By Allison Watkinson
Kartoon Studios is launching a new line called Stan Lee Comics, based on never-before-released stories and characters created by Stan Lee.
While Stan Lee was the visionary behind Marvel Comics for many years, Kartoon Studios is the controlling partner of Stan Lee Universe, LLC, and therefore controls the IP that Lee created, but was never made part of the Marvel Universe.
The company is partnering with online book streaming platform and multimedia publisher Legible Inc. to develop and distribute approximately 12 original comic book series, based on Stan Lee’s creations. They will be made available across Legible’s publishing and reading platforms, making them accessible to a global market.
The news follows a recent announcement that Legible secured print and digital print rights to bring a selection of Kartoon Studios’ IP to life through multimedia-enriched ebooks featuring audio, video, animations and print comic books.
“We are celebrating Stan Lee’s 100th birthday this year and what better way to honor this true legend than to launch STAN LEE COMICS, with a logo envisioned by Stan himself, and bring his never-before-seen creations to life through this series of new digital and print comic books,” said Jon Ollwerther, Kartoon Studios Executive Vice President of Business Development. “We are also excited to expand our relationship with Legible, who we believe is the ideal partner to help us bring these exciting Stan Lee creations to his legions of True Believer fans throughout the universe.
“With the never-before-seen comics, Stan also left us his unique editorial page as well, Yakkin’ with Stan, which will highlight each comic,” Ollwerther added. “Not unlike Stan’s Soapbox, which graced every Marvel Comic, Yakkin’ with Stan will speak to all the ‘True Believers’, leaving Stan’s unique take on everything from superheroes to world affairs, and of course ending in his signature, “EXCELSIOR!”
The deal is also a major benefit to Legible, a Canadian company that launched an online, browser-based bookstore in 2007.
“Legible is honored to be selected by Kartoon Studios as the partner to bring STAN LEE COMICS and Stan Lee’s heretofore unseen incredible stories and characters to the public for the first time,” said Legible founder and CEO Kaleeg Hainsworth. “We know that this is only the beginning for these properties and the brands they will give rise to, and we’re thrilled to bring these new worlds, fantastic characters, powerful stories, and visionary themes to Stan Lee’s fans and to a global audience as never before in digital and print.
“Legible is bringing publishing and reading into the twenty-first century, and there is just no better way to do so than with Stan Lee, who was always ahead of his time.”
Kartoon Studios kicked off Stan Lee’s Centennial Celebration on Dec. 28, 2022, on what would have been Stan’s 100th birthday, with the launch of a new online store, exclusively featuring three Stan Lee collections: Stan Lee Comic, Stan Lee Retro, and Stan Lee Centennial. Additional product categories will be unveiled throughout 2023.
Initiatives have included the critically-acclaimed premiere of Marvel Studios’ Stan Lee Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, followed by its debut on Disney +. On July 18, in advance of the annual San Diego Comic-Con event, a first-ever exhibit, “Excelsior! The Life and Legacy of Stan Lee,” will launch at the Comic-Con Museum, featuring never-before-seen items donated by auction houses and private collectors.
The company says more initiatives and product launches are planned into 2024.