Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part Two

Plan “B”

Once the contracts were buttoned up and signed we started work on Superman and Spider-Man.  I picked Marv Wolfman to write the book for a number of reasons:  he was a marquee name and deservedly so, he was in New York, conveniently, he was absolutely reliable, and most of all because he really, really wanted to do it.  Our other two superstars were Roy and Archie.  Both were pretty solidly booked up, Roy was in California and Archie was way too slow. 

So, we had Marv, a top tier guy writing, John Buscema, our number one penciler doing breakdowns, and Joe Sinnott, our premiere inker finishing.  A dream team.

Marv understood without discussion that this wasn’t a writer/editor project, one of those I’ll-do-it-on-my-own-you-check-it-when-I’m-done things.  I was the editor on the Marvel side and Joe Orlando was responsible for approvals on the DC side. 

Marv started working on a plot.  He had a lot of ideas.  He always had a lot of ideas.

At his request, we had several discussions about the story.  We decided that the main villain should be Doctor Doom, with a DC hench-villain (or villains) to be named later.  It made sense.  Marvel’s number one villain, Doctor Doom was a worthy foe for number one heroes Superman and Spider-Man together.   

One of our conversations took place at Marv’s house one evening, I think.  Could be wrong.  I remember looking at this huge bottle full of pennies in one corner of his dining room while talking.  But maybe I’m remembering that from another visit.  Anyway, we batted plot ideas around a lot.

It’s hard, at this point, to recall which bits of the plot were mine and which bits were Marv’s.  I suspect that Doom’s plan to destroy the world’s energy supply was Marv’s.  That’s a very Marv-like idea, high-concept and compelling.

Somewhere in the middle of plotting, Marv’s employment agreement expired.  We weren’t able to come to terms on a new one.  More on that later.  He, of course, had an offer from DC, and opted to take it.

So, Marvel was obliged to provide another acceptable writer.  In a hurry.  We were losing time.  I didn’t want to fall behind schedule on the first book of the series.

Time for Plan B.

I was the only Marvel writer who had written both Superman and Spider-Man.  I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands, but neither did the other leading candidates. 

So, I took it on.  DC had no objection.  Springboarding off of some of the concepts Marv and I had talked about, I wrote a plot and submitted it to Joe Orlando for approval.

And waited.  And waited.  And called to bug him, though I never was able to get him on the phone.  I left messages.  And waited.

(NOTE:  This particular instance of waiting for a response from DC isn’t the only one in this series of posts.  You’ll see.)

Meanwhile, a few interesting things happened….

I spoke with some minion at DC who, per my request, sent over definitive Superman reference for John Buscema.  It consisted of a batch of model sheets and drawings by the brilliant José Luis Garcia-Lopez gathered in a binder.

John Buscema happened to be coming into the city from his home in Port Jefferson, 10.000 miles out on Long Island (or so it seemed the few times I drove there).  So, he came by my office to visit and pick up the reference.

Sitting in the guest chair across the desk from me, he noticed some Neal Adams artwork amid the clutter….

Neal had sent me a package of a few full size, high-quality reproductions of pages of a project he was working on to show me what he was up to and, I guess, to see if Marvel had interest.  Or, it could have been just to show off his new, blue-line coloring technique.  Whatever.  Anyway, I had these pages of his.  The story featured the Frankenstein monster, the Werewolf and Dracula.  Classic monsters.

Stan had stopped by my room earlier and seen those pages sitting on my desk.  He picked them up and shuffled through them.  He did not know who drew them!  Now, one might expect that Stan would recognize Neal Adams' style, but no, I swear, he had no idea whose artwork it was!  He thought it was a “new guy.”  I asked him what he thought of the pages.

Stan was unimpressed.  He said, words to the effect, “You need to get this guy to work on his storytelling.”  He pointed out several shots he felt were unclear, undramatic, static or weak.  One in particular I remember was a panel in which a bad guy—the Werewolf, I think—was attacking someone.  The frozen moment in that panel showed the Werewolf in mid-swing of a slashing strike.  “Dull” said Stan.  He should be either reared back all the way or all the way followed through on the blow.  As it was, Stan felt there was no power in the gesture.  For all we knew, said Stan, the Werewolf could be about to give the victim a light paw-slap.

