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Life After Comics II :: Comic Book Discussion :: General Comics Discussion :: The Jim Shooter Thread - View Topic (Page 5 of 5)Page: « 3 4 5
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (5th Sep 17 at 2:06am UTC)
On a different note, I've discovered that there is a new comic shop not far from where I live, I'll have to check it out on a day I drive home from work on that route. They were closed because of the holiday today. They have more specialized toys than they do comics, but I saw comics too along with a row of CGC books above their comic rack on the wall. My bet is that it's all new stuff.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (6th Sep 17 at 11:51pm UTC)
http://tfuinfo.blubrry.net/2017/09/05/transformers-university-episode-002-jim-shooter-interview-presented-by-tfu-info/


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (7th Sep 17 at 7:04am UTC)


I'm not a Transformers fan, so that put me to sleep. I heard most of it.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (7th Sep 17 at 3:36pm UTC)
Here's another new interview....Jim's part starts at the 39:00 min mark:

http://barrenspace.com/OutsideTheLongbox/

Towards the end he talks about his next Image project!

It's actually called "Slow City Blues" and the other writer's name is Sam Wooden? I can't make out the name from the audio exactly....

(I thought I heard him say "Slow City 'Burns'" at the last convention Smiley) *sigh*

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (7th Sep 17 at 10:30pm UTC)



Yea, I jumped to the last two minutes and he mentioned his custom comics work. He mentioned doing some x-mas greeting cards and something else with a character he created. But it sounded too mumbled at the end to figure out. This interview is a year old so it didn't mention the Image stuff.
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (7th Sep 17 at 10:50pm UTC)
 



Yea, I jumped to the last two minutes and he mentioned his custom comics work. He mentioned doing some x-mas greeting cards and something else with a character he created. But it sounded too mumbled at the end to figure out. This interview is a year old so it didn't mention the Image stuff.


Didn't hear any of that and everything I did hear was stuff I wasn't interested in and had heard before.

I hope you are on the road headed north and plan to sleep in your car. Hotels are all booked in Atlanta with lots of Florida plates around town today.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (7th Sep 17 at 11:26pm UTC)
Yea, I'm hunkering down here and hoping it goes by quick. It's like Mad Max Fury Road here. People are scared and anxious and i've seen alot of car crashes. We're supposed to start feeling the winds by Saturday night and I think that's when i'll start to lose power. I did manage to fill up my gas tank today though. People just want water and gas and the gas station lines that do have a little gas are long. People are sitting in their cars wasting gas while waiting to fill up their tanks. The grocery store shelves are pretty barren. We're just waiting for that shift turn and hoping the bad stuff stays on the east side but it is looking nasty by the news channels. It's not my first hurricane but this one does look bigger. lol.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (8th Sep 17 at 12:39am UTC)
 
Yea, I'm hunkering down here and hoping it goes by quick. It's like Mad Max Fury Road here. People are scared and anxious and i've seen alot of car crashes. We're supposed to start feeling the winds by Saturday night and I think that's when i'll start to lose power. I did manage to fill up my gas tank today though. People just want water and gas and the gas station lines that do have a little gas are long. People are sitting in their cars wasting gas while waiting to fill up their tanks. The grocery store shelves are pretty barren. We're just waiting for that shift turn and hoping the bad stuff stays on the east side but it is looking nasty by the news channels. It's not my first hurricane but this one does look bigger. lol.

Smiley



I'm hoping for the best, but I'm very concerned. I won't derail this thread any further.

http://comics.vforums.co.uk/Anything/10581/hurricane-irma

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (5th Oct 17 at 12:51am UTC)
This new "Venomverse" comic has Jim Shooter's name on the cover. Wonder what it could be inside:

https://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/en/Exhibitors/3365781/SCORPION-COMICS/Products/1237739/Skyline-Venomverse-1-Set-of-Virgin-1000-print-run-and-Standard-3000-print-run

Predicting a reprint or commentary of some sort...

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (5th Oct 17 at 3:03am UTC)
I'm not imagining that he did much.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (16th Oct 17 at 4:51pm UTC)
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (16th Oct 17 at 11:17pm UTC)
I don't think he's the only one who feels that way.
I have no anger though. I'm not sitting around trying to impose my will on people. If everyone creating and buying comics wants to drink the Jim Jones Kool-Aid, it's their choice. I'm not standing in line for it. Jim Shooter doesn't have to stand in line for it. Everyone is choosing to accept that fate of the industry as it is. If the Kool-Aid doesn't kill the comics industry, I'm happy for them.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Oct 17 at 5:38pm UTC)
Shooter's interview starts at the 19:15 min of the video:



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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Oct 17 at 10:14pm UTC)
Bleh!

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (15th Nov 17 at 3:43pm UTC)
http://www.hybridnetworkyt.com/interview-with-jim-shooter/

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WE: As closing thoughts, where can people find you? Are there any projects you’d like to promote?


JS:
Well I have a blog, I haven’t contributed to it for a long time, but it has a lot of my old stories and the history of comics. Its jimshooter.com, easy to remember and a lot of stuff there like some “How-To” stuff. It’s not me talking, it’s me passing on the wisdom of the ancients that I learned from guys like Stan and Jack and Mort. Interesting stuff there. As for projects I’m working on. A group of guys have a project at Image called “Slow City Blues”, the lead characters nickname is slow and it’s his city. So they asked me to not only consult, kind of be the coach. They send me stuff and I send them comments and mostly they listen to me. They also want me to write part of it, something like four stories out of the ten total.

My story kind of parallels the main story created by Sam Wood who’s really good. At the end the stories come together and it’s great stuff. I’m really impressed with it and the guy that created it poured his heart into it. It’s really terrific, spectacular stuff but it’s got nuance. It’s got power. It’s really good and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m having a ball working on it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (15th Nov 17 at 7:56pm UTC)
It sounds like it's not real close to release. I bet Todd Luck was at that show.

Here is a good response that I agree with 100%...


WE: Being someone who has been on both the giving and receiving end of the business aspect of things, what are your opinions on the current state of the comics industry?

JS: I think it’s pretty sad frankly. The fact that it’s still around is a testament to how much people love it, but the fact is that so much of comics these days, the print comics, people have kind of lost sight of the fact that they’re supposed to be entertainers. They’re supposed to be storytellers. There are some great artists. Some of them are doing their job really well, but a lot of them are mostly concerned with selling pages at conventions like this. So they’re drawing the page for these fans to buy as opposed to telling the story. Once they get back to telling the story, sales will take off, the stories will be popular and guess what. Those pages are worth just as much. Same thing with the writers, I feel like writers are doing this decompressed storytelling now where it takes 12 books to tell a story that Stan would have done in one.

There’s talent out there, people who are good. I think that they need some good direction. I don’t think there’s anyone manning the helm and editors aren’t teaching like before, because they don’t know how to teach. They’re just kind of processing stuff through and it’s become a star driven business. You get yourself a Bendis or a Geoff Johns or whatever they do and they think it’s just fine. Nobody is manning the helm anymore so I think that you get some stuff that isn’t as good as it ought to be. You take the movies which are huge hits, you think that would drive people to buy the comics, then you look at the comic sales and they’re pathetic. They’re selling 20,000 this and 30,000 of that. These are books that used to sell half a million, what happened. The books just aren’t that good anymore.



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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (17th Nov 17 at 3:57pm UTC)
DC & Dark Horse have been letting go of a couple of their main editors. They should ring Shooter up! I'd rather see him do another comic universe venture of his own but each time it feels like it takes forever for any new mainstream gig for him to show up.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (17th Nov 17 at 9:01pm UTC)
Alonso is leaving Marvel, but his replacement has already been announced.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (19th Nov 17 at 5:14pm UTC)
That was an interesting and abrupt announcement. Maybe DC got Alonso to work for them and are sitting on the announcement for later. Since they got Bendis from Marvel too recently. Dark Horse also let go of Scott Allie as editor too. Would have been nice if Dark Horse gave Shooter an imprint by now. I don't know why there isn't a bidding war to get Shooter back into any comic company knowing his long comic resume in the industry.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (19th Nov 17 at 9:39pm UTC)
Maybe Dark Horse felt that Scott Allie was high risk since Weinstein set a new climate in the ethical scheme of things. As with most jobs, getting a good one is contingent upon who you know and who is your advocate. The general consensus is that Alonso was running Marvel into the ground.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (20th Nov 17 at 5:00pm UTC)
The whole Weinstein thing is amazing. Each day a new actor/director gets busted. Pretty soon all movies' legacies are going to be tainted. I predict Bryan Singer is next.

Dark Horse seems to have gotten a head start in letting go of the Allie guy already. I think he stayed so long because of his connection to the Mignola and Whedon line of comics. But other than that, dark horse doesn't have much since they lost the Star Wars license.

Dark Horse would have flourished if they held on to Jim Shooter for an editorial imprint of his own.

Another new Shooter interview here:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2017/11/19/interview-legendary-marvel-comics-editor-in-chief-jim-shooter-on-the-current-state-of-marvel-creator-incentives-and-more/

AiPT!: Finally, I was wondering if you could talk about the work you’re currently doing for Illustrated Media.



Shooter:
Look, I’m 66 years old–I’m not doing all that much. But what I do is–we’ll get these little commercial jobs. I’m the freelance go-to guy. I’ll either write it or supervise it. It’s good and we’re looking to do some development stuff, which lead me to some guys that I know–good guys. They came up with this project. It’s a 10-issue project and they asked me to write four stories for it. The guy who came up with the idea’s name is Sam Wood. He’s the main writer. What they also asked me to do is be the coach. They call me consulting editor. Basically what happens is they send me everything and I go over it and I give them my opinion and give them all the same lectures I gave at Marvel, and they listen. So this thing is getting really good, we have some pretty good artists involved and they asked me who I’d like to work with on my stories. I ran into Neal Adams a few months ago, and Neal and I did a lot of covers together–I do the sketch, he’d do the cover and it’d look great. I was talking to him and he said, “You know, we’ve never done an interior together.” So I said I have these four stories that could be done by different artists, and he said he’d do one. So my first story has art by Neal Adams and you can’t do much better than that. I talked to some people, the usual suspects, but I think we’re going to have some really great art on this. The name of the project is Slow City Blues. The character’s nickname is Slow, it’s his city. It’s fantastic stuff, it sounds like a detective story, and to an extent it is, but it’s way over-the-top, fantastic stuff. This guy Sam Wood is a talented guy.
______________________________________________________________________
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (20th Nov 17 at 6:20pm UTC)
Short, simple, and direct.

Didn't know Dreadstar was optioned for a movie.

Image

I didn't care for it, but the art was good of course.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:09pm UTC)
Posting a page about Shooter. I didn't reread it (again), so I don't know if it's good or bad.

https://web.archive.org/web/20030421143703/http://www.fortunecity.com:80/tatooine/niven/142/talentpo/tp21.html

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:12pm UTC)
Jim Shooter's "How to Write Comic"

https://web.archive.org/web/20050324164848/http://members.aol.com/jayjay5000/Jimswords.html


Ah! What the hell...

Quote:
"FEAR IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL"
Dark Dominion There dwells in Manhattan a man who sees the things we think we see out of the corners of our eyes, the things children see in the darkness under the bed, and the shadowy familiars of the mad.

His name is Michael Alexander, and he has conquered fear, thus flinging wide the doors of perception that most humans dare not unseal. He is witness to the landscape of the id.

It is all around us!

Perhaps this substratum of our reality was created when the Great Schism occurred, or perhaps it was always there.

But there is great danger all around us, just beyond perception, just a step aside from the solid world we think is real.

And Michael Alexander is the sole Glimmer of hope against the forces that would turn the power of fear against humankind, and refashion the world into a Dark Dominion.


In 1993, Jim Shooter launched DEFIANT with its flagship title, WARRIORS OF PLASM. DARK DOMINION debuted two months later, with issue #1 (October 1993).
I picked up Dark Dominion #1 and was immediately impressed--the concept is unique and the characters are original and very well-conceived. Dark Dominion only ran 10 issues before Defiant stopped publishing...I say that's 10 issues of must-reading for serious comic fans. DARK DOMINION CREATORS:
Created By: Jim Shooter
Series and Characters Developed By: Jim Shooter and Steve Ditko

THE DARK DOMINION SAGA
DARK DOMINION CHARACTERS

A column by Jim Shooter in issue #1 of Dark Dominion

Welcome to Manhattan, You'll notice that people stare at the sidewalk in front of them as they walk, avoiding even fleeting eye contact. Late at night, on a lonely block, they may cross the street to avoid passing close by you, though it's a well-]it block, though you're well-dressed and unthreatening, though probably hundreds of people are within shouting distance. You step into the elevator in an apartment building. A person already in the elevator cab darts out just before the door closes to avoid riding alone with you, though they've probably seen you before, though they know you've passed the scrutiny of the doorman.

Don't get in trouble here. No one will help you. No one wants to get involved, because then they may wind tip in trouble, too, and who's going to help them? They turn their backs, they cross the street, they ignore you.

They're afraid. A palpable fear pervades this town. If you live here, you know it intimately. Anyone who spends much time here soon becomes aware of it. People from other big cities less afflicted sense it instantly. Small town Midwesterners often have to get mugged first. It's not entirely paranoia after all.

I've been thinking about this for a long time. I thought about it while sitting in a hearing room once listening to a superficially respectable-looking fellow lying his tail off tinder oath. As I watched this fellow shifting, sweating and scrambling to keep his dissembling sounding credible, I realized that be was very much afraid. And I realized that it's not the crime and violence in the city that cause the fear-it's the other way around.

It's the unspoken "or else" that lets you understand the way fear drives evil. Gotta steal it or else I'll never get it. Gotta get them or else they'll get me. Gotta eat it, have it, do it now, or else my one chance will be gone. Gotta look down on everybody or else they'll look down on me.

Fear is the root of all evil. Works of evil create the climate for more fear. It's not entirely paranoia....

Somewhere along the line, a balance was tipped, and Manhattan began a long, slow slide into the abyss. I said the fear was palpable. It's getting worse.

