Stan Lee and His <EM>Mosaic</EM> Stan Lee and His Mosaic

Having celebrated his 84th birthday on Dec. 28, comic-book legend Stan Lee is still as exuberant and industrious as ever. In 2005, the man responsible for creating or cocreating Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and dozens of other Marvel characters formed POW! Entertainment with partners Gill Champion and Arthur Lieberman. The company's first release is the animated tale Mosaic, arriving in stores today on DVD. It's the story of a teenage girl (voiced by Anna Paquin) who's given the responsibility of saving the world after being transformed into a chameleon-like creature. TVGuide.com recently spoke with Lee about his plans for POW! and about the upcoming season of the Sci Fi Channel's Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

TVGuide.com: What does Mosaic have in common with countless other fantasy stories you've put out during your career?
Stan Lee:
Well, they're all highly imaginative, and they all have an element of fantasy. I just look for human interest — if in some way, even though it's a fantasy story, the characters can be believable and you can be empathic to them. That's all I really care about. You've got to be interested in the characters and in what happens to them. Otherwise, it's meaningless.

TVGuide.com: Is Mosaic representative of what you guys set out to do with POW! Entertainment?
Lee:
We set out to make a lot of money. [Laughs] No, what we wanted to do is what I've done all my life — come up with stories that are colorful that we can sell to movies or television or video games, or mobi-sodes for your cell phone. It's called POW! Entertainment because we want to entertain.

TVGuide.com: I heard you have a POW! project with Ringo Starr. What's that all about?
Lee:
Well, after Mosaic, we have one called The Condor or El Condor that features a Latino superhero, because I felt we have a need for more of those. After that, our next one will be Ringo. I was talking to Ringo the other day, and I said, "You know, I feel it's my duty to make you more famous." So it's my attempt to make Ringo more famous. He'll kill me when he hears this.

TVGuide.com: You're going to make a Beatle more famous?
Lee:
Sure. The world doesn't know he's a great adventurer, who has saved civilization many times. They will learn that when they see our little DVD. He's going to do the voice and the music.

TVGuide.com: It's not going to be anything like Caveman, is it?
Lee:
No. It's going to be like that movie out now with the three singing girls....

TVGuide.com: Dreamgirls?
Lee:
Yes. This is like a masculine version of Dreamgirls, only it features just one man.

TVGuide: That's kind of hard to visualize, but OK.... So are you ever surprised that movies based on your comic-book creations have enjoyed such success?
Lee:
No. I'm surprised that they aren't even more successful. Why should I be surprised?

TVGuide.com: Well, movie studios are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into productions based on your creations, from Spider-Man to X-Men. That's not even a little overwhelming?
Lee:
No, and wait until you see this summer's Spider-Man [3] and the Fantastic Four [Rise of the Silver Surfer]. It's going to be the best summer yet. And wait until you see my cameos. They're the best yet as well. Then there's Ghost Rider, and there will be Iron Man, and on and on. They can only get better and better.

TVGuide.com: With Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 20th Century Fox is hoping to revive the franchise after a critically and commercially disappointing first film. Do you think the sequel will be able to do that?
Lee:
Absolutely. But actually the [original] Fantastic Four didn't do badly. It didn't do as well as Spider-Man, but it was still a hit. It made good money, but wait until you see the second one. With Silver Surfer and my cameo, whoa!

TVGuide.com: Also, Who Wants to Be a Superhero? is returning to the Sci Fi Channel this summer. What made you want to come back for a second season?
Lee:
I was drafted. They said, "You've got to be back for Round 2," and I said, "Damn right, because I love it." They did six episodes last year, and they're going to do 10 this year, so that, of course, is a good sign. I think we'll be starting [production] in a few weeks. I'm waiting for the network to make up their mind as to how they want to do it.

TVGuide.com: Might there be some format changes?
Lee:
They may want to give it a little more thought and tweak it a little bit. I'm not sure exactly what they're going to do, but they're going to make it the best damn version of the show they can get, and I'm with them all the way.

TVGuide.com: Can you look back over your entire career and pick a favorite creation?
Lee:
It's impossible. I love them all. It's embarrassing to say this, but I'm my biggest fan, and I really love everything I do. So basically, whatever story I'm working on at the moment is my favorite creation.

TVGuide.com: Spider-Man doesn't have a special place in your heart?
Lee:
Spider-Man has been the most successful and most famous of all of them. So I guess if I had to pick my favorite, it would have to be Spider-Man, because I go where the money goes. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: You don't have any difficulty reconciling the capitalist with the artist, do you?
Lee:
Let me put it this way — I joke about the money, but it really is [about] the satisfaction of the work. I really hate to start writing, but the minute I sit down to write, I'm so impressed with myself and the fact that everything turns out so good. I read what I'm writing and I'm like, "That's great. Did I think of that? That's terrific!" So I'm having a great time, and if I can also get paid, that's nice. But if someone says to me, "I read such and such, and it was terrific," that's what really makes my day. That's all the payment I need.

Hey, sci-fi fans! For the scoop on such shows as Lost and Heroes, pick up the "2007 Preview" issue of TV Guide, now on newsstands.

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