Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Category: 03 Marvel Comics Page 3 of 9

Marvel’s 25th Anniversary in Variety

JayJay here. Jim is otherwise occupied today so I thought I would come up with something to fill in and also spotlight what one of our readers, the wonderful JediJones, has accomplished… He has compiled a list of Jim’s work that is available on Amazon. We appreciate all the trouble he went to!

JediJones comments:

I just compiled a list of links of Jim’s trade paperbacks available on Amazon. I inserted Jim’s affiliate link code so he should get full referral fees if you buy through these links.

Jim, Amazon also has this bibliography page with a form for you to make updates to it. It’s missing most of your titles so you might want to update it and then you can link to it here. It might also be worth posting direct graphic links here to the pre-orders for the new Secret Wars I and II trade paperbacks. (Thanks! I will work on that!–JJ)

Marvel Avengers: The Korvac Saga (Marvel Premiere Classic) (Collects Avengers #167-168, #170-177)
Marvel Secret Wars
Marvel Secret Wars II
Marvel Secret Wars Omnibus (Collects Secret Wars #1-12, Thor #383, She-Hulk #10)
Marvel Secret Wars Omnibus Alex Ross Variant Cover (Collects Secret Wars #1-12, Thor #383, She-Hulk #10)
Marvel 44 Years of the Fantastic Four DVD-ROM Collector’s Edition (Collects #1-519, Annual #1-32, with ALL comic pages including all Bullpen Bulletins written by Jim)
Marvel New Universe Star Brand Classic – Volume 1 (v. 1) (Collects #1-7)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 5 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #340-349)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 6 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #350-358)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 7 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #359-367, Jimmy Olsen #106)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 8 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #368-376, Superboy #147)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 9 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #377-380, Action Comics #378-387, #389-392)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 11 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Superboy #203-212)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 12 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Superboy #213-223, Karate Kid #1)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Rising (Collects Vol. 4 #37-44)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Manifest (Collects Vol. 4 #45-50)
Dark Horse Gold Key Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Volume 1 (Collects #1-4)
Dark Horse Gold Key Magnus, Robot Fighter Volume 1 (Collects #1-4)
Dark Horse Gold Key Turok, Son of Stone Volume 1: Aztlan (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Harbinger: The Beginning (Collects #0-7 recolored)
Valiant X-O Manowar: Birth (Collects #0-6 recolored)
Valiant Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions (Collects #0-6 recolored)
Valiant Solar, Man of the Atom: Alpha and Omega (Collects #1-10’s backup stories)
Valiant Solar, Man of the Atom: Second Death (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Magnus, Robot Fighter: Steel Nation (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Magnus, Robot Fighter: Invasion (Collects #5-8)
Valiant Rai (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Harbinger: Children of the Eighth Day (Collects #1-4)
Valiant X-O Manowar Retribution (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Shadowman (Collects #1-3, 6)
Valiant Unity Saga Volume 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Collects Unity crossover)
Defiant Warriors of Plasm The Collected Edition (Collects Warriors of Plasm #0-4, Splatterball #1)
Broadway Comics Inherit the Earth (Collects Powers That Be #1, Shadow State #1-2, Fatale #1-6)

I’ve been going through old stuff as well and I ran across an issue of Variety that had a special section for Marvel’s 25th Anniversary. I scanned some of the pages. Click the images to enlarge.

Jim has promised to tell the story of working with George Romero on Mongrel soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First This

My sincere apologies. This post was supposed to be yesterday’s. Yesterday’s was supposed to be Saturday’s. Prepping for the New York Comic-Con and some of the business I hope to accomplish there ate up a lot of time. Sorry.

Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Marvel Encyclopedia and Where It Went From There
Wikipedia, of course, has the origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe wrong. Wikipedia is great if you’re looking up fusion reactors or the Fort Ancient Culture but generally full of errors if you look up comic book things, especially any related to me.

In early 1982, I was in the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue and I came across this very cool book, Jane’s Fighting Ships. Every page or so had a clear picture of a warship plus its specifications and key information.

Wow. Nifty-keen!

There were other, similar books, too, notably Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft.

Extra groovy!

Forget Paris and More Items of Interest

Forget Paris

Wednesday, I told you the Secret Origin of the X-Men creative team’s Great European Expedition, so nicely documented by JayJay along with contributors to this blog yesterday. There’s a coda to that tale.

A week or two after returning from the Great Expedition, one beautiful June Friday, John Romita, Jr., international bon vivant, turned up at my office to say merci beaucoup for arranging the trip, which he thoroughly enjoyed, despite a minor contretemps resulting from his unfamiliarity with the language, specifically, French for “she’s married.”

Zut alors!

But John escaped alive, was glad to be home and wanted to buy me a thank-you grapefruit juice. That was my libation of choice in those days.
Marvel closed at one PM on Fridays during the summer. So, soon, we were off to a lunch place and hangout in the neighborhood, Buchbinders, which was at the corner of Third and 27th, I think. Bob Layton somehow heard or sensed that someone else was buying and tagged along.

Chris Claremont Face Down in His Mashed Potatoes

First This

Thank you very much for all the happy birthday wishes yesterday. I really appreciate it.

They’ll Always Have Paris

One Monday morning in early 1985, Chris Claremont came into my office in a foul mood. My door was literally always open. I hardly ever looked up when people came in because there was a steady parade of Marvel staffers and freelancers coming in all day to glom some free jellybeans from the gumball machine on my desk. If the visitor flopped down on my couch, I knew it was a casual, chatty visit or they were really tired. If he or she sat in one of the guest chairs in front of my desk, I knew it was business. If they stood in front of my desk radiating foul-mood vibes, like Chris, there was a problem.

Chris growled that he’d spent the weekend at a convention. I forget where. Mudville, Michiconsin or Dulltown, Ohiowa.

Dialogue represented more or less accurately:

“So, how’d that go?”

“The Avengers writer and artists got to go to a con in West Palm Beach!”

“Yep. So?”

“I write the X-Men! It’s the top book! How come I have to go to Sludge City and they get to go to West Palm Beach?!”

Letter Column Rant and A Few Observations

Tom commented on the post “Reminiscing About Jack Kirby

I think that in the 70’s, people were so used to having Jack around that they took him for granted. I’ve read the letters pages in some of his 70’s Marvel titles like Cap, Eternals and Black Panther and he definitely gets a lot of negative feedback. It seems to me like a case of too much of a good thing. These guys had grown up on his stuff and his style at Marvel was kind of omnipresent, and if it wasn’t him drawing a book in a lot of cases it was someone drawing just like him, and then in the 70’s you had guys like Starlin and Barry Smith which for the fans were a new style and a kind of a breath of fresh air, and they didn’t want to go back. They were like teens who’ve gotten do drive and have some freedom for the first time, and now they don’t want to go to grandma’s house every sunday with the rest of the family.

I didn’t get into Kirby until the early 90’s when I was in my early 20’s. I ate up his 70’s stuff. The time was right for me to discover and fall in love with it. I understand how the kids didn’t want it at the time, but I wish they hadn’t been so mean about it. Anyway, I see every Kirby issue as gold.


Jack’s titles got plenty of positive mail, too, especially early on, but because the people putting together the lettercolumns then used a lot of negative letters, that had the effect of generating more negative letters. In those days, it was a very cool thing to see your letter in print. Show the readers that negative letters are likely to get printed and you’d get lots of them.

Three Comic Book Weddings, or Holy Matrimony! – Part 1

The Secret Origin and Messy Ending of the Wedding of Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker, the Amazing, Spectacular Spider-Man

At the Chicago Con in 1986, Stan and I were among the guests. He was scheduled to do a one-man panel. He asked me to do the gig with him.

In those days, Stan’s office was at Marvel Productions, our animation studio in L.A. He spent all his time out there trying to generate film and TV opportunities. That, and writing the Spider-Man syndicated strip. He said that he always got a lot of questions at such panels about the comic books that he couldn’t answer. He was pretty much out of touch with what was going on in the comics.

So we went onstage together. It was a big room and it was packed.

We didn’t do any presentations, just took questions. I think nine out of ten questions were about the comic books.

Turned out we were a pretty good act. I’d answer the basic question and Stan would tag on a funny comment or an anecdote. We were a good tag team.

Toward the end, someone in the back asked Stan if he was ever going to have Spider-Man get married. A lot of people in the crowd voiced support.

Stan said that it was up to “Marvel’s entire editor,” and right then, right there in front of all those people, Stan asked me if I would allow Spider-Man to get married.

Many Happy Returns and Some Unhappy People

Even before I became Editor in Chief at Marvel, I’d heard plenty of creators grumbling about Marvel’s artwork return policy.

Technically, the artwork was a “gift” being given to people involved their creation. Using the word “return,” implying that creators were getting back something they had any shred of a claim to whatsoever would have infuriated the lawyers, probably, but everybody used that term anyway.

Marvel gave artwork to creators at it “sole discretion” according to the formula developed by Roy Thomas, who was the one who somehow talked the brass into allowing artwork to be given away, returned, whatever, back in 1974 or so while Roy was Editor in Chief.

Pencilers got most of the pages, inkers substantially fewer and writers got the smallest share.

Pencilers and inkers grumbled because, without exception, they felt that writers shouldn’t get any pages at all. Writers grumbled because pencilers had first choice of the pages, inkers picked second and the pages left for the writers were usually the least appealing ones. Write a heavy-copy page, and guess what, writers, that one’s yours.

Personally, I felt that if the company was giving pages to anyone, they should be given to the artists. I wrote a fair number of comics in those days. When pages were “returned” to me, I gave one page to the penciler and one to the inker. Other writers did that, too. Archie Goodwin and Don McGregor, for instance.

Once I became EIC in 1978, as if I didn’t have enough disasters to deal with, I was suddenly the central figure in the artwork return policy debate. I got a steady stream of protests, complaints and appeals about it.

Who Deserves Pages and Who Doesn’t?

Back Story

At some point while Roy Thomas was Editor in Chief Marvel Comics began giving original artwork to the creative people who had participated in the creation of the pages. That would have been in 1973 or thereabouts.

I wasn’t there. I started at Marvel Comics as associate editor on the first working day of January 1976.  Before that I had done a freelance job or three, I think in 1974 or 1975, but I lived 400 miles away in Pittsburgh and worked through the mail, so I wasn’t exactly on top of what was going on in the office.

As I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, it seemed that no one cared what the companies did with the original art during the 1960’s and before. Pages were given away, thrown away or stored away and there was no hue and cry about it. By the early 1970’s however, creative people had a new awareness of an interest in original art.

Here’s my theory:

In the elder days of the comic book industry, until the 1960’s, comics were almost entirely made for children, or on the high end, adolescents. Yes, of course there were some exceptions, but not many, and if you were an adult who appreciated the medium or, perhaps, enjoyed the more sophisticated offerings, you kept that to yourself. Or risked ridicule.

From what I’ve heard and seen from the old guard people I worked with over the years, the publishers and professionals generally had indifference toward the audience. Distribution was through newsstands or subscription. There was virtually no contact between creators and readers. Who cared what six-year-olds thought, anyway?

Something Groovy

Years ago, comics creator and publisher David Miller asked Mike Baron, Roy Thomas and me to contribute to the Writer’s Block #1. Each of us was given the same six pages of a story to dialogue. We weren’t even told the plot or the premise. Here’s the cover of that comic book:

Dumb title, I think, one of those reach-for-any-familiar-pairing-of-words things, no matter how much of a stretch or how inappropriate. Like the local radio station that refers to people calling in from the road as “cell mates.” Good grief.
But I think the Writer’s Block results are intriguing. I was very interested in seeing how the other guys’ analysis and execution compared to mine, and to read the short interviews in which each of us explained his approach. I guess it was interesting to readers, too, because subsequently David did the same sort of thing with Peter David, Jo Duffy, Gail Simone, Roger Stern and Fabian Nicieza.
David informed me that there’s now a trade paperback that collects all the Writer’s Block work. I don’t often plug things here, but in case this unusual, experimental book sounds appealing, you can get a copy here:

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