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Surprising Sinnott and Items of Interest

Surprising Sinnott

Sometime in late 1957, when I was six, star artist/inker Joe Sinnott visited Marvel’s offices, which were then located in the Empire State Building.

And he never came back!

Well, not for a long time, anyway.

The first time I saw Joe Sinnott was in 1975 at Phil Seuling’s Comic Art Convention, AKA “Seuling Con” and “July Con.” It was in the Hotel Commodore on 42nd Street in New York City. A fan had stopped Joe in the corridor, asked him for a sketch and handed him a hard-cover sketch book. Joe cheerfully complied. An admiring crowd had formed around Joe to watch him draw, staring as if he were performing magic, which, of course, he was.

I’m tall enough so that I could peer over the throng and see what Joe was drawing. Standing in a hallway Joe drew a perfect, beautifully rendered figure of the Thing. With a pen. In two minutes. He gave the guy his book back, politely excused himself and hurried on his way to a panel or something.

I was just a writer for DC then, so Joe didn’t know me. I would have introduced myself, but he seemed to be pressed for time.

A few years later, after I became Editor in Chief of Marvel, occasionally, I spoke with Joe on the phone about various things. Besides current work, we spoke a number of times about artwork returns, especially the possibility of the return of the old 1960’s pages (I was working on it) and fairer treatment for inkers (I was working on it). Joe was always very nice, a gentleman and a true professional.

Pretty much every conversation ended with me asking Joe to come down to the office for a visit. His old friends like Stan, John Romita, Sr. and Marie Severin would be happy to see him again and the younger troops who’d never met him would be thrilled. And, I wanted to speak with him in person at last.

He’d always say “someday.”

Joe lived in Saugerties, New York, over 100 miles away, so it was a significant journey. He would joke that he didn’t want to come to the office because the last time he did, Stan made him do some corrections.

I assured him that there would be no corrections.

Finally, at the end of one of our conversations, Joe shocked me by saying that he’d come to the city and stop by the office one day the following week, if that was okay.

Okay?  Um, yes.

It was October. Joe’s birthday is October 16th. Not that we ever needed much of an excuse for a party….

Joe arrived in the late morning. I gave him a tour of our offices at 575 Madison Avenue, which, of course, Joe had never seen. After warm greetings from lots of old friends and first meetings with lots of staffers and some freelancers, Joe, a small contingent of staffers and I went to lunch at the Ultimate Lotus, downstairs. The Lotus was actually in the same building. We went there so often it was practically the company cafeteria.

It was great. The Lotus was a good place, and they always took good care of the Marvel people who went there.

After lunch, the waiter asked if anyone would like dessert. I cut him off. No! No dessert. Just the check.

Joe looked a little disappointed. Like, “gee, how many decades do you have to work for this company before they let you order dessert?”

We went back up to the sixth floor. Everyone was waiting in the big editorial room. You should have seen the look on Joe’s face when he walked in and everybody yelled “Surprise. Happy birthday!”

We had a huge cake, of course.  Dessert.  Joe laughingly admitted he’d been wondering about that….

World-class wag Al Milgrom came up to Joe in mid-cake-chomp with a handful of pages.  “Joe, I need you to do some corrections….” Kidding, of course.

It was a great day.

A couple of years later, Joe came to visit again, on that occasion to our new 387 Park Avenue South offices. He was actually in the city to attend the Cadence Industries Service Awards Luncheon—he’d been under contract to Marvel (a division of Cadence), and therefore an official employee, for, I think, ten years at that point—but he spent a large part of the day in the office.

Here’s a picture of Joe at lunch with some of the guys. Don’t know exactly when it was taken.

 

Here’s a memo I wrote to Barry Kaplan about that day:

And, here’s Joe’s gracious letter that came a few days later:

Joe’s second visit happened 29 years and one day ago.

Joe has an abiding interest in baseball. He sponsored a Marvel Little League team on his own. And he did comics like this on his own:

Some of his work appears in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Joe Sinnott: Gentleman. Consummate professional. Grandmaster.

Items of Interest

A “rundown” on West Coast Avengers by the redoubtable Roger Stern:

The original announcement of Marvel’s “sales incentive”/royalty plan and a few related items:

 

 

A few “Return Flow Analysis” documents. This is how we received newsstand sales reports from Curtis Circulation way back when. I have transfiles full of these things:

And, last, but not least, something I came across on JayJay’s newly redesigned website, seriousdesign.com (also jayjayjackson.com). This is something she created for me back when I was doing consulting work. Idea mine, design and illustration hers, copy mine, smug, satisfied attitude, hers:

And my business card, also a JayJay the Blog Elf design:

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Items of Interest – And Gary Gygax

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88 Comments

  1. Cliffy

    I've not read a ton of DeFalco's work since he became EIC, but certainly before that he wrote a lot of fun stuff. His early Dazzler run established what could have been an obnoxious premise into an engaging and fast paced title that was a lot of fun to read. Dazzler #13 in particular had me chuckling every page simply due to how much stuff he packed into it. His Machine Man revival with Ditko was also a lot of fun, much better than the issue or two before he came on the title (Wolfman scripted, IIRC).

