Comic book legend Stan Lee's latest creation debuts this week. At age 91, Lee has already shaped the pop culture of generations with his numerous characters, including the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men. But you won't find those icons within these pages. The former president and chairman of Marvel Comics is now catering to a different audience: young children.
"Dex T-Rex, The Mischievous Little Dinosaur" is the newest title from Stan Lee's Kids Universe children's publishing imprint, and it's an energetic read about the misadventures of a naughty dino as he learns valuable life lessons. We caught up with Lee while at Comic-Con International in San Diego to ask about his latest adventures in publishing and what it's like to write for children.
What inspired you to create Stan Lee's Kids Universe?
It has always been my dream to work in the young kids' space. Children are so imaginative and so open to new ideas, and there are so many stories to tell. This dream came into fruition through multiple conversations with Terry Dougas at 1821 Media. As we were discussing future book possibilities, we had come across great artwork for various children's books, and everything just clicked.
We wanted to create a children's imprint around the thought of bringing a new and exciting universe of characters to a young audience. When you see a child enjoying a book, that's all the inspiration you will ever need.
For instance, our summer picture book release of "Dex T-Rex: The Mischievous Little Dinosaur" by Katya Bowser is about a young dinosaur who loves to play rough and create havoc for fun, until he realizes that his actions have consequences and he learns to set things right and play nicely.
Some of our other books teach kids about accepting others who may be different than they, teaching the virtue of tolerance, patience, and we even have Reggie the Veggie who teaches, in an enjoyable way, how much fun healthy eating can be.
What are the challenges of creating characters and storylines for kids?
It's not really a challenge, since it's such a fun process! The great thing about working on storylines for kids is that there is no limit to kids' imaginations. They're always ready to accept ideas and have fun. You don't need to justify a talking baby dinosaur like Dex T-Rex or explain how he came to have the ability to talk; he just talks, and the young readers love it.
Whether we create something in-house or we find an artist/writer who has a project that kids just need to see, it's always an exciting adventure! In that way, it brings out the kid inside of all of us.
You also have games and apps. What inspired you to create those for kids?
In an ever-changing landscape of entertainment, we wanted to provide young children with avenues beyond books and into the many spaces that are quickly becoming central to our lives. It's an exciting opportunity to have an extension of some of our books and characters outside the books themselves, to keep the kids invested in both enjoyment and learning, and create new opportunities for them to interact with these characters while using their imaginations.
Is there anything you can share that's surprised you about getting into the kids' book arena?
It's not really a surprise so much as it is an experience of great joy when we see kids loving the books we create and publish.