The Animazing Stan Lee

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel

On Saturday October 9th, comic book legend Stan Lee, creator of thousands of heroes and villains in the Marvel Comics universe, held a signing at New York’s Animazing Gallery in SoHo to benefit the Stan Lee Foundation.  Fans were able to purchase prints, original paintings, and original published comic art pages for Lee to autograph.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel

Kultir Kritik covered the event and caught up with artists Jorge Burtin, Boris Vallejo, and Julie Bell to talk about their work.

At 87, the iconic Lee has the energy of Spider-Man.  He had a busy weekend not only with the Animazing event, but also as a guest of honor at the New York Comic Con.  Throughout the fast paced night that at times resembled the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, not once did Lee pause from signing autographs and posing for pictures with his fans.  And all throughout the night, the smile never left his face.

Stan Lee with fans Richard and Kim (Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel)

Earlier this year Lee formed the Stan Lee Foundation with a mission to support programs and ideas that:

  • Provide people access (all ages) to literacy resources helping them to participate and communicate in an engaged, and interdisciplinary, learner-centered environment for self-improvement and self-sufficiency.
  • Promote diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.
  • Embrace innovation, integrity and scholarly and artistic engagement to build a community of learners, collaborators and creators.

Five large pieces of glass mosaic art of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Man, and a portrait of Lee by glass artist Jorge Burtin were for sale with all proceeds benefiting the Stan Lee Foundation.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel

Artist Jorge Burtin and his Incredible Hulk portrait. (Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel)

Burtin:  What drew me is the eternal nature of the characters that Stan has created.  I wanted to create an art form that represented our generation yet would last for many many future generations.  So I chose glass as my pigment of choice.   The glass that I use is stained glass.  I score the glass, I hand break it, and then I hand set it.  The piece here which is the Hulk for example, has got 44,000 pieces in it.  Your car has about 2,500.  The Eiffel Tower has got 14,400 pieces.  And the glass is (such that) the color won’t drift, it won’t age.  What you’re looking at now will be viewed by future generations forever.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Fante/Sundance Channel

Burtin: One of my favorite pieces is the portrait of Stan Lee.  The portrait of Stan is very interesting because if you look at it, it has a bit of danger and mystery to the portrait and that’s what I tried to capture because all of us have quite a bit of danger in us.

Ever since Burtin began his career in art, it was his mission to give all proceeds from the sale of his artwork to charities.

Burtin: I was very fortunate in my previous life and I think I have enough money to hold me out, we’ll see how this economy does.  Everybody knows that an artist has to starve, so I just figured I’m not even going to fight it, not even try to make money.  All the proceeds go to foundations or charities.  I’ve raised hundred of thousands of dollars through the artwork for charities [e.g. Boys and Girls Club, Black Women United for Action, The Vision of the Children – Andrea Boccelli’s foundation], and I absolutely love it.

Painters Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo had an entire wall of their paintings of Marvel characters for sale.  Vallejo’s relationship with Lee spans forty years.

Artists Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo

Vallejo: I had started to work for Marvel back in the early 70s.  So it has been quite a number of years, almost 40 years now.  I used to get together with Stan frequently doing the work for them.  We used to sit down and chat forever.  I haven’t seen him for a number of years, but it’s really wonderful to get in touch with him again.

The paintings on display this evening had originally been commissioned for a set of Marvel trading cards in the early 90’s.  For a young Kultur Kritic growing up on low quality 4 color printing, Bell’s hyper realistic oil painting of the Incredible Hulk truly stuck out.  Her brush work is as true to life as a superhero can be represented and brings many new dimensions to the character.

The Incredible Hulk by Julie Bell

Bell: That was actually one reason I wanted to get into painting superheroes as opposed to…the line work they normally do [with pencil and ink].  I thought it would be really cool to bring a 3D reality.

As the night went on, Jorge was informed that the Spider-Man mosaic had just been purchased by an anonymous buyer for $25,000.  Could it have been Harry Osborne?  The Kingpin?

Special thanks to Heidi Leigh (gallery owner) and Carol Coven (art consultant) of the Animazing Gallery for allowing Kultur Kritik access to this amazing event.

To quote the verbose Mr. Lee: ‘Nuff said!