Renee Witterstaetter – Early Career and time at Marvel!
Today we are joined with editor, writer, and head of Eva Ink Artist Group sa well as Pros and Cons Celebrity Booking, Renee Witterstaetter! We had a great time talking with Renee, so much so that we broke it out into two episodes since it’s over 2 hours of content! On this episode we talk all about her early career and her time at Marvel!
This interview comes from the great folks at Pros and Cons Celebrity Booking!
For booking please contact [email protected]!
Pros and Cons Celebrity Booking:
Eva Ink Artist Group:
Transcription by a drunk robot.
Rene Witerstaetter Interview
[00:00:00] Kenric R.: Join the army of the spoilers and welcome back to the country. I’m kinda Gregan. That’s mr Horsley. And today on the show, well, she is the owner proprietor, creator of the Eva inc artist group, pros and con celebrity booking. And she’s been an editor within the comic book industry for a very, for quite a few years.
And this is, it’s. Time for Renee. What is data, isn’t it?
John H.: Yeah, it is. It is. She’s the editor or writer. She’s a lot of fun to talk with. We had a great time. We talked about what’s it’s, it’s kind of cool because this is one of the few terms where I actually bought a book on the show and I have it right there and it is beautiful, by the way.
Kenric R.: Yeah, it’s she, she’s, yeah. She’s done some amazing things when we started talking with her, when I. When we booked her to come on. Renee is a very cool girl to talk with. She’s just, she’s a hoot. She really is. She has [00:01:00] stories for days. Uh, we use, we actually use her services to bring guests on, which is amazing.
And, uh, you’ve heard quite a few of them. Actually. Mark Rolston came through Renee, uh, which was awesome. And she’s had a. Flourishing career and a very colorful career herself. So to get her on and to go over everything. And once you start, like when you book somebody, you start like researching so that you can talk with them.
And the amount of information that came flowing through about Renee was like, Holy crap, this girl has done everything, you know? Yeah. It’s just awesome. And then she was just so open and just so affable. I think you guys are gonna really enjoy this. This interview.
John H.: yeah. We had a lot of fun talking with her and it was a, there’s a certain, certain people who stand out as being, you know, a good time and a good time and good fun to talk with. And this is one of them for sure.
Kenric R.: Yeah. There you guys go. All right, well let’s sit back and relax and, uh, listen to Renee in her own words. [00:02:00] All right guys. Thanks for coming back and today on the show, it’s a w well, this is, this is really cool actually, because. Uh, she is somebody that I was not aware of growing up and I feel like I should have. Um, she has, she’s a writer and editor, a publisher, an artist agent. Uh, she’s worked with the likes of John Byrne, Jackie Chan, and the list just keeps going on and on.
She actually worked with one of the greatest artists cover artists that you probably don’t even know existed, [00:03:00] but did DC stuff for 30 years in Nick Cardi. Um. Renee Witter. Statter thank you so much for coming on.
Rene W.: Hi guys. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Kenric R.: Yeah, this is, um, you’ve had a long in spanning career. It’s kind of amazing, actually.
Rene W.: It’s been multifaceted for sure.
Kenric R.: Yeah. You know, I go through and I start reading about people and looking them up, and. You graduated at a college with a a, a degree in, in, uh, journalism and English, but then you started reporting on boxing. What was that
Rene W.: guess I did. Yeah, but you did your research.
Kenric R.: Always. Always,
Rene W.: Well, you know, I’m having a degree in journalism and English. I was always working on some sort of article, but the types of articles that I enjoyed the most were feature articles because. I always thought [00:04:00] everybody has a story no matter who they are, and you just have to find out what it is about that person that is interesting and conveyed in a way that people can relate to them.
And the world of boxing. I got into sort of sideways. I had a professor in college who was my Shakespeare professor. His name was Dr. Lawrence McNamee. Very well known teacher at that university. Very, very gifted Shakespeare professor. But he had a great interest in boxing and, uh, because his father had been a boxer and he grew up in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh pirates fan, and was really enamored with the whole world of boxing and actually knew a lot of the people.
George Foreman, um, you know, uh, Sonny Liston. A lot of the, a lot of the old time boxers too. So he had been covering boxing for a long time and he and I [00:05:00] actually started working on articles together. Not for boxing at first, but the concept was editor of the newspaper at my college doc had this thing.
Where he would get together, uh, groups of people, actors, uh, other people that wanted to get involved in the community. And he, one of the things he did was he would take his traveling Shakespeare group to places like prisons. Are, um, you know, retirement homes, prisons were probably the most out there thing we did.
Then he would actually take our group to places like that. And I would come along as the reporter reporting on whatever we were doing, where we were going, and then I would do articles about it for the, for the newspapers. Uh, yeah, that was wild. We went into a maximum security prison in Texas, and I was the only girl.
