In the spring of 1987, lawyer Steve Massarsky closed a deal with Marvel Licensing for the live action performance rights for ALL Marvel characters for two years. His intention was to produce a traveling children’s arena show. He had previously tried to get the rights to the Cabbage Patch Kids and failed. Massarsky had no experience as a producer and no credibility whatsoever as a licensee. Nonetheless, he easily convinced Marvel’s licensing people to grant him the rights. He paid an advance of only $25,000—put up by a friend in the smoke alarm business. The Marvel licensing people had no idea of the value of the characters! They thought they were stealing the money!
During the negotiations, one concern Massarsky had was finding someone who knew the characters to write the show. The licensing people assured him that, once the deal closed, they would get Marvel’s “genius” Editor in Chief—that would be me—to find them a suitable writer. The licensing people thought highly of me because I had helped them close many deals. Taking me along to pitch to potential licensees, like Mattel, meant that they didn’t ever actually have to open a comic book, or have a clue who the characters were. And I was great at selling the sizzle, the romance of the characters that I loved.