April 20, 2021


Jim Shooter talks storytelling and creator rights (part 2)

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Kenric Regan John Horsley
Jim Shooter talks storytelling and creator rights (part 2)
Spoiler Country
Jim Shooter talks storytelling and creator rights (part 2)

Apr 20 2021 | 00:38:19


Show Notes

Welcome back to the second in our three part interview with legend Jim Shooter!

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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas

Jim Shooter Part 2


[00:00:00] Jeff: So, while you were working at Marvel, what would you say your overarching philosophy was and how to work with your writers work with your team? Was there overall philosophy as well and how to also express your ideas as a company to potential future readers?

Jim Shooter: Well, I mean, I inherited Marvel, so I inherited a lot of the creative culture of Marvel, you know, Doing it Marvel style, which is the writer writes applause.

The artist draws the story from the plot, basically telling a silent movie. And then the writer goes back in and fills in the dialogue, as opposed to DC, where the writer writes a full script. He tells the artists exactly what he wants to the artist to draw the cop. The dialogue is already there, you know?

So. It’s a different process. It makes, it makes the artists much more involved. If you have a great artist like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, who’s, who’s a storyteller, who’s a cinematographer, you [00:01:00] know, that works great. If you’ve got a new kid, maybe not so well, but anyway, so I inherited that and I worked with it.

But my philosophy was very simple. First of all tell good stories and tell them well, and that to me has been the recipe for success for storytellers for the last 40,000 years, it will be for the next 40,000 years. And so that was my, my, my first thing is, is is that, and, and of course there’s all these corollaries.

I wanted better art. I wanted quality work. I wanted people to pour their hearts into it. We had some people who were kind of hacking, you know, and, and and also people who just weren’t up to the task whose chief qualification is that they’d read a thousand comic books. You know what I mean? And, and never, and almost no one had been trained, you know, And, and then on top of that, my philosophy was, you know, play fair and try hard.

I wanted to make it fair for creators, make it, make [00:02:00] it a good situation for creators. I couldn’t change work for hire. They wouldn’t let me no way. But I could make it good work for hire and, and, and, and nice work bar. And also I could introduce a line of creator owned books, which I did. So, so anyway, I was just trying to, you know, make a, make it the situation I would want if I were a freelance creator, you know, as a matter of fact, sometimes after things really got going and everybody was doing so well, I kept thinking I’m sitting on the wrong side of the desk.

But, but you know, I mean, it’s, that’s, that’s very naive and simplistic and childlike philosophy play fair, try hard, you know, But I, I, you know, I didn’t that, that was my philosophy. I just, I thought, you know, try, try your best, do it. Right. And then see what happens. And what happened was that we took off.

I mean, I did a lot of managerial cleanup. There was some, there was some corruption, people stealing. There was a lot of just unprofessional behavior. And poor organization. I mean, there was no organization. I mean, I, I came [00:03:00] in there and fortunately I’ve been trained at these about what an organization should be.

I did, I didn’t like some of the things that I learned at DC, so I didn’t do those. I did it, you know, organization my way. And and it worked, I mean, it worked really well. I mean, for a there we were flying high, you know, and, and the only thing that interfered with us is when the Six guys who owned Caden’s industries, which own Marvel decided to sell the company.

And then they were suddenly uninterested in anything good for Marvel. They just wanted to line their pockets.

Jeff: So, interestingly enough, when talking about artists being more important to the story process in the Marvel style because artists are very visual and is there ever a concern of artists in that style?

Focusing more on visual and not having a really thinking about the story elements that are needed

Jim Shooter: there. Absolutely. That was the major problem is that, is it, you know, these guys forgot [00:04:00] what business they were in. You know, we’re telling stories here and that seems like a simple concept, but, but it wasn’t for some people.

I mean, they’re, they’re, they they’re kind of drawing what they wanted to draw with reckless disregard for what the story is. And So, but I say the thing is I, I was preaching that, but I got great people working with me. I, through biochar, by crook, I got Archie Goodwin. The best of all time, I got Louise Simon seven and I got Roger stern for awhile.