    DeFalco also wrote the single greatest story of one of Marvel's very greatest characters in Marvel Two-in-One Ann. #7. That is a fantastic issue, one of the best I've ever read.

  2. Cool, Tom. Look for a message from me soon.

  3. Tom Brevoort

    Ole,

    Tom DeFalco wasn't fired as EIC. When the decision was made to split Marvel Editorial into five divisions in the ill-considered Marvelution, Tom was offered a promotion–into what he considered to be a sidelined non-position. He opted instead not to take it, and left staff.

    Jerry, sure, you can send me a question.

    Tom B

  4. Dan

    Joe Sinnott… an absolute all time great and my favorite inker–tied with Tom Palmer.

    I don't like current comic art, largely because the art of inking is dying.

    I don't know if DC has a single decent inker anymore… I'm pretty sure the don't even allow brushes anymore. Gone are the beautiful, lush strokes that were so prevalent in the 70s.

    What a shame.

  5. Tom B.,

    Thanks for the heads up. Would it be OK if I emailed you with a question then?

    Thanks again,

    Jerry

  6. Sorry for being in a rush yesterday and not actually reading most of the posts.

    Wow.

    Brilliant, insightful, a joy. Sinnott has always been one of the good ones.

    Also, loved the notes about incentives (especially having them not cast as royalties).

    The Roger Stern stuff was cool.

    Always like the gossip, but not like the pall cast on Gil Kane*, now he of the mighty asterisk. Will continue to love his Teen Titans and Captain Mar-Vell. A good and brilliant man.

    Till next time.

  7. One last thing- while I detest DeFalco's FF, he's written a lot of other comics that were really good. His Spider-Man, Thor, and MC2 stuff was a lot of fun. But for the FF, it just didn't work.

  8. I've always had a spot in my heart for those DeFalco FFs- the spot in my heart reserved for Enron, right-wing Republicans, and other awful, obnoxious things. Terrible writing, weak art, and some of the worst plots I've ever seen.

    I didn't mind the Alicia-The-Skrull bit; we know why they did it. Comic book marriages don't last, and it's not as if the issue where they got married was an instant classic.

    But there werte so many other horrible stories along the years. The death of Reed and Doom. Hyperstorm. Sue the trollop. Ben Grimm with a facial injury. And every issue was the same- dialogue tuned to 11, every sentence ending in a question mark or exclamation point, and a nonsense cliffhanger designed to infuriate the long-time fan.

    Paul Ryan's a good artist, but his art was not suited for this book. The linework is too weak, and the pages are too crowded.

  9. Jim, did you perchance receive an email I sent you yesterday? I don't know if that address is still active. If not, perhaps Jayjay could please email me at bob@almondink.com Thanks a lot!

  10. Paul Dushkind

    "The Merry Marvel Bullpen," indeed.

  11. Dear czeskleba,

    Gerber was constantly late with everything. I don't remember as much drama as with Englehart, but the reasons were the same. Gerry Conway was hell-bent on getting on schedule.

    When Gerry was EIC, as part of his contract he was supposed to write three books a month. He had three from the get-go, so no need to poach Gerber's book. I don't think Gerry had any special interest in the Defenders as he certainly, openly did with Spider-Man.

    Gerry actively militated against Len Wein, against whom he had a grudge, trying to drive him away so he, Gerry, could get his hands on Amazing Spider-Man. Gerry admitted that to me in no uncertain terms.

    When Gerry became a writer-editor, his contract was for eight books a month. New EIC Archie Goodwin, who was obliged to provide that much work to Gerry, had to take some work away from others (he cut Don McGregor out entirely, for instance) and there was some thrashing around about that.

  12. Clarification:

    "There have been many character developments and other stuff happening to comic books' chronology that I have not liked over the years. (…) I LOVE character and chronology development as long as it's written and handled well in the first place (…)"

    CONTINUITY is the right word. Not "chronology". Sorry about that. I'll shut up now. 😉

  13. cease ill said:

    "Like pretty much every Silver Age fan I know, Joe Sinnott is my favorite Jack Kirby FF inker."

    I second (or third… or fourth) that.

    In fact, Joe Sinnott is my favourite FF inker period.

    Steve Englehart has also been discussed at length here. He's done a lot of great stuff, but I didn't particularly like his FF run either (between Byrne and Simonson). I dropped the title at the tail end of his run, but luckily picked it up again just in time for Simonson.

    But anyway, Joe Sinnott was inking a lot of issues again during Englehart's FF run, and THAT was great! 🙂

  14. Tue Sørensen said:

    "I liked the revelation that Alicia had been a skrull, because I *never* bought the way she suddenly started a relationship with Johnny, and DeFalco obviously had the same reservation."

    Yes, obviously, since the very first thing he did when he took over the book was to retcon a major character development.

