The House of Harryhausen, or a Day with Ray
On one of my trips to London, during which I had made plans to get together with Michael Winner to check on his progress developing the Captain America movie, I was privileged to be invited to his home. It was in Knightsbridge, I believe.
Winner lived in a very nice home. I recall that he had a fine collection of Arthur Rackham illustrations on display in the hall as you entered. Wow.
We spoke about his ongoing development of a screenplay. He wouldn’t tell me much about it, except how brilliant it was going to be. He had acquired a vast collection of Captain America comic books. And, he had hired an assistant to advise him, an “expert” on comic books.
Winner introduced me to the guy. In a few minutes of conversation I sussed out that the guy had utter contempt for me—he was a Shooter-is-Satan Kool-Aid drinker. Worse he had a total misconception of Captain America, who he saw as Captain Yankee A**hole.
Worse still, Winner seemed to weight this benighted fool’s observations at least the same as mine.Good grief.
Let’s say I was doing a new comic book story about Death Wish protagonist Paul Kersey, and I had brought in an “expert” whose chief qualification was that he had seen a lot of movies. Let’s say also that the guy was a Labour Party supporter who hated Michael Winner. Say I weighted that guy’s opinion the same as Winner’s. What do you think Winner would have thought?
I doubt it. More like, “You bloody, @#$%∓*^#@ wanker!”
What could I do? Nothing, until I saw the screenplay.
Winner had made lunch reservations at a nearby, upscale place. He asked me whether or not I would mind if one of his neighbors joined us. Ray Harryhausen. No. I didn’t mind at all.
We met Harryhausen at the restaurant. It was one of the greatest lunches of my life. I think there was food, but I don’t remember that. I was focused on everything Harryhausen said, and I had a zillion questions for him.
Surely you know of Ray Harryhausen, but if you don’t, basic info is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Harryhausen
After lunch, Harryhausen asked me if I’d like to come and see some of his work at his house, a short walk away. You betcha.
I got to meet Harryhausen’s lovely wife. Harryhausen gave Winner and I the house tour (though I’m certain Winner had seen it all before). Throughout the house—four floors, if I remember correctly—were display cases full of models from Harryhausen’s films: The Mighty Joe Young, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, and the rest. Wow.
What a great day.
Many years later, I was at the San Diego Comic-con. I was walking down a hallway in the Marriott Hotel, fresh from drinks and a chat with Dean Devlin, and who should be approaching from the other direction but Harryhausen, his wife and entourage. Harryhausen recognized me! And called me over. I spoke briefly with the Harryhausens, honored that they remembered me.
Years later, I was at an I-CON at Stony Brook on Long Island where Harryhausen was a guest and speaker. I was in the audience for one of his presentations, but he was so mobbed afterwards, I couldn’t get near him to say hello.
At some point during my dealings with Winner, I had a trip planned to London. The usual place to stay for Marvel execs was the London Hilton on Park Lane. I was booked there for a week or so. I had business with the London office and a meeting with Winner scheduled. As it happened, Marvel President Jim Galton was also going to be in London at the same time.
The day I left, Bob Layton was hanging around the office bewailing his need for a vacation and lamenting the fact that he couldn’t afford one.
Maybe he was expecting the Bullpen to take up a collection.
I went to London and checked into the Hilton. I spent the first few days working at Marvel’s London office.
Then one evening, when I came back to the hotel, there was Bob Layton in the lobby, sitting atop his suitcase.
Bob had scraped together the money for a one-way airfare to London. He had no money and no ticket home. Not even a credit card. That’s why he was in the lobby. He couldn’t check in there or anywhere. He was counting on me to loan him the money to pay for his “vacation” and return fare. No worries, said he, he had huge royalties coming from the two issues of Secret Wars he’d butchered, and he’d pay me back out of that money.
My first instinct was to tell him to swim home.
But, I calmed down. All right. He was there. Fait accompli. He was a friend (or so I thought at the time). And, I guess I’m a sucker.
As long as he paid me back before the Amex bill came….
The Park Lane Hilton is very nice, by the way. If you want a look:
Sometime during the course of the next few days, Winner was giving a lecture at the University of Cambridge, and invited me. I told him one of our artists was in town and he said Bob was welcome to come. Winner sent a chauffeured car for us. A Jaguar Saloon, in fact. Nice.
We arrived in the early afternoon with plenty of time to look around. Winner had equipped us with a map and a note telling us what to be sure to see.
Before the lecture, we had dinner with Winner his girlfriend and a group of students. Bob later told me Winner’s girlfriend was one of the Benny Hill girls. I don’t know. She was very pretty.
Winner’s lecture was about his career, filmmaking and The Wicked Lady in particular. Very interesting. The lecture hall—a big one—was packed. One thing Winner said, explaining the way he worked was: “A team effort is a group of people doing exactly what I tell them.”
And people think I’m strict.
Bob and I had been seated in the front row. At one point, Winner asked us to stand and gave us a very flattering introduction which brought a hearty round of applause. He made us sound like visiting dignitaries/brilliant creators.
I wonder what they thought of us before that? A couple of ugly Americans rumpled from the long car trip and a few hours tramping around Cambridge, gawking at the 15th and 16th Century buildings and the punters on the Cam. We definitely stood out in that pressed and proper crowd. Plus, in those days, Bob deliberately went for outrageous. His own description of his sartorial style was “game show host from Hell.”
Possibly that was part of the reason Winner privately referred to Bob as a wanker. It wasn’t hard to make Winner’s wanker list. I’m probably on it now, too. See below.
Anyway…that day was quite an experience.
So finally, in early December, by messenger, Winner sent me the Captain America screenplay. Here’s the cover letter:
It was awful. Campy-to-ridiculous. Not Captain America. Way off.
There was one good scene in it. After awakening from suspended animation for forty years, Captain America is in a car, being driven through the streets of New York, on his way somewhere. Out the window he sees run down and abandoned buildings. Offensive graffiti. Streets strewn with garbage. Hookers, pimps, homeless people, punks, thugs, drug dealers…. He turns to the government official next to him and says, words to the effect, “Who won the war?!”
I wrote Winner the most polite response I could. I tried to be as upbeat as possible. Difficult under the circumstances. Like, “Gee, there are some fun things in this, but it really doesn’t represent Cap very well.” That sort of approach.
Here is Winner’s response:
I never saw or heard from Winner again. The project was abandoned, I believe. Not because of me, mind you. I think Marvel and Winner wanted my involvement and would have appreciated my opinion—if it had been a rave. It wasn’t, so it was ignored.
But for some reason, the project went into limbo for a while.
Some other director/producer eventually inherited the screenplay and the project. The film was made and released in 1990. I don’t know if any rewriting was done. I’ve never seen it. From what I’ve heard, it’s not good. It might be worth seeing just because Billy Mumy is in it. I like Bill. Great guy.
P.S. Bob eventually paid me back most of what he owed me, but not for a long time and not without drama.
NEXT, since Captain America is on my mind: A Review: Captain America and Bucky #624
My mother never misses the improper usage of "I" and "me". I have a bigger problem hearing an adjective being used where an adverb should be. I cringe when I hear the word "disrespect" used as a verb. It's seeped into radio ads and I expect that it will eventually be listed in the dictionary as a verb some day.
Regardless of everything I know about grammar, I still find myself writing things improperly even when I know the correct usage. The simple fact is that I think a million times faster than I can write or type. I make more errors going back to fix sentences I've typed incorrectly.
The internet is filled with mentally unstable people. Some of those people are quite literally stalkers who think their opinion outweighs those who know the facts.
Anonymity allows oppressed people to speak out against corrupt governments. Anonymity allows whistle blowers to report illegal activities. In that regards, I do advocate anonymity and I believe truth shall always prevail. It may take awhile, but respecting a person's privacy and and their reasons for remaining anonymous is better than the alternative of letting evils grow in the shadows of our culture.
I exchanged a few emails years ago with an anonymous individual who posted on the usenet under the name "Gharlane of Eddore". He had enemies that actually called his employer trying to get him fired from his job over online disagreements. One person showed up at the doorstep of someone he knew because they thought they'd figured out who he was. They missed their target, but the consequences could have been very disturbing.
There is the true story of a guy who was offended in a chat group, so he took a detour several hundred miles out of his way while on vacation to kill the person who offended him online.
The internet is a place for communication and sharing ideas. I do not see it as an open door to the insane or those with inferiority complexes thinking they have something to prove.
I've dealt with internet stalkers and one of my messageboard members has dealt with real life intrusions into his life by an individual that I had recognized early as "high risk".
I'm certainly not criticising you, JayJay! I love the blog and I am currently working my way from both ends. I was just reading how Jim did away with the writer/editor credit at Marvel under his watch, and how this shake-up caused a bit of stir (how's that for a mixed metaphor?) I just thought it relevant to make the comparison.
Sorry again for any mix-up!
I try to catch as much as I can when I post Jim's articles and I do catch or suggest a few things, but my brain works better with pictures and stories so I'm not the best person to edit or copy edit. Still, Anonymous' comment seems picky to me.
'"Harryhausen gave Winner and I the house tour "
'More outstanding writing from The Shooter. Ugh. '
Jim's a great writer and any editor would have picked up this casual mistake. I seem to remember that Mr Shooter advocated that writers should have editors separate from themselves, and it strikes me that your post has proven him correct.
Thing about Bob is that he's a very charming person when he wants to be, but he really looks down on geeky types like me or like Art, and like a lot of the people who are in this business. I felt that from the first time I met him.
Back in the Marvel days I remember thinking he was pretty harmless and sometimes wondering why Jim would get irritated about what I took to be his "crazy antics" but I had no idea what was going on. I found out some of it later on. I'm sure I'll never know all of it. (I'm also pretty sure Bob counts on Jim to be too much of a gentleman to tell the whole ugly truth and he's probably right. Maybe.) But what I thought was just wackiness, on the surface, was some pretty serious hurtful behavior. It mostly took the form of using people (mostly women) for whatever he could get out of them, no matter the consequences to the used. And he could get pretty much anything he wanted to hear him tell it.
Once we were working at VALIANT and I was around Bob a lot more, the real Bob showed through the jokes. I didn't have a whole lot to do with him, but Bob sat near or next to me most of the time. He was living with a young, naive girl who worked in the office and would say the most horrible things about her when she was out of earshot. This girl was given to PDA's (public displays of affection) in the office and it was a casual place, so no harm there, but when she would sit on his lap sometimes he would mug faces behind her back. He joked about intimate details of their relationship. So much I can't even mention publicly. I felt so sorry for that poor girl. She had no idea at all. She was smitten with him.
Bob usually had some little jokes about everyone. Not to their face, of course. He would mostly mock them behind their back. Now, it's possible that he really thought he was doing some comedy routine, like an insult comic. I don't know. But every time he would start making fun of someone I wondered what he said about me about behind my back.
But even with all that I never believed he would turn on Jim. Jim had helped him time and time again. Given him a place to stay when he had nowhere to go, given him work, loaned him money, helped him in a hundred ways for years and years. I was naive enough to be really shocked when Bob betrayed Jim.
When Debbie and I were fired from VALIANT and were packing up to leave the office that morning, Bob wasn't there. Debbie came over and asked me if I had any dimes. She left 30 dimes on Bob's desk… his 30 pieces of silver.
Yeah, I don't really see how "t.k." is less anonymous than "baroness". I guess they're initials but they could be almost anything, from Ted Knight to Takuzo Kawatani. Maybe baroness is really a Baroness! (Okay, probably not.) Some people post their real names, which is fine. Some don't, which is also fine. (So, like, that wasn't a challenge or anything. t.k. works for me.) Writing and commentary has a rich history of anonymous/pseudonymous authorship, done for a variety of reasons, including Common Sense by an Englishman (Thomas Paine), works by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), and the comic book world's own T.M. Maple (Jim Burke). Where baroness fails is in her content–her post is worthless because it accuses without even the attempt to ground her claims.
As far as rights go, we're all here at the pleasure of Jim and JayJay. They can cut us off at any time. But I respect the fact that they allow even churlish comments to remain–as Defiant1 suggests, dissent is healthy for any community.
–kgaard (not my real name!)
Many of these Names are made up. We are all , in a sense, Anonymous. I think that if a dissenting opinion is offered, it should be respectful. There are always 2 sides to a story. But usually one side will make more sense than the other. Masarsky WAS sleeping with the woman( forgot the name)and the events that followed seem to support what Jim has been saying. Layton seemed to be a just an employee with no real authority before the takeover. Besides, Barry Windsor Smith does back up the things that Jim said in later interviews.
"I also believe people should have the right to speak dissent anonymously."
I don't. If you're going to have the tenacity to accuse someone of something then at least have the courage to put a name to it instead of hiding behind "Anonymous" or some silly thing like "Baroness". We don't let people accuse people of murder without getting their name (the authorities, at least, know it) so why should this be any different? It's cowardly. Besides, what do I care if "Fred Jones" (for example) posts something negative? He/she are still entitled to their opinion–they just don't look like they're trying to stir up trouble for the sake of it.
Just to be fair, this hasn't been years of Shooter having less than positive things about Layton and Layton never giving any back of his own like a defenseless person. Search Layton's website for 'shooter' and you'll find many instances of Layton having less than positive things to say about Shooter on his site pretty much doing what Shooter is doing on this one, save Layton was doing it years before this site ever existed. And Layton's stories do go back to the 80s as well.
There's even an interview from 2006 on a different site where the history of Shooter's ousting from Valiant is totally flipped: Layton accuses Shooter of attempting an illegal takeover of the company!
—"Jim and I haven't spoken since that day in Baltimore when he tried to fire me for not supporting his illegal attempt to takeover Valiant. Let's just say that I've seen the real Jim Shooter and it wasn't pretty."—
I happen to feel that unanswered criticism gets mistaken as fact. I'm also not an advocate of censorship unless a person is intentionally disruptive for the sake of being disruptive. Free speech is a right of these people. I also believe people should have the right to speak dissent anonymously. If we all agreed on everything, there would be nothing to discuss. We'd sit and home and shake our heads "yes" and click ahead to something else.
Anybody else ever notice the people that comment negatively on this blog are usually "Anonymous" and once they step in to stir up the pot, they almost never post again? (In other words, just ignore the damn trolls).
Your point is valid. One must often separate the artist from the art. This goes beyond comics, but to movies, music, art, etc. Many people whose work we love are still giant dickheads. I caution ever meeting someone you idolize, because they will rarely fully live up to your expectation, and often will be a huge let down. If they are having a bad day, or are just normally an asshole, you may walk away junking any work of theirs you owned.
Re: The Shooter Hour Soap Opera – brought to you by Laramie cigarettes – Laramie, anything else won't make you look half as cool.
As above – one must separate the art from the artist when trying to enjoy their art. In this case, I am not really invested in either party. I probably have some books written by Jim, some where he was the EIC, and probably nothing by Bob Layton. I knew there was a big upset at Valiant, but never the gossipy details. Yay for the internet, right?
So with no vested interest to love or hate either party – I have to say I value Mr. Shooter's stories and feel they are as factually true as he can recall.
He has gone out of his way to compliment people – even dead ones – before making a valid criticism. He has repeatedly said, "Ask so-and-so, he was there." to verify a claim (liars don't do that). Others in the biz and have made unsolicited recollections backing up his claims. I have read several interviews from then and in this blog, and the details never waiver (liars don't do that, either).
If anything, Mr. Shooter is a saint. Had that been me, I would never say the name "Bob Layton" again, but instead "that fucking backstabbing asshole" when ever referring to him. Maybe TFBA if I wanted to make it more family friendly. I have had a past boss try to screw me over – and it wasn't nearly as bad as Jim's. To this day venom boils in my veins when I think about him.
re: The Baroness
How long have you and Bob Layton been dating?
"… initial denial, followed by grudging admission of bits and pieces slowly, and only after it's clear that there's no other choice, until the substance of what was denied is eventually admitted –"
You're saying John Byrne could (if he were a native American citizen) be running as a GOP Presidential Candidate?
I wonder if Byrne can also recite the lyrics to the Donna Summer song from the Pokemon movie?
John Byrne has shown any number of times that he's less than fully honest. I don't have the links at hand, but here is one story I recall as it evolved.
There was a blog post a few years ago about a signing at a comic convention (that took place years before, IIRC). Byrne was signing, a teen put a copy of the trade paperback of the Dark Phoenix Saga in front of him, saying it was one of his favorite stories, and Byrne theatrically called out "Reprint! A reprint signature for a reprint book!", produced a rubber stamp of his signature, stamped the book, and sent the bemused teen on his way.
When this story was pointed out to Byrne in his forums, his initial response was "Never happened." He elaborated that any story about him that began with "some kid" was never, ever true.
Then some of his flunkies let on that, in fact, there was a signature stamp, and that Byrne's use of it was meant to be a joke (a joke that they claimed to love, and anybody who didn't was a fool). After some back and forth, Byrne came back and admitted that, yes, there was a signature stamp, but he never used it like THAT.
More back and forth, and eventually Byrne admitted that, yes, okay, he DID use the stamp to "sign" reprints (i.e. trade paperbacks), but only ever when there were lots of books to sign, only as a gag, and that "everyone" "always" got it and was amused.
That pattern — initial denial, followed by grudging admission of bits and pieces slowly, and only after it's clear that there's no other choice, until the substance of what was denied is eventually admitted — is not the sign of a forthright man of integrity.
It's also not the sign of an honest mistake. He was trying to leave an impression that such a thing was not even possible. Then he was forced to admit, bit by bit, that the event was possible in its details, while maintaining that it didn't happen.
Bob Layton is one of my favorite artists/inkers. I idolized John Byrne as a kid. I had been away from comics for some time, like 15+ years. When I started to gradually get back into them, I would run across "dirt" on different creators. I didn't seek it out, with the internet it would be easy to do, but I would still read it here and there.
I would take these stories with a grain of salt, as gossip, axes being sharpened. Then I started reading more credible, first-hand recollections, from numerous people. It's obvious to me that the Valiant situation happened like Jim said it did. So I'm inclined to believe the other stories Jim has recalled about Bob; showing up in England,etc. I still love Bob Layton's work but I think he may have some character flaws. As far as John Byrne goes, I have read and heard stories but there doesn't seem to be anything that constitutes the hatred he receives. Maybe I just haven't read the right ones.
Jim and JayJay's story of the events at Valiant has been consistent since I first received a hand written letter from JayJay in 1994 explaining the events. Jim was a partner of the company. Has Bob ever explained any of the reasons why he did what he did? Has he explained how a partner of the company was squeezed out through clearly unethical leveraging? In a post-Enron world, the ethical violations done by Massarsky would likely be deemed illegal. Martha Stewart went to jail for merely taking the advice of someone with insider knowledge at a company. How much more of a conflict were the actions of Massarsky? Whether it was a betrayal on a business layer or simply betrayal as a friend, Jim has a right to say it like he sees it. It's not a popular opinion, but I think his perspective is just a flashlight on the truth rather than an unfounded vindictive statement.
Bob's penciling has never overly impressed me. The stories he oversaw at Valiant & Future Comics were derivative and bland. His web site frequently promotes Iron man and all his past contributions at Marvel.
All these creators at Marvel that openly criticize Jim, are memorable today because Jim let them do what they did.
Many of these critics have never gone on to do anything near as noteworthy on their own
I keep track of the online news about Jim and his ventures because I'm waiting for him to come back and be in control of a company again. I've read his side of the story as well as Bob's comments. No matter how you look at it. Bob either helped stab Jim in the back, OR he stood back idly, profited, and let it happen. Neither scenario is good.
Disassociating with crooks and slime balls were the best choices I've ever made.
Betrayal can be viewed as an unforgivable crime or the biggest favor a person ever did to you. I don't personally want to waste my life wondering whether a supposed friend is on my side or not. Revelation 3:16 sums up my attitude.
I'm sure that if he was so inclined, Bob would be perfectly welcome to come here and present his side of things- I am equally sure that he is aware of this blog and the occasional mentions thrown his way. This is not the John Byrne forum, where opposing viewpoints subject one to post deletions and banning. I met Bob at a Philly convention in the late '70s and he was extremely kind to me, even to the extent of sneaking my name into two of his early Iron Man issues. I believe, however, that he made a huge mistake in siding against Shooter and that he dearly paid for that error in later dealings with Valiant/Acclaim. It also seems that Bob is quite aware of the mistakes he made and of the bridges he burned. It's a loss to 21st century comix that such estrangement prevents what could be new and wonderful collaborations. A need exists for something great to hook a brand new audience, but the talent best qualified to deliver this does not seem to like working together.
We are not talking about something happening under our eyes (I, at least, wasn't there). We, the readers, can only rely on what each side has to say, and about something that doesn't affect us directly. We can have an opinion, and think a side is more convincing than another, but we don't have to enlist in one of the two armies.
I certainly understand how Jim feels about Bob, or at least can have a good enough idea of it.
Now about what Bob did and if it was pure backstabing for a personal profit or if he sincerely thought he was doing the good thing, even if it was at the price of his friendship with Jim, this is something i don't know.
What i can objectively see as wrong is to give only one hour to someone to leave the place, without even allowing them to take all that belongs to them, or to place security guards to prevent them to pick their things back. I can't even understand how such a thing can be legal. But was this Bob's decision?
Proofreading is never 100%. SIGH.
What I wrote:
"When he's tearing your down, Bob Layton sure does love an audience."
What I should have written:
"When he's tearing *you* down, Bob Layton sure does love an audience."
I was there during the first year and a half at Valiant. I can confirm the things that Jim Shooter has said about Bob Layton are on point. He is a charming, talented man. However, he is also a malicious, insulting, self-aggrandizing conceited bully. It was a constant nightmare to be working close to him, because of how much of an unrelenting asshole he enjoyed being not only to me, but to others.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Bob, but only specifically for a piece of advice he gave me along the beginning of drawing Magnus #2 that really became a breakthrough moment for my work. But Bob is the kind of person who needs to be derisive toward people, to insult them in order to make himself feel more superior, especially doing this in front of an audience. When he's tearing your down, Bob Layton sure does love an audience.
Bob's one of those people who can't feel good about himself unless he's making someone feel bad about themselves with condescending or insulting remarks of some sort. He especially enjoys picking on the easier targets, because that makes him feel like he's the most superior and powerful. That's what bullies do. Bob never liked it when you stood up to him.
baroness, you're reading this blog (like everyone else here) because you're interested in Jim Shooter's point of view. Some of his experiences have to do with people who blatantly screwed him over. He has every right to recollect these things, and to give his opinions.
You do the same things when talking to your family and friends about people who have done you wrong, so you shouldn't be so much a hypocrite about it. If you wrote a blog about your life experiences, you would be doing the same thing. I would never believe you if you said otherwise.
Jim is a public figure that has weathered more invective and untruths than anyone else in this industry, and I believe he is justified in telling his side of the story. Some of these stories has to do with how he feels about certain people.
So baroness, get over your fake outrage at Jim telling his side of the story. Your complaints come across as very hollow. Shooter has been very balanced in his stories, not only stating how he feels about someone like (in this case) Bob Layton, but also talking about his great talent and acknowledging his contributions.
If someone disagrees with pertinent details of anything he recollects, he has no problem addressing such things. At the very least, he qualifies what he says. The vast majority of people who misquote and falsify anything Shooter has done don't care about doing that. All they wish to do is drive him into the ground, never to return.
So get over yourself, baroness. The only "ill reputed" one I see here is you.
Bob Layton is how Jim Shooter recollects. My 18 months at Valiant certainly confirmed that.
Bob has "bashed" Jim on multiple occasions. This has become a mutual dislike between them. Hindsight is 20/20, and this blog makes it clear that Jim now sees warning signs that he should have heeded earlier. I refuse to buy work from certain creators regardless of how much talent they have. I think they have a crappy attitude towards their fans. With other creators such as John Byrne, I'll buy their stuff, but I'm on the fence as to whether I really want to support them. The books are absolutely NOT the only thing that matters to me. As an example, I'd like to be overwhelmingly rich, but I'm not going to rob or steal to get there. How someone does what they do is just as important as what they've done.
It's really hard to look at Bob and see any integrity as a person. However you look at it, Jim gave him a job at Valiant and the thanks he got was Bob taking his job and siding with Jim's financial partner that both betrayed him on a personal level and committed ethical violations that would now be deemed illegal under Sarbanes/Oxley regulations.
Maybe they do owe each other apologies on small matters and that's caused big wedges between them. I think Jim has rightfully stated that Bob's contribution had Valiant was a great value.
I warned my dad about one of his friends for about 20 years. We actually fought over whether the guy was a good person. About 9 months before my dad passed away, his so called friend betrayed his and refused to pay him $50,000 owed in a business arrangement. No matter how much you want to overlook something like that, it's still an elephant in the room. Unless BOTH are willing to forgive each other, you should expect the elephant to remain.
Expecting either to ignore it is really an insult to both of them. Hope is another matter altogether. We can hope they mutually agree to put their differences aside, but ultimately that's their decision.
Even when people know the correct spelling and usage of a word, they still write it incorrectly. It's good to point out errors for the sake of correction purposes, but ultimately "communication" is the essential element of a blog and I think intent of the message/post was delivered.
Bob Layton is my second favorite inker after Terry Austin and also one of my favorite artists and writers. The few times i spoke to him on-line or through e-mail, he has been as nice and polite as you can expect from a pro talking to one of his readers. And i think readers have no reason to complain about him, excepted on the level that you maybe could have had more Valiant stories by Jim Shooter if Bob Layton did act overwise.
But liking the work of Layton doesn't oblige anyone to not like the work of Shooter, and that's also true the other way.
Those two persons used to be friend, and if i saw Bob bash Jim, as much as Jim bashes him here, i also saw him write "Jim was a great guy… back then" (about the early 80s).
What we have here is a story between two former friends turned foes. And if as fans we may be curious to know what exactly happened, does it change anything to the quality of the work of any of those creators?
Did Bob backstab Jim with bad inks? Did Jim punish him by giving him bad stories to draw or bad art to ink?
To the readers only the books should really matter, the rest, as interesting as it is, takes place on the anecdotic level, or is matter for a book (or a blog) about comicbooks & comicbooks creators history.
As a kid i read an enjoyed both their work without knowing they were friends, as an adult i read and enjoy both their work, and their personal history is just another story. A separate story that doesn't change the quality of the work.
"Harryhausen gave Winner and I the house tour "
More outstanding writing from The Shooter. Ugh.
Bob Layton is an EXCELLENT inker. That's it. You sound like a complete idiot, but I know that it's more likely true that you are incomplete.
Any person can call any other person a liar, but if you weren't there and you don't have any facts or proof to offer (or even the guts to sign your name, baroness) your "name calling" doesn't hold much weight. Your poor grammar and misspellings aren't helping you much either.
I think it is a shame that you feel the need to publicly drag Bob Layton's name through the mud with the ill reputed lies that you are delivering to your fans. As far as I am concerned after reading this article, you are the only "ugly American" in this story. I find it rather fascinating that you have overly criticized Mr. Layton's work as well as his character. Perhaps this is a result of you being jealous of his work and notoriety because your work paled in comparison to his. Instead of speaking the truth Mr. Shooter, you created a series of lies that show you in a positive light when, in fact, you are the actual buffoon in the story. Tell me, how is this "alternate universe" you have created for yourself working out for you?
Oh, I almost forgot. Thank you Jim and JayJay for overcoming any desire to title this post "Winner, Winner, chicken dinner". I don't think I could have taken it.
In my opinion, it's been a bad year for movies. It's pretty sad when New Years Day is one of the better movies I've seen this year.
Thor was not without disappointments as someone mentioned above, but I think they presented a God coming to Earth quite well overall. There were so many ways to screw it up worse than they did.
re: "I want as little fantasy as possible in anything I watch "
Yeah… I was going to say you're on the wrong blog ;o)
I read a lot of science and tech stuff as well. I read Wired, Discover, and National Geographic cover to cover every month. I will sit slack jawed at a good documentary as much as anyone.
BUT – I really enjoy the sci-fi genre, and some fantasy, and used to devour comics. Simply put, you have to have some suspension of belief for larger than life stories. I am a big gun nut, and more or less anytime there is a fire arm involved, so is unrealistic stupidity. Or take something like the hero using a rope to save themselves from a fall. Usually it is so fast, and the rope so thin it would just rip off what ever it was attached to.
In some of my past posts I have lamented the sloppy, lazy, and/or ignorant writing of Hollywood. When something so DUUUUHHHH retarded comes across the screen, it can make me sit through the rest of the movie think, "That makes no damn sense. They could have had done almost exactly the same thing with a different explanation and I wouldn't be sitting here wanting to murder Michael Bay."
Two examples I like to give is Reign of Fire, where dragons awaken, raze the earth, and humans are force to live in the shadows. The dragons aren't all powerful – large enough bullets kill them. This could have been a decent post-apoc tale where one of the few remaining units with fire power drives around to hunt dragons and liberate the huddle masses of humanity.
But they had the dragon in the film breath fire on their crops – and then EAT THE ASHES. Like it lives on ash o_0. Wha… what? That doesn't… I don't even…
Then they had the even DUMBER idea that of alll the dragons left, there is one male left. Kill the male and the species dies. Aside from being stupid, how long before the current generation of dragons finally dies out? If dragons are reptiles, you can bet they may begin to manifest "virgin births", essentially cloning themselves as some lizards and other reptiles have been known to do.
And then Transformer…. what an abortion. The most idiotic thing was Megatron was trapped in ice – because it got too cold. Too cold. Too. Cold???? They fly around in SPACE which is colder than ANYTHING you are going to find on earth.
I've said elsewhere that some of us want the setting as realistic and treated as a possibility, not a fantasy. Ignoring factual criteria about America's past is a huge distraction. For those who enjoy fantasy, I guess it wouldn't have mattered whether the Red Skull was replaced by the Pillsbury Doughboy. Blatant historical inaccuracies are just as distracting to me. I want as little fantasy as possible in anything I watch or read. My comic reading has been pushed aside and I mainly read science articles now. I prefer what I read or watch to be thought provoking and/or inspiring.
That is a very sensible explanation. Like it or not, it makes good business sense, while at the same time respects the intelligence of viewers to understand how the world of entertainment business works in today's world.
I also agree with the fact that it's historical fiction, much like Inglorious Basterds. People get it. There's no real need to feel outraged or have the movie ruined by the absence of a small thing such as the swastikas.
Such an obvious reasoning. I should have realized that before.
Thanks for commenting. Nice clarification!
RE: Multi-racial troops and swastikas.
You're nit-picking on the multi-racial troops. This isn't a historical fiction – it's fantasy placed in a historical setting.
The lack of swastikas was definitely for the international audience. Swastikas are banned in Germany except for historical purposes and art (with a few other exceptions). I am sure there are similar restrictions in other countries. This is why you see the Iron Cross in many WWII games – it's easier to make one version for the wide audience and not worry about the controversy. Now video games and movies can fall under art – but why risk the chance of it not being approved? This isn't a Saving Pvt. Ryan here.
Still – in my mind it would have been cool that everyone had on swastikas, and as the Red Skull came to power, you see his private soldiers removing their swastikas for the Hydra symbol.
re: Avengers 200
Here is a funny, yet poignant run down of what happened. Maybe Jim can enlighten us on WTF was going on through people's minds.
I can't say I am a reader of Capt. America. I know of him, what he does etc, and have some books he was in – but not a huge fan/reader.
I thought overall it was really good. If kids got bored during this film, they need to be locked in a white room for a day so they can learn what boredom is (Not to get off too far on a tangent – kids these days DO NOT WAIT. They don't have to! Wait in line for more than 2min? Whip out the phone or Game Boy. On a long car ride? Fire up the DVD player!)
I do know some of his history, and so I was pleased with the idea of having him start in WWII. I liked the costume design a lot. For whatever reason, the look of the classic superhero does not translate to film. The X-Men has to be in leather. Green Lantern adopts a similar suit as the comic, but has some retarded texturing. The Flash, Batman, and Superman are the three of the truest look to the spandex comics. So I liked the mix of the costume, and something more 'real'. Very great.
One nitpick – they explain Cap's shield as being made of a metal than absorbs the energy of anything hitting it, thus bullets etc bounce off. Only if that were true, it wouldn't never bounce off of anything else. "Throw, whiiizzzz, BAM! Clangclangclangclangclang."
