David Michelinie’s check didn’t come. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 1978, I think.
Marvel Comics was still sorting out its payment procedures, which went through several changes during the first year I was Editor in Chief. You can read about it here and here.
The deal was supposed to be if your voucher was received by the cutoff day one week, your check would be mailed Monday of the next week. By Wednesday, surely, you’d have your check.
Dave lived in Newark, Delaware. He called me at the office that Wednesday to…umm…gently express his…umm…disappointment? What’s the politest way to say murderous rage?
Most of us lived hand to mouth in those days. The business was struggling. Most of us were struggling. Dave was more responsible than most. A solid citizen. He owned a home. He managed pretty well, compared to some of us.
But he needed that check. It was the day before Thanksgiving. He had no cash and hadn’t been to the grocery store lately. What was he supposed to do, eat cat food for Turkey Day?
I looked into it. Somehow his voucher hadn’t made it into last week’s batch. Bookkeeping had put it aside because of some question about it.
I went upstairs and calmly, rationally, at the top of my lungs convinced the money tweezers to cut that check. Right now would be lovely.
I called Dave back and told him I would hand deliver the check the next day, Thanksgiving. So what, he said. His bank would be closed. I told him the ol’ expense account would buy us dinner, and I’d bring him some cash.
I lived in Queens Village at the time, and I had a car. A car was a necessity out that way and the apartment complex had a parking lot, which is Heaven on Earth in the New York area.
The next morning, I drove to Newark, about 150 miles away. It took four hours or so. I don’t think Dave believed I was coming until I showed up on his doorstep. With a check and American money in hand.
I got to see his place. Very nice, made all the more charming by the extensive collection of nunchakas hung from the living room ceiling. I got to meet his cat, a gray shorthair, I think, named “Mouse.” Mouse? I can’t complain too much about that. I’ve got a cat named “Tomato.”
For dinner, we went to one of the few joints nearby that was open, a sort of upscale pub. Very nice, actually. I don’t think we had turkey. I don’t think they served turkey. I believe we ate excellent burgers. Close enough.
I went home after dinner. There had been a little traffic on the way down—people on their way to grandma’s house, I guess—but almost none on the way back while everyone else but me was slumped in front of the football game on the tube in a tryptophan-induced stupor. It took less than three hours.
So, I set right a Marvel mistake. I had a good meal. Dave and I were both Turkey Day “orphans,” in the sense that neither of us had any family or folks anywhere close, so it was good to have company. All in all, it was a pretty good Thanksgiving.
This is the route from Queens Village to Newark, Delaware.
MONDAY: Ditko at VALIANT and DEFIANT