    I was sceptical about Alicia switching from Ben to Johnny myself too, but I grew to like it. It's the kind of thing that happens in real life, and it fit very well with the spirit of FF for precisely that reason.

    What does NOT happen in real life is that after several years your wife suddenly turns out to be an alien. It was so very obvious that DeFalco just hated the idea of Alicia and Johnny and wanted to return to "the old status quo".

    There have been many character developments and other stuff happening to comic books' chronology that I have not liked over the years. The way to deal with that, IMHO, is to actually DEAL with it and turn it into something good – not just brush it aside with a cheap retcon.

    I LOVE character and chronology development as long as it's written and handled well in the first place, rather than thrown out as cheap "shocking" gimmicks, which I've felt is DeFalco's way of working.

    I have no opinion of Tom DeFalco as a person. I'm sure he's a nice guy. His 80's Spider-Man wasn't too bad. But I didn't like the direction Marvel took while he was EiC (which was probably not just his fault, but still, it was a big part of the reason why I dropped out of regular comic book reading for twenty years), and "Alicia is a skrull" really tipped me over the edge.

    Does anyone know exactly why he was fired as EiC? I have just read some comments about "clashing with upper management", which sounds vaguely familiar… 🙂

  15. Like pretty much every Silver Age fan I know, Joe Sinnott is my favorite Jack Kirby FF inker. Should I be fortunate enough to meet him, I may well get him started on Bing Crosby!

    From his Avengers run, Englehart's four-sided romance became my integr8dfix.blogspot.com focus throughout August, for anyone in the mood for an analysis of great characters and layered plotting.

  16. Those WCA pages are very special to me, because the story goes that Mark and Roger began that brainstorm on a walk at a convention in Rome,GA, my hometown. To think: a concept I came to enjoy so much was hatched somewhere outside the same Civic Center where I attended my first Con, maybe even around the same duck pond where I took one of my first dates! So thanks for that, Big Jim.

    I've been ruminating (21 parts? LOL) on Stern's characters during his five year Avengers run on integr8dfix.blogspot.com—a gold standard of classic superhero storytelling.

  17. Hi Jim, This is Barry Dutter here, yes, I'm the guy in the photo making the goofy face! LOL! I started working at Marvel in 1990, I believe this pic was taken in '90 or maybe '91. I had forgotten all about it. I was only at Marvel for a few years, but I will always treasure my time there. This pic makes me feel like I am part of Marvel history! It was an honor to be seated among so many comic greats.

  18. Tom Brevoort

    Jerry,

    No, Stephanie Moore left Marvel a few years ago to go back to school. It's been a few years since I last heard from her.

    Tom B

  19. Anonymous

    I always loved Gil Kane's art. For me, his was some of the art I could recognize from a very early age. What's weird is that of all the characters he has drawn over the years, his Morbius to me, is THE Morbius. He did a fabulous job on every character he drew but his version of Morbius was the one. I guess it's because I'm a child of The Silver Age.

    Neil

  20. Anonymous

    It was Gil Kane. Others who worked at Marvel at the time had already outed him. Jim can correct me if I'm wrong but I think at one point, Kane was even barred from stepping foot in the Marvel offices after he decided to walk out with some artwork that hadn't even seen print yet! lol

    But what an artist though, and I was so disappointed he didn't do more issues of Daredevil with you Jim…… or more than that one issue of Ghost Rider.

  21. BrianLogue

    My guess is that the mystery hall-of-famer was Gil Kane. He had a lot of financial problems at the time in question. That can lead to doing stupid things. He did leave Marvel under a cloud in the early 1980s. An exclusive contract was voided. The blow-up, though, was with Al Milgrom, not Louise Simonson. Milgrom told TCJ that the problem wasn't that Kane wasn't qualified as an artist. It was that he wasn't qualified as a human being. That says to me that Kane did something that was completely inappropriate professionally. He didn't do any new work for Marvel for over a decade after that, so I have to wonder if he was blackballed. Maybe Jim can shed some light if he's willing.

    I don't think, as Gary Groth has repeatedly claimed, that Kane left over disputes with Jim. Groth and Kane were best friends, so I'm sure he knows exactly what happened. But Kane never once said anything disparaging in public about Jim. All the quotes are positive, even in the published interviews with Groth.

    Kane wasn't shy about putting people down. In his big interview with Groth in the late '90s, he let Bob Kanigher, Stan Lee, and others have it with both barrels. All he had to say about Jim was the fun story about how Jim came to work for DC in the '60s. It was very complimentary. He didn't talk about his experience at Marvel in the early '80s at all. If he had any ax to grind with Jim, you wouldn't have known it.

  22. Kane did a run of Superman that I enjoyed in the mid eighties.

  23. I always loved Gil Kane's art, especially the "Sword of the Atom" that he did for DC. Such a great mini-series…and they actually just did a minor revamp/retelling of it on the Batman: Brave and the Bold animated series on Cartoon Network. Tres' cool!

    Tom B. – Is Stephanie Moore still working at Marvel in any capacity? It's a business issue; nothing weird or anything like that.

