Once upon a time, while I was associate editor at Marvel, a bunch of us were hanging around the office after work. This often happened during that brain-dead hour or so when the words you were trying to edit started swimming around on the pages.
Often, DC guys showed up to hang out with us. Staff and freelancers weren’t allowed to hang out at DC’s offices after work.
Mostly, it was just guys hanging out. Occasionally, a woman or two joined the slug-fest (in the sense of a festival of slugs). There weren’t that many women in the biz then. Fewer than now. Weezie was among us sometimes…maybe Mary Jo, once in a while…Glynis…not many.
For some reason, besides talking comics, arm wrestling had become a popular goofing off/horsing around activity. I remember that few men could beat Glynis. Petite (relative to me, anyway), sweet, gentle Glynis! Who’d have thought? She’d win or draw, usually.
But on the evening in question, it was all guys, I think. Len Wein, Roger Stern, me, of course, and a few others. Anyone care to identify himself?
It occurred to me to ask why comics people couldn’t stay after hours at DC. Len Wein, abetted by witnesses and wags adding details and derisive humor, regaled us with the tale. It seems that Len and Neal Adams got into a wrestling match one evening, and in their thrashing managed to knock down the wall of a cubicle and do other minor damage. A small price, says I, for the glory of the sport.
Anyway, we got around to arm wrestling. I guess Len and I comprised the heavyweight division. As I recall, I beat him right handed and he beat me left handed. Whatever. It was pretty even.
In our second round, after much grunting and striving to no advantage on either side, Len decided to escalate the conflict. He started to pull me across the desk. Dived on me. Going for the pin.
Len was and may still be part grizzly bear. He was…hmm…stocky conjures the wrong image. Robust? Pretty big, even relative to me. Strong. (And, for your information Neal Adams was, too. I would have loved to have seen their match.)
You should have seen Len hit when we played softball. Talk about power. But he was a line-drive doubles guy. If he had gotten some loft under the ball, he would have hit a lot of homers.
I was in pretty good shape. Not as sturdily built as Len, but because of my height, the weights came out pretty even. And I’m a damn good wrestler. Could’a been a contender.
Roger Stern was standing near the open door to the wrestling venue, watching King Kong take on Godzilla with amusement.
I got a sort of cross-body grip on Len and managed to yank him off his feet. Did I mention that he was heavy? My plan was to put him down on his back gently enough so as not to break the floor. Len, meanwhile, was working on removing my head from its moorings.
As Len’s feet came up off the floor, one thrashing leg swung out and whacked Rog. Rog was/is no lightweight piece of fluff. He’s average height, but rock-solid. If you bump into him, it’ll leave a Rog-shaped dent. Anyway, King Kong kicked him, sending him reeling backward…
…and out the door…
…and slamming into the wall across the hall…
…narrowly missing Stan, who was on his way out.
Stan always walked fast, with long strides, so he was, as usual, making excellent time.
Stan’s head swiveled and his gaze followed Rog’s trajectory as Rog careened across his path. Thump. Into the wall.
While Rog melted down the wall (now marred by a Rog-shaped dent), one rapid stride put Stan even with the door and his head swiveled again to look into the editorial room/gladiatorial arena to see what might have propelled the human cannonball.
What he saw was me holding Len almost upside down at this point, ringed by hooting and honking wrestling fans. Who abruptly fell silent when they saw Stan. Oh, no! An adult!
Nah. It was Stan.
Stan just kept going. As he rounded the corner heading toward the rear exit, without looking back he exclaimed, exactly, “Stay alive, men!”
So we started laughing, I lost my grip, Len fell on his head, and that’s why he is the way he is.
Oh, all right, I’ll tell it straight. Though off the floor, Len still had a death grip on me. We, meaning I, since at that point I was responsible for vertical stability, were/was way off balance. All fall down.
Laughing hysterically eased the pain of impact.
We stayed alive, called it a draw and we all went off to Steak & Ale or some such food place, got as soused as one can get on Diet Coke and ate heartily.
I think when Stan arrived the next morning he probably checked for bodies.
No after work bans were imposed. But I think we stuck to arm wrestling after that.
NOTE: I know I’ve got this one right. Rog and I, along with an unsuspecting volunteer from the audience acted this event out at more than one convention. And at the World Con in Philly, what was that, 2002? Len and I were on a panel together and we acted it out for the amusement of a large crowd.
NEXT: The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers