(Photo from Media Dynamics Inc. via a fan page for Stan Lee)
My fiance directed us to the early Hulk movies, where we also watched an interview with Stan Lee. I was thrilled to identify examples of ways in which Stan Lee built relationships with his fans through Marvel Comics.
What he did when one of his “products” was not as good as the others:
Stan Lee said that an issue of his comics had a story that was “not that good,” but he was stuck with it. He said that on the cover, he wrote a note that went something like, “Hey kids, I’ve got to admit, this isn’t the best story we’ve ever done, but we’ve given you so many good ones before; we think you owe it to us to buy this one also.”
In the interview, he said, “That book sold better than most of the others in that period, and I got a ton of mail saying, ‘You guys are great; nobody else would have written anything like that!'”
How he personalized his relationship with fans:
When Marvel ran letters to the editor, Stan Lee changed letters from “Dear Editor” to “Dear Stan.” In his response, instead of the traditional “Dear Charles,” he would write, “Hey, thanks a lot, Charlie!” Eventually, all the letters he received would say “Hey, Stan” or some other informal greeting. Stan explained that he wanted Marvel to feel friendly and warm. He wanted the letters page to feel like two people talking together.