From 1993-1998, I worked for the late Byron Preiss. Byron at the time had two different companies running: Byron Preiss Visual Publications, a book packager that Byron started up when he was a teenager, and Byron Preiss Multimedia Company, a producer of CD-ROMs and other multimedia projects that was started up by a group of investors in 1992, which he ran.
My editing job took me to both companies, as BPMC also did one line of books: a series of novels and anthologies based on Marvel Comics, which I edited, and which ran from 1994-2000. (By the turn of the millennium, BPMC had ceased to be, the collapse of the CD-ROM market combining with a disastrous ten-years-too-early attempt at web comics making the walls come tumbling down.)
One of the benefits of being the editor of this very successful line of books was that I got to work with Stan Lee. Stan was the nominal editor of our anthologies, and he wrote introductions for each volume. We worked on some other projects, too, including a novel Stan wrote in collaboration with Stan Timmons called The Alien Factor.
Stan was, to say the least, an absolute joy to work with. For one thing, he was incredibly timely. Decades of writing monthly comic books, not to mention being in charge of an entire line of monthly comics, instilled a respect for deadlines in him. The only times he didn’t turn in his work on time was when he turned it in early.
And one year, he got me a present.
One December — I think it was 1995 — I got a package from Stan’s office. Opening it, I found this pewter Spider-Man figure along with a handwritten note (that I sadly no longer have) that said, “Merry Christmas, Keith. It’s been a blast working with you. Excelsior, Stan Lee.”
This past weekend was one of cleaning out our big closet and going through old boxes, and I found this treasure in one of my boxes of stuff. It now sits on top of my desktop tower (along with Teeay the Dragon and a stuffed tiger, and a few other figurines).
We miss you, Stan.