  24. Thanks for posting that information about Joe Sinnott. To my way of thinking, he and Murphy Anderson were the finest inkers of the Silver Age. Very different styles, of course, but both of them able to put a unique stamp on a pencil artist's work without overwhelming the original images they were inking.

  25. gn6196 said:
    I Googled Louise Simonson and none of her books were worked on by Gil Kane.
    ********************
    Kane had a run on Conan in 1981-82 that was edited by her… although she was known as "Louise Jones" at the time, so perhaps that's why your google search came up empty.

    At any rate, if Jim wanted us to know for sure who he was talking about, he would name the name. Since he hasn't, all we can do is speculate. Speculation is fine, as long as it's clearly identified as such. Sometimes in the retelling of things speculations get turned into "facts" and that's what I was objecting to above.

  26. Hey, great stuff! Im very impressed with that plot development of the WCA. Normally all the documents here are very interesting but this one touches me.

    I growth reading Stern and Steve avengers in the 80 and looking at this two pages was like having a backstage page to those tales.

    I translated an interview with Stern a few years ago, and he remembers having some plots for them (he was using the WCA as a place to hold in hiatus characters he could use in the future) Then the series was given to Englehart and he has to do rewrite some plots

    http://www.marvelmasterworks.com/features/int_stern_1006_1.html

    What its curious its that some Stern plots in those papers finally came out like the one with the Thing.

    Thanks again!

  27. I Googled Louise Simonson and none of her books were worked on by Gil Kane. She edited X-men, New Mutants, Indiana Jones and Star Wars. It must have been Another Hall of Famer.

  28. Anonymous

    Dear Jim,

    Music to my ears my boy.

    Marco

  29. I really, really miss Gil Kane. The Daredevil issues we did together were a joy for me. He had such passion. He demanded drama and delivered it in his work with visceral intensity. He and his beautiful, lovely wife always were nice as could be to me. One of my personal highlight reel events was being on a panel at WonderCon with Gil — plus Will Eisner, Julie Schwartz and a couple of other old guys. I was the young pup, having only 30 years or so in the biz at that point. Gil said some very nice things about me onstage. After the panel, Gil, his wife and I had a little private gabfest. They couldn't have been nicer. What wonderful people. What an artist Gil was. And a great guy.

  30. Jim Shooter wrote:
    Splitting the difference is unfair to Gerry. Steve shouldn't get the 50% discount on this.
    *****************
    Yeah, when there's two conflicting accounts of an event, I guess it's a natural tendency to want to give both sides the benefit of the doubt. Englehart has consistently told the same story for the past 35 years about his departure from Avengers, so I was reluctant to conclude he was lying, or deliberately distorting things. But I wasn't there like you were, so I have to defer to that.

    I'm curious if you have any recollection about why Steve Gerber was taken off the Defenders around the same time. Englehart has claimed it was for the same reason (because Conway wanted to write it himself). Do you remember the circumstances behind that?

  31. Ha, my thoughts are (not that they matter), but Englehart may have been late, but he was a genius. So there.

    Actually,, I am sorry for not keeping up. Life, you know.

    Love the Distribution stuff, and the actual revelation of how Direct Market destroyed the Comic Book industry, indirectly, of course, by mainly focusing on the high-octane buyers. It's also interesting how it was symptomatic of the general decline of western civilization as we know it, and the dawn of an uglier new world.

    Blast, must get to my McJob.

    Cheers,
    Chris Hlady
    Winnipeg, the Cold White North.

  32. You're usually right about things, czeskleba, but not this time. I was there. Steve was chronically late with everything. New EIC Gerry tried to reason with him, talk him in to giving up one of his books (not the Avengers) until he was caught up on the others. Gerry was polite, respectful and as nice as could be. My desk was right outside Gerry's office. I heard every word of Gerry's side of the conversations that took place, and some of Steve's louder words. Gerry finally had to draw a line. He told Steve that if he didn't get Avengers #150 in by a certain day he'd have to have someone else write it. P.S. the book was already many weeks past deadline.

    Because Steve was so late, we'd had the art finished while Steve was supposedly writing the dialogue. The plan was to letter on overlays and paste the balloons up. Steve did not deliver. Gerry asked me to script the book overnight. I did. A couple of days later, while my copy was being lettered and pasted up, Steve's script finally came in. Gerry decided to go with Steve's script, even though he (and I) thought mine was better, and relettering/repasting would take several more days. It was an olive branch to Steve. I believe that ultimately, we had to throw together a fill-in for #150 and run what would have been #150 in the next issue.

    Gerry really wanted to keep Steve at Marvel, and tried his best to do so, but at that point Gerry stuck to his guns about Steve cutting back to a workload he could handle till he was on schedule. I was listening to the conversation. Again, Gerry was nice, polite, flattering, respectful — but firm on the schedule business. Steve was outraged nonetheless, and quit. Gerry was visibly shaken afterwards.