Uh, I think we were doing a SLO, uh, if I [00:06:00] remember correctly. And even the female parts in the pride were being played by men because there was a strict rule in the prison that women could not come in and it was a maximum security male only prison. But they somehow got me in and the warden said, he’s like, okay, you can come, but you have to be dressed from neck to toe. You cannot show it any skin at all. And you know, because otherwise there could be like some trouble. So I, okay. So I wore like the most. And attractive flour sack I could find, but even then, you’re in this auditorium full of a thousand people and you’re the only female. It was, it was a bit disconcerting, but very memorable.
So that’s the kind of thing doc did, and he was always doing something like that. He would. Go to Vegas before the big [00:07:00] fights and interview all the fighters and you know, he knew Don King and, and Tyson and all these people. So I started working with him on the boxing articles too, and started tagging along to Vegas and ended up being at parties and Don King’s suite and interviewing Tyson and Holyfield and all these crazy guys.
Oh yeah. George Foreman was a hoot too. I love George. He was probably one of the nicest guys I met in that world. Not all of them were nice, believe it or not, I’m
John H.: It was shocking.
Rene W.: But, uh, but George was, George was a hoot. I really liked him. We went to his house down in Texas one time, you know, and he’s the Reverend George Foreman at that point.
And, uh. We went to his house. And, uh, when you went to George’s house, you had to take your shoes off. And so he’d take your shoes off and go into his house, [00:08:00] and then he starts introducing you to his sons. And I, and I swear to you, it is true that you’re all named George, so
Kenric R.: Yeah. I was just going to ask you that. I was like, I heard that like all his kids are named George. It’s just the sense,
Rene W.: yeah, it is true. He didn’t want any of them to still slide. It.
Kenric R.: Oh, that’s so funny.
Rene W.: He wanted all of them to know that he loved them equally. So,
Kenric R.: Oh, that’s kind of
Rene W.: And I love doc. Every time they see doc with his Pittsburgh pirate hat on, they go, Oh, here comes the professor. You know, he was a, he was a character. So I learned a lot from him and, uh, had some great adventures.
We had a lot of really fun adventures, uh, doing articles together. And he was, he was one of my mentors and a really. Fascinating man. I really want to write a book about him someday and I will. That’s one of my things that I have to do while I’m still on this earth.
Kenric R.: Yeah. I mean, that would be amazing read, because that’s quite the life.
Rene W.: Well, he was a violinist. He was a [00:09:00] Shakespeare professor, boxing expert, and I forgot to mention this. He was actually a translator at the newer Enberg trials.
John H.: What.
Kenric R.: Oh my God.
Rene W.: a most amazing wife
Kenric R.: He’s got stories for days
Rene W.: Oh, yeah. He, uh, he grew up in Pittsburgh and his family, his father, his brothers, a lot of them worked in the coal mine, and he really thought that was going to be his future, was working in the coal mine.
And, uh. Then it was, um, discerned that he was going to, um, he was a Catholic. It was decided that he was going to go into the, uh, the ministry and become a Catholic priest. But while he was in school, uh, his voice changed and they kicked him out of the choir. At that point, he was like, well, I don’t think I want to be a [00:10:00] priest after all.
And he became, uh, you know, through the course of other events, he became a Shakespeare professor. He actually had a very long, uh, correspondence with people like Lawrence, Olivia. I mean, just, just a fascinating man estimating life. And, uh, you know, there’s a book in there. Definitely.
Kenric R.: that’s awesome. I mean, I couldn’t even imagine being at the Nuremberg trials
Rene W.: I know, right.
Kenric R.: I mean, it’s like, what are you doing? He was transcribing or translating,
Rene W.: He was a, he was translating, like someone would be on the witness stand and then he would, he would translate what they were saying.
Kenric R.: so he spoke another language. Obviously.
Rene W.: you spoke German. I forgot to mention that. Yes. He was fluent in German.
Kenric R.: Wow. That’s incredible though. I mean, it’s like, Oh,
Rene W.: fascinating man. And I have to say, he is one of the people, one of the top five [00:11:00] people that if not for him, I would not be on the path that I am now. You know, you meet these people in life and they’re like a Boulder in the middle of the river. You know, when you hit that Boulder, you’re going to go one way or the other,
Kenric R.: Yeah, that’s a great analogy. Yeah,
John H.: That
Rene W.: of the people that put me on this path for
Kenric R.: isn’t it funny, like I talked to people that, that they, you know, I don’t want to go to college, and I’m like, it’s the experience of college and the people that you meet, and like the professors that you get to meet can change your life. You
Rene W.: Oh yeah. Well, absolutely. I think the first teacher I had that really changed my life, not to talk too much about the, the ancient past, but
Kenric R.: okay.
Rene W.: You know, my, uh, I have two that really come to mind. Well, actually three, but one of them was a bad experience, so I shouldn’t mention him by name, but, but I mean, I had, I had two teachers that really had a very positive influence on me.
And [00:12:00] you know, my third grade teacher who took me in and like gave me the love of breathing. I remember her so vividly. And just having someone that. Takes the time to teach a child and to, to give them that attention. But one of the most, uh, influential teachers I ever had, her name was Connie penny, and she was my journalism teacher in high school.
