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ST. MATTHEWS — He grew up in the ’40s and ’50s reading about the exploits of the world’s greatest superheroes.

He continued writing these stories at Marvel and DC Comics and then created dozens more.

And after spending most of his career as a comic book writer in New York City, Roy Thomas traded the Big Apple for country life in St. Matthews, a town south of Columbia with a population of about 2,100.

“I love South Carolina and plan to spend the rest of my life here,” said Thomas, 83, who moved here in 1991. “I had never been here before my late father-in-law moved here in 1984 and I started visiting him.”

Roy Thomas

Comic book writer Roy Thomas (center) discusses a piece of art from “Conan the Barbarian” with former Marvel Comics editor Ralph Macchio at the Heroes Convention in Charlotte on June 15, 2024.

Seven years later, Thomas found farmland in St. Matthews and moved there.

“I enjoy the weather and the people are very nice, laid back, a little more relaxed than in New York and Los Angeles,” said the co-creator of Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Luke Cage and countless other characters. “Money gets you further here, you know. That wasn’t the main reason I moved here, but it doesn’t hurt.”

“The Defenders” (copy)

“The Defenders,” the 2017 Netflix miniseries, brought together several Marvel Comics characters (from left): Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Danny “Iron Fist” Rand (Finn Jones), Matt “Daredevil” Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). St. Matthews resident Roy Thomas co-created Luke Cage and Iron Fist for Marvel in the 1970s.

He made this point clear to his longtime friend and colleague, former Marvel publisher Stan Lee, when Lee was looking for a ghostwriter for the Spider-Man newspaper comic.

“My career as a comic book writer ended around the turn of the century, I had lived here for about 10 years, and Stan was in California,” Thomas said. “When Stan told me he might not be able to pay me enough, I had to laugh. I told him, ‘You have no idea how little it costs me to live in South Carolina compared to LA and New York.'”

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And it’s true, it wasn’t very much, even by late 1990s standards. About $1,200 a month, Thomas said. But he only needed a few days a month to write the strips, which left him room for other freelance work. And that Thomas was the strip’s ghostwriter remained more or less a secret for 18 years, until he was hired after Lee’s death in 2018.