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THE UNTOLD STORY

Go ahead, ask a question.   Images are an online-only supplement to the book MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY (plus occasional unrelated arcana )
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Go to SEANHOWE.COM to purchase a copy of the book, now in paperback, or to read a chapter for free ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

"A WILD-RIDE ACCOUNT" —The Hollywood Reporter
"EPIC" —The New York Times
"INDISPENSABLE" —Los Angeles Times
"DEFINITIVE" —The Wall Street Journal
"SCINTILLATING" —Publishers Weekly
"AUTHORITATIVE" —Kirkus Reviews
"GRIPPING" —Rolling Stone
"PRICELESS" —Booklist
"ESSENTIAL" —The Daily Beast
"REVELATORY" —The Miami Herald
"AS FULL OF COLORFUL CHARACTERS, TRAGIC REVERSALS AND UNLIKELY PLOT TWISTS AS ANY BOOK IN THE MARVEL CANON" —Newsday

twitter.com/seanhowe:

    Stan Lee: The Beard Years.From The Duke Chronicle, February 28, 1969.

    Stan Lee: The Beard Years.

    From The Duke Chronicle, February 28, 1969.

    — 1 month ago with 134 notes
    #stan lee  #photos 
    John Byrne, 1995. Photograph by Matthew J. Atanian.

    John Byrne, 1995. Photograph by Matthew J. Atanian.

    — 3 months ago with 55 notes
    #john byrne  #photos  #marvel artists with guns 
    seanhowe:

Jack Kirby poses as Captain America

Seems like a good time to dig this one out of the archives.

    seanhowe:

    Jack Kirby poses as Captain America

    Seems like a good time to dig this one out of the archives.

    — 4 months ago with 757 notes
    #captain america  #jack kirby  #joe simon  #photos 
    Neil Young, photographed by Gijsbert Hanekroot.

    Neil Young, photographed by Gijsbert Hanekroot.

    — 5 months ago with 34 notes
    #neil young  #photos  #gijsbert hanekroot 

    Spider-Man, Stan Lee, and the Green Goblin look on as a few kids with very, very interesting futures ahead of them—Nicky Bravin, Damon Liebowitz, and Jeremie Waterman—try to master the Atari 2600 Spider-Man game. 1982.

    Photo from Blip #2.

    — 5 months ago with 306 notes
    #spider-man  #stan lee  #green goblin  #atari 2600  #photos 
    Yes, that’s Wally Wood with a crossbow. Photograph by Mike Zeck.Pretty formidable, but would he defeat Wally Wood with a Tommy gun?

    Yes, that’s Wally Wood with a crossbow. Photograph by Mike Zeck.

    Pretty formidable, but would he defeat Wally Wood with a Tommy gun?

    — 5 months ago with 36 notes
    #wally wood  #mike zeck  #photos 
    Suckers never come close because of knowing There is no stopping the D.E.C. when I’m flowing
Dave Cockrum, 1969. From Fantastic Fanzine Special #1, 1969 via Ken Meyer Jr.

    Suckers never come close because of knowing
    There is no stopping the D.E.C. when I’m flowing

    Dave Cockrum, 1969. From Fantastic Fanzine Special #1, 1969 via Ken Meyer Jr.

    — 5 months ago with 52 notes
    #dave cockrum  #fantastic fanzine  #inkstains  #photos 
    Roy Thomas Signing Autographs
From Fantastic Fanzine Special #1, 1969 via Ken Meyer Jr.

    Roy Thomas Signing Autographs

    From Fantastic Fanzine Special #1, 1969 via Ken Meyer Jr.

    — 5 months ago with 30 notes
    #roy thomas  #marvel comics  #fantastic fanzine  #fanzines  #inkstains  #photos 
    Jack Kirby. Photo by Al Ortega, Wizard magazine.

    Jack Kirby. Photo by Al Ortega, Wizard magazine.

    — 5 months ago with 30 notes
    #jack kirby  #al ortega  #photos  #wizard 
    Comic books at a Texas drug store, 1955.
Via Joe Stewart.Click here to enlarge.

    Comic books at a Texas drug store, 1955.

    Via Joe Stewart.

    Click here to enlarge.

