Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Category: 05 Secret Origins Page 1 of 2

The Secret Origin of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Part 3

Issue # 15 of a 12-Issue Limited Series and Other Tales to Astonish

Just as I stayed out of Larry Hama’s way on G.I. JOE, and stayed out of Archie Goodwin’s way on EPIC Illustrated and EPIC Comics, I pretty much left Mark Gruenwald alone and let him do his thing on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. The series wasn’t what I had envisioned or what I would have done, but that was okay with me.

If an editor or a creator knew the fundamentals, had an approach that seemed reasonable and had the chops to pull it off, well, all righty then. It was never my goal to Shooter-ize everything. I just wanted to make good comics, and I realized there were many ways to go to get to that goal.

(ASIDE: For instance, Editors in Chief before me had always taken personal charge of designing the covers and writing the cover copy. It seemed to me inevitable that a sameness to the covers would creep in after a while. I’m not talking about a consistent “Marvel feel” or even a house style—I mean staleness—“oh, that again” syndrome. Didn’t matter who the EIC was, or how talented. The covers Len Wein created under his own administration as well as those he created as freelance cover editor for Marv, in my opinion, fell into a rut, to a certain extent. Too many covers featuring two big figures duking it out. To much similar copy: “Can you guess the shocking secret of…?” “This one has it all” “Not even your (enchanted hammer or whatever) can stop Name of Villain!” Archie Goodwin’s covers, too, fell into a certain pattern.

As soon as I became reasonably confident that an editor had a clue about cover design, I butted out and left the covers up to him or her. Even if some weren’t as good as I would have liked, or as good as I would have done, better to have more variety, I thought.)

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!

New 52 General Conclusions and the Secret Origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

New 52 General Conclusions

About timeline logic in the New 52 “universe,” Greygor said this:

Greygor commented on “DC Comics the New 52 – Part 2“:

The thing that’s confusing me in the Bat line is that Bruce Wayne has been Batman, he’s disappeared and Dick Grayson has taken the role. He’s now back to being Batman again.

In addition there have been 3 Robins, Grayson, Todd and now Damien (IIRC based on what I read in Batman #1, Detective #1 & Batman & Robin #1).

The #1’s are set 5 years after the appearance of Superman, Earth’s first superhero. So all the above happened in a 5 year period.
It’s not tracking for me.


Posted by Greygor to Jim Shooter at October 6, 2011 4:46 AM

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part Five, the Last

And Then Things Got Ugly

Dick Giordano asked me to meet him for lunch on May 26th, I believe. He picked an Italian place on Madison Avenue near 42nd Street, about halfway between DC and Marvel’s offices.

He had this news: Gerry Conway had quit the project. Okay. Apparently Roy Thomas, however, had expressed interest in scripting the book. Fine, I said, but he’s going to have to start from scratch. First, we needed a new plot.

By the way, the Marvel Comics of the 1980’s site has it wrong. It says that Gerry was “…asked to plot the epic story with Roy Thomas providing the script.” No. Gerry was the intended writer, plot and script. When he bailed out, that’s when his friend Roy stepped up and volunteered to take over.

The purpose of the lunch was to convince me that Roy could save it in the dialogue. No, not even Roy could do that. Think of the plot as a thing meant to be an airplane, but one look told you it had no wings, no landing gear, no engine and no cockpit. What difference does it make if you have a great pilot?

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part Four

Batman/Hulk, Titans/Mutants and Are You Kidding?

Superman and Spider-Man succeeded beyond expectations, launching the Marvel/DC crossover series in spectacular fashion.

Next up, published in late 1981, I think, was Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk. Len Wein, DC’s top writer, who, of course, had written both characters, was the natural choice to write the book. Brilliant Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez penciled it and Dick Giordano inked it wonderfully. Great stuff.

Next, published in 1982, came the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans by Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson and Terry Austin. Great stuff.

It looked like we were getting the hang of it….

Then along came the Justice League of America vs. the Avengers.

The nightmare brouhaha it stirred up killed the series.

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part Three

The Urge to Kill.  Twice.

The penciling on Superman and Spider-Man went pretty fast.  John Buscema was amazing.

I drove out to John’s house in Port Jefferson on Long Island a couple of times for business reasons.  I don’t remember what the business was but I clearly remember spending time with John, meeting his lovely wife and seeing their wonderful home.

He showed me his studio.  John had a very set work routine.  Start work early.  Warm up for a while, doing little sketches just to get loose.  Work a normal length day, eight hours, he said, as I recall, with a lunch break.  And, at the end of each day, he’d have finished five or six beautiful pages.  Some artists struggled to finish one page a day.  Some couldn’t even do that much.

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part Two

Plan “B”

Once the contracts were buttoned up and signed we started work on Superman and Spider-Man.  I picked Marv Wolfman to write the book for a number of reasons:  he was a marquee name and deservedly so, he was in New York, conveniently, he was absolutely reliable, and most of all because he really, really wanted to do it.  Our other two superstars were Roy and Archie.  Both were pretty solidly booked up, Roy was in California and Archie was way too slow.

So, we had Marv, a top tier guy writing, John Buscema, our number one penciler doing breakdowns, and Joe Sinnott, our premiere inker finishing.  A dream team.

The Secret Origin and Gooey Death of the Marvel/DC Crossovers – Part One

One morning in mid-1980, Jenette Kahn called and asked me to lunch to discuss an idea she had.

In those days, I usually came to work wearing a sport coat with an open-collar shirt.  When I knew I was going to have civilian visitors (“civilian” means non-comics people, in case any of you civilians out there don’t know) or there was a business meeting on the docket I wore a tie.  Sometimes a suit.

This particular warm, sunny day however, I had come to work with no tie, no jacket.  Nice clothes, presentable enough.  Like what we used to call “school clothes” back in the sixties.

The Secret Parts of the Origin of G.I. JOE

(NOTE:  “Righting the Ship” will start tomorrow.  Here, now, by popular demand is some secret and not so secret intelligence on the origin of G.I. JOE.)Marvel’s involvement with G.I. JOE started in a men’s room.

Marvel President Jim Galton and Hasbro CEO Stephen Hassenfeld met at a charity fundraiser in the men’s room, or so Galton told me.

They had a conversation that presumably continued beyond their coincidental visit to the comfort station.  Galton talked about Marvel.  Hassenfeld talked about Hasbro.  And, in particular, Hassenfeld mentioned that Hasbro was planning to reactivate the G.I. JOE trademark.  And that they were having difficulty coming up with the underlying conceit.  Who is this guy, what does he do and why does he do it?

Galton pitched Marvel’s creative services.  Raved to Hassenfeld about the creative prowess of my troops and me.  And sold him on the idea of letting Marvel take a crack at developing a concept for G.I. JOE.

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.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén