Patt the Hat interviews Stan the Man in the Los Angeles Times:
Comics have gone from being despised and derided to an art form. How did that happen?
I’d like to think Marvel had a lot to do with that. When I started, I worked for a publisher [who] used to say: “Don’t use words of more than two syllables. Don’t worry about characterization or dialogue. Just give me pages with a lot of action.”
And I did that for years, and then I got really sick of it.
So I started using a college-level vocabulary. I felt the reader would look it up in a dictionary, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, or get it by osmosis. The publisher really hated that, but it didn’t hurt the sales of the books. I also started playing up the characterization so you differentiated between one and the other.
My big run with Marvel was from 1984-1988, and reading comics increased my word power. Reed Richards was a great vocab instructor — I remember learning the word “amorphous” from him. I picked up “gangrene” from an episode when She-Hulk got her hand stuck inside a bubble of slow-moving time, which came with a complex idea about blood flow.
What did you learn from comic books? The ones for kids, if you’ll pardon the expression. Joe Sacco doesn’t count.