    — 5 months ago with 289 notes
    #newsstand  #comics  #photos  #two-gun kid  #superman  #classics illustrated 
    Jack Kirby at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1980, drawing The Thing. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)
In 1980, the summer of Dark Phoenix and Elektra, a 19-year-old foulmouthed Canadian—on a baseball college scholarship, and soon to be recruited by a Seattle Mariners scout—attended the San Diego Comic-Con. He stood mesmerized as he watched Jack Kirby graciously speaking to the fans who swarmed around him. If he didn’t make the majors, he told himself, he’d be a comic book artist. Sure enough, when an ankle injury dashed his big-league hopes, Todd McFarlane began spending more and more time practicing at his drawing table, and reading with interest about Kirby’s and Gerber’s struggles, and the soapbox speeches of Neal Adams and Frank Miller, in the pages of the Comics Journal.
The above text is adapted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.[Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    Jack Kirby at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1980, drawing The Thing. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)

    In 1980, the summer of Dark Phoenix and Elektra, a 19-year-old foulmouthed Canadian—on a baseball college scholarship, and soon to be recruited by a Seattle Mariners scout—attended the San Diego Comic-Con. He stood mesmerized as he watched Jack Kirby graciously speaking to the fans who swarmed around him. If he didn’t make the majors, he told himself, he’d be a comic book artist. Sure enough, when an ankle injury dashed his big-league hopes, Todd McFarlane began spending more and more time practicing at his drawing table, and reading with interest about Kirby’s and Gerber’s struggles, and the soapbox speeches of Neal Adams and Frank Miller, in the pages of the Comics Journal.


    The above text is adapted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

    [Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    — 6 months ago with 246 notes
    #jack kirby  #todd mcfarlane  #comic-con  #san diego  #thing  #jackie estrada  #photos 
    Steve Gerber at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1978, holding a copy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer graphic novel. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)





In February 1978, Steve Gerber, the last to sign a writer-editor contract, and falling behind on deadlines once again, was relieved of his duties as the writer of the Howard the Duck newspaper strip. Gerber’s lawyer informed Marvel that this was a violation of his contract, and that he was considering legal action regarding the ownership of the Howard the Duck character; shortly thereafter Marvel terminated Gerber’s contract altogether. Asked by the Comics Journal if chronic lateness was the reason for the company’s decision, Shooter replied, “I would just say that we found it advantageous to get out of the contract we were in.” Gerber maintained that he and Gene Colan were not getting advance payments on time. 
Stewardship of Howard was split up: Marv Wolfman took over the newspaper strip, and Bill Mantlo took over the comic book. When the strip was canceled later in the year, Gerber complained publicly about the “downright horrible” quality of Wolfman’s work. “Once I was gone,” he told the Village Voice, “Howard was lobotomized, devoid of substance, and turned into a simple-minded parody. So, they’re putting him out of his misery.” 



An ending to Gerber and Skrenes’s Omega the Unknown saga, repeatedly promised in letters columns and repeatedly rescheduled, was finally written without its creators’ input. “It just got to the point where we couldn’t work with Shooter anymore,” Skrenes said. “He was screwing with us and punishing us and trying to have somebody else write it, like they always did with Howard.” Omega was killed off in an issue of The Defenders. Gerber and Skrenes swore to each other that they’d take their original plans for the character’s ending to their graves. 




Jack Kirby’s contract was up for renewal in April 1978. At a convention in West Virginia, Stan Lee announced that Kirby had signed a long-term contract as an artist only; he said Kirby’s scripting was “imaginative but undisciplined,” but Lee was confident that the artwork would return to form once Kirby was paired with other writers. (Lee also characterized Kirby’s work on their just-completed Silver Surfer graphic novel, two years in the making, as “better than recent stuff, but not his best.”) 
But there was no new contract. Kirby’s tour of duty was, in fact, coming to an end. His latest return had been a major disappointment, to him and to Marvel. None of his books had sold as well as hoped, the reaction from readers was less than enthusiastic, and even his supposed autonomy had been undermined. “The editorial staff up at Marvel had no respect for what he was doing,” said Jim Starlin. “All these editors had things on their walls making fun of Jack’s books. They’d cut out things saying ‘Stupidest Comic of the Year’… . [T]his entire editorial office was just littered with stuff disparaging the guy who founded the company these guys were working for. He created all the characters these guys were editing.” 
Tensions were now worse than they’d ever been in the sixties. Kirby reportedly received hate mail on Marvel letterhead, and crank phone calls from the office. When Roy Thomas persuaded him to draw an issue of the imaginary-tale series What If? (it was a self-reflective story called “What if … The Fantastic Four were the Marvel Bullpen?” starring Lee, Kirby, Thomas, and Flo Steinberg), Kirby refused to allow Thomas to script it, and replaced the Thomas character with a Sol Brodsky one. Once the pages arrived at Marvel, an editor went through and changed all of Kirby’s references to “Stanley” to “Stan” and corrected all the grammar in the dialogue—except for that of the Jack Kirby character. 