I got Larry Hama. I got people to who could do it. Who understood it? Who could teach it? We’re all saying the same things. I didn’t invent anything. I was just passing on the wisdom of the ancients. Well, I’ve managed to gather some other people who hadn’t met a few agents along the way, or were just, you know, super smart or I don’t know why, but what they, they you know, then, then it’s all of us talking this stuff and trying to convince people.

No, it’s about the story. Tell the story. And you know, you [00:05:00] work with Larry Harmer for, are you learned to tell a story? And the arch a good one too. I mean, you walk out and you spend 10 minutes in a room with Archie Goodwin. You walk out a lot smarter. He’s you know, I just had great people and we, we, they bought into my.

Philosophy and, and they, they it wouldn’t, it kind of matched up with their own. They’d been places before where they were, you know, they didn’t have that benefit. They weren’t working in a place conducive to doing what they, well, now they were, and, and now they, they they just took off, man. I mean, they, they, we had great people and they did great things.

Not everything was great. We screwed up, but, but not, not that often. And we had some just wonderful things, which to this day, to this day, I get interviewed about the Phoenix saga. I interviewed about the core of quarterback saga and then talk about Walt Simon’s in-store and Frank stared, oval and, and Claremont and whoever’s X-Men.

[00:06:00] And yeah, and all the rest of it, you know, it’s like, you know, it just, just some, some. Outstanding things. I think that people, you know, we, we poured our hearts into it and people respond as

Jeff: someone who is also a great writer as yourself. Is it frustrating to read stories that they were running for you knowing that you probably could write the stories better?

Was that like a frustrating thing as the editor in chief?

Jim Shooter: Well, I wasn’t that I could write it better. I mean, I mean, I I’ve tried to respect everybody’s style and what they did. I mean, I wouldn’t write the way Walt Simon’s son wrote, but who’s going to complain about, I mean, it’s great. It just different than what I would do.

I, I, I didn’t want anybody to write like me. I never told anybody, right. Like me. But what would frustrate me is, is kind of, The technical glitches, the kind of the things where the guy just failures of craft, which for some reason, got through the editors, they weren’t all Archie Goodwin. And we [00:07:00] signed with them lyric.

I mean, we had a new suit, we had some new guys and they had to learn, you know, and, and we kept growing. So we kept getting more new guys. And every once in a while, one of the old guys. Would leave like Louise, you know, she was married. She decided to move upstate to do freelance fine. Lucky there. I had an SNT who Louise had trained to replace her.

I got and, and but you know, you know, you’re you get the new guys and some of them were terrific. Bob budiansky was amazing. Mark Greenwald was, was, was good, was great. Carl Potts came in and he was terrific. He replaced Al Milgrom, who was great. And then pretty soon he was Larry Hama helped him a lot.

He, Larry Hama was kind of coaching him. I didn’t even know that at the time. But Carl picked up on his brilliant guy and before you know, it he’s teaching everybody and he handled more submissions than anyone. And, you know, and we had Jim Salicrup, I keep forgetting to mention for some reason, but to Jim, Salicrup really brilliant man.

And he was, he was good. [00:08:00] So we had a, you know, we’re trying to get these guys to understand the craft, not do it this way, or do it that way. I guess I was kind of stuck with a Marvel style, but I was all right with that. But trying to get them to understand we’re telling stories, this is how you do it, you know, explaining to them.

Not formula, no explaining to them, the concepts, the basics, it’s you. What you’re doing is you’re taking them on a journey. That’d be a good one. Okay. Interesting. Along the way, and have a reason for doing it. It’s Mark Twain said it has to you know, be worth while he didn’t deserve aren’t his words, but be worth the time that people spent and you know, I, I saw so, okay.

Everybody’s buying that. They made fun of me cause I always citing Mark Twain and Shakespeare and stuff, you know? But I said, no, no. And we, we have to take it seriously. Anybody who says, Oh, it’s just a comic book to get rid of anybody. Who’s not trying hard. And anybody who doesn’t [00:09:00] want it to be talked about 30 years later, then we don’t need them.

Yes. All right. Sorry. Rant. No,

Jeff: no, no. I agree with you as someone who is the only, I love our comic books and a someone who attempts to be a comic book writer and an English teacher. I mean, yeah. I mean, calm boats, the basic idea of a story has been around since ancient Greek days of the Greek dramas.

I mean, they’re there you, even if you’re in a common, no matter how. Childish of a work you think you’re doing, you still need to do it seriously?

Jim Shooter: Well, it’s that matter? I think about Walt Disney when he was doing those, those wonderful animated cartoons, like Pinocchio and, and, and snow white and, you know, I mean, Do you think he took them seriously?

I do. I do too cartoons for kids, but man, they have it emotion and power and they, they, they, they, they, they made it worth your time to be there. They, they took you on a journey. They were great. Okay. If he can do it, you know, [00:10:00] why shouldn’t we, and I also, if you look at the, at the comics that Disney published back then to gold Kia, I think No, I think they were there.

Dell gold, key Whitman. That’s all the same people. But if you look at those comments, look at those Carl barks, uncle scrooges, Carl barks is genius. Uncle Scrooge was a simple cartoon character, but boy, some of the stories just rocked your world. They were great. And, and you know, and here I am talking about them 50 years later.


Jeff: I think personally, I think you’re right. A hundred percent. I do agree that. I mean, you’re, if you’re a writer of a comic book, you are the steward of a character that’s been around. Sometimes for decades, people have expectations. People have personal affection for these characters. You can’t waste the opportunity that you have in, right.

Jim Shooter: You’re actually giving a speech sort of just like when I gave us some guy. You know, a guy with a big ego and, and you know, it was good, but you have huge ego and, you know, and, [00:11:00] and he’s doing that you know, he wanted to do something stupid. I don’t know. And I said, you know, and the editor told them no.

And then he demanded that, you know, come to me. And so, so he’s in front of a bunch of people and he’s like, but I’m, so-and-so, you know, I don’t damn who you are. No, this is bigger than you. It’s bigger than me. I’m trying to think we have responsibility and honor on the line we’re entrusted and we need to do the job.

Right. Well, he wasn’t pleased, but I don’t. Yeah. So, but, but we, you know, we, we, we, that’s how we felt. That’s how we all felt. And, and when the occasional guy didn’t feel that way, you know, we, weren’t going to just say, Oh, well, it’s. Who’s who’s a hot one today. It’s it’s Michael, what’s his face Bendis guy.

You know, who cares? I don’t care who you are. You’re not going to screw with Spiderman, right? Not on my watch anyway, nowadays, I don’t

Jeff: know. And I agree with you. Like I said, [00:12:00] the, the position of a comic writer artist is, I mean, it is kind of, it is special. And it’s part of the reason is because there’s some people who want to be where you are so many.

Of your readers wish they could be the writer wish they could be an artist. It sort of kinda reminds me of like an athlete. When you see an athlete, half acid on the field is beef. Who’s a pro you’re like you many people who wish they could be in your spot and you know, to have the opportunity that you do and you’re going to just waste it.

You’re going to just make a joke of it as someone who’s a fan. I honestly feel insulted when someone does that. Cause I wish I could do what you could do that kind of. Yeah. And

Jim Shooter: if you’re so good that you can like get away with sloughing off a little bit. Well, yeah. Good for you. But I’d rather not watch.


Jeff: Exactly. I agree with you

Jim Shooter: a hundred percent when you’re flossing lost me, I thought that was the greatest thing that ever happened. Hussein bolt. And one time he was winning a race by so much that toward the end, he just kind of trucks the last, you know, 10, 15 yards. Yeah. And he could have, he could have set an all time world record that might never have been broken, but he [00:13:00] said, eh, he looks over his shoulders.

No one near him as trots. Yeah. I thought. That that’s a kind of arrogance and disdain for you and me watching this thing that I don’t like, you know, and maybe it’s just me.

Jeff: I agree. I think for me, the one that always caught my mind there was in basketball, you know, Allen Iverson, when he was asked, why he doesn’t try, he goes, it’s just practice.

Who cares his practice? I’m like, dude, so many people wish they could. Be in that practice and try and there’s people have people go into your games and you’re going to have faster practice.

Jim Shooter: How many million dollars do we have to pay you? Yeah.

Jeff: Right. That’s the one that caught me. I think we’re asking about just thought Jesus Christ, man.

You, you don’t

Jim Shooter: get it. I mean, unfortunately he was really good, but he could have been better. That’s what that’s, that’s what the message is there. I want everybody to give it their all

Jeff: right. That’s why you have guys like Michael Jordan who had the talent and had the dedication. And that’s why they are always going to remember it as the best there ever

Jim Shooter: was.

Oh, Walt Simon center, Frank Miller [00:14:00] or Claremont or, or, you know, lots of the guys I had, you know, they, they, they, you all never gave you a less than his best. No David Latham was he had Dawn parlance. I mean, they, they weren’t there to, you know, fool around. They, they, they, they did it the best. They, they understood the responsibility and the honor, and they did it.

Jeff: And I think that’s why fans remember him the way they do. I mean, we, I was lucky to be able to talk to wall Simon’s son about almost a year ago with me and Kenrick who was on the show and John. It’s a hell of experience. I mean, these are people you never forget, you know, you talk to, and you remember their work and I will bother you about some questions with battery bill, because it’s one of my favorite tractors.

I’m going to bother you about that. But before I do, before I do get to that point, I do want to talk about something else that you were very instrumental in bringing into Marvel. The mega crossover event count book, which for you was secret Wars.

Jim Shooter: So how did that come about? That was the first one, as far as I [00:15:00] know.

I mean, they’re doing crossovers before course. But sort of a company-wide crossover, the mega crossover? Well, we did secret Wars and nobody had done anything quite like that before. And you know, and then because it sold so well then from that point on every company, did it, you know, all the time, usually in the summer But yeah, I, I, we, we didn’t set out to change comic book marketing, you know, we, well, I set out, I thought this was going to be a big story.

It’s going to have a lot of characters in it. You know, I’ve got to make it, make it work, make, make it as good as I can make it. Yeah. That’s all we were focused on is like, tell this, it’s going to take a lot of issues to tell this story. Let’s make sure they all work together. That’s made sure it makes sense.

That’s fit in continuity. That’s the thing. Other, other companies, as far as I know, no one else ever attempted to put it in continuity. It’s too hard. It just took a bunch of characters. Put them off on the side. It’s an entirely separate story, you [00:16:00] know, I mean, even crisis where it was supposed to replace it, a remake, the DC universe.

Well, some, some people had enough cloud to opt out and just said, no, you know, and just kept doing their thing. And other people, as soon as it was done, they went right back to what they were doing. A lot of this stuff was forgotten instantly. And yeah, there was some fun stuff in crisis, but, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t What it was supposed to be.

It was a giant crossover. I’m sure many people enjoy lots of fun, but you know, no one quite like us. I mean, it took a lot of effort by a lot of people, you know, to, to make that happen. I understand, or it’s, something’s going to happen to your character. It’s going to happen between your December issue and your January issue.

It’s going to be a longer time than one month in there. It’s going to be a longer time. So you got to deal with the fact that your character has been away for awhile. Didn’t say exactly how long and he’s going to come back [00:17:00] different. And we had to work out all the differences up front so that the guy who had his character, it had Spiderman.

Wind up in central Parker, but he had to have their character get to central park. I didn’t care how the guy who had Spiderman to get Spiderman to central park in December, in January, he comes back with a black costume and he’s had a lot of experiences and, and his, his perspective on everything is different.

So that took a lot of adjustment. I mean, it took work for me, but it took a lot of adjustment on the part of the guy who’s writing Spider-Man or fantastic or, or whatever. So, you know, I mean, it was big it was a crossover not only of, of The characters and the story that, that put them all together, it was, it was a crossover of creators.

It was, it was a real I don’t know. I I can’t even think of a word for it. It was, but it was, there was, there was so much. Work that people [00:18:00] never really, I

Jeff: think the phrase I’ve heard often is a jam session.

Jim Shooter: Yeah. A little bit different, you know, jam session, you know, a bunch of guys playing their own tune, but this was this you had to, we had to work together Intricately and, and, and make sure it all, you know, fit.

Cause I didn’t, I wasn’t going to just say, Oh, well screw Marvel continuity. I’m just going to do this story. No. Hmm. I don’t do that.

Jeff: So secret Wars proved so successful that, and obviously it had such an impact on the industry as a whole, that basically nowadays over the last 20, 30 years has been an event, basically every single year.

Wasn’t it? 10 with secret Wars to get to a point where events would happen every year.

Jim Shooter: Well, I mean, secret Wars too. I mean, obviously as something great like that, you’re going to, you want to do a sequel at some point. I finished secret Wars won and it was so successful [00:19:00] that you know, I’m sitting in a meeting with the president of the company and he’s congratulating me on, you know, how great it was and how he didn’t read it.

I mean, how great the success was. And and he says, so when is the first issue of the SQL command? I said, well, I’m going to take a few months off, you know, start on it sometime in June. He says, no, I want those revenues this year. Oh, wow. So anyway, once more unto the breach, you know, I mean, I think I got right on it.

And and so we, we did the second one. I did the second one, you know, I mean, I I had lots of ideas for it. It wasn’t like, Oh God, now I’ve got to think of a sequel. No, I was raring to go on it. I just was tired. But but and I also, I, I thought I said, all right, I’m going to do it, but it’s going to be different.

We’re not going to do it the same way. I never want to just keep doing the same thing. So I invented the [00:20:00] branching thing. Story takes place in secret Wars. It’s contemporaneous it’s not between months story takes place in secret Wars, the characters involved in each particular issue power man, the X-Men whoever in their own books that month, the story tendrils of the story continue.

Okay. And And that that would prove to be tremendously successful. Not only did secret Wars to sell almost as well as SQL Wars one, but every book that secret Wars crossed into like if power man had an adventure, I think first or second issue, I don’t know. That month his book had a little bit of a continuation of what, what had gone on in secret Wars, sales, tripled.

On that bus tripled on the, on the lower books, it would triple or more on the mid range books. It would double on the X-Men of what, by 50%. [00:21:00] So, you know, I mean, like it, it had the residual impact. It did it. And then guess what a lot of people who’d never read power, man. They bought it because there was a secret Wars tie in and then they stuck with it.

Not only the sales go up, but they didn’t go all the way back down. They stayed higher. And so that was good. So then w at that point, when we started doing now, remember books are solicited well in advance of on sale. So months before secret Wars, one came out, everybody in comics, including DC knew what we were doing.

You know, there was all going to tie into other issues. So right in the middle of the first crisis, They started doing it too. Oh, well it must be a good idea. Everybody likes it. And then each time I did a crossover, I did, I did you know, unity at Valley. I tried to do it differently at unity was entirely within the regular books, except there were to give away comics at either end [00:22:00] a unity, zero and unity.


Jeff: So th the main questions I always have about a Ben comic like that it has so many characters is how do you keep, or how do you not lose the characters within the event? You know what I’m saying? I mean, it’s so many of them, there’s so many too much action going on around them. Is it, it must be so easy to lose the characters within the

Jim Shooter: that’s.

Why you hire a good writer? No, seriously. I mean, it’s work. You have to hire the good writer and you have to make sure that he cares about all these characters and, you know, I mean, like there, there, there, sure. There’s lots of better writers than me, but I don’t think anybody was willing to work as hard as I did on secret Wars to make sure I got every character in there.

