Rob Liefeld had some interesting comments on Twitter yesterday about selecting Bob Harras as the sole Editor in Chief of Marvel in 1995, ending a strange period in which there were five—Harras, Bob Budiansky, Mark Gruenwald, Bobbie Chase, and Carl Potts. I’ll set the stage for Liefeld with an excerpt from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and then add his words in bold.
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story:
Unlike Terry Stewart, the new president, Jerry Calabrese, did not read comic books—he was a “pure businessman,” in the words of one Marvel colleague. Still, he only needed a calculator to pine for the good old days of the early 1990s, the days of X-Force #1 and X-Men #1, the days when it seemed like Hollywood might come knocking. In San Diego, Calabrese approached Chris Claremont and asked him if he’d like to return. Claremont, who’d been writing for Dark Horse, DC, and even—along with Len Wein and Dave Cockrum—Jim Shooter’s Defiant, declined the offer. But Calabrese had more luck when he met with Larry Marder, the executive director of Image Comics, and asked if any of the ex-Marvel superstars at Image would like to take a shot at revising the origins of some of the company’s biggest characters, and making them more appealing for film development. “Marvel knew that their core flagship properties were ill,” said Marder. “The properties that they had, had just failed over and over again to sell to Hollywood.”
Todd McFarlane had no interest in helping turn Marvel into a moviemaking empire, and he couldn’t understand why anyone at Image would. “Why do you want to work for your competitor?” he wondered. “I’ve got a toy company; are you fucking out of your mind I would ever make a toy for Hasbro or Mattel? It would never happen.” Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, though, were intrigued. Negotiations began.
Rob Liefeld: “Looking at corporate comics 2013, I can’t help but think both Jim Lee and I helped shape the climate by choosing Bob Harras as EIC in 1995… While we were not final votes, Jim and I were consulted as to the choices for the new EIC. The new guys running Marvel gave us a list…They asked Jim and I for input on the new EIC and we supported Bob over other candidates, they then whittled the list and came back to us..We continued to support Bob when it came down to the final 2 choices. We had experienced huge success with Bob in the X-office in our youth. I told Bob in the Marriott at ComicCon in 1995 that he was getting the nod; Marvel had 5 group editors at the time & that was about to change. Can’t help but wonder how things would have changed had we selected the other guy for EIC. Remember, the new guys at Marvel were paying us a huge sum to deliver the Avengers group out of their slump, we needed the friendliest EIC…. We knew that whoever the new EIC was he would work towards ending Heroes Reborn because it represent a potential end to Biz-as-usual.”
On October 20, 1995, Bob Harras became the sole editor in chief of Marvel Comics.
On December 14, “Unfinished Business,” which would soon be renamed “Heroes Reborn,” was announced at a press conference in New York.
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is out in paperback on October 1, 2014.