Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Secret Origin of Jim Shooter, Editor in Chief – Part 4

The Guild and Ditko’s Declaration

Now, I know what you’re thinking….  That Jim Shooter was the champion of Work Made for Hire.

Nah.

I had been on the creator side of the desk too long before the Editor in Chief gig.  I was the champion of Best Deal Possible for all creators.  If I’d had my way, I would have made Marvel Comic Book Creator Heaven in a heartbeat.

However, I knew that the likelihood of my being able to totally revolutionize and restructure Marvel’s business relationship with its artists and writers during my first few months in office was zero.  I knew that it wasn’t bloody likely that any time soon, or maybe ever, that Marvel and the industry in general would give up Work Made for Hire (W4H) and move to an Independent Contractor status for creators, buying specified rights for specified periods. 

No way, no how.

But, as mentioned elsewhere, I took the EIC job on the condition that I would be allowed to improve the lot of creators.  I had pre-approval to install a royalty system and other incentives.

The immediate goal was to keep Marvel Comics’ comic book publishing operation alive long enough to implement the programs I envisioned.  Survive and evolve.  Revolution wasn’t a viable option.

Here’s why:  At that time, the comics were barely breaking even.  The other half of the company’s publishing operation, Magazine Management, was losing about two-and-a-half million dollars a year publishing its tacky rags.  We comics people suffered, to some extent, because they lost whatever little money we made.

Any sudden, dramatic increase in costs (and therefore losses) and the parent corporation, Cadence Industries, would have simply closed down Marvel, sold its intellectual property and other assets and cut bait.  Just as they did with most of the other Cadence companies—Vitamin Quota, Perfect Subscription, Sachs Theaters and others.

A strike would have killed us.  Or, minimum, we would have gone to a much smaller line produced by only staffers and contract employees.  Lots more reprints.  Leaving lots of freelancers unemployed. 

We were that fragile.  And I knew for a fact that the brass had no faith in the future of the business.

I promised to tell the story of the negotiations and discussions that took place before I accepted the EIC job later, and I will.  But here’s a tidbit.  President Jim Galton told me he intended to get Marvel OUT of the comic book publishing business and into animation, children’s books and other “real” businesses.  My job as EIC would be to keep us afloat long enough for him to accomplish his plan.  I was supposed to end the rampant chaos, stop the hemorrhaging of cash due to late books and missed issues, end the absurd inefficiencies, curtail the waste, streamline the operation and improve the quality of the work.  Essentially, I was to oversee the end of Marvel Comics comic book publishing and make it as painless to the company as possible.

I told him that I thought he was wrong, that the comics could become very successful again, and that we could be “bigger than Disney.”  I said that.  That’s a quote.

Galton was not against royalties and incentives.  As stated previously, he came from trade book publishing and understood such things.  I was welcome to propose such plans.  He also said I could do anything I wanted (!) as long as it didn’t cost a lot, or paid for itself, or, miracle of miracles, made money.   

So, I pressed on.  One thing I did was rewrite the terrifying W4H document Kenyon & Kenyon had provided.  I simplified it, put it in English and made it fit easily on one page.  I ran it by Alice and she ran it by K&K.  Fine they said.  “Yeah, that’s what we meant.”

I passed out the new, less intimidating document.  I also did my best to get people to believe that I could and would make things better if they’d give me a little time.  A few people signed it, since it seemed less onerous (though the substance was the same).  Among the first to sign was Bill Mantlo.  A few others trusted what I was telling them and signed. 

Some stringers signed, hoping, I guess, that if the regulars didn’t sign, eventually work would open up for them.

The question came up a lot, “Is this ‘sign it or else?'”  The answer was yes.  I knew that at some point, I’d be given a cut-off date.  That answer went over like a death threat. 

I asked all staff people and the contract employees to sign the document.  It was academic for the contract guys since their employment contracts already specified W4H, but I thought it might be good psychology.  Marv was the first to sign.  Then Colan, John Buscema, Mike Esposito….  Eventually they all did, except for Archie.  Archie was the lone hold-out.

During the late winter and spring the Guild kept growing.  Even guys who had signed the W4H joined thinking, and rightly so, that an overall agreement between Marvel and the Guild would supersede the W4H.

Meanwhile….

During that time Neal Adams re-instituted First Fridays.  There had been a tradition (before my time) of parties or social gatherings of comics people on the first Friday of every month.  Neal started that up again and hosted.  He had a big, beautiful place on the East Side.

I was invited along with everyone else. 

Though Neal was the “union leader” and I represented the management, we never had a harsh word between us.  We were friends, remained friends throughout the tribulations and are still friends.

I meant every word I wrote for his Hall of Fame intro. 

The parties were great.  The only downside was that Neal would buttonhole me sometimes and expound upon the evils of W4H.  I don’t think he ever realized it, but he was preaching to the choir.  Albeit an off-key baritone who was busy trying to keep the church from burning down instead of singing.  I tried to get him to understand that I planned to make things better, if I only had time. 

Neal meant absolutely no harm.  Neal’s intentions were strictly noble.  Neal was fighting the good fight for the creators.

The thing was that Neal was grossly misinformed about the financial health of the company.  He thought we were doing much better than we were, and that changing to an Independent Contractor system was a practical choice we could make.  More on that later.  First….

A LITTLE SIDE STORY:  One day, I’m sitting at my desk working on whatever disaster was currently on the docket when Neal called.  He said he was filming a movie and he wanted me to be in it.  I politely declined on the grounds that I had no time.  Neal insisted.  He had a part for which I was perfect.  It was only one scene.  It wouldn’t take long.  Etc.

Okay….

So, late that evening, I showed up at the place Neal was filming, downtown somewhere.  Neal explained the part.  I was to look big and mean and scary and menacing.  I think I had a three-word line.  The reason I was perfect for the part was that I am freakishly tall and I look big and mean and scary and menacing.

Just before the shoot started, Neal walked over to me and handed me a WORK MADE FOR HIRE DOCUMENT!  I started laughing.  “You, Neal Adams, are handing me, Jim Shooter, a WORK FOR HIRE DOCUMENT?”

Neal didn’t see the irony.  He started explaining that this was his movie and he needed to protect his rights, and….”

I said “No problem, Neal,” and signed. 

The movie was called Nannaz.  

In late spring or early summer, things were coming to a head.  Neal called a meeting of Guild members and interested parties at Continuity, his studio.  He had one room that was large enough to accommodate a lot of people.  It was full, SRO.  I’m not good at estimating crowds, but it seemed that there must be well over a hundred people.  I’ve heard people bandy around numbers like 300.  Dunno. 

Neal insisted that I attend.

I wasn’t comfortable with that.  I was afraid people wouldn’t speak as freely if Marvel management was represented.  As soon as Neal called the meeting to order, I spoke up.  I proposed to leave the room and let them take a vote.  If so much as ONE PERSON objected to my being there, I would leave.

Neal simply overruled me.  Told me to stay.  Sit.  He should have at least thrown me a Milkbone.

P.S.  Paul Levitz was also present.

ASIDE:  Apropos of not much, but it struck me sitting there that none of the members of the Comic Book Creators Guild except Chris Claremont actually made their living working in comics.  Neal didn’t.  Englehart had abandoned comics to write prose.  The others didn’t.  For whatever that’s worth….

The meeting began.  Neal and others talked about how things would work with the Guild representing the creators, after the strike, if necessary.  Neal had in mind penciling rates of $800 a page, inking, writing and coloring rates also in the multi-hundreds of dollars a page, letterers were to get $80 a page, I think.  Those rates, plus participations.  When the companies had jobs for creators, they would make requests to the Guild and the GUILD WOULD CHOOSE CREATORS FOR THE ASSIGNMENTS.

What?

Page rates at that time were under $100 for all creative disciplines.  For example, writers near the top of the scale got around $20 a page.  No participations, no benefits.

Neal derived those rates by taking ancient rates and ramping them up in concordance with inflation; that and other factors.

Paul and I both said that there was no way that the companies could afford such rates.  Neal had figures, acquired I don’t know where, that indicated that Marvel and DC were making huge profits.  Paul and I argued.  Nobody cared what we said.

I looked around the room and saw lots of young guys and some marginal guys, probably imagining how sweet it was going to be getting many hundreds of dollars a page.  It might have been a little harsh, but I pointed out that if Marvel COULD pay $800 a page for pencils, I’d be on the phone to Leonard Starr and we’d certainly offer Neal work, but a lot of young guys wouldn’t make the cut.