I was a very shy kid when I was growing up. I was overweight for a lot of my life and I, um, spent a lot of time reading and I spent a lot of time watching old movies. And a lot of time riding, and I was an artist when I was younger too, so I was one of those kids that, that spent a lot of time in my head and I didn’t know what course I wanted for my life.
And my brother Robert. Was in journalism in high school. He [00:13:00] was, is three years older than me and there was a journalism party and I was still in junior high. And he said, well, come to this party with me. So I went with him and, uh, it was putting me on another one of those folders in the stream. It’s like, put me.
It changed my life because I met Tommy penny, the journalism teacher, this precarious outgoing woman who had once gone on a date with Elvis. I mean, she was that kind of woman, you know,
Kenric R.: That’s awesome.
Rene W.: was just full of life. And I said, wow, you know, and she’s someone that you wanted to be around.
Kenric R.: Yeah.
Rene W.: And because of her, I said, well, I’m going to sign up for journalism.
Even, even though I was the shy kid, I, I was, I should digress a little bit and say that I was the editor of my junior high school paper too, which is one of the reasons Robert him in me to this thing because he knew that I had an interest in any history and
Kenric R.: could see that bug. You can see that, see [00:14:00] that itch scratching at you.
Rene W.: Yeah, he knew that I had an interest in that and I was a big history buff back then too.
And, um, you know, would make slideshow documentaries on world war II and things like that for fun. Uh, so he, uh, he introduced me to Connie penny. I got into journalism and became the editor of my paper in high school also. And, uh, she was
Kenric R.: There’s a theme going on.
Rene W.: Yeah. She recently passed away and, uh, but I always remember her, you know, she, she just, her fizzy humor, she even named, here’s, here’s what she named her daughter.
She named her daughter, precious. Her daughter’s name was precious penny, so she’s, she’s just a, I’ll never forget her. She’s just another one of those bigger than life people that you, that influence your life sometimes. So yeah. So long story short, yes, [00:15:00] I was in journalism. That’s what, what was really became the focus. For me. Uh, and I think mostly because it was you being a shy person when I was growing up, it was a way to relate to people because when you’re a reporter, you’ve got to ask people questions.
You know, you got to, you know, you’ve got to interact with people. And, um, and then like I said, in, in, in, yeah. In, in, in the same vein as that. I always found it fascinating to find out people’s stories
Kenric R.: Yeah.
Rene W.: so.
Kenric R.: Yeah. It’s nice. I love hearing people’s journey more than the, more than just the successes, you know what I mean? The actual, like when we talk to people, I always try to get them to start talking about things, uh, how they got to where they’re at. Because inevitably it’s always so more interesting than just the fact that they have this one, you know, [00:16:00] one or two or this giant success story, you know?
But they had to do all these things to get there. And it’s, I find it remarkably fascinating.
Rene W.: It’s all about choices, isn’t it? Really?
Kenric R.: Yeah. So
Rene W.: Because you can choose to stay at home. Or you can choose to go out to this party. You know, if you stay at home, probably nothing’s going to happen. But if you go out to dinner and meet somebody new, if you go to some of it and meet somebody new, something has happened.
Kenric R.: Yeah. Yeah. You get you gotta. You gotta be open to two experiences
Rene W.: Absolutely. And if a door opens, you have to decide if you’re going to walk through that door or not. It may be scary there. It may be dark in that next room. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but one thing’s for sure, if you don’t walk through that door, nothing’s going to happen.
Kenric R.: right? That’s exactly right.
Rene W.: myself that sometimes. You know, it’s like, well, yeah, it can be scary. [00:17:00] It could be scary, but it could also be exciting. It could also be fun. It could also be okay. Something that is supposed to be you
Kenric R.: Well, and sometimes when you go through that bad stuff because you made a wrong choice at the end, when you come out of it, all of a sudden, all these other things open up because you went through that.
Rene W.: yes, absolutely. I have. I have examples of that. Two years ago, I’m talking maybe 20 years ago, I got a fortune cookie and I think I still have this fortune somewhere because it was, to me at the time, it was the most profound fortune cookie that I ever got ever, ever cracked open. And the fortune was, it’s better to have remorse than to have regrets. It’s better to have done something. And say, Oh dang, that didn’t go the way I thought it would.
Kenric R.: Yep.
Rene W.: to sit around your whole life and think, what if I had done that?
Kenric R.: Yup. [00:18:00] Yeah, that’s, I’d keep that fortune too.
Rene W.: Every once in a while. Thank you. Okay. That’d be really go the way I thought it would, but Hey, at least I tried it.
Kenric R.: Yup. Yup. At least the tried.
Rene W.: As long as it’s not skydiving, that goes wrong. You can always try again.
Kenric R.: Right.
John H.: Very true.
Kenric R.: So after journalism and, well, I shouldn’t say after journalism, your next path in life led you to D C and you started editing with, um, Oh, what is his name?