Our new title, debuting with this issue, is called DARK DOMINION. It's about Manhattan. It's about fear and evil and the one man who isn't afraid. It was created by myself and Steve Ditko, who, of course, created Doctor Strange and co-created Spider-Man. It's written by Len Wein, who brought you the Phantom Stranger, Swamp Thing, and the new X-Men. It's drawn by Joe James and inked by Bob Downs and Mike Barreiro. It's powerful, super-action-filled, chilling, intense stuff. It's the cornerstone of the DEFIANT universe. I rarely do a salespitch in my column, but this one I especially recommend.

Don't be afraid.

Ours is a universe governed by quantum mechanics wherein matter is also energy and particles are also waves.

We are each a coalescence of forces in the quantum field, an eddy in the stream of timespace--a radiant nexus of energy, organized into a form that our limited senses perceive as solid matter.

Like a magnet that bends unseen lines of force around itself, which iron fillings sprinkled on a piece of paper will betray, we are each one a powerful generator of an unseen nimbus of force.

Given our limited senses, it is difficult to conceive of the quantum nature of things. We bite into an apple-a simple event-but in quantum terms, two fields of energy are interacting, one shearing through the other.

Drops of nectar composed of minute particles, which are also waves, transact with waves, which are also particles, which comprise the sensory structures on our tongues. Then more waves are relayed across a vast distance, relative to the quantum scale, to a central locus, where they trigger a series of reactions. Thus we conceive of the nature of the energy field we have just encountered-we taste the apple.

Conception is reality in our quantum universe.

We can conceive far more than we can perceive.

There are exactly as many things in Heaven and Earth as are dreamt of in our philosophy.

All we imagine is real.

Only the limits are imaginary.

Defiantly,
Jim Shooter
FYM
BACK TO COMIC BOOK BURIED TRASURES MAIN The Dark Dominion - Comic Book Buried Treasure Web Site was created by John F. Kuczaj and debuted on November 12, 1999. Corrections and comments can be e-mailed HERE. LEGAL: This web site, its operators, and any content contained on this site relating to
Dark Dominion and related characters are not authorized by Defiant, a division of Enlightened Entertainment Partners, L.P. All Characters,
Images & Trademarks are Copyright © for Defiant, a division of EEP, L.P. All Rights Reserved.



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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:42pm UTC)
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Part 1

Can't access page 1.
http://web.archive.org/web/20171017183548/http://www.comicbookresources.com/scripts/wp_redirect.php?uri=features/shooter1/

Page 2
http://web.archive.org/web/20051204090821/http://www.comicbookresources.com:80/features/shooter1/index2.shtml

Quote:
MDT: How daunting was it to start Epic and the comics line? You blazed the trail for corporate entities to do creator-owned books.

JS: It wasn't hard at all. As I said, the president of the company -- I could say good things about him and bad things -- but the good thing about him was that if you presented something that made sense, they'd do it.

So when I went there, I had a plan. I put together a business plan for Epic Magazine and the comic line that made sense. I was supported by having knowledge of international licensees and gotten expressions of interest from them. I made it look like it was a real business. We did it without adding tons of staff people. And we did it at a reasonable cost and it worked.

If what I had gone in there with didn't make sense, it wouldn't have flown. Anything I went in there with, I learned pretty quick what I had to do to get my way around there... [It] was to show that [whatever I proposed] made money soon and didn't cost too much in the meantime. And then I could do anything I wanted. I did some amazing engineering. Here's the funniest one, if you got time...

MDT: Sure...

[Chris Claremont]
Chris Claremont in 1999
JS: Chris Claremont, who had started with X-Men and it had taken off, had come back from a grueling convention place in the mid-west. The same day he came back all bedraggled -- P.S. Chris was always going to conventions, he loved this stuff -- but the same afternoon some guys who had been to Palm Beach came back -- the Avengers guys -- and Chris comes into my office and says, "How come these guys get to go to Palm Beach and I had to go to East Mud, Illinois?"

I said, "I think you picked it."

"We're doing the X-Men, we should get to go to somewhere nice."

I said, "Alright, turkey, where do you want to go?"

He said, "Paris."

I said, "You got it." I went upstairs and I got onto a Telex, worked with the international license people and talked to our foreign publishers. I said, I was going to send the X-Men crew there on a little international tour and I asked them what could they do for me? They said, we'll get them on television, on radio, we'll publish a special book.

Between the guarantee for the special book and the projected increase of royalties we'd receive because of the trip, it paid for the trip. So I go to Galton, I said, I have a problem. He said, what's that? I said, Well, you know, I have an offer to do this promotion and send the X-Men crew over to Paris. With the royalties and the special book, we'll make about $11,000 in revenues. But I don't know, these guys'll lose a couple of days of time and he said, "Send 'em!" OK, you're the boss.

We actually made money on it. Claremont was astonished to find himself in Paris. When he was there, he made a whole tour of Europe. He was in London, he was in Paris, he was in Barcelona. Once he was there, word spread through the European publishers and they were asking, "Can he come here?" International licensing people were thrilled. And it was great.

The entire X-Men crew went, Chris stayed a little longer, but the whole crew went. And I remember it was time for the [American Booksellers Association] in San Francisco and Chris came in all jet-lagged. That evening, he went practically face down in his mashed potatoes.

MDT: He probably never expected to go to Europe.

JS: I tell you, I think he had a ball. He was exhausted, we really wrung him dry.

MDT: Where did you see yourself in the food chain while you were at Marvel as editor-in-chief?

JS: I think you could argue that I was either somewhere in the top five of officers.

The president of the company, obviously, number one.

There was a fellow named Joe Calamari who was executive vice-president. He came in the middle there. He wasn't there at first, came in because Cadence was going through changes and he was cleaning house at other companies to sell them. When they didn't have a job for him doing that anymore, they stuck him at Marvel.

You could make an argument that the financial officer was ahead of me in the food chain. He used to complain that I got paid more than he did.

First year or so I was there Stan was entitled the publisher, but he never really had any authority. And he really didn't do anything. He was a creative guru. That was his real job. If he was sitting right here beside me, and I said, "Stan doesn't have any business skills." He'd say, "Yep, that's right, I don't" He was not a business man and he certainly was not a publisher. ...[H]e was still the guiding light. What he did mostly was try to sell things to Hollywood. That was his real job. He was there for a little while... [and] would help me with questions all the time. Then he went off to California to sell things to the West Coast.

For a time, I was the publisher and the editor. I was doing all the business of it as well. Then they brought in this guy, Mike Hobson. I could not believe it, because I'd done really well. I'd turned this ship around.

So Galton took me out to lunch. He said, "He doesn't have anything to do with you. I brought him in because we're going to start a children's book division and I need to have a publisher for the children's book division. But I have no authority to hire a publisher because I don't have my children's book division approved by the board yet. So I'm hiding him in the comics. I'm hiring the guy because I want this guy. I call him the publisher of comics because I can do that and no one will bat an eye. But his main job is going to be the other books."

As it turned out, it was great. We got along terrifically. I didn't have the kind of business education he did and he taught me a lot. He did serve as the publisher of the comics as well in the sense that he was head businessman. I was happy to have to turn stuff over to him. I would say something like we need contracts for this and HE would have to go wrangle with the lawyers.

You could argue that those four people were ahead of me in the food chain, but I had a voice. I was a vice president and I sat in all the staff meetings. I spoke and I was heard. I had a lot of influence. I used it as well as I could and failed miserably sometimes.

MDT: It sounds like that food chain was malleable depending on your standing and your reputation and whose star was brightest at the time.

JS: My star was brightest at the time. We had really started... When I started, we were losing money hand over fist. A few years later, we were making a pre-tax profit of $18 million. During those years, I was the fair-haired boy. I got away with a lot of stuff because I was so successful.

Then when Marvel was being bought and sold, all the owners -- the really upstairs management -- became shortsighted. All they were interested in was getting some money in their pockets and getting the hell out. They're not thinking about the future.

Meanwhile, people like me, the artists, everybody downstairs, this is our future. So the people who owned the company, were selling us down the river. For instance, they were doing anything to put a few more pennies on the bottom line for their multiple when they sold the company. Doing things like canceling our health insurance plan -- we had a nice one before -- getting this cheap useless thing with a high deductible. So they got rid of our retirement plan, our pension plan. Anything to save a couple bucks.

I was sort of the highest-ranking officer who was not an owner and -- I owned some shares of stocks, but I was not an owner -- the board of directors took Cadence private. I'd owned some stock up to that point, but these seven guys were looking out for themselves and screw everyone else. Galton was one of them. They're doing things that damaged things for people who stayed there, for whom this was a career.

So I started getting in fights with these people. I went from the faired-haired boy to being at war with them. They kept telling me, shut up, play along, do what you're told and help us rape these people. And you'll be rich. Not those exact words, but that's what they were saying. Be a good executive, make your loyalty to us and not these smelly artists, then you're going to do fine. Why do you keep resisting?

I'd go upstairs and get into these screaming fits with them, jumping up and down, literally. They wanted to retroactively eliminate the royalty program. I said, what? They'll be a class-action suit like you won't believe. I'll leave here and straight to my lawyer and you're going to get your ass sued. We got into that kind of fighting. I was no longer the fair-haired boy. I had no more authority around there than the janitor did.

They did everything to undercut and screw me over. By the time I was done there, my own people hated me. I tell you what, I walked around there about a week before I left. I had been spending all my time fighting with the upstairs people and going through this hell. I'm walking around my floor, had about 75 people working under me and I kept seeing me people saying to myself, "I don't know who that is. I don't know that guy's name." ...I was a ghost.

[People] had quickly learned if you were on my side, you wouldn't get a raise. If you said bad things about me, everybody loves you. And by the time they got rid of me, the staff had thrown a party.

MDT: Your reputation in the comics industry is something you've had to deal with during and post-Marvel. How much of that reputation do you feel is deserved?

JS: None. ...When I was at Marvel, I inherited a train wreck. I inherited a company that was going out of business and losing money. I turned it around. In order to turn it around, I had to do things like tighten the ship. Creative people who have lived in anarchy do not like to be suddenly told no.

It's funny now, talk to people like Claremont. When I first sat down and talked to people like Claremont, and I'm saying story structure, identify your characters. Introduce your characters and concepts. Stuff he knew. Thing is, it's so easy when you're a creative person, and the check will keep coming, to just jerk off and do a sloppy job.

For instance, there were writer/editors who were hacking. I got rid of the writer/editor thing. I made sure that everybody who wrote had to have an Archie Goodwin who made sure they had the stuff. Things like this don't make you wonderfully popular. That's one thing. The other thing, everything was late when I came in. So I had to do things like fill-ins. Which irritated people. I occasionally had to change writers or artists on a project and that doesn't make you popular. I have a letter somewhere around here from World Color Press saying "Congratulations! For the first time in history, from the beginning, Marvel is on time."

For the first year, I didn't read any books. I just wanted them to be on time. I was afraid that if I read them, I wouldn't allow them to be published. I couldn't read it.

...Then I worked on getting them better... I sat everybody down and said, "Guys, we're going to take this a piece at a time. Number one, every issue, make sure the character's name is mentioned somewhere. You look at comics from Marvel written in the mid-70s, 1974, 75, you'll find comics -- whole books -- go by where the character's name is never mentioned. No character's name is ever mentioned.

Or like Chris, he'll have Storm walk out, one guy calls her Windrider, the next person calls her Ororo, you know what I mean. If you're a new reader, who the hell is this broad? I kept trying to say, guys, we have new readers, they don't know all the answers, we are telling them the stories, ya see?

Trying to teach artists the establishing shot. They grumbled. Talk to Chris. When he went back to Marvel recently, he found himself giving my lectures to these kids. And acknowledged it. "Shooter used to tell me these things and piss me off. But it's really true." I was doing things like that, which were necessary.

Well, guess what? The books started to sell, I got these incentive plans in there, people started to make big money, Claremont makes big royalties, buys his mother an airplane and so they were happier with me. They started to realize the value.

Even guys like Roy Thomas, who I wouldn't let be a writer/editor, which infuriated him, even he would say things like, "Well, he is very fair with the money." I sort of had a grudging respect from those who didn't like me. That would've been 80, 81.

Then the company went through the process of being bought and sold. And I became less and less effective at being able to solve people's problems and more and more of my time spent being away. During that time, the upstairs management was doing everything they could [to undermine me]... See they were terrified.

In 1981 or 82, if I had walked out the door, everyone would have gone with me. I could have called a general strike. That's how much people were behind me. By the time, '86 or '87 came around, I was a pariah. people had learned, if you get close to this guy, you get fired... bad things will happen.

...Joe Calamari told me, "The problem with you is that no one above you knows anything about comics. We couldn't replace you because you're the only guy who could tell who could replace you." What they realized was their vulnerability. There was this gal in the sales department named Carol Kalish. They said, she knows comics. I don't think she did. She became the alternative source. Carol was being invited to these meetings. She sang stuff and I'm thinking, I see, I'm being eased out.

So during that time, conveniently, there was all this hassle with Jack Kirby and his artwork. I was the editor-in-chief; I wasn't a lawyer. I wasn't on the board of directors. I wasn't in the legal department. OK, I was the EIC. I was the person all the people knew. No one knew Jim Galton.

So, you read in the fan press, "Jim Shooter won't give Jack Kirby his artwork back." Well, Jim Shooter had tried to give Jack Kirby and every other artist their artwork back since I started. If you think that's wrong, then ask Joe Sinnott. The company was thrilled. "It's being blamed on him. Great!" Same time, Gerber was suing. Every contention that came along became my fault.

P.S. When I first signed on at Marvel [as EIC] the copyright law had changed. I was sitting at my little editor-in-chief desk on my first day in 1978, thinking this was cool. The phone rings.

The VP of Business Affairs Corporate counsel. She says, "What have you done about the copyright law of 1976?"

I said, "Lady, I been here 15 minutes." She said, "You haven't done anything about it, effective January 1, 1978?"

"No." So basically, Marvel, basically, had allowed the copyright law to change and hadn't taken any steps. DC had already instituted their contract on the back of the voucher thing seamlessly, no one batted an eye. Marvel, we had to go through this whole thing, where you had to sign an extra piece of paper, this work-for-hire agreement.

Why? Because people before me had screwed up. That's when Neal Adams started the guild. "Sign this and you're signing your life away. Strike against Marvel."