Wrangling ensued.

A couple of things happened that impacted the meeting.

First, Neal brought up the notion that the Guild would see to it that justice was done for founding father creators who had built Marvel and DC—restitution, back royalties, participations….  In particular, he cited Steve Ditko, who was present, and told how the Guild would champion his cause and make Marvel set right the unjust way it had treated him.

Steve spoke up.  I will make no attempt to quote him here, except for one expression he used.  If my characterization of what he said is inaccurate, then I apologize and stand ready to be corrected by Steve, if he so chooses.

Steve said that he was an adult when he did his work for Marvel in the sixties, that he knew what he was doing, that he understood the way things were done at the time and he accepted the terms.  He agreed to the deal, or the standard terms that were in place then and he would not renege.  If Marvel chose to be generous, fine.  But he would stand by the choices he made.  And, here comes the quote, he wasn’t going to let the Guild use him as a “poster child.”

That quieted things down a bit.

The subject of artwork return came up.  Neal expressed his philosophy—and again, if I’m mischaracterizing this I stand ready to be whacked on the snout with a rolled up newspaper, if Neal so chooses.  Neal’s position was that the penciler is the artist and the inker is an “assistant.”  The pages would be returned to the penciler, and then the inker might or might not receive pages, depending on whether or not the penciler made an individual agreement with him or her.

That rankled the inkers in the crowd.  As I recall, some walked out.

The meeting eventually wound down.  I left not knowing what to think.

Not long thereafter, the famous DC Implosion took place.  DC cancelled, what, 40% of their line on the same day.  Somebody have the bona fide stats?  Anyway, they cancelled a lot of books all at once and eliminated a TON of creator work.

When I arrived at the office the next day, around seven AM as usual, there was already a line at the outer door of creators who wanted to sign the Marvel W4H.  Many were suddenly unemployed DC people, hoping to get work at Marvel, hoping perhaps to take the places of Marvel W4H holdouts.  And there were LOTS of Marvel people who were suddenly ready to sign to prevent their jobs from being given to the DC guys.

I accepted and counter-signed W4H’s all day.  I believe that’s when Tom DeFalco first showed up, too.

Not too much later, the Guild faded away.

True to my word, I instituted many reforms and made things better for the creators, but that a tale for later. 

TOMORROW:  Something groovy but easier.  I’m tired.  And I have a bunch of make-a-living stuff that I have to do or die.

47 comments:

Richard Guion said...

The Steve Ditko anecdote finally appeared! Interesting that came up during the Neal Adams meeting.

Definitely would not be right for the inkers not to get original art back, as they contributed so much to the final product. I wonder how it was decided who got which pages from a book? A comic book issue would have a cover and special iconic splash pages. Who determined how these were handed back? I heard a rumor that Terry Austin held onto a lot of his X-Men pages for years and the value of those have skyrocketed.

TheWriteJerry said...

When I first began working in the comic book industry in late 1988 (first for Viz as marketing manager and editor; 2 years later at DC in the marketing dept.), everybody I met - and I mean everybody including creators, editorial staffers at any company, marketing people, retailers - spoke of Jim Shooter as if he was the BoogeyMan Incarnate. "He screwed this person, he screwed that person, he nearly destroyed creativity, he was an ogre...!" And I thought to myself "I really like the Marvel books, always loved the stuff written by Jim Shooter, and hey, isn't that writer over there driving a REALLY EXPENSIVE CAR over to that retailer's HUGE house..." Freelancers were making money with more zeroes than they had ever seen in math class, and it started under Shooter... could the guy be that bad? I wanted desperately to meet Jim, but never got the chance. I figured this guy had to know something about creativity and business that the other people just were not seeing.

Point is, the public perception - especially when driven by angry people who do not realize just how good they have it - is rarely as close to the truth as they want you to believe. Jim was a pariah, I was a kid working in the candy store and I never got to meet him. My own personal What If? is "What if I had a chance to learn the creative aspects and business side of the industry under Jim Shooter?"

BoogeyMan Incarnate?!?!?! Maybe it was some sort of Height Discrimination thing on everybody's part.

TheWriteJerry said...