Rene W.: Mike Carlin.
Kenric R.: Yeah, Mike Carlin. That’s right. That’s right. And you did, you did like what? Uh.
Rene W.: There were a few steps along the way between journalism and that, let me just point out that journalism is still a part of my life because I still write, I still write historical books. I still write biographies. So I never really left that behind. Even when I was [00:19:00] an editor at Marvel, I was still write, um, articles about my life and try to.
Give people a little insight into who I was and how I thought. But after college, my first degree, I mean my first degree, my first job was with a company called bulldog productions down in Dallas. And they put on, um, a lot of, uh, comic book conventions. But the most famous one they did was the Dallas fantasy fair.
This was to me, really the fore runner of the modern day convention because it was run by a gentlemen named Larry Langford, who is now deceased. I’m too young, but, uh, Larry was one of the first people that really put together. Comic book shows other than San Diego that brought together writers and artists and actors.
You know, he was one of the first people to really bring Stan Lee to a lot of shows and people like Adam West
Kenric R.: Sounds like a
Rene W.: and [00:20:00] TV people. Yeah. People like Butch Patrick from TV shows and it was a hoot. You know, he would bring all these people together and it was a very intimate. A scene because he was just hanging out with these people and really get to know them.
Writers like Larry Nivon, you don’t have the people that I never dreamed of meeting when I was growing up. And I eventually became the co chair of that with, uh, with Larry. And I did that for about two or three years, less than three years. But through that experience, I met a lot of great people and a lot of fantastic people from the comic book world.
People like Jim Salah corrupt, who is still a very different of mine to this day. And one of the people I met was the artist, Mike sec. I’m sure you know who Mike is. Um, and, uh, you know, he was one of the guests at the show and. He was friends with my Carlin and Mike had [00:21:00] mentioned to him that he was looking for a new assistant editor.
And Mike called me up and said, Hey, you know, uh, cause I was looking for an assistant editor. Why don’t you apply for the job? I’ll put in a good word for you. And he did. He gave me a glowing recommendation and pretty much very, you know, within a day I had a job in, in New York. And I had to load up the, uh, the truck and moved to Beverly at that point, but I’m not, but it was New York instead.
But it was like such an adventure for me at that time because I just had to load everything into this. You haul trailer. And my friend Keith Wilson, who is a used to work for DC comics, he’s also an artist, helped me drive the thing up to New York and we broke down about three times headed up there. The whole thing was just, it was just, I’m going, man, am I supposed to do this?
Despite trying to [00:22:00] tell me that like, I am not supposed to go to New York. Finally, the radiator on the car blew out. We were in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t even remember what state it was, but I swear to you, we like broke down in the middle of nowhere and this truck comes along this, um, uh, haul to haul the car away and they stop.
And this guy gets out in the middle of the night with the full moon. And he’s like, Oh, so your car is broken down. Well, I can, I can tell you to my shop and then we can fix it and get you back on the road by the morning. Probably. So they, they, they, we were like, okay, we’re, you know, so he, he like takes us to where his shop is.
It is this dilapidated Victorian house on the top of the Hill with like junk cars all around it, silhouetted by a full moon.
Kenric R.: Oh
Rene W.: Yeah. [00:23:00] I’m thinking, you know, has there
Kenric R.: King novel.
Rene W.: to a horror movie more apropos than this? But anyway, we survived and he fix the car and I made it to New York and I worked for Carlin for, I worked with Carlin for about two years.
Kenric R.: Yeah,
Rene W.: So, you know, a lot of good things came from that. But just imagine this. Naive kid because I really was a kid at the time. And, uh, all my clothes had big floral print from them and big puffy sleeves because that’s what we wore in Texas at that time. And, and here I am in New York working at this publishing company and everyone’s wearing black
Kenric R.: and you got
Rene W.: in New York.
Kenric R.: on your sleeves and they probably just thought you were adorable.
Rene W.: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m like wearing dresses to work every day and high heels and big floral prints, and I don’t [00:24:00] think I still had a mullet at that time. I think I’d grown my mode out, but thank God, but I kind of stick it. It kind of stood out a little bit. I didn’t,
Kenric R.: that probably worked to your advantage too though, because, Oh, here’s this crazy girl coming up the street, but then you, you kick butt, you did exactly what you needed to do.
Rene W.: I was, I tried, I tried, I think Carlyn taught me a lot. He, uh, he was, um, he was a hard ball, but he, he knew his job and he knew how to put together comic books and he taught me everything he taught me from. Yeah. He taught me everything about storytelling to, you know, balloon placements to, to working with writers and artists.
I really learned so much from him,
Kenric R.: Yeah, yeah,
Rene W.: young and green, it really was a trial by fire and I’m sure I was frustrating to him because I [00:25:00] really didn’t know anything about putting together books, but when I first got there, but he made damn sure I learned.
Kenric R.: Oh, I bet.
Rene W.: So he was, you know, I cannot fault Mike because he, he really taught me everything and it served me well for a long time.