    I have some unflattering stories about Gerry. He did some things that I found unacceptable. This wasn't one of them. Splitting the difference is unfair to Gerry. Steve shouldn't get the 50% discount on this.

    You can ask Roger Stern. I'm pretty sure he overheard the proceedings, too.

    Gerry left staff to become a contract writer-editor soon thereafter. His replacement as EIC, my new boss, Archie Goodwin put him on the Avengers because it was open.

  33. Anonymous

    czeskleba

    Looks like you hit the post button some seconds before I did.

    You're right, it probably was unfair of me, I'm sorry. I can scarcely believe it myself and wish it were not true. Maybe it isn't, as you say it's all just speculation.

    Gil Kane has a special place in my heart as he died on the same day as my fiancee, January 31st, so I find he is often in my thoughts.

    Marco

  34. Marco,

    Ah – I remember the story, but didn't know enough to know who it was.

    Gil Kane drew a lot of the early Green Lanterns that I managed to snag in the 90s. I liked his work, except for making the mask too heart shaped.

    Remember – one must separate the person from the art in a lot of cases. I know more than one person who has totally trashed their music collection after finding out their idols were complete dicks.

  35. Regarding Englehart's departure from Avengers: Englehart's story is that Conway took away the book away from him because he (Conway) wanted to grab up some "a-list" titles to write himself (Conway was returning to Marvel after a year away so he had no regular assignments when he became EIC). Conway's story is that he took away the assignment because Englehart was extremely, chronically late. My guess is that there's probably an element of truth to both stories.

  36. Anonymous

    Mister.44

    Jim describes a scam pulled by a certain 'hall-of-famer' in this fascinating post, entitled 'Trickeration.'

    http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/06/rooting-out-corruption-at-marvel-part_20.html

    Jim is too much of a gentleman to identify the culprit, but some sleuths make the connection in the post-match discussion.

    Marco

  37. Marco said: My world turned a little bit darker forever when Kane was outed around these parts as a trickerator.
    ********************
    Not exactly. In that anecdote, Jim described an *unnamed* creator who was "a hall-of-famer" and who did a lot of work for Louise Simonson. People in the comments section speculated it might be Gil Kane, but Jim did not confirm or deny it. The speculation may well have been correct, but unless Shooter confirms it, it is inaccurate and unfair to say Kane was "outed" for any financial malfeasance.

  38. I like what Anonymous said about Gil Kane. He was a "magnificent man." Faults and all.

  39. I think somewhere we've already covered Englehart's departure from the Avengers, but briefly, he was routinely late on Avengers. Then-Editor in Chief Gerry Conway gave him enough grief over it that Steve quit, not only the Avengers but Marvel entirely. I was associate editor at the time. I had no say in the matter.

  40. I don't recall West Coast Avengers being "taken" from Roger Stern. There was a limited series first, right? And Rog wrote it. Then, when we started the monthly series, Mark Gruenwald assigned it to Steve Englehart. I think. Maybe Rog was busy, maybe he didn't want it. Or maybe it just made sense to have Steve, who lived on the West Coast do it. I don't think it was any slight toward Rog.

  41. re: "My world turned a little bit darker forever when Kane was outed around these parts as a trickerator."

    A what now?

  42. Paul Dushkind

    "Since you opened the door, I gotta ask: why was West Coast Avengers taken from Stern and given to Steve Englehart instead?"

    Jim, I'm also curious about why, earlier than that, Steve Englehart was taken off the Mighty Avengers. He was my favorite writer at that point in time, and reawakened in me an interest in Marvel's characters.

  43. Arthur Nichols

    Tim King,

    You're right. Tom Orzechowski is just about the best, nicest person you'd ever want to meet, talk to, hang around with, or read about.

    Everyone is better for having known or met him.

    Jim and JayJay aren't too bad, either.

  44. Anonymous

    Joining Tim King off-topic…

    Sweetest guy I ever met at a convention was Dave Sim. Festooned always with laughter and cigarette smoke, he was friendly, great fun and very generous with his time. Like our gracious host he's been wrongly demonised.

    Carl Potts was a very impressive and likeable guy, a superb ambassador for Shooter's Marvel. He was obviously super-smart, and what a little pest I was having him draw me that nice little sketch of Batman.

    Phil Winslade was incredibly generous with his time and talent at the sketching table, great to chat with and very patient with some obnoxious fanboys.

    Annie Nocenti I fell in love with at first sight when she was on the X-Men tour of England, and I can still feel the love when I read her wonderful writing. The Hell's Kitchen pecking order goes like this: Nocenti, Frank, Bendis.

    Gil Kane was the most magnificent man I ever met, I just stood there goggling in admiration, too starstruck to get a signature. He'd just gotten done rumbling all over a petulant Chris Claremont in a panel discussion and the auditorium was crackling with the Kane charisma. My world turned a little bit darker forever when Kane was outed around these parts as a trickerator.

    Bill Sienkiewicz was an oddball genius, seemed like a prickly character. There's no doubt that he drew that infamous penis-head sketch on purpose for that unfortunate punter, nobody could fathom the incandescent pandemonium of his visionary mind. Seeing his hand carelessly trail ink over paper was like watching Rembrandt anoint his canvas.

    Most all of the luminaries I ever met were just great, but the above made a special impression on me. The only guy who seemed like a bit of a prick was John Byrne; I remember him starting to seethe with rage and cut up rough when a fan kept wobbling his drawing table. But he too was giving generously of his time to talk to his adoring fans and draw sketches for them that they probably still cherish.

    You people in the biz are a special breed.

    Marco

  45. As for DeFalco; while he's not a great writer, I do think he's a solid one. I liked the revelation that Alicia had been a skrull, because I *never* bought the way she suddenly started a relationship with Johnny, and DeFalco obviously had the same reservation.

    DeFalco's stories tend to be for a slightly younger audience (like the MC2 line), but most of them are fairly solid and entertaining. His best work, in my opinion, was his stint on THOR in the late '80s. I enjoyed those very much and remember them vividly to this day. DeFalco's archaic/Shakespearean English was actually better and more consistent than both Stan Lee's, Roy Thomas' and, later on, Kurt Busiek's. Unlike the others, DeFalco took that stuff seriously.

  46. ja

    Tom Breevort,

    Thank you for clarifying that. I appreciate it.

  47. Off topic: Reading the reply's of creators attitudes brought to mind Tom Orzechowski.
    Lovely man with seemingly all the time in the world to share with his fans. Standing, floating, around his table at the Detroit Fanfare was a treat. The insight, the stories, the kindness and wit was a pleasure to behold.

  48. gn6196 said:

    "I enjoyed Defalco's run on the FF, Scooby doo or not."

    That's funny.

    DeFalco took over the FF after Simonson's great run (which had made the FF my favourite Marvel book again). His first issue was #356, and he immediately set about retconning Alicia into a skrull. After three issues (i.e. #358 – the 30th anniversary issue. Try comparing it to John Byrne's 20th anniversary issue #236, by the way, or even the 25th, #296) I dropped the book in disgust. I tried another couple of issues a year or so later, but still felt disgusted.

    Paul Ryan's art was great (I've loved his art since DP7), but it was kind of hard to separate the art from the writing. I've always had that particular problem with comic books.

    Certainly, the FF have had several mediocre periods. At least DeFalco's run was anything but "mediocre"…

    I had never heard or read about the "Great Satan" nickname before I saw it on Wikipedia (sourced from a DeFalco interview). I certainly wouldn't use a phrase like that, but I guess I can understand how someone came up with it.

    Still, in the same DeFalco interview he claimed that sales of the FF went up during his time, so I guess someone (other than gn6196) liked it.

    To each his own, I suppose. 🙂

  49. Jim,

    Since you opened the door, I gotta ask: why was West Coast Avengers taken from Stern and given to Steve Englehart instead?

  50. Anonymous

    It's funny, in his photos Joe Sinnott even LOOKS like the nicest guy in the world! The ideal grandad.

    Kudos to him!

    Pete Marco.

  51. Kid

    It always amazed me that the first Thor story in J.I.M. #83 was ever attributed to Dick Ayers. It is so clearly obvious that Joe Sinnott inked it, that one is compelled to wonder at the judgement of those who would ever consider it as having been inked by anyone else.

  52. I count Joe and Mark Sinnott as close friends, and am happy to see with which you have a deep respect for
    people that have worked hard in the creative field. You show great integrity in those things that you were able to accomplish for artists and Inkers, and know others that feel as I do.

    I enjoy your blog as well.

    I wish you all the Best!

    Jimmy "T" Tournas
    http://www.inkwellawards.com

  53. Tom Brevoort

    JayJay,

    I was definitely around for some of that. I remember working on the Xavier crest, for example. Was likely there for the McFarlane Spidey piece–the Hulk/Wolverine poster would have been before me, I think.

    Don't worry about not remembering–it was twenty years ago!

    Tom B

  54. Hi Tom, I was doing some stuff for Bob! I painted over Todd McFarlane's art on a couple of posters, a Spider-Man one and a Hulk/Wolverine one and I designed some t-shirts and things. I designed a crest for the Xavier School (for a t-shirt and pin) and came up with the school motto "Mutatis Mutandis" which was later used for some very cool stuff. 😀 I also worked on painting the Willow graphic novel until Mr. DeFalco told Bob it had to be separated the old fashioned way.

    I recall Bob was wonderful to work with, always open to trying new things and wanting to push for the best quality. Did I meet you back then? I'm so sorry if I don't remember.

  55. Tom Brevoort

    Mike Rockwitz is absolutely correct, that photo was taken at Joe Sinnott's retirement lunch circa 1992 or 1993. Mike also correctly identifies everybody in the shot.

    That was the lunch at which Joe confirmed that he had inked the first Thor story, which had often been misattributed to Dick Ayers. I was working on the first Thor volume of the MARVEL MASTERWORKS at the time, so we were able to correct the mistake and credit Joe properly–a credit that's been maintained ever since.