So, back to John, a little later….

John Buscema picked Neal’s pages up and shuffled through them.  He too, had no idea who had drawn them.  John was sufficiently out of touch with most of what was going on in comics (for example, he needed reference for Superman!) that it seemed reasonable that he might not recognize Neal’s style at a glance.  Besides, John lived 10,000 miles away. 

“What do you think?” I asked.

John said, words to the effect, “This guy can’t draw for &#@%.  Look at this figure.  He’s not standing on the floor.  He’s floating in the air.  See that’s what happens when you’re one of those light-box guys.  And this figure, look at his shoulder.  Is he a hunchback?  ”  Etc.

“Here’s your Superman ref,” I said.

John started to page through the binder, at first with that casual disdain look on his face that he got when viewing the work of mere mortals.  Then, suddenly he started looking closely.  His expression changed.  He seemed impressed.  I might go as far as challenged.

“This guy is good,” said John.  “Who is he?”

I told him.  As he tucked the binder in his portfolio, John said, exactly, “Any chance we can get him to ink the book?”

(NOTE:  I have no idea whether or not Neal, himself, actually drew the pages in question.  They were in Neal’s style, but all that means is that they were produced by his studio.  They looked like Neal’s work, but they could easily have been done by artists and assistants working for him.  Or not.  Whatever.  If I haven’t made it clear enough along the way in this blog, I think Neal was and is one of the greatest artists and creators ever.)

RE: the plot approval:

Days gathered into weeks, weeks into months.  Still no word.  Seasons changed.  Armies marched.  Empires fell.  Still no word.  Civilizations collapsed.  New civilizations arose from the ashes.  Still no word.  Stars died and cooled.  From swirling gases, new stars were born.  Still no word….

It’s not as though I were sitting there tapping my fingers waiting.  I had plenty to do to distract me.  I didn’t follow up relentlessly ten times a day.  But I did call Joe Orlando often.  “He’ll get back to you.”  “You’ll get comments by next week.”  “Joe is checking with some of the other editors.”  “Any day now.”

What to do?  Go over his head?  Call Jenette?  That didn’t seem right.

Almost exactly four months after the plot had been delivered, after I did finally get relentless, insistent and a little menacing, word came from Joe.  The word was “okay.”  Plot approved, no comments.

I never did actually speak to Joe.  The word came by messenger.

It took DC four months to say yes.

Anyway, I sent John the plot and he got started.  Finally.  John was fast.  I figured he’d make up some of the time lost.


NEXT: The Urge to Kill.  Twice.

48 comments:

Comic.Reviewer said...

Holey moley!!! I am still picking my jaw from the floor.
About Stan criticizing Adams, and John B. being unimpresed.
I not surprised he felt "Challenged" by the work of José Luis Garcia-Lopez.
Man, where did my jaw go??? I had it around here somewhere....

Ken Raining said...

The Neal Adams story is hilarious. Buscema I might understand, but Stan had to know him! By that time he'd done, what, X-Men and Avengers for Marvel, and some Conan stories. I do think, though, that comics often suffer by letting name guys get away with sloppy work. Have you seen Adams' recent Batman book, Jim? It's almost illegible.

Caped Crusader said...

Always love seeing anything drawn by José Luis García-López. I'd have loved to flip through that binder.

demoncat said...

omg can not believe both stan and John though Neils art was lame two legends not liking the work of another legend. plus can not believe it took dc four months to okay and approve the plot for the first cross over between the big two.

Michael Hoskin said...

Jim, it sounds like you're referring to Power Records' "A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein," which was drawn by Adams.

http://powerrecord.blogspot.com/2008/05/story-of-dracula-wolfman-and.html

Robert Stanley Martin said...

It may not have been Adams. As Jim indicated, it might have been someone else at Continuity, and Adams just put his name on it. Adams did that with the first issue of Ms. Mystic and Mike Netzer (né Nasser). I don't have the comic handy, but the comics.org site says Adams was credited as the penciler, and Netzer was credited with "some layouts." Click here. When Netzer sued him over Ms. Mystic a few years later, Adams acknowledged to The Comics Journalthat Netzer had in fact pencilled the entire story.

