly similar to his work on the Avengers at Marvel.
Since its inception, Virgin Comics has stayed largely away from traditional superheroes — in fact in an interview with Fast Company about a year ago, editor Ron Marz revealed that the company harbors strong reservations about the superhero genre. “Marvel and DC print lots of superhero based comic books that are consumed in mass quantities in the United States. There is very little genre material. Superheroes really don’t do that well in global markets,” said Marz, emphasizing Virgin’s international focus. “The American comic market is dominated by superheroes… and people don’t want third generation knockoffs.”
Now that Stan Lee is their flag bearer, Virgin is clearly singing a different tune.
Lee, who recently receive the inaugural New York Comics Legend Award at an event at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square,.can now be added to Virgin Comics’ slew of celebrity names – the company has recruited filmmakers Guy Ritchie, Terry Gilliam and John Woo, actor Nicolas Cage and musician Dave Stewart.
“We could not be more excited about creating a whole new universe with Stan Lee,” said CEO of Virgin Comics, Sharad Devarajan, in an interview with the LA Times. “His presence and the tremendous respect people have for him will be a call to action for writers and artists.”
“Over and above being just a name, a celebrity is a brand. Tapping into existing brands… is one way to compete in a superhero dominated world,” Devarajan told Fast Company last year. With the backing of one of the biggest brands in the comic book world, Virgin has certainly turned the competition up several notches.