THE ALEX ROSS INTERVIEW, PART THREE: The State of Comics
Published at: Sept. 1, 2000, 12:19 a.m. CST by staff
Here's PART THREE of Harry's epic conversation with comic book
god ALEX ROSS, picking up from where we left off in PART TWO.
Also, be on the look-out for more EXCLUSIVE Alex Ross artwork coming soon to AICN, and be sure to visit AlexRossArt.com and catch Alex on QVC Sat., Sep. 9 (check local listings).
Now, back to the interview...
HK: THERE’S A LOT OF NEGATIVITY ABOUT THE WORLD OF COMICS RIGHT
NOW, REGARDING LIKE FIVE DIFFERENT COVERS, THE EIGHT MILLION STORY
CONNECTIONS WHERE A STORY-LINE GOES ACROSS EVERY COMIC OF AN ENTIRE
FRANCHISE, YOU KNOW, OF AN ENTIRE PUBLISHER, THEREFORE CAUSING THE AUDIENCE
TO BUY EVERYTHING. WHEN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THE COMICS INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE
RIGHT NOW, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS ITS MAIN FALLACIES, WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT RIGHT
AR: Too much. Too much for an audience that is barely there for
half of it. There’s too much product and obviously not enough variation
within that product. I think we do need to be scaled down to the point,
almost starved to point of extinction before we can heal properly. We just
still have too many people trying to get in on the action. There’s a lot of
things that are wrong. Most of the biggest fallacies of the business are on
the business end. You have a monopoly and monopolies are inherently not
healthy and they destroy the competition that, for one thing, our country’s
based on. There’s nothing happening competitively in comics right now.
Nobody is showing Diamond [Comic Distributors, Inc.] how they can do it
better. Every publisher has signed exclusive to be with that company. Marvel
did their one thing to try to go off independent and failed and because of
their failure, destroyed everything for everybody else. The market still
seems to be damaged beyond repair from that whole incident, and Marvel is
still damaged from beyond repair from that incident. They’re one of the most
weakly anemic companies right now.
AR: I’ll give you an example. The hardcover that all this [Earth
X] package is for, the Graffiti hardcover. You know all the details about
AR: Well, we found out due to delays in Shining getting the big
glass case that... well, not glass, but the translucent case that’ll package
the book, the delay on that is going to be so much that it’ll take us to the
end of the year to get these things out. So, we’re going to have to
resolicit everything. So, our hopeful product release date is going to be
around Christmas time. That’s only because of that damn case. The CD is
done, the music’s done, the artwork obviously is done, but here’s the
problem. Marvel can’t move their trade paperback release of Earth X off of
this year because they need to make the 15 grand they estimated it’d be
worth to them to get in by the end of the year. They’re looking at that
bottom line, end of the year quota of how much money they pulled in for all
their different product and what they can show their bosses up high what
they were able to generate. Losing that 15 grand is just too much.
AR: So, they’re completely screwing us for the sake of, "Well, we
can’t lose out on 15 grand!" Plus, also, they’re not doing a color version
hardcover which could have sold effectively as well because they have no
ability to long-range anything right now. They’ve had bad luck trying to
relaunch any kind of hardcover program with the Marvel Masterworks. I guess
somehow that the idea that they’ve already sold those things many times over
doesn’t enter into it, but they have had bad luck with that and they’re just
not seeing the kinds of returns on these things that they want, so my
paperback is being tossed out there with all the love and care of... of...
something without a lot of love and care. (Laughs).
AR: The company is in such bad straits at the moment. I
desperately wish they had more money because I feel like there’s so much
more I could be doing for them and with them. The potential of me actually
doing a book with them again, that would be neat, but at this point, they’ve
got no money to pay for even good printing, so why do a book that they would
print on shitty paper? If they had paintings from me right now, they’d print
it on newsprint. Honestly. And they’d probably pay me next to nothing to do
it, so it wouldn’t even make any... Marvel's.... (sigh) anyway, you’re
hearing me bitch about this.
HK: I DEALT COMICS FROM A RETAILER’S STANDPOINT FOR THE MAJORITY
OF MY LIFE BEGINNING AROUND 1974 ALL THE WAY UP TO FIVE YEARS AGO WHEN I
STARTED THIS INTERNET THING AND TO ME IT REALLY BECAME MORE ABOUT... TO ME
IT FELT LIKE COMICS ENTERED WHAT I CALL THE JUNK BOND TIME PERIOD WHERE YOU
PUT A DIFFERENT COVER ON SOMETHING AND TRY TO SELL IT AS QUICKLY AS
POSSIBLE. IT WASN’T SO MUCH ABOUT STORIES. THEN THE SECOND A CHARACTER
BECAME HOT, THEY’D HAVE FOUR OF THEIR OWN TITLES, THEY WERE LIKE QUICK
BURNING EVERYTHING. THERE WERE NO LONG TERM STORY ARCS THAT WERE REALLY
SIGNIFICANT. HOW CAN THE COMIC INDUSTRY IN YOUR OPINION GET BACK ON TRACK?
HOW CAN A COMPANY LIKE MARVEL GET THEIR, FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD, GET
THEIR SHIT TOGETHER?
AR: I don’t know if there’s a company solution. The companies have
the big money that they should be applying towards things that would
basically put their product out there in different ways, but because of the
system that they’re a part of, in some ways they’re actually strangleheld
from ever doing that. Again, DC is entirely indebted to Diamond, so DC is
never going to have deals where they go outside of the Diamond marketplace
to feature their comics, even though they have newsstand distribution,
they’re not going to do something new and aggressive that would spit in the
face of the comic retailers.
AR: Companies like DC are treating the retailers as if, "No, you
guys come first before any other money we can make elsewhere, you guys come
first," and yet there might be an opportunity for selling stuff online, for
setting up a bigger advertising and sales program related to online sales.
That may be in store for the future. Also, advertise in real magazines where
people are. Things like Entertainment Weekly. It’s companies with the deep
pockets that can afford to do that, not the private individuals. I can’t
wait until I see somebody finally put their money towards real advertisement
and not tell people...like if you go back a number of years when Malibu
Comics was touting their heavy Ultraverse line and saying, "Oh, buy this,
buy that, whatever. Buy all these comics, but you’re going to have to go to
a comic store to get them."
AR: Frankly, we can’t point people towards a comic store to get
their comics at anymore. If that’s the only way they can get them, then yes,
we’re going to die out. We have to spread out again. It doesn’t mean comic
stores have to die. It means people have to be interested in comics through
other channels and have access to them. Most comic stores have not cleaned
up their act in the last 10 years. There’s plenty of them that are still
left alive that drive women away in droves, particularly when it comes to
all the featured porn and all the stuff that’s still just as offensive as it
was 10 years ago when we were last complaining about it.
AR: I think that’s one of the things that will also hurt the
perception of comics forever is that a young guy, as I was as a teenager,
feeling like I didn’t want to talk about my avid comic collecting. I didn’t
want to bring comic books to school for heaven’s sake! Good Lord! Can you
think of something more embarrassing than that? Why don’t I just go to
school naked? That might as well save me the trouble of feeling the greater
embarrassment you’re going to have by reading a comic book in class. Comic
books are not considered cool. Are superheroes a problem in that? To some
degree, yeah. To a big degree, sure, but maybe that’s also because they’re
done poorly for the most part.
AR: You know, if you read the things I’ve said before, I pretty
much believe in the mythology of superheroes, it’s just the degree of the
way they’re handled. I also don’t necessarily think that they have to be the
dominant genre of this medium. They may be the most popular genre, but they
don’t have to be the most overwhelming. They don’t have to have four monthly
titles for Superman. Why do most casual fans of Superman not read the
Superman comics? Because there’s too much of it. And, truthfully for all the
different writers who have been involved in these things for the last ten
years, they’ve run out of things to tell. I’m not saying there’s no new
stories to tell, I’m saying basically that most of the talent that's been in
here, making this stuff for so long, both artistic and storytelling, they
just are as tired as they can be. To get the old Superman writers off of
Superman, they had to go to this convoluted firing process that went back
and forth and back and forth and they lost a good creative team of Grant
Morrison and Mark Millard to the guys that are on there now, who are good,
but still... do you follow what I’m saying?