Pj Perez said...

To be fair, Adams is a guy who draws beautiful, realistic renderings, and while it seems John and Stan were a bit harsh, I could see their point on the storytelling not being as solid as it could be. But that's coming from two masters of dynamic storytelling, so you can't fault them their opinions.

czeskleba said...

Great find Michael... that Power Records book has got to be it. You can even see the Werewolf panel Stan thought was dull: page 9, panel four. That book definitely has the look of being a product of Continuity Associates Studio rather than Adams solo.

We also should note Stan could sometimes be arbitrary or inconsistent in his criticism of artwork. John Buscema told the story of how Stan absolutely savaged his artwork on Silver Surfer #4, verbally ripping it to shreds. Then eight years later, Stan mentioned to Buscema that he thought Silver Surfer #4 was one of the best jobs he'd ever done. When Buscema reminded Stan about his criticism, Stan had no memory of saying those things. (http://twomorrows.com/kirby/articles/18buscema.html)

Will said...

Well in fairness that Thor/Surfer crossover was great. A fondly remembered and desired book.

I cant blame Stan for siding with the results history. Not knowing how things will play out from the war-room - its all chatter. To badmouth a success bad form. Maybe if Stan's edits were in it would have been cancelled after issue 6.

Who can say.

Wrial Huden said...

"I have no idea whether or not Neal, himself, actually drew the pages in question. They were in Neal’s style, but all that means is that they were produced by his studio. They looked like Neal’s work, but they could easily have been done by artists and assistants working for him. Or not."

Or...they could have been drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. I'm sure that's not the case here, but Bill's early work (on Moon Knight in particular) is similar to Neal's, so much so that he was nicknamed among the fan base as "Neal Adams Jr."

gn6196 said...

4 months waiting without comments about the plot, I wonder if they even read it?

Benoît Leblanc said...

Ha! Very funny post, Jim!

It takes chutzpah to mention on a blog frequented by comic-book fans that someone, sometime, for some reason, might have criticized something drawn by Neal. Some creators (usually brilliant) generate such fidelity among their fans that anything that might even remotely sound like criticism is akin to blasphemy! Frank Frazetta is another such great artist who is apparently never allowed to produce a so-so piece of art.

It's pretty funny that John Buscema would have needed references for drawing Superman. I guess he wasn't kidding in all those interviews where he claimed to thoroughly dislike comic-books. But at least he knew Garcia-Lopez for the great cartoonist that he is! (Well, so is Neal, of course; I guess that particular piece of artwork just wasn't to the taste of John and Stan).

Whenever I see something like a Supeman / Spider-man team-up, my heart goes out to the writer. The difference in power level between the two characters makes it pretty hard to make the weaker one relevant., It always reminds me of Frank Miller's self-deprecating joke about teaming up Daredevil and the Hulk : what happens in panel two? But Supes and Spidey weren't that impossible to match since we got two treasury editions of what may be the actual World's Finest team.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear everyone,

I am puzzled because various sources list A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein as having come out in 1974 or 1975, before Jim was on staff at Marvel. That comic is not in the GCD's list of Power Records comics, but it is in Neal Adams' official checklist which lists it as "[NOT ADAMS]" before five 1974 Power Records comics with higher code numbers. That implies A Story ... was published in 1974.

Is it possible that Stan, John, and Jim were looking at a later version of the story?

It [the Power Records story] was re-adapted completely and made for standard format. First publication in France as "Pleine lune" (plain moon) (Albin Michel/Special USA) before hiting the US a second time in "House of Hammer" (#18, 1978).

I can guess what Stan thinks - and what John thought - of the pin-up-driven approach of some modern comics art.

Why didn't José Luis García-López become a superstar? Why can't fans see what John Buscema saw in his art?

Dear Wrial,

As far as I know, Bill Sienkiewicz never worked for Neal Adams at Continuity. Hence I don't think this is his work. (I suppose he taught himself to draw like Adams.)

Chip Cataldo said...

Garcia-Lopez is probably the most under-rated artist of all time. The "binder" was probably the DC Style Guide from 1982 (or an early version of it).

Bosch Fawstin said...

