PHILADELPHIA — Stan Lee's had a hand in creating many memorable heroes and villains that have jumped from the pages of comic books to popular culture.
Now, he's aiming to bring new stories for an impressionable audience: kids.
The former long-time editor of Marvel Comics and founder of POW! Entertainment will unveil the imprint Stan Lee's Kids Universe with 1821 Comics on Friday at New York Comic Con, featuring a roster of kid-friendly and even parent-approved characters ranging from The Fuzz Posse, a group of police dogs, to Reggie the Veggie Crocodile who has a penchant for produce.
"The whole idea is to give them the kind of stories that they haven't read before that they can easily understand and relate to," Lee said ahead of the announcement. "While we want these to be reasonably educational and good for kids — that goes without saying — but our main purpose to be entertaining ... kids have a great sense of humor if you can reach them the right way."
The characters were created during brainstorming sessions between Paris Kasidokostas Lastis and Terry Dougas of 1821 and Lee.
Dougas said he and Lee have worked for eight years together on ideas and characters for film and television, but both decided that the market for comics, graphic novels, books and games for children was ripe for a new universe.
"So Stan and I started discussing — I was kind of mad at myself for not bringing it up these last eight years I have known him — to start a label for kids."
And that led to the new universe, which Dougas said carries not just the gravitas of Lee's name but also a banner of creativity.
"We're not on a crusade of any sort. Our main purpose is we feel that there aren't enough comic books or books for kids that really hit the target, that is that gives them excitement and humor together and are filled with surprises," Lee said. "And have a whole new group of new characters that the kids can call their own, just as the teenagers called Spider-Man their own so many years ago."
The first books under the imprint will include "Monsters Vs. Kittens," from writer and artist Dani Jones, and "Once Upon a Time" in 2012, followed by "The Fuzz Posse," ''Reggie the Veggie Crocodile" and "The Animal Band."
"Reggie the veggie-eating crocodile!" Lee said of the creation who's always favored vegetables while his crocodile colleagues stick with being carnivores. "They're not supposed to be vegetarians and poor Reggie becomes an outcast."