“For over 30 years, I have read numerous “Jim Shooter screwed me” stories in various interviews from, usually, The Comics Journal, plus other fanzines of the day…”
“…numerous “Jim Shooter screwed me” stories….
I’ve read a few such interviews and been told about others. I’m always interested in exactly what constituted the screwing. Did I steal their money? Sleep with their wives? Give their kids drugs? What was the crime?
Other than a few over-the-top examples, notably the Doug Moench interview in which he accused me of being responsible for Gene Day’s death, as far as I can tell, these are generally the crimes alleged:
1) I gave the creator in question direction. That is, I told him or her what to do, or refused to allow something he or she wanted to do.
2) I wasn’t warm and fuzzy enough. I didn’t sugar coat things enough. I was “mean.”
Well, it was my job to run Marvel’s comics publishing operation. I was making decisions that were mine to make. I was giving direction that I was empowered to give. I was the boss. What part of the word “boss” was mysterious to them, I don’t know.
I believed that I was dealing with adults and professionals. I was as nice as I could be. I was very polite the first few hundred times I explained what needed to be done, or what could not be done. At some point you have to say “do it,” or “don’t do it” and make it stick.
I heard that after I left Marvel, Chris Claremont threw a “Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead” party. I don’t know if that’s true, but Chris and I did have our disagreements along the way. A couple years later, I ran into Chris Claremont at the San Diego Con. He approached me to say hi, and shook my hand. My first instinct was to wonder if he was armed….
We talked. This was shortly after he’s been booted off the X-Men. The book he’d written every issue of for, what, seventeen years? The franchise he built. Chris said, words to the effect that although we’d had our disagreements, they were always about the stories and the characters — and isn’t that what writers and editors should be arguing about? He said, and this is a quote or close: “You never took my book away from me.”
Chris later worked with me for a little while at DEFIANT before that ship sank.
Once, in court, in my presence, John Byrne testified on the stand that he had made over ten million dollars working at Marvel. Guess I screwed him good.
I refused to have double standards. No situations like: Artist “A” must redraw the inappropriate scene, but superstar artist “B” is allowed to get away with a similar misrepresentation of a character. It was my job to protect those characters, protect those franchises. The characters and the books came before any superstar and his or her ego.
Tom Brady still does two-a-days. Albert Pujols takes batting practice. Duane Wade studies film. All are expected to perform with rare excellence, and they do. That’s why they get paid more.
I felt that every job, every time deserved the creator’s best effort. There were a number of creators who were so good that with half an effort, their work was still better than most. I would not settle for that. It’s hacking, albeit at a high level. I demanded that they perform with rare excellence. That’s why they got paid more.
I suspect those few didn’t like me much then, and probably still don’t.
Most superstars gave their best efforts always. I don’t think Bill Sienkiewicz, Walt, Weezie, Michael Golden, Terry Austin, many others — you can probably make the list better than I can — could ever give less than their best. Even if the money were half as much. Even if there was no money. They idled at great.
Funny, they seemed to get along with me then and still do.
The truth is I allowed a great deal of creative freedom. Some took advantage of that and did great work. Others just tried to take advantage.
If I had it to do all over again, probably the same people would be denouncing me. I’m okay with that.