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is SO good, but his output has been very sporadic and possibly a lot of it behind the scenes that I do tend to forget about his work when I think of The Greats. I can't recall any particularly great stories that he drew, ones where the story being written for him matched what he brought to it with his art. If anyone knows of one, I'd love to hear it and get a copy.

moklerman said...

JLGL's Superman covers were some of my favorites and I have picked up a run of Atari Force that I am enjoying very much.

Which is really saying something because I never picked it up in the first place because it seemed so...bleh! But, since there isn't a lot of JLGL's stuff out there I had to get it anyway.

And, of course, it's worth it just for his artwork alone.

Anonymous said...

Marc: "Is it possible that Stan, John, and Jim were looking at a later version of the story?"

Yes, it is possible and that's apparently what happened. I remember reading a Comics Journal news section in the early 80s that went into detail about a series of graphic novels that Continuity was publishing overseas. Neal's monster story was one of them, plus something to do with cowboys in space by Ed Davis, Freak Show by Berni Wrightson and Bruce Jones, Cody Starbuck by Chaykin and Bucky O'Hare by Larry Hama and Michael Golden. There might have been others, but this explains the time-frame confusion: in the early 80s, Jim and Stan and John were looking at Neal's expanded version of the mid-70s Power Records story.
At least, I THINK that's what may have happened...I could be wrong.
I am signing this anonymous because this site won't let me sign-in to my Google account and post under my name for some unknown reason, which is: Jeff Clem

jimshooter said...

Dear Michael,

I think that's it.

Ken Raining said...

"Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is SO good, but his output has been very sporadic and possibly a lot of it behind the scenes that I do tend to forget about his work when I think of The Greats. I can't recall any particularly great stories that he drew, ones where the story being written for him matched what he brought to it with his art. If anyone knows of one, I'd love to hear it and get a copy. "

He drew an Elseworlds book called Twilight (no, not that one) a few years ago, written by Chaykin and featuring a new take on such Silver Age space characters as Tommy Tomorrow, Star Hawkins, and Space Cabbie. Really, it's a terrific book, beautiful art, though sadly never reprinted.

Nevermore said...

Oh boy. I can barely await your rundown on the 1980s JLA/Avengers fiasco.

On a related note, Jim: The 2004 hardcover collection of the 2003/04 JLA/Avengers crossover, which includes a "Compendium" book, was originally solicited as containing an article on the unfinished original crossover, written by former DC editor K.C. Carlson, in the Compendium. In fact, the DC website still claims as much:
http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=3759

However, when the hardcover edition came out, there was no article by K.C. Carlson. Instead, the Compendium reprints "Behind the Lines: Special Report - The Story Behind the Avengers/JLA Team-Up Controversy" from Marvel Age #19 and DC's answer, the two-part "Meanwhile... Justice League of America vs. The Avengers: Death of a Dream" by Dick Giordano, originally published in various January 1985 DC releases. Do you happen to know why the originally planned article was scrapped? (It's not the only content of the Compendium that was promised but not delivered.)

Bosch Fawstin said...

Ken, I did get issue one of that years ago and I don't remember the story, but I'll never forget that art, incredible.

Dale said...

lol

and people call me crazy when I insist that JL Garcia-Lopez is my favourite artist BAR NONE !!

In Modern Masters: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Andrew Helfer told a tale of french artist Moebius (Jean Giraud)barging into his office and closely inspecting a Wonder Woman picture over his desk, after a while Moebius asked "This Garcia-Lopez, he uses models, no? When Andy answered with a smile "no", his only retort was "Son of a Bitch"

High compliments indeed from a master, plus admiration from another master in John Buscema, also John Byrne considers him the best in the business

Dimitris said...

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez draws, in my opinion, the most beatiful images I have ever seen in comics and he also manages to be excellent at the storytelling part. I don't think that he is underappreciated by fans, since I have never seen bad words on the internet about his work, but his name rarely comes up when discussing the greats because,as Bosch noted above, he is not connected with any great runs in comics (and also that Twilight book is out of print and rarely talked about).
From Garcia-Lopez interviews that I have read, the reason he wasn't given much comics work by DC was not that they didn't think that much of his art, (they would have to be blind), but that he was kinda slow and therefore they decided to utilize his art for merchandise.