Kenric R.: that’s good because sometimes you meet people, especially when you’re green on something and they don’t want to teach, you know, they want somebody that knows what they’re doing right off the bat. So it’s nice that he took the time to actually engrain into you the proper techniques.
Rene W.: Yeah. I mean, keep in mind, I had come from a journalism background. And from there I was, I was doing PR for convention, so I had never put together a comic book in my life. I. Knew about storytelling for movies. And to me that was an interesting thing because I really always looked at comic books as a movie on paper.
And I tried to think of it that way.
Kenric R.: Yeah. That’s
Rene W.: And, and I tried to think of the storytelling that [00:26:00] way. And I also found over time that my, my journalism came into play because every good story, no matter what it is, you have to answer the questions. You have to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how. Every story has to have that and it doesn’t matter what kind of story it is for it to be a complete story.
And to be a satisfying story, you have to answer all those questions. So that doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, a comic book, uh, you know, a novel, you’ve got to answer a feature story in a newspaper. Every story has to answer those questions or you haven’t done your job. So in that regard, I think, uh, I think my journalism training came into play.
Kenric R.: Where were you influenced by the hero’s journey with Joseph Campbell?
Rene W.: I didn’t really know about the Joseph Campbell, the worst of Joseph Campbell when I was growing up. I only learned about that later when I met Michael [00:27:00] Golden, another fantastic artist, and Michael is a big fan of Joseph Campbell,
Kenric R.: Yeah. Him and George Lucas both.
Rene W.: Yeah. Well, I was going to say, inadvertently, I was a fan of Joseph Campbell because I was always a big star Wars fan, and I learned that I learned later, of course, that, uh, that sorts, Lucas was also very influenced by, by Campbell.
Kenric R.: Yeah, that’s really cool actually. When you think about the influence of people and how it resonates throughout literature, and then it just keeps trickling down like you would be influenced by Joseph Campbell, not even knowing that you’re being influenced by Joseph Campbell. When you got over to Marvel, you started working with John Byrne.
And you worked on sensational Shiho. You guys did the whole fourth wall breaking before that was even a thing to do. And what was working with with burn Lake? Was it, cause I mean, he’s a legend in the field.
Rene W.: Oh yeah, it might. Well, let me just backtrack a little [00:28:00] bit and talk about Marvel for a minute.
Kenric R.: Yeah, please do.
Rene W.: that time, Marvel was like a big family, which is one of the reasons I went over there. I, I, I learned, you know, trial by fire at DC, but. DC was much more corporate back then than Marvel was.
And I knew people that worked at Marvel, of course, because I had known, uh, Jim Salicrup from my Dallas days. And Jim called me up one day and said, Hey, Craig Anderson is looking for an assistant editor. And I, I really didn’t see any, um, promotional opportunities coming up anytime, stun at DC. So I made the jump.
I jumped from one company to adapt from DC to Marvel. And at the time it was the perfect thing for me to do because. Marvel being by myself in New York, not having my family around me. Marvel was much more of a family atmosphere. You [00:29:00] worked with people, people hung out together. You were like a big family.
It was, like I said before, it’s, you know, your joke around the office. We had Mark Grunewald there at the time who just made sure that there was a sense of comradery. He was always planning how between parties and really he was planning a party for anything. It was like, okay, Oh, it’s, uh, it’s, uh, June 5th, what’s all the party?
And he, and he just, he made everybody feel like we were part of Marvel. And he also took time to train the assistant editors. Every week he would have assistant editor school. It and actually try to teach us the craft of putting together a comic book. So I had a lot of friends there and a great boss in Craig Anderson.
We worked on silver surfer and guardians of the galaxy, and a lot of things that have since gone on to really explode. I tell you, when we were [00:30:00] doing guardians of the galaxy back then, I would have never predicted it would have become this big movie franchise. You know, I always loved it. It was always a lot of fun to work on.
And it’s, it’s gratifying to see, even though the movies are a lot different than the comic books in so many ways, but it was, and we worked on Bennis quest. It was Jim stone. We worked on a lot of great things in that office. So when I, Oh, it is right. Very, very, so much fun to work on too. I love Jim. Uh, he’s a great guy.
But one of the first things I got to work on when I became a full editor, when I got promoted to be a full editor, one of my first jobs that I got to work on was she Hawk and burn actually asked for me specific, um. Directly he wanted, because he had gone to, uh, Tom DeFalco and, uh, he was our editor in chief and, and he was looking for an editor to take over she Hawk.
And he specifically asked for me [00:31:00] and I said, yeah, sure. Cause I had known John from socializing with him and some other people out in Connecticut. We would get together and have volleyball games. At his house, and so I knew him. We were friends, and so I said, yeah, that’d be a lot of fun. And working with John was a hoot.
I mean, I actually looked forward to what we were going to do every day. We had a, we had a really good collaborative relationship. We would bounce story ideas off of each other, and John was very professional. Would always get the work in on time. He may and always good, always on time, always funny and always communicative.