“I didn’t really get a shot,” Kirby later said of his 1970s work at Marvel, pointing to professional jealousy. “A guy will create a book, another will fill his book up with knock letters—he’s off in five months, or three months, and the other guy’s got his shot… . I see it as a serpent’s nest. And in a serpent’s nest, nothing can survive. Eventually all the snakes kill each other. Eventually they’ll also kill whatever generated them.” 
In the end, Kirby’s exit plan from the frustrations and limitations of the comic-book industry was the same that Stan Lee’s had been: Hollywood. Kirby was invited by Hanna-Barbera to produce storyboards for NBC’s new Fantastic Four cartoon—for which both Lee and Thomas were writing. Kirby still wasn’t calling the shots—because the Human Torch had already been optioned by Universal, Kirby had to create a cute robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. to be the Fantastic Four’s fourth member—but the pay was better, and the treatment was more respectful. 
Jack Kirby would never work for Marvel Comics again. The above text is excerpted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.[Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    Steve Gerber at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1978, holding a copy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer graphic novel. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)

    In February 1978, Steve Gerber, the last to sign a writer-editor contract, and falling behind on deadlines once again, was relieved of his duties as the writer of the Howard the Duck newspaper strip. Gerber’s lawyer informed Marvel that this was a violation of his contract, and that he was considering legal action regarding the ownership of the Howard the Duck character; shortly thereafter Marvel terminated Gerber’s contract altogether. Asked by the Comics Journal if chronic lateness was the reason for the company’s decision, Shooter replied, “I would just say that we found it advantageous to get out of the contract we were in.” Gerber maintained that he and Gene Colan were not getting advance payments on time.

    Stewardship of Howard was split up: Marv Wolfman took over the newspaper strip, and Bill Mantlo took over the comic book. When the strip was canceled later in the year, Gerber complained publicly about the “downright horrible” quality of Wolfman’s work. “Once I was gone,” he told the Village Voice, “Howard was lobotomized, devoid of substance, and turned into a simple-minded parody. So, they’re putting him out of his misery.”

    An ending to Gerber and Skrenes’s Omega the Unknown saga, repeatedly promised in letters columns and repeatedly rescheduled, was finally written without its creators’ input. “It just got to the point where we couldn’t work with Shooter anymore,” Skrenes said. “He was screwing with us and punishing us and trying to have somebody else write it, like they always did with Howard.” Omega was killed off in an issue of The Defenders. Gerber and Skrenes swore to each other that they’d take their original plans for the character’s ending to their graves.

    Jack Kirby’s contract was up for renewal in April 1978. At a convention in West Virginia, Stan Lee announced that Kirby had signed a long-term contract as an artist only; he said Kirby’s scripting was “imaginative but undisciplined,” but Lee was confident that the artwork would return to form once Kirby was paired with other writers. (Lee also characterized Kirby’s work on their just-completed Silver Surfer graphic novel, two years in the making, as “better than recent stuff, but not his best.”)

    But there was no new contract. Kirby’s tour of duty was, in fact, coming to an end. His latest return had been a major disappointment, to him and to Marvel. None of his books had sold as well as hoped, the reaction from readers was less than enthusiastic, and even his supposed autonomy had been undermined. “The editorial staff up at Marvel had no respect for what he was doing,” said Jim Starlin. “All these editors had things on their walls making fun of Jack’s books. They’d cut out things saying ‘Stupidest Comic of the Year’… . [T]his entire editorial office was just littered with stuff disparaging the guy who founded the company these guys were working for. He created all the characters these guys were editing.”

    Tensions were now worse than they’d ever been in the sixties. Kirby reportedly received hate mail on Marvel letterhead, and crank phone calls from the office. When Roy Thomas persuaded him to draw an issue of the imaginary-tale series What If? (it was a self-reflective story called “What if … The Fantastic Four were the Marvel Bullpen?” starring Lee, Kirby, Thomas, and Flo Steinberg), Kirby refused to allow Thomas to script it, and replaced the Thomas character with a Sol Brodsky one. Once the pages arrived at Marvel, an editor went through and changed all of Kirby’s references to “Stanley” to “Stan” and corrected all the grammar in the dialogue—except for that of the Jack Kirby character.

    “I didn’t really get a shot,” Kirby later said of his 1970s work at Marvel, pointing to professional jealousy. “A guy will create a book, another will fill his book up with knock letters—he’s off in five months, or three months, and the other guy’s got his shot… . I see it as a serpent’s nest. And in a serpent’s nest, nothing can survive. Eventually all the snakes kill each other. Eventually they’ll also kill whatever generated them.”

    In the end, Kirby’s exit plan from the frustrations and limitations of the comic-book industry was the same that Stan Lee’s had been: Hollywood. Kirby was invited by Hanna-Barbera to produce storyboards for NBC’s new Fantastic Four cartoon—for which both Lee and Thomas were writing. Kirby still wasn’t calling the shots—because the Human Torch had already been optioned by Universal, Kirby had to create a cute robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. to be the Fantastic Four’s fourth member—but the pay was better, and the treatment was more respectful.

    Jack Kirby would never work for Marvel Comics again.

    The above text is excerpted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

    [Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    — 6 months ago with 107 notes
    #steve gerber  #howard the duck  #jack kirby  #silver surfer  #omega  #photos  #jim shooter  #mary skrenes  #roy thomas  #H.E.R.B.I.E.  #jackie estrada