I need this. This is my first week. I'm already under attack. ...To this day, you'll see on fanzines, on the internet, "Jim Shooter said that company is the author of the work. That son of a bitch!" Well, it is. It's work-for-hire, ya see? I'm not declaring for the bastards to own your work. I'm explaining what the law means.

Right away, I'm at war with everybody. I'm trying to get everybody to get everybody to sign these work for hire agreements. Nobody wants to sign anything. The fact is, they been working that way forever. And I kept saying, give me a chance, I'm going to put in royalties, give me a chance. What happened is that no one would give a chance.

A few of the contract guys, like Wolfman and Buscema would. Or a few people who were trying to curry favor, like Mantlo, who would suck up to the management, they signed. The big guys, they wouldn't sign. I was in this position, where well, what's going to happen? As long as they didn't sign, Marvel was buying first North American rights to their work. And of course, the pile of work we didn't own is getting bigger and bigger.

Of course, that's OK with me, I don't give a rat's ass. But the problem was, we were losing money at that point. It would've been so easy for Marvel to say we're not going to publish comics anymore and put these people out of work. I'm walking this tightrope. on one hand, I'm a creator, too, and I would like to own my work, on the other hand, I would like to have a place to work tomorrow. I'm trying to figure out what to do. Well, then the gods came to the rescue because DC had what they called their DC implosion of 1978. Do you remember this?

In one day, DC cancelled about 40 percent of their line. In those days, the big promotion DC was doing was the DC Explosion. So that day became known as the DC implosion.

The next morning, I had a line outside the door from my desk, down the hall, around the corner, down the hall to the back door, a line of creators ready to sign.

All the Marvel guys thought, uh-oh, all these DC are going to come and take our jobs. And these DC guys were thinking if I go over and sign that work for hire, I can take those guys' jobs.

The sudden surge of unemployed cartoonists put an end to the guild and to the problem. People signed the work-for-hire. And soon they were happy. I quadrupled their rates. I got all these incentives in place. These guys started making a lot of money. Yeah, it's work-for-hire, and work sucks, but it pays well.

And P.S., three are these other opportunities for you to work on to do your own thing. I wasn't done trying to make things better. We did introduce plans that paid you for new creations. You kept a piece of anything new that you created. I tried to get it retroactively for Kirby and [Steve] Ditko. Fat chance! I tried to get it retroactive even for people like Dave Cockrum on the X-Men but I was lucky to get from current day forward.

I wasn't through trying to make things better. I thought we were about halfway there. P.S. Little things nobody ever thinks about. Up until then, creators bought their own materials. No, work for hire we buy everything. We buy your pen points, we buy your erasers, we buy everything.

To this day, I still get attacked. Steven Grant and the Warren Ellises of the world say he's said he's the author of the work. That's what work-for-hire means. That sucks, but that's the definition. ... My theory is, if it has to be work for hire, it ought to pay well and have benefits. We're going to buy all the materials. Introduce all these benefits and incentives. Health insurance, life insurance. Pay for you to go to college.

And we got that done. I was really trying to make it so that you can work on these Marvel things and guarantee you can make a good bit of money or, hey, creator-owned publishing. If you got Spawns in you somewhere, do it here.

I thought we were halfway to creating a decent arrangement for creators. The way I look at it is that I was working hard for these guys. Because of the DC implosion, I finally did get a chance to make things betters. That's the trouble, it was one damn thing after another.

First, it's this work-for-hire stuff. Then the contentions over that. There are people who were ignorant enough about that, to this day, they're making me out as like the greatest [enemy] to creator rights simply because they don't understand what the words mean. Like Steven Grant, talks authoritatively about what I was like, what it was like at Marvel when I was there, what I was thinking when I did this. He wasn't there. How the hell would he know? He was a freelancer. He wasn't in the office all that often. He certainly wasn't privy to any of the meetings or the discussions or decisions that were made. He basically knows what he's read in the fanzines. But he'll happily pontificate about what I was doing or why I was doing it.

But the point was, we got through that, we made some good times. Trouble is with the comic book business, it seems that every time things look like they're going to look good, then the owners of the company up selling it and it falls into the hands of the philistines and you've got to start all over again.

MDT: It's your longview view of working there that clashed with their short-term view of making money.

JS: At first, they were happy at me turning it around and making money. Then they said, think of the multiple we could get if we sold this. Anytime a company is on the block, they're not going to make any investments. It's very tough, all the management above are thinking short-term. They will not make any investment that will pay off five years later. Why? Because they're not going to be there.

So you have that problem. Each time we got close to really taking off, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.



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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:43pm UTC)
Continued...


Page 3
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Quote:
MDT: You felt like you dealt with the artists/creators pretty fairly. You had some tough standards. Some of the stories of how you dealt with them are false...?

JS: Creative people don't like to be told "no." And if a guy is talented and he's hacking, you know it and you call him on it, he doesn't like that. There's a lot of guys who call me a son of a bitch. When you get right down to it, they were doing a bad job and I was complaining about it. I can think of a couple guys who started to be big and successful and I think I used to confound a lot of people. ... I had the same standards whether you were John Byrne or somebody new. I was not going to put up with hacking.

They'd say, "But I'm John Byrne." Right, OK, do a good job. To me it was about the books. I don't think they got that. That a lot of people didn't get that, that it had to be about something else. That I was a megalomaniac. It had to be that I had some secret hidden agenda. My agenda was to do my damn job, better than anyone else before.

You also encounter this kind of thing. Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Chris really got John in there. Chris was great. We fought like cats and dogs, and I'm sure he hated me. But I do give him credit. He's the one who built the X-Men franchise. He recruited artists when they needed artists. In order to keep the best colorists and letterers, he paid people out of his own pocket to Glynis Oliver and Tom Orzechowski. He really poured his heart into that.

If you edited something, don't touch his copy. Make a note in the margin, he'll fix the problem in his own words. He didn't want your words, he wanted his words. And I respected that. But I didn't have a problem telling him what I thought was wrong.

And he had good editors, Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson. They beat him up pretty regularly. You have to respect the integrity. So we fought all the time.

[Uncanny X-Men #145]He was the one who brought John Byrne in there. They had a falling out. And so John Byrne goes on to do Alpha Flight and other things. Chris gets other artists and marches on with X-Men. In the various other books he was doing, FF, Alpha Flight, whatever, John would do these stories... like if Chris was using Doctor Doom in an X-Men story, then John would do a story that proved that the Doctor Doom Chris had used was a robot. [Author's note: The stories Shooter refers to are X-Men #145-147, in which Doctor Doom and Arcade pair up against the mutant team. In the course of the story, Arcade strikes a match against Doom's armor to light a cigar. In Fantastic Four #259, as Doom surveys his Doombots, he notices the supposed robot from aforementioned storyline with a scratch from the match, noting that no one would dare strike his personage in such a disrespectful manner and the robot subsequently self-destructed]

And he would have snotty comments, like you think I would have said something as stupid as what this robot said. This would happen a lot.

Then Chris would want to fire back. But Chris had better editors who were more on the ball. John, I think would seek out editors with whom he could get away with that type of stuff. Weezi or Ann would say something like, no, Chris, you can't do this. So he'd get frustrated and come scream at me and say, "This son of a bitch did this and you won't let me fire back." I said, "Chris, think of these as somebody else's comics. They're not yours and you can't fire back."

And I'd go yell at John. And he'd get mad at me. Here I was refereeing between these guys who were sniping at each other in the comics I was responsible for. C'mon, guys, Jesus.

There's that going on all the time.

Then Bill Mantlo walks into my office one time and he's having a major war with whoever was his editor at the time. He's insisting he wants to do this story where Spider-Man fathers an illegitimate child and I said, no. Tell you what, do that same story, call him Arachnid Man, do it for Epic. And everybody will really know that it's Spider-Man. He said, "Why not?" I said, "Look, we have licensed Spider-Man for Underroos. We have things in the contract that say we won't do things like that." I said, "Can you imagine, on a slow news day, the president of Union underwear wakes up and there on CNN, they're talking about Spider-Man fathering an illegitimate child. All over the Bible Belt, Underroos are being pulled off the shelves. ... The people who own this company have put me here in order to keep you from doing that. Do that in the adult line for Epic. These just aren't our characters and we can't just mess around with them like that. We do have obligations. I didn't carve them, but they're there."

He was out of his mind, he threw a fit. Does an interview about how I was denying him his creative freedom. You know what. Yes, I did. And I would do it every time. ... I always tried to make the best judgment at the time I made them. I never made one in self-interest.

If people get thinking I had some agenda, what did I get? You can't find an incident where I did something to John Byrne and benefited from it.

There was no payoff. The payoff was being yelled at it. There was no instance.

The only goodies, the plum I ever took for myself, was Secret Wars. You know why? It had all the characters in it and I thought about getting someone else. But no matter who I picked, they would've screamed. Because they'd say, "You're going to let John Byrne or Chris Claremont write my characters? Blah, blah, blah!"

Basically, I needed a neutral party or someone they hated already. So I said, I have to do this. I'm the only one who had the authority to do this. "Chris, you may think the X-Men are your babies, but the fact is, the owners of the company have given them to me. I respect you and I'll do my best to ghost it. By definition, what I'm doing is proper and help me if you will or yell at me if you want, but at least this way, I won't have another war between you and [David] Michelinie or you and Byrne. At least, it'll be the decision-maker making the decisions."

I managed to get through that without anybody getting too angry with me. And pretty soon, they saw the sales of their books go up and more money in their pockets. And they said, Hmmm.

MDT: Shut up real quick.

JS: I'll grant you, I made a couple of bucks on that. But I don't know how else I would have done it.

[Secret Wars]MDT: I can only think of three things that you wrote while you were editor in chief. The two Secret Wars series and then the Avengers. When you took a hand in doing that, was that a way to show others how to write quality stuff and sell books at the same time.

JS: Most of the time when I wrote something, it was because there was no one else. When I took the job, I had been writing Ghost Rider, Daredevil and the Avengers. The editors in chiefs before me saw themselves as more like head writers. Generally speaking, they had the pick of the crop as far as the letterers, the colorists, the artists ... so they were going to have Joe Rosen letter their damn books.

Denise Wohl lettered everything I wrote because no one else wanted Denise. She lettered kinda big. Since I wrote less copy than most guys, I thought, well, I'll use Denise. I wasn't going to fire her. I thought she was a reasonable letterer, she just lettered a little big. Artists, I took whoever there was. If somebody needs work, then they'd do my book.

Gene Colan, God bless him, a great artist... When he worked for me, there were some problems. Gene had to produce a certain amount of work a day for economic reasons and sometimes he'd cheat a little. He used to love it if there was an explosion in a story. No matter what, a tiny explosion would become a full page. Quick page, so he'd make some money.

He did some brilliant work by the way in his career. Dracula. I think he was getting a little tired when I was there. I think we finally cancelled Dracula, it started to fade and he needed work. And the fact is, he worked on a couple different things, with a couple different writers, he just couldn't.... he had to do everything really fast. He wasn't good about doing the reference, he wouldn't pay attention to the story.

I remember Bill Mantlo came in and I had made him rewrite this plot three or four times. He comes in and says, "I have to rewrite this plot three or four times and [Gene] ignores it. That's just not right." I said, "You've got a point, Bill. I put you through hell getting this plot right and here Gene just ignores whatever parts are hard to draw."

Got to the point where Bill wouldn't work with him. Roger Stern wouldn't work with him. Claremont wouldn't... No one would work with him. So guess what he does, he works with me on he Avengers.

I made a deal with him, I said, "Gene, you gotta start doing what you can do. You've gotta do better stuff. I'm gonna make you redraw when you don't. At first, I will repay you to redraw it, but it has to be right. So if you have to redraw something, don't worry, you're not going to lose a day's work. I'll pay you for it. You're going to find that it's better to do it right the first time. And if you do it right, I'll get you more money. You'll be on the Avengers, nice royalties." That went for a couple months.

That's when Wolfman had gone over to DC, thinking fondly of the Dracula days, got him to come over there. And that was better for everybody I think. Doing stuff that was more up his alley. He wasn't really a superhero guy. That's all we had at that point to offer him. He ended up at DC. Just one of those things that didn't work out.

[The New Universe]MDT: I'm sure this is one you get all time: the New Universe. How did that start and why did it ultimately become a comics casualty?

JS: Well, the way it started, about 2 1/2 years before our 25th anniversary, we had a staff meeting of all the vice presidents to talk about what we were going to do for it. Some ideas were bandied around.

So somebody said, "Look, this is an anniversary of a publishing event." "Well," I said, "there are two possibilities. You could start everything over from number one, like the Marvel universe reborn. Like the anniversary in May or June, all the titles wrap up the month before and start again the next month. Sort of like Marvel, 2nd edition, do it right and really make that spectacular." ... We were selling incredibly well so it wouldn't be a good idea to derail the train.

So I said, "Then let's celebrate the birth of a universe with the birth of another universe."

I walked out of there with a development budget of about $120,000 and I'd create eight titles. It was money to spend on research, sketches, things like that.

...[Tom] DeFalco came to me -- he was sort of my head editor, my assistant you might say -- he said let this be mine. This'll be my chance, he said. He said, I'll be like Archie, I'll have my own group of books. I said, you think you can handle this, here's your budget.

Months go by. Many months go by. I kept telling Tom, I want reports. I want to know what you have. I want to know what it's about. It was like almost a year and he had almost nothing. He'd come up with a couple of fairly lame characters... There was no point of difference. They were Marvel, but worse.

He hadn't spent much of the money, so we still had the money. I got together with him and Eliot Brown and we spent the day [pitching ideas]. I said, you know, the original Marvel Universe -- Stan's conception of it -- instead of doing something Superman or Green Lantern, he was really trying to do science fiction. The Fantastic Four didn't have costumes in the first issue. He was trying to be down to Earth.

The problem is Stan doesn't have any science background and the minute you start working with Kirby, you're going to get Atlantis under the ocean, the Blue Area on the Moon, a repulsor ray. It's like Kirby does fantasy, period. He wasn't a science guy either. I said, so Stan's concept was why don't we do this more realistic? ... [W]hat if we went back to that moment in time where Stan said, let's do this more realistic. We have some science background. Let's do a science fiction comic book universe, where things are based more on real science, try to make it more real. We don't have Atlantis under the ocean and the Blue Area of the Moon.

I wrote a page and presented it to the staff VPs. To Stan. This is hailed as the greatest genius since sliced bread. Stan just marveled at it. Thought it was wonderful.

Right after that, this is about the time the company had been taken private and put on the block to be sold. I'm called up to Galton's office and he says "What's your budget for the New Universe?" I said, "$120,000." He said, "How much of it have you spent?" I said, "Not much, we just got started really." He said, "We have to cut your budget." I said, "What? We have to create these titles out of thin air." He said, "You'll have to do it with $80,000." Son of a bitch!

I get a call and he says "We're cutting your budget to $40,000." I said, "What?"

The next day, he calls up and said "How much have you spent?" I said, "About $20,000." He said, "Don't spend any more."

So if you will check, the New Universe books were done volunteer by assistant editors, practically every book in that line was done by me, Archie Goodwin and an assistant editor. For free. Because we didn't have any money.

...One of the things in my business plan is that we were going to guarantee royalties or pay higher rates in order to get the big name artists to do this stuff. What artist is going to leave Iron Man to go do Potato Man unless he knows he's going to make good money to do Potato Man?

All that stuff got scrubbed. I was told, you can pay people their page rate, that's it. ... So basically, if you check the New Universe, the artists you'll find were people who couldn't get any other work. There were exceptions. Some of these guys who grew up to be contenders, like Mark Texeira and Whilce Portacio. But they were brand new. They didn't know what they doing. These kids came along and needed work.

The two people who were contenders [at the time] were John Romita, Jr. and Al Williamson, both of whom worked with me on Star Brand. They volunteered. They came to me and said, we want to work with you.

Other than that, it was me, Archie, assistant editors and anyone who couldn't get work. So, that stuff was awful. It was horrible. They didn't spend any money on promotion. I don't blame them. There was nothing to promote. The stuff was shit. Ask Stan. "Oh, I always thought it was a bad idea." He loved it, raved about it. But when the wheels came off, it was all Jim Shooter's fault.

And it probably was. If I was smarter, I probably wouldn't have gotten myself into that mess. In any case, it was a disaster, but I had help. A couple of the ideas were pretty good. A couple of the issues of Star Brand were pretty good. It was kind of a shame. It could have worked. In essence, we did the same thing with the Valiant universe. I took that same idea and did it there.

MDT: A single universe, a single event, coming together...

JS: The Valiant universe had one conceit that was not normal. There were powers of the mind that were released. Everything about that universe was powers of the mind. Nobody had any horns or wings while I was there. There was no Atlantis under the sea. It was all this world, this planet. You could go to the streets where these people lived. And done well, it worked.

MDT: And you had a little more of a budget....

JS: Actually, we didn't. If you look at that, we were working with kids out of the Kubert school.

MDT: That's right. I've read interviews where you call them "knobs"...

JS: That was what Bob [Layton] used to call them. Basically, the comic book industry was booming at the time and nobody was going to leave Iron Man to come work on Harbinger. Virtually, everyone was some kid who had just come out the Kubert school or some old dude who couldn't get any work. Some of them were pretty good. John Dixon was pretty damn good. He couldn't get work. Except me. Stan Drake, my God, I had Stan Drake. But he was desperate for work. And couldn't get work from anybody in the comic book business. Can you imagine. And Don Perlin, who nobody ever respected and I gave him a shot. and he did some brilliant stuff. I loved working with him. He's good. He wasn't flashy so he was popular. But, man, all the little things he did. All the little details he contributed to everything he did. And the stuff.. he told a story, it was great. Look at his characters. Most of these comic book artists, they can draw one male body and one female body. Don, he'd say, I want this woman to be a little dumpy, there she is. And [David] Lapham, 19 year old punk kid who dressed badly, who became this genius. Just such beauty and subtlety. Maybe not the most brilliant draftsman, but, my God, he'd do things that... I'd say things like if you were flying, you wouldn't fly in a Superman pose, you'd stay more or less upright. Lean forward a little bit, because of the wind. He'd grasp that immediately, and not only would he grasp that, but he would follow through with the logic of the thinking. What would that really look like? What would this really look like? Some of these kids grew up, but God... Bob's joke used to be, we'd have to teach them which end of the brush to hold. These kids didn't know anything. You think they learned anything in the Kubert school? Wrong.

MDT: Are you saying that Joe Kubert was just cashing their checks?

JS: Joe, of course, is one of the all-time greats. He is brilliant. I don't think all of his teachers are necessarily brilliant. Some of these courses were not right on target for being a comic book inker. They'd take a cartooning course and learn all kinds of things. But it wasn't what we needed. And some of it was a little out of date. Some of them were better than others. The one thing I can say in favor of everybody who came out of the Kubert school is that they all came out with a good, solid professional attitude. You can really tell. Someone would start showing you samples, they would listen to what you were telling them. And they would say, yes, I can do that. Yes, sir, I'll try. And they did. They showed up to work. They did what you told them. They tried to learn from you. They did learn which end of the brush to hold. Kubert gave them a good professional attitude. These other guys who come in with their portfolios, saying, I'm a genius, how dare you tell me anything attitude, they came from Eisner's school. Will was a genius. Here are these kids who were taught by a genius, saying I was taught by a genius, who the hell are you? Will also, because he's a genius, he's teaching them stuff they're not capable of handling, they all walk out of there thinking they're geniuses. I say, no, we're going to tell a story straightforward. When you get to be Will Eisner, you can screw around with the panel shapes. Not yet. They'd go, philistine, moron, I'll do it the right way. No, you'll do it my way. I guess I am Mussolini.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:52pm UTC)
Continued...


Page 4
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Quote:
MDT: I was thinking of the shake-up that happened at Marvel recently with Joe Quesada and Bob Harras. What misconceptions about the job should be fling out the door?

JS: First of all, the job is probably far, far different than when I was there. When I was there, the previous editors-in-chief had been like head writers and really hadn't had any corporate position. They weren't officers of the company. They were these strange people down on the ninth floor who did God knows what and smelled bad.

The people upstairs had never opened a comic book and didn't know what it was. It was a mystery to them. When I took the job, in my interviews with Galton, I told him I was not going to stay under my rock downstairs. I wanted to make some changes. I showed up for work my first day, wearing a coat and a tie.

Galton once took me to a board meeting and as we're driving out to New Jersey, he said you're the only editor-in-chief I've introduced to the board. I said, why's that? He said, "You're the only one that's presentable. And you're well-spoken and you know what you're talking about." I said, "No, I don't. But I listen and I find out. I don't have any business school education, but I learned." I became an officer of the company and I had a corporate responsibility.

After I left, they didn't give DeFalco that opportunity. In the Perelman organization, they had layers and layers and layers of executives between the top brass and the editorial people. I had a unique position. I was the voice of the creative people among the brass. And I got to go down and explain what the bosses wanted to the creative people. I was the bridge. That ended with me. I don't know what the situation is. I suspect that Joe Quesada is not an officer of the company and does not sit in the executive staff meetings. I could stroll in Galton's office anytime. I could call Shelley Feinberg [Chairman of the Board of Cadence Industries, Inc., Marvel's parent company].

But I don't think Joe has that kind of situation.

Given that, it's a different job and working with entirely different people whom I don't know, it'd be hard for me to advise him. Except if I were him, I would make some big changes. I would do some serious reworking. It's really funny, talk to people in the business and they say it's... cyclical.

No, it's not cyclical. They sell when the comics are good, they don't when the comics are bad. People who give you that excuse, don't know what they're talking about.

Take a look at the books. Are they good? Are they interesting? Are they readable? Can a civilian read them? I think that's what Joe has to do and take a hard look at this stuff and make whatever tough changes he has to get it back from where they are.

It's really strange, to me, if you have 100 fans, OK, you can do anything to do whatever you want to make Marvel good again. They'd all come with the same thing. Get Frank Miller back on Daredevil. Chris and Byrne and Terry on the X-Men. And do stories like they did in the early 80s. What they'd be saying is get the best people and do good comics. That's not rocket science. 100 fans would come up with the same answer.

But the people who run the company don't get it. Because to them, who have never opened a comic book, a comic book is a bunch of garish colors, words they don't understand, some sell, some don't; they don't know why. They can't tell the difference between an Archie and an X-Men. They tell themselves, it's a cyclical business. Wrong. Everybody in the world knows what to do except the people who have the power to make the decisions.

MDT: I think you'd likened it to somebody who was hired to work at Marvel and thought of comics as toothbrushes.

JS: The president of Marvel came from Black & Decker and has never worked in comics or entertainment in his life. Peter Cuneo comes from Black and Decker and other hard goods like that. Peter's specialty is -- I think this is about to happen -- is a man who has a reputation for cleaning up companies and selling them.

I think that's what they're waiting to do at Marvel. I think they waited until after the X-men movie, which was a significant hit and was a good move to wait. And I think now the big brass is in negotiations with MCA/Universal or Sony or somebody trying to unload the thing at a good price.

Why? Because it's been ugly. They were in bankruptcy for two years. They emerged from bankruptcy. They borrowed a ton of money, like $200 million dollars, that's running out. They've been losing money ever since. ...They just can't make it work. They should ask me.

So Joe might just be there as window dressing. ... They might just be dressing it up to sell it. Making the kind of cosmetic changes you'd make to sell it.

MDT: So if they were going to sell it, would you take another crack at it?

JS: Too old, too tired.

MDT: At this point, no go?

JS: Here's the deal. The first time I tried to buy it, I put together a little partnership. We raised money from Chase, from a little venture company... all through a nightmarish year. [I]t's a full-time job buying a company.

We did put in a bid: $81 million. We thought we won. We signed a letter. Then at the last minute, they sold it behind our backs to [Ron] Perelman. He was an insider, by the way. He owned 20 percent of the selling company. We were a stalking horse. The whole thing was a scam. Perelman drove it into bankruptcy and between him and [Carl] Icahn, it was languishing in bankruptcy.

The one trustee they had was a milquetoast and wouldn't do anything. He was replaced by another trustee. The new trustee got aggressive and said, "Out, both of you. I'm going to find a buyer or a solution." He dumped both. He invalidated the claims of both Perelman and Icahn. For one glorious moment, it was up for bid.

I went to this investment bank, people I know, and we found an equity player, Perry Capital, who specializes in distressed companies, a $3 billion company, so they had the dough. The trouble was, that, it's one thing to raise $81 million. Marvel at that time was probably worth about half a billion dollars. No one in their right mind is going to give me half a billion dollars with a grade school education. I needed to have a partner who had that sort of clout.

We found that guy. This guy who was a former executive at Capital Cities/ABC who had run billion dollar companies. We made a partnership and I still had my relationships at Chase. It was funny, we were talking about running a billion dollar company and we wondered who would put up the debt for this acquisition. I said, how about Chase? He knew someone at Chase, someone in middle management. "I know Tom Reifenheiser." "You know Tom Reisenheimer?" "Yeah, the head of media & entertainment [at Chase]." "Will he take your call?" "I don't know, call him." Took my call. "Yes, fine just come to us when you're ready."

So off we go and do our due diligence. What we found was that it was such a rat's nest of contingent liabilities and law suits that it couldn't be done. There was so much legal warfare going on between Perelman, Icahn and Toy Biz and Marvel that ... you couldn't untangle it.

I suggested, what if we bought the whole thing? What if we buy Toy Biz as well? Buy it all and that takes care of your lawsuits. They said, yeah, but can you run a toy company. I said, no, but I know someone who can. I called Jill Barad from Mattel.

She sent her business affairs guys out and we all looked at it. The Mattel people were key. If we had them, we could buy the whole thing. Without them, nothing would happen. They backed away. The reason they backed away, was they said, "Look, this thing is in bankruptcy, it doesn't look like it has any chance of coming out of it. Let it collapse, lose all their money and pick up the pieces."

That was the end of that. It was kind of fun rooting around in their document rooms. Uncovering all of their dirty secrets. Chuck Rozanski was part of that group also. He was sort of the marketing arm.

MDT: Pretty much that has burned you out from taking another crack?

JS: I would have to devote another year of my life to it and I'd have to find a partner who had enough media and management credentials to run a company that's millions of dollars in debt.

... If it involved buying Toy Biz, well, I certainly couldn't run the toy part of the business. If you bought all of that, you would have to clean house. I think there are people who know the toy biz, but you'd have to go in there and really be prepared to rebuild it. I think editorially that could be done. 100 fans would tell you real easy just get the good people back, pay them enough and make a good situation there and make some good comics again. For the rest of it, it would be a lot. And frankly, right now, I don't have a year of my life to give.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (21st Nov 17 at 8:54pm UTC)
Continued...


Page 5
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Quote:
MDT: When do you think you'll be forgiven for your transgressions: real, imagined or manufactured?

JS: I don't care. I think there will always be assholes. I don't care. I've never really cared. I can't say it hasn't affected me.

[M]y phone never rings. Nobody ever calls me. Am I such a bad writer? Am I the worst writer in comics that no one can use me? In fact, a while back, I was looking for some work.

I called Paul Levitz and I said, "Paul, I got one Legion story left in me. Call it Jim Shooter's last legion story. Do it like Watchmen, do it like a series, 8 books, whatever and bind it in a book." Because I know the only thing they're making money on is the trade paperbacks. I said, "Look, it won't interfere with anybody, it'll be set back in the time when I wrote the Legion. Won't interfere with continuity. It'll be Jim Shooter's last legion story, I think I got some good ideas." He said, "I can't wait to read it."

He was in San Francisco. He said, "Look I'll be in the office Friday, I'll call you. Put together a list of the references you'll need, I know you don't have any comics at your house. And think about what artists you'd like to have. We'll talk Friday and get going on this."

The last thing I said is, "Y'know, Paul, you have some people working for you that don't like me and this will piss them off. Are you sure that's not going to be a problem?" He said, "They'll go to their corners and sulk for a little while, but it'll be fine. I'll take care of it."

Didn't get a call Friday, didn't get a call Monday. Called him Tuesday. "The scars are deeper than I thought. It would be too much hassle. They would make things difficult. You don't need that and I don't need that." I said, "Ok, that's fine."

... One time when I went to raise money to start one of my companies, this venture capital place, they did their due diligence on you, as they always do. So they come back to me, "We checked you out, everybody hates you. We're worried because a lot of these people have said bad things." I said, "I can tell you who the people are and I can tell you why. You don't have to tell me, I'll tell you what they said and why. What you'll find is that no one has a real grievance. It's John Byrne saying I wouldn't let him hack. It's someone else saying where I wouldn't let Spider-Man father an illegitimate child. That's really what it is. [If] you find someone who I ripped off and did something evil to, it's news to me.

"Tell you what, give us 100 positive references from notable people in the industry."

Well, I did. I'm talking about the Steve Geppis, the Eisners and Frank Miller... I got 100 people. Talk about having to jump through a hoop. If I wasn't the pariah of comics, I wouldn't have to do this. I did it and basically it made it clear, that it was whiny creators who had their differences.

I was supposed to be the president of Disney's publishing division. I was hired as a consultant and going to be the president of the publishing division and they reneged on that.

When they did the due diligence, they found there were some people who didn't like me. So they backed out of it and hired a guy named Randy.

I remember the guy that did that was named Michael. And later, he apologized profusely. He said, "Look, my impression of you is that your a brilliant creative person and you're the easiest creative person I've ever worked with. I don't know why they say these things about you. Maybe you've changed. Maybe you've reformed, but we can't take a chance. We're Disney, we can't take a chance."

So I went out and started Valiant. Disney crashed and burned.

A year later, Michael Lynton called me up and said, "I was so wrong. I have found out who these people are now that I've found out about the comic book business. They're idiots. They're people who are like children, having their little snits. I bet that if I were standing there beside them, I would've done everything you did. I 'm sorry it didn't work out with us. If you ever start another venture, come to me."

Some years later, when I started another company, he invested in it and served on my board. He realized that he had allowed me to be damaged by these people.

P.S. Michael Lynton went from Disney to be the president of Hollywood Pictures. From there to the CEO of Viking/Penguin and now he's the president of AOL international.

MDT: Not bad to have people like that in high places...

JS: The funny thing is, these people in high places are such honorable people that they would never use their authority to do anything... Michael Lynton would probably be with me if we had some sort of legitimate business in common. He isn't the type of guy who would do anything to favor his cronies.

Neither am I. Which has gotten me in a lot of trouble. Got guys who say, "Hey, I've been on your side. It's time for you to reward me." "No, it's about the work." Do good work, get rewarded. That has not probably won me a lot of awards either.

MDT: Is there anything that you would have done differently at Marvel?

JS: I would have done a lot of things differently. I made some incredibly stupid judgments and some incredibly pathetic mistakes. I don't think I made any failures of honor. I'm not aware I did. I think I did do the right thing in every case. I think if you'll go to the videotape, you'll find that you can't find an incident where I did something in self-interest to the detriment of someone else. It didn't happen. Everything I did for the books, I did it for the company, I did it because it was my job. ... I did it because I thought that's how you succeeded. Play fair, try hard and you win? Well, not always.

I'd be a lot smarter. I think that... when I was an associate editor at Marvel, I didn't feel I had enough power. I could make my books good, but I couldn't choose who did them. I was held accountable if there were problems, but I was editing five titles a month. It was an impossible situation. When I became editor-in-chief, I tried to give my editors a lot of room.

Far from being the Mussolini. Those guys were autonomous. I tried to be a referee between them. The trouble was, that was a bad idea. Some of those guys were not as capable as I was. What happened was that people who were not confident enough or capable enough of being a referee to a John Byrne or a Chris Claremont, whom they were in charge of. They couldn't win those arguments. You'd get these bad situations where I should have been more of a support to them. I should have been approving more things, taken more of the heat for them. Maybe things might have gone smoother.

Another thing, I wasn't making decisions based on this is my crony. But a lot of them were. They'd be there to help their buddies. And sort of the quality of the book would come in a distant third. Look at some of that stuff that was coming in. Think about, if Terry Austin was available, why did he pick this guy, when you're reading this book? They were scratching each other's backs.

When I left Marvel, it really got ridiculous. I never liked the idea of editors writing anyway. But after I left Marvel, if you check, every book is written by an editor whose working another editor. The Avengers guy gives Daredevil to some other editor. That editor gives the Avengers to the other guy and they're writing each other's books. They're not going to cross each other because they're both happy to be getting the royalties deal.

That's about the time that sales dropped off. It was all very incestuous, very crummy, very bad. And it just created this downward spiral, driving away all the Image guys. P.S. After I left, they almost systematically got rid of the writers. Roger Stern, Michelinie, Chris Claremont for Christ's sake.

MDT: They all went over to DC.

JS: DeMatteis, Louise Simonson. It's like they got rid of the writers one at a time, so the artists were writing the book. P.S. That didn't get any press. Nobody cares when the writers get squashed.

I ran into Terry Stewart in Frankfurt a couple of years later. He was a little smug because they had done Spider-Man #1 and it had sold a million copies and then the next year they had done X-Force and X-Men #1. And he said to me, "You're the comics guru, I feel like I won the lottery two years in a row. What do I do now?" I said, "Well, Terry, now you're going to have to create something. You've pulled all the easy triggers, now you have to really create something. And you don't have the horses."

He took me to heart. They took me to heart. The 2099 line of books. A bunch of derivative crap. Let's do the same thing, but call it the future. Spider-Man in the future.

It was pathetic. They didn't have the horsepower. There wasn't a Spawn in the bunch. Was that the best they can do?

It didn't even have a good idea at its foundation like the New Universe and they had all the money in the world to spend on it. They had top talent. They had Stan writing a book.

At the time when they needed some creative horsepower, they didn't have any. I'm not saying there weren't any talented people, they just didn't have anyone driving the books. No one steering the boat. What talent was there was largely squandered as a result.

... They blew their chance. Any 100 fans would tell them what they were doing wrong and they still wouldn't get it.

MDT: With all the work you've done with movie studios, have you thought of selling your story as a movie?

JS: I'm writing a book actually. I was offered a chance to write a book about it. Which I'm doing right now, which is called Supervillains. The main thrust about it is about the way Karl Icahn and Ron Perelman raped and pillaged the comic book industry and ultimately destroyed it. It's a shadow of what it outta be.

MDT: Your story, there's such a great narrative to it...

JS: I tell you, sometimes I think about it [and I say] I made that up (laughs).

MDT: If you saw this as a movie, you would say that would never happen to somebody, but it did...

JS: It took the right combination of ingredients. It took a certain naivete on my part.

I arrived at Marvel thinking that people who ran companies wanted the companies to succeed. No. The officer of the company is hoping that they are going to get very rich. If they see an opportunity to take the company private and sell it and walk away with millions of dollars, who cares about the people who thought this was their career? Who thought they'd be here 20 years from now, collecting their pension? That's the reality.

Stupid me, I'd be in these meeting and I couldn't understand why these people were resisting something so obviously good for the company.

MDT: Because it wasn't good for what they wanted to get out of it short-term.

JS: Y'know, finally, a little light bulb came on. But I kept encountering these things. It never occurred to me that if I was honorable every time, tried to make the right decision and decide things fair... tried to decide things according what was good for the books, the company and in my job to do.

What never occurred to me was that I had a reputation for being a megalomaniacal person with secret agendas. You don't even get credit. You do that stuff and you don't get acknowledged that you did any of the good stuff. I might as well have pillaged the place because you get the reputation anyway.

The people who don't like you will say you're evil even if you're not, and so, you don't even get the benefit of a good reputation even if do the right thing. You say, you know what, I'm doing it anyway. Then you've crossed the rubicon, and I think you can live with yourself. The truth is, you can't.

I always thought, you play fair, try hard and it'd be OK. No. If I did it again, I'd be a little smarter, try to do the right thing, but watch my back a little better.

MDT: With all the good female editors at Marvel, like Louise Simonson, Mary Jo Duffy, Bobbie Chase, Ann Nocenti, why was there never a female editor in chief?

JS: Well, there hasn't been that many editors-in-chief since the beginning. I think I was the seventh one if you count Stan. And even by the time I got into it, there were really weren't that many women in comics, period.

If you looked around the office, it was all guys. You went to conventions, it was all guys. To this day, the demographics are 90% male readership. There just weren't that many women writers and artists. Similarly, there were few women in management.

Not that I made a special move to do so, but when women showed up that were talented and capable, I was more than happy to have them there. I thought it sort of broadened our point of view. Some of them were pretty good. Some of them weren't. I think the outstanding ones like Louise or Ann Nocenti, really made a mark.

MDT: A matter of numbers more than exclusion?

JS: The industry as a whole was excluding women. I sure wasn't. One of my theories at Marvel, was that... comics had become this cult thing.

When I started writing comics, Superman was selling something like 1,000,000 copies a month to individual readers. People weren't buying them by the case and putting them up in boxes and plastic bags. Comics were really a mass market entertainment.

A few good things happened, they had gotten more sophisticated, but they were more and more cult oriented, more collector oriented. So by the mid-70s, the audience was way smaller, very few new readers coming in, very few young readers coming in. It was almost like it had become the fan's medium, like us just talking to ourselves.

And so, I had a very determined goal to try to broaden the reach of comics. I didn't think there was anything wrong with reaching the hardcore fan -- I felt like I was in that group -- but I wanted to have comics for everybody. We tried to reach older with Epic Comics, we tried to reach younger with Star Comics, and in general, tried to make the comics more readable, more acceptable so they could be read by everybody. And I also tried to broaden the point of view. I encouraged people to take a point of view.

When I walked in there, I had people tell me things like, well, you can't really have much story, because you have to have 3 fights an issue. Who tells you this crap? Where did you get that? ...They didn't get them from me.

One time I actually challenged Doug Moench. I said, write a Master of Kung-Fu with no fight, just make it a great story. And he did, it was one of his better issues. It was pretty good. I was trying to expand the horizons. I lucked out and got some really talented people there. And I think the female point of view was partly successful why the X-Men was so successful. Louise and Ann -- Chris will tell you -- they were great contributors to the X-Men.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (22nd Nov 17 at 2:25am UTC)
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Part 2

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Page2
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Quote:
MDT: A lot of the characters that you bought for Valiant were old Gold Key characters right? Magnus, Turok, Solar...

JS: Right.

MDT: And those are the ones that you wanted to publish at Valiant?

JS: Yes.

MDT: Instead what happened?

JS: We started off on working on those. We hired an assistant named Laura Hitchcock and we would sit in our offices coming up for ideas for these characters.

At the same time, Steve had somehow met people who represented Nintendo. LCI was owned by Stan Weston. He was a guy who I had licensed Micronauts from. Somewhere between Marvel and starting Valiant, we talked to Stan about being a potential investor.

He'd actually heard Harvey was for sale and asked if I'd be interested in going after that with him. We had begun a conversation with Stan that never went anywhere. Once we were chatting again, I guess Steve was talking to him about making comics based on the properties they represented.

LCI represented Nintendo and World Wrestling Federation, to name a few. So I guess, Steve had some conversations with him about doing Nintendo comics.

You have to understand, Nintendo was very hot back then. Mario Bros. was doing great. It sounded attractive. I knew you couldn't sell those comics in the existing comics market, but you might be able to sell them in the mass market. Steve was really behind this. He really wanted to do this. This was, of course, before I knew that he was sleeping with the banker. She seemed to be all gung ho about this, too. I was thinking about this, gee, the money people think it's a good idea.

Steve kept telling me things like because of Stan Weston and their relationship with Nintendo we could get the use of Nintendo's mailing list, who -- at that point -- had a 2,000,000 name subscriber database for their magazine. So if we could get an ad in their magazine -- maybe a blow-in card -- to advertise these new comics, that'd be pretty good.

2,000,000 people who are desperately interested in Nintendo, if we put out a good product...

...Maybe this would go. Nintendo was saying that they would help us market it and get on the shelves next to the games. That'd be great. We sign this deal, pay them a phenomenal amount of money, something like $300,000 -- which was a lot of money for a little company like ours -- and of course it never happened.

We never got the subscriber list, we never got help with the marketing and basically left to twist in the wind. Which we did. And we tried different things to make it work. It wasn't happening. I wanted to get out of the Nintendo business and get into the superhero business, but Steve and Melanie had surfaced and Winston had been fired. It was kind of contentious.

[WWF Comics]Before we could do superheroes, they insisted we try the wrestling comics. Same nightmare, couldn't give the things away. David Lapham's first job was wrestling comics. Finally, we got to do the superhero stuff. I get my way and we came up with a lot of ideas for promoting them. Some of them Massarsky's, some of them mine at this point. I think what would usually happen, he would say something like, if we could get them to buy the first 5 or 6. I'd say, we should put something in them that you'd have to buy all 6 to make one complete thing. Or something like that.

...We started publishing the superhero stuff and it wasn't an instant hit. We were selling OK numbers. I think Magnus started out selling 80,000-90,000 and then trickled down into 50,000 or so. Solar, with the Barry Windsor-Smith thing. Big name, right? Nothing. Sold like 40,000, I think. They weren't doing that well.

MDT: For comics, what's a good number for sales of comics?

JS: It different for every one. Depends on how many you print, because the more you print, the less it costs you per unit. It depends on the price of the book.

I would say as a rule of thumb, if a major publisher paying real rates has a book selling 30,000 or more, it's probably making money. If it's selling less, then it's probably losing money. Now, there are so many variables in that equation. Like if you're a smaller publisher and you're not paying people much or you're using different paper than the bigger companies.

There's a million variables. You see these small presses doing black and whites for $3 each, selling 10,000 of them, they're making a fortune. You also see a DC or Marvel putting out a superhero book and it's selling 19,000 copies and they probably lost $10-15,000. But Time-Warner doesn't care.

We were mostly making money. We had a couple of books that didn't make the cut. After a couple of issues of Harbinger, we lost a little bit. We started building a real constituency. The fans we had were intense. We really felt like we were onto something.

P.S. with Massarsky and Nintendo: Massarsky was also doing legal work for Nintendo and some kind of consulting arrangement with LCI.

MDT: He was supposedly working for you and taking money from everybody...

