Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Search results: "Alice Donenfeld"

The Secret Origin of Jim Shooter, Editor in Chief – Part 3

Apocalypse Now

On my first official day as Editor in Chief, Tuesday, January 3rd, 1978, I arrived at the office extra early. Normal for me was between seven and eight AM. I think I was in my chair behind my desk at five.  And I had a one hour commute in those days.

I had worked all weekend editing scripts and plots and still had more to go. There wasn’t anyone to replace me as associate editor, so for the time being, I had to do my old job as well as my new one. 

Shortly after nine, my phone rang. The caller identified herself as Alice Donenfeld, our in-house counsel and V.P. of Business Affairs.  I hadn’t had much to do with the brass upstairs previously, so I was aware only from the interoffice phone list that there was such a person.

Alice confirmed that she had the right extension, that she was talking to the EIC, and said, “What have you done about the Copyright Law of 1976?”

Me:  “What?”

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The Debut of the Dazzler

JayJay here. Oops… I left the whole bunch at the end of the story off when I first posted it. So if you read this before… please read the end. Sorry!

Wikipedia has much of it wrong….

Sometime in early 1979, Marvel’s in-house counsel and V.P. of business affairs Alice Donenfeld proposed that we create a super-heroine/singer character.  She was hoping to set up a joint venture with a record company—we’d produce comics featuring the character and they’d produce and market music using studio musicians, as was done with the Archies.

Disco was big at the time.  Virtually every bar with a dance floor played disco, from upscale nightclubs like the Ice Palace and Studio 54, to dance halls like the one seen in Saturday Night Fever to local joints.

I assigned Tom DeFalco and John Romita, Jr. to take a shot at creating the character.  In my initial discussions with them, I believe, we came up with the notion of giving her light powers, and therefore, being able to provide her own light show.  Hence the “Dazzler” part of the name “Disco Dazzler.”  I don’t remember who came up with which parts of the above.  I was the one who came up with the energy-transmutation rationale to explain her powers.

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The Secret Origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Part 2

First This
My sincere apologies. This post was supposed to be yesterday’s. Yesterday’s was supposed to be Saturday’s. Prepping for the New York Comic-Con and some of the business I hope to accomplish there ate up a lot of time. Sorry.
Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Marvel Encyclopedia and Where It Went From There
Wikipedia, of course, has the origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe wrong. Wikipedia is great if you’re looking up fusion reactors or the Fort Ancient Culture but generally full of errors if you look up comic book things, especially any related to me.
In early 1982, I was in the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue and I came across this very cool book, Jane’s Fighting Ships. Every page or so had a clear picture of a warship plus its specifications and key information.
Wow. Nifty-keen!
There were other, similar books, too, notably Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft.
Extra groovy!

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Solar, Man of the Atom

Even More Questions and Answers

Jens H. Altmann commented on your link.
Jens wrote: “I used to think that there was roughly a 10 year turnover in comics creators — every ten years or so, some new names would appear and some established names would phase out. What’s your observation in that regard?”

Most of the people I worked with were lifers, especially those who started before I did, and those who started after pay and benefits got better. There was a time, from the late sixties till the late seventies when the pay was so bad that a lot of creators who could get other kinds of work — illustration, storyboards, animation, copywriting, advertising, or writing anything but comics — jumped ship.  Many came back when things got better.  When I have time I’ll give you a list of a few notables who left for other work, and some who came back. You guys probably can make a better list than I can.

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Items of Interest – And Gary Gygax

About Iron Man….

Steven R. Stahl made an interesting comment:

Steven R. Stahl has left a new comment on your post “A Gem of a Day“:
I’d be interested in an analysis of Iron Man, Mr. Shooter, mainly because I don’t think the character works well. He’s a combination of two characters: an inventor of a suit of armor and a millionaire playboy who has a vague desire to do good. There have been moments when the combination has done well, but not many, and Stark’s identity as a corporate chieftain is very thin. His various businesses have never existed in any substantive sense, except to cause trouble or to be attacked.
There’s also nowhere for Stark to go as a character if he doesn’t age. A playboy becomes repulsive if he ages to the point that he’s unattractive. Stark’s no exception.
I wouldn’t call Iron Man a failure as a character, given the movies’ successes, but he is a failure as a literary character. A novelist might separate him into two characters and then proceed.