"Hey, uh, pseudo Nazis? Little help?"
Finally – Easter Egg – in the scene where Stark is showing off new tech etc, there is the Gold Age Flaming Torch in a capsule.
@Geroge – you're wrong about the swastikas – it was a direct result of not wanting to depict them to the international market. Same with the "First Avenger" title overseas.
Also, I was not talking just about the Howling Commandos – I was talking about other scenes with American soldiers where they had black and white side by side. There were no integrated units in WW II. Seeing those kinds of things looks artificial to the eye. It rings untrue. What's next, a Civil War movie where there was no such thing as slavery. I don't buy the "it's just a comic movie excuse". It's a politically correct, dishonest depiction of things that really happened.
I'm not even questioning the quality of the movie – I'm questioning the revisionist political correctness that is pervading much of American media now. It's patently dishonest
It seems to me that many makers of super hero films go through the source material and gravitate to all the worst of it — as if that's the real essence and any good stories or great ideas must be aberrations. Winner actually believed he was being faithful to the character and the comics with his blatant inconsistencies, lack of logic and campy approach.
Funny. Neal Adams used to tell me that people who modelled their work after his would do the same thing — aping the experimental page layouts, the "rubber fingers" forced foreshortening he played with for a while, etc., rather than the vast majority of his work that had good storytelling and straightforward, superb draftsmanship. There are Mike Grell books that are practically catalogues of Neal's mistakes.
As far as multi-racial troops and lack of Swastikas go in the Captain America movie, the former is a product of characters taken directly from Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos. None of them were even given new origins, or altered racial make up. Take of that what you will, but by WWII people of all races were allowed in the military… As for swastikas, I think that speaks more to the desire to have Captain America fighting Hydra, rather than fighting straight up nazis. I think the reason for that is that you can't really have Captain America single-handedly winning WWII- it's kind of disrespectful to the people who actually gave their lives to do so- and it wouldn't be a very satisfying film if there were no conclusion to the story. I didn't see a lot of politics- liberal or conservative, for lack of better terms- in the movie at all. As it should be.
cool isn't kid speak. Most people in my experience use it *shrugs*
There's no age limit on movies, unless they are R (or NC-17). PG-13 is just a suggestion to parents. Cap was PG-13
I will say the people i know and read about really liked it, especially non comic fans. and its doing really really well on DVD-better than Thor, First Class, or Green Lantern. For what it is worth.
FF one was not that great. i thought FF 2 was better. but the problems with those films was nothing to do with being kid friendly. they just had problems with the script and direction.
Even with greatly talented storytellers, both in comics or movies, sometimes it comes down to whether or not they got things right on what I'll call a 'frequency level'.
You put together all the right elements, and it just doesn't pay off. Or sometimes you put together all the right elements, and it blows up into the greatest thing.
An example of my favorite casting recently was from the movie The A-Team. I had very little hopes about this film, and avoided it in the theaters. However, when I finally saw it on cable, it was such a wonderful surprise! Excellent introduction to the characters, great story, very well executed. And then to find out that the people at Top Cow Productions was involved… very nice. Score one for the comic book creators!
@ja – I'm with you on the FF films. Terrible casting, bad plots (of course), terrible choice for Dr Doom – just bad, bad movies
It's weird how the casting for Sin City can be so perfect, yet the casting for FF, Daredevil, and others is just so far off
You are certainly right about the swastikas. I don't agree about the Liberal angle, but you may be correct about that, too.
I was speaking of the overall feel and (to use a Shooterism) 'convincingness' of the movie, as compared to the Fantastic Four films.
On your first comments – I agree.
As regards my experience with the annoying kids in the cinema auditorium, I wasn't saying that films should be made to suit them.Heaven forbid. I was just stating what happened. It didn't seem suitable for their age group. I just wish I could go to a cinema without my viewing being spoiled in that way. At that age, even if the movie was beyond my attention span, I still wouldn't have made a disturbance (although, as children, we were all more self-centred than we like to remember). The solution would be to enforce the entry restrictions for cinemas.
I also thought the Nolan Batmans were excellent, particularly the second one, and the FF movies poor.
One reasonable scene from the FF movie, was when they tried to recreate the Silver Surfer's classic battle with the Human Torch. However, this had Johnny Storm using silly "kid-speak", like "cool". I know Johnny Storm was a teenager in the comics, but the tone of it wasn't right. In the story, Storm's reaction to the Surfer was awe and wonder, not amusement.
I think for Captain America's origin, there are limits to what you can do. It's hard to think how they could have done it much better, given the constraints of a movie. The Stern/Byrne Captain America (or the CA of the Korvac Saga) is not part of the origin story. Maybe the fully fledged, mature Captain America – whom it is easier to identify with – rather than the callow, inexperienced youth, will come later. The movie wasn't perfect, but a lot of thought had gone into trying to make it credible. That bomber at the end, for example, is a scaled up version of something the Germans really had designed – the Horten Ho 229. This suggests a lot of attention to detail.
As regards Thor, I thought the special effects in Asgard, & particularly in the Land of the Giants, were the best special effects I've ever seen – bar none. However, when the story got back to Earth, I think it tailed off a bit, with the climactic fight with the destroyer, a bit anti-climactic.
@ja – not pandering?? Come on. No swastikas, multiracial troops. They were definitely pandering – to the international market and the PC liberals. Get real – it's a War World II film.
I'm not invoking any invective at all. I stated my recollection while also saying "if memory serves". I accept your corrections on the particulars. When I posted my comment, I gave my opinion that Thomas, Conway, Wolfman & Wein were 'spoiled brats'. I stand by that, as their reactions to Shooter at the time seemed that way to my point of view.
There's a night-to-day difference between calling people names for the fun of it, and characterizing someone's actions in a way that I feel is proper, based upon the information provided by Jim Shooter, which I believe. You know this, because you do the same thing.
I appreciate your specific corrections on my faulty memory at the time I posted my comment (that I specifically stated that my memory might not be 100% correct about). Thank you for that. But in no way did I hurl anything unfair at those luminaries by calling them 'spoiled brats'. That's how I felt about them, and knowing my memory might not be 100% is why I qualified my statements.
You equating my comments with the wild bullshit flung at Shooter doesn't pass muster.
I suspected that the comic book framing in the Hulk movie was due to some serious editing goofs. Perhaps they planned to do it ahead of time, but scenes were shot from completely reversed angles in some cases and it would've been an editing nightmare to do it any other way. The scenes of Hulk jumping around destroying tanks and planes was excellent. The story was horrible.
The new Captain America movie bored the hell out of me. The only people that I know who liked it are comic fans online. At no point was I pulled into the story feeling empathy or connection to the characters. I thought the Red Skull was portrayed well, and I like Arnim Zola being present in the movie. That's hardly enough for me to give it a good review. Thor on the other hand impressed the hell out of me and I'm not a huge Thor fan. Thor was never portrayed as a wimp. The architecture was a fitting tribute to Kirby. They included classic scenes straight from the comics. I expected it to be much worse.
Thanks for unspamming the post.
It's frustrating to read the other blogs where Shooter is mentioned, because the people who run the blogs don't care one whit to encourage or challenge anyone into qualifying their wild claims about what they believe – from someone who said something about what someone else said about what the other guy said about Shooter, as told to by someone else who wasn't there when the occurrence of whatever was being talked about actually happened – because they don't care about being fair.
Shame on them for that. If you disagree with Shooter, then stand up to him and tell him so. Goodness forbid you actually find out you're wrong about 17th-party recollections from others about him.
Also, I'm not convinced there should be a concern that movies like Captain America should be geared for children. The median age of comics readers hasn't been children's age for decades. To shoehorn such a standard has resulted in terrible movies as the last 2 Fantastic Four movies. Movies that reeked from trying overly hard to make things 'kid-friendly'.
The Captain America movie was a good film because it seemed that it told the story without pandering. I'd much rather see movies like Captain America or the Christopher Nolan Batman films, than ANYTHING like those awful Fantastic Four films, where you walk away not feeling fulfilled.
I have a copy of the Corman FF movie. I haven't watched it in years but if I remember correctly, considering the budget, they did a pretty good job on DR. Doom. Don't hold me to that, like I said it's been a while.
