Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Questions and Answers

JayJay here. I’ve asked Jim to answer some of your recent questions. I’m glad you asked! I was curious about some of these things, too. Here are his answers. We will get to more questions in the future.


Marc Miyake said... (in Reference to Secrets of the Secret Wars)
Why was Mike Zeck the artist of the first SW? Given that many fans first got into comics through SW, that series was their first taste of his work - which was the case for me.

Mike was available and I thought he was capable.  Mike did great work on Master of Kung-Fu.  SW presented new challenges -- designing alien things and doing vast-scope action.  The vast-scope action was new territory for Mike -- MOKF and his other, previous work had been single characters, all up close and personal -- so I actually thumbnailed some of the issues for him.  The design stuff he did brilliantly.  Witness the black Spider-Man costume.

What's the story behind the new characters introduced in SW: Titania, Volcana, and the new Spider-Woman (only a year after Jessica Drew's demise!)?

I introduce new characters often.  I saw opportunities and I took them.  Titania and Volcana provided ongoing romantic interests, and the new Spider-Woman...?  Well, I thought we needed one.

There were a number of big props and sets on Battleworld, but I don't remember anything specifically resembling the toys. Was there any pressure to include playsets and vehicles in the comic?

I think I included some of the toy stuff, but Mattel pulled some bait and switch.  They showed us things that they later ended up using for He-Man and stuck the Marvel license with cast-off gadgets and items.  The important thing to them was that there were "playset" fortresses and vehicles of some sort.  If things didn't match up perfectly, no big deal.

How did readers react to the unseen Beyonder in the first series and his variable appearance in the second? It's hard to come up with a single design for an ultimate being. Kirby pulled it off with Galactus and Ditko did it with Eternity, but usually such attempts end up like Dominator from BLOOD S.C.R.E.A.M. ("James S. Jackson-Weiss III" and Hoang Nguyen out-Imaged Image. Hope to see you blog about Broadway!)

Hmm.  I never had any complaints regarding the Beyonder.  I did the best I could.  I hope it worked.


Piperson said... (in Reference to Secrets of the Secret Wars)
I really loved the new Spider-Woman and was sorry no one at Marvel seemed to know what to do with her.
And what about Spidey's new costume? How did this come about?

I think the new Spider-Woman was introduced at the behest of the legal department.  They feared someone else trademarking the name.  I wanted every Secret Wars participant to come back a little changed by their experience.  Some creators embraced the idea and ran with it, like John Byrne who did a major arc with the Thing.  A fan had suggested a new, black costume for Spider-Man a year or so prior to SW.  That was his entire contribution, the words "black costume."  His suggestion was that it was a high-tech suit made for Spider-Man by Reed Richards.  I bought the "black suit" idea from him -- my recollection is that we paid him $500.  I had a note to myself in my desk drawer for a long time -- then when Secret Wars came along, I said, "Aha!  Now would be a good time to use this."


Jermaine Rogers  said... (in reference to The Jack Kirby Artwork Return Controversy)
BTW, did Ditko accept his artwork back with no objections?

When I told Steve he could have his old artwork back if he would sign the standard artwork return form, he said he would if I guaranteed him that no one, especially Jack Kirby, would get a special deal.  If everyone had to sign the same form, he was okay with that. But if anyone, especially Jack, got a better deal, he would not sign.  I assured him that as long as I had any power there, everyone, including Jack, would be treated the same and sign the same form.  Jack's attorney's demanded a special, customized agreement.  I dug my heels in with Marvel's attorneys, company officers and the board of directors of Cadence Industries, and I am proud to say that it was one fight I won.  Jack signed the exact same agreement as Steve.  And all was well.


Marc Miyake said... (in reference to Reminiscing About Jack Kirby)
You've worked with some of the greatest artists in comics. Do you ever wish you had worked with Kirby?

I worked with Jack as an editor.  It might have been cool to write something he drew.


Kris Brownlow said... (in reference to Reminiscing About Jack Kirby)
Is there any truth to these rumors that people in the Marvel offices were calling him "Jack the Hack" and trying to fill his letter columns with knock letters?

Marvel paid creators, usually the writer of the series, to go through the fan mail, choose letters to print and write replies. Because Jack was in California and didn't want to do the lettercols, David Anthony Kraft was assigned (before I became EIC) to write the lettercols for Jack's books.  DAK chose largely negative letters.  Jack called me and complained.  We fired Kraft and got someone else.  Kraft's excuse was that he was writing an "honest" lettercol, reflecting the general tenor of the mail.  Horseshit.  A lettercol shouldn't bash the book it's in.

Jack was generally revered by those of us in Marvel's offices, especially by Len, Marv and the older guys.  A few Philistines, noting the lousy sales figures, had unkind words for Jack.


Piperson said... (in reference to Reminiscing About Jack Kirby)
So Jack was working at Marvel but Stan and Jack weren't on speaking terms?
What do you mean single digits? like 1-9 issues? Didn't Stan and Jack do the Silver Surfer graphic novel at that time? How does this work into this story?

As far as I know, while Jack was working at Marvel, he and Stan were friendly or, at least, civil.  The time I was referring to, that I think you're referring to, was many years later.  "Single digits" refers to sell through numbers at the newsstand.  Jack's books were selling under ten percent when all other Marvel titles were selling in the high forty percent or fifty-plus percent range.  Thirty-some percent was break-even.

Stan and Jack did the Silver Surfer GN in the early seventies.  Though Jack had previously left Marvel and done his parodies of Stan and Roy ("Funky Flashman and HouseRoy") -- which Stan found funny, by the way -- they were still on civil enough terms to work together.


Kris Brownlow said... (in reference to the Missing box of Marvel Artwork)
Hi Jim, were the police called about the theft?

No.  Not by me, anyway.  I alerted our office manager and he did whatever he did.  I suppose I should have called the police, though I doubt they would have taken the matter seriously.


uncannyderek.com  said... (in reference to Hank Pym was Not a Wife-Beater)
It's amazing how a simple "mistake" can have such a long-lasting effect.

Getting into comics late, I only knew Pym as a wife beater. It's mind-boggling that that's not the case.

Jim, what WAS your intent for Hank Pym then? What was the ultimate goal of the storyline or the future of Hank?

I wanted to take a man to the absolute bottom and then have him rise up and strive again, ultimately becoming the hero he truly was.  That to me is real heroism.


Paulo said... (in reference to Hank Pym was Not a Wife-Beater)
Later in that story, Hank doesn't appear to show remorse when Jan takes her glasses off and shows she has a black eye. Can anyone explain that?

In my script, it was an accident.  Hank wasn't particularly remorseful.  A little embarrassed, maybe.

17 comments:

TheWriteJerry said...

To what do you attribute the low sell through numbers on the Kirby books compared to the rest of the line? Most people in the comic book industry have a great affection for his work, but why, in your opinion, did the buying public feel exactly the opposite?

Bosch Fawstin said...

Didn't Rick Leonardi design the black Spider-Man costume? If I recall correctly, I do remember seeing his designs for it, maybe in an issue of Marvel Age. And the original design for it had a red spider instead of the white.

Bosch Fawstin said...

Ok, I just picked this up from Wikepedia:

[Rick Leonardi] is credited, along with fellow illustrator Mike Zeck, of designing the black-and-white costume to which Spider-Man switched during the 1984 Secret Wars miniseries, and later wore for a time. According to the Spider-Man 1/2 special, the costume began as a design by Zeck that Leonardi embellished. The plot that developed as a result of Spider-Man's acquisition of the costume led to the creation of the Spider-Man villain known as Venom[1] (though in a 2007 Comic Book Resources story, fan Randy Schueller claims to have devised a version of a black costume for Spider-Man in a story idea that he was paid for[2]).

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions at length while writing multiple titles. (And thanks to JayJay for asking you to answer!)

The Beyonder's appearance worked for me. I think you made the right choices in both series. I imagine others would have tried to create some Galactus or Celestial lookalike which is why I brought up Dominator's armor. DC took the armor route with the Anti-Monitor and Monarch. But you thought out of the box. Michael/The Enemy was another ultimate being of yours who was impressive without a standard-issue costume.

I didn't realize you had done thumbnails for SECRET WARS! I've tried to read or listen to every interview with you that I can find, but I keep learning new stuff every day on this blog.

Until yesterday I didn't even realize the three new characters you introduced in SW were all women. They not only helped balance out the sex ratio in the comic but also reminded readers that not every supercharacter *has* to come from the NYC area. From Colorado? Why not? (As a New Jersey resident, I got a kick out of the NJ origins of the Warriors of Plasm.)

By "worked with Kirby" I meant write for him. Sorry I wasn't clear. Did you have much editorial input into his work? I have a complete set of his 70s Marvel work apart from the SILVER SURFER graphic novel and was disappointed to hear about the sales figures. I knew they were low, but not that low. So like TheWriteJerry, I am curious to know why the public rejected what the fans embraced. I was only five when I first saw Kirby's CAPTAIN AMERICA, but the art and Arnim Zola in particular made a big impression on me.

I was a fan of the old Spider-Woman and was sorry to see her go. Was the Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel like the new Spider-Woman who was "introduced at the behest of the legal department" after the death of Mar-Vell? In any case, it would be interesting to see Monica teamed with Solar ... though I'd rather see what you can do on your own with the "Dark Key" universe.

Here's an article by the fan who submitted the black Spider-Man costume idea:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2007/05/16/randy-schuellers-brush-with-comic-history/

It includes the letter you sent him.

Marc Miyake said...

Bosch, according to a comment by Al Bigley on the article I just linked to, "the black-and-red Spidey outfit ran in a 1983 MARVEL AGE issue."

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2007/05/16/randy-schuellers-brush-with-comic-history/#comment-99679

One of these days I'll have to complete my MARVEL AGE collection. Loved that magazine and used it as a guide for my Marvel purchases every month for years. I missed some of the early issues and I guess the black and red design is in one of them.

Jim, was MARVEL AGE your idea?

Bosch Fawstin said...

Echoing Marc, I also want to thank Mr. Shooter for answering blog questions, and to JayJay for helping making it happen.

And thanks Marc, I do remember reading from that link when you posted to it a little while back. I Loved Marvel Age as well, always looked forward to the exclusive images and write ups on what was coming in the months ahead.

Kris Brownlow said...

Thanks for these answers, it's all quite interesting

TheWriteJerry said...

On the subject of those who mentioned liking Marvel Age Magazine - during what era were you reading these? I was fortunate to work on the magazine on a regular basis during the early 1990s under then-editor Steve Saffel. It was one of the most rewarding - and actually most difficult - assignments I've ever worked on.

Piperson said...

Jim, that's very big of you to answer our questions like this! But then again I'm sure you are use to people using that adjective in reference to you.
I really love the bit about you paying the guy for the Spider-man costume idea.
Hey those new women for the SW were great characters! I especially loved Titania! She made many great appearances later on, one of my favorites being in Stern/Buscema's Avengers "Siege" storyline with the Absorbing Man! Speaking of Stern'/Buscem's Avengers, Volcana made an wonderful appearance with the Molecule man in a finally to the Secret Wars II!
Thanks again Jim!!!

Bosch Fawstin said...

TheWriteJerry, I remember reading Marvel Age Magazine clearly during the 80's and I suppose it must have been during the early 90's, as I remember well an Iron Man cover pencilled by John Romita Jr. & inked by John Byrne, it was a Great collaboration. I also remember JRJR's Batman/Punisher Marvel Age cover, with his early version of Batman being the version that I preferred over the one he eventually drew in the published team-up, in which he made Batman's ears and glove forearm claws(?) Much too long for my tastes. I always felt let down about that one, since JRJR was hands down my favorite penciler as a kid, with his versions of Marvel characters always being the definitive versions for me, much like when his father drew them.

Bosch Fawstin said...

1 More thing, David Mazzuchelli did a Hell of a Daredevil cover for Marvel Age #36, near the release of arguably the best Daredevil or even Superhero storyline Ever, Daredevil: Born Again. Within was an article about Miller's and Mazzucchelli's thoughts about their upcoming collaboration, and I couldn't have been more excited about it.

Marc Miyake said...

TheWriteJerry, I read occasional issues of MARVEL AGE between 1983 and 1985, regularly read it between 1986 and 1991 (when I moved to Japan and missed most of the first year of VALIANT), and bought a few issues when I returned to the US in 1992. So maybe I got to see some of your work.

I just realized my first issue of MARVEL AGE was #8 with Stan and Jim on the cover. MA did a great job of spotlighting creators. For instance, #22 made me appreciate Sol Brodsky. A history lesson for just 35 cents.

Bosch Fawstin said...

Mr. Shooter, I'm enjoying your current work, and I'm finding Solar to be very entertaining but also surprisingly funny. And I loved the exchange between Magnus & 1A in the middle panels on page 7 of Magnus #3, it said a Lot with very little words, which I always appreciate in writing.

Pastrami said...

Since you paid that fan $500 for writing "Black costume" I was thinking that I would suggest you use the word "the" in your next story.

Here come the royalty checks!

I am thoroughly enjoying the blog, thanks to you both!

kintoun said...

I just want to mention Marvel held a poll early in 2001 where readers determined what comic books deserved to be labelled "The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time". Secret Wars #8 earned position 89 while Secret Wars #1 ranked 36. I think that speaks volumes on how popular this limited series still is.

DJ said...

Hi Jim/JJ,
Liking your Blog, fascinating stuff.
Can't find a way to contact you except through the comment section. So here goes.
Can you shed some light on advertised product that never appeared:
Roger Stern/Frank Miller Dr. Strange.
Jim Shooter/Alan Weiss Sub-Mariner.
Jack Abel as Iron Man penciller!
There's probably more, but these are just from memory.
Thanks for your time.
David Johnston.

jimshooter said...

1) Frank got too busy with Daredevil, according to one on-the-ball, well-informed commenter.
2) We never got around to it before I left Marvel, though I believe I wrote a plot and Alan drew a few pages.
3) Jack's stroke limited him.