Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Some Marvel Tales and Other Horror Stories – Part 1

John Byrne Is Ruining the Fantastic Four

Near the end of 1980 or very early in 1981, Stan turned up at my office door as he did occasionally, usually when there was something bothering him. He closed the door—always a bad sign—and sat down in the guest chair. He had a letter in his hands.

He said it was a complaint about what a terrible Editor in Chief I was. The main crime alleged was that I was allowing an artist named John Byrne to ruin the Fantastic Four.

Though Byrne had been working for Marvel for a few years and I know Stan had seen a good bit of his art, Stan wasn’t involved enough in the comics at that point to remember who was who and who did what. Byrne, also, at that point, hadn’t quite achieved full-blown superstar status, or at least not to the point that Stan would know who he was.

Stan said that the complaint was that Byrne’s Fantastic Four were off-spec, un-Kirby-like, wrong and that my judgment about such things was—how to put this politely?—inadequate.

I knew the letter had to be from someone in the office, someone who had seen the original art or photocopies being shown around, because at that point, Byrne’s first Fantastic Four hadn’t seen print. It was only penciled, in fact. The reference to Kirby gave me a pretty fair idea of who wrote the letter.

Stan said that he wasn’t really concerned. He knew I was doing the best I could with the artists who were available. He only wanted to bring up the complaints to me so he could tell the letter-writer that he had done so. That’s all.

I asked Stan if he wanted to see Byrne’s pencils. No, he didn’t. He started to get up to leave. I insisted. I had the pencils in my office, as it happened. I think Editor Jim Salicrup had brought them for me to look over, it being Byrne’s first issue and all.

Stan looked through the pages. He said, sincerely, words to the effect, these are terrific. He thought the characters looked great. He couldn’t understand why anyone would complain. And, once again, he told me what a wonderful job he thought I, “Marvel’s entire editor,” was doing.

As he left, Stan tore the letter in half and threw it away in my wastebasket!

As soon as he rounded the corner out of the editorial room and disappeared down the hall, I fished the letter out of the trash.

It was, as I suspected, from Paty. Paty Greer, or maybe by that time, Paty Cockrum. I’m not sure exactly when Dave and Paty got married.

I still have the letter, both halves, around here somewhere. It’s in one of the many remaining, unexplored boxes from my storage space. I wouldn’t post it even if I had it in hand, though I suspect Paty would cheerfully make it public any old time, if she had a copy. If I come across it, I may regale you with a few lines from it at some point.

Paty also posted a pretty vicious, vituperative denunciation of me on the window-wall of her office.

I figured that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Not likely that everyone is going to agree with my judgment or tastes. The insulting, public declaration posted in Marvel’s offices, however, I felt was over the top. I had it taken down.

Paty did art production work for Sol Brodsky in the “special projects” department I had created for Sol to run. I never interfered with Sol. But, I could have insisted that Sol fire her or fired her myself, but I let it go.

My opinion about characters being “on spec,” by the way, is fairly liberal. I make a fairly large allowance for different artists’ styles. Get the general look of the character correct. Get the important distinguishing features right. Captain America, for instance, is a handsome man who has a cleft chin. Walt Simonson’s Thor isn’t exactly like Jack Kirby’s, but the size and proportions are right, he’s god-like good-looking, god-like noble, and no one would mistake him for anyone else. John Romita’s Spider-Man was different than Steve Ditko’s, but both versions work for me. Todd McFarlane’s version tested the limits a bit, but fell within range I think. The eyes of the mask got a bit too big sometimes, but otherwise okay.

Spider-Man drawn by Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., and Todd McFarlane

Paty’s opinion, as I understood it, was that only Jack Kirby’s, John Romita’s and, not surprisingly, Dave Cockrum’s versions of the Marvel characters were acceptable. I forget where she stood on John Buscema. I think he got mixed reviews.

Captain America drawn by Dave Cockrum and Jack Kirby
I have occasionally wondered, what if I had thought that way? What if I had insisted on every artist adhering exactly to certain “acceptable” presentations of the characters? What if I’d been as strict about “on spec” as, say Disney or Warner Bros? Wow. As is, some people think I was a dictator….NEXT: Mean Old Marvel


Writer/Editors – Part 6


Some Marvel Tales and Other Horror Stories – Part 2


  1. john byrne is sorely missed at marvel which is one of the reasons i (56 now) have recently stopped buying comics along with lots of buddies, collecting since 10 yrs old. unfortunately marvel and dc do not seem to want the fans to follow them. so we are all going to idw and dark horse. can you take a hint big two. also to paty cockrum stop being peevish, grow up and act your age. should not have to say that as women are supposed to be more mature.

  2. I bought some of Dave's art from Paty after he passed away. She had a look of disgust when I mentioned Jim. I kinda wondered why Jim's name evoked that reaction. Jim's name came up when I same that some panels had to be redrawn. At the time, I assumed that Jim's expectations of Dave annoyed her. I see now that there is more to the story. Just now reading this.

  3. Anonymous

    I'm happy for those who remember Cockrum's return fondly. Personally, I hated it. It was such a let-down to see that the life had fled from his work while he'd been gone. The same happened to John Romita Sr., though in his case it had taken 20 years, not the 5 that ruined Cockrum. Plus, like someone else said, the inking didn't help, on X-men or Star Trek. Marvel had a habit, at the time, of mixing strong pencilers with weak inkers, and vice versa. Sorry, Jim, but I call 'em like i see 'em.

  4. KintounKal


    That was Fantastic Four #285 and you are correct that it was a Secret Wars II tie-in. It went on sale the same day as Secret Wars II #6 ("Life Rules").

    There's an interview with John Byrne in Marvel Vision #5 where he was asked "Do you remember your first Marvel comic?" Byrne said it was Fantastic Four #5 ("Prisoners of Doctor Doom").

    After talking about how Sinnott's inks provided an energy and vigor that made the book something very different, he added "And the favorite book of which I was involved has to be FANTASTIC FOUR #285. It's about this poor kid who sets himself on fire trying to be like the Human Torch. It's called "Hero" and I get asked about it all the time."

  5. Slowly catching up, after a vacation. Great stuff. Love the Cockrum stories, as always. Keep up the great work.

  6. Anonymous

    John Bryne's run on Fantastic Four includes some of my favourite stories.

    In fact, my favourite story of all time is "Hero" (I've forgotten which issue of Fantastic Four it appeared in) when the Human Torch considers giving up being a hero when a kid copies him and dies. I think it also tied into the second Secret Wards crossover.

  7. Anonymous

    Paty Cockrum is a lunatic. Byrne never criticized Dave's work. The comment that got under her skin and made her drop Byrne's art from the tribute book was that Byrne said Dave used the "thousand lines" approach to drawing a page and that it always turned out beautiful. He has always been complimentary toward Dave Cockrum and even says to this day that Cockrum was a better artist than he will ever be.

  8. demoncat

    knew Patty never cared for your management style at marvel jim but never knew she did like John Byrnes work on the fanstatic four for like the x-men john added what made the ff great. in my opinion not to mention having the balls to write a letter about disliking john work that it got even Stan lee pissed enough to throw the letter away.

  9. Funny, I always thought that if the X-men thing hadn't had happened with Cockrum that he would have been remembered as a legendary AVENGERS artist. I always liked his work on that title and I thought it was a good fit for him. Maybe even easier than the "cast of thousands" stories in X-men.

    I, too, can't believe anyone would criticize Byrne's work on FF considering that my buddies and I thought he was at the height of his popularity at that time. We liked him on anything he did (though preferred when others inked him).

  10. Mike,

    Thanks for the recommendation. When I'm in X-Men mood again I'll check that out.

  11. Anonymous


    Cool. I look forward to reading it.


    I'm not a huge X-Men fan (though they're a childhood favorite), but I love the Paul Smith issues reprinted in Essential X-Men vol. 4. They were slick, action packed, and beautiful. If you ever get the urge to read any more X-Men comics, they are the ones I recommend.

    – Mike Loughlin

  12. I wasn't reading the X-Men in the late 70s or early 80s (mostly because I was born in '82) but I have read the first 3 volumes of Marvel's "Essential X-Men" and I have to say that even though I prefered the Byrne issues, I found Cockrum's issues very enjoyable in their own right.

    In fact, "Kitty's fairy tale" (Uncanny X-Men 153) is probably my all time favorite X-Men single issue (though I haven't read a lot of X-Men, only those 3 volumes and Grant Morrison's run).

    As always, thanks for the reminiscences Mr. Shooter, and for contributing in those comics existence in the first place.

  13. Dear Mike,

    I'll cover all that soon. Thanks.

  14. Dear Matt,

    Dave was freelancing when I met him, and struggling to make a living. He was very slow. I got him a lot of work doing covers, which paid a bit more and which he was able to do faster than interior pages. Eventually, I got him a staff position designing and drawing covers, mostly. It was a good thing for him at the time — a salary and benefits. I think around that time he and Paty got together. I remember they actually shared an office for a while.

    Some time later, a number of factors converged: Paty's rage against me for "ruining" Marvel, my significantly increasing the freelance rates (making freelancing more attractive to Dave), and, maybe — not sure of this — Dave and Paty moving farther out on Long Island, making commuting harder, especially for Dave, who wasn't ever an early riser or comfortable with the 9-5 routine. (Or the 10-8 routine, being that it was Marvel.) Dave "resigned" to do freelance for Marvel instead. Not exactly a traumatic or unexpected move.

    I have always suspected that Dave's "resignation letter" was written more to please Paty than as an actual expression of his feelings. Dave and I always got along, even then. That's not to say he was on board with everything I was doing, or that he was entirely happy with everything.

    Dave knew me pretty well. We had shared a big three bedroom apartment in Bellerose for a while when I first moved to New York. He knew I wasn't a vindictive type, not likely to wreak awesome vengeance (insert maniacal cackling here) against him for his letter. : )

    Subsequently, we saw each other many times at cons, and when he (rarely) came to the office. If Paty wasn't around or with him we were perfectly friendly, no bad blood that I could tell. Neither of us ever mentioned the letter.

    The last time I saw Dave, I think, was at a con out on Long Island eight or ten years ago. Stonybrook? Dave and I hung out and talked for a long time. Murphy Anderson, one of Dave's mentors and a friend of mine was there, too. It was like old home week. Others at the con, if it helps you identify the year, included PAD, Harlan Ellison and Ray Harryhausen. Ray was a great guy. I visited his home once. Amazing — but I digress, and that's a tale for another time.

    Dave even did a little work for me at Broadway Comics. I don't know what Paty thought of that idea, but whatever. I know I was asked to write an intro for a Futurians book being published by David Miller and Paty nixed that idea. I attended the memorial service for Dave organized by Paul Levitz and DC. Several people asked me to speak, but I didn't because I thought it might spoil the event for Paty. I wrote a memorial piece that DC published, I think.

    Regarding the resignation letter….

    Editor Jim Salicrup needed a resignation letter for Jarvis, in the Avengers. His explanation to me for using Dave's, which had been floating around the office — Paty made sure that it was made public — was that he thought it would be too small for the type to be read, given the generally lousy letterpress printing for comics back then. And, it was easier than writing a letter and having it statted down to fit. Of course, we got a great printing job….

    Jim Salicrup has always been a friend and supporter of mine (as I am of his) so I cannot believe there was any malicious intent. Bad move, but so it goes.

    As far as I know, Paty had nothing to do with it the letter being printed in Iron Man. She didn't work in production proper, she worked for Sol on "special projects."

    P.S. I have several cartoons Dave drew of me or for me during his staff time. I'll run them tomorrow.

  15. Thank you, Don.

  16. Anonymous


    I was wondering if you planned on blogging about the "Marvel Method" of comic book writing (plot-to-art with script filled in afterward). Specifically, was it the norm at Marvel during the period in which you were EIC? Did each individual editor, writer, or creative team decide whether or not to use the Marvel Method? Do you feel the Marvel Method is a better or worse writing technique, or does it depend on the individual creative teams?

    I know John Byrne had a great deal of input when it came to the plots on X-Men, but I've always wondered how involved in the plotting other artists were. While there were some good issues from Cockrum's second stint on X-Men (150 being a highlight), I felt the plots themselves were weaker. The Brood story in particular dragged. When Paul Smith drew the series, both the art and stories improved. I was wondering if Claremont just wrote better material or if Smith had any influence on the stories.

    Thank you,
    Mike Loughlin

  17. Jim,

    I am probably excessively patting myself on the back for guessing who the letter writer was before you revealed it. I think something in the tone of the complaints reminded me of her complaints about the modern-day take on Magneto. As strange as some of her rants are, I have to give her a lot of credit for taking care of Dave in his final days. Despite the misguided fannishness, she seems to be fundamentally a good person.

    On a related subject… a few years ago, the seminal Michelinie/Layton Iron Man story "Demon in a Bottle" was reprinted, including the issue where Jarvis tenders his resignation to Tony Stark. I don't know if you recall, but one panel has Jarvis showing the resignation letter to Tony (and the reader). JRJr left the sheet blank, and it was apparently intended to be "greeked" in. Instead, the following text appears:

    To: Anthony Stark

    This is to notify you that I am tendering my resignation from my position. This resignation is to take effect immediately.

    I am leaving because this is no longer the team-spirited “one big happy family” I once loved working for. Over the past year or so I have watched Avengers’ morale disintegrate to the point that, rather than being a team or a family, it is now a large collection of unhappy individuals simmering in their own personal stew of repressed anger, resentment and frustration. I have seen a lot of my friends silently enduring unfair, malicious or vindictive treatment.

    My personal grievances are relatively slight by comparison to some, but I don’t intend to silently endure. I’ve watched the Avengers be disbanded, uprooted and shuffled around. I’ve become firmly convinced that this was done with the idea of ‘showing the hired help who’s Boss.’

    I don’t intend to wait around to see what’s next.



    cc: The Avengers

    It eventually came out that this was Dave Cockrum's resignation letter (http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/04/13/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-46/) but I always wondered if, since Paty worked in production, she was the one who statted it in.

  18. Jim,

    To put it bluntly:

    John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four was the comic that got me into comics, with Annual #17 the one that did it, bought off the spinner rack at a 7-11.

    Further, I've often cited my own "Golden Age" as Marvel's "Shooter era" of the 1980s.

    Putting the best people on the books? You certainly did that. And over 25 years later (not to mention having worked in comics retailing for the last 15), I'm glad I've finally the opportunity to thank you.

  19. Anonymous

    WOW! I can't understand how Marvel was able to release a single comic monthly when every writer, writer/editor, artist, etc., was fighting his own war against the others to keep his share of power. Too many egos involved, I believe.

  20. Anonymous

    I recall that Byrne's first FF issue was a massive sales hit — my 'comic collective' buddies and I certainly ordered multiple copies of it in advance, and we weren't disappointed.

    We WERE disappointed when Cockrum came back to the X-Men. We were expecting great things, but his 'new' art didn't appeal to us at all (the so-so inks didn't help).

    Also, Claremont's writing went downhill… was he only as good as his artist? It went to show how much Byrne had been contributing beyond just the art.

    Pete Marko

  21. I remember writing in about John Byrne's first FF issue, because I felt his deus ex machina ending, with Reed surprisingly bringing out Dr Strange as having solved the problem behind the scenes was sloppy writing. But Byrne quickly established himself as my favorite FF creator after that.

  22. Blok for Prez


    I was just around 11 when Cockrum came back (I think only Byrne had been in-between) and I loved that period. Which, like the period before, was all written by Claremont, of course.

    Cockrum's artwork was incredibly dynamic (not to mention his nifty costumes), and the Brood saga was very fun for a reader of that age. Which I believe is who it was aimed at (well, maybe slightly older.)

    There were some other highlights, including the flashback issue where we see how Prof X and Magneto first met and the fact that they were friends (echoes of which were found in the X-men First Class this summer.) And issue #150 is a true standout as Magneto gets humanized in a big way (and it was a thrilling action issue too.)

    The Byrne issues do hold up better, and Byrne was really in at his peak at that point as a penciller (a perfect mix of Kirby and Adams). And continued to be amazing for the next few years (I loved him inking himself, or with Austin, but less so with Ordway.) Not to mention his co-plotting brought a lot to the series that was rarely matched.

    Regardless, the Cockrum isses were still a great deal of fun, and I still get a big smile from the clear joy Cockrum had drawing the swashbuckling Starjammers or his creation, Night Crawler.

  23. Her opinion is silly. Anyone read the X-men in the late 70s or early 80s, when Cockrum came back on it after being away awhile? I though it was awful, and totally inferior to the people from the interim. Just bleh. I'll take Byrne pencils any day.

  24. Dear Pariah,

    To me it seemed that Stan was doing exactly what he said he was — speaking with me so he could tell Paty he did. That, and by throwing the letter away in my wastebasket, letting me know who the malcontent was.

  25. Paty Cockrum says her dislike of John Byrne is based on personal interactions with him. I doubt it has anything to do with jealousy over the fact Byrne's X-Men was more popular than Dave Cockrum's with fans. I don't recall all the specifics, but I remember her citing several examples (over at Nightscrawlers) of things Byrne has said or done that she disliked. The one example I remember is that she claims Byrne said (about Dave's art) that "If you put down enough lines, some of them will end up in the right place" Note: I'm not necessarily saying I believe everything she says… as with all negative stories about someone (be it Byrne or Shooter or whoever) you have to decide for yourself what you want to believe.

  26. Anonymous

    I remember Byrne when he took over the FF. At first I hated his self-inked art because all the characters looked like they were emaciated. When Ordway started inking him, it looked terrific! Never have been a big fan of his writing, but he had some interesting plots.
    Love your blog Mr. Shooter. I'm just a couple years older than you and was extremely jealous when I found out that a little kid was writing Legion!
    And I'm still jealous!

    Bill Anderson

  27. Kid

    I don't know why I typed #50 in my comment above – I know it was #51 and that's what I MEANT to type. Must be getting old. Thanks for the info, JayJay.

  28. Anonymous

    Can't recall the specific details, but I remember Byrne saying something derogatory about Cockrum's artwork that really made Paty mad. So much so that when she was putting together a memorial book and had many friends contribute artwork, she returned the sketch that Byrne sent.

    Bill Anderson

  29. I don't wanna be rude, but from the postings i've seen of Patty's she seems a bit unhinged.

    Byrne was one of the few people to make FF his own and step out of the Lee/Kirby shadow.

    I'm not quite sure what Stan's intentions where in this story, was he trying to show you that your own employees where sending mean letters to the office? it just seems like there must have been a point.

  30. Dear John,

    After the first few weeks, everybody knew I was the boss. Paty is fearless and irrepressible.

  31. Dear Stéphane,

    Thank you for your insightful, thoughtful comment.

  32. Dear gn6196,

    That wasn't the reason. I think it's pretty clear from the sum of my actions at Marvel that I did what I thought was right whatever the consequences. I was always slow to fire anyone. I had great reluctance to do harm anyone's livelihood or career.

  33. Blok 4 Prez

    As I always understood it Byrne did not have huge sales success with X-men until much later on when his run became considered a classic (so the reprints have sold really well, as they should as it's one of the best runs ever.) Cockrum came back to the book after he left and the book (due in part due to the word of mouth from the Byrne run and the Dark Phoenix saga in particular — killing a major character was still shocking back then) became a bigger hit.

    But it was when Paul Smith took over on art that it really became the sales juggernaut we remember it as today.

    That's how I've even heard Byrne talk about it, but I could be wrong of course.

  34. I'd bet Paty's problem with Byrne was partially based on the fact that Byrne replaced Cockrum on X-Men (doing characters largely designed by Dave) and then had much more success on it than Dave did. (No fault of either Dave or John, of course; it just took time for the new X-Men to reach their acme.) A further irritation might have been that, when Dave returned to the X-Men after Byrne's departure, many fans–who had never seen Dave's version before–were unhappy with the change.

  35. I joined Dave and Paty's Nightcrawler meesage board years ago and spent about a month before leaving. I m a regular on Byrne's board and it takes a lot to turn me off, but Paty did that quite easily.

    I remember there being some outcry about Byrne changing Reed's physique, and some people thought that Byrne was writer might be a stretch, but I dont recall those worries lasting long.

  36. John_Dunbar

    I'm guessing that the vitriol towards John Byrne from Paty stemmed in part from him succeeding her husband Dave Cockrum on Uncanny X-Men and Byrne becoming a superstar. She seems highly opinionated (to say the least) at any rate. Also, by 1981, did she or anyone else not understand that Jim Shooter was the boss? She seems like someone who might not care, but how do you get away that, and keep your job?
    Jim, you had written earlier about Marie Severin and Lenny Grow thinking they were on equal footing with you in your early days as EIC and that the three of you reported to Sol Brodsky – was that a common misconception around the office, or was there some sort of weird Twilight Zone thing going on where the chain of command was understood but people pretended Sol had real authority?
    The people under Sol, from what you've said, seem like they were pains in the butt and fearless about throwing their somewhat questionable weight around. I can see giving Stan's right hand man from the 60's a fancy title and busy work and all but his people seemed to cause a lot of unnecessary tension.

  37. Anonymous

    Dear Jim,

    A few years ago, during the last year or the last few years of Dave's life, i used to post at Nigthscrawlers, in Cockrum's Corner that was run by Dave and Paty. To the fans they both were very nice persons, but:

    -Paty wasn't a huge fan of you.
    -There was someone even less popular than you with Paty, and it was John Byrne.
    -She was passionate and excessive.
    -She was a huge Magneto fan and liked Claremont a lot.
    -She loved to work for Stan and he was the standard to which you were compared.

    I also was and still am a big fan of John Byrne, and a regular poster at his board: Him too has an interesting peronality, often excessive, always passionate, particularly about comics, very talented, and most of the time a nice man. Polarizing certainly, and an easy target, like all strong personalities, but a likable man. Almost always.
    His FF were awesome, amongst the best comics published at the time.

    Thanks for this blog,
    for last year's Dark Key books,
    for Valiant, for Defiant,
    for Marvel,
    my Marvel,

    From France, where the weather is too hot,

    Stéphane Garrelie.

  38. Dear William,

    Not publicly, as far as I know.

  39. It sounds like Paty was out of line. But I have to believe that there was another reason you didn't give her the boot. Maybe you didn't wanna alienate Dave?

  40. Kid, Some of what Jim has mentioned on the subject is in the comments of his post "Another Question, Another Answer"

    Here's a quote from one of his comments:
    "John was the one who went ballistic. He quit, contacted the President of Marvel and demanded I be fired. The President called me and asked who the hell John Byrne was, and to please keep these people from bothering him."

    I think because John was so seldom in the Marvel offices and had such limited communication with so few people that were there, he was not as well known upstairs as he might have thought. In defense of the folks upstairs, they had a lot to do that didn't involve the comics artists or storylines or anything like that. The business side of the company was kept pretty separate as I recall.

  41. At first I thought the letter was written by Marv Wolfman or Len Wein. Both men were highly critical of John Byrne's work on those early issues of his run as seen in the interview they gave for the "Fantastic Four Chronicles" fan magazine printed around 1981/82.

    From what I have read, on Paty's message boards, and elsewhere, she really never like John Byrne.

    John Byrne is my favorite artist from comics (George Perez is my close second). I loved his "Fantastic Four." In fact, I am one of the "faithful fifty" that followed his work from title to title (and publisher to publisher), starting with his work on "Uncanny X-Men"). I saw his art earlier than that, on "Marvel Team-Up" and "Avengers," but it was the "Uncanny X-Men" stuff that made me a lifelong fan of his art.

  42. Kid

    I loved the John Byrne run of the FF – it felt like the 'real' FF to me and, in my opinion, is up there with the Lee & Kirby run. The only thing I wasn't mad about was Sue's hairstyle at first, and having Alicia fall for Johnny, but apart from that, it was great. Having Ben return to his original look (as in #1) for a while was a stroke of genius – I think I prefer the lumpy Thing to the rocky one. The only reason I hesitate is because of the superb splash page in issue 50's "This Man, This Monster!" Jim, I seem to remember John Byrne claiming that he was so successful with the FF that, if the bigwigs had had to choose between you and him, you'd have been out on your ear. (My words, his sentiment.) Would love to read your views on this.

  43. Byrne's FF got me into comics. The first ones I purchased were #246-252, and I was hooked. He remains one of my favorite artists, and his run is one of the best on any book ever published.

  44. I remember Byrne actually putting the moving shadows in the uniforn's 4's, an homage to Kirby and something that hadn't been done since his reign. Paty couldn't have been more wrong.

  45. I wish John Byrne would come back and ruin the Fantastic Four some more! Seriously, there are only a handful of truly incredible runs in the last 30 years, and Byrne's FF qualifies. Is Paty the same Paty that is an artist that drew Amazing Spider-Man #264? (issue numbers used to have relevance…)

    Jim, I would love to see an artist draw that scene between you and Stan. Especially the part with you waiting until he rounded the corner and then started fishing through the trash for the letter! hahaha

  46. "I have occasionally wondered, what if I had thought that way? What if I had insisted on every artist adhering exactly to certain “acceptable” presentations of the characters?"

    Then Marvel would have continued to look like early-1980s DC; i.e., it would have sunk.

    Could you imagine? That means no Frank Miller Daredevil. No Walt Simonson Thor. No innovation or innovators. Glad that you didn't think that way, Jim.

    Also: Kind of hilarious Paty felt that way, given that Byrne's entire approach when he took over FF was to bring the team back to its Lee/Kirby basics in order to clear the way for the future.

  47. Jim,
    Some of Byrne's Fantastic Four issues were fantastic Four 236 – Terror in a Tiny Town was a 'fantastic' story and well drawn. I can't believe i still remember the number. Most of his run was awesome, but it seemed to get tired after a year or two.

    BTW – these posts are addictive reading. I'm checking back everyday for the next installment.

  48. Wow! That's amazing. I can't believe anyone at that time would actually complain about the artwork of John Byrne. He had just come off the X-Men and was (as far as I know) considered one of the best artists in the business, and a huge fan-favorite. He was (and is) my all-time favorite comic artist and his FF was one of my all-time favorite creative runs on any series. (I wasn't wild about him later replacing The Thing with She-Hulk, but that's another matter entirely).

    Anyway, did this, very unpleasant sounding woman also complain that Frank Miller was ruining Daredevil and Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. were ruining Spider-Man? Just wondering.

  49. Dear Jim,

    John Byrne's run on the FF was the only run I enjoyed anywhere as much as the original Lee/Kirby run. Others strongly dislike it, but I've never heard of anyone rejecting it solely on the basis of the first issue. Until today it never occurred to me to think of Byrne's FF as not being "on spec."

    Byrne's, Cockrum's, Paul Smith's, JRJR's, and BWS' X-Men all looked different but recognizable. That last word is the key. Comics aren't animation.

    Former Filmation animator John Kricfalusi describes how "on spec" he had to be:

    You literally were not allowed to draw anything unless you were in the model department. In layout, animation and assistant animation you had to trace the model sheets. Or xerox them off the model sheets. Each character had maybe 3 pre-designed poses and if the show went on for 10 years, you'd have 130 half hours of the same 3 drawings of each character.


    These are shows I actually worked on so I can tell you first hand that they were absolutely no fun and not the least bit creative. You just had to memorize a stack of rules and do everything exactly the same way every time.

    Obviously he's exaggerating about "3 pre-designed poses," but in any case, Marvel was not like that. Bill Sienkiewicz could draw the New Mutants very differently from Bob McLeod and that was OK. No, it was great.

    Dear Jerry,

    I too am puzzled by such a public denunciation — and by Jim's reaction. I would have done more than ask her to take it down.

    You can count me as one of those "many people [who] are thankful."

  50. Somebody on staff wrote a letter like that, posted disparaging remarks on her office window, and you didn't fire her? Are you Jesus Himself? To my count, that's both cheeks turned and slapped.

    But seriously, what could she have hoped to accomplish?

    Many people are thankful that you had standards but not a house style.

    You make a terrible dictator, Jim.

  51. Rob

    Going over to the John Byrne Forum , waiting for the people who just read the second line 🙂
    Thx Internet!

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