He never gave me a, uh, a moment slurry as far as him being, you’ve been there and doing this job and making it great. And he would always, uh, people [00:32:00] ask me sometimes, cause you know, he put me in as a character in the book.
Kenric R.: Yay. Right. Which is awesome.
Rene W.: people have asked me so often like, Oh, did you know John was going to do that?
Did you, did you know you were going to be in the book? And, and, and the answer is no, I really didn’t. Because we would, we would do the stories, we would discuss what the story was gonna be, and then John would submit a script and I wouldn’t be in the script. And then he would draw the book. And then all of a sudden I would get the pages and sometimes they would already know my pages were already be inked and he would have put me, he put me in as a character, you know, and it’d be too late to change anything.
Not that I would have anyway, cause I thought it was hilarious. Um, but he would always sneak it in and just, just, I think just to entertain me, cause he knew, he knew I got a kick out of it. And, uh, and it was just, it was just fun. You know, it was just some, one of those fun things that we did. [00:33:00] And I loved the little world he created for me in the comics, but too, because I, he would have me in this big palatial corner office with, uh, with, uh, you know, penthouse view and I, you know, guys bringing me a coffee on a tray in the morning and, and I guarantee you my existence at Marvel was not like that.
For a long time. I didn’t even have an office that had a window.
Kenric R.: Oh man, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. No window office.
Rene W.: And I certainly didn’t have anyone bringing me coffee, but I had all those things so.
Kenric R.: that’s so nice. Are you still coloring,
Rene W.: I really don’t tell her much these days, only because when I was coloring, I, uh, I was using dr Martins dyes and mixing the colors myself.
And, and when you were coloring each page, you were creating little paintings and, and, uh, [00:34:00] now it’s, it’s all digital and it’s a completely different skillset, completely different thing. And I will say though. That I really miss some of the coloring we were doing back then because to me, coloring is a storytelling tool.
Kenric R.: Yeah.
Rene W.: coloring is supposed to do is it is supposed to move the story along. It’s supposed to make your eye flow from panel to panel and page to page, and it’s supposed to be very clear what is going on. It’s a storytelling tool and I think a lot of the digital coloring is kind of losing that because it becomes very muddy.
And if you have to, if you’re reading a book and you have to stop to try to figure it out, what’s going on in the art because the coloring isn’t doing its job. Then that’s the case. Coloring is not doing its job.
Kenric R.: not setting that mood.
Rene W.: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s setting a mood. It’s setting the [00:35:00] stories. It’s, it’s one of the tools of our trade.
And I always look for that when I’m hiring a colorist. I always look for someone that understands that, but basically I just don’t have time. Um, I, I’m so busy doing everything else these days and, and publishing the art books and in booking my clients and writing when I have the time. And. And the other things that I’m doing, I just don’t really have the time for the coloring anymore.
If I were to do anything like that, I might get back to painting or doing my own art more than I would do it for comics these days, I think.
Kenric R.: D I actually, this is actually a good question for you because I think you’ve seen the. You’ve seen the people that you’ve seen the old school guard and now you’re in, and now you’ve seen the new school, the new guard and the digital versus like you were just saying that you felt like you were more presenting a painting, you’re doing all this stuff.
Do you think new artists would benefit [00:36:00] by doing more of their original by hand and having that secondary market of being able to go to cons and being a sell more that original stuff? Because. They have the ability to actually sell a physical.
Rene W.: Well. Sure. Yeah. I think that as an agent, of course, I’m wanting my clients to, to make money for themselves and for me, I always prefer to have. You know, the, uh, the physical art. Um, and I think that fans love to see the physical art. And I, I just think it makes sense for an artist to have that cash flow revenue.
You know, that, that revenue for themselves, but even if they don’t. I think that they, they need to be able to have that skill to, to produce an original. It’s by what to, uh, because you learn something different. It’s just a different [00:37:00] tactile thing. You learn something different, creating something with a pencil and an ink brush.
Then you learn from doing it digitally. You can create art both ways, but I think just connecting to something. Um, you connect to things in different ways. If you connect something, if you connect to a piece of art by doing it, um, traditionally with pencil pencils or brush, you can get that sensibility in your head and you can still take that feeling into creating it digitally.
Yeah. It’s just, it’s just, it’s a, it’s all the census coming together. And I, I think there’s a place for digital art. I think that, of course, that’s the way our industry’s going, um, that I’m trying to think of, you know, a good analogy. Um, you know, it’s like creating something from [00:38:00] scratch when you’re cooking, you know, and.
Once you have that in your head of all these, what it takes to create that art, you’re creating that meal that you’re making. Taking all the ingredients out of the cupboard and putting them together and knowing how the different things smell and taste and work together in tandem. Once you have that sensibility in your head and that since memory, then you can use it anyway. Yeah, and it’s the same way with, with art. You know? It’s like, it’s. It has to be true no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s digital, R, R, you know, pen and ink. I don’t want to call it old school because I don’t think it’s old school. You know, I hate that term. I hate the term old school. I don’t think there is such a thing.