I agree that Iron Man has rarely been handled well. There have been story problems and “literary” disasters in the portrayal, presentation and development of the character from the beginning. The ridiculous origin in Vietnam, is one. But I believe that the core of the character is solid. Genius, in fact. I believe Iron Man is not a failure as a literary character inherently, but far too often has been misunderstood, mishandled and misrepresented by comic book creative people.

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The Secret Origin of Jim Shooter, Editor in Chief – Part 4

The Guild and Ditko’s Declaration

Now, I know what you’re thinking….  That Jim Shooter was the champion of Work Made for Hire.


I had been on the creator side of the desk too long before the Editor in Chief gig.  I was the champion of Best Deal Possible for all creators.  If I’d had my way, I would have made Marvel Comic Book Creator Heaven in a heartbeat.

However, I knew that the likelihood of my being able to totally revolutionize and restructure Marvel’s business relationship with its artists and writers during my first few months in office was zero.  I knew that it wasn’t bloody likely that any time soon, or maybe ever, that Marvel and the industry in general would give up Work Made for Hire (W4H) and move to an Independent Contractor status for creators, buying specified rights for specified periods. 

No way, no how.

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It’s So Hard to Get Good Help These Days

JayJay here. Oops… I left a whole bunch at the end of the Dazzler story off when I first posted it. So if you read the Debut of the Dazzler before… please read the end. Here it is and it’s also been added to the original post. Sorry!

– Continued from below the People magazine cover…

Alice was CUT OUT of this picture!  She was walking beside Bo!

Bo Derek was fresh from the success of 10, with Dudley Moore.  She was the hottest star in Hollywood, top of the “A” list of “bankable” stars.  Bankable means that the mere attachment of such a star guarantees studio financing.

Suddenly there was a BIDDING WAR among the studios for the project!

Now, the bad news, part 1:  Marvel commissioned a screenplay by Leslie Stevens.

Why not me?  I was the horse who got us there.  But, suddenly, because it was Hollywood, for real and big time, I was “just a comic book writer.”  They decided they needed a screenwriter.

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More Questions, More Answers

JayJay here, again. I’ve been sending Jim little comments and questions that I’ve read on various forums and on Twitter and he has agreed to respond to some of those as well as some of the blog comments.

Rick Bacon commented on a post:
“I don’t think I ever really knew that young Shooter’s work was so vital to his family’s well-being. Was there a story about ME Lad and family problems?”

There was, indeed.  It was one of the short LSH stories that appeared in Action Comics.  It wasn’t taken straight from my life, but let’s say it was “flavored” a little by my experiences, including my senior prom.

Keith Williams commented on a post (in reference to Regrets? and Mort’s behavior):
“Far be it from me to hypothesize that there might be any trace of exaggeration in that account… Still, he was no doubt vulnerable and easily demoralized in his youth, and probably did feel that he was being treated like that. (One might argue that it was a bit ironic that in later years he didn’t treat his own workforce better.)”

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Three Comic Book Weddings, or Holy Matrimony! – Part 2

Ménàge à Trois 

Back in 1976 for eight months or so Dave Cockrum and I shared a big, three bedroom apartment in Bellerose, Queens, till I eventually found a nice place of my own in Queens Village. Both of us had worked on the Legion of Super-Heroes, of course. In fact, I narrowly missed having Dave draw some of my stories when in the mid-1970’s when I started writing the Legion again for a while, shortly after he left the series.

Though I was working on staff at Marvel, my boss, Marv Wolfman, graciously allowed me to finish the three or four Legion scripts assigned to me by editor Murray Boltinoff before I took the job at Marvel. Dave loved the Legion characters and was very interested to hear about the stories I was working on and kibbitz a little. Roger Stern, who also lived in Queens and hung out with Dave and me once in a while, chipped in on the plots, too. It was fun. Like a barn raising.

Anyway, Dave and I talked a lot about the characters and series, what I’d done with it, what he’d done. He was proud of the fact that he’d gotten away with giving the Legionnaires individual physiotypes rather than the cookie cutter bodies they’d always had before. He had to be subtle about it. DC in general and Murray in particular did not look kindly upon straying from the herd.

Dave being Dave, he had his own funny/clever nicknames for the Legionnaires. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is the one he came up with for Shrinking Violet: “Itty-Bitty Pretty One.”

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