Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

EPIC Interference

A Little Back Story

Sergio Aragonés came to visit me one day to pitch an idea for a humorous comic book starring a funny, cheese-dip-loving barbarian character.  Just one thing—he said he knew that Marvel had to “own everything,” but he wanted to retain some small interest in the character.  He knew Marvel had to own and control it, but he would like—he held his thumb and forefinger an inch apart—a  little piece.

I told Sergio we could do better than that.  No reason he couldn’t own it lock, stock and cheese dip.  Marvel would be perfectly willing to publish his comic book series under a normal, real world publishing agreement, that is, specified rights, all negotiable, for a specified term.

He didn’t believe me. I introduced him to Publisher Mike Hobson. Mike assured him that I was empowered to make such a deal. We were willing to draw up a deal memo on the spot that Sergio could take to his legal advisors.  Sergio said he had no time right then because he had an appointment somewhere else, after which he was going back to the Coast, but he’d be back in New York in two weeks.

A couple of weeks later, however, Pacific Comics announced that it was publishing a new comics series by Sergio Aragonés called Groo.


Not long after my meeting with Sergio, and completely independently, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson and Jim Starlin came to me in a group.  They each wanted to do a non-work-for-hire series for Marvel.  To create and produce titles to which they would retain the underlying rights. 

I said, “Okay.”  I think I shocked them.

Why was everybody so surprised?  I’d talked about Marvel publishing creator-owned work publicly, loudly and often ever since I’d started as Editor in Chief.  And we were already publishing EPIC Illustrated.  I guess they thought I was wishful thinking out loud or talking through my softball cap.

So, I took them all to see Mike Hobson.  We agreed in principal on the spot.

First EPIC Interference

Straight from Mike’s office I went to Archie Goodwin’s office.  I said, “Hey, Arch, I have a great idea.  EPIC Comics!  Regular monthly series but creator owned!”

He blew his top at me.  Now, Archie, to my knowledge, never actually yelled at anyone, but he could get this edge, this tension in his slightly-raised voice that told you you’d better back off because he was five-foot-three, one hundred and forty pounds of razor-edged twisted steel.

The gist of what he growled was: Are you out of your mind?  I don’t have time for this!  We (Mary Jo Duffy and he) are overworked as is!  “Get rzzlefrzzlegrrr out of my honketyhoot room or frgglk die.”  Something like that.

I backed off.

Now what?

So, later I went to Al Milgrom and asked him if he’s like to edit EPIC Comics.  He was pleased as purple punch.

The next day, I’m sitting at my EIC desk dealing with one of the disasters du jour as usual.  Archie came storming in, again, in full Archie-style fury. 

The gist of what he growled was:  Are you out of your mind?  How the rzzlefrzzlegrrr DARE you give EPIC Comics to Milgrom?!  EPIC is MY department!  EPIC Comics are MINE!  (Insert inarticulately snarled death threats and rude implications about my ancestry here.)

By the time he left my office, Archie had EPIC Comics back and the budget to hire a second assistant.  And I had my life.

Milgrom was loathe to give up EPIC Comics peacefully.  Especially since one of the first ones, Dreadstar, was going to be authored by his long-time buddy, Jim Starlin.  But he cooperated, sort of.  You’ll notice that Milgrom shares editorial credit on the first issue of Dreadstar.

Second EPIC Interference

Sometime a couple of years later….

EPIC Comics were doing okay, but not setting the world on fire.  They were a critical success and absolutely essential for Marvel’s image.  We needed to be a place where creators wanted to bring their ideas.  And, I figured, sooner or later, an EPIC Comics title would take off, make some creator wealthy, and then the floodgates would open. 

A few EPIC Comics were losing money.  None were contributing much to the bottom line.  Dreadstar was probably the most successful. 

President Jim Galton spoke with me about possibly cancelling the line and devoting the resources to more profitable endeavors, say, another dozen X-Men titles.  I told him EPIC Comics had something great, a big seller coming up, and secured a stay of execution.

So I went to Archie’s office and proposed that we publish a limited series Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz had been talking about doing—Elektra Assassin.  If it came out through EPIC Comics, it could be grittier and edgier than if it had to bear a Code Seal and go on those “Hey, Kids!  Comics!” spinner racks.  Which would suit Frank.

(ASIDE:  What else did those racks say?  Something about “wholesome entertainment?”)

Archie replied in full Archie-style fury. 

The gist of what he growled was:  Are you out of your mind?  EPIC Comics are CREATOR OWNED!  No rzzlefrzzlegrrr Marvel characters!

I started growling that unless we had a bestseller RIGHT AWAY there might not be any EPIC Comics any more.  I was six-foot seven, two hundred and thirty-five pounds of rusty pencil sharpener blades.

He backed down.

I walked out with Archie’s promise to contact Frank.  And he had EPIC Comics’ life.

The eight issue Elektra Assassin limited series sold over two million copies.  While not creator owned, the contract was far more beneficial to the creators than the normal (and excellent, by the way) Marvel deal.  Advance against royalties, more participations, a generous share of international revenues…and more.

That kept them going for a while.

Now this….

No Interference, But Righteous Wrath

Sometime before the Elektra drama, Sergio parted company with Pacific Comics, I believe because they were in the midst of the financial turmoil that led to the company’s collapse.  Sergio turned up on EPIC Comics doorstep, and was welcomed in.  We began publishing Groo the Wanderer.

(NOTE:  I never checked EPIC publications before they went to the separators.  Never felt I had to, with Archie at the helm.  The first time I read most EPIC books was when the printed copies came in.)

As I recall, the first page of the first EPIC Comics issue of Groo featured a cartoon of Sergio at his drawing board, speaking directly to the readers.  I don’t have a copy, so I’m doing this from memory, but Sergio was explaining that he had taken Groo elsewhere at first because Marvel wouldn’t let him keep the rights to his creation, but now that Marvel had finally seen the light, he was happy to work with EPIC.


I was furious.  It was probably the only time I ever spoke harsh words to Archie.  How could he allow that?  It was NOT TRUE, and in our OWN PUBLICATION we were giving credence to a LIE.

After I calmed down, I realized that Archie probably didn’t know about my meeting with Sergio years earlier.  Not his fault.  Sorry Archie.  

Sometime later, I ran into Sergio at a convention in Victoria, British Columbia.

Sergio and I had always been friendly.  We, and other folks, occasionally got together for food or a beverage or three at cons or after work.  He regaled us with his stories.  He listened to ours.  We got along.  He even came to play volleyball with us in Central Park after work a few times when he was in town.  Sergio and I always had a great deal of mutual respect.  Still do.

But I was very unhappy about the Groo intro page and told him so.  He wouldn’t give me straight answers.  He waffled around about it.

That told me it was probably the doing of his co-writer/assistant/whatever, Mark Evanier, either out of ignorance or spite.


Other than that, everything EPIC was pretty groovy.

A final aside, apropos of nothing.  A few years ago I was sitting beside Sergio on a panel at the Baltimore Con.  The panel was taking questions.  Someone in the audience asked me if I was aware that, in terms of years of service, I was the eldest comic book writer still active.  I said, that can’t be.  What about Sergio?  Sergio said to me, “I started in 1967, my friend.  When did you start?”

1965.  It’s been a long road.

NEXT:  Superman, the Playboy Club, Decorating Higgins, the Secret Theater and other Strange Tales


Righting the Ship – Part Three


Superman, the Playboy Club, Decorating Higgins, the Secret Theater and More Strange Tales


  1. Hi Jim,

    Thanks again for answering my questions yesterday.

    I'm apprehensive about sending this link to you because I personally have no interest in taking part in the argument taking place here, but if you click on this link you can see that on the Jack Kirby Museum google chat list several people are arguing about some of the comments you made in this post.


    This is the main site if that link doesn't work:


    The members raise some questions you might want to address or clear up. The thread starts with that link and continues in some of the more recent threads.

    FYI: I'm not trying to drag you into a fight, I'm not even a member of this chat list, just giving you a heads up if you want to address your critics and maybe clarify your comments.

    Thanks again for your time yesterday, sometime next month I'll post our discussion and the Captain America piece.

    – Rob Steibel

  2. Dear Mike,

    I'll look into it and do a post as soon as I can.

  3. Anonymous

    "It's a shame that readers never discovered 'the dramatic origin of the RAI Power'." Was this origin ever revealed? The link at http://allthingsvaliant.blogspot.com/2011/01/rai-0-rejected-version.html only says, "…the Rai Power was created by Grandmother when she felt the Blood of Heroes was a threat to herself." –MikeAnon

  4. Humor? I don't know what "Flipman War" might be.

  5. Dear Jim,

    I noticed the chalkboard seen in Pete Stanchek's History Class on page 4 of Harbinger #0 mentions "Cuban Missle Cris", "Vietnam", and "The Flipman War". Do you know what David might have meant by adding that last event?

  6. Dear KryptonSite,

    David knew. There isn't much that's unintentional in his work.

  7. KryptonSite,

    Are you referring to the third panel where Pete and Joe Irons are in bed when Stanchek catches a glass of soda from falling on the floor with his mind? I doubt that was a clue Pete was gay since neither is naked. They're both wearing T-shirts.

    Besides, the gist of Jim's plan seemed to be that Pete would learn he preferred men later on. That's why I wondered if scenes from Rai #0 could still fit with Jim's vision. Pete had a sex life with Kris Hathaway prior to Unity, maybe they would have children together before he arrived at the conclusion he was gay.

  8. KryptonSite,

    I'd be most interested in seeing how Kris would react to the news. One of the highlights from the Unity crossover was Sting's tantrum upon discovering Torque was her baby's father. Seeing Kris experience a similar meltdown could have been fun.

    It also makes me wonder in what way Pete would arrive at this self-discovery. Would Jim have introduced another gay Harbinger to be his boyfriend? Was Ken Clarkson perhaps going to fill that role which would establish a firm link to X-O Manowar continuity? Would the age difference have been considered too controversial? As a matter of fact, how old was Ken supposed to be in in 1992? His date of birth is conspicuously missing from the X-O Timeline found in Wizard: The Beginning of the VALIANT Era magazine.

