A couple people have mentioned the old rumor that Ditko uses his old original art as cutting boards. Most likely that is an urban legend, based on Greg Theakston’s misunderstanding of what he saw at Ditko’s home. Here’s an insightful analysis of the claim by Bob Heer, which credibly debunks it: http://fourrealities.blogspot.com/2008/08/curious-incident-of-cut-artwork.html
The notion that Ditko would do that to his original art is not consistent with what I’ve read about him. He may not value money that much, or be motivated by it, but he certainly does not have contempt for his own past work.
I submit this to the “cut-up artwork” speculations: When I worked briefly at Marvel in 1969, I was supposed to be an assistant to Stan — assistant editor, I guess. What I actually did was anything that needed doing. It was a small group, and everybody pitched in and did whatever was necessary. Therefore, I not only proofread, checked scripts, checked artwork and did “editorial” things, but I did lettering corrections, small pencil and ink corrections (once they found out I had marginal art skills) and…PASTE-UPS.
This was, of course, back in the old rubber cement days before even one coat. I had a little experience doing paste-up, but Morrie Kuramoto taught me Marvel paste-up techniques. What he taught me, I assume, was the standard at Marvel of the day, and since Morrie was the main paste-up guy then, had been the main paste-up guy for a long time, and was still a paste-up guy years later, when I became Editor in Chief, I assume his practices were in effect for a long time. His practices: ANYTIME ANYTHING RAN BEHIND THE ART, MORRIE WOULD CUT THE ART AND SLIDE THE OVERLAPPED THING UNDER THE ART. HE’D FASTEN THE THING THERE WITH TAPE. THIS MEANS THAT IF ART OVERLAPPED A LOGO ON A COVER, IF ART OVERLAPPED A BALLOON IN THE INTERIOR, IF ANYTHING EVER OVERLAPPED ANYTHING, MORRIE WOULD CUT THE ART AND PHYSICALLY OVERLAP WHATEVER IT WAS. WHY? BECAUSE IT WAS THE FASTEST, MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO DO IT, COMIC BOOK PRODUCTION VALUES WERE SO LOW THAT THE CONCEPT OF FLUSH-MOUNT WAS AN ABSURDITY, AND NO ONE, REPEAT, NO ONE GAVE A DAMN ABOUT THE ORIGINAL ART!
A standard joke around Marvel during my time was that the reason Marvel Comics #1 was followed by Marvel Mystery Comics #2 was that Morrie screwed up pasting up the first cover.
Ask JayJay, production expert, about Morrie’s shortcuts.
Tell them about floating elements on a pool of rubber cement, Jay. Or the accumulation of stuff peeled from his pick-up.
God, we loved Morrie. He was one of the best men you’d ever want to meet. Paste-up wise, however…let’s just say he was old school. Very old school. Like, he pasted up Hammurabi’s Code. We called him the “Ancient One.” Because he was such a schmoozer, production manager and Morrie’s best friend Danny Crespi called him the “Orie-Yenta.” Therefore, he was an honorary Jew, therefore Danny also nicknamed him “Moishe.” Morrie was amused, and believe me he got his licks in. Those two were a pair.
Everyone who knew Morrie misses him terribly.
JayJay again. It’s true, Morrie was really a favorite. I’m not sure how old he was. Old. And fractious. But what a lovable guy. Even people he argued with loved him. Right Rick-o? He was one of those characters that you only see in New York City. He did have very “unique” paste up methods. But effective!
He always had a pocket of his shirt stuffed full of pens and junk and he loved to hang out at the OTB and bet on horse races. He smoked but he also would drink these horrible-tasting healthy raw vegetable juices.
Back in the mid-80’s I used to work in the Marvel Bullpen as a designer. I sat near Jack Abel, Jim Salicrup, Kenny Lopez and Morrie. One time when I was very new to Marvel (and to NYC) I was sick for a few days. I was completely unused to being sick and probably whined like a big wuss. So Morrie showed up every morning with a gigantic cup of this awful vegetable juice that he had ordered specially made up for me. I tried to drink it. I really did. I have no idea what was in it. I’m sure it was really good for me and I’m sure it cost plenty, but I’m telling you, it tasted so bad. I got through almost the whole cup the first day, and Morrie kept checking on me! Making sure I drank it! He actually shook his finger at me! I tried pretending to be better but he saw through my act and brought me more the next day.
Oh dear. I tried to drink it again, but I think it tasted worse than the day before! I went to the coffee room for a cup of coffee and nonchalantly put a “to go” lid on it. Some of you may remember, coffee cup lids didn’t have little sipping hatches back then so they were really only “to go” and you probably wouldn’t normally have a lid on a cup that you were drinking in the office. I brought it back to my desk and after I drank the coffee I placed the empty cup, with lid, on a shelf below my desk. I snuck some of the vile juice into the empty cup when Morrie wasn’t looking and kept it covered. I later poured out the juice in the bathroom. I had to do that 3 times! It was a BIG cup of juice. I felt bad, but dang! That juice was going to kill me quicker than the cold.
I think Morrie suspected something or else he got the hint from the faces I made trying to drink the stuff because the third day when he brought in a cup but he had them make it differently. It had some fruit juices in it so it was almost drinkable. I actually suffered through most of that cup with only minor Morrie haranguing. But when he put his feet up for his after-lunch nap I threw out the remains and told him I finished it.
I know. I’m a very bad person. But I was young and foolish. That Morrie, though… what a sweetheart! I do miss him terribly.