JS: And on top of that, we all had employment contracts. Massarsky had agreed that when we launched the company, that he would cease his law practice and they would let him spend a minimal amount of time being counsel. He didn't wanted to entirely cut his ties to the Allman Bros. Band.

But that was supposed to be minimus and he was supposed to abandon his law practice and devote [his time] to us full-time. He didn't. He devoted full-time to his law practice and spent very little time to Valiant.

Like I said, he was consulting with LCI, with whom we were paying a lot of money for properties I didn't want... [He was also] doing legal work for Nintendo. His excuse was it strengthens our relationship. I found it to be a string of conflicts that I found to be unacceptable.

We started publishing superheroes. I thought we did some good stuff. Here's how it happened: we started publishing these books, but we weren't getting a lot of attention. Diamond thought of us as a little publisher and ignored us. We really did as much promotion and publicity as we could given our rather limited budget. But we just weren't getting that presence that helps you take off.

As I said, our readers were rabid and looked for back issues. The back issue prices started to zoom up. Right about the same time we started Wizard magazine started reporting about phenomenal prices on these Valiant books. Wizard did a cover story on their 7th or 8th issue on us. Like, hey, look at this phenomenal thing. That really got people's attention. February is the month you order books for April. April sales went remarkably up. May and June were Unity and put us into the 100s of thousands, well, I was gone [by June of 92], but they really took off.

MDT: The turning point for the company became successful was the point at which you left or rather were fired.

[Unity 2000]JS: To me, the real turning point was February of 92 when we actually made money. We had a new title come out and we were breaking even with the rest that we made about $20,000 that month. They were making their orders for April, March orders were already in and I don't think that was a great month. April we did pretty well, I think we made $100,000. Because sales went up. We published Archer & Armstrong #0 and May & June were the Unity months. We had really gone all out to promote Unity and really got good sales. Virtually everything was selling 100,000 and some even selling 200,000 which for a small company like us was pretty good. Pre-tax profit in May and June was half a million dollars a month.

So we had made it right?

June there was the Diamond convention. We were voted by the retailers as the publisher of the year. There were two divisions: Marvel and DC, and then the rest of us. We got small publisher of the year award. I got a Diamond Gemmi award for lifetime achievement. So did Bob Overstreet, so did Stan Lee. I walk up on this stage, and with 3,000 people who were in the retail community, I get a standing ovation. If I had walked up on stage one year earlier, they would have been throwing fruit.

To me, I said, we made it. Redeemed. Successful. Money rolling in over the gunwales. We made it. Had a glorious moment of success and redemption. If people in this industry decide you're a bad guy, that only lasts until you do something good or you have a hot book.

And then you're OK again. By that point, we were really successful for subsequent months. Don't forget you get your orders for subsequent months. We knew that in July and August, we were [going to be] rockin', we were going to be making a lot of money. All of a sudden, Bill Shanes is coming up from Diamond to visit us. He's talking to me about reprints... "We know you're reprinting the first issues of Harbinger. I'll guarantee you a 100,000 of those." He was wrong, it was 200,000. We knew that Harbinger was going to be featured. we were there, we were their darlings. About the same time that Massarsky and co. were going to get rid of me.

MDT: There was a story I really want you to talk about. Your conversation with Stan Lee after winning that award.

JS: Stan, me and Bob Overstreet all got lifetime achievement awards. You have to understand, with Valiant, we started it on a shoestring budget, we squandered a lot of it on wrestling and Nintendo. By the time we got down to doing the real work, we worked in pathetic conditions. We had no money.

Barry Windsor-Smith doesn't know this, but I paid a good bit of the money paid to him out of my own pocket. I charged it on my VISA card. I didn't have it. Layton; we were all working long hours. He needed to take a little break, a vacation. We gave him a bonus. The company gave him a bonus? No, I gave him a bonus. He thinks it came from the company. We had no money to hire artists. No one to do anything.

You'll notice I drew a few of those issues. It's not because I wanted to. It wasn't because I thought I was an artist. It's because we couldn't afford anybody. We didn't have the money. WE were working ridiculous hours. And the weapon we had to fight with was man hours. Every day, from the moment I woke up to the moment I couldn't keep my eyes open any more.

I went for over a year. Never missed a day of work. I worked Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving, we had 14 people working. Debbie Fix made dinner in the microwave.

On Christmas Day one artist asked when he could come in for an appointment. I said, next Tuesday. He said, that's New Year's Day, no one's going to be here. I said, try me. Sure enough, he comes in, the office is buzzing. We worked our butts off.

We worked in conditions you wouldn't like. We had a crummy office, mice infestations. Mama mouse had her babies in a sportsjacket I left lying on my desk. It was pathetic.

At first, it was freezing in there. Everybody had a space heater next to them. We figured out how many you could plug in before you blew a circuit. It was awful. It was this nightmare. We came through it. We won. We made it. Nope.

That last month [at Valiant], I wrote six comic books. [This] being the president of the company. Phone calls. Meetings. Doing all the business of the business as well. Answering mail.

After the thing, I walked up to Stan and I said congratulations, shook his hand. We were exchanging pleasantries and I said, "Y'know, Stan, I know you wrote something like 12 comic books a month for something like 10 years. I just wrote six and it nearly killed me. How did you do it? How did you write so many books for so long?" I love this. He said, "You put a lot more into it than I do." I remember a lot of those early Marvels and there was a lot in them. So revolutionary, so good, so clever. It was a really nice thing to say.

MDT: In spite of what happened, a vindication of sorts.

JS: I don't really need a vindication. I was there. I know what happened. I know I did the right thing. I might be a little smarter next time. I felt good about it. I really felt that... the thing that bugs me is the other people, like [Janet Jackson]. When they fired me, they just dumped those people out on the street and anybody who they felt was loyal to me.

They almost fired Don Perlin. But I think Bob intervened for that. Because Perlin was a friend of mine, so I'm sure they were suspicious of him. But that's what really got to me. I had plenty of opportunities and I wasn't likely to miss any meals.

And I have not. These other people who had believed in me and worked their tails off... And it's all gone. [Here's what] I feel bad about: [A]mong the things they were counting on not happening was to not have that happen. Who knew Steve would be sleeping with the banker?

If I had been smarter, I would have known what to do. I eagerly believed that being the creative person, they wouldn't do anything to me. Well, guess what? After you create it, they can get rid of you. Once you've done the seminal creation, who needs you anymore?

MDT: Can you explain a little about the deal that was described to you shortly before you firing? Melanie's brother-in-law?

JS: Sometime in March, I guess, Michael Nugent -- Melanie's partner -- came to our office and said he had something important he wanted to talk to us about. Sat down with me and Steve. Told us about how our note was overdue and we were going to have to foreclose.

Come June, they were going to have to shut us down. I can't prove this, but Steve and Michael were saying stuff like, oh, we understand, we have to find a buyer. They were such bad actors. I'm thinking, this is being staged for my benefit.

On the face of it, it's idiotic. If somebody owes you money and they're just starting to produce, you don't shut them down. You let them pay you off. OK, so you take your pound of flesh, you invoke some clauses in your agreement so you dilute the owner's stock or something. It was nonsense on the face. This is weird, what's going on?

And Massarsky is getting real buddy buddy with Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton. Massarsky, who had never said hello to anyone to that point, all of sudden was coming in to our bullpen area, buying pizzas, chatting with everyone. Guess it's nice Steve is getting involved in the business. Struck me as odd, still.

I'm told one day, great news, we have a buyer. It's Allen & Co., where Melanie's brother worked. To me, Triumph wants out, fine. I don't care if someone buys their position. Tell me what the deal is. I was told that Allen & Co. wanted a stake in us and might seek other buyers. This sort of kept being pitched to me, but no one would tell me what the terms of the deal were.

I kept asking, what are terms of the deal. And they'd say, we'll get to that, but let me tell you how great this deal is going to be. Part of the investor is going to be Charles Lazarus from Toys R Us. All of our books are going to be on display at Toys R Us. One of them is going to be Michael Ovitz, so there'll be films. Oh, it's going to be glorious.

I kept making it clear, I don't want to be an employee of someone else's company, I want to have a stake in this. Terms that are acceptable. They just kept saying, it'll great, it'll be great.

So, finally, I am on my way to the Diamond convention. It's late at night and I'm going the next morning. I think it was a Friday and a package of papers come from Triumph. They said, here are the contracts. They have to be signed and delivered by Monday or the whole deal falls apart. I'm on a train to Baltimore in the morning and I'm going to be busy all weekend at the retailers convention.

When am I going to show this to a lawyer? Has to be Monday, has to be Monday. I stayed up that night and read those papers. They were the most pernicious documents you could imagine.

Among them was an employment agreement for me. A ten-year employment agreement. No increase in pay. Takes away my title. I am now an employee with no title. I now have no specified duties. It appoints Steve's brother-in-law as our new CEO and it says that if I do not report to the CEO and obey the CEO, they can fire me and claw back my stock for nothing. It says that I have a two-year non-compete after the ten years, during which I can't do anything but flip burgers.

There are all sorts of claw back arrangements in there. They can fire me and claw back all my stock for "failing to engender good morale." If I piss off Bob Layton one day for some reason, they can fire me and claw back all my stock. I had to sign representations and warranties that weren't true. The agreement was terrible. Allen & Co. were buying in for a fairly small amount of money. Here's a company who's starting to make fairly good amount of money a month. You don't [give] a controlling interest of it for $9 million.

P.S. Everybody else stayed in. They weren't even being bought out. It was so Allen & Co. could come in and bring these heavy hitters and sell the company to somebody lese.

I was not going to do that. On the way down, Bob [Layton] was behaving weirdly and on the way back, it kind of came out that Massarsky had made him a bunch of promises, and they were going to get rid of me. Y'know, that was OK because he would take over.

I told him, Go to hell. Walked away from him and haven't spoken to him since.

What they did is they made arrangements with Bob and Barry Windsor-Smith, figuring that his big name would replace my big name and Bob would be able to keep the trains running. They did. Bob stayed there for some time. Barry's was the same as mine.

Once they'd gone a couple of months and the place hadn't collapsed -- they had gotten the use of Barry's name in association -- they didn't need him anymore. They screwed him.

Bottom line is, I came back and said I wouldn't sign the documents. They said if I went to see a lawyer, they'd kill the deal. I went to see a lawyer anyway.

I went through what in the financial trades is called a cram-down. Where I was literally shuttled from meeting to meeting where people would scream at me, [asking me how I could be so selfish? Don't screw up this] ...opportunity.

Because I was a pig. That's the story they tell the fan press. "We had this great opportunity, but he was such a megalomaniacal guy, he couldn't stand to lose any control. We wanted to do things as a team and he wanted to be a dictator...."

Horseshit! They were trying to steal it and I couldn't stop them. They're not going to tell you, "We're going to steal it!" They're going to say, he just wouldn't play ball, you know how he is. It's really amazing, once you've had your reputation assailed, it's so easy to do it again. It was so easy to reawaken all the Marvel megalomaniac stories. You know how he is, oh, yeah, I've heard about it.

If I had been stupid enough to sign that thing and keep working for them, keep making them money and they could have gotten rid of me at their leisure, that would've been OK, but they had really set themselves up for plan B. They got Bob and Barry and the John Harts. Made little arrangements with them, pay them off essentially. Cover if I didn't stick around. My lawyer tried to negotiate with them and they just laughed at him. Slammed the phone down.

One morning, I'm summoned to a board meeting uptown. 9 a.m. board meeting. I go. They appoint Fred Pierce to the board -- Melanie's assistant -- so they would have a clear majority. And they fired me. Told me not to go back to the office because there were two armed guards who were instructed to prevent me from returning to the office.

Meanwhile, Debbie and JJ were pretty much unceremoniously dumped on the sidewalk. They said, "Get your shit out of here." JJ had brought all of her own equipment, we didn't have any money to buy our own equipment. So she had desks and chairs and art supplies, trying to load this stuff, nobody's helping her.

Fortunately a friend of mine was in town who had stopped by the office to visit. He saw what was going on and helped Debbie and JJ get their things out and guard stuff on the street while they brought the rest down. Got them a cab. It was horrible, a nightmare.

They immediately started doing things [to others]. They took David Lapham in a room and tried to do a cram-down on him. Lecturing him about what a monster I was. Telling him he didn't know what had gone on behind the scenes. What a bastard I was. That night, David calls me up and says, "What's going on?" So I have dinner with him and tell him. He said, "I need this work, so I can't leave yet. But as soon as you get started again, I'll come with you." I said, great. He stayed with Valiant for a while, which was good, built up his reputation. When we started Defiant, he came with me.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (22nd Nov 17 at 3:25am UTC)
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Part 2
continued...

Page 3
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Quote:
MDT: When all was said and done, what were you left with from Valiant, as far as stock, interest in the company, etc.?

JS: What happened, the first thing they did was fire me. I almost giggled. The first feeling I got was, "I don't have to stay up all night tonight. I don't have to work tonight." It had been a year or more that I hadn't worked every minute of every day. I remember feeling almost this giddiness. It wasn't that I was happy about getting fired, but I couldn't deny the fact that there was something cool about not having work all night.

So I walk out of there, I still owned 25% of the company. I had captured some of Winston's stock when he left. I own 25% of something that's worth something. I'll sleep tonight. I'll live.

The thing was, a couple days later, Triumph sued me for a $50,000 personal guarantee. Claiming that the company was in default. This company's making a pre-tax profit of $2,000,000 a month. Now I suppose technically, it could have been in default if they had invoked default back when we couldn't pay.

But the fact is, in order to sell the company to Allen & Co. they had to have a clean auditor's opinion. So, Triumph had waived default, all events of default. I had a letter to that effect. I had to sign representations to that effect. Representations that had been used to sell the company.

They had actually tried to steal my letter. One day the financial officer -- who was one of their boys -- came down and said, you know that letter you have, there's a mistake on it, give it back to me. I said, I don't think I have it here, Ed. I did. I said, I think it's home. So that night, I made sure to take that letter out of there.

The next morning I had come in, my files had been tossed. Tossed, somebody had gone through them. I had that rep letter. I went to the lawyers and they tried to defend me.

