There was chaos, and everything was late. It was very disorganized, and in fairly short order I’d been to Marvel three times, and had seen three different Editors-In-Chief: Roy, Len, and Marv. As editor in chief, Marv presided over all of us–but the things that seemed to occupy most of his time were arguing and mollifying. That seemed to be the job. On a typical day he might be arguing with an artist who’d “left the pages in a taxi cab” for the third time, mollifying a colorist whose job had been badly separated, arguing with the circulation department about falling sales figures and mollifying the accounting department’s chagrin over a proposed fifty-cent raise for a letterer.
Marv hired me, and within a couple of months he was gone. The plan was for Roy Thomas to return to become editor in chief for a second time.At the last minute, however, Roy changed his mind and opted to remain a writer-editor. Then Stan offered the job to Gerry Conway, who was there three weeks and quit. Then they gave the job to Archie Goodwin, and he endured about nineteen months, and it got to him.
Mort Weisinger trained me about more than just writing. He taught me about running a creative organization, and professionalism, and making order out of chaos. It seemed like there was tremendous talent and energy at Marvel, and no organization. I was the line editor, going over 45 books a month. I had this little crew of guys, but the way it was organized was pretty idiotic. When Stan and Sol were this little two-man tag team, and the company was eight books, it worked. When it was 45 books, it didn’t work. Nobody had bothered to install an organization. I thought, “I can fix this.” I was hoping I’d get a chance; I was pretty much last on everybody’s list, but eventually they’d used up everybody else, so I got my chance. But I was the second-in-command, and I got overlooked three times. Since there were no other remotely qualified candidates available at that point, Stan hired me and I took over as editor in chief on January 2, 1978. At that time Marvel also had a new president, Jim Galton.
When I was first offered the job as editor in chief, I turned it down, because I wasn’t convinced I would have the power to make the changes that needed to be made. After a number of discussions, Jim Galton was pretty comfortable with what I wanted to do. Having been a freelancer for a long time, I knew the kind of things that needed to be done. I wanted to start paying royalties, I wanted to have creator-owned material. I knew they weren’t going to go along with somebody owning a piece of Spider-Man, but he had no problem with new things being created, which the creators owned a piece of. Basically, I took the job on the grounds that I could make a lot of changes like that.