SAN DIEGO – When it comes to Comic-Con, few people have a more hectic schedule than Stan Lee.

The head of POW! Entertainment has created some of the biggest super heroes in the world. The Marvel movies based on his creations like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have grossed over $6 billion worldwide (and counting). That doesn’t include the countless merchandising off-shoots, including video games.

One of Lee’s latest creations is The Guardian Project, which is a new computer-animated TV show and online video game featuring super heroes based on NHL hockey teams. The Carolina Hurricane is one of these new characters. He has the ability to control the weather and use that against enemies.

These characters were created in Los Angeles by House of Moves using Cary, N.C.-based Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 technology. Lee talks about this project, the digital age of comics, and how he created The Amazing Spider-Man in this exclusive interview.

What are your thoughts on your partners on The Guardian Project using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 technology to create the computer-animated TV show and online game?

Well, I’ll give you a very simple answer. I think it’s wonderful.

What’s it been like working on The Guardian Project and getting involved in sports and the NHL?

Well, I’m a big sports fan to begin with and these guys, these hockey players, they’re all heroes in their own rights and I’ve never had more fun. It’s just been great. I even threw out a puck at one of the games.

And what sports do you follow? Who are your teams?

Anybody who is in Los Angeles. The Kings, the Lakers. It used to be New York. Now it’s LA.

Do you have a favorite sport?

I follow everything…with intensity.

What role do you think video games and movies play today in getting people to check out those traditional paper print comic books?

Well, only in the sense that if you are interested in some characters that you see in one form of the media, you’re interest is liable to lap over and you’ll want to see t hose characters. f you enjoy playing video games about the Marvel characters, I imagine you’d then want to read the Marvel comic books and you’ll want to see those characters in the movies. And if you enjoy the movies, you want to play the videogames and if you enjoy the videogames you want to read the comic books. I think they all reflect upon each other.

What are your thoughts about the role that these smartphones and tablets play in allowing people to see all these new motion and digital comics that are coming out?

It’s great and it’s just changing the face of entertainment totally. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in another five or ten years. Things are moving so fast, but pretty soon I think you’re little iPhone that you carry will be all that you need for no matter what you want. You’ll see movies on it, television shows on it. You’ll play games on it. It will have your navigator. It will do everything for you.

The new phones that just came out are actually 3D and you don’t even have to wear the glasses.

Isn’t that something? Wow. I got to get one of those.

Do you have time when you have such a busy schedule at Comic-Con to actually check out comics?

Well, it’s a funny thing. I go to Comic-Con but I don’t have time to look around because when I go I have such a heavy schedule. I have panels to appear on, autographs to sign, photos to take, people to meet…so that I never can have the fun at a Comic-Con that the average Comic-Con goer has.

And what advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in comics today?

Well, today there’s a lot of competition because today if you’re a writer people who write television series and even movies and novels are now writing comics because they know there’s a chance if they write a really good comic book it will be made into a movie eventually. As far as the artwork goes, you’ve got some of the top illustrators in the country, if not in the world, illustrating comics today. So the competition is much, much greater than it has ever been, but by the same token they always need new blood. They always need new talent. It’s just you’ve got to be damn good in order to get into it, because you’re competing against people who are incredibly talented.

They’re competing against you, right?

Well, I’m really not writing as much as putting things together and coming up with the concept and then I try to get the best writers we can find to bring that concept to life.

Can you give us an example of how you created one of your characters that has become famous today?

Well, it’s just a lot of thinking. Like with Spider-Man for example, I was trying to think of something different and mainly in those days with superheroes you tried to think of the different superpower. We already had somebody who could burst into flame and fly. We had somebody whose body could stretch. We had a green-skinned guy who was the strongest man in the world. I was trying to think of something new. Then it occurred to me, ‘Gosh, if somebody could stick to the wall like an insect and crawl along the ceiling, I thought that might be really unique.’ So I tried to think of a name and I thought of Fly Man ,or Insect Man or Mosquito Man. They didn’t sound dramatic. Then I got to Spider-Man and that sounded great and then I worked with Steve Didko, the artist on it, and we decided he could even shoot webs. Before we knew it, we had what we thought was a great character.

What do you think the key has been with Spider-Man’s success, especially with the new Amazing Spider-Man reboot coming to theaters next summer?

The most important thing about Spider-Man was that I wanted him to be a teenager, but not a powerful, handsome, popular teenager. I wanted him to be a little bit nerdy. The girls aren’t crazy about him. He has trouble making a living. I wanted the reader to be able to relate to him and identify with him and empathize with him. So we were lucky. We lucked out with Spider-Man. He worked.

What excites you about the comic book industry today?

Well, the fact that it’s growing and changing every day and new stories are coming up and new versions of the old characters are being told as well as new characters being created. Any industry that’s alive and vital and constantly changing and adding new elements, that’s always interesting and exciting.

What are some good ways that you would give to someone to find inspiration for new comic book ideas?

Well, that is something I can’t answer. I don’t know where inspiration, as you call, it or ideas come from. Some people get their ideas through doing a ton of research. Some people just walk along the street and suddenly a thought hits them. Some people just sit at a desk with a pencil noodling until they come up with something. Everybody has his own way of coming up with ideas or inspirations, as you might call it. I don’t think there is any preferred or popular way to do it.

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