I spent $70,000 defending myself against a lawsuit for $50,000. If that sounds crazy to you, as near as I can tell, they spent $400,000 suing me for $50,000. If that doesn't make any sense, let me explain it to you. If they were able to get a court to validate the notion that there had been a default, that meant the value of my stock was zero. I was sitting here with stock that was arguably worth many millions of dollars.

P.S. They had forged a letter that said only certain events of default had been waived. Horseshit! They did lose. It was an obvious scam.

Their next tactic was to use the other clause in the contract, which was to force arbitration. And they won arbitration. Won it on the first day. The arbitrator was this guy in his 70s. He had never had any experience with intellectual property. He hadn't [any background] with entertainment or publishing. I guess his background was arbitrating with cases where an executive would leave Alcoa. And so he didn't understand the value of intellectual properties. His idea was that the company should be valued on the day I left. My lawyers said, "that's like valuing the Muppets the day before they go on television. That's like valuing the lightbulb the day before they start selling lightbulbs." [The arbitrator] was like, he's an executive, he's no longer there, what do you mean? He didn't grasp that I had created these characters.

[Valiant's lawyers] asserted that the company was worth negative $2,000,000. I did a valuation on it and said it was worth something like $20 or $22 million on the day I left. Meanwhile, it's making $2,000,000 dollars in pre-tax profit.

Ultimately, what the arbitrator did -- as arbitrators almost always do -- they split the difference.

"Well, you had a bona fide offer of $9 million. Well, we'll use that as a value."

Wait, that was from her brother. Hold it, wait! He didn't get it. He was a doddering old man. The value was $9 million.

They invoked a couple of clauses that if I was fired, they could dilute me. The fact is, I had letters saying that I wasn't fired for cause. They didn't care. They knew I didn't have the wherewithal to keep suing them. They just pretended that I was fired for cause, they diluted me a couple of times, ran the percentage [I owned] into the teens.

They ran the numbers and deducted the debt. All this money they made, they never paid down the debt, because they wanted to deduct it against the value of my stock. So they deduct $4 million from $9 million, they get $5 million. I get some small percentage. After taxes, I didn't have enough to pay the lawyers. I think I'm the only person in the country who lost money on Valiant. Except for Acclaim entertainment. Then they sold the company to Acclaim Entertainment for $65 million dollars in stock.

MDT: You never saw any of that?

JS: Never even got copies of the books I did. They reprinted everything I ever wrote and sold large quantities of it. I never even got a copy of the books, much less the royalty.

The payments that they had to make to me was over 4 years. Each payment, we'd go through this whole hazing thing. They'd send it to the wrong zip code. There'd be a $10 error on it. They'd stop payment on it, the bank charges me $35. They'd send it again to the wrong zip code. Just stringing me along. Dicking me around.

The level of hate was amazing. I asked a friend of mine who's a psychologist. I asked him, what is this? They ended up with all the money. He said, "Jim, people who wrong you hate you the most. If they wrong, they have to hate you. You have to be the bad guy, otherwise, how do they live with themselves?" They just delight in making you the great Satan. They always have this righteous wrath they enjoy enacting upon you."

During the time, they were trying to sell the company, they waited too long. They got greedy. The comic book industry started to go into a slide and they hadn't closed the deal.

In other business dealings, I ran into a guy named Enrique Senior, who was second in command of Allen & Company. He was actually the one selling Valiant, conducting the sale or at least in charge of it. He said, they were actually negotiating with people for about $250 mFillion.

But then the comic book business started to erode, started to slide and they were waiting to see if it would level out. They were lucky to get Acclaim. It actually makes sense. A entertainment venture company that's making about $25 million in pre-tax profit and then multiple of 20. Discount it down to $10. $250 million isn't outrageous.

But anyway, it was kind of funny. He actually ended up saying something nice to me. Goes on the highlight reel. He said, when we ended up selling it to Acclaim for $65 million and stock, that was a mistake, no one should've bought that company, the creative guy was gone. Damn straight he was.

MDT: Was your situation at Valiant the exception or the rule for the comics industry?

JS: I think that was an exceptional situation. I have discovered, since then, that scenario I describe is a lot more common in venture capital than anyone seems to know. It's almost typical that venture capital will almost deliberately under capitalize a new venture.

Some entrepreneur will spill his guts, use all his ideas and then the capital venture guys will find a way to squeeze him out and capture the value of his ideas. I don't think most of them are pernicious as the pack I dealt with. I discovered that that is not an unusual circumstance.

But I think in most cases in the comics industry, you had your big guys, you had your Image guys with stupefying amounts of their own money, didn't need venture capital, little tiny players, most of whom bootstrapped. And then you had the most successful bootstrap, Dark Horse. Mike [Richardson, owner & publisher] didn't come from a poor family, but he built that up from nothing. He had retail stores first and parlayed one business into another. The only comic book company with any significance I know of with venture capital was Innovation. I know the people who were the money behind Innovation. They were bankers, but they weren't terrible people. They weren't like the people I dealt with.

MDT: The gentlemen who created Ren & Stimpy, got the same sort of shaft you did.

JS: It happens. Apparently, [Triumph] had a reputation. In my next company, I had a meeting with Mr. Veronis and Mr. Suhler of Veronis & Suhler. I was sitting there and talking to them. Excuse me, if you're so good at this, why did they fire you from this company you started? I said, the backer of this company was a little company called Triumph Capital, and they turned, looked at each other and started laughing. They said, say no more, we understand. Obviously, these guys had a reputation because Veronis & Suler sure knew who they were.

MDT: Defiant had a pretty good start. Dave Cockrum did some work. David Lapham came over. You even had Chris Claremont for a short period. What happened?

JS: We had a few good people. Comics were booming and even though I had money to pay people, they were busy. We struggled to get many big name artists. We didn't have enough money to get state of the art coloring. The quality of the books wasn't what I had wanted. We had some problems, probably my fault, I might have underestimated what it would take.

[Warriors of Plasm]We also, when we first started out, were sued by Marvel Comics. When we announced Plasm, they claimed they had a character that that infringed upon. What they actually had was a name registered in the U.K. trademark with intent to use. They ended up suing us. We ended up fighting that out in court. It cost us over $300,000 in court. We won, hands down. The judge scolded them at the them, because he knew they were just using it as a business weapon. Trying to use the court to squelch a competitor.

Especially since, to them, I was a dangerous competitor. The last time I had started a company, I had taken a chunk out of their market share. They lost and lost big. But when you're a small company and somebody bleeds $300,000 out of you -- also 120 hours of my time, a similar amount of time for Winston [Fowlkes] who was the publisher.

The sidebar to that story is. [We] created Plasm. When their lawyers came after us, our lawyers said, we'll change the name, what do you want? They said, if you just add some words to the name, so that it doesn't seem like one character, that'd be OK. We offered them Warriors of Plasm. and they said, give us a couple of them and we'll pick from them. We offered them Warriors of Plasm and a couple others and they didn't reply.

This is May. They didn't reply. Our lawyers said, we can't get them to reply, so here's what we'll do. We'll do the change unilaterally, because as far as we agreed, if we do the change, we'll be OK. Warriors of Plasm had worked for me.

What they did was they waited for the day the book was shipping and they waited for a temporary restraining order. Well, we anticipated that. My publisher at Quebecor had arranged for our shipment to be interlaced with Marvel shipments. they couldn't stop their books unless they stopped theirs. So our books shipped. We went to court and fought it out. It was ugly.

Here's the biggest casualty. I had gone out to Mattel and sold Warriors of Plasm to Mattel as a toy. Half a million dollar advance, $1 million a year guarantee for three years. They were predicting a $50-$60 million toy line. Now if you have a major toy with Mattel, that's a master license and you can expect ancillary licenses.

The formula goes like this: Whatever you get from Mattel, you get the same amount from all the ancillaries combined. And you get roughly the same amount again all from all the international licensees combined. So, U.S. equals ancillary equals international. So, basically, that was $9 million. When Marvel sued us, that deal went on hold. And it took so long to resolve that we missed our window.

When we missed our window, the deal fell apart. We missed to have the toy on sale when Mattel wanted it. Then they said, maybe we can renegotiate. Since we're not sure Marvel isn't done suing yet, we want indemnifications [assumption of responsibility for legal exposure, i.e., you pay if somebody sues]. We're a little company, we're not indemnifying Mattel. We finally just walked away. We tried a couple other places, nibbles, bites, here and there, but never managed to. Not only did they cost me $300,000, but $9 million [in money never made].

MDT: Have you thought about coming back to revisit the Plasm universe?

JS: I've thought about doing some bio-tech stuff. Plasm is now owned by Golden Books Entertainment and I have a relatively good relationship with them. So if I come up with something, I might.

MDT: Is Golden Books still part of the people that you did Broadway Comics with?

JS: I did Broadway Comics with Broadway Video Entertainment, which is one of Lorne Michaels' [Executive Producer of Saturday Night Live] companies. A guy named Eric Ellenbogen was president. Broadway Video Entertainment was my partner and Lorne Michaels, as Broadway Video Entertainment, was my partner. He owned half the company, I owned half the company. When they decided to sell, when Broadway Video Inc. decided to sell Broadway Video Entertainment to Golden Books, we just went along with it. In fact, so did Eric Ellenbogen. The whole staff, everyone with Broadway Video Entertainment got sold to Golden Books, which then promptly went bankrupt. Basically at that time, we weren't self-sufficient. It would have taken too much money to ... We would have had to have an infrastructure, our own accounting. It wasn't doable.

MDT: Basically, it was another money situation.

JS: They said, look, we need to close this down. My response could have been, I'll raise the money and buy it. But it looked like... with the comic book business as it was, the amount of money I would've needed, the amount of ownership I would have had to give away to raise the amount of money I needed, I'm thinking, I'm going to end up working as an employee. It just wasn't worth it. I said, bye. I still have a stake in those characters. They have the Defiant characters as well.

MDT: So, it could be you might revisit both company's characters at some point?

JS: Who knows? Start a new company, get those characters back, work out some kind of deal.

MDT: When did you do Daring Comics?

JS: I never did. I started it. Chuck Rozanski said, "Why don't you bootstrap it (self-publish)? I said, I don't know. I know how to publish a million comics. I'm not sure I know how to publish 5,000. He said, I'll help you. Let me do a test [at Mile High] and see if there's any interest. And there was a lot of interest. I had some ideas for books and I started working on them. The trouble is, I had to earn a living. I always had other work I had to do. I didn't have the time to devote to self-publishing. And it's speculative. You could put a lot of work into it...

MDT: ...and get nothing.

JS: Or it could be a long time before you get anything.

It wasn't only me. The artist I had the deal with had the same problem, Joe James. I did a good bit of work, but I was still waiting for Joe to do the parts he needed to do. Bottom line, it's a thing you can do if you have time on your hands. It's something you could do [if your other job allowed you] to pay rent [and] if it left you enough time to do that, then fine. I say that I'd like to do it, but it's not possible. I'm busy with long hours every day.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (22nd Nov 17 at 3:29am UTC)
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Part 2
continued...

Page 4
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Quote:
MDT: What happened that you went back to Acclaim (formerly Valiant) to write Unity 2000?

JS: As you know, Defiant ran out of money, and we actually had Savoy Pictures and New Line sniffing at us. Got into serious negotiations with them. Just didn't happen.

Finally ran out of money. That's when I did some development work for Broadway. You know how that turned out.

Suddenly I was a freelance writer again. That would have been 97. I was scrambling around getting work. Some advertising, did some work for Saban, for Fox, for Lightflash, did a little work here and there. But it's really nice to have a steady gig.

So one day the phone rings. A voice says, "I'm from Acclaim Entertainment, don't hang up." I said, "OK."

"My name is Mike Marts, I'm from Acclaim Comics, but there's no one here you know." I said, "Well, that's a good thing." He said, "We didn't like 'em either." I said, "What can I do for you?" he said, "Look, we would like to do this Unity 2000 thing. Would you consider writing it?" I said, "I'll talk about it. I don't have anything with you or anybody at Acclaim as long as the former bad guys aren't there."

I met with him and the publisher and one of the other editorial staff people. We had a nice lunch. We talked about what we could do. They made me a pretty good offer. I suggested they take Jim Starlin who was happy to do it. And we started out. I've written the whole thing. I've turned in five issues. I've turned in six plots and Starlin has turned in all the artwork. But as of today, they've only published three of them. The thing is, they never paid me [for the last 2 issues].

... I'm not going to give them the last issue. They've got the art and they've got the plot, so maybe they'll just get someone to write it. Who knows? I don't know. I've lost interest in them. When people don't pay me, I lose interest in them.

MDT: So it's pretty much soured at this point.

JS: I thought it was a good story, I thought it had good characters. I thought the last two issues were pretty good. But they never paid me for #5, they better not print that. That I would raise hell about, but I'm not turning in #6. If they get someone to rewrite #5 and write #6, I guess they can do that.

MDT: Was there talk about you doing more work for them after this?

JS: Oh, yeah. They wanted me to help write the bible for the new Acclaim Universe. They wanted me to consult editorially and wanted me to create stuff and write monthly books for them. Blah, blah, blah, blah. They were going to gather Unity stuff in a trade paperback and wanted me to write a forward. Big plans.

Well, I'm doubting' it. Mike Marts got out of there and went to Marvel. They had this guy, Omar Benmali, who was a nice enough guy, but they fired him. I have never since heard from an editor there. So I don't know what's going on there.

MDT: I was looking at Previews the other day and check up. They have Unity #4-6 solicited already.

JS: They haven't paid for #5 yet and they ain't gettin' #6. Unless they've made other arrangements, I don't know what they're talking about.

MDT: They have your name on #6 for the solicitation. How can they do that?

JS: They probably can't. I keep sending emails to the publisher, Walter Black. He does not reply.

The last reply I got from him was July 10. I inquired as to whether they were sending me a check and they were "sending it this week." That is one lost-in-the-mail check.

MDT: What are you doing currently?

JS: I'm working for a film company. I'm doing some freelance once in a while, but the main thing I'm doing -- my steady gig -- is I work for a film company called Phobos. It's a small film company put together by some very accomplished and capable people in the film business with long careers in the film business. They want to be a boutique science fiction filmmaker. I've been working with them, working with other people's scripts, working with development. Developing some of my own stuff. It's pretty cool.

