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Let's face facts, folks. Though Dr. Seuss gets most of the
credit, it's Stan Lee who actually taught a lot of us how to read.
That's how Cort Lane,
the vice president in charge of animation development & production at
Marvel Television, remembers it anyway. It wasn't "The Cat in the
Hat" or "Hop on Pop" that got him excited about reading. But --
rather -- Avengers No. 161.
TM & Copyright 2012 Marvel & Subs
"I remember how this Marvel comic used all sorts of
words that weren't in my vocabulary yet," Cort recalled in a phone
interview this past week. "Which is why I had to make numerous trips to
the Lane family dictionary to find out what words like subliminal and
And given that this one particular Marvel comic book had such
a huge impact on his life, Cort made a point of bringing it along this past
Saturday when he went to the Buena Vista branch of the
Burbank Library. Which is where Lane then showed this book off to the 70+
members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Burbank who were on hand for the
kick-off of "Reading with: Marvel
Radio Disney gets the audience moving during Saturday's festivities at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library. Photo by Rick Rowell. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"And what exactly is 'Reading With: Marvel Comics
Close-Up' ?," you ask. Well, you know how the Avengers periodically assemble
to battle super villains like Loki & Thanos? Disney XD, Marvel
Entertainment, First Book and ABC-owned television stations are now teaming up
to champion children's literacy.
As David Levine -- the vice president and general manager of
Disney XD Worldwide -- explained:
(L to R) Drake Bell, Cort Lane -- vice president of animation development & productionfor Marvel Television, David Levine -- vice president and general manager of DisneyXD Worldwide, and Spider-Man. Photo by Rick Rowell, Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"Our goal in coming together like this is inspire the
next generation to become lifelong, enthusiastic readers. So we're doing
everything that we can to get reading material into the hands of these kids.
Everything from donating more than 210,000 books to several communities around
the country to making digital versions of ten action-packed, family-friendly
Marvel comic books available for free."
It's that free-digital-version-of-comics which
most excites Levine about the "Marvel Comic Close-Up" campaign. Given
that -- just like Cort Lane
-- David remembers that it was picking up a Marvel comic at a very young age
which then turned him into a passionate reader.
"I must have been 7 years-old at the time," Levine
said. "My mother bought me this copy of 'The Invaders' which had Captain America
on the cover battling Frankenstein's Monster. And that was it. I was
And as a lifelong Marvel Comics fan, David wanted to make
sure that he had some input when it came to which titles that would be made available
as part of the "Marvel Comics Close-Up"
TM & Copyright Marvel & Subs
"I insisted that they had to include Thor #364 as part
of this offering. It's the one with that great Walter Simonson cover where Thor
gets turned into a frog," Levine enthused.
Mind you, a number of the classic comic books that were
selected to be offered as part of "Marvel Comics Close-Up" were chosen for a very specific reason. You see,
some of these titles will tease and/or foreshadow characters & storylines that
will be prominently featured in Season Two of that Disney XD animated series,
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Take -- for example -- Marvel Adventure Spider-Man
#16. That comic book is being made available through the "Reading With: Marvel Comics Close-Up" because it
features this great Lizard / Spider-Man encounter. And the Lizard is going to
be one of two classic Spider-Man villains who'll be appearing on 'Ultimate
Spider-Man' during its one-hour-long,
primetime Season Two premiere on January 21st.
It'll be during this 7 - 8
p.m. ET / PT broadcast that Disney XD will be rolling out its
"Marvel Comics Close-Up" interstitials. Which will be hosted by Joe
Quesada (Marvel's Chief Creative Officer) and Dylan Riley Snyder (who played
the character of Milton on Disney
XD's martial arts comedy, "Kickin' It"). These interstitials will
take TV viewers deeper into the Marvel Universe by exploring 10 classic comic
books. Which -- not-so-co-incidentally -- are the exact same titles that are
now being offered through the "Reading With: Marvel Comics Close-Up"
(L to R) Olivia Holt, Drake Bell, Spider-Man, Cole Jensen and Dylan Riley Snyder.Photo by Rick Rowell. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Yeah, Disney XD and the Disney Channel aren't above using a
little star power to help get kids excited about reading. Which perhaps
explains why -- for this past Saturday's event -- Snyder and his "Kickin'
It" co-star Olivia Holt put in an appearance at the Buena Vista
branch of the Burbank Public Library. Not to mention Karan Brar from the Disney
Channel's "Jessie," Cole Jensen from Disney XD's "Crash &
Bernstein," and Radio Disney on-air personality Morgan Tompkins.
"But the performer who got the biggest reaction of the
day was Drake Bell, the voice of Spider-Man on Disney XD's 'Ultimate
Spider-Man,' " Cort Lane. "You have to understand that -- in the
world of children's television -- Drake is a big, big star. So you should have
heard the kids from the Boys & Girls Club whispering as he entered the
library. 'That's Drake Bell!.'
Drake Bell -- with the help of a certain web slinger -- shares a classic Marvel Comicwith members of the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank. Photo by Rick Rowell.Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
So to then have the voice of Spider-Man sit down and then
read a Marvel Comic aloud to the crowd that was at the Buena Vista
branch of the Burbank Public Library this past Saturday ... Well, as far as
David Levine is concerned, that was a really great way to kick off 2013.
"We've got so much great stuff in the works for the
coming year. Two new animated series -- 'Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.' and
'Marvel's Avengers Assemble' -- debuting this summer. Not to mention our big
'Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel' cross-over," Levine concluded.
"But to start off 2013 like this -- at an event which promotes children's literacy
by making some of Marvel's very best stories available for free to
the next generation of readers -- you couldn't ask for a better way to start off
For further information on the "Reading With: Marvel
Comic Close-Up" initiative and/or the free digital comics that will be
available for downloading, please check out DisneyXD.com/comics.
This is a great idea! I'm another one of those people who learned to read, in a great part, from comic books. Unfortunately the cost and maturity levels of current comics really precludes my kids from being able to do the same. Maybe this will be robust enough to accomplish it's goal, and not just a few issues to pay lip service to the concept.