Downloading Corman's FF film is one of the easier crimes to commit these days. It's not really worth it, though. Just watch the trailer, which is FAR more entertaining (and was the only thing officially released, on the Carnosaur VHS).
The producer though says Avi Arad (who would produce and be in charge of most of Marvel's movies pre Iron Man) is the reason it wasn't rereleased.
In a recent LA Magazine article titled "Fantastic Faux," Eichinger rejects the rumored statement that the film was never intended to be released.
"No, that's not true," comments Eichinger. "It was definitely not our intention to make a B movie, that's for sure, but when the movie was there, we wanted to release it."
He then continues, "…Avi (Arad) calls me up and says, 'Listen, I think what you did was great. It shows your enthusiasm for the movie and the property. I understand that you have invested so-and-so much and Roger has invested so-and-so much. Let's do a deal.' Because he really didn't like the idea that a small movie was coming out and maybe ruining the franchise. So he says to me that he wants to give me back the money that we spent on the movie and that we should not release it."
Arad, the head honcho at Marvel and the man responsible for many of their recent box-office hits acknowledged the sale at a 2003 press junket for the first Spider-Man film. He stated he purchased the film for a few million dollars and ordered all prints destroyed. When Arad was contacted by LA Magazine to set up an interview about the original FF film, his publicist first said that a meeting might be arranged in a few weeks. Weeks passed but the interview never materialized. Finally his publicist reversed course stating an interview wouldn't occur as Arad didn't wish to talk about that old movie – only the new one.
Roger Corman: "Bernd Eichinger, the German producer, had the rights to The Fantastic Four and he was going to make it on about a $40 million budget but couldn't raise the money and his option was going to run out in three months. If he didn't start the picture, he would lose his option. So he came to me and said, "I didn't get my $40 million. How much can you cut this budget to and let's make it together at your studio." So we figured out a budget and we cut it from $40 million to $1.4 million and made it."
We were going to distribute it but he had a clause in his contract that he could buy me out at a rather substantial profit for me anytime up to ninety days after the picture was completed. During that time he raised his $40 million. He bought the picture out from me and he's making it for Fox.
I was reasonably happy because I made a profit, but I didn't get a chance to distribute the film because I wanted to see how that type of comic book movie fared. At that time, we were making pictures at $500K to $1 million. For $1.4 million I had what I felt was a bigger film and wanted to see how it performed. I never got the chance to try the experiment."
Paul, the FF movie is available by bootleg copy and that' show people have seen it.
GePop, I have heard Stan Lee himself say the FF movie was made quickly and never intended to be released.
According to Wiki
"In 1992, Constantin Film was about to lose its option on the film rights for Fantastic Four, unless production began by December. Without the $40 million in necessary funding for a full-budget film, producer Bernd Eichinger turned to Roger Corman for help.
Constantin Film permitted the director, actors and others involved in the film to believe that the studio intended to release it in theaters, rather than the film being a cinematic equivalent of an ashcan copy. The cast and crew did the film for low salaries after being told that if it did not get released to theaters, it would be used as the pilot for a potential television series.
Filming lasted a month and finished in January 1993, after which post-production began. The cast gave press interviews and attended comic book conventions in good faith. The studio announced a premiere date of 1994, at the Mall of America in Minnesota. In late 1993, the studio announced that the film would not be released because of the budget.
Over a decade later, Constantin Film made a $100 million Fantastic Four film and its sequel, the $130 million Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."
Regarding the Lee Hulk movie-I don't blame you for turning it off. I remember my friends didn't understand why I would become so infuriated when it was brought up in conversation. I was excited when The Fantastic Four movie was coming out. Mark Frost was one of the screenplay writers. For those who don't know, he was co-creator, along with David Lynch, of Twin Peaks. And I love Twin Peaks. Then the movie hit theaters…and I hated it as much as The Hulk. They dumb down the stories so horribly that I find most Marvel movies unwatchable. What's odd is that my friends that aren't comic book fans love 'em. I guess it's a curse knowing the source material, and holding it in reverence, and then seeing it totally bastardized. Ok, enough negativity. I'm all better now.
Regarding the 1994 FF film, at the time there was a rumor going about that Corman never actually planned to release it. The story went that he had the option on the film, and he had to exercise it before he would be allowed to option something else that he really wanted from Marvel (I'm not sure what that was). So he did a very low budget, no-name production that could be dumped on the straight-to-video market at some point in the future. At least, that's how I remember the story being told.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Hollywood (and Broadway, it seems) remains incapable of doing a truly faithful adaptation of a comic book…they insist on "improving" and "correcting" the source material. In some instances (many of Marvel's recent films, for instance), enough is left in to result in a production that's different, yet still largely true to the comic. But there are still plenty of celluloid abominations out there that speak to the fact that comics are still held in contempt by far too many people in the entertainment field as a whole.
ja said: Thomas, Wolfman, Wein & Conway's departure from Marvel had a lot to do with Shooter dismantling the Writer/Editor position at Marvel (if memory serves), which he believed resulted in bad content. The spoiled brats balked and threw tantrums.
Only Thomas and Wolfman's departures were in any way connected to elimination of the writer/editor concept. Conway left before Shooter became editor in chief, and Wein left because he was looking for a new challenge and wanted to write Batman again… it had nothing to do with Shooter or the writer/editor concept.
Roy Thomas' departure was far more complex than what you suggest, and I don't think it's accurate to characterize either him or Wolfman as "spoiled brats." That's resorting to the same kind of distortion/invective that you become defensive about when it's leveled at Shooter.
I started to watch it, but I found it so off-putting and just plain wrong that I turned it off. I don't care to see more of it.
Bob Layton did some things I found unacceptable while I was at Marvel. I didn't fire him. Maybe I should have. But, I'm very reluctant to take away someone's livelihood or damage his or her career. I fired people seldom and only in extreme cases. Things reached a point, however, that personally, I wanted no more to do with Layton. But he went through one of those 12-step programs, cleaned up his act and redeemed himself somewhat. Later, when Marvel refused to renew his contract and DC didn't want him, he came to me at VALIANT looking for work, I gave it to him. He was a valuable contributor. He did a lot for VALIANT. Not as much as he would have you believe. He wasn't a founder, he wasn't a partner and he wasn't the primary creator of anything. He ran part of the art production department and inked, mostly. When Massarsky and Triumph Capital hijacked the company, Layton sold out to them and stabbed me in the back. I'm done with him.
By the way, the other Captain America movie had Matt Salinger in the title roll. Matt's daddy wrote a book called Catcher in the Rye..maybe you've heard of it?
The new Cap movie is terrific! I think everybody should go get it, no matter what you think of comics today. My friend is a comics virgin and he loved it. Honestly, I can't see any reason somebody WOULDN'T like it, aside from some petty little details and minor BS. Canon films are usually fun in the 'so bad it's good way'-I wonder if that movie would have turned out like that!
Andy E. Nystrom
I shouldn't try to post with only 3 hours' sleep. The last bit cleaned up should read:
Captain America II: Death Too Soon tv movie (while the costume and action were better than the first TV movie it was also campier)
Andy E. Nystrom
Despite a few quibbles (German characters speaking English even when only other German people are around,, not enough Nazis due to the Hydra focus, I also quite enjoyed the movie and Evans brought the proper feel of someone who didn't have any sort of childhood trauma but just wanted to fight bullies because it was the right thing to do.
My ranking of the Cap movies from best to worse:
Captain America: The First Avenger (by a huge margin)
Captain America serial (the least faithful Cap depiction but works on its own level, which isn't entirely true of the below)
Captain America 1990 movie (does have nice bits with Peggy Carter)
Captain America tv movie (time passer at best)
Captain America II: Death Too Soon tv movie (while the costume and action where better than the first TV movie it was also campiter)
Winner's long letter is patronizing in tone. As if he had a lot to teach Marvel's editor about the suspension of disbelief in fantasy.
I thought that the first bad Fantastic four movie was locked in a vault, never to be viewed, not unlike the Amos and Andy TV show. Where and how did some readers of this blog see it? I think I read something to the effect that it was produced only to protect movie rights to the characters or something; that it was never intended for distribution.