Tom Brevoort said...

Nevermore,

K.C Carlson's extensive article on the history of the original AVENGERS/JLA crossover (which I still have a copy of in my files) was spiked by Paul Levitz, who reportedly said, "This thing doesn't make anybody involved look good."

Tom B

edfredned said...

My first intro to Jose Luis Garcia Lopez was in Cinder and Ashe. The art was so fantastic I bought 2 copies of each issue. The writing by Gerry Conway was solid. I highly recommend it.
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Cinder_and_Ashe_Vol_1

Sam Little said...

I suspect we'll be hearing more about Jose Garcia Lopez shortly since I seem to recall him drawing the Batman/Hulk crossover. A truly beautiful book.

Fantastic blog, by the way. I find the behind the scenes history absolutely fascinating.

p.s. Secret Wars is still my all-time favorite comic book. That series made my thirteen-year-old head explode with excitement.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I thought you would be interested in seeing an interview from Roger Stern pointed to in the below link.

http://www.marvelmasterworks.com/features/int_stern_1006_2.h tml


It's a long interview but the part I was interested in was in regard to the comment asked and answered about you earlier about John Byrne and Roger Stern's Captain America. In particular, the talk about receiving a "continuity" bonus for doing six issues in a row before royalties.

http://www.marvelmasterworks.com/features/int_stern_1006_2.h tml

GK: Can you explain why John and you left Cap after #255?

RS: That gets a little complicated. Marvel was starting to crack the whip on deadlines, and all the editors were under pressure to get their books on time. I’d had some stomach trouble midway through our run on Cap, and John was about to get married, and Jim Salicrup was understandably worried that we would fall further behind. I thought we could pull ahead in just a matter of weeks – my digestion was already back to normal, and I knew that John’s work ethic was as strong as mine – and to prove it, I sat down and plotted the next three issues straight through. Jim was still uneasy about the deadlines, and so he decided to schedule a fill-in by another writer. I pointed out that we already had a fill-in underway; Frank Miller was drawing a stand-alone Cap story that I was going to script. (It eventually saw print in Marvel Fanfare.)


"By the Dawn’s Early Light!" featured in Captain America #247 by Stern, John Byrne, and Joe Rubinstein. The first issue with Rog and his collaborators in their short-lived classic Captain America run.
In those days before royalties, Marvel had what was called a "continuity bonus." If you wrote or drew six consecutive issues, you got a bonus. And so on for the next six, and the next. A fill-in before issue #258 would set all of our bonuses back.

But beyond that, I was worried about losing sales momentum on the series. We’d been working hard to build up the readership, and I knew from my days as an editor that fill-ins usually cost you readers.

Back during those early days of the Direct Market, when the greatest percentage of sales still came from the newsstand, it was a given that sales would dip after each fill-in. It could take a book’s regular creative team as much as three issues to get the readership back up to the pre-fill-in level.

Well, I couldn’t persuade Jim not to schedule a fill-in. And, looking back, if I had been in his shoes, I might have done the same thing. But I wasn’t in his shoes. I was the freelancer, and I didn’t like the way we were being treated.

I’d worked with Jim a long time and I really didn’t want to come to loggerheads with him. So, I took back all three plots, tore up the vouchers, and stepped away from the book. I figured, better to leave Cap on an up note with the 40th anniversary issue.

Chris Hlady said...

Oy, czeskleba, a previoius post or comment had questioned whether John Buscema had aped Burne Hogarth (I think). In this interview, he's pretty much admitting it, doing the 4 pages per day for the money, as opposed to one page per 3 days.

I guess he just needed the Jose Luis Garcia Lopez samples for something to copy, speeding up the process.

----
BUSCEMA: The layouts, for cryin' out loud! I copied! Every time I needed a panel, I'd look up at one of his panels and just rearrange it. If you look at some of the early stuff I did - y'know, where Kirby had the explosions with a bunch of guys flying all over the place? I'd swipe them cold! (laughter) Stan was happy. The editors were happy, so I was happy.
------

Really love John being candid, and the insight on the How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.

Quite the characters, back then.

jimshooter said...

