For four years, Shooter worked for Weisinger on various iterations of the Superman mythos—Superboy, Supergirl, etc.—not only writing scripts, but providing cover designs as well. He also won the good graces of artists Gil Kane and Wally Wood by providing stick-figure layouts for each page. But as high school wore on, the allure of the money began to wear off—it never seemed to be enough for his family anyway. What mattered now was the accolades.
Unfortunately, praise was limited to the occasional article in the Pittsburgh newspaper or segment on the local TV news. “My father probably said four or five words to me the whole time I was growing up,” said Shooter. “One of the greatest men to ever walk the earth … but not at connecting with people. He made no comment whatsoever.” And Weisinger didn’t just withhold praise—he cruelly berated his teenage employee, calling from New York every Thursday night, following the weekly Batman television broadcast, with a litany of complaints: It’s not on time. It’s over the page limit. How the hell can we get a cover out of this? Why can’t you write like you used to? He referred to Shooter as his “charity case.” “He caused a kind of pathological fear of telephones in me,” Shooter once told an interviewer. “I felt more and more inadequate … and my last chance to be a kid was slipping by.”
Holding down an adult job—and, at six feet seven inches, now towering above his classmates—scarcely anything about him, save a serious case of acne, marked him as a teenager. He tried to fit it all in, to “get good grades so I could nail down a scholarship, and have a little fun, like football games, dances, parties and stuff. But it was too much, and it all suffered.” He missed sixty days of his senior year of high school, his grades fell, and his productivity for Weisinger decreased.
He managed an NYU scholarship anyway. In 1969, shortly before he was due to fly to New York, he had a falling-out with Weisinger. So he decided to cold-call his inspiration, Stan Lee, from a pay phone at the airport. Amazingly, he talked his way into a job interview, and then an offer. But the only thing available was a full-time assistant position. Marvel’s environment was shockingly different from the jacket-and-tie, insurance-company vibe of DC. It seemed like it might be … fun.