Some of the details about Bob Layton and Valiant are here:
Oy vey, Avengers 200. Who could ever explain that?
http://marvel.wikia.com/Avengers_Vol_1_200 puts the blame on James Shooter, George Perez, Bob Layton, and David Michelinie.
I'm wondering, who deserves what piece of the pie?
While we are talking about Marvel movies, what are your thoughts on the Ang Lee Hulk? I thought it was horrible. It seemed to me that a non-comic book person was trying to make a movie feel comic booky. Lee actually put panels in the movie! I felt he totally missed the mark on what The Hulk is about. And having The Absorbing Man as Banner's dad didn't help either. I don't know if you have even seen it but if you have, what do you think?
This summer's Captain America movie was great for adults. For establishing the credibility of Captain America, it couldn't have been better. The writers did a fantastic job in this respect. However, it was unsuitable for kids. After the movie had gone on for a while, young kids were starting to act the fool in the auditorium. The plot seemed too involved for their attention spans. I even saw young kids laughing when the bully was beating up Steve Rogers. Maybe kids these days have been conditioned to expect an explosion every five minutes. Who knows? They didn't seem to identify with Steve Rogers, despite the excellent portrayal, by the actor. To me, the origin of Captain America was best in CA # 215 – and the movie, on the whole, did it justice.
Even in the comics, though, Captain America is Marvel's most difficult character to get right. Very few writers have pulled it off. Captain America represents the human potential. Jim got this spot on, at the end of the Korvac Saga. The other Avengers had fallen, but Captain America fights on, telling Korvac that he isn't a superman or a god – just a man. Nevertheless, he swears he'll find a way to defeat Korvac. And this mere man, comes nearer to it than anyone. As soon as Jim left, David Michelinie, good though he is, started getting Captain America wrong. Being a combat veteran, with over 40 years fighting experience, super-villains don't treat Captain America like Daredevil; they give him the respect they would show Iron Man. Nevertheless, despite Captain America's 40 years of combat experience, as soon as Jim left, David Michelinie had Cap immediately throw his shield at the Absorbing Man, so that he could absorb its near indestructible properties, and use them to attack Iron Man. A mistake a novice would make. Maybe David was just having a bad day, as he soon raised his game, with the Taskmaster.
In Tom DeFalco's Marvel Team-up # 106, Cap representing the human potential was again highlighted. Stern & Byrne's run on Captain America was obviously the best. Too often, though, Cap was wasted on silly villains like the Masked Marauder, and the Cowled Commander, heading secret organisations.
Winner, citing the Superman movie, made those comments to Jim about suspending disbelief. If a story's characters are as convincing as Reeve was as Superman, an unbelievable event at the end is credited, as the reader feels they've got so much invested in the characters. This isn't the same as Adam West-style campiness.
Jim, as regards Winner, on this side of the pond, he's now most well known for a catch phrase, "Calm down, dear. It's just a commercial", the first part of which David Cameron has been using in Prime Minister's Questions. Mature stuff, eh?
Stating the obvious, Captain America, like most Superhero movies, would work better as a series.
Ja, I've seen one of those sites slagging off Jim, and have been tempted to wade in, too. It says Jim claimed that he got his job at Marvel through some kind of Horatio Alger story when, in fact, Jim said nothing of the sort. I remember Jim was quite humble about how he got his first break, saying part of it was being in the right place at the right time.
Jim, I think you would do well to check out the Captain America movie. I've always felt the best superhero movies are the ones that make the viewer care more about the person than the superhero. Witnessing Steve Rogers undergoing the tests and trials to become Captain America was by far my favourite part of the film; it made me not even care if I finally got to see the costume because the character was so fascinating.
Regarding the Captain America movie: as a kid, I loved it. I tracked it down and watched it again recently, and though it's hokey I still enjoyed it as innocent fun.
That said, it's certainly not what one would define as a "good film."
… yeah, always the spirit of the staircase. I'm doing this project as purely a mental exercise. Numbers are fun.
Oh, I suppose I should add that this is a horribly busy time for me, but I have been reading the backlog. I've really been working on a new paradigm (god I hate that word) for comic books, and I think I have something worth commenting on. But every time Mr. Shooter posts on the business end, I go 'Yeah, he's right' and revise it. Except for the whole newsstand series of posts where I went 'Well, that's exactly what I've been saying all along!'
Comics, at this moment, lack an incoming stream of popular users. There are ways around this. A lot of ways. The problem is, how much can you distort the concept of a comic book before it winds up being something different?
Eh, some guys, you think they're your friends, and you forgive them for being morons. You don't realize they're users till you really get a chance to think about your history with them for a while, and how often do you really sit back and think about your history with your friends?
I've had that happen once or twice. It's sort of part of trying to be a good person.
Ole M. Olsen
You have said "a few" unfavourable things about Bob Layton over the course of your posts. I'm not arguing with that, it seems very reasonable. 🙂
I'm just wondering how he ended up working with (or against, as the case may be) you at Valiant? One would guess that your experiences with him at Marvel would have been a warning sign.
I'll get to it. It was worse before it got to being what it is.
ja, I just checked the comments spam filter and your post was in there. I don't know why. I unspammed it.
Pauline Weiss is brilliant, and may be the world's fastest typist. I'm not sure what plot session and script she's referring to, but I'd go with what she says, because she walks by night and knows many things.
Re: James Cameron reacting to working under Corman's financial restrictions… I have no idea if he's reacting like that or not, but he should be grateful to Corman, because that training is what got him a seat at the table.
Go back to The Terminator and study the story structure from a budget perspective. It is quite brilliantly designed to be shootable on almost any kind of a budget. Except for the climax, all the heavy SFX scenes are flashforwards, and could have been excised or done minimally on a very low budget, or been scaled up considerably on a huge budget without detracting from the main story.
Aliens reflects that as well, to a lesser extent. It's an FX heavy movie in the mind, but much of it is very, very confined.
Rob and I met each other, talked a little about possibilities, and the next thing I knew there were ads touting my writing Youngblood. No serious discussions ever took place.
I don't remember for sure whether the Red Skull in the Winner script was German. I think so, but…couldn't swear to it.
I haven't seen the new Cap movie, but I have heard good things about it. The commercials certainly convey the right sensibilities. That's what I was hoping for from Winner. Instead, he delivered something roughly equivalent to the Batman TV show.
Been reading and loving your blog for quite some time now. Not sure if you've covered this yet, but saw this video blog today about a controversy behind Avengers #200. Wanted to know if you had any stories on insights about it. Here's the link: http://io9.com/5866330/a-video-breakdown-of-the-sad-history-of-ms-marvel-sex-slave
I'll second the recommendation of the new Captain America movie– it's spectacular fun, and I think it addresses all of the concerns you expressed (in this post and the previous Winner post) about how to translate the character from page to screen. In particular, the filmmakers' solution to presenting Cap's costume for the first time is elegant, funny, and utterly right in the way it progresses across the narrative (I can't say more without spoiling it).
And I'll just speak up for Corman, too– I've never seen (and don't want to see) his FF movie, but…There is arguably no one person *more* responsible for what came to be called the "New Hollywood" of the 1970s and beyond than Roger Corman. Just a by-no-means-complete short list of filmmakers who got their first professional breaks as writers and/or directors under Corman: Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, Ron Howard, John Sayles, Jonathan Demme, Peter Bogdanovich, Curtis Hanson…And I've never seen any of them say a bad word about him (even if they chafed under budget constraints, they always emphasized that he was very upfront about the strict budgets from the start, which they respected). And I think it's sign of their love for him that many of them later cast him in their bigger, better movies: you can see him in Demme's RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, PHILADELPHIA and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; Coppola's GODFATHER II; and Howard's APOLLO 13. Most of his films may have been low-budget "quickies," but his eye for talent was unmatched and love of cinema was always apparent (which is why he rightly got an honorary Oscar last year).
The 1990 Captain America movie revealed that the Red Skull murdered JFK and RFK. Just that one sentence tells you everything you need to know about the 1990 Captain America movie. Was that revelation about the Red Skull also in the Winner screenplay?
Never mind. I used a bad word without blanking the middle letters out. I was too blunt in doing so.
So I'm guessing that my post was too pointed to be published here? It was up for 3 minutes, then it wasn't.
