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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Legendary comic book author Stan Lee is all set to cash in on reality TV -- sort of.
Lee, 87, who helped create Spider-Man, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk, told Reuters his new comic "Stan Lee's 7," will launch early next year featuring none other than himself as a key character, and it will be the first series from his new venture, Stan Lee Comics.
The stories, which will have a multi-media component on TV and the Web, tell of seven aliens who find themselves stranded on Earth after their spaceship crashes, and they are befriended by Lee. He becomes their leader and enables them to resume their lives as superheroes on earth.
"I wanted to cash in on the reality TV show craze," he said. "It's not only a new comic book with new super heroes, it is the world's first reality comic book," Lee said.
"Just as there are reality television shows, this comic book features real people in the superhero story. It features me. I am part of the cast of characters."
Lee, who said he keeps a cabinet stocked with 40 to 50 new comic book ideas at his New York office, is certain the appetite for superheroes and fantastic stories will never ebb, despite the recent explosion of TV shows and movies featuring people with extra-human powers.
"I don't think you ever outgrow your love for things that are bigger and more colorful than real life, and that's what superhero stories are: they're really fairy tales for older people," he said.
Lee's POW! Entertainment is working with Archie Comics, whose franchises include "Sabrina The Teenage Witch," and Los Angeles-based multimedia company A Squared Entertainment on the project which will also have a digital component in which the stories will be spun off into cartoons on TV or Webisodes.
The next two series Lee will write for Stan Lee Comics will be called "Airwalker" and "Legions," Archie Comics co-chief executive Jon Goldwater said.
"Stan Lee's 7" is not the first time Lee has put himself in his own work. In 1963, he and then collaborator Jack Kirby appeared as themselves on the cover of a "Fantastic Four" comic, and Lee has appeared in cameo roles in many movies based on the characters he helped to create for Marvel Comics.
Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte