Comic book legend Stan Lee speaks on his first Indian superhero, Chakra
Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk each of Stan Lee's creations have captured the imagination of fans worldwide. Now, the 90-year-old genius has created his first Indian superhero, Chakra: The Invincible. In an exclusive email interview with Ruchika Kher, the master comic hero creator reveals why he looked towards India, what drives him to his storyboard, and why the appeal of comic books are still alive. Excerpts
Why did you give your nod to create an Indian superhero?
The project came about when Sharad Devarajan told me he was launching Graphic India to create new Indian superheroes and asked if I would be interested in creating one. I thought it would be exciting to bring my own style of superhero storytelling to India and collaborate with the amazing artists there. I have always been fascinated by Indian culture. It’s so philosophical and rich in tradition and morality. I’ve written countless superheroes of every nationality and every part of the world before, but Chakra is the first superhero I have created for the Indian market and I’m
Although you have created the most successful comic characters, did you face any challenges while creating Chakra?
Dreaming up the stories isn’t that hard, but coming up with a good title is the toughest part. It’s a tremendous challenge, because there have been so many characters created over the years. Every time you think you come up with a great name, you find out somebody has already done it. When you can sit down with a plain sheet of paper in front of you and make some notes, and, little by little, you see it take shape and become a concept for a comic book, a movie or a TV show, that’s a real thrill.
Do you like when your characters are adapted in films?
Who wouldn’t like to see their creations on the big screen! But I enjoy making my cameo in those movies even more! You’ll see me make an appearance in the Chakra — The Invincible animated film; hopefully, one day, in the live action, big movie event as well.
You’ve been attached to the comic book industry for decades, generations, almost. What drives you till today?
If you enjoy what you do, it’s like playing and you can’t stop. Most men want to retire at a certain age. They say ‘I can’t wait to retire so I can play golf or travel,’ or whatever it is. But I’m already doing what I want to do. It’s so much fun. Think about what we are doing now with Chakra. What a great new challenge it is to create this superhero! It’s the kind of fun that I love — to see a character jump from my imagination and out into the world.
What do you need to keep in mind while creating a character in these evolving times?
I hate to sound immodest, but I think my characters have withstood the changing times, probably because we concentrated just as much on the characters’ private lives as we did on them fighting the bad guys. And, I think it’s important, whether it’s a superhero story or any story, you have to feel that the characters themselves are interesting and you want to know more about them. You should care about what they do, how they feel, what their personal problems are, and how they’re going to solve them. We’ve always tried to give our heroes and our villains a lot of personal problems so that they seemed like real people. That’s what makes Chakra such a compelling story — because we care about Raju Rai and the personal challenges and struggles he faces. Problems such as having trouble paying the bills, bullies at school, a crush on a girl. It’s these basic human challenges that make heroes such as Chakra relatable to us.
Is there an increased interest in comic characters and books now? Where is the industry heading?
The experience of reading a printed comic book will never change, but now, thanks to the digital age, there are many different ways to enjoy the same story. Digital comic books, of course, can be interactive in many different ways, allowing the reader to feel like a participant in the story. But the pleasure of reading a story and wondering what will come next for the hero is a pleasure that has lasted for centuries and I think, will always be with us.
The character premieres on Cartoon Network on November 30, 12 pm.