By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Marvel Entertainment’s chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn’t stopped him from adding outposts to his creative empire as he hopes to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.
Lee, 91, the creator of comic book franchises and box-office behemoths such as Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men, is focusing on Stan Lee’s Kids Universe and publishing new content across books, television and digital platforms for young children.
The latest character to join the Kids Universe roster is Dex T-Rex, a cheeky little blue dinosaur who likes to wreak havoc but learns a serious lesson when his actions become harmful to others. He appears in a book titled “Dex T-Rex: The Mischievous Little Dinosaur” written and illustrated by first-time illustrator Katya Bowser and aimed at children under 10.
“Children that age enjoy any story with interesting things happening, but if you can insert morals into the stories, how much better that is,” said Lee at a signing for the book in Los Angeles over the weekend. “You try to do it in an amusing way and not in a lecturing way.”
More than a hundred people, both old and young, lined up among narrow bookshelves to see Lee. New fans have been won over by Disney-owned Marvel’s films such as “Captain America,” “Thor” and most recently, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” in which he has cameo roles.
“Because of the success of those movies, a lot of people know me, so if I do books like these, they’re willing to give them a try,” Lee said.
Many of the Marvel films are male dominated, and both critics and fans have been pushing for more female characters to be included from the Marvel Universe. While Lee’s books for children often use animals, he said, “We will of course have representatives of every different type” of person.
In October, Marvel will introduce a female Thor to its stable of characters in an effort to bring new readers and appeal to women and girls.
Lee’s company POW (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment partnered with newcomer artists and illustrators for his Kids Universe, producing books such as “Monsters vs. Kittens,” “Hero Petz” and the upcoming “Rockstar Super Diva,” aimed at girls.
Lee believes the characters can be transitioned to film and TV, and he has a live-action project in the works for next year.
“The stories that I’ve always tried to do have been interesting, provocative and exciting enough to hold someone’s interest,” he said.
As for the upcoming Marvel movies, slated by Disney through 2019, Lee said he is excited to see more characters from the Marvel Universe appear on the big screen, such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Ant-Man.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Cynthia Osterman)