by Jeremy Renaud
Like many others across the World, I had a tremendous experience meeting Stan Lee.
One experience came a few years ago at Fan Expo (2016) where Steve Menzie challenged me on a project through which I succeeded and was awarded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Stan through a private and very exclusive one-on-one experience.
Eventually, the day came along (Friday, September 2, 2016 to be exact) where I was packed and ready to leave on a train to Toronto. I was set to leave around 5:15 a.m. but my son Ryder had a hard time that morning, which ran us a bit late. My wife Dana said “don’t worry, the train won’t leave until 5:45 a.m.” but when we arrived at the station, I literally saw it rolling away (“ugh!”).
I texted Steve and he replied in fewer words or less “can’t guarantee you will meet Stan,” for which I was gutted as I was going to meet him later that morning before the show started.
I eventually hopped on the next train through which Scott St. Amour from Paper Heroes was taking into Toronto and made it on-site to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC).
I checked in and did my thing for the day until a William Shatner Experience came rolling around that evening, which I had planned on attending.
Then, it came…Steve texted me…”where are you?”, I replied “North Building”, he countered “South Building as fast as you can!!!”
I knew what that meant…
I bolted like a ninja from one building to the next gliding down escalators, down steps and surpassing 1,000s of people in easy strides in less than 5 minutes time.
For those who had attended any Fan Expo to date, you will know that 5 minutes is “most impressive!” between those two buildings.
I showed up at Stan’s booth, said hello to Max and Steve who were laughing and then whipped out some art and books.
I remember thinking at the time about one of the girls who took my books and art (now out of sleeves and top loaders) ‘gentle, gentle!’ as she handled them very, very loosely.
Eventually, Stan got ahold of my books and proceeded to sign. I had a stack of books where he needed zero direction as he was able to sign with the perfect coloured sharpie and in the right place on each book (phew!).
He then looked over the art created by my friend Tony Gray. He admired it for a few seconds then proceeded to sign as an assistant would place the Stan Lee ‘Excelsior’ COA label in the right place.
Finally, he looked over the Wedding Cover and saw everyone in the cover minus my wife Dana. He said, “seems like you’re missing something pal” and I replied, “I can’t see my wife until the Wedding Day” for which he blessed the piece and said “Excelsior!”
Later, Tony Gray would create an image of Dana and then place it (old school) on the art. We would then have the matting signed by every guest that attended our Wedding. Each guest also received a coloured print. It was really great because Dana nor I saw the final piece until the Wedding Day itself. That took some amazing coordination and skills as we had the finished product on screens, invitations and in theatres and were physically handling it for well over a month without seeing it.
Going back to Fan Expo, now with books and art signed and after a few quick discussions came out like a million bucks. It was awesome but then I realized I forget to take a photo!!!
On the Sunday of Fan Expo, I hopped into the last photo ops segment to meet Stan. At the time, this Fan Expo was billeted as Stan’s final appearance in Canada so I allowed people to constantly go ahead of me so I was at the end of the line.
People kept asking why I wanted to be at the back and I commented not to worry, until finally my time came with Stan to take a photo and I simply hung around and talked to him for another 10 minutes while photo ops was tearing down. In short, it was like having an exclusive experience on top of an exclusive VIP experience x10!
As a fan, collector and promoter, was very lucky to meet Stan. There are only a couple living legends left now of that era that had created a universe of characters, stories and lore for fans like myself to have passion for an even making a living in!