    Joe Sinnott remains both the best inker ever in comics, period as well as a sterling gentleman in every respect. One of the true greats, and a pleasure to deal with in every circumstance.

    JA, I don't know about your experiences, but while Tom DeFalco could certainly be a ball-buster from time to time, he's not an asshole. Like the guy or not as you see fit, but that's not the Tom I know.

    JayJay, I could have sword that you were still doing some designing for the Marvel Posters line under Budiansky's Special projects division after I started. Can't recall specifically which posters or portfolios you might have worked on–there were so many of them that we pushed through the system, Buda always believed in having a bunch ready in the drawer at all times–but I'm reasonably certain that I even still have your (old) contact info in my these-days-largely-unused rolodex, inherited from Dwayne McDuffie when he left staff.

    Tom B

  56. Joe Sinnott inked a cover of Fantastic Worlds #2 that was penciled by Rich Buckler in a Kirby style that featured characters I co-created and drew back in the 90s. I had a story in the book. It has been one of the biggest thrills of my life. Joe Sinnott is a very nice and gracious man.
    Link to the cover:
    http://www.comics.org/issue/304964/cover/4/

  57. I associate Joe Sinnott with Kirby's work and I wouldn't be able to name anything he's specifically worked on. In a way that's a good thing. He got the job done to a satisfactory level and I was able to focus more on the story than the credits.

  58. Dear Lawton,

    It was licensed, I think, by our agent in Japan, Gene Pelc. We at Marvel in New York had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    Gene was close to Franciscan missionaries in Japan, by the way, and was instrumental in arranging the Saint Francis biography, which led to the Pope bio and the Mother Theresa bio Marvel published.

  59. Fun story! Joe still inks the Spider-Man Sunday strip (pencilled by Alex Saviuk) and is doing a great job as always.

  60. Lawton

    Dear Jim,
    I'm curious if you would happen to know any inside details about what led to the Japanese-produced Spider-Man tv show? It seems to be from around your time.

  61. ja

    JOKING! I'm joking.

    (duh)

  62. ja

    I just called that number from the Heavy Duty Concepts card, and the person on the other side of the line thought I said I wanted to do some Heavy Duty breathing!

    Oh, such a terrible mixup. I expect the FBI to come knocking at my door now.

    Oh, I'm in such trouble.

  63. That used to be Jim's phone number and address, but he's moved a few times since we made those cards. And hardly anyone has landlines any more. lol.

  64. Mike, thanks so much for identifying the photo and the people! I said to Jim last night that you might know. Jim and I recognized all but two people and I just couldn't place Barry since he's making a funny face. And I don't think I've met Tom Breevort, so I wouldn't recognize him.

  65. Great story. I hope that's not your real phone number on the business card. Hate to think that annoying fans like myself would use it to bother you.

  66. ja

    Eric R,

    That's well and good, so long as you understand that when I said I talked to someone, I'm not talking a quick 3-second 'hello'. And when I observe someone that I make such judgments on, I'm also not making these judgments based upon a snippet of time.

    Mr. Shooter has consistently been a polite person. Bob Layton and other John Byrnes and such have proved themselves consistently to be the jerkoffs they are known to be.

    You are how you impress yourself upon others.

  67. Eric R

    It's difficult to really talk to a Pro at conventions. There are times when the lines to get an autograph are almost as long as the convention hall itself. Then, there are fans that bring everything that person has ever drawn or written and expects to get each and every copy signed. I have had the honor to talk to Mr. Shooter several times at the Baltimore Comic Convention, and he always has a few minutes to answer questions or tell a story to the very large line at this table.

  68. Anonymous

    Yeah, on the positive side, Mike Zeck and Walt Simonson were very cool guys when I met them at conventions

  69. ja

    gn6196,

    It's not a matter of calling him on it, as I'm sure my one person complaint would not have any effect, especially at a convention. Many times you observe people, and you have to make your judgments accordingly. Picking and choosing your battles, as it were.

    As with people like Bob Layton, all you can do is sit back and observe the tsunami of douchebaggery, and marvel (pun intended!) at how those people get by in this world.

    It's nice to hear such stories about people like Joe Sinnott, though. Puts a smile on my face. =D

  70. Anonymous

    Sinnott was so nice when i met him at the only convention i went to ( a few yrs back). he seemed to really appreciate my comments about the FF in the Lee/Kirby/Sinnott days. he was surprised i knew them so well since i was about 30 then.

    I believe, sadly, he had a heart attack right after that- a few days later. Hopefully, he's ok.

    Rob

  71. GePop

    And you'll find no greater fan…nor, perhaps, most learned expert…of all things Bing Crosby than Mr. Sinnott.

  72. Ja, sorry Defalco was a jerk to you. Maybe you should have called him on it at the time.

  73. I enjoyed Defalco's run on the FF, Scooby doo or not.

  74. Anonymous

    ja – I hear you about being a prick. I met Bob Layton at a convention one time – guy was a total jerk to his fan (a buddy I was with). Hard to see him in the same light after that

  75. Dear Jim,

    The scene in which you cut off the waiter made me laugh when I reread it because I already knew the outcome. But I wouldn't want to have been in Joe Sinnott's shoes at that moment. I'd have been disheartened … until the following surprise!