HK: YEAH, I DO.
AR: It’s kind of like... (sigh) The only thing I can see happening
is someone privately comes in there with a good war chest and does something
dramatic that everybody else can look at and realize, sort of like the Blair
Witch Project, they do something so simple, but yet so clever in its
simplicity that it wows everybody else and then they decide, "Oh, Okay! We
can follow that mold." It probably will never be entirely that easy, but I
think there will be something like that.
AR: Imagine if somebody takes out major ads in magazines like
Maxim, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone for a specific comic property
and they tell you in the ad, "Go check it out on www.whatever.com" and when
you click onto that site, you’re able to see not necessarily the whole
comics project, but enough pages to maybe make you excited enough to want to
order that product. Let’s say there’s even animation that they offer that
you can download, just to get you more interested in the properties that
HK: WELL, HAVE YOU SEEN THE WORK THAT STAN LEE MEDIA IS DOING?
THEY BASICALLY HAVE BEEN ONLINE, BUT I KNOW HERE IN AUSTIN THEY GOT ENTIRE
BILLBOARDS THAT ARE ADVERTISING THEIR CHARACTERS. I ALSO SAW SOME
COMMERCIALS ON TELEVISION FOR THEM.
AR: Right. Well, that’s definitely the right direction to go is to
bring the advertising to the masses, but the problem is what they’re
promoting is something you download for free...
HK: AND YOU CAN’T BUY, ABSOLUTELY.
AR: So, they should be selling a comic book. Even if the comic
book is complete dreck, God knows by this point, with all the advertising
they’ve done, they probably could have turned quite a tidy profit from all
the people who would have ordered it out of curiosity, but they’re trying to
make their money based upon advertising. What I’ve heard is they’re still
hemorrhaging about a million a month. So, they really haven’t found that
money to be coming back yet. Also, they’re looking for sales of the
properties for film and television and all that kind of stuff, but as far as
I know, those kind of money deals are not the level of millions it would
take to sort of make up for the millions that were already invested in Stan
Lee Media. Originally Stan Lee Media was boasting what? Three hundred
million invested in it? If they’re inking away $5 million a month, $1
million a month, that starts to chip away after a while. I would have
figured out pretty damn quick how I could make some short term cash off of
selling some kind of crap.
HK: T-SHIRTS, HATS, ANYTHING.
AR: Exactly. Why not just print off a comic made up of stuff
that’s already online? Like the comic you actually download online is sort
of a short form, or a moving form of the still comic you’d be able to get.
Maybe it’s the fact, also, that what they have doesn’t necessarily seem
stellar both conceptually and artistically. That’s not meant to be a
critique of the artists involved, it’s really more that the format they’re
working with, Flash... You know what kills me about this fuckin’ Flash
animation? It’s state of the art... what the fuck? It’s animatics! That’s
what I understood in advertising when they would take storyboards and cut
apart, like, "Just draw this figure here and marker up the background and
we’re going to move this figure around in the background." It’s an animatic.
HK: YEAH, IT’S AN ANIMATIC WITH REALLY NICE SOUND.
AR: Exactly! And frankly, if the material is so kind of
mealy-mouthed and inoffensive, then it’s nothing you can’t get on TV anyway
and with better animation. They’re not creating comics there, they’re
creating competitive animation. If that’s what you want to do, then just get
it in animation. Don’t pass it off as being comic books. Comic books is a
still medium, it demands the brain to actually participate with it, I’m
quoting Scott McCloud here, but it demands the brain to sort of fill in the
movement gaps. I think that’s what comics have to remain. I think that
comics has an absolute future, a right to exist. The art form itself, as
some people have pointed out, has never been healthier because you have some
phenomenal works being done in the comics field. With the works of guys like
Dan Clowes [Eightball] and Chris Ware [Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on
Earth] respectively, you know who those guys are.
HK: OH, ABSOLUTELY.
AR: The things they’re doing, it’s just like, man! You can’t
believe it’s finally gotten to the level of what they’ve been able to
HK: I KNOW AS A COMIC FAN, SITTING HERE LOOKING AT THEIR WORK,
BEING ABLE TO WATCH WHAT MIKE MIGNOLA’S BEEN DOING WITH HELLBOY FOR YEARS
NOW. BEING ABLE TO SEE THE FROM HELL STORY-LINES GET TOLD, THE WORK YOU’RE
DOING. RIGHT NOW, I THINK COMICS ARE REALLY HEALTHY AT A CONCEPTUAL LEVEL...
HK: BUT AS A BUSINESS FORM... I THINK IN A LOT OF WAYS, THE MEDIUM
IS A LITTLE BIT BANKRUPT. DO YOU THINK THAT THE REASON EVERYONE’S PURSUING
HOLLYWOOD SO MUCH IS THEY SEE IT AS THEIR ONE LIFEBOAT TO KEEP THE ALIVE?
AR: Yes, yeah and I don’t think it can work that way. When I see
the X-Men movie and I get really excited about X-Men, I just want to see
another X-Men film, I don’t want to go and read that damn comic because I
don’t get any of that same feeling off that comic as I do off that film.
When I’m going to open up that comic, I’m not going to see Hugh Jackman, I’m
going to see the same character that has been annoying me for the last 20
HK: SO, DO YOU SEE... IF LIKE, SOMEBODY MAKES A REALLY GREAT
SPIDER-MAN FILM, DO YOU SEE IT AS ALMOST LIKE WEANING THE AUDIENCE OFF THE
COMIC AND GETTING THEM HUNGRY FOR THIS NEW TYPE OF HEROIN?
AR: (Laughs) Well, thing is kids are already pretty much into
movies anyway. It’s not like it’s a completely new thing. What seems to be
kind of threatening is the idea, of course, CD-ROMs and interactive
technology completely outweighs the whole comic thing. I have always felt in
the last ten years that comics did themselves in and the growing computer
technology may not have helped, but it wasn’t the death knell of comics.
When you had the bad business management that started to occur with
everybody going with one single distributor, I mean, that was the end of
everything right there.
AR: Obviously, some of the other things specifically driving the
fans away, like the multiple covers, the comics that were just being sold as
HK: THE INCREASING COVER PRICE AND ALL OF THAT.
AR: Yeah. That was starting to annoy the people who were passersby
that came in around the time of the fury over Superman and all the things
that were starting to get a lot of attention. We had a good momentum
building up with, say, Spider-Man #1, X-Men #1...
HK: AND THEN THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN WAS JUST SORT OF A KICK IN THE
AR: Well, it was like the ultimate payoff of all those years
building up to it, but at the heart of it, it was empty. That wasn’t the
newest Alan Moore project selling in those huge numbers. People weren’t
actually being shown the best we had to offer. Still, for the most part,
people have not been aware of what the best talents the industry have to
offer. They’ve only been exposed to the most mediocre of the comic
properties. Many times those mediocre properties, they’re the ones making it
to film finally. I mean, they never got around to making a Watchmen film,
but God knows what would have happened if that film had come out back in
1990, 1991, when it was originally proposed.
HK: YEAH, WITH TERRY GILLIAM. THE SAM HAMM SCRIPT WAS REALLY
STRONG ON THAT, TOO.
AR: Exactly! The script by Sam Hamm was actually going to work
better for a large audience than the comic book would. Of course, now with
all the time that has past since, where you’ve seen so many epics based upon
having somebody go through time to change it just to fix everything and
change the entire timeline, now you couldn’t do the same script at all. In
fact, you couldn’t do anything with Watchmen these days. It’s starting to be
too removed. You know, there is no Cold War to reflect upon here, so it’s
HK: AFTER THE SHAZAM BOOK AND THIS EARTH X HITS, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU
WORKING ON PRESENTLY?
AR: Well, let me think... Presently? Well, you’ve got all the
Universe X stuff, you got Shazam!, you got still all that same crap I do for
Warner Brothers, which isn’t crap... of course. (Laughs) I don’t want to
tell all my buyers that they’re just buying crap. No, I mean I’ll still be
doing more and more illustrations for them. Probably some more lithographs
for Dynamic Forces. God, let me think here...
AR: As far as for what I’m thinking of in the future, I am
thinking about an independent project where I may potentially be able to try
out some of these business concepts that I have been speaking of. Like, if
somebody actually gets the deep pockets to put their money where their mouth
is and they’re selling one main thing... I’m imagining that if you’ve got
these outlets through magazines and other entertainment areas, like I’ve
been told you can advertise stuff with game products. So, say, if you got a
part in a game that is selling millions of copies and if you’re advertising
something in there, than you’re reaching that many millions of people. Think
about how many of them again you’re going to get a runoff for. Is it maybe
10%? Is it 5%? Is it 1%? Even 1% is a powerful percent that would outweigh
any of the numbers we’re doing in comics right now.
AR: I feel kinda resentful of the fact that being at the top of my
game at this point in history, where I’m about as high as I could have ever
imagined... er, I’m well beyond whatever I could have imagined for myself as
a younger man... that everything around me seems to be crumbling, that all I
get is just a complaint about the current state of things and how it’s just
going into nothingness.
AR: I had a conversation with a friend last week, a comic inker I
know, who was asking me if I genuinely saw myself working in comics five
years from now. Five years! Or even ten years. Can I honestly expect to have
anything to be able to do? The truth is, yes I’d love to. I mean, I have
doubts based upon the bad business, but the truth is I have so many stories
in me to tell, I’d rather tell them in comics than try to get into any other
medium to tell those things in.
HK: THERE’S ALWAYS... I CAN ONLY REALLY SPEAK FROM THE FAN SIDE OF
THINGS HERE, BUT I REMEMBER WHEN FRAZETTA SORT OF BURNED OUT IN THE 70S AND
HE WENT OFF AND STARTED DOING CHURCH MURALS. HE SORT OF GOT TIRED OF 8
MILLION PEOPLE ASKING HIM TO DO A LITTLE SKETCH ON A NAPKIN THAT HE WOULD
THEN SEE SOMEBODY SELL FOR $75. THERE BECOMES A CERTAIN CYNICISM THAT SORT
OF COMES INTO PLAY HERE. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR ENTHUSIASM FOR A MEDIUM THAT
YOU SEE CRUMBLING AROUND YOU? HOW DO YOU NOT BECOME SUPERMAN LIVING IN THE
FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE WORKING ON A BARN?
AR: (Laughs) Because I kind of am Superman living in the Fortress
of Solitude working on the farm. As I’ve obviously pointed out to you many
times before, I’m not hooked up, I don’t see all the things that were said
about things that were done. When I went by my girlfiend’s the other day and
she had something to pass off to me that was like a fanzine about the X-Men
that some fans passed on to her that they wanted her to hand off to me, and
I was just flipping through this thing and it had an article where I saw
there was an image of mine pulled for reference in there. Then I saw that
the whole thing was actually railing on me about my horrible indictment of
Stan Lee and just how cruel I was and how wrong I was.
HK: THIS BRINGS UP SOMETHING. YESTERDAY, I WAS WITH SOME FRIENDS,
THERE’S CURRENTLY A FILM FESTIVAL GOING ON HERE IN TOWN AND I MENTIONED THAT
I WAS GOING TO BE INTERVIEWING YOU TODAY AND THEY WERE CURRENTLY MAD BECAUSE
YOU APPARENTLY RAILED AGAINST STAN LEE AND THEN, ALSO, AT THE SAME TIME,
CAME DOWN ON FRANK MILLER FOR DOING THE DARK KNIGHT WRITING. SAYING
SOMETHING LIKE, "OH, THAT’S A STUPID IDEA," OR SOMETHING, RIGHT?
AR: Right, right.
HK: YOU EVER FEEL REGRET FOR THESE THINGS OR IS IT ALL COMPLETELY
JUST SHOOTING STRAIGHT FROM "THIS IS THE TRUTH AND THIS IS THE WAY I SEE
AR: Well, I wanted to actually expose people to some of the things
that I know they wouldn’t know otherwise. I figured I got a loud mouth and I
can take it, but to some degree I can’t take it when I start to hear that
people really got pissed off at something I said. In fact, what happened
after those first quotes appeared in Wizard, the guy who got them from me,
faxed me one of the letters that he received from somebody with angry,
defensive stand and an argument with me over my position in this and I
thought, "That’s it. I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m not going to
shoot my mouth off about this kind of thing because, frankly, I don’t wanna
have to hear about it later." I know so many things...
AR: See, when you actually enter into the business and get behind
that veil, you start to notice things that the general public isn’t exposed
to. I’ll tell you two of those major things right now, both of them involve
fucking money, okay? It has nothing to do with the creative aspect. Both
these guys are fucking millionaires, all right, and neither one of them are
doing this for the love of the game. That’s a crock. Frank Miller, you wanna
take a good hard look at what the end success of Sin City has been? There
has been no film. That’s actually his fault, I believe. He killed that. I’m
not meaning to take apart Sin City, I’m just saying that the guy has need
for extra cash. He wanted to relocate to New York City. DC put up that money
for him to do so, so they could get this Batman product. He wrote Dark
Knight as the end chapter of a guy’s saga. That was the whole reason it was
special. If there’s a second part to that, then it’s not the end saga and it
nullifies the first work. It’s the same thing as people asking me to do the
same thing with Kingdom Come. What are you talking about?
HK: ABSOLUTELY. YOU KNOW, THE SECOND HALF OF THE CONVERSATION I
HAD YESTERDAY... YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND I LOVE THE IDEA OF STAN LEE. I THINK
STAN LEE 1963 TO ABOUT ‘76 OR SO, HE’S WALT DISNEY. HE’S THIS VOICE AND THIS
CHARACTER AND THIS BEING THAT IS TRANSCENDENTALLY PERFECT IN MY MIND. IF YOU
SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THAT PERIOD OF STAN LEE, I WOULD GO INTO A RAGE BECAUSE
THE WORK THAT WAS COMING OUT OF HIM CREATIVELY AND EVERYTHING ELSE WAS
FANTASTIC. THE STAN LEE THAT GOT WOOED BY HOLLYWOOD AND THEN TURNED INTO
REALLY QUITE A REMARKABLE BUSINESS GUY. HE CERTAINLY KNOWS HOW TO DRUM UP
SUPPORT AND HOW TO MARKET HIMSELF.
AR: The guy is the Ring Master.
HK: HE’S WONDERFUL IN THAT ASPECT, BUT WHEN I SIT DOWN AND I TAKE
A LOOK, LIKE, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE STORY-WISE FOR ME LATELY?" WHAT HAS STAN
DONE TO BENEFIT MY ENJOYMENT AS A READER IN THE LAST 20 YEARS? WHY IS MARVEL
IN SO MUCH TROUBLE? ALL THAT STUFF GOES BACK TO LATE ‘70S, EARLY ‘80S DEALS
THAT WERE BEING STRUCK. THEN THERE’S THE WHOLE JACK KIRBY AND THE TREATMENT
FOR ARTISTS AND THEIR ABILITY TO GET THEIR WORK BACK TO SELL. THERE’S ALL
THOSE FIGHTS, YOU KNOW. I TALKED WITH TRACY KIRBY AND THEIR PEOPLE ABOUT
WHAT HAPPENED THERE AND THERE’S SOME BITTERNESS. I THINK STAN IS THE
GREATEST SORT OF LOVE/HATE PERSONA THAT’S BEEN IN THE BUSINESS.
AR: Right. As a guy, and I’ve met him, he’s an okay guy.
HK: YEAH, I HAD DINNER WITH HIM. HE’S REALLY NICE.
AR: But the problem is... again, this whole thing that he’s
passing himself off as is, of course, a lot of smoke and mirrors. Part of
what I have a problem with is the only reason the guy is doing this thing
with DC and the only reason he’s doing this stuff with the web site is
because when the changeover happened with... um... what’s his name? The
original shareholder owner, Ron Pearlman. When Ron Pearlman lost control of
the company to Toy Biz, Toy Biz looked at all the things they had that were
worth cutting and said, "We’re paying a contract for life for Stan Lee..."
That was like something on the level of maybe $2 million a year. I can’t
prove that, that’s just what I heard. But basically, he had a contract for
life. $2 million a year and they sit there and go, "No. We’re not going to
pay this anymore."
