Reading the blog it sure seems that office politix and egos are as bad as anywhere else. In Kirby’s case it seems to be driven by Roz, as whenever he is in anyone’s presence Jack seems to be gracious and all ‘o we’ll work it out somehow’ even if he laid claim to Spidey he did almost give it up when pointed out they used Ditko’s design and storyline, Comments? Speaking of Steve, I’ve only skimmed the first of the three portfolio books about him making seem quite the eccentric, Jim hasn’t said much about Steve and I’m wondering what his impressions were of him. Overall Jim has been characterizing himself as a force to achieve two goals, to make comic books and all related activities reach their full potential and for the equitable treatment of creators so I wonder what his thoughts are on the Todd McFarlane/Venom hullabaloo from the early 90’s, he was their rising star back then from his work on Hulk and Spidey then you could hear the brakes screech and now the only time they refer to him if at all is by renaming him ‘pondscum’. What are Jim’s thoughts and is Marvel truly that petty behind closed doors? might it only get worse under Disney?
Lastly has Jim had a chance to read “Kavalier and Clay”? The comic book stuff seems loosely based on Lee and Kirby tho references are made to Timely comics of the 40’s. What does Jim say about its portrayal of the industry?
Roz was Jack’s greatest advocate and defender. I fault her not at all for that. Was she bitter? Yep. I don’t blame her for that, either. Did that make things more antagonistic sometimes? Yep. Did it affect the outcome? I don’t know. Probably not, or not much. I doubt that Roz knew, or would have believed that I was doing whatever I could for Jack (and every other creator) from the inside, or that she would have cared unless the results were positive. But once the lawyers and the upper management of Marvel and Cadence were involved — six months into my tenure as EIC, immediately after Jack’s employment agreement ended — there wasn’t much I could do.
Jack was always gracious to me. Jack’s anger showed sometimes, in interviews I read, for instance, but he never took it out on me. His issues were with Marvel/Cadence, Martin Goodman and Stan, but I never got the sense from him that he blamed me, or faulted me for working at Marvel. When I was editing his books, I treated him with great respect, as a King should be treated. He was nice to me. That carried over, I guess.
Steve Ditko is a brilliant and honorable man. I plan to talk about him some, as I go along. All good. Eccentric? Depends on your point of view, I guess. One man’s eccentric is another man’s extraordinary. I betcha people thought Da Vinci was eccentric.
I hope I’m not “characterizing” myself as anything. I’m a creator. I know well that side of the desk. I think I know what is fair and just for creators and I wanted that, for me and everybody else. When I got to the company side of the desk, I did whatever I could to make that happen. Wouldn’t Walt Simonson or Trina Robbins do the same, if they got into a position to influence such things? I happened to become EIC at Marvel at a time when it was possible to effect some change. Roy never had the opportunity I did. I also believe that because Mort gave me a lot of training regarding the business side as well as the creative side, I was uniquely qualified to get some things done. I was the first EIC invited to attend executive staff meetings. I was the first EIC invited to Cadence board meetings. I was the first EIC to be promoted to VP.
Since I wasn’t there for the McFarlane thing, I don’t really know the details. Todd is a talented guy and a nice guy. Perelman’s Marvel, I can tell you, was rapacious. It was a stock-churning scam. It was all about “playing” Wall Street and selling the company, eventually, to a Paramount or somebody for big money. The house of cards fell, however, before that could be accomplished and they went bankrupt. Don’t cry for Perelman, though, he made plenty churning the stock along the way. Then Icahn’s bondholder group took over. Long story, ugly custody battle. Anyway… How do I know this stuff? Some of this is public, some I heard from investment bankers and, most importantly, I made an attempt, along with a friend (who I want to ask before I identify), two ex-Cap Cities/ABC execs, investment bankers McFarland Dewey & Co. and equity partner Perry Capital to buy Marvel out of bankruptcy. I got Chase to agree to do the debt financing, presuming that everything passed muster. (Chase had been my debt provider and financial adviser the first time I tried to buy Marvel.) We spent several days in Marvel’s lawyers’ offices doing “due diligence.” I read the documents. Long story, but nothing ever came of it. The Trustee allowed Marvel and Toy Biz to merge and reorganize.
In my experience — I worked for Disney for about a year — Disney runs a tight ship. Petty? I don’t think so. Pettiness, especially regarding creators, is usually — usually — confined to the editorial department. With a few exceptions, upstairs is all about the money. Example: When John Byrne got mad, quit Marvel and went to DC, he called (or wrote a letter? I forget) President Jim Galton and demanded that I be fired — or so Galton told me. Then Galton asked me who John Byrne was.
P.S. Then Mike Hobson, publisher, ordered me to fire Denny O’Neil, who he felt was responsible for the Byrne fiasco, which he absolutely was. So I did.
P.P.S. Denny landed on his feet at DC, did well, apparently, and lived happily ever after.
I own a copy of Kavalier and Clay but have yet to read it.