FOR TOMMY: JASON LIEBIG
By Richard Johnston
for climbing the ladder beyond that. I learned and studied
under Mark Powers and Bob Harras. I watched the examples they
set, listened to every story from every editor, creator and
artist that I was fortunate enough to come into contact with,
and applied my own passion and sometimes frustrations to the
problems you encounter in an editorial office. It was great
fun, and everyday was an adventure. I listened to everyone
who came in, and being in the office of the EIC, that meant
a lot of people.
a lot, and aside from the practical editorial knowledge I
learned from Mark & Bob, I learned their ethical principles.
Let me be more specific: I listened when Bob said, for example,
that you shouldn't take artwork as gifts from artists, because
as an editor, it's a conflict of interest. "That artwork is
food on the table of the artists' families." And I listened
to how dangerous it could be to allow editors to also write
comics for the company they worked for, and how incestuously
disastrous the results could be. And a million other things.
I watched how Mark and Bob approached the press; not by doing
a lot of talking, but by working on their books. Neither one
of these guys was looking to see their name (or their pictures)
not why they were in this business. They were trying to make
sure that the stories coming out of the X-office were compelling
AND successful. Not always easy to do, but that was the mission.
So I listened, I learned, and some of the time, I fought against
what I heard. I fought with Bob. One of my favorite memories
was arguing with Bob about skimpy costumes. I seem to remember
that my argument went that "back when you were the editor
of the X-Men, Rogue appeared popping out of a bathtub covered
only in suds." And "now I have to lower Jean Grey's skirt?!?"
Ah, great fun. My feeling was that Bob had gotten a little
less reckless now that he was editor-in-chief, but I eventually
realized that he was trying to protect more than just the
lives of a bunch of fictional characters -- he was trying
to preserve the jobs of his editors: a responsibility that
Bob took extremely seriously. So we would on occasion fight,
but ultimately, Bob, Mark and myself were a team, and it was
a fun office to share.
and I moved out of that office after a year, and around a
year after that, changes occurred that allowed us to bring
all of the X-Books under two editorial offices, Mark and myself.
So I was promoted to full editor, and that's where I remained
until the day I left. About a million stories in-between,
but there you go, that's how I "climbed the ladder of Marvel."
Well let's look at one story. What was the Marvel internal
reaction to Joe and Jimmy setting up Event Comics in-house
as Marvel Knights?
Marvel Knights? I can't speak for the rest of Marvel at the
time, as I don't really remember everyone's reaction, but
I was pissed. And it wasn't because I didn't like Jimmy &
Joe. Let me explain.
Marvel Knights, on the week that Heroes Reborn launched with
Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (and to great sales success), Bob
Harras called a meeting, asking us if we thought that Marvel
Editorial could have done Heroes Reborn WITHOUT Jim & Rob?
question at the time. I said something to the effect of, "yes,
but we'd have to have some mighty big balls to do it." Think
about it: Firing all of your creative teams, and setting up
the new teams with months of advance planning, time and so
on. Of course, some of the flare of Heroes Reborn was that
it simply was taking place outside of Marvel, and that you
couldn't create from within...
when Marvel Knights showed up, it felt like Heroes Reborn
all over again. Once again, someone was coming in from the
outside saying they could "do it better", as long as they
didn't have to follow any of the rules we had to follow, and
as long as their budgets were handled differently.
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