“I must say it’s very impressive that you’ve saved so many items from your tenure at Marvel, and I assume, the rest of your career.
Is this some sort of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-kind of thing, or did you one day make a conscious decision to save everything for posterity?”
Toward the end of my time at Marvel, Marvel’s upper management duo, Galton and Calamari, along with Shelly Feinberg and a few other Cadence bigwigs (as “CMI” — Cadence Management Inc.) had taken Cadence, Marvel’s parent, private and sold the Marvel division to New World Entertainment (NWE). Throughout the process, as they furthered their quest to cash in and line their own pockets on what we, the comics people had built, they took certain unethical and, I believe, illegal steps.
I was senior enough that all I had to do was keep my mouth shut, help them sell my troops down the river and I would have been handsomely rewarded. One executive on a lower level than I ended up with a $3 million payoff. Mine would have been bigger, if I had merely cooperated.
I chose instead to become a “labor leader.” As the pension plan was cashed out, benefits were withdrawn, health coverage was diminished, etc., all done to fatten cash flow to increase the value of CMI’s sale-price multiple, I resisted. They even tried to retroactively eliminate the royalty plan. That battle I won — by threatening a class action lawsuit. At the top of my lungs.
While all this was going on, to marginalize me as much as possible, Marvel upper management did their best to undercut me with my own people and destroy my credibility. They didn’t have to work at the latter too hard — I was already being blamed for the Kirby mess, the Gerber mess and everything else that cropped up by the fan press and the comics community in general. They simply allowed that to happen and threw fuel on the fire when possible.
They would have simply fired me, but, as I learned, I was a “key man,” and they couldn’t get rid of me without jeopardizing the deal. I would have simply quit, but I kept thinking, perhaps naively, that I could do more good staying and fighting.
I couldn’t do much in my own defense downstairs. Should I have told Walt that they were deliberately not paying his (or anyone’s) foreign royalties? Then he would have quit and gone to DC, and the buzz would have been that Shooter had driven away another talent.
Anyone on staff who supported me was subtly punished for it. Anyone who opposed me was rewarded. Not much I could do. Telling them I was the good guy and it was the evil suits who were doing all the bad things and taking away their benefits wouldn’t have done much to cheer them up.
When CMI closed the deal with New World, I wrote a letter to Bob Rehme and blew the whistle on Marvel upper management, whom the new owners had left in place. But NWE was even more corrupt than they were. As it became clear to me that there was no future for me at NWE/Marvel, I took home some files. A lot of files. I thought I might need them if things got really ugly and ended up in court.
Shortly before my last day, I took a walk around the tenth floor. I hadn’t spent much time there during the war with CMI. There were more than a few people on “my” staff that I didn’t even recognize.
Ultimately, I was fired. They let cretins who particularly hated me pack up my office. They did things like twist the head off of a statuette I had, shattered the glass on the Sienkiewicz portrait (I had to have the painting restored later), and crumple or damage anything they could.
So, the bad guys won. They got away with the money, I was no longer there to hassle them, and bonus, I was the pariah of comics. I couldn’t get a job. No one would hire me. The phone never rang.
So, I started all over again.
Details on the above coming eventually.