TOKYO (AFP) - One of the most successful comic book characters in history, Spider-Man, nearly did not get off the ground, 94-year-old creator Stan Lee admitted on Thursday.
He told reporters in Tokyo he came up with the idea while watching a fly climb a wall and wanted to create a superhero with the same abilities.
"Somehow calling him 'flyman' didn't sound dramatic enough. What else could he be? Mosquito man? Then I said: Spider-Man. And it sounded so dramatic," said Lee.
He decided to make his new creation a teenager and give him "many personal problems".
"He won't have enough money, he lives with his aunt who is ill and needs medicine and he has to take care of her. And he's also got to fight the bad guys," he said.
He took the idea to his publisher who said: "Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard."
Superheroes have to be adults and cannot have any problems, his boss added.
And another thing: "People hate spiders so you can't call a hero Spider-Man!"
Lee was nevertheless allowed to slip a Spider-Man story into the last edition of a book and it became an instant hit.
"Just for fun, to get it out of my system, I put Spider-Man in that last edition and forgot about it," he said.
"A month later, after all the sales figures were in, my boss came running into my office and said: 'Remember that character Spider-Man we both liked so much, let's make him a regular feature.'
"And that's how Spidey was born," said Lee to applause and laughter.
He was in Japan to promote the second edition of the Tokyo Comic Convention that opens on Friday.