    As unexpected as it is to hear Sting was going to become gay, learning that the climax for Rai #0 was contributed by Lapham, Layton, or Hartz is probably more shocking to me.

  9. One other question about the Sting thing, if you know the answer – was David Lapham aware of this plan? I'm pretty sure I spotted a clue on the first page of Harbinger #0 but it could have been completely unintentional.

  10. During my teen years, definitely a Marvel fan. Since then, I'm a comics fan. I love good comics. Anybody's.

  11. Kid

    Wow! Sad as it is, if Jack had Dementia it would certainly go some way to explaining occasional uncharacteristic behaviour on his part. I'd like to think that if Jack's lawyers nixed his cover appearance, they did so as a matter of course without specific instruction in that instance from Jack. Given your startling revelation, however, anything's possible. Keep these nuggets coming please.

    Looking back, Jim (and forgetting all the internal politics for a moment – if you can), do you consider yourself more of a Marvel fan or a DC fan?

  12. Mr. Shooter,

    Wow. Thank you for answering! That's actually very cool. Sting was probably my favorite of the Valiant characters, and if the story had continued by you… that would have made him even more interesting.

    Thanks again for the response. That made my day. Loving this blog.

  13. The credits for Rai #0 indicate the story was provided by Jim Shooter, David Lapham, Bob Layton, and Jon Hartz. Obviously, Jim had no input in Bob Layton's script but I always thought at least the artwork pretty much matched what Jim wanted.

    I think VALIANT fans interviewing Jim about this issue have usually had trouble separating the artwork from the writing. For example, the battle between Ax & Bloodshot mentions there are humans living on the moon in 2028. Lapham's artwork doesn't suggest anything of the sort so I have a feeling Layton made that scene more sci-fi than planned. Anyways, the VALIANT Entertainment website has a short bio for John Stanchek at

    Looking at Joe St. Pierre's rejected pages for Rai #0, there's no question the story told there is ten times more coherent than the published version. It's a shame that readers never discovered "the dramatic origin of the RAI Power". Nobody bothered to address what it is after Jim left VALIANT.

  14. Dear kintounkal,

    Most of my plans were abandoned, misunderstood, misinterpreted or mangled after I left.

  15. Dear Kid,

    "…filtered down the line." Nah. It would not have seemed of any consequence to anyone upstairs. They didn't grok, for the most part, what an emotional issue anything to do with Kirby was to us tenth floor creatures. Also, there wasn't that much contact between upstairs types and my troops downstairs. No contact at all between the K&K lawyers and my troops.

    I knew you weren't accusing me of anything. Sorry if I sounded defensive.

  16. Jim – watching a loved one suffer from dementia is no easy road. Best of luck, sir.

    Have to agree with the comment above re: Valiant. Those are some fantastic comics! I'm very late to that party and have only recently (actually, as a result of this blog/ the Dark Horse relaunches) started buying those. Kudos! JayJay, in particular, the colors are just great – I believe you're the one to thank for those, right? My apologies if I'm overlooking anyone. (I'm on vacation now and can't just check the credits, in case anyone's wondering.)

    (Also, one of the newfound pleasures of a hiking trip is getting home and reading a few days worth of this blog!)

    @nilskidoo Yeah, That's Entertainment rocks! Any New Englanders or near-New-Englanders on here, definitely make the trip; you won't be disappointed.

  17. What are the implications towards Rai #0 ("The Blood of Heroes") given that Sting was intended to become gay? According to that story, Peter Stanchek fell off the face of the Earth in 2056 leaving his daughter-in-law and grandchildren in the care of Kris Hathaway. A descendant named John then becomes the leader of the resistance and defeats Toyo Harada ending the Harbinger Wars in 2990. Is this an instance where Bob Layton's script deviates from what Jim had in mind and that character wasn't supposed to be related to Sting? Had the plan for Sting being gay been abandoned at that point?

  18. Kid wrote:
    Now – can we please all get on with our lives?

    Now *that* is something I can agree with.

  19. Kid

    Thanks Jim, but by "stushie" what I meant was that I thought it might've raised a few eyebrows at Marvel if Jack had been behind the request, to such an extent that news of it would've filtered down the line. The fact that it doesn't seem to have done so is one of the things that made me wonder if it was true or not. Although I kind of knew that you'd have been the one to pass on the instruction (regardless of who initiated it), I've never subscribed to the notion that it was motivated by any kind of spite or badness on your behalf.

  20. Having Sting go through a life's journey to find himself was one of the things I loved about Jim's handling of the character (and of all of Jim's characters) and I wish he had been able to see it through. A good friend of mine was married young to a guy who later realized he was gay. The marriage was rocky, but later they remained good friends. It's not always a "straight" path to figure out who you really are, orientation-wise or other-wise. We label people as gay, straight or bi-sexual but the actuality behind those labels isn't always so simple. I enjoy reading (and writing) stories that reflect subtlety and diversity. I wish there were more of that in entertainment.

  21. Dear KryptonSite,


  22. Somebody must have told me that it had to be done. No matter whose idea it was to have Jack's image removed, Jack's or some Marvel lawyer's, the request to do so would have come to me in exactly the same way. There would have been just as much "stushie" as I allowed, and by that, I mean that if I had honked and hooted about the request, I could have gotten everybody honking and hooting. If I had said simply, "Put a patch over this," or "White it out," or whatever, there would be no "stushie," except maybe for some grumbling about me.

    Please remember that Jack suffered from some degree of dementia. I hate to use that word regarding Jack, but I'm going through the same thing with my mother right now, and I believe the term applies. Apparently, it went back as far as the late seventies. I know, for instance that Jack had a minor car accident in 1976 or 1977 because, I was told, he became inattentive at the wheel. No more driving after that, so I was told.

    In my own, many conversations with him, I noticed that he would lose his train of thought sometimes. There were San Diego Con panels at which his memory issues were apparent. Many people witnessed those. I will tell one such story soon.

    The point is that Jack wasn't always consistent during his latter years. It is just as conceivable to me that he demanded that his image be removed as it is that some trepidatious Marvel lawyer thought it was the safe play. It is also conceivable to me that Roz or someone else close to Jack wanted the image removed and convinced Jack of that, or simply made the request on Jack's behalf.

    I don't know.

  23. Kid

    "If he's saying Shooter did it because he was ordered to from above, then that could fit either of our views. In like manner, Jim Shooter's own account could fit either viewpoint."

    See that bit above – in your own words? That's what I've been saying. So why are you treating this like an argument you have to win? I proposed an alternate explanation about the cover – I explained my reasons for suggesting it. It is a tentative suggestion, open to review in the light of further information, but one that is logical and rational and within the bounds of what is currently KNOWN as fact.

    I have Ronin Ro's book in front of me. Talking about Jack, it says, "…Marvel planned to include his name and face in a History of Marvel comic series…Jack had his lawyers put a stop to it, then just as quickly learned that another artist wanted his image near Stan's on a cover of the Fantastic Four. After his lawyer prevented this use as well, the matter seemed resolved: Marvel attorneys claimed his face wouldn't be featured without his permission."

    (My first thought is that, if true, it's a shame Jack didn't accord Stan and Roy the same courtesy when he ridiculed them in an issue of Mister Miracle.) Various sources claim that this book has its facts wrong in many instances, although I don't know if that covers this particular account. What I DO know, however, is that MAKING an assertion is different from PROVING an assertion, and that this book, which – as I said – has been noted for its inaccuracy, is the first and only time this version of events was given. (Until it was subsequently repeated, I mean.) Fantastic Four #236 came out in 1981 – the "History of Marvel comic series" (Marvel Saga) to which Ro refers didn't come out until over 4 years later, so right there is an instance where he seems to have the sequence of events out of kilter.

    Let's have a (hopefully) final recap before we all lose the will to live: John Byrne claims that Jim had the image removed, but this allows for either version of events so it's inconclusive. Ronin Ro, 23 years after it happened, says it was Jack and his lawyers who were responsible, but as people such as Mark Evanier don't seem to regard the book as a bastion of factual reliability, its veracity is suspect until proven otherwise on a case-by-case basis.

    As Jim seems to have been unfairly saddled with the rap for this action for a number of years now, if it really was Jack who was responsible, why didn't someone from Marvel who was "in the know" spill the beans at the time?

    I still take the view that Jack's direct involvement is still to be proved – if and when it is, I'll have no qualms about accepting it. Until then, I still feel that my own possible alternative remains equally as valid.

    Now – can we please all get on with our lives?

  24. Mr. Shooter, on a similar note to the Hulk Magazine/Y story response, I seem to remember a letter column of an early Valiant comic implying one of the major characters there was gay. Do you remember who you were referring to or was that another one of those "you can't tell?" type suggestions like what was said to that interviewer?

    And… I know you have been told this many, many times over the past 20+ years but the era of Valiant comics leading to Unity – when you were in charge – made up for some of the best comics I've read. You created quite the universe there, and it's really too bad we're not reading about all of them on a regular basis now. (Though it was great seeing you on the Dark Horse revivals!)

  25. Kid wrote: for you to claim that my opinion "runs counter to the available evidence" is clearly untenable, not to mention ridiculous.
    Your opinion runs counter to the evidence in Ronin Ro's book. Conversely, there is not any evidence (that I'm aware of) that directly supports your theory (that Marvel legal had the image removed). That's all I'm saying. I'm not claiming divine revelation here.

    John Byrne's account doesn't clear things up either way. Byrne says simply "Shooter had it removed." If he's claiming Shooter decided to do it by himself then that counters both our opinions as well as Jim Shooter's own account. If he's saying Shooter did it because he was ordered to from above, then that could fit either of our views. In like manner, Jim Shooter's own account could fit either viewpoint.

    I don't recall if "Ronin Ro" cited a direct interview with Kirby or some other source for his report that Kirby asked for the image to be removed. I don't own the book, but I'll get it from the library in a few days and report back here exactly what it says.

