Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A witness to the dawn of Marvel Comics



Gene Colan | Hero Complex รข€“ movies, comics, pop culture ...
Gene Colan
The late, great Gene Colan told me this story years ago.
He was freelancing in comics, working for DC and Marvel simultaneously. Mostly westerns for DC and mostly war and “spooky” stories for Marvel (then Atlas).
Anyhow, he shows up at the office to hand deliver art pages to Stan Lee and Stan tells him to shut the office door.
Then Stan shares with him the dire straits he company is in. They lost their distributor and are having to go with another which will cost them some newsstand coverage. Sales are down overall. The margins are slim. Stan tells Gene that he’ll be cutting titles back and shrinking the staff. Part of that is taking less freelance work. He was going to rely on Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck for the bulk of the upcoming work. So, for the time being, there’ll be no more work for guys like Gene.
manga | Doctor Comics
His exact words to Gene are, “Me and Jack and Steve are going to try something. If it doesn’t work we’ll be shutting down for good.” Stan said something about editing men’s “sweat” magazines for the rest of his life. He expressed his regrets and showed Gene out.
Down on the street with his empty portfolio, Gene realized all he had in his pocket was a dime. It was enough to take the subway home.
Or he could use it to call DC editorial. Back in those days you couldn’t just show up at the DC offices.
So, he goes into the next phone booth and drops the dime. The call doesn’t go through. He hits coin return but the phone won’t give his dime back. Gene pounds on the phone but it’s not giving up that dime. Gene drops to his knees in the booth and prays to God and Jesus to give him his dime back. He makes promises to the Lord above all in exchange for a lousy ten cents. He gives the phone a few more whacks and gives up.
Downtrodden and looking forward to a long, lonely walk to an outer borough, Gene drags his portfolio down the street, eyes downcast.
And there, shining in a crack in the sidewalk is a liberty dime!
Gene plucks it out, hits the next phone booth and connects with Bob Kanigher who tells him to come over. He had a story that Gene would be perfect for.
He walked home happy with the script in his portfolio and wondering what Stan and Jack and Steve were going to come up with to save Atlas Comics.


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