JayJay here, again. I've been sending Jim little comments and questions that I've read on various forums and on Twitter and he has agreed to respond to some of those as well as some of the blog comments.
Rick Bacon commented on a post:
"I don't think I ever really knew that young Shooter's work was so vital to his family's well-being. Was there a story about ME Lad and family problems?"
There was, indeed. It was one of the short LSH stories that appeared in Action Comics. It wasn't taken straight from my life, but let's say it was "flavored" a little by my experiences, including my senior prom.
Keith Williams commented on a post (in reference to Regrets? and Mort's behavior):
"Far be it from me to hypothesize that there might be any trace of exaggeration in that account... Still, he was no doubt vulnerable and easily demoralized in his youth, and probably did feel that he was being treated like that. (One might argue that it was a bit ironic that in later years he didn't treat his own workforce better.)"
Keith, I assure you that I did not exaggerate at all with regard to Mort's treatment of me. I did not/do not "feel" that I was treated that way, I was treated that way. Regarding how I treated my "work force," what are you saying? What did I do? How, exactly, did I mistreat anybody? Please give me a for instance or three.
Kris Brownlow said... (in reference to Secret Marvels/Marvel's Secret)
"Jim, there's an old story that there was an editorial meeting at DC and someone said that the secret to Marvel's success was "bad art". In an Alter-Ego article George Kashdan didn't recall such an event but said he might have agreed with such a statement. Your recollection here would seem to validate the idea that the Marvel material was looked down upon by the old timers."
I wasn't at the alleged meeting in question, but I was in several smaller-scale discussions at DC that echoed the sentiments allegedly expressed at said meeting. DC editors thought Marvel's art, especially Kirby, Ditko and Ayers', was "crude" and child-like. Mort mused that maybe kids related to it because it was like their own scribbles in their school notebooks. I never actually heard anyone tell an artist "draw worse," but that was the implication. The DC editorial types also thought that Marvel's coloring was "garish." For a few months, in Mort's Superman Family titles, they actually ran color IN THE GUTTERS to make the books more garish, like Marvel's. Then, they decided that, since some Marvel artists did odd-shaped, non-rectilinear panels, that maybe that was the way to go, so they tried that for a few months. Other idiotic stuff, too. I remember one meeting when Mort was looking through some Marvel comics. There were other people in the room. They were ridiculing the books. There was a issue of X-Men with a full page or at least a large panel of the Angel soliloquizing about the joy and glory of flying. They couldn't believe that a page was wasted like that! Someone said, "Superman flies all the time. It's no big deal." Exactly. They also were amused by a two-page conversation between Peter Parker and Aunt May. Someone said, "Two pages talking to his Aunt! The kids (!) will be bored to tears." Nope. And we weren't all little kids. Mort figured that except for weirdos, age eight was about when "kids" stopped reading comics.
"I would like to ask you about the supposed blacklisting of Jack Kirby, I say "supposed" because as I have looked further into the matter, it seems that none of the other editors besides Jack Schiff were hiring Kirby -before- he was fired by Schiff, and there seems to be no record of Kirby even trying to seek work from any other DC editors -after- Schiff canned him. Kashdan also claimed that "people" including Irwin Donenfeld were "angry" at Schiff for letting Kirby get away. To me, this does not sound like a company-wide blacklist, but more like an instance where Kirby burned his only bridge into DC."
As I have said here and elsewhere, Kirby wasn't coveted by DC in the mid-to-late '60's. They thought of him as third string, and simply could not understand why Marvel was on the rise. No one would have been angry at Schiff for "letting Kirby get away," in my opinion. Whether he was blacklisted or not, I don't know, but I doubt it. Also -- by the way -- DC editors each had their own little fiefdoms, and if Jack Schiff had a grudge against Kirby, I guarantee you that it would not have prevented Kanigher, Schwartz, Mort or anybody else from using him, if they wanted.
Scott Bryan, Annabelle's scribe said... (in reference to Secrets of the Secret Wars)
"I want to hear why you took Kitty Pryde out of it. She was in it originally but Claremont wanted to have her go to the White Queen's school so that artwork with her in the Secret Wars was changed. What's the full story there?"
No artwork on Secret Wars was ever changed due to some issue with Kitty Pride. Of that I'm sure. Don't know what you're talking about. Maybe Chris remembers better than I do about KP's absence. Was she absent? If you say so. Dunno.
Marc Miyake said...
Did you attend an "art school" in addition to Carnegie Mellon, or are you referring to classes you took at Carnegie Mellon? Did you take art classes while still in high school, and/or in the summer between graduation and your brief stay at Marvel?
The only art classes I took were at Carnegie-Mellon. It was a special program for high schoolers for which you had to be selected, and very few were -- only 50 each year, I believe, from the entire tri-state area around Pittsburgh. The classes took place on Saturdays during the school year. They were taught by C-M professors. Classes started in the early morning and went till mid-afternoon -- something like six hours, as I recall, with a half hour break around noon. The first year, everyone had to take design. The second through fourth years, you had a choice -- I took two years of drawing and one year of painting. The other option was sculpture.
Those teachers were incredible. The classes were amazing. I learned a lot. I loved it.
A question from mgcat: "Mr. Shooter - Any thoughts on the "decompressed" style of storytelling that has overtaken comics in recent years?"
"Decompressed?" Is that what they call it? Wow. I don't like it. When I was a kid reading Spider-Man, when I got done with an issue, I felt like I'd seen a movie -- so much had happened, so much I cared about. These days, it seems like it takes only a minute or two to read a comic book, and in many, very little happens. Archie Goodwin used to call "decompressed" books "thin reads" -- an apt term. It's a lot harder to create and tell a real story every issue. I think "decompression" is just a writer's cheat. Similar to an artist doing no backgrounds, lots of pin-ups and cropped close-ups.
Note from JayJay: Perhaps this is a good point to mention that next week we are planning to begin Jim's How to Create Comics series!