  26. Kid

    Thanks for the info, Jim. At the risk of prolonging an already overlomg topic, may I ask a question? If Jack had demanded the removal of his image, don't you think it likely it would've caused such a stushie at Marvel that you'd have got to hear about it? You know, along the lines of "Jim, Kirby's kicking up about his pic on the cover – have it whited out!"

    Jack's main beef with Marvel, aside from the artwork return problem, was that he felt he hadn't received proper financial renumeration or appropriate credit. That's why I have a hard time believing that he would have nixed an admiring artist's tribute which accorded him his proper place in the scheme of things. He had nothing to lose from his miniscule cover cameo and nothing to gain from insisting on its removal.

    Does anybody know if the claim attributed to Jack exists in his own words (in an interview somewhere) or was merely asserted long after the fact by someone else?

  27. I don't remember who asked for Kirby's image to be removed. However, whoever it was, I would have been the one he or she asked to have it done. I would have been the one to convey that person's instructions, whether they came from Kenyon & Kenyon (Marvel's lawyers) or from Kirby via K&K, to the editor or production manager.

    No move of any kind regarding anything involving Kirby would have been made at that time without being at least vetted by K&K. One thing I'm sure of is that I didn't have Jack's image removed on my own because I wouldn't have. One more thing, I think I would remember going to Stuart Sinder (a K&K attorney, the one I dealt with most) for a ruling, if I were the one to bring the matter up. I don't remember any conversation with Stuart about it.

  28. Kid

    I should add that I am not claiming – and never have – that my speculations are right. I am only explaining why I am not persuaded by Jack's claim. If ever there is convincing corroborating evidence that such is the case, I'll have absolutely no problem with that. Although I think the original account seems more likely (for reasons already expounded), I am, in fact, quite open-minded as to the possibilities.

  29. Kid

    While I freely admit that my opinion may run counter to YOUR interpretation of the available evidence, that's an entirely different bag of spiders from what you attempt to suggest.

    The earliest account is that Marvel/Jim removed Kirby's image from the cover. I don't recall ever having read Jim deny that he, acting on instructions from above, arranged for this to be fulfilled – only that he doesn't know the reason for the decision. Jim can elucidate (if he feels inclined) on whether or not he remembers any participation in the event, or whether he definitely had no involvement in passing on the instructions of the "higher-ups". I have never made any accusation against Jim.

    Jack (bless his heart) demonstrated on numerous occasions that he could not be considered reliable when it comes to his recollection of events or his accounts of what happened. Therefore, his claims can in no way be considered as incontrovertible.

    The long and short of it is that Byrne says it was Marvel, Kirby says it was him and Jim says he doesn't know or remember. As the available "evidence" allows for different interpretations as to what may have happened (depending on who you accept as being more credible – the then-current writer and artist of the book or someone who had been out of the loop for quite a few years), for you to claim that my opinion "runs counter to the available evidence" is clearly untenable, not to mention ridiculous.

    The "evidence", as you call it, can support either view. I don't think that Jack would rebuff another artist's attempt to pay homage to him, but I can see how Marvel (rightly or wrongly) may have had concerns about what message having Kirby's image on the cover of their flagship title might give to those in Kirby's camp at a time when claims and counterclaims were flying in both directions.

    So – who knows what really happened? At this moment in time, nobody knows for sure – or, if they do, we've still to hear about it. Your opinion certainly has no more credence than mine, despite your best attempts to imbue it with the same authority as divine revelation.

  30. I guess we've kind of beaten this into the ground. I agree that getting into the realm of speculating about how Kirby felt is subjective and inconclusive, and we can both argue indefinitely that our speculations are right.

    BTW, John Byrne doesn't claim "Marvel" ordered the image to be removed. He says it was specifically Jim Shooter who made the decision. Since Jim Shooter does not remember making such a decision and says he would not have done so independently, it seems very likely Byrne was speculating and/or misinformed about Shooter's responsibility, and therefore can't really be cited as an authoritative source. As far as I know, Byrne is the only source for the claim that someone from Marvel removed the image, and as far as I know no one from Marvel has ever claimed responsibility for the decision. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    You certainly have a right to hold whatever opinion you want, but I guess I'm just puzzled as to why you want to cling to an opinion that runs counter to the available evidence.

  31. Kid

    Actually, Kirby often went to great pains to downplay his grievances with Marvel – publicly at least. "We'll work it out" was his usual response when anyone tried to goad him into bitching about them. Jim himself recounted one occasion when Jack refused to publicly attack Marvel when called upon to do so at a comic convention.

    The one exception to this was the infamous Gary Groth interview when he was goaded by Groth into saying things he later regretted. And who says Kirby wanted his picture on the cover? (I didn't.) If it had never happened he wouldn't have cared, but might have been flattered if it had. But, upon learning after the fact that it was meant to happen but was nixed, he may have characteristically simply tried to downplay the event when asked about it. That's why I wouldn't use the word "lying" in this instance – he may have been merely trying to put a more positive spin on things. However, there are enough examples of Jack's version of events being at odds with the facts to cast doubt on his reliability as a source of accurate information.

    Neither of us can say exactly how Kirby would have responded in any given situation. It would probably have differed depending on the circumstances and how he felt at the time. Sometimes he griped, sometimes he was the diplomat. You're not an expert on how he thought any more than I am, so I'm bemused as to why you're devoting so much time on trying to debunk my opinion.

    On the question of evidence, the one man who would more than likely know if Jack had demanded to have his image removed is Jim – and he can't say either way. Those who could do would be "suits" who are long-gone and wouldn't care about setting the record straight one way or the other. John Byrne claims it was Marvel; as he was the writer and artist on the book at the time, I presume he knows what he's talking about, but it could be he was merely speculating. See, that's the problem – there's too much speculation on either side for anyone to say with any certainty exactly what happened. Kirby could have requested the deletion, but for all the reasons previously mentioned, I remain unconvinced. Why you seem to have a problem with that is beyond me.

  32. rustythepoet,

    What an utterly hypocritical reply coming from someone who "can't even fathom how somebody would read that as being what the scene is about".

  33. "Anyone capable of reading can clearly see that."

    And with that, I am done with this conversation, since you are incapable of being civil.

  34. Kid wrote:If Kirby perceived the removal of his image from the cover as a public slight, then the best way to trump that was to say he asked for it to be done.

    That doesn't seem to be Kirby's MO. In interviews in the 80's, he typically took the position of "Marvel screwed me over" If he wanted his picture on that cover and someone removed it, that would be another example of him getting screwed. If that was the case it seems far more likely that he would add it to his list of grievances… ("see, they took me off this cover to slight me") rather than lie about it to conceal the fact they'd hurt him. He was quite happy to portray himself as the victim in other scenarios… why would he want to lie only in this particular instance to avoid looking like a victim?

    Yes, it's true Kirby distorted the truth in some of his later interviews. That doesn't mean everything he said was a lie. If someone else was claiming to have ordered the image removed, then maybe we'd have reason to debate. But in this case *no one* contradicts what Kirby said. Kirby said he asked for the image to be removed, and no one else is claiming it was actually them who made the decision. There is no evidence to support your scenario. It's one thing to suggest Kirby is lying if there's contradictory evidence, but in this case there is not.

  35. rustythepoet,

    You're the one who keeps stomping on my right to an opinion here. Every sentence you write in this thread is full of authority and ego. I haven't made a single assumption whatsoever about you. You'll need to be clear what you're talking about.

    I never said you made claims about Rawhide Kid and Doktor Spektor. Why can't I discuss them if I want? The fact that you don't want to talk about Shattterstar doesn't make the topic bait in any way.

    That's not true. You made multiple statements about that one scene. Each time, you acted as though I'm oblivious to the real source of Northstar's frustration.

    Your attempt at providing greater clarity doesn't make you sound any less arrogant. What makes you think I'm unable to grasp the subtlety of Chris Claremont's writing? Read the limited series again. Who says Jean-Paul keeps his feelings bottled up?

    Why do you keep acting as though I'm talking about one scene? The waltz occured in issue two. I bring a handful of evidence to the table and you keep focusing on whatever detail seems most trivial to you. The story does prove that Northstar wasn't always gay. Anyone capable of reading can clearly see that.

  36. I do not see what you feel the need to get angry about this. As I said earlier, it is clear that we aren't going to convince each other. You are making huge assumptions about my beliefs (where did I make any claims about the Rawhide Kid or Doctor Spektor? I wouldn't take your Shatterstar bait so you need different straw men?)

    I made one statement and that is that the scenes with Rogue and Northstar are very touching because they are about her getting some insight into a person who has kept his personal feelings bottled up because he is gay. When I reread that mini I am impressed by the ability to make such powerful yet subtle characterizations. THAT is why I think the story is better than you are seeing. If the story is just about Rogue thinking Northstar is hot… well, who cares? (and again, the thing that got me talking about this in the first place is that when I read it I can't even fathom how somebody would read that as being what the scene is about… but on the other hand I was amazed when people said that Joe the Barbarian was about a kid going into a fantasy world, so what do I know, I guess…)

    I will just happily enjoy what I think was one of Claremont's better written stories and leave it at that. You can believe whatever you want. I only took umbrage when you claimed that story proved Northstar wasn't always gay, which is the exact sort of revisionism you are trying to find a way to accuse me of perpetuating.

  37. rustythepoet,

    Nobody can stop you from viewing a character to be gay but proof is vital if you want to convince anyone else that they should see things your way. You've been very adamant from the beginning that only your interpretation is correct and that I need to dig deeper. As far as I'm concerned, you're seeing subtext that doesn't exist and going to ridiculous lengths to pretend romance is simply friendship. It makes no sense for a straight woman to act so overjoyed at dancing with a gay man.

    The issue here is whether Chris Claremont wanted to portray Jean-Paul Beabier as a homosexual. Your replies give me the impression Claremont himself could say he wanted Northstar & Rogue to be a couple and this wouldn't sway your opinion one bit. Furthermore, why do you persist with this obnoxious attitude that I must think less of X-Men and Alpha Flight than you? You're portraying yourself as very intolerant here.

    You sound so in favor of Northstar being gay from day one that you're deluding yourself into believing this message was conveyed to every Marvel employee. I hate to break it to you but most gay Marvel characters like Rawhide Kid were depicted straight decades ago. That's not a controversial statement. It's just the truth. If Dark Horse hypothetically revamped Doctor Spektor as gay, I have a feeling you'd distort his relationship with Lu-Sai in Donald Glut stories as platonic as well.

  38. Technically, Sergio Aragones started receiving writer credits in 1962 with his first sale to MAD Magazine.

  39. Kid

    Actually, it's not "needlessly convoluted" – maybe I just didn't explain it as clearly and concisely as I could have. And while I have every respect for Kirby in the world, there are numerous examples of him claiming things that simply aren't as they happened. Such as? He designed Spider-Man's costume when he drew him on the cover of AF #15. No he didn't. He created Superman. No he didn't. Stan Lee never wrote or created a damn thing in his life (yes he did) – Kirby created everything. No he didn't. If Kirby perceived the removal of his image from the cover as a public slight, then the best way to trump that was to say he asked for it to be done. That's needlessly convoluted? Not in my book.

    Official acknowledgement in a legal setting? No, a moral one. I believe I made that clear. While Jack certainly wouldn't have been in a rush to "endorse" Marvel, there's no way of knowing that's how he would have viewed it – he may well have been flattered by the public acknowledgement of his importance to the book's history. And I don't believe that Kirby would've thought a tiny figure of himself at the back of a crowd scene would "sell" one extra copy, never mind be seen as an "endorsement".

    I think if Kirby had objected to the use of his image, Jim would have known about it (and note that I'm not accusing Jim of having done it). One thing Jack wanted just as much as the return of his artwork was an acknowledgement by Marvel of his contribution to the Marvel Universe – Byrne's little homage would more than likely have tickled his fancy rather than upset him, in my humble opinion.

    As for the "protracted struggle" – that's exactly why I think it's more than likely to have been Marvel who nixed the pic, as originally reported. Sometimes the first explanation IS the true one – not the revisionist theories that come later. And often Jack was just as much as a revisionist as Stan was accused of being. No? Then why no mention of Joe Simon when Jack claimed creatorship of Captain America, The Sandman, Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos, Manhunter etc., in the text pages of his DC books?

  40. Actually I don't have to prove anything at all. I know what I read. If you want to think something less of that book than I do, that is your choice.

  41. Kid: You think Kirby wouldn't object to having his image on the cover? At that point he was in a protracted struggle with Marvel over getting his art back, and had a decidedly negative opinion of the company. If I was in that situation, I certainly wouldn't want my likeness being used to sell Marvel Comics, or the suggestion that I endorsed Marvel Comics. We know Kirby didn't want to contribute anything to the issue, and was angry his storyboards were cobbled together as a "new" story in that issue. If he felt that way then why would he be okay having his smiling face on the cover?

    The fact that the first explanation you heard about Kirby's removal was the "Marvel did it" doesn't somehow make it more valid. Often the real truth doesn't come out about something until later. Just because you heard it first doesn't mean it's correct.

    Kirby said he asked for the removal. Shooter says he would not have ordered the removal without being told by someone else. No one from Marvel is claiming they made the decision.

  42. Do you actually think that "having Kirby's image on the cover could have been construed as an official acknowledgement that Kirby was more than just a former artist on the book," in a legal setting? Or just that Marvel might have thought that? Because I wouldn't say that companies don't do stupid things all the time, so I don't think they couldn't have. But it would be stupid. Jack Kirby had been on the cover of Marvel books before, he'd been the subject of little vignettes about how Stan and Jack made the FF, published by Marvel, before. Marvel already acknowledged him and Stan Lee as co-creators of the FF and others, right? I'm not sure when the formal "created by" tags were added. Given that it seems from what's been said here that Kirby's the only one to have ever actually accepted responsibility for nixing it, and I'd be inclined to accept that rather than coming up with a needlessly convoluted theory.

  43. Kid

    As Jim says, it could have happened that way – but I remain unconvinced. Why? Simply because the first explanation I read as to why Jack was removed from the cover was that Marvel had done it – and also because it makes more sense to me.

    You see, having Kirby's image on the cover could have been construed as an official acknowledgement that Kirby was more than just a former artist on the book. Which makes it unlikely that, if he had known about it, he would have objected to it. Although, truth to tell, I don't think Jack would've cared either way.

    However (in my scenario), when he heard (after the event) that he had been removed from the cover, he would've recognized that it might be construed by his fans as a slight to himself by Marvel. By claiming he had requested the deletion himself, he took the sting (intended or otherwise) out of what could have been regarded as a very public putdown.

    That's what I suspect happened, but I'm not trying to convince others who hold a different view to see things my way, so no need for anyone to get uptight over things. I just think that, potentially, Marvel had more to gain than Jack by removing his image, and Jack had less to lose than Marvel by leaving it on. And, as I said, the first version of events was that Marvel were behind the deletion.

  44. That's hillarious that Mr.Byrne would draw that sketch that'so blantantly racist, but claim that everyone else around him was racist. It never fails to amaze me the depths of some people's hypocracy.
    So much for the idea that Canadians are't racist right?

    Even though historically they always welcomed runaway and emancipated slaves during that time period.

  45. Kid wrote:As for his later claim (if such is the case) that it was he who insisted on his image being deleted, it seems unlikely that he would even have known about the cover in the first place.
    Kirby says he was asked to contribute something to the issue, and declined. It seems likely that he was told about the cover at that point. Or it's also possible Marvel's legal department decided they needed to clear the use of his likeness in advance, just as DC cleared the use of likenesses on the cover of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. I see no reason to disbelieve the story that Kirby asked to be removed from the cover. Most likely John Byrne was simply unaware that Kirby asked to be removed, and he (Byrne) just assumed it was done at Shooter's behest.

  46. rustythepoet,

    You're basically asking me to ignore Chris Claremont's writing and I don't see the purpose in doing that. When was the last time your read these two X-Men and Alpha Flight issues?

    Nope. I happened to like the idea of a romance between Jean-Paul Beaubier and Rogue. Being forced to view the plot your way won't make it better. That's just as preposterous as a gay man trying to convince a straight guy that homosexuality is better than heterosexuality. Give me a break.

    As usual, you've chosen to ignore all my questions and started spouting random theories as facts. These are fictional characters being discussed here.

    If John Byrne viewed Northstar one way and Chris Claremont saw him another, he was not portrayed consistently. In other words, he was not unequivocally gay from the start. You can't demand that I turn a blind eye to your contradiction.

    I don't see how the Shatterstar scenario is any different at all. You're going to have to put in some effort if you want to debunk a comparison.

  47. Dear usagigaijin,

    "…every time I talked to that tall fellow at Marvel, he also say it was impossible." If Sergio is referring to conversations we had when I was associate editor, he may be correct, because at that time it WAS impossible. And I had no power to change that or any other policy.

    The meeting we had after I became Editor in Chief happened, however, exactly as described. It was possible for Marvel to publish creator-owned material then, because I had gotten approval to do so from President Jim Galton. Maybe that accounts for Sergio's statement, "They later changed their mind…."

    The words, "…but at that time there was no way." are troubling. There certainly was a way. He heard it from me, he heard it from Publisher Mike Hobson. We were rarin' to go.

    Sergio didn't mention Groo by name, and he probably didn't mention cheese dip. But it became apparent later that the property he'd been obliquely referring to in our conversation was Groo.

    "…they weren't able to even talk on a theoretical basis – nothing! They wanted nothing to do with it."

    True, before I became EIC and Galton became President. Afterwards, not true. Mike Hobson and I talked to Sergio on a practical, let's-make-a-deal right now basis. We wanted everything to do with it.

  48. We obviously aren't going to convince each other… because as far as I am concerned you ar being intentionally oblivious to what is goign on in that book, while it sounds like you think the same thing of me.

    My last thing is… try reading it keeping the point of view that Rogue is someone who is NOT trying to put the moves on Northstar. Rather she is someone who was moved by what she learned.

    In other words, try to not just read on the surface. The book is a lot better than you realize.

    And no, I never implied Northstar wasn't gay from the start… because he was. (Even the writer admits this. And don't claim that AF#1 wasn't 'the start'. The had very little personality before that. They were not fully formed characters yet.)

    As for Shatterstar, I can find zero evidence that he was bi before Peter David decided he was. That is a very different scenerio.

  49. rustythepoet,

    I believe I'm entitled to disagree. Chris Claremont's dialogue does't refer to any hardships or fronts. You can't act as if the limited series supports your point of view by pretending it mentions details which are nowhere to be found.

    Besides, you completely dodged my question. If Northstar was intended to be gay at that point, why does Rogue chose to have her first waltz with him? Why does she make such a big deal out of it? If she knew he was gay, why did she mention marriage as a possibility?

    If you seriously believe Chris Claremont wanted to give the impression that Jean-Paul was gay, issue 2 only makes sense by suggesting Rogue intended to turn him straight. You can't focus on Northstar's dialogue and ignore the way Rogue behaves. Likewise, I'm talking about the complete limited series not a particular scene from issue 1.

    Emphasizing words doesn't give credence to your arguement. Your post even contradicts itself. You say Northstar was always gay and immediately backpedal by specifying he was gay later on at least. Which is it?

    Whether Northstar was gay from 1979-1992 is highly debatable. Are you next going to imply Shatterstar was homosexual from his first appearance too even though Rob Liefeld denies that?

  50. Strangely, John Byrne seems to have let this particular instance of casual racism at Marvel during the Shooter years escape his memory. http://kangaratmurdersoc.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/116-pickaninny-caricature-crop.jpg (He's claimed that he can't remember who drew this, but never said that it couldn't have been him)

  51. Dear Kid,

    A number of people routinely saw covers at various stages of creation. We had a sign-off procedure, and I circulated copies to a few upstairs execs. It is not unlikely that it was seen by, or came to the attention of someone who might have questioned whether Kirby's image on the cover was going to be a problem and had a request for permission relayed (through K&K) to Kirby. Hobson might have done so. David Fox, our in-house counsel might have done so. I don't know if it happened that way but it could have.