MDT: Still being able to write...

JS: Every day I get to play with this stuff. I'm using the same muscles. It's universe building, but each one is discreet, as opposed to a giant one. But I'm having a ball. I think there's some real good possibilities for this venture.

MDT: Publishers like Image and Dark Horse and Oni Press, what about writing your own titles for those companies?

JS: No one ever calls. I don't get any offers. Last time anyone called, it was Acclaim and they didn't pay me. I might consider doing some work for somebody if they're interested.

But I'm sufficiently a pariah that people... I'm not anywhere near the top of their list. So DC is closed to me. Mike Marts called me once from Marvel and said, "Would you be interested in doing something here?" And I said, "Yeah, I'll listen." He said, "I'll call you back." And I never heard from him.

MDT: That seems to be the story with you. You never hear from them.

JS: That's pretty typical with creative stuff. Especially in Hollywood. "Baby, we love it, let's do lunch."

It's really funny, it's a strange business. Everyone thinks they can do what you can do if you're a writer. You hold a sheet that you wrote and a sheet that Hemingway wrote and they look pretty much the same. It's because the magic is in the organization of the little words and it's not apparent at a glance to a civilian. You can be a genius or useless based on PR.

If you're hot, you're hot. If you're not, then you weren't any good.

I don't know, I don't care. I've been fairly lucky. I've been able to keep body and soul together one way or another. I've got a gig now that I really enjoy. Also, I'm writing an adult novel for an online publisher that's been flowing like molasses. Adult like Harry Potter kind of book. Teenage novel would be a better [name for it].

MDT: Is that something people can take a look at now?

JS: It's going to be published online if I ever finish it. And I've got a couple of other projects which are sort of backburner right now.

MDT: You're working still on the Supervillain book?

JS: I putter with that every chance I get, which isn't as often as it should be.

MDT: Is it inevitable that you will return to comic book publishing again?

JS: I don't think it's inevitable. I got into comics because I wanted to make a living. I am different from most people in the comic book business. My experience is that virtually everyone who was in the business was a rabid fan who grew up his whole life to write Spider-Man. I wasn't.

I got into it to make money because I thought I could make money. I liked it a lot. What I like about it is that I like stories. I like storytelling. I like visual stories. And I never was a heavy-duty comic book collector.

Did I love it? Yeah, it was great, I had fun with it, but I don't have that sort of obsessive dedication to comic books themselves.

I think that's probably offended some people along the way. I'm not a big collector. As long as I'm doing some kind of creative thing, I'm happy. Now, having said that, if someone gave me an exciting thing doing comics -- if that Acclaim thing had worked out -- I would have had a ball with that. It would have been a great way to earn a living. Even though they weren't mine anymore, it would have been great to work the characters I created or redeveloped. I'm kind of an oddball in that way. A lot of people in the comic book business were real serious fans and have had a dedication to be in the business since they were kids.

Me? I think of myself as a storyteller, as a writer, first and that's one venue which I can use my alleged skill.

I don't think it's inevitable at all. Unless the comic book business goes through some serious transformation, it's not going to be around at all.

I really think that it's dangerously close to death. DC, they'll deny this, loses money every year. They've probably lost money every year for 30 years, except for the death of Superman year. Run the numbers. You know what it costs to print a book. You know what the line numbers are. Think about all those expensive executives. They got themselves set up as a part of Warner Bros. They got themselves the hell out of Warner Publishing. And got into Warner Bros.

Isn't that odd that a magazine publisher wouldn't be in Warner Publishing division? Answer: it's because they can hide there. There they become a development cost. What their purpose is, oh we're developing characters that will become movies. Some day the little light bulb will go on that most of the characters that have been movies were done so before 1940.

There was a time when there was licensing... LCA? Licensing corporation of America, which was Warner's licensing arm, with Superman and so forth, earned the lion's share of those revenues. And Jeanette and Paul engineered it so that DC would get the benefit of those revenues, because they lose money publishing, but they do make money licensing. So they could hide behind that, too. If you took publishing as a stand-alone unit, they lose a fortune.

Some day, someone's got to say, do we really need to publish these? Can't we just own the characters and use them in cartoons and things like that? Other people license characters that don't have comic books? I think that lightbulb may go on.

The other thing, I know Marvel's actually been losing money. I read the press releases that actually talked about it. They're losing money publishing. I think Marvel is in the process of being sold. I think that's why Peter Cuneo is there for, I think they're going to sell it. They're going to ride the crest of the wave from the X-men movie and try & get new owners for it. Either it's going to have new owners -- if it does, they might give it one more go and try to make the comics work, put some money into it, give it a push, get it started again -- or they might say, as Warner Bros. might say, who needs to publish comics? We got animation. We got other ways to expose these characters. Who needs these books? Why do we have all these people on our staff and losing all this money?

If there is no sale, they have to close it down. They've been living on borrowed money. They borrowed $200 million a couple years ago and they've been living on that ever since. It's going to run out. They just emerged from bankruptcy. They're not a good credit risk. I think they're in trouble.

It seems to me that you find somebody like Dark Horse and say, "we're not going to publish this stuff anymore. We'll license Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, the key things. You publish it."

You know, DC almost did that with Marvel. When I was Editor-in-chief at Marvel, Bill Sarnoff called up and we had this conversation. He was talking to Galtin and I was in the room. The conversation went like this: "DC loses a fortune publishing, but we make a fortune licensing. Marvel comics doesn't make a lot licensing, but you make good money publishing. Why don't we license to you the DC characters and you publish them? You know how, you'll make money. And you'll do well with them. And we'll keep the licensing and that's what we do well..." Galtin said, you don't want those characters, they don't sell, they must be awful characters. I said, Are you kidding? I want those characters.

So I wrote up a business plan for acquiring the publishing rights to DC Comics. I presented it to the executive staff. I predicted we'd make $7 million profit in the first two years. The sales people said, that's stupid, we'll make double that. I said, whatever, we'll make some money. We started negotiating with DC to buy the rights to publish. We were going to publish seven titles, the obvious ones. We were going to add an editorial team to do that. Get a couple of production people. We could do it on a shoestring since we had all the rest of the plumbing in place. We didn't have to reinvent the wheel. We actually got into the negotiations. I can confidently say that they haven't made any money publishing because I pretty much know the costs and all that. Then right in the middle, First Comics sued Marvel Comics for anti-trust. Now when you're already 70 percent of the market, and somebody is suing you for anti-trust, it's probably not a good idea to devour your biggest competitor. And so the deal fell apart. We could have been publishing Superman comics.

You can ask John Byrne. When he heard that rumor, he came into me with a proposal for Superman. Which he did when he went to DC. It was amazing times.

MDT: That would have been weird.

JS: When I became Editor-in-chief, we were second to DC. Somewhere in the middle of it, our market share was just a tick under 70 percent. I really felt we earned it. First Comics [was saying], "Oh, they're flooding the market." No, our books sell, yours don't. You get the same display we do, you get the same distributors. We don't have any more clout with them than you do. They said, we were fixing prices at the printer. When it was revealed, we were paying higher prices than they did. Because they had better production people. Our production people were idiots. They said we were making sure they were charged more. They were paying less than we were.

That suit was thrown out of court three times. And they kept reinstating it.

Finally, we settled it, which I think was an idiot move on Galtin's part. To save a couple thousand bucks, they settled. We didn't pay them anything. It wasn't like we paid them off. I think we gave them an ad page. Marvel was always cheap and pathetic when it came to stuff like that. To save a few bucks, they would do something that would end up being a PR disaster.

First comics spent the first couple of years just lambasting us in the fan press and got away with it. Galtin agreed to this thing where we wouldn't discuss the terms of the agreement. You take an enormous PR torpedo and they escape. It is history now that Marvel flooded the market. You know what, the year we allegedly flooded the market, there was something like 6 more issues than the previous year. You go to the facts and the alleged history of comic books is nonsense. People who pontificate about it weren't there. I find it kind of annoying.

People who read comics want heroes and villains. They want there to be a Jim Shooter with a black hat. It's part of the fun.

Whatever.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (23rd Nov 17 at 2:54pm UTC)
Nice. I never read these before. Thx for cutting and pasting them. The archive links kept showing up blank for me. {Lips Sealed}

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (23rd Nov 17 at 3:58pm UTC)
Bleedingcool re-linked the latest Shooter interview for the masses:

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/11/22/jim-shooter-blasts-marvel-business/

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (23rd Nov 17 at 5:50pm UTC)
 
Nice. I never read these before. Thx for cutting and pasting them. The archive links kept showing up blank for me. {Lips Sealed}

Smiley


I added the links more for myself. Click them and then find an older date on the timeline graph and pick at random until you get the article. I think it defaults to the last snapshot of the page. In most cases, they are bad.

BTW,

The articles I pasted were all links I'd sent myself in an email back in 2004 or so.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (23rd Nov 17 at 5:56pm UTC)
 
Bleedingcool re-linked the latest Shooter interview for the masses:

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/11/22/jim-shooter-blasts-marvel-business/

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I just read that somewhere else. Maybe a different link of yours. I've already forgotten.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 12:34am UTC)
It's shared on other sites too and CBR:

https://www.cbr.com/jim-shooter-doesnt-like-current-marvel/

Gone viral...

Great attention for Shooter's legacy...

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 12:47am UTC)


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 1:14am UTC)
It is great exposure and new fans need to read that. I wonder how someone like Quesada takes that? He got his start under Shooter. He got free reign at Valiant when Shooter was ousted and now he's moved above the day to day comics operation. Does he still work there? Hmmm!

The CBR site sucks. I'm registered there but it is the lamest and most useless comic discussion I've ever read. I expected the article to have some discussion on their messageboard. Nope!

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 1:20am UTC)


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 4:06pm UTC)
This is what Image Comics should start re-tweeting and piggyback on promoting JS early with their next title. I wish they gave him an imprint to go crazy on already.

I checked their February solicits and nothing yet. Seems like the Slow City title is half his work anyway. I'd like it to lead into something more of his own speed.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (24th Nov 17 at 6:55pm UTC)
 
This is what Image Comics should start re-tweeting and piggyback on promoting JS early with their next title. I wish they gave him an imprint to go crazy on already.

I checked their February solicits and nothing yet. Seems like the Slow City title is half his work anyway. I'd like it to lead into something more of his own speed.

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He called out Marvel, but ALL publishers are guilty and some may take offense.
Notice that I refrained from saying he attacked Marvel, because he didn't. He stated facts.


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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (25th Nov 17 at 3:32pm UTC)
Yea, and he's been saying it for a long time too. I wonder if the Disney/Marvel regime would consider hiring Shooter again. Not that they deserve it but the characters and fans would. All I know of current Marvel is that they've been having nonstop number #1 launch issues each quarter and gender changing characters for the main books. And their paper sucks too. My shop kept putting copies of the new StarWars (the $4.99 regulars) in my subscription box by accident and it felt like the back cover was going to rip in my hand like a wet kleenex. I put it back on the shelf since i;m not collecting them at all. But they still cheap out on the printing paper even for their top selling books.

I was at the shop last night looking through an Image Previews style magazine for stuff coming in 2018. No mention of Sam Wood or Shooter yet. That title is probably pushed up to Summer. But i'd like to see some teasers now.
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (25th Nov 17 at 5:16pm UTC)
 
Yea, and he's been saying it for a long time too. I wonder if the Disney/Marvel regime would consider hiring Shooter again. Not that they deserve it but the characters and fans would. All I know of current Marvel is that they've been having nonstop number #1 launch issues each quarter and gender changing characters for the main books. And their paper sucks too. My shop kept putting copies of the new StarWars (the $4.99 regulars) in my subscription box by accident and it felt like the back cover was going to rip in my hand like a wet kleenex. I put it back on the shelf since i;m not collecting them at all. But they still cheap out on the printing paper even for their top selling books.

I was at the shop last night looking through an Image Previews style magazine for stuff coming in 2018. No mention of Sam Wood or Shooter yet. That title is probably pushed up to Summer. But i'd like to see some teasers now.



Comics traditionally have poor sales right after the Christmas season. Publishers avoid releasing their better stuff in January and February. They also like to coincide big launches with the summer convention season to get more sales & promotion out of the release.
I'm not sure why publishers don't release more teasers & promotional art early. Get people talking early! Do it before it's solicited in Previews.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (28th Nov 17 at 3:35pm UTC)
Shooter's latest interview inspires another fan to make a youtube video about it:

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (29th Nov 17 at 12:16am UTC)
Yay! A video for people who don't know how to read! Sheesh!

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (29th Nov 17 at 1:26am UTC)
lol.....imagine if they started linking his blog. There are more inspiring stories there of value aside of his regular convention interviews. Image Comics needs to retweet that blog too. Especially if they're looking to get better storytelling in their comic line.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (29th Nov 17 at 2:59am UTC)
I was told that Image required cross advertising between the creators. Image is more decentralized than a real publisher. They are more of a co-op. When you say Image should link to the blog, I think you are saying Sam Wood (whatever his name is) should link to the blog.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (6th Jan 18 at 7:13pm UTC)
Here's a good piece of info...
Image
http://blog.comichron.com/search/label/Newsstand%20distribution

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (18th Jan 18 at 11:24pm UTC)
Here's the Image magazine I would see in my shop for upcoming previews. I saw issue 5 the other day so maybe news will come out in one of these future issues:

https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/image-7

https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/image-8

It's a glossy magazine for only $1.99. Looks cool in hand. Would be cooler if there was some new Shooter news already.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (19th Jan 18 at 12:08am UTC)
I guess there is no way to know which will feature info.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (25th Jan 18 at 4:32pm UTC)
Nothing in the April Image solicits.
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (26th Jan 18 at 12:29am UTC)
My bet is early June.

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (11th Feb 18 at 3:55pm UTC)
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (11th Feb 18 at 7:59pm UTC)
LOL! I wonder how old Jim was when he started writing comics,

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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (14th Feb 18 at 3:03pm UTC)
Jim Shooter & Jim Starlin panel:

https://rolledspine.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/amazing-heroes-interviews-special/
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Re: The Jim Shooter Thread (14th Feb 18 at 10:33pm UTC)
I can barely hear it. I got nothing out of the first part.

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