Dear Anonymous,

Someone provided a link to this interview -- thank you -- but it's nice to have the relevant section posted here. Thanks.

JayJay wondered, and I wonder if there might be some confusion regarding which "Jim" Rog is referring to, Salicrup or me. At the beginning, he's clearly talking about Salicrup. But, all roads lead to where the buck stops, I guess. If Salicrup was demanding a fill-in, he was responding to schedule pressure from me and my ultra-tough, terrifying, dreaded enforcer, Traffic Manager Virginia Romita. Yes, John the elder's wife. Seriously, Virginia is a sweet, wonderful lady, but she made the editors toe the line regarding schedules. Then she gave them a cookie.

I don't remember exactly, but the schedule situation must have been pretty dicey and uncertain for Jim Salicrup and/or Virginia Romita to demand a fill in at the risk of losing dream-team Rog and John. And for me to support that decision. And accept the disappointing consequences.

I would like to point out, by the way, that this situation is emblematic of something I am very proud of, to wit:

I did not give superstars, close friends or even superstars who were close friends special treatment with regard to schedule difficulties and with regard to issues with the work (though the latter does not apply here. There were no such issues).

I did, however, pay the superstars more, whether they were friends or not. That seems fair and just.

I expected from every creator his or her best efforts, true to the essence of the characters and in keeping with the Marvel standards, policies and traditions I was charged to uphold. On time. If that makes me a bad guy, so be it.

"...essence of the characters..." is a VERY broad standard, by the way, as Walt's Frog-Thor amply demonstrates.

In case you missed it, by the way, in another answer I expressed regret for not going to an every six weeks or bi-monthly schedule with Cap, if schedule was the problem. Maybe if I were smarter, I would have come up with that idea at the time, or some other elegant solution. Sometimes, from here, everything seems so clear.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, I love this blog. I came here by way of tfw2005.com for the Transformers articles, and have read everything on the site. I'm more of a DC fan than Marvel, but the behind the scenes stuff is fascinating to me. When I read more comics, I always wondered why some of my favorite creators disappeared or moved, and this blog gives me a window into some of that activity. Plus, I love the quotes, like:

"Then she gave them a cookie."

or

"The comics business in general, and especially Marvel, was Romper Room on crystal meth."

Jim, thank you for doing this. The blog (and the comments) are a high point of my day.

-Dave Young

P.S. Tried to post using my Google account, but all I get is an infinite loop requesting my UN & PW.

JayJayJackson said...

Hi Dave,

i've been trying to figure out why so many people have had trouble posting comments on the blog. The only thing I've figured out so far is that there may be some sort of conflict or problem with users' browsers cookie settings, but I'm still hoping to find out how to address the issue from our end. Thank you for commenting, though!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim ,

I've been a fan of yours forever. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. YOU ARE STILL VERY IMPORTANT. Please keep them coming.

Your are both Valiant and DEFIANT for us fans.
Jason

ncaligon said...

For users have trouble logging in, especially with Google, it may help to

1: open a new tab
2: log into Google (or wherever)
3: leave the new tab open with your login active and return to the tab showing this page

Some security "features" will log you out whenever you close or leave the logged-in site, which is very good when you're leaving your bank account or credit card site, but may not be helpful in other situations.

Anonymous said...

Pierre Villeneuve says; (I tried the fix here above..... does not work :( )

One of my most prize poossession is the Superman Wonder Woman comic by Garcia Lopez.

You can see the cover here;

http://flashbackuniverse.blogspot.com/2009/07/thoughts-on-golden-age-characters.html

Here in Quebec it was published as a treasury edition. No idea how the America version was originally published.

But the artwork by Garcia Lopez is pure gold from the very first panel to the very last.

I spent wayyyyy too much time reading and re-reading that comic as a kid.

If you want some GREAT Garcia Lopez artwork... you need to get that story.

czeskleba said...

Chris Hlady wrote:Oy, czeskleba, a previoius post or comment had questioned whether John Buscema had aped Burne Hogarth (I think). In this interview, he's pretty much admitting it
****************
Chris, you're taking that quotation out of context. In that interview, Buscema is talking about how when he first returned to Marvel in 1966, Stan was critical of his layouts and wanted him to adopt a more Kirbyish layout sense. At that point he looked at Kirby's books and did some swiping of layouts in order to get "back in the groove" of drawing comics after years in advertising. Once he had internalized the Kirby layout style, he stopped looking at Kirby books.

So Buscema is *not* saying that he swiped for his entire career, he's just saying that he swiped Kirby layouts for a short period in the mid-60's when he was getting re-acclimated to comics work after some time away from it. And even then he only swiped from Kirby, not anyone else, because that was the look Stan wanted.

It's also important to note he's talking only about swiping layouts, ie, the placement of figures in a panel. He never outright swiped drawings of figures, as some well-known swipers like Rich Buckler or Keith Giffen did.

czeskleba said...

I posted this in another comment section, but in case anyone missed it this is the Buscema interview Chris Hlady and I are talking about:
http://twomorrows.com/kirby/articles/18buscema.html

jimshooter said...

Thanks, czeskleba.

Anonymous said...

Pierre Villeneuve says;

Tom B: Any chance to convince you to share that K.C. Carlson article??

TheWriteJerry said...

By the time I arrived on staff at DC in 1990, Warner's was in full "meddling" mode with the business side of DC. Rules such as "marketing people are not allowed to write comics" and "employees are not allowed to make internal moves to other departments within the same company" were in full effect (these 2 personally tripped me up) along with a variety of other "suit-imposed" regulations. Thus the rope I threw Paul; it was an extension/projection of my experience there.

Ironically, the 80s and 90s were a terrible time for DC when it came to shipping books on time, so choosing to play hardball on one project but not on others does seem to be a personal move/bug up somebody's butt. I could see the "Paul flexing his muscle/making an impression" theory being a very viable one without Warner prodding.

Nevermore said...

"marketing people are not allowed to write comics"

What's so bad about that one? The Spider-Man Clone Saga is a perfect example of what happens when marketing people try to dictate the direction of a comic.

It's an extension of what Linkara (the fella doing humorous-in-execution-yet-serious-in-intention reviews of comics here:
http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/linkara/at4w
Jim, if you don't know him yet, check him out, many of the comics he reviews are so awful you can't help but wonder how they ever got greenlit) keeps saying: Editors should let writers do their jobs.

In other words: An editor's job is to oversee the work of the writer, point out flaws in the plot and, if necessary, veto a story or parts of a story that go against the publisher's policy in general, or at least regarding the title.

An editor's job should *not* be telling the writer what stories to write. If the editor wants to write the story himself, he should write it himself, not dictate the writer the plot. "One More Day" is a prime example of that, as is the general state the two big publishers are in these days, with individual titles having to be written around big, company-wide crossover "events".

Steve Jones said...

Personally, I've always thought Adams could draw great individual pictures but he wasn't very good at putting it altogether in a comic page. He just never did it for me.

Pastrami said...

My favorite portion of this post?:

"Days gathered into weeks, weeks into months. Still no word. Seasons changed. Armies marched. Empires fell. Still no word. Civilizations collapsed. New civilizations arose from the ashes. Still no word. Stars died and cooled. From swirling gases, new stars were born. Still no word…."

Good thing no one is around to hear me laughing.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Pastrami,

Leave it to Jim to depict waiting as a dramatic, cosmic epic!

Tom Brevoort said...

Pierre,

Afraid I can't. DC put together that collection of JLA/Avengers, they commissioned the articule from K. C. and paid for it. So it wouldnt be right for me to post it anywhere.

Tom B

Chris Hlady said...

Just a few points to clarify,
zeskleba had said in this thread...

Chris Hlady wrote:Oy, czeskleba, a previoius post or comment had questioned whether John Buscema had aped Burne Hogarth (I think). In this interview, he's pretty much admitting it
****************
Chris, you're taking that quotation out of context.
...
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Well, I don't know about that. From a comment of the post: http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/07/roy-thomas-saved-marvel.html

czeskleba had said...
Chris Hlady:
Roy Thomas has commented that working with the Burroughs Estate was very difficult, so much so that it prompted him to quit writing Tarzan. The straw that broke the camel's back for him was when Burroughs' daughter called Thomas and accused him of plagiarizing his adaptation of a couple of the Jungle Tales of Tarzan from a Burne Hogarth book that adapted the same stories. Thomas says he pointed out that since both adaptations came from the same source it was inevitable that they would have similarities, and that he had not read the Hogarth book. Burroughs' daughter would not let it go, and went so far as to accuse John Buscema of swiping from Hogarth's book. Thomas says that would have been ludicrous since Buscema did not even like Hogarth's work and hadn't seen the book either. The whole incident left Thomas with such a bad taste that he quit.

