Stan Lee Media Inc., an online media company founded by comic book creator Stan Lee, said it filed for bankruptcy protection and will try to sell itself. The Encino-based company has had discussions with several potential buyers and investors since mid-December, Chief Executive Kenneth Williams said. Most said they preferred to complete any transaction "under the protection of the courts," he said. Stan Lee Media, whose founder created such comic book characters as Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, stopped production and fired most of its staff in December after its shares fell below $1, leaving it unable to claim $2.2 million it had expected in short-term financing. Stan Lee Media said last month that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating trading in its stock and that the company had found evidence of misuse of corporate funds by some former members of its management team. Trading in Stan Lee stock has been halted since Dec. 18, when the shares fell 69 cents to 13 cents on Nasdaq. Company executives couldn't be reached to comment.