Um, it’s, there’s no such thing as old school or new school. It’s just good school.
Kenric R.: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good
Rene W.: create. Yeah. It does create good art. I don’t care how you create it, and if you, and that’s [00:39:00] whether it’s writing, painting, yeah. You know, sequential art. Just make it good,
Kenric R.: you had a great quote.
Rene W.: into it.
Kenric R.: Yeah. You had a great quilt. And that I, cause when I was going through and going back through some of your old interviews and things and you said skillset should matter, not gen, gender not being compartmentalized cause you had a lot of positive support. And I kinda, it feels like that kind of leads into that.
Rene W.: Oh yeah. I get asked that a lot too. Um, cause
Kenric R.: to avoid asking you that because I kept thinking, here’s a, here’s someone who’s been in this arena for a long time. She knows what she’s doing. She’s obviously been successful at her career at all the different levels that she can be. How many times have you been asked the same question
Rene W.: Ask that question so many times more than the last 10 years probably than ever. And I don’t want to minimalize the question because it is an [00:40:00] important question to a lot of women out there. Um, yeah, it’s just, it’s, it’s been my experience, me personally, that I’ve been given a lot of chances and I never felt like it was because of my gender.
I always felt it was because I worked really hard.
Kenric R.: Yeah. It’s refreshing.
Rene W.: they’re there have never really felt, except for one instance that I ever felt like I was being put upon because of my gender are not being given something because of my gender. And the one time that did happen, I got myself out of it. You know, the one time I felt like that was happening, I said, well, you know, this situation isn’t working for me.
But you know what? I will find a situation that does, and instead of [00:41:00] trying to stay there and, and, and fight it, uh, because I realized that it wasn’t going to change. I just got out. I found something else. And that was, that was like a, a tense situation. And I’m not going to go into it because I don’t like to dish dirt or name names.
Um, and it was.
John H.: I had a problem.
Rene W.: Not so bad that I was ever physically in danger. It was more just like, I’m okay. You know, someone, you know, looking at you and making sort of snide comments every now and
Kenric R.: Making you feel very uncomfortable.
Rene W.: yeah, not even very uncomfortable. It was more like, I’m not the kind of person that I live. Things like that make me feel uncomfortable.
I’m more the kind of person that when that happens, I’m like, well, F you. And you’re not going to make me feel uncomfortable because you don’t have control over me.
Kenric R.: Right. I love that. Hey, [00:42:00] speaking of strong female roles, you worked on she Hawk, you guys broke the fourth wall. Well, before Deadpool ever did that, and whose idea was that? How did that come about?
Rene W.: Although it was always John’s ideas. Yeah, that was, that was always Bern’s idea to do that. He, uh, he had some, some awesome ideas for that book. My input with that book would come when I was suggest maybe a direction for a story or a direction with a character, or he would run a plot by me and I would make some suggestions for some jokes and sometimes he would take them.
Sometimes he wouldn’t. But believe me, John had John had plenty of, uh. Plenty of jokes on his own, and plenty of ideas for that book. Uh, but I always appreciated that we had that great collaborative relationship, but yeah, you’re right. We did it long before Deadpool.
Kenric R.: Yeah. Yeah. Like quite a while. Quite a while. Quite a bit of
John H.: a good 15 [00:43:00] years. Yeah. Did deployed it and break the fourth wall till they tell the, well, 10 years, the late nineties.
Kenric R.: That’s incredible. There you go. And then. After Marvel, you did, you went and you did some stuff with tops comics. You did Jurassic park, and, uh, what else did you did? Um, Xena and Hercules and X-Files. Those were all pretty successful for tops comics.
Rene W.: Okay, well, let me, let me back up a little bit. We’ll get to that, but I wanted to finish the, um, the female in comics
Kenric R.: Oh, please do. Please
Rene W.: Yeah. Back when I started in comics, there really wasn’t that many women in the industry. Um. You. I, I had worked, I had worked with a lot of, um, you know, bosses who mostly all were men.
And, uh, so I had grew up with two older brothers who used to chase me around the house when I stole their comic books when I was a kid. [00:44:00] But I was, I was very used to, um, you know, working with men and being around men. And, uh, and dealing with that energy. But I understood at the time also that there really weren’t a lot of women in comics.
There was, you know, just a few. I could probably name them on one hand, really, you know, Karen Berger and, uh, and, uh, Bobby Chase and Marie J. Evans, and, uh, you know, he’ll be, um, you know, he’ll be came later, he’ll be missing. But,
Kenric R.: can, Bergen went over to dark horse comics, right?
Rene W.: Yeah, she did.
Kenric R.: Yup. Yup.
Rene W.: Um, but she was at DC when I started at DC, so there really wasn’t, not a lot of women, and I apologize to any, I’m leaving out, but as time went on, you know, more and more women started getting into comics and you could see that by the demographics of the conventions too.
