Thanks to Patrick Ford for sending in some of these great quotes from some of Stan Lee’s associates who had to work “Marvel Method” for Lee in the 1960s. I think this gives you a great glimpse into what was really taking place behind the scenes. The first quote is from Lee so you can see his side of the story.
From Patrick Ford:
(1) Stan Lee Interview (in 1986 from an article in the Village Voice):
“I really don’t want to say anything against Jack,” Lee says in an interview that begins in a massive, high-tech conference room at Marvel’s Van Nuys, California, animation studio and ends in his sculpture-filled office at the other end of the complex. “I love and respect him very much. He’s one of the most talented, hard-working guys I know, but I think he thinks he created these characters because he drew them. But, I would suggest how I wanted them drawn: ‘Make him a little bigger.’ ‘The head is too wide.’ And, of course, the characters’ concepts were mine, too.”
“I would give Jack an outline or tell him the plot I wanted and let him break it down to determine what each drawing would be. When I got them back, I would put in the dialogue to inject whatever personality I wanted. Kirby was doing what he’d always done,” says Lee, “drawing beautiful pictures. While they were not as sophisticated and polished as some artists, they had a raw power. But what brought about the renaissance of comics was the style change in the writing, my writing.”
(2) Wally Wood:
Stan was the scripter, but I was coming up with most of the ideas. It finally got to the point where I told him that if he was the writer, he’d have to come up with the plots. So, we just sat across the desk from one another in silence.
(3) Joe Orlando:
He really didn’t seem to have any ideas, but we worked out a plot, and he sent me the synopsis. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. In one line, Stan indicated that he wanted a three-page fight sequence, in a garage, or whatever. Nothing else. So I called and asked him what I should do. He said, “You know, throw some tires around, do something with some oil, make it up as you go.'”Well, that didn’t help.
(4) Stan Goldberg and Jim Amash interview excerpt:
Stan Goldberg: Jack would sit there at lunch, and tell us these great ideas about what he was going to do next. It was like the ideas were bursting from every pore of his body. It was very interesting because he was a fountain of ideas. Stan would drive me home and we’d plot our stories in the car. I’d say to Stan, “How’s this? Millie loses her job.” He’d say, “Great! Give me 25 pages.” And that took him off the hook.
One time I was in Stan’s office and I told him, “I don’t have another plot.” Stan got out of his chair and walked over to me, looked me in the face, and said very seriously, “I don’t ever want to hear you say you can’t think of another plot.” Then he walked back and sat down in his chair. He didn’t think he needed to tell me anything more.
Jim Amash: Sounds like you were doing most of the writing then.
Goldberg: Well, I was.
(5) Steve Ditko:
The fact is we had no story or idea discussion about Spider-Man books even before issue #26 up to when I left the book. Stan never knew what was in my plotted stories until I took in the penciled story, the cover, my script and Sol Brodsky took the material from me and took it all into Stan’s office.