And there were there for a reason. And and, and, and it, it, you know, it was worth it. You know, [00:23:00] it’s, it’s, it’s hard. I mean, I, I went through, I had things taped up all over the walls and note pads and keeping track of everybody and LPs, it was a little bit easier. And one of the reasons I did secret words, I wrote it is because I was the editor in chief.

I’m the ultimate arbiter of the characters. I get to say what Spider-Man is like not you. So, so just behave yourself there. Clermont. I get to say what the X amount. No, I wasn’t a bozo about it. I never went to Chris and say, well, you have to do this. You have to do that. I mean, I let them fly as much as I could.

And then every once in a while, I’d say, Hey, Chris, you know, I don’t think this works for storm or somebody. And and we, you know, of course he’d always argue with me. And then, then. Louise would say, Oh, Chris listened to him and he’s like, okay.

But but anyway, no, I mean, like I was the Arbor to the character, so, so I, you know, I would, theoretically I was the guy [00:24:00] who knew how to do them. Right. But, but like I said, it wasn’t a puzzle by it. I go to Chris and I’d say, Chris, how do you think Colossus would react in this situation? This is what I think.

And he, he, and he would say, well, I think he would do this. Oh, okay. That’s a good idea. If it fits with, you know, my general concept of the character and that’s what Chris would do, you know, at this Zoe, I’m going to try to be as collegial, a water as I could, when somebody just wanted to do something just completely wrong.

I’d like a one writer. One time he wanted to do a story. His editor got tired of arguing with them and sent them to me. And what the guy wanted to do was a Spider-Man story where Spiderman Peter Parker, fathers, an illegitimate child. Nice. And I said, no. And he said he’s while you’re restricting my creative freedom.

I said, yeah, I don’t do it a thousand times in a row. Now, you know, I said, don’t you understand? We have this license all over the world. And every [00:25:00] contract we signed has a clause in it that says we won’t do that. Not that specifically, but anything, you know, that’s, that’s, you know, I mean, can you imagine the president of union on a slow news day?

So in, in the, in the local newspaper, it gets a headline that, you know, Spiderman is fathering and illegitimate child union underwear wakes up, reads that that’s it no more under ruse. You know, I told the guy, I said, look, I said, if it’s a good story, I said, go do it for Epic comics. Call him something different rack man or something I don’t care, you know, but do do your story.

I’m fine with it. And you’ll own it. Do it for Epic comics. You know, that’s our more adult stuff and too, but you don’t don’t, it’s just like when you’re Disney, they’re not going to let you mess with them as. You know, and, and that’s, that’s somebody will say, Oh, well, that’s, you know, restrictive and stuff. I don’t know when wall was there.

It was, it was, they did a lot of good stuff. [00:26:00] I think that, you know, no one’s telling you to do formula, just, just. Don’t damage my franchise, my franchise, the franchise I was responsible for. Right,

Jeff: right. And it sounds lazy too. I mean, I guess you’re trying to make it interesting by making him a deadbeat dad, but that’s kind of lays.

I mean, you have this and not so much with that character that you don’t need to. Do something radical to make them interesting. He’s interesting because he’s Spider-Man and

Jim Shooter: Parker, right? Yeah. I mean, I think that so many of these guys that they, I don’t know why it’s, that they can’t think of anything to do with the character and unless they, you know, change it to a different character and the Spider-Man the Peter Parker Spider-Man I know he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t father the legitimate child, you know?

I mean, why, why do I think that. Well, here’s why Stan used to always you know, he stands spoken Sam soundbites because he did so many interviews that he just ended up saying the same thing again and again. [00:27:00] And so we just simplified it, you know, made good, like, little snippets of copy. So he would say for instance Marvel characters, Marvel heroes are heroes with problems, which was a good tagline for the movie.

Right. Well, I had talked with him one time and I said, I don’t think that’s quite right. And we talked about it and I said, what do you think? And I said, as it’s here, it was with lives. And he said, yes, he said, but you know, it’s hard to explain, try telling that to the daily news, you know, and and so it was, it was kind of the same thing.

It’s like he would, he would one time we went to a pitch meeting to sell he asked me to go with him. Okay. Sure. So we went to sell an animated series, but one of the networks, I don’t know. And and, and he was, they were asking him to explain, Spider-Man and inspire me. He was talking all about, you know, Spider-Man felt guilty about his uncle Ben’s death and, and so forth.

And, and then, you know, that, that’s why he, you know, he became a [00:28:00] hero. And he asked me if I had anything to add. And then I said, well, I said, I said, you and I have talked about it. Cause you know, privately. And I said, no, I’ll throw this in. I said, yeah, he feels guilty about uncle bandwidth. But he, he, he guilty, if you, if you fail to do something and then you feel bad about it, that’s guilty.

He did that once. Okay. And then responsibility is if you stay up all night and finish the job. And so the key to Spiderman is not guilt. It’s responsibility was born from the guilty. He’s the most responsible guy. He wants to go to the party where Liz Thompson is and all his buddies, but he can’t because Dr.

Octopus is causing trouble, you know? So he’s responsible. He, he, he would like to do a lot of things, but he has to make sure aunt may is taken care of. Is that, am I showing you how old I am? No.

Jeff: I mean, I agree with you a hundred [00:29:00] percent. I mean, If Spider-Man follows an illegitimate child in many ways, a matter of what Spiderman does after that, there’s always going to be that stain of screwing up this one thing in this one individual’s life potentially forever, that can never be repaired with them.

My how good you make me? Yeah, it’s another,

Jim Shooter: it’s another uncle Ben size incident. And and it, it, it was contrary to the nature of Spiderman. You know, I mean, it’s like, in the Phoenix saga originally Phoenix was end up remaining a villain. And and you know, so I’m reading this story. The Chris, that was the story we started out with.

Chris needed a story and I said, you know, Chris, we’ve got a lot of bad guys who became good guys. That’s what we never had a good guy go bad and stay that way. Don’t say another word. I got it. He wanted it to all to be his, he didn’t, he doesn’t, you know, he, he wanted it all to be him. Oh, I gave him that little tidbit [00:30:00] and, and so he goes off and writes us and, and Phoenix was going to become like the Dr.

Doom for the X-Men. And they needed one because he was making a Magneto into a good guy. But at any rate so she’s black, she blows up a star ship, but she destroys an entire, you know, of these, you know, broccoli, you looking at people. And yeah, and, and, and so I’m reading this as it’s going along.

I’m I always have to sign the books out, you know, I. I get involved when some, sometimes earlier on, but generally speaking, if I had a really good editor and good people on our, I only read it just before it went to the printer. So, and I had to sign off and then it would go I was the last signature So, so I I’m, I’m reading one of these books and she’s blown up a star ship and destroying a planet.

Wow. Okay. That’s that’s pretty serious. Yeah. So I went to the editor, I think it was Jim Salicrup and I said, show me, show me what you got in progress. And he had [00:31:00] a couple issues that were partly done and he had the plot for the last issue. So I read these. I read the plot last issue and Claremont, Bern wimped out, instead of having her become a villain or, or, or you know, you know, escape and the, and be a bad guy or something.

No, he ain’t had the, she are, they capture somehow and they, they, they do the they fix her mind, you know? Oh yeah, well, this, her brain’s messed up. We’ll we’ll fix it. You know what. Yeah. And then she goes home with the X-Men and hangs around and, you know, Westchester with them and, you know, has lunch and goes to parties.

And I know what, blah, blah, blah, this, this, this woman killed billions of Sapient beings. What do you mean? She goes, she gets off, you know, why? Well, you all, we took the German army away from Hitler. He can go live on long Island. No, I, even if you’re, even if your mind is warped, even if you have some, you know, disfunction, guess what?