------------------

So, I was referencing your older comment when I made my comment. It had to do an allegation that Burrough's daughter made, which Buscema had confirmed in the previous interview cited.

So, Roy Thomas was wrong, in that instance, because Buscema had used Hogarth reference before, and happily admitted it.

Anyway, I'm not a big fan of Buscema. I felt he was always "aping" himself, and seldom saw cool originality in his published work. But that's me. He had lots of fans, and was a Legend in the Industry. Hats off to him.

To be sure, it isn't that using reference is wrong. It's absolutely necessary in navigating productivity with a demanding market. Now, the market is even more demanding, and the impediments to productivity are even more challenging. There are still many lessons to learn ...

czeskleba said...

Chris, I think you must be misreading something. Nowhere in that interview does John Buscema "happily admit" to using Hogarth for reference or swiping. The only mention of Hogarth in the interview is when Buscema says that as a child he enjoyed reading the work of Raymond, Foster, and Hogarth, and that he saved and collected Sunday comic strips featuring their work.

Likewise, the only mention of swiping is when Buscema says that for a brief period in the mid-60's he swiped panel layouts from Kirby to get himself acclimated to the style that Stan Lee wanted. And swiping panel layouts is not the same as using another artist's work for reference anyway.

I do admit the interview seems to contradict Roy's assertion that Buscema did not like the work of Hogarth. But again, Buscema says absolutely nothing about swiping from Hogarth ever.

Chris Hlady said...

Hey czeskleba, I think the reasonable inference is that Mr. Buscema used references on unfamiliar projects.

Is that plagiarism? I don't know. I haven't, and I'll probably never check to see if Burrough's daughter had a point.

I'm just giving my impressions, from your post. Sorry if I'm misreading it. In my book, Mr. Buscema had nothing to be ashamed about.

You are providing a lot of great input, especially on Dave Cockrum, so I'm really in your debt there. Mike Grell and Cockrum were huge influences in getting me to want to draw comics. Barry Smith, too, but Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes holds a special place. Thank you.

My brother was the big Conan fan, so after reading his Smith issues, that I just loved, I never really warmed up to Mr. Buscema. Over the years, though, I have certainly gained a lot of respect, and admiration for each of the industry giants.

My comment writing probably needs an editor to make sense of it, or an actual writer. For the moment, though, I'm just running on enthusiasm, which everyone knows, isn't the soul of clarity.

czeskleba said...

Hey Chris,
Perhaps part of what's going on is lack of clarity over terminology? John Buscema did use reference on unfamiliar projects (such as Superman/Spider-Man) but reference is not the same as swiping. Using reference means looking at another artist's work (or photos) in order to familiarize yourself with how something looks in order to draw it properly. John Buscema didn't know how Superman's costume looked, or what his supporting cast looked like, so he needed reference to get the details correct. Using reference doesn't mean you copy the other drawings.

Swiping figures is a different thing... it does mean copying the other drawing, or at least the exact pose of the figure(s) in question. Sometimes a swiper even directly traces the other drawing. Google "Bob Kane swipes" and you will see several iconic images from Batman's origin in Detective #33 that were actually swiped from other sources.

Swiping a panel layout is another thing entirely. That means copying the placement of figures within a panel, but not directly copying the figures or poses themselves. This is the kind of swiping Buscema acknowledges using in the mid-60's.

In the interview Buscema admits to doing this last type of swiping for a brief time in the mid-60s. It doesn't seem to me there is any reason to assume he did it at any other time in his career. Nothing in the interview suggests it, so you're making a pretty big leap to suspect he did.

If I recall correctly, Burroughs' daughter was accusing Buscema of swiping figures from Hogarth. To my knowledge, no one has ever found examples of him doing that at any point in his career.