  52. The scene was about her being touched by the hardships he has had and the way he puts on a front to protect himself from being hurt.

    In fact, the scene only makes sense because we knew he was gay. (And he was ALWASY gay. He had been from at least AF #1.)

  53. Kid

    Regarding Jack being removed from that particular FF cover, I seem to remember at the time that John Byrne claimed it was Marvel who removed Jack's image. Perhaps they thought it would give moral credence to any copyright claim he might make on the characters. After all, why else would he be on the cover of a comic he hadn't been creatively involved with in years?

    As for his later claim (if such is the case) that it was he who insisted on his image being deleted, it seems unlikely that he would even have known about the cover in the first place. Marvel would hardly have run it by him for approval – and his claim that he had no idea his inked storyboards for the FF cartoon were included until after the issue went on sale makes it unlikely he would've known about the cover in advance.

    (Sorry about the above deleted posts – a few typos crept in.)

  54. The Comics Journal #128 (April 1989)
    Sergio Aragones Interview by Kim Thompson (page 78)

    ARAGONES: And every time I talked to that tall fellow at Marvel, he also say it was impossible. And I didn't have any contacts at Marvel, so there was no way they were going to do it. They later changed their mind, but at that time, there was no way. I never talked to anybody about Groo, because I didn't want anyone stealing the idea; so I was selling "a comic book" which I had in mind. And they were't able to even talk on a theroretical basis – nothing! They wanted nothing to do wih it.

  55. Dear Jim,

    Please forgive me if I am posting this message as a comment to an article which does not relate to the message itself, but there is no other way to get in touch with you.

    I would love you to dedicate one of your next posts to some info about how much popular artists can make. I am super curious about this aspect of comic books. I always wondered if Chris Claremont and other top creators from the '80s are super rich, if Todd McFarnale is incredibly rich, etc. It would be very interesting to know these details.


  56. Jim Shooter wrote: There was one staffer who didn't last long who, I was told later, was quietly anti-semitic and racist.
    In an interview here: http://tinyurl.com/5tftad4 Don McGregor discusses submitting a story that featured a white man married to a black woman, and being told by an editor that this was not acceptable. This was circa 1978. McGregor does not name names, but perhaps this was the same person Jim refers to above.

  57. Aha. Turns out it was Ronin Ro's book about Kirby where I read the story of FF #236. Kirby did indeed ask that his likeness not be used on the cover. So again, Kirby was not removed as a slight against him, but because he specifically asked not to be on the cover. The Comic Book Urban Legends site did an update/correction where they discuss this here:

  58. Dear Brunomac,

    No one in my presence ever seemed to expect more than a good meal and a nice view.

  59. Dear Tue,

    The New York Metro area.

  60. Dear Slentz,

    I don't remember asking for Jack to be removed from the cover. If I did, it was because I was told to do so. It's not something I would have done willingly.

  61. Dear Dale,

    I think posting my response on John's message board serves no good purpose, but that's up to you. He and his readers will surely catch wind of it anyway. But I stand by what I said and I don't care who reads it.

  62. I told my story. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I wish I had it back to do over again and make it better. For that matter, I wish I had every story I've ever written back to do over and do better.

    Nontheless, as I said, I stand by that story. I think it's a good story.

    Remember, the attack at the "Y" was a bit. The story was not about that bit.

    I didn't know your letter was truncated. Sorry.

    Here's a question: would you feel differently about the story if it came out now, at a time when gay relationships spanning the spectrum of the human condition from wonderful to otherwise, are frequently portrayed on mainstream media?

    Just one more thing: Never, when this subject has been raised has anyone expressed any concern for or interest in the real-life victim. Never a "was he hurt?" or a "that must have been terrifying," or a "was he traumatized?" Does no one care?

    I have made plenty of faulty judgments in my life, some of them in the Hulk story in question. I bet you've made a few, too.

    I can assure you of this: There was no malice, no prejudice and no ill-intent.

  63. Dear Roger/qnetter,

    When I wrote that scene, I wasn't thinking about "its effect" beyond the way it served the story and established critical things about Banner/Hulk that were germane. As I said, it never occurred to me that there was any "effect" to worry about. Clearly there was, and maybe I should have been more aware. Sorry.

    I portrayed the bad guys in that scene as they were described to me by my friend, call him MJ, with whom I was staying at the McBurney Y. He obviously didn't hear anyone say pith after he escaped. I originally wrote "piss." Worried about using that, I made it "pith." Lynn Graeme, the editor — I always had an editor — specifically mentioned that as being sardonically sinister, in character for that bad guy. So I left it. I'll concede now, in retrospect, that it was a bad idea. Sorry.

    When I wrote the story, I wasn't thinking about what was or wasn't going on in mainstream comics. I was thinking about that story. It didn't appear in "mainstream comics" anyway. It appeared in a Code-free magazine. I didn't ponder what was going on in mainstream magazines, either. I was just trying to write a good story based on experiences I was close to. I wish I had been smarter, wiser, more conscious of what that little bit might mean in the great context of comics publishing, but I wasn't. The preceeding sentence was not written in a snarky way. I mean it. I wasn't as aware as I should have been, or someone better prepared than me might have been. But I was younger then, and so was the world. That's the only excuse I can offer. Sorry.

    As for my "You can't tell…" witicism, as you call it, the point is that I knew the guy was going to write his article as he did. It wasn't an interview. It was a fishing expedition to see if he could get me to say something damning he could use. My "witicism" made it clear I wasn't going to, so he left. You missed the point.

    I think it's quite a leap to say that I was sending a "hide who you are message" in a statement that wasn't made publicly. "If, of course, they even heard your hushed-up message." Well, it wasn't a message. There was no message I was sending, except, I suppose, to the Advocate reporter that he wasn't going to get what he wanted out of me. I'm guessing he wanted an Al Campanis style meltdown.

    And if you're talking about a message that you think I'm trying to send now by quoting that "witicism…." Come on. Here in the 21st Century? Really?

    You are correct that most mainstream American comics were still just beginning to deal with sex at all in any way more deeply than seen on I Love Lucy. At first, we mostly weren't very good at dealing with sex of any kind in a more sophisticated, mature, wiser way. I thought the first few attempts at gay relationships done in comics were clumsy and heavy-handed. Slowly, I think, we have improved.

  64. rustythepoet,

    Why would dancing with a gay man mean so much to Rogue?

  65. That REALLY misreads that whole scene, imo. I read it as a CONFIRMATION that he was gay.

    She was referring to the hardships he went through, growing up gay.

  66. On the subject of gay Marvel characters, it's rather weird that Scott Lobdell established Northstar to be homosexual in 1992 when Alpha Flight #106 ("The Walking Wounded") hit the stands. After all, Chris Claremont's 1985 X-Men and Alpha Flight limited series (with credits mentioning it's based on a premise by Jim Shooter, Ann Nocenti & Denny O’Neil) really clashes with that revalation.

    In "The Gift Part 1", Rogue kisses Jean-Paul Beaubier at the medical center of the Sarcee Reservation and absorbs his memories so that she now knows his joys, pains, dreams, terrors, and all his secrets. As Rogue put it, she was him with access to every thought, every experience, every emotion, and every memory.

    Later on in the next issue, Rogue announces she is looking for her first dance, turns to Jean-Paul and asks him. Not wishing to make eye contact, Jean-Paul announces that he would rather not. Cocking her head to one side, Rogue tells Jean-Paul that it is only a waltz and its not like she is asking for marriage or anything. Dr. Walter Langkowski shouts that it is a good thing she isn’t asking for marriage because even simple friendship is more than Northstar is prepared to give. She thinks to herself how unfair Sasquatch’s comment is since none of them understand Jean-Paul's psyche the way she does.

    Rogue tells Jean-Paul that he doesn’t have to dance with her but he says that he does. At this moment, Rogue tells him how much it means to her given that she never went to high school or had a prom. The only real way to reconcile this dialogue with Northstar's current status quo is that Jean-Paul couldn't have been gay when he visited Ungava Bay.

  67. Slentz: I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere (perhaps Evanier's book?) that Kirby was removed from the cover of FF #236 because he did not want to be on it. Given the issues he was having with Marvel at the time, it is understandable he would not want his likeness on the cover of a Marvel magazine. So it was not a slight of Kirby, but something done at his request.

  68. Marc,

    That's correct. In fact, I'm almost positive Jim's appearance lasted way longer than 2 hours. It's possible he remained on the air for 4 hours or more. I remember the Canadian Home Shopping Network hyped his arrival several days in advance so I was able to catch the whole segment from start to finish.

    Back in those days, this channel often sold signed and numbered versions of pivotal comics. They were usually pretty new and easy to obtain without autographs. I definitely remember Action Comics #662 ("Secrets in the Night") being advertised on TV a lot. That's the issue written by Roger Stern where Clark Kent reveals his identity to Lois Lane. The deluxe black polybagged version of Superman #75 ("Doomsday") had to be another of their most poppular sellers.

    As I recall, the item Jim was most enthusiastic to talk about that day was the Magnus, Robot Fighter uncut card sheet seen at

    I don't think any other VALIANT merchandise was available via the Canadian Home Shopping Club.

  69. Hi Jim,

    Here's another question that involves Byrne. I recently picked up Fantastic Four #236, the 20th anniversary story. The cover has a wide range of Marvel characters as well as Stan Lee on upper right corner. "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" states that it was your decision to remove Kirby from Byrne's finished cover (see link below). There seems like there might be more to this story then what meets the eye.

    Reading your blog has sent me searching for Marvel eighties goodness I missed out on. You are filling my back issue boxes 🙂

    Keep up the insightful posts.