Richard - I know of one artist back in the early 1990s who would ink all of his pages on vellum overlays so he could get the full book back as inks, while the penciller got back all of the pencil art. I don't know how the penciller felt about this, but it would seem to me that both artists were getting ripped off in the end. The market for penciled and inked pages has got to be better than for just pencils or inks on vellum (stuff weighed a ton!).

evanmcb said...

Dave Sim wrote about that Neal movie anecdote in a Cerebus "Note from the President":

http://www.cerebusfangirl.com/artists/nftp/75.php

Very interesting stuff, Jim! Hope you keep writing your blog for a long time to come.

JediJones said...

So who owns the copyright to Jim's story now? ;-)

Tony said...

Fascinating stories!

Kid said...

I seem to recall a story that said Steve Ditko was offered a pile of money when the first Spider-Man movie came out a few years back, but that he declined to accept it. Anyone know if this is true or not?

kintounkal said...

At the beginning of 1978, 39 DC comics went on sale in January. This number was lot higher than normal but it was common for DC to release over 30 issues per month back then. In July, 33 DC comics hit the stands just before the DC Implosion suddenly took effect.

The following month, a mere 17 DC comics came out. So Jim's 40% cancellation estimate is spot-on. The next time DC sold over 30 comics in a single month was either April 1981 (if you count Marvel Treasury #28 ("The Heroes and the Holocaust" guest-starring Spider-Man as DC comic) or June 1981.

jimshooter said...

Dear Richard,

A post on artwork return will be along in a while.

Redheaded Golem said...

Pardon my ignorance - but when a company like Marvel wants to reprint something like, say, an old Ditko Spider-Man book - what do they use as source material? Do they keep photostat copies of everything they've ever published?

Clearly, it's not from the original art.

I've often wondered, because I've seen some badly reproduced "Essentials" - and yet the same pages look perfectly fine in Masterworks and other reprints.

bmcmolo said...

@TheWriteJerry - you know I wonder the same thing re: the height discrimination. If JS was some short dude with a potbelly, would people have this need to project Evil Incarnate on him? (Particularly when the reality of the situation is so demonstrably different than the perception?)

@Jim - loving this origin story stuff! You mentioned real-life-make-a-living stuff at the end and I chuckled. I've been wondering how much of your time writing this blog and responding to all us fans is taking. Thanks for your efforts, now, then, and always.

(By the way, and out-of-left-field-and-I-apologize, but as I gave up collecting ongoing series somewhere around 1992 (well, except the Sandman!) I never read any Valiant or Defiant, but I've been picking up issues here and there since I started reading this blog. The Dark Dominions arrived last night - haven't read them yet, but I'm happy to finally be catching up with that stuff!)

czeskleba said...

Kid: I've never seen anyone cite a reliable source for that rumor about Ditko being offered money for the Spider-Man film. I would guess it's almost certainly untrue. Corporations don't generally go and offer money to someone who's not even asking for it. And consider that Stan Lee had to file a lawsuit to receive the share of film profits to which he was contractually entitled. If they did that to Stan, why would they be offering money to Ditko unsolicited?

czeskleba said...

Golem: I believe DC has photostats dating back to the 50s at least, and Marvel has photostats dating back to the 60s, and those are what are commonly used for reprints. In some cases the photostats for certain pages are missing though, and then they have to scan from an old comic. In the Essentials books it's easy to spot the pages scanned from old comics because they have gray tones and are inferior in quality. I've heard also that in some Masterworks volumes Marvel has hired artists to produce exact replicas of missing pages using a lightbox.

Defiant1 said...

I have a lot of respect for Steve Ditko. He's a person of principle and I like that. A lot of people are like a flag flapping in the wind. If the wind changes direction, so do they. I've never seen Steve Ditko characterized that way.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Did Jim Galton brief you on the sad state of Magazine Management and the fate of "the other Cadence companies" during "the negotiations and discussions that took place before [you] accepted the EIC job," or did you figure out what was going on later? Were the non-Marvel aspects of Cadence common knowledge in the Marvel office?

Your "bigger than Disney" quote makes me think of who recently bought Marvel.

Leonard Starr art for Marvel! Just imagine ...

Thanks for recounting the Ditko Declaration. Steve knew the deal ... and so did everyone else.

The return of artwork to pencilers and inkers always struck me as a King Solomon-type problem. Both worked on *all* the pages (assuming one penciler/inker per story) but only one can have any given page. I'd be reluctant to share my pencils with an inker and if I knew how to ink, I'd feel the same way about sharing my inks. I look forward to your post on returning artwork.

Backing up kintounkal's stats, you can see the covers of the comics DC was releasing in 1978 below:

January 1978: 39 comics

July 1978: 33 comics

August 1978: 17 comics

It's interesting to look back on the survivors: besides the obvious (e.g., Superman), Unexpected, Weird War,, Jonah Hex,, etc. made it. 8 out of 17 titles were nonsuperhero. Compare that to the proportion of nonsuperhero titles in DC's upcoming relaunch.

Meanwhile, Marvel had 47 titles in August (including the end of the Korvac Saga!), and 20 of them were nonsuperhero: e.g., Yogi Bear as well as Conan, Sgt. Fury, and the Rawhide Kid.

I picked up a couple of the Marvel Hanna-Barbera titles at the time but preferred Harvey. Since you recently mentioned Sid Jacobson and Leon Harvey, I'm curious to hear the story of Star. A mystery I've wondered about for over 20 years: how did Walt Simonson come to write Animax for Star? I actually bought Animax because he was writing it!

jimshooter said...

Dear Redheaded Golem,

Marvel used to keep film -- that is, the acetates from which the printing plates are made -- on file. The original film may not have been available for some books, especially older ones, but sometimes dupes made from the film and used for prior reprintings were substituted. International licensees were occasionally able to provide dupes of the film if they had reprinted a book for which the originals had been lost or destroyed.

Long ago, there were indeed stats kept of books, but by now, film has been made from all of those...

...and these days, digital copies of the film are kept. Probably everything has been converted to digital by now.

In extremis, new film (and digital copies) can be shot from printed material. That used to be a dicey process, but with modern technology, it can be done successfully.

Maybe printing techno-maven JayJay has something to add (or correct).

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc,

Once I was a member of the executive staff (as EIC, I was at the "director" level, the lowest exec staff level) I attended staff meetings where such things were discussed.

P.S. Just as an example of how much Stan was NOT involved in business operations, he never bothered to attend staff meetings. I'm not saying he wasn't busy, wasn't doing things, but they were of the guru and cult icon nature more than nuts and bolts operations and P&L stuff.

If, at age 14, I grokked the deal by reading the "we own everything" legend on the back of my first check, how could the older guys not have understood?

STAR COMICS is a long story. I'll get to it. Walt wrote Animax because he wanted to. Would you turn him down? : )

XSaraXPoeX said...

Is the Aug. 78 list complete? The July 78 list has Batman 305, cover dated November. Batman 306, cover dated December http://oldcurmudgeoncomics.com/Batman-306-VF-P1935188.aspx isn't on the Aug 78 list. Am I missing something?

~Sara<3

Suzanne de Nimes (suedenim) said...

So whatever became of *Nannaz*? Did the movie ever get completed/released?

kintounkal said...

According to Neal Adams' web site, Nannaz was released via Troma Entertainment only in Europe back in 1986. It's more popularly known as "Death to the Pee-Wee Squad". You can see what the movie poster looks like at
http://www.troma.com/films/death-to-the-pee-wee-squad/

Kid said...

On the question of Masterworks volumes, I was a restoration artist on a couple of them so I can add some info. Firstly, there was no set way for the process back when they first came out - different restorers did different things. Bleaching printed issues, tracing printed pages, adapting altered reprints, etc., etc. Over the years, some pages had been reproduced so many times that they were stretched either horizontally or vertically, and had been retouched so many times by less than accomplished hands that they bore only a passing resemblance to their original appearance. As for the Essentials volumes, sometimes they used a printed issue and sometimes they scanned stories from printed Masterworks volumes because they had mislaid the proofs - hence the shades of grey.

I believe that computers are extensively used nowadays, and where anything has to be restored by hand, the finished result is far more like the original than previous multi-generation copies which have been distorted and 'corrupted' by different hands over the course of many years.

Here's a scoop for collectors - the recent trade paperback printing of FF Masterworks volume 1 contains even better, more faithful reproductions of the stories than the Omnibus edition - despite the 'highest-quality reproduction ever' claim of the latter.

Tue Sørensen said...

