Film and video producer Ryan Silbert, co-creator of an upcoming audiobook that marks one of Stan Lee's final works, credits his hometown of Port Washington for setting him on the path to collaboration with the late Marvel Comics legend.
"Comics and media have been a part of my life from as far back as I can remember," said Silbert, 39, who with Lee and Luke Lieberman created "Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light," co-written by Kat Rosenfield and Lee and due out June 27 from Audible. Silbert recalled how an uncle with a West Coast comics store would ship him boxes of comics, and how sometime later the unrelated store Mint Condition in Port Washington became "this mecca for me — a family-owned store where they created a community. … It's where I spent my time and really learned about comics."
Born in Manhattan but having moved to Port Washington around age 7, Silbert went on to graduate from Paul D. Schreiber High School in his town, then Cornell University for his bachelor's degree and New York University for his master's in film plus a post-doctoral fellowship. He began producing shorts in 2005 and has been a producer or executive producer on features including Jesse Eisenberg's "Holy Rollers" (2010) and Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve's "Some Velvet Morning" (2013), as well as writer-director Luke Matheny's live action short film Oscar winner "God of Love" (2010).
He met Lieberman in the late 2000s, he says, "through my friend Shannon [Kingston], who went to high school in Port Washington. I hadn't seen her in many years" when they reconnected and she introduced him to her future husband, writer-filmmaker Lieberman. "Luke had a long-standing relationship with Stan" and POW! Entertainment, Lee's company. Silbert and Lieberman "started throwing ideas around with Stan and it grew organically from there. It really shows that you never know where the twists and turns of life will take you, because it all goes back to my time in Port Washington."
"A Trick of Light," first announced in 2017, follows Nia, whose relationship with Midwestern teen Cameron Ackerson leads to his being "imbued with the power to 'see' and 'hear' a new reality," as Audible describes. The two confront a threat that plans to use our dependence on social technology and our desire to connect as the means to destroy humanity.
"How will the ubiquity of technology change us? That's the crux of our story," said Silbert, the son of Marc Silbert, director of the Westbury staffing firm Long Island Temps, and Peggy Silbert, an executive with the American Cancer Society in New York.
Lee died Nov. 12 at age 95. "All the time we worked together on this, we never considered he wouldn't be with us," Silbert said. "He seemed immortal."
Silbert's connection with him, unfortunately, was of no help in surmounting unprecedented demand to see Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame," opening Friday. "I'm looking forward to [the movie]," Silbert said — adding cheerfully, "If I can get tickets!"