Throughout his long life, Stan Lee appeared on just about every type of modern-day platform or medium one could name: movies, television, radio, video games, books, magazines, newspapers, digital media, and of course, comic books. Heck, he even took the stage at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall in 1972!

A poster for Stan Lee's appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1972 made up of elements of Marvel characters

But Stan, whose comics career began in the early 1940s, wasn’t always instantly recognizable or inundated with interview and appearance requests—in fact, it wasn’t really until the 1960s that he started becoming more visible and known to the public, specifically fans of Marvel Comics. This increased exposure came from different avenues: during the early 1960s, letters pages in comics gained considerable popularity, and Stan personally chose and answered the questions published on those pages; in 1964, Marvel’s fan club the M.M.M.S. (Merry Marvel Marching Society) launched, quickly racking up members; and in 1965, Stan continued communicating directly with readers through Marvel’s “Bullpen Bulletin’s” page where he shared news, previews, profiles, and, beginning in June 1967, Stan’s Soapbox.

A page from Marvel's Bullpen Bulletin

In Taschen’s recently released book The Stan Lee Story, author Roy Thomas, who succeeded Stan as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, wrote that the M.M.M.S. helped usher in a new vocation for Stan: public speaking and appearances. The fan club prompted the establishment of M.M.M.S. chapters on college and university campuses around the country, and with this, Stan began receiving invites to deliver lectures and discussions at these schools, stints which would become some of his earliest speaking engagements. (Though Thomas did point out in the book that in June 1964 Stan presented a comic book-related talk at Bard College in New York for a fee of $50, which I would guess is probably one of his first, if not the first, paid addresses.)

Ironically, Stan wasn’t a fan of giving speeches and often structured his discussions as question and answer sessions, a method much preferable to him—and now familiar to fans that have seen him on panels at comic conventions around the globe. The frequency and scope of these community appearances would increase exponentially over the years, to signings at comic book shops, aforementioned conversations at comic conventions, and everything in between—which even included a well-publicized 1966 drop-in at a local Long Island cleaners, Burachio Bros. Drive-In! These appearances helped foster a rapidly growing public awareness of both Marvel and Stan, as he became the public face of the company; luckily, he was more than happy to be Marvel’s “Promoter-in-Chief,” as Thomas termed him!

An ad for Stan Lee's appearance at Burachio Bros. cleaning establishment in the 1960s

Below are a selection of ads promoting a handful of Stan’s earlier appearances found in the Stan Lee Papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

A comic strip based ad featuring Stan Lee as Speaker-Man to promote a Stan Lee appearance in the 1970s
A handwritten poster for an appearance of Stan Lee at the Nassau Community College in New York
A poster featuring Spider-Man to advertise An Evening with Stan Lee
A newspaper ad promoting Stan Lee's college speech "Comic Books and the World Around Us"
The cover of Vanderbilt's Versus page promoting a Comics Symposium
An ad promoting Stan Lee's discussion "Comics and the American Culture" at Montana State University