XSaraXPoeX,

Cover dates back then were the dates by which the comics had to be returned from the newsstands, so the cover dates tended to be 4-5 months ahead of the actual release.

XSaraXPoeX said...

Thanks for replying, Tue. Shouldn't Batman 306 be listed with the other titles cover dated December from the August list? I thought it odd that Batman isn't on that list at all.

~Sara<3

Tue Sørensen said...

The publishing schedule was a bit irregular. Note that the previous month has two issues of Batman, and the next issue (#306) is out the first week of the next month.

PC said...

Jim,

Since you mentioned en passant Magazine Management and other Cadence businesses, I was always curious what sort of magazines Marvel's sister company published and just what on Earth was it that Cadence exactly did.

Marc Siry said...

When I was a bullpen intern in 1984 and 1985, the art return process went something like this:

An art returns intern would take a full, 22 page stack of pages representing a book (with the pages usually out of order) and flip it so the artwork was face down.

They would then sort the book into two piles, one for the inker, and one for the penciler. I recall that the penciler received slightly more of the pages (60/40? 2/3? Not sure). This was intended to randomize the selection of pages each artist received.

There were nuances, of course. Double page spreads, artists who insisted inks happen on vellum or lightbox, artists claiming pages by writing their names on the back. I'm sure Jim's recollection is superior to mine, especially with regards to the policies and actual values behind the numerical proportions of the split.

jimshooter said...

Dear PC,

Cadence was a low-end conglomerate aggregated during the late sixties and early seventies, those years when conglomerates like the famous Litton Industries were the rage. ("Conglomerates" were corporations composed of many seemingly unrelated businesses.) Cadence itself didn't do anything but own subsidiaries like Vitamin Quota stores, Sachs Theaters and Curtiss Circulation. Cadence also had one division (as opposed to a subsidiary), Marvel.

Marvel was composed of Marvel Comics and Magazine Management. Magazine Management produced low-end magazines of various types: soap opera digest-type magazines, puzzle and game magazines, cheesy men's "adventure" magazines and such.

Cadence was failing badly during the seventies. A new Chairman, Shelly Feinberg, was brought in to salvage what he could of shareholder equity. He was known for that sort of thing. Under Shelly, Cadence sold off piece after piece of the conglomerate...eventually leading to interesting times at Marvel. Stay tuned.

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc Siry,

I'm not sure my recollection is superior to Marc's but I probably know more of the background. My tale of artwork returns is coming soon.
Thanks for pitching in, Marc.

XSaraXPoeX said...

Tue,

Thanks for clearing that up for me. :)

~Sara<3

Greg Morrow said...

JLA #160 is also missing from that shot of August '78, and it's not an irregularity thing -- #159 is in July and #161 is in September.

czeskleba said...

Several of the August 1978 issues are listed in the July section because they apparently went on sale the last day in July: Batman 305, Flash 267, Jonah Hex 18, JLA 160, and Men of War 10. Those should properly be included with the August total. So it looks like DC published 28 issues in July 1978 and 22 in August. Still a large reduction, but not quite as substantial as going from 33 to 17.

Suzanne de Nimes (suedenim) said...

Was Magazine Management involved with the Marvel Magazine line in any way?

Matt Adler said...

"If, at age 14, I grokked the deal by reading the "we own everything" legend on the back of my first check, how could the older guys not have understood?"

I could definitely see comic book artists in the '40s through the '60s who were just trying to earn enough to support their families, never thinking that what they were doing would even be remembered, let alone used to generate billions of dollars in perpetuity. I can't speak to the legalities of it, but morally speaking, if new, unanticipated revenue streams develop from a creator's work, I think they should share in it.

jimshooter said...

Dear Suzanne,

No.

jimshooter said...

Dear Matt,

Morally speaking, I agree. Common-sense speaking, I agree. I believe that publishers and all exploiters of creative work ultimately benefit from fair, honorable and just treatment of creators. The law here in the U.S. supports work for hire, and says that by paying me once, someone else, a company, can be considered the author of my work. The law is a ass. But that's what we're stuck with here. No droit moral, no natural rights. Feh.

FrankS said...