AR: So, all of a sudden his contract for life was null and void
and they’re telling him, "We gotta renegotiate this, Stan. Whatever we’re
doing with you, and we’ve gotta see something out of what we’re getting for
our money, we’re not going to just pay you to live." So, he was suddenly out
this wonderful cushion he was on. Now, if he’s been receiving $2 million a
year for so many years, I don’t know why he needs to suddenly get so
ambitious to make this new money. If I had a couple million dollars, I’m
probably not going to be busting my balls all the time.
HK: I’M PRETTY SURE WHAT STAN’S CURRENT MOTIVATION IS. I BELIEVE
IT HAS TO DO WITH A DREAM TO BUY MARVEL BACK.
AR: I wouldn’t have a problem if one of the big things he was
talking about was that. He could do very well to be very loud in this, to
say, "Look, I’m going to restore credit as they should have always been." He
could be very loud in that to gain the acceptance of people like myself to
say, "Okay, I’m going to make sure Fantastic Four reads 'by Stan Lee and
Jack Kirby.' Spider-Man reads 'by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee'..."
HK: WELL, THAT WAS ACTUALLY MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT X-MEN WAS
ACTUALLY SEEING AT THE END THE STAN LEE/JACK KIRBY CREDIT. I THOUGHT THAT
WAS REALLY GROOVY.
AR: That was great! I honestly hold him responsible for not doing
what he could’ve and should’ve at the time he was in power to do so. I know
he’s been called to the carpet on that so many times and that he’s been
honest and open to say, "Look, these guys did this and yes, I only did this
part, so yes, they are co-creators." But the thing is, he’s only giving that
up at a point where he’s completely powerless and what he says doesn’t even
matter. He didn’t take care of that when he was in a position to change
that. It is a little case of too little too late. Roz Kirby would never
forgive him for what she felt he did to her husband.
AR: Does it mean I want to kill the guy? Hell, no! It means I’m
not going to work with him. I’m not going to do for him what those guys did
for him. In the case of this project, I talked to one of the artists, who I
won’t name, and he mentioned to me for one thing that he wanted to get the
hell out of it, that he had regretted that he had actually agreed to it. He
thought that him being a Kirby fan, he thought it was chance for him to sort
of do what Jack had done originally. Get in there and kind of fix whatever
things Stan was handing in and make it better. I kept thinking, "But that
perpetuates him, not you."
AR: If the real talent being shown there is gonna be the guys who
came in to craft from Stan’s outlines or God knows if it’s even Stan writing
the outlines. Honestly, I figure it’s Stan in a room with a bunch of other
writers and he talks about some ideas he has and the other guys put it down
on paper. I don’t think Stan is actually sitting there in front of that
typewriter. I don’t believe it. I do not believe. I don’t think he’s done
that in probably 15 years. I...I... (sigh)... I won’t contribute to this.
AR: I’ve been asked for the last eight years of my career, every
year or so I would get a call related to something with Stan Lee where Stan
had bugged somebody to try and get me to be a part of something with him.
Whether that was this current stuff with the web site or... Oh, God... what
was it... Actually, Marvel’s first proposal to me after doing MARVELS was to
have me work with Stan on some kind of retro thing. I kept thinking, "You
know, if you were going to throw Allan Moore at me, that I would understand,
but guys... I just don’t see Stan the same way you do. I think that dialogue
is fairly dated. I mean, the mind that comes up with character names like
Mongor. What do I need to say folks? This guy created Super Pro, okay?"
AR: I don’t hate the guy, but I do hate kind of what he’s
representing here, the vacuousness. Also, that the guys who are angry with
me, is that I’m tampering with their gods by saying that the emperor has no
clothes. Yeah, probably, I should keep my mouth shut so it’s proven for that
without my having to say anything. If it turns out, when this DC series
comes out, that it all sucks, or that the ideas suck, then that proves my
point. But if it’s great, then I’ll be there. I’m going to buy this thing.
AR: All I can say in summation about the fans who are upset with
me, I’ve been exposed to different facts that they haven’t... maybe not so
much facts as much as information. I have a slightly skewed view and maybe I
shouldn’t share that with the public.