Harry just posted a URL to a blog post about a Doug Moench interview, wherein he trashed Shooter. Some idiot completely lied with supposed Jim Shooter quotes that I have never read on this blog.
I commented, which I'm sure won't be published. So I'll publish it here:
'Anonymous' is an asshole.
Anonymous said… "A large chunk [of Jim Shooter's blog] just amounts to "I was a saint. Here's another story of me being saintly. Here's one about how I rescued a puppy and another about how I saved a baby from drowning!""
I read Shooter's blog. Those are not quotes. For 'Anonymous' to 'quote' things that were not said or written, is to realize that 'Anonymous' is a liar. Or at the very least, he's prone to unfounded hyperbole, ignorant of how his exaggerations make him look to be a liar, or just plain stupid. I'm betting both.
Whether you agree with Shooter's editorial stance or not, Shooter tells stories of his experiences, many times backing them up with memos and other paperwork he's kept throughout the years. He doesn't shy away from people's very direct questions. He addresses the challenges that are expressed to him in the comments section, and in many times, in his main blog posts.
Thomas, Wolfman, Wein & Conway's departure from Marvel had a lot to do with Shooter dismantling the Writer/Editor position at Marvel (if memory serves), which he believed resulted in bad content. The spoiled brats balked and threw tantrums. He also explains many other controversies in great detail on his blog.
By characterizing Shooter as evil, Doug Moench abdicates any sensible argument, especially when he accuses Shooter of doing things he never actually did, such as killing off the characters.
As Editor In Chief, IT'S HIS RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP SALES UP! Did his job more effectively than anyone since Stan Lee, too. Since Doug Moench and 'Anonymous' lie through their exaggerations, I believe their so-called 'recollections' can't be all that trustworthy.
Certainly not in comparison to Jim Shooter, who qualifies what he says, and often backs it up with evidence and paperwork.
Hey, I worked at that I-CON and never got to talk to you or Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen is one of the best media-type guests we've ever had, by all accounts, one of the nicest people to deal with in a business full of jerks.
Whenever I see Roger Corman's Fantastic Four movie, I'm reminded how low budget it was and I'm reminded that James Cameron got his start working for Corman. I imagine how frustrating that must have been for someone so detail oriented as Cameron. In my mind, that must have inspired Cameron later to spare no expense and do everything right. Before it was even announced that Titanic was going to be made, Cameron had been filming the Titanic wreck with a robot sub. He said that after spending millions of dollars obtaining real footage, he sat on the deck of the ship and cried because he knew how much he'd spent and he didn't feel that any of the footage was usable. Later the footage was digitally enhanced, but it's a good idea of one extreme vs. the other when it comes to making movies and we all know what a huge success Titanic was.
Oh-oh, more of the usual: http://marvel1980s.blogspot.com/2011/12/1983-jim-shooter-theory-of-big-bang-of.html#comment-form
In 2004 I asked Rob Liefeld about the planned collaboration with Jim. He replied as follows:
"I can't for the life of me remember exactly why the Shooter gig was pushed back and eventually crumbled, but I love his work, his Avengers run is the best and seeds from those issues are still being used to develop the comic today…witness the events of Avengers Disassembled."
I suggested online that Broadway's B.L.O.O.D.S.C.R.E.A.M. might have been an attempt to salvage the concepts created for the collaboration. Pauline Weiss said this:
The B.L.O.O.D.S.C.R.E.A.M. concept was rooted in the Liefeld collaboration, but not the way that you might think. I was involved in editing and working through plot sessions on the titles I was responsible for (WoP, Good Guys, DD, Glory) with Jim in Defiant's last few months. He was incredibly busy at the time – he literally did oversee the creative on every title – and didn't have much time to spare to catch up on all of his commitments. So for the longest time – I think even before I started working there formally – he had a stack of Image comics sitting on his desk, which he needed to read through in preparation for his collaboration with Rob. (He never took them home, he just expected to find the time during the day to read them. Given we were all doing 12 hour + days, I don't know what he was thinking.)
He'd idly peruse them while we were sitting around in plot sessions, and would note how woefully behind he was in his reading. It was during one of the Good Guys plot sessions – we were trying to come up with the next story arc – when he was thumbing through an Image book and said, "what if someone was dreaming about Image characters? What if we had the Good Guys fighting super-muscled freak Rob Liefeld characters? Giant steroid guys and nosecone babes?" We decided that would be the spin-off point; the arc would have started in Good Guys 11.
So – the "Image Isn't Everything" concept – what if Image characters walked around in the real world – itself was completely and originally Jim's, but would not have come about if he hadn't had Image on the brain because of his upcoming collaboration with Rob. As I remember, the collaboration just never happened because of the old "he's busy – I'm busy" conundrum.
A month or so ago I found my electronic files from the Defiant days, and I now just looked and found notes from both the plot session tape as well as the beginnings of the script, which was written to page 13. In reviewing the script now, I see that whole panels of dialogue were lifted and used in the first issue of Shadow State. The scenario (guy in prison with the babe wife he thinks is cheating on him with the pool man) is there; other than the characters names being different it's pretty much the same setup. No problem – we were only plagiarizing ourselves, after all.
(As a side note – I also remember that at this point Jim was pulling back a lot of the writing into his office, which explains why I was pulling the script together, as opposed to an external writer. This would be the genesis of our committee-style writing at Broadway.)
Jim can elaborate more.
I took one science-fiction class in high school. I really left that class with one major concept that struck a chord. It was light flipping on a light switch and it helped define what I like and don't like about science-fiction. Essentially, it was something to the effect that the best science fiction is that which is based upon the most science fact. I explore the extremes, so I tell people that if people were were walking on the moon and the surface of the moon was cheese, it immediately loses all credibility. If the moon is depicted as rocks, and lacking suitable gravity then the movie becomes more plausible and you are lured in a little more effectively.
Filmmakers that portray superheroes for laughter and camp don't get why some more serious takes on superheroes do much better. People want to believe there are others who can really do this stuff. It's inspiring to see it done in a plausible manner.
Jim, I was going through some comics at my shop, early Image stuff, and came across the books with the back cover ads from Rob Liefeld's Image titles that was announcing that you would be writing "Youngblood" in 1994. I always wanted to know what happened with that project (knowing Liefeld was involved, it's not hard to guess, but still…)
I would absolutely love to see your response to the 1990 Captain America movie.
In my humble opinion, the 1994 Fantastic Four film was an Academy Award flick in comparison to the '90's Cap film.
Compare Layton's pencils in Secret Wars with his pencils in Hercules, or even his more recent Iron Man work – and there is no way you can call those Secret Wars pencils good
I quite liked Layton's work on Secret Wars, and I was always under the impression that it was fill in for Mike Zeck, meaning it was probably a rush job?
Bob Layton took a bit of a chance, didn't he? I mean, what if your plans had changed and he arrived in London and you weren't there?!?
I suggest you watch the new Cap film, very very good. Marvel's comics may not be up to scratch at the mo, but their films are top quality.
Ooh, a quick question – in Michael Winner's screenplay for the film, was the Red Skull German? As they changed him to Italian in the 1990 film, supposedly because a German Nazi may have been deemed racist (yet an Italian Nazi/Facist was acceptable?)
Layton put you in that spot, and you still called him "friend"? You are a better man than I. But that might have been the moment he wrote you off as a "sucker", since you didn't send him packing and actually did what he wanted.
The 1990 Captain America film had a decent cast, but it was directed by Albert Pyun, who has made maybe one and a half good movies in his career. And Cap ain't one of them.
I've been following your blog for a few months now, but haven't posted before. Did you get a chance to see the Captain America movie this year? It was astoundingly good. Easily the best superhero movie of the summer. It's up there with the best superhero movies ever, in my opinion. The film-makers successfully translated the nobility and sense of humanity that lies at the core of Steve Rogers persona. Chris Evans, who I expected to be horrible, rose to the challenge. He exhibited a degree of subtlety that I never suspected he was capable of. Also, the stunts and fx were worthy of an Indiana Jones film.
On the other hand…the few scenes I've been able to sit through from the 1990 film were wretched beyond belief.
Layton butchering Secret Wars. Thanks for keeping it real Jim – don't ever stop doing so
Just went back and looked at issue #4 of Secret Wars – yes, those pencils were terrible