The whole place had a cluttered, used look and feel–as opposed to DC’s offices, which were opulent and huge by comparison, populated by an army of dignified people tiptoeing around, speaking in solemn tones, as though they were discussing insurance, or some other “real” business. And at DC they wouldn’t let you in without a jacket and tie. In fact, the first time I went to New York to discuss business in 1966, Mort met me at my hotel to make certain I was properly dressed before allowing me to go up to the offices. He wanted to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass him by showing up in a tee-shirt or something. At Marvel, nobody cared what you wore.
I spent the first day helping Morrie do paste-ups, art corrections and lettering corrections. I also proofread an issue of Millie the Model and gathered along with everyone else in Stan’s office to gang-plot several issues of various titles. I wondered when the “writer” part of the staff writer job would begin. Morrie, it seemed, would slap a lettering pen into any open hand, and point at correx to be done. Everybody did everything. Loudly. Unabashedly. Frantically. Delivery boys were asked their opinions of covers, and how to spell boutonniere (I knew!). It’s amazing they weren’t given brushes and asked to ink backgrounds on The Incredible Hulk.
I loved it.
Three weeks later I quit. I still loved it, but I had to quit. I was staying at the 34th Street YMCA — not a pretty place — and failing dramatically to make ends meet on my $125.00 per week, which would have been good money in Pittsburgh, but meant starvation for a kid all alone in the Big Apple. Reluctantly, I headed home to western Pennsylvania, certain that my comics days were over. I knew that when I left (“betrayed”) Mort that the doors were closed forever at National. And, I assumed that leaving Marvel after only three weeks meant no hope of returning. So, while all my friends were just getting started on their careers, at eighteen I was already washed up.