FOR TOMMY: JASON LIEBIG