More and more women started coming to shows and having an interest in, um. You know, in the conventions and [00:45:00] the characters. And as time went by, I also was able to work on projects where I was able to bring in more female creators. You know, I started hiring people like Trina Robbins and who hadn’t been working in comics at that time, and Amanda Conner, and bringing in more women to work in to the industry.
And, but you know, I wasn’t hiring them because they were women. I was hiring them because they were good
Kenric R.: I think that’s
Rene W.: and that that was my point that I was making in the interview that you’re talking about. I never got a submission in the mail and looked at the name first to see whether it was a man or a woman. I looked at the art first to see if it was good to see if they knew what they were doing or if they were at a point where I could teach them to do it better. And the same with the script. If I read the synopsis [00:46:00] and it grabbed me off, I read the first three pages and I said, Hey, there’s something here. You didn’t add her to me, someone’s gender or their age or what country they lived in or anything else. It mattered to me that there was something good here and we could do something with it.
Kenric R.: Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s the only thing should matter.
Rene W.: yeah, I mean, to me that’s what matters is like, um. Yeah. We all have to be our best self, whatever that is.
Kenric R.: Yeah, yeah. Just do your best and you know, if it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen.
Rene W.: Right. So, and, and I, you know, I want more women in comics. I want more diversity. I want everything. I want us all to just be in comics and create good stuff and keep this industry going and keep it alive. And I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. And, uh. You know, I’m happy when I can give opportunities to other people too, is I don’t know.
I’ve had [00:47:00] a lot of people and in recent years come up to me and remind me that I gave them their first job or that I, you know,
Kenric R.: that’s
Rene W.: even to the point of like answering someone’s mail, like in the letter column was important to people. It’s like, Hey, you noticed me? You read my letter, you publish my letter.
That was very important to me at the time. And it gave me confidence or it made me feel like I was part of the Marvel family, or you know, it’s like you never know what you do, how what you do is going to affect people, and that’s something we really have to keep in mind in this industry. When you create a story, when you write something that’s going out there and you don’t know the people yet that are reading it.
Or what, what you’re saying is going to influence them in a positive way and in a negative way. You gotta be, you know, you gotta keep that in mind and you could put somebody on a whole path. You could be the Boulder in the stream for them and you don’t even [00:48:00] know it.
Kenric R.: Yeah. This is, this is totally true. I mean, we try to be as positive as we can on this show and, and, you know, try to learn from everything. We’re not, you know, we’ll have people on and they might have a difference of opinion, but. You can learn something from somebody
Rene W.: Oh, you liked something. Yeah. Yeah. You learn something from every experience, whether it’s good or bad, and Hey, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I mean, I’m sure that. I had pissed some people off in my career. I’m sure I’ve got some enemies here and there. If I do, I don’t really know cause I probably don’t talk to them anymore.
But I’m sure, I’m sure I’ve got some people out there that don’t like me. Although, you know, I could probably name the people I don’t like on a few fingers that we won’t go there.
Kenric R.: Right.
Oh man, I was not
John H.: expecting that to be two hours. That was cool.
Kenric R.: she was cool though. She was great. I mean, I mean, you get to a point where you’re like, okay man, I gotta move [00:49:00] on to the next day. But dude, for all the stories and all the thumps, fucking amen.
John H.: Fucking A’s
Kenric R.: I was like, Holy shit. I was not expecting that much of. Like, dude, you got a Wikipedia page, dude, I had a freaking really dig down to find shit, you know?
John H.: I know. I looked at other tools like there’s nothing there, but then she talks to like, how was this not on some blog pages, something. This is interesting stuff.
Kenric R.: my God, she’s been, she’s done so much. She’s done so much to worked with so many people, and I love the fact that she was like, Oh my God, you asked the right questions. I was like, yeah,
John H.: Makes me feel good. Yeah. I’m excited to get that book on Friday cause that book looks awesome and I’m all about, I’m all about world war two stuff
Kenric R.: Oh dude, I would, I saw that. I was like, Oh my God, you know, I was like, that was amazing. And I knew that she had strong feelings for that guy. Um, just, you know what I mean? Cause she gotta be there at the near the end, but then do this with him, you know? And Nick Cardi is fucking a legend man.
John H.: yeah. I bought the, I bought the tightened version cause I wanted the [00:50:00] big, the big copy of it, but
Kenric R.: See no, I want the one that he did, you know, hers is
John H.: I was going to buy it. I was going to their websites down to can’t pay anything off their site.
Kenric R.: Uh.
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
2 thoughts on “Renee Witterstaetter – Early Career and time at Marvel!”
I loved listening to this interview with Renee, I knew her from high school and she was a super great person even back then. I follow her on Facebook and I truly envy her for the amazing life she has been living. We probably have not seen each other since high school, and so listening to this was the first time in many years that I got to hear her voice. Someday I might catch up to her at a convention. : )
She was amazing to talk with, so many awesome stories and just genuinely an awesome person.