Its funny how some people make a huge impact on you. I was so sad to hear the news of Stan Lee passing because he was exactly one of those people. Yet he would, I am pretty sure, not even have know who I was or have remembered meeting me. That’s because we met only once at The Biltmore in LA at an event during an E3 in the mid 90s. Stan was then at the helm of Stan Lee Media and I was CEO of Double Impact Media the publisher of The Apple CD-ROM Collection and Asia republisher for major CD-ROM studios such as Sanctuary Woods.
We were working on a deal to publish a series of games based on Stan Lee’s work. At that time we were also working with a number of the studios such as Warner Brothers who had established CD-ROM studios and we were always talking about the model of taking content from one medium to another, namely CD-ROMs. Whenever I was presenting to publishers or investors or partners or at conferences I always talked about Stan Lee as a great example of what could be done and lauded his Stan Lee Media operation. So he was a constant inspiration and part of my repertoire. But I had never met him, just dealt with some of his team.
So finally this one night after being at E3 all day we got invited to an event at The Biltmore and Stan was the star attraction surrounded by all sorts of Hollywood types who knew him well. I figured I could get five minutes of his time and it would be that classic celebrity style talk about nothing real and move on. Instead I had a really amazing conversation in which he passionately talked about his work and what was wrong with how it was being transferred to a new medium and what we needed to do better.
Stan painted this picture in my mind of the comic book reader, the kid playing a game, the only person who matters when you produce content, the consumer. It was so straight forward and so focused at a time when everyone was subsumed by new technology and business models. The clarity of his focus on the experience of a single viewer/player interacting with his content was extraordinary and just cut through it all for me. I have never forgotten that and I often think about him when I am in meetings that get bogged down in technology, business model, financing and financial engineering.
Stan Lee really made this profound impact on me that I have carried forward ever since as an inspiration and a way of looking at content businesses and content itself. I imagine he had this impact on so many people but probably had no idea that he did. I certainly never told him and how could I, some guy he talked to at a party off of a trade show! And he wouldn’t have cared because the only impact he cared about was that on the consumer.