    I'm imagining a Sinnott-inked FF novel. I suppose Byrne would have penciled it. I wonder what Sinnott likes about Doom. The metal? The cape? Both? What do people here think of the Byrne/Sinnott art team on FF?

    Like the first Anonymous, "I think you would be good at handling the FF." You have a great track record with superteams and a solid science background that can make Reed extra credible and inspire new threats to overcome.

    Thanks for the samples of Brooks Robinson. I had no idea it existed. I don't know anything about baseball, so I didn't even know he was. That comic could teach me! Sinnott's inking is excellent, as always.

    I was impressed when I discovered the art that Sinnott penciled as well as inked for Marvel in the 50s and early 60s. You can see samples of his early work here:

    1951-1955

    1955-1962

    It would be great if a comic book historian could analyze the sales reports with you at their side to provide background info. Maybe you could get together with John Jackson Miller

    The sight of paper with holes brings me back to my childhood. I used to draw on such paper in the early-to-mid 80s.

    I think I first saw your Heavy Duty Concepts business card on the earlier incarnation of JayJay's site. I love the flyer (?). Your copy leaves out one detail: you are one big bulb. That hard hat's gotta be huge! 🙂

    Dear Mike Rockwitz,

    Thanks for identifying the people in the photo!

  76. To ja – I have to disagree re: the capabilities of Defalco. I may not have enjoyed much in the way of his mainstream MU stuff, but loved his MC2 work. One man's hack and all that…

  77. ja

    Anonymous,

    Yeah, *maybe* a bit harsh. After then-Assistant Editor at Marvel Comics Adam Blaustein pointed it out, I had read several comics he wrote with the obvious Scooby Doo outline, complete with the "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those…" line.

    Then the times I've talked with, and just generally seen Tom DeFalco at conventions and such, I realized what a prick he was.

    So I'm biased. If he's written anything of any value, then I haven't read it as of yet. Kind of hard to when I see his name in the credits. Makes me skip onto someone else's comic book, even to this day.

  78. Thanks for posting this pic Jim. I suspect this was taken when Joe announced his retirement. A bunch of us organized a meal @ America's. Great day. Joe is a gentleman, and I loved working with him. Here is my attempt to identify everyone. Center is Joe Sinnott. Seated to his right is George Roussos. To his left is Jack Abel. Next to Jack is Al Milgrom. Next to George is Barry Dutter. In the row behind them, L-R
    Ralph Macchio, Tom DeFalco, Virginia Romita and John Romita. Back Row L-RTom Breevort, Bob Budianski(seated) Nel Yomtov, Mike Rockwitz, Mark Gruenwald, Carl Potts, and Renee Witterstaetter

  79. Anonymous

    lol

    That's a bit harsh. I enjoyed his first run on Amazing (circa the black costume era). It's hard to deny the strength of the Rose/Hobgoblin/Mary Jane/Puma/Silver Sable character development in those issues

  80. ja

    DeFalco's work is VERY easy to spot.

    Just look for the rehashed Scooby Doo plotlines. That's his stock in trade.

    Hack.

  81. Anonymous

    …not so any more at Marvel

    current Marvel reminds me of The Simpsons' sign outside the karaoke bar: "Butcher Your Favorites"

  82. Anonymous

    DeFalco is easy to spot

    Jim's characterization of Reed in Secret Wars was spot on

    (there are MANY other examples of Jim writing characters pitch-perfect as well)

  83. Joe Sinnott is the sweetest man I've ever met in the comics world. Sometimes, he'd come up to Albany and visit the FantaCo shop. Mostly I see him at Albany comic book shows these days.

  84. Dear Anonymous,

    I don’t think I ever wrote an issue of the FF. Too bad, I think it would have been fun. I plotted an anniversary issue. I wrote the characters here and there in other titles. And I did some rewriting on some botched scripts. And, being EIC, I frequently weighed in on the direction of the series.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  85. Assuming the revised incentive plan was still in place when the million-plus selling X-Men and Spider-Man series were launched in the 1990s, it's no wonder folks like McFarlane, Lee and Liefeld had enough dough to go off and start their own company shortly thereafter.

    Also: I'm trying hard to I.D. everyone in that lunch photo, but the best I can pick out (aside from Sinnott, obviously) are Tom DeFalco, Carl Potts, John Romita and … shoot, is that Al Milgrom or Danny Fingeroth in the lower right? Jim or JayJay, want to enlighten?

  86. Wow! Brooks Robinson! My dad has a baseball signed by Brooks. Writes like a dctor. 🙂

  87. Anonymous

    Probably a bit off topic, but… have you ever written the Fantastic Four when you where at Marvel? Its one of my favourite Marvel comics and judging from your Avengers work I think you would be good at handling the FF.

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