[00:32:00] You just don’t skate. There’s still, you know, they’re still, you’re still responsible there. And, and you know, you’re not, it’s not, you, you don’t just walk away from that. And I, and he said, well, what do you want me to do? And I said, well, I don’t know. I’ll bet. She goes to galactic prisoners. And he said, I don’t like that.

You know, the eczema would just keep trying to rescue her. I said, well, I’m not sure about that pal, but you know, okay, you come up with something. And so he comes in the next day, he says, well, I’m going to kill her. Okay. You’re going to kill her. Fine, good deal. Do it. And he’s like, well, what do you mean you can’t kill her?


Anyway, I told him, I said, Chris, it’s not about, you know, morals. And, and it’s not about, you know, we’re making this into a morality place. I said, it’s about a good ending for a story. That’s so powerful up to now if you cop out, if you went out, you know, and just like, we’re going to put everything back the way it was.

[00:33:00] I said that is so, you know, that’s pathetic. And so, I mean, so he’d grumbled about it and stopped. Cause he brought he and Bernie that he loved the character so much. It is that they just couldn’t bring themselves to go follow through. So then, you know, and I, and Bern calls me up, says, what are you, are you out of your mind?

I said, John, it’s a deal. I said, get to work. You know? So, but guess what? They knocked it out of the ballpark. I assume you’ve read that book. Yeah. Okay. I mean, they killed, it was so good. I mean, and they redeemed her at the end and, you know, really beautifully done just an amazing piece of work. And to this day we are, we are talking about it, but or I am anyway.

But, but the thing is like that, that was, that was a thing that I could not imagine. Storm champion of life storm, like just kind of comfortably sitting next to the, at the lunch table next to Jean Gray who [00:34:00] killed all these. But I, I don’t, to me, it was a character conflict. It was like that’s out of character for her, for storm.

Yeah. And also, you know, it’s, it’s just kind of ludicrous in a way that, that this woman would just, you know, be able to cause all that damage and, Oh, she’s fine now. Well, maybe she is, but you just don’t walk away from doing

Jeff: something. Right. I mean, it would, it would put everything in perspective. Like next, the next villain she fights, like this guy is robbing a bank.

Yeah. You killed 5 billion people. You really, the person to, to try to stop you. You’re in the right position.

Jim Shooter: Anyway. I mean, the thing is like, I, I understood exactly. I mean, and you know, something, I love this, you know, one of the reasons they, they were going to wimp out is because they cared so passionately about.

The character, you know, I mean, it’s like, it’s so funny with these guys. They, they, you know, they’re, they’re, you know, they’re, they, they talk about, well, my characters would be like your characters. All right, fine. But you know, I want them to feel that way. I want them to walk down the [00:35:00] hall. I will use this example.

I’ll tell you, walk down the hall and there’s two full grown. Adult people arguing at the top of their lungs about who’s stronger Colossus or Spiderman one on one on one hand you say, you know, grow up. And then the other hand said, no, don’t, don’t don’t care that much. Right? So the fact that they originally just had a hard time giving up Phoenix to me meant, boy, these guys are investing, you know, they, they, they care and, and look what they did.

They did. Really job, that that one issue took it excellent. From high, middle to top of the industry where it stayed for 20 years. Pretty

Jeff: good, huh? Yeah. And you know, and I, I think it’s great because that the writers love the characters and much. Oh, the good writers love the character so much as the readers.

And I will say one of the coolest things that that I’ve been able to do in my life, I wrote on comic con you signed a print of beta Ray bill of Thor. I think it’s number three 37 for me. And [00:36:00] it also signed a comic book of a first issue of solar for me as well, which was fantastic of you. I really appreciate that.

Thanks. And beta Ray bill for me is, is always been one of my favorite characters in Marvel. I mean, if you, if I had to make a top five beta Ray bill makes it to the top five I would love to discuss the the, how it came about with you. And well, Simon sent a little bit. So how, how did you help.


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