A Brief Tribute to Stan Lee and a Story About my “No-Prize.”

 

In 7th grade, I wrote a gushing fan letter to Stan Lee. The letter was subsequently published in its entirety in Captain America #107, November, 1968. A thrill. Here’s the cover, by Jack Kirby (another hero:)

captainamerica107

But it got better. Stan deemed the letter worthy of a “No-Prize,” his inside-joke “award” for fans – an envelope with literally nothing inside. So when, a few weeks later, said envelope from Marvel arrived, my 12-year-old head hit the ceiling.

This is my way of saying… RIP Stan, entertainer extraordinaire, wizard of words and worlds, and an outsized influence on many, including me. I’m so happy you lived long enough to see your co-creations explode into every corner of pop culture. Thanks for the ride.

And thanks also for this little envelope: no prize I’ve gotten since surpasses.

noprize

“Congratulations,” it says. “This envelope contains a genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize which you have just won. Handle with Care.” I did, through the decades. That’s a pic I shot recently. The outer envelope (from 625 Madison Avenue, New York, 10022) has yellowed. The No-Prize itself… is mint. 

Jaschek, Lee Team in What The–?! #5

“Ill-Conceived Character Couplings: Team-Ups That Just Wouldn’t Work.” What The–?! #5, 1989. Script: Walt Jaschek. Plot and Pencils: Jim Lee. Inks: Al Milgrom. Letters: Jim Parker. Cover: Hilary Barta.

Walt Jaschek looks back on his story in What The–? #5, Marvel’s self-parody comic, originally published in 1989. Walt recalls:

“Just as my freelance writing business was heating up, my friend and superstar comic artist invited me to do a short piece in Marvel’s humor anthology. His idea was teaming up characters who really didn’t belong together. I called it ‘Ill-Conceived Character Couplings.’  As I look back now, I see it was really a bunch of inside jokes for those reading comic at the time. But it was such a privilege to work with Jim and get that first check from Marvel. Even now I think back and say, ‘Did that really happen?’ In other words: ‘What The–?'”

Here is the Hilary Barta’s cover to the issue, followed by the story itself. Credits below.

whatthe-5-coverwhatth-couplings1whatth-couplings2whatthe-couplings3

See more comics written by Walt