  70. Those are some funny and interesting memories ncaligon. I believe you though, and can't believe(well actually I can) the ego on the guy. Like I said, he's really talented when it comes to drawing(although there's been somewhat of a decline in skill over the years)and is a pretty damn good writer when he wants to be; like FF/AWC/Next Men/X-Men/Superman…I just don't know why he's got to be like that though.
    Life's too short to act like that.

  71. Byrne is a very curious fellow. I've seen him deny, in print, that an incident or two that I witnessed myself had actually occurred (although, to be blunt, he may actually believe they didn't happen because he was oblivious to people's reactions to what he did). I remember a genre fiction (not comics) convention where he low-level disrupted from the audience a panel he thought he should have been on until his book editor (moderating the panel) introduced him to the audience as "a fine writer whose next book is now x months overdue," which quieted him. (That was 20 years ago, the quote is roughly remembered.) At the same event, he made a scene in the membership line when he wasn't waved to the front and insisted that his membership be comped (though much, much bigger names paid for theirs); the guy who ran the membership desk vented in the hotel bar that night, at length, concluding by almost shouting "Julius effing Schwartz paid, and he stood in line, too!"
    Byrne never treated me badly, I should say, though I doubt he ever recognized me from one event to the next. Our encounters weren't too frequent. Those comments he cites as racist are exactly they sorts of comments that white kids who thought themselves hipper-than-thou (and better than everyone) would make in the mid-70s, especially about characters they considered bad stereotypes. These guys undoubtedly found R. Crumb's "Angelfood McSpade" to be an example of superlative humor. They weren't so much racist as arrogant and insulated, and wouldn't have dared to speak those lines if they knew anyone outside their clique were in earshot.

  72. -Mr.Shooter, thank you for commenting back and setting the record straight, yet again, concerning the outspoken and out-right wrong John Byrne. Again, like before, I didn't post his comments in order to stir things up. I just figured if he what he said was true, I'd run it by you since you were the former EIC and ass.editor, and you could either agree or disagree w/his comments.

    Again, thank you for setting the record straight. May I post your response to his allegations on his message board? I know it's ultimately futile to try and correct him, especially when he's surrounded by his like-minded yes-men. But at least it's out there for anyone brave enough to "think for themselves" as John Byrne is often fond o saying.

    I think it's a shame that a guy that is so artistically talented can also be so pig-headed and out and out wrong when it comes to things like this. I don't know how Chris Claremont or anyone else he worked with dealt with him.

  73. Marc,

    Depending on how you would qualify the oldest comic book writer in activity, Stan Lee has been on the business since 1941 and he still scripts the Spider-Man newspaper strip.

    Belgian André-Paul Duchâteau has also had a fairly long career, he has been active since 1948:

    Haven't seen anything by him since his longtime artist partner Tibet (Gilbert Gascard) died last year, so he may have retired. He is 86, after all.

    Oh, and interestingly enough I have translated Jean Giraud's Blueberry myself, for the latest brazilian edition. I must say that having a good editor (like Archie was and I daresay my own editor is) helps immensely the final result.

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  74. Dear Dale,

    I worked at the Marvel office every working day (and some that were supposed to be non-working days) from the beginning of 1976 through the end of the seventies, and on after that until mid-April 1987. John Byrne was a freelancer living in Calgary, Alberta when I started at Marvel. The time he spent in the office while living in Canada is best counted in hours. At some point, he moved to the New York Metro area, but nonetheless, was still working at home, not in the office. He wasn't there every day.

    To my knowledge, none of the examples John sets forth above reflect reality. To my knowledge, no such things ever happened, with the sole exception of an incident I mentioned in a post recently, that is, Starlin cleverly hiding the word "fuck" in the design of an ornate door frame. It was caught and removed.

    During my entire time at Marvel, as far as I know — and I was in a position to know — there were no overt, significant expressions of racism, sexism, anti-LGBT bias, anti-ethnic bias against any ethnicity or any other such prejudice and hate at Marvel by any staffer. Marvel may have been a snakepit at some points, rife with backbiting, petty politics and childish squabbling, but with all that, it was remarkably enlightened in terms of equality and respect issues. The people who worked at Marvel then were very smart people, whatever else they might have been. They were aware and enlightened, as a whole, regarding those matters. If there ever were any expressions of bias, I guarantee you that people around the offender, their peers and coworkers, would not have stood for it for an instant.

    Exception: Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest, who is African-American, was fond of making jokes with racial overtones. Nothing hateful. More the Saturday Night Live irreverent humor style than the edgy-to-nasty National Lampoon style. People laughed. He was funny. There was no malice. Did anyone else ever make a non-PC joke? I'm sure. I'm also sure that if they were "utterly and deliberately extreme," I would have heard about it and taken appropriate action.

    Other possible exceptions: There were a few freelancers, including a couple of notables, who from time to time expressed prejudice and hate. They either learned to keep their venom to themselves or quickly wore out their welcome. Spouting prejudice in the office wasn't tolerated by anyone who worked there every day. There was one staffer who didn't last long who, I was told later, was quietly anti-semitic and racist. If he had been more open about it, he wouldn't have lasted a day.

  75. Just wanted to say I've been reading Marc's blog for years, have his Kirby book, and have even read his deposition that Bleeding Cool put up a few months back. (Yes, I am really that sad.) I also read Alter Ego, Back Issue, Roy's deposition, etc. I have come across some insinuations therein, over the years (nothing specific) that led me to think Marc and Roy would have no problem going along with the false impression that so many people have of the Shooter years/ creator-owned rights, etc. That's all. I'm happy to be wrong, I hasten to add; I hope Roy, Marc, and Jim all hang out and play pinochle and watch Star Trek marathons while singing friendship songs. It is my general impression that Roy was unhappy with the situation, (as recounted in the comments, above) but I do not mean to imply he or Marc are actively spreading lies, burning grudges, etc. I like reading everyone's point of view.

    I'd love to see a Ken Burns style documentary on 70s and 80s Marvel, with everyone giving their impressions. Not because I believe anyone is lying/ misremembering, etc. Just something I'd love to see!

    I don't even really care, anyway, I have to say – I much prefer Jim's blog to all the others because it stays on-task and doesn't veer into "Hey, here's what I think of politics" or trash other creators/ writers. All too common out there on the inter-webs. I just love the behind-the-scenes stuff and to read Jim sketch out his storytelling philosophy, etc.

    As for mythology vs. legend, I defer to the experts/ general opinion, but for what it's worth, my Chaucer professor back in college launched into a tirade one day on the degradation of the English language. She cited the words "myth" and "gentleman" as egregious offenders. Whereas myth once meant "sacred story," it has come to be interchangeable with "story popularly believed to be true but is actually false or exaggerated;" similarly, gentleman has come to refer to a person who is civil and polite, etc., rather than identifying a member of the aristocracy.

    As Chaucer himself would be the first to point out, language changes over time – I don't fight it. But as a result of that class, I've always taken pain to use "legend" when I want to refer to a popular perception that isn't true. (i.e. the "Shooter screwed me/ comics/ creators" is a LEGEND that has lingered too long. Let's help dispel it once and for all!)

    Apologies for the lengthy post – thanks, folks.

  76. Dear blacjack,

    I was given to understand that part of the problem with the GK line was the cost of licensing the GK characters. I don't really know, I wasn't involved in the business end of the publishing program and I haven't spoken to Mike Richardson in depth about it. The same people who own the GK characters, Classic Media, control the DEFIANT characters, so I assume that, whatever they were, the same or similar problems would arise.

    I also found Classic Media's editorial requirements puzzling sometimes. The cute little bike-shorts romper they insisted that Magnus wear comes to mind. But, that's just me. Their characters, their right to say.

    Given the incredibly depressed state of the market, it's not an auspicious time to launch anything. Maybe if you're Warner/DC and you have very deep pockets and mighty resources at your command….

    Dark Horse is no sickly colt, mind you, but no matter how deep their pockets or strong their resources, they are orders of magnitude below Warner. At this point, in this market, companies smaller than Warner or Disney live by their wits. Or die.

  77. And, btw, that was Roger Klorese.

  78. Jim —

    In your recollections of the HULK story, you talk about your handling of the rape as based on a true incident, as if that somehow absolves you for responsibility for its effect. And you talk about the letters received as "two positive, two neutral, and two negative" — probably accurate, but oversimplified — and say "I believe we printed all of them. I wrote personal replies to the negative ones." There's the oversimplification.

    First, even accepting the rape as a value-neutral story point — which is not easy — you omit the fact that you portray the rapists as fag stereotypes, right down to the lisping "oh, pith." Second, at a time when there were few if any VISIBLE gay characters in mainstream comics, presenting rape as the ONLY same-sex sexual interaction is thoughtless at best.

    And as for your "you can't tell" witticism, that's the point. Saying that the "good" gay characters are the invisible ones, the ones who can't be seen with a same-sex partner behaving in as PG a manner as their opposite-sex-pairing peers, sends gay and questioning readers a hell of a message: hide who you are, that's how to be "good." If, of course, they even heard your hushed-up message. (Remember, this is the era in which we first saw Nightwing and Starfire in the sack — nobody was even asking for that, just a little discreet interaction on the order of the kids in the first few issues of YOUNG AVENGERS.)

    As for the letters: I wrote one of those, and I suppose you're counting it as negative, since you did reply — with basically a "my toys, my rules" response, to the effect of "I told my story — sorry you didn't like it." But as for the actual printed letter: I wrote a letter praising you for trying to write about more adult topics, but taking you to task for the specifics.

    Once Ralph Macchio got done with it — ironic that it should be Ralph, since Marv Wolfman called me just after Ralph was hired and told me he would have hired me for the gig had I not just gone back to college, but, hell, no complaints now! — what appeared was… the part of the letter praising your efforts. No criticism.

  79. Hey Mr.Shooter, recently I came upon this article on the Bleedingcool.com website, and it was about John Byrne's recolection of rampant racism at Marvel in the seventies.

    Here's what he had to say:
    "I have commented before, on more than one occasion, that some of the current “generation”, so eager to take offense at everything and anything, would suffer a severe case of exploding headitis, if they could time travel back to Marvel in the Seventies. Then the thinking was informed almost entirely by the eternally non-PC NATIONAL LAMPOON, and it seemed that no one could ever really be offended by things that were so totally off the wall — so utterly and deliberately extreme. Some example (and watch these get ME in trouble now!):

    � It was the habit in the Office to refer to CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON as “Captain America and the Fowl Coon”.

    � Black Goliath was frequently referred to as “The Big Nig”.

    � One writer expressed his desire to do a Black Goliath story titled “The Jig is Up”.

    � Another wanted to put the credit names on furniture on the opening splash of an issue he scripted, so the name of a Jewish member of the team could be lettered on a lampshade.

    � And, of course, the various examples of “fuck”, “shit”, and other such words worked into backgrounds are infamous.

    And if there was anyone who didn’t think these were “funny”, they sure didn’t say anything about it at the time!*


    * Altho in the PC world in which we live today, there are plenty of people now all to eager to talk about how “difficult” it was to work at Marvel in those days. Retroactive offense?"

    Can you at all, in your own personal recollection, comment on this? Have you yourself ever dealt or heard such things during your tenure @ Marvel?

    Thank you for your time.

  80. Dear Jim,

    Thank you for setting the record straight (pun unintended — really!) about that Hulk magazine story. I had heard about it nth hand, and when I finally read it recently, I was shocked to discover how minor the YMCA scene was. People talk as if that one scene were the whole story and make assumptions about your views on gays based on just two incidental characters — generalizations from a limited sample. Aren't such people … stereotyping? How ironic.

    As a Japanese-English translator for Dark Horse, I know what you mean when you wrote about not settling "for a bald translation." I grew up reading the work of Kazuo Koike, who was my favorite manga writer in Japanese, and as an adult, I struggled to capture his intent in English. I was told to make my translations sound as if they were originally written in English. A translator has to be a writer in his or her own right, not just someone who knows two languages.

    Dear kintounkal,

    Jim was on Canadian TV for two hours? I wish I could have seen that! Was the Canadian Home Shopping Club trying to sell comics and/or comics-related collectibles at the time?

    Dear Daniel,

    I love Marshal Law and have tried to keep up with the series after the initial EPIC miniseries (which remains my favorite). It was my introduction to the work of Pat Mills. But I fear we might be going off-topic here since I think Marshal Law may slightly postdate Jim's Marvel years. As you may know, the first issue is cover-dated October 1987. dcindexes.com lists its release date as September 8, 1987. Jim has said that he "wasn't at Marvel or privy to what went on after April 1987."

    Dear everyone,

    Although I wrote, "So I don't think an erratum (or should I say corrigendum?) is necessary," such a correction is necessary on my part. I apologize to Mark Evanier for what I wrote about him. I checked his website and his Kirby bio. No mention of Jim at all. I don't know what to make of that. In any case, I was wrong to imply that Evanier was spreading anti-Jim "mythology." Apparently I had a false memory of what Evanier has said. That is no excuse. I should not have written what I did without checking first.

    Like Brunomac, I once "knew I didn't like Jim Shooter." I never stopped liking his Legion comics, yet I foolishly bought into the anti-Jim "mythology" years ago. I know better now, so I should know better than to be unnecesarily negative toward Evanier.

    I am embarrassed and will be much more careful about what I write in the future. I would not like to be misrepresented based on erroneous recollections. Who does?

    When I write and speak, I keep asking myself, "Would I say this in court?" I did not ask myself that yesterday and I regret it. I sign my real name here to force myself to be on my best behavior. I failed. I'm sorry.

  81. Now that Dark Horse is no longer going to license the Gold Key/Valiant Characters. Is it possible to relaunch some of the Defiant Universe characters through Dark Horse? I miss Dark Dominion the most from that universe. But any would be incredible to see/read again.

  82. Dear Dimitris,

    I don't know what Frank had in mind for his proposed creator-owned series. At that time, DC was courting Frank constantly, trying to lure him away. Jeanette Kahn personally took a hand in the effort. Frank did go to DC and do Ronin. Maybe that's what he had in mind for us. Later he told me their deal, as things turned out, wasn't as good as ours.

    Walt opted to do Starslammers as a graphic novel instead of a series.

    Jim Starlin followed through and Dreadstar became the first EPIC Comic.

  83. Dear Daniel,

    The reason the EPIC Moebius books are so good is that Archie didn't settle for a bald translation. He captured the author's intent. He made them read as well in English as they did in French. Only a writer as good as Archie, which is to say few on this planet, could have done it.

    I ran into Jean Giraud at a convention in 1987, after I left Marvel. He thanked me for the EPIC books in a sincere, heartfelt way. He gave me an autographed book, inscribed to me. It is one of my most prized possessions.

  84. Dear Larry,

    My inspiration to write the story was a real life situation I had knowledge of — a self-righteous, manipulative, control freak woman who had tried to wrest her daughter's child away from her. Anger brings out the mighty, raging fury in Banner, and to me, it seemed that situation would inspire his anger bigtime.

    There is a theme of drug abuse, prescription and otherwise, woven throughout the story, also based on real life situations I was aware of.

    The attack at the "Y" was likewise based on an actual incident. A friend of mine at the age of 15 — maybe 16, not sure — had been attacked in exactly the same way at the McBurney "Y," and escaped, as Banner did. That scene was a small bit, not by a longshot the focus of the story.

    I was a charter subscriber to New Woman Magazine, which had run a series of articles about rape, and in particular one about "Post Rape Syndrome." Many rape victims are in shock during the actual attack, almost numb and disbelieving. Their reactions — anger, horror, humiliation, the whole emotional gamut, often do not set in until afterward. I thought, what if, for once, Banner did not turn into the Hulk when it was convenient, but only afterwards, when the reactions set in, when it wasn't convenient.

    The bad guys, to me, were just that — bad guys. Marvel was an equal opportunity employer. Anyone could be a bad guy. It never occurred to me that a couple of bad guys could be interpreted as a sweeping indictment of gay people.

    As far as I know, we received a total of six letters regarding that issue, two positive, two neutral and two negative. I believe we printed all of them. I wrote personal replies to the negative ones.

    The comment I received that meant the most to me was Stan's. He was worried when he heard about the story. In particular, he was worried that it might offend the producers of the Hulk TV show. Then he read it. He called me (he was in LA) and said it was the best comics story he ever read. Stan, as you know, is prone to hyperbole, but clearly, he liked it. He also told me not to worry about the reactions, if any. He said he would stand by the story. So do I.

    There was spillover into a second issue's lettercol, comments on the comments.

    A reporter from the Advocate came to interview me. The first thing he asked was why Marvel was anti-gay. I said we weren't. Why then, he asked, didn't we have any gay characters? I said we had lots of them. He asked which ones. I said, "You can't tell, can you?" He folded up his notebook and left. And wrote the story he always intended to write anyway.

  85. Jim has more on the subject in the works, but he did mention his inspiration here.

  86. Is there an interesting story behind the creation of the Marvel Graphic Novel? If so, can't wait to read it!

  87. Mister Shooter, were the creator owned books books that Frank Miller and Walt Simonson wanted to do, "Ronin" and "Star Slammers" respectively? And what happened after that initial proposal (or do you hold that for another post)?

  88. Dear Mr. Shooter

    Like everyone else, I'd like to say thanks for writing this blog. It's fascinating stuff.

    Epic comics was a great line until Carl Potts took over from Archie Goodwin, although I mean no disrespect to Mr. Potts whose Alien Legion I quite enjoyed at the time. But it moved away from the more esoteric, openly experimental- and adult- stuff Archie had commissioned to more of the same shoot 'em up crap.

    Moebius' work has never looked better in English than when it appeared in those Epic graphic novels, all of which I still own. The Dark Horse digest reprints were bizarre. Also, Epic published one of the most under rated comics of the 80s which covered a lot of the same ground as Watchmen, and at the same time, but which due to its gratuitously provocative nature was never taken as seriously- I'm talking about Marshal Law, of course. I was, and still am amazed that Marvel ever published that. Pat Mills of course has had a storied career in British comics but in the US his work has never really taken off.



  89. Jim:
    Apologies if I came across as pronouncing you a liar. My intention was to summarize *Roy's* viewpoint as I understood it, but not necessarily to endorse it as accurate. I am interested in hearing your side of the story, which is why I posted Roy's.

    A fairly recent (about 10 years ago) interview with Roy where he tells his version of the story appears in Comic Book Artist Collection #3, and it is viewable on google books here:
    He does appear to believe things were reneged upon, unless I'm misunderstanding him. I suppose it's best for people to just read what he says and judge for themselves. He does end his comments by saying that he harbors no ill will anymore.

  90. Dear czeskleba,

    RE: Roy: "…being told one thing and having it reneged upon." That is untrue. I reneged on nothing. How about waiting till you hear my side before pronouncing me a liar?

    I would bet anything that Roy and I agree on every factual point. He wouldn't lie. But his assessment of the events and his interpretation of the outcome might be different, and honestly so.

  91. Dear Mitch,

    Rising costs, falling sales.

  92. Dear Benoît,

    I'll give my full account of the Roy Thomas negotiations later. I offered Roy the best deal ever offered a comics creator, including every meaningful part of being a writer/editor. At the end, Roy accepted my offer, details to follow, but set one condition unacceptable to the President of the company, Jim Galton. I, too, hated to see Roy leave Conan.

    Roy has been friendly, or at least civil, for many years now. He even put me on the comp list for his magazine. Is he upset again? Or still? News to me.

    Stay tuned.

  93. Hey Jim,
    Love reading your blog, it's a really fascinating read.
    One behind the scenes story I would love to know more about was your involvement in The Hulk magazine #23, the story where Bruce Banner is nearly raped in a YMCA shower. From memory, the story was quite controversial and resulted in an outpouring of mostly negative letters that were published in the letters column for two issues. I would love to know what your inspiration to write the story was and the fallout that occurred afterwards.

  94. Mister Shooter, I just want to say how glad I am to have found this blog that is so chock full of amazing backstory of the comics I read in the 70's and 80's that were so important to me then. It really is taking me back to a much simpler time of my life (that seemed so complicated then). The name "Jim Shooter" back then had a negative tint as I recall, so I guess I must have read the comments of various detractors in trades of the time and other places. It's amazing; I was just a kid/young man reading comics, with no stake in them or personal beef, but I just knew I didn't like Jim Shooter. I'm so glad to not only get your side of things that were happening on the creative side back then, but all these golden tidbits from behind the scenes. I only discovered your great blog just last weekend, so I'm anxiously catching up. It's hard, because a lot of the posts are so good I'm having to read them multiple times. Please keep them coming!

  95. Roy Thomas says that when his contract came up for renewal, he made it absolutely clear in no uncertain terms that he did not want to continue at Marvel if he could not be a writer/editor. He says he was told this was indeed possible, and that he should submit a prospective contract for approval. So he had a contract prepared by his attorney at his own expense, and submitted it to Marvel. After doing so he was told by Jim Shooter that in fact he could not in fact be a writer/editor anymore. Roy is clear that this was not a misunderstanding, but a case of being told one thing and then having it reneged upon. He felt his time and money were wasted (perhaps deliberately) and that he was dealt with dishonestly, and that is the source of his anger. I imagine Jim recalls events differently, but that is the way Roy remembers it.

    As to Evanier, I don't recall him saying anything that could be classified as perpetuating a "'Shooter made sure Kirby stayed screwed' mythology" as bmcmolo put it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall him saying anything in particular about Jim Shooter, or ever laying blame on Shooter for Kirby's problems with Marvel in the 80's.

  96. Marc,

    I was amused by those height comparisons too. It's interesting to note Archie was the exact same height as Wolverine and Jim is just one inch taller than Colossus in his non-armored state. So I was half expecting a dispute between the two to end in a Fastball Special. 😉


    When was that convention held? I live in Victoria, B.C. as well so that part caught my attention. I never knew Jim once visited here.

    Speaking of Jim's appearances within Canada, I remember there was a time when he was invited on the Canadian Home Shopping Club to talk about his career for a couple hours. Does anyone own a recording of that program? It was really fascinating and I wish I could see it again. Unfortunately, I can't find any information whatsoever about this online. I think it aired in early 1993 in between "The Death of Superman" and "Reign of the Supermen" story arcs.

  97. Jim – if memory serves, EPIC Illustrated didn't last nearly as long as the EPIC Comics line. Would be greatly interested in hearing what led to E.I's downfall..

  98. Dear bmcmolo,

    Jim's and Roy's description of events are pretty similar, factually speaking, if I can judge from this blog and from articles in Alter Ego. But misunderstandings occur every day, even with the best intentions, and I think that's what happened back then.

    From what he wrote, Roy was adamant to preserve his status as writer/editor. Since he knew that the writer/editor status had just been refused to Marv Wolfman (who then left Marvel), he expressed his opinion that negotiating his own contract renewal may be a waste of time and money. He was told that he'd not necessarily be treated the same way Wolfman was (a general statement, methinks), which he took as meaning the writer/editor status was negotiable. When he found out it wasn't, he felt he had been lied to. I don't think that was the case, but I see how the misunderstanding could have occurred. I certainly see no villain in the story.

    I was heartbroken at the time to see Roy give up the Conan character, which entered a long and painfully bad period. The silver lining to that dark cloud is that we got things like All-star squadron and Arak in exchange. It's too bad that Roy still seems upset at Jim, though.

  99. Loving the inside EPIC posts! I had the pleasure of working with Archie for a short time at DC – the man was always gracious, always humble, and always willing to give creative advice. Never got to see the "razor-edged twisted steel" side of him and I'm suddenly counting myself very fortunate.

    EPIC was also one of my first entries into professional comic book work – so it really holds a place in my heart (well that, and some really excellent books!). Dan Chichester had taken over the editor role there by then. I was in the audience at a convention panel that was discussing whether there was a need for "the independent wave of publishers." I stood up and said yes "because I wasn't related to, sleeping with or friends with anyone at Marvel or DC, and independents seemed like a great place to get a start." Dan approached me in the hall afterwards and said "I am now you brother." He bought a Clive Barker's Hellraiser story from me. Alas, it never saw print because the book went away before the art was finished.

    But such is life in the publishing world.

    So "Thank you for many reasons – Jim, Archie, Dan, and others" for giving us an EPIC spin on comic book creativity.

  100. I just dug out my copy of Groo no. 1 (cover dated March 1985) and this is what Sergio said on page one….


    To me, back then, it implied that Sergio had created Groo in the late 70s/early 80s; but no existing comics company would offer full ownership as work for hire was the main way of doing business. That by the mid-80s, the independent comic companies (Eclipse, First, Pacific) and Marvel's Epic imprint had a new business model allowing a creator to own their idea and move it from company to company taking advantage of whatever that company had to offer. That Marvel was the next company in line offering monthly publication and wider distribution.

    Jim, I can understand why you would've seen it differently given your initial meeting with Sergio.

  101. Dear Jim,

    I've read all these stories before (except for the parts set in Victoria and Baltimore), but I don't mind because of the new details that emerged in this retelling: e.g., a word I'll have to add to my vocabulary: "rzzlefrzzlegrrr." Alas, I'll never pronounce it the way Archie did.

    I love the parallelism in your descriptions of Archie and yourself:

    "five-foot-three, one hundred and forty pounds of razor-edged twisted steel"

    "six-foot seven, two hundred and thirty-five pounds of rusty pencil sharpener blades"

    I guess I'm five-foot five, one hundred and forty pounds of … Styrofoam™?

    Jim Galton wanted something like "another dozen X-Men titles" instead of continuing EPIC Comics? Today I counted twenty-two X-issues in May 2011. The very definition of X-cess.

    Glad Elektra Assassin appeared instead. That book made my summer back in 1988. (Yeah, I missed it when it was new.) Borrowed the originals from a classmate and was so reluctant to return them (but worry not, I did). Elektra Assassin was one of the first TPBs I ever bought.

    I think the eldest comic book writer still active might be Roy Thomas who's currently writing Conan for Dark Horse.

    I look forward to your "Strange Tales." They don't sound like what Stan Lee had in mind for the title in the 50s and 60s!

    Dear rustythepoet,

    Wow! No wonder Jim's memories of the past are so clear. And recognizing you after years of changes. Again, wow.

    I am amazed at how he gives us all the time of day (and night!) in the comments and even devotes entire posts to our questions. He's not at a convention table right now, but he remains as fan-friendly as ever.

    Dear bmcmolo,

    I don't know Mark Evanier, but I do know he wasn't an eyewitness to what happened between Kirby and Marvel. Being Kirby's friend isn't the same as being in the Marvel offices. I think Evanier means well but is misinformed.

    I also think "mythology" is an appropriate word. Merriam-Webster lists this definition:

    "a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something"

    So I don't think an erratum (or should I say corrigendum?) is necessary.

    "Myth" is interchangeable with "fiction"? Since when? I still think "Baxter" is "new," so I'm waaay out of it …

  102. Very cool. I remember this as the time I was working in a comic shop.

    Epic Illustrated was making a splash. Cool creators were trying to launch an alternative to the Big Two.

    Pacific Comics had Kirby, who was at the forefront of popular independent creators. No question Epic could deliver an audience, but perhaps Pacific was about independent credibility.

    It was a crazy time.

  103. Ah, writing professionally 2 years after I was born. 🙂

  104. @bmcmolo
    That's Entertainment IS one of the greatest stores I have ever seen. I miss it.

    And I am loving the Epic look back. Some of the coolest comics of the 80's, absolutely. After Goodwin, Duffy, Milgrom, (and later Chichester and Clark) it did go downhill fast. The Barkerverse was sloppy right out of the gate, and much of the Heavy Hitters line just smelled of last minute filler.
    But these…were the good ole days.

  105. rustythepoet… Jesus! Jim and his clarity of mind!!

  106. p.s. I should have used "legend" instead of "mythology," the way I used it, above. Please allow this errata. Imprecise word usage is a personal bugbear. (I'm one of those guys that yells at the tv when they use "myth" interchangeably with fiction; I should just give up, that battle seems long since lost.)

  107. While I have all the respect in the world for Marc Evanier, it certainly seems he's been one of the torchbearers for the "Shooter made sure Kirby stayed screwed" mythology over the years. He's actually one of the ones out there I really hope is tuned into this blog. Both he and Roy Thomas might cross-reference their own recollections and hearsay by these – the result would be fascinating, both for the official record and for fandom. I wish there was some kind of Truth & Reconciliation Committee for comics!

    (And just to be clear – I'm sure Marc is motivated only by loyalty to the man with whom he worked so closely for many years (Kirby) and has important contributions to the "official record" in his own right. But yeah – some implications he's made over the years are contradictory of things mentioned here and vice versa. As someone who just loves comics and loves reading youse-official-types' recollections and recommendations, makes no difference to me, of course!)

    Anyway: I only ever saw Elektra: Assassin last year, believe it or not. There's a fantastic comics shop in Worcester that has just about anything you'd ever want, and in abundance. i.e. cheap reading copies, which works for me. (I live in Chicago now and miss this shop immensely) I picked up the whole series for a song – still mind-blowing, decades later! GREAT piece of work. Highly recommended and probably my favorite of all the Epics – although I did really enjoy some of the exceptional stories done for the magazine, particularly Mr. Byrne's Last Galactus Story and some other highlights.

    Thanks as always, Jim!

  108. Hey, I was at that con in Victoria, B.C. 🙂

    One of the reasons I am a fan of Jim Shooter is that he:

    a. gave me the time of day at that con. I was a 16 year old kid hanging around the Marvel tables, desperately wanting to become a writer.


    b. 8 YEARS LATER, I ran into Jim at San Diego. I said, "You wouldn't remember me but…" Jim interrupted and said, "Victoria, right?"

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