Neal wasn't too gung ho with info when asked about how he dealt with work for hire while running Continuity Comics. Byrne tells the story about how he signed the new w4h form when Claremont said he speaks for John Byrne at the guild meetings. And I very much doubt that Ditko was ever offered any money when the Spider-Man movie came out. I don't know who started that rumor but there has been zero proof to support it.

jimshooter said...

I wrote one story for Continuity Comics. I was treated fairly and generously. The contract, however, was work for hire.

P.S. in a tangentially related story, at one point I was going to write a story for Image. I don't remember which book. A group. I'll post the plot when I find it. But anyway, I saw their agreement. It was one of the most scorched-earth W4H agreements I have ever seen.

The Image guys are hailed as great heroes of the struggle for creators' rights, who threw off the yoke of Marvel's W4H oppression. Nobody mentions the fact that they used a far nastier yoke to oppress the creators who worked for them. Hypocrisy? By the truckload.

And, oh, by the way, under the "yoke of Marvel's oppression" (W4H redeemed by the royalties, benefits and participations I installed), the Image guys became millionaires. Let's not forget that.

Matt Adler said...

"Nobody mentions the fact that they used a far nastier yoke to oppress the creators who worked for them. Hypocrisy? By the truckload. "

Heh, Peter David mentioned that quite extensively in his columns for CBG (see his discussions of how Todd McFarlane treated Neil Gaiman), which generated a burning hatred for him on the part of the Image guys that lasts till this day.

FrankS said...

Yeah... that figures. Stephen Bissette often talks about how out of all the "pro-rights" companies that he has dealt with over the years.... DC was the one that lived up to their end of the deal most.

Bosch Fawstin said...

The name "Image" said it all from day one.

FrankS said...

I think Image wanted you to write YOUNGBLOOD, Jim.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

GCD doesn't list anything you've written that was published by Continuity. Nor does the fan site shooterswork.com. Would you happen to remember what book it was in? I have been trying to collect everything you've ever written and I'd like to purchase that book if your story was published.

I think FrankS might be right about Youngblood. In Plasm #9, you mention that "Extreme Studios ran an ad in the trades that said 'Rob Liefeld/Jim Shooter/Youngblood '94.'" You go on to talk about how you first met Liefeld at Wonder-Con in 1993, then asked him if "he'd mind 'guest-starring' in THE GOOD GUYS #1,'" and that led to Liefeld proposing "a crossover of creators."

I didn't like Liefeld's Youngblood -- it was one of the books that convinced me to quit buying new comics -- but I do give Alan Moore credit for trying to revamp it in the late 90s and if you ever find your plot for it (or some other Image group -- WildC.A.T.s? Wetworks?), I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc,

The book for continuity was the first issue of a Secret Wars type crossover (per Neal's specifications) involving many Continuity characters. It starred Megalith. The art was by Keith Pollard. Maybe it wasn't actually published, but the art was finished. I saw it. And, apologies to Keith, didn't like it. He did all that overlapping/interlocking hard to read stuff I don't like, for scripts I write, at least. Feh.

W.I.L.D.C.at.s sounds familiar. Was that a group of teen (or young-ish) heroes? I'll find the plot. The Liefeld thing never got beyond the initial conversation.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Thanks for the info about your Continuity script. I didn't know Keith Pollard worked for Continuity. His style is so unlike Adams'. Maybe he adjusted it?

A "group of teen (or youngish) heroes" sounds like Rob Liefeld's Youngblood which originated as a Teen Titans proposal. One of the members was initially intended to be a Khund -- 25 years after you created the Khunds for Legion! Good luck finding the plot!

Jeff Clem said...

Quite a few artists who worked for Continuity drew nothing like Neal Adams, yet when the finished product was published....voila! Instant Neal Adams-Sheen over everything!

Shelby said...

Dear Jim, I enjoy reading what you wrote about the Image founders. They are hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the number of DC comics cover-dated November does not give you a good idea of the effects of the DC Implosion. Those are actually the last releases of the DC Explosion (50-cent, 25-pages of story), minus the titles that DC had scheduled for the latter weeks of the month that DC cancelled at the last moment. The comics dated December 1978, where the standard is 17 pages of story, are the new status quo. So in addition to cutting the line by a significant number of titles, the impact was compounded by cutting the number of story pages in the standard book by 25%, and thereby cutting the work available to freelancers. It was at this point that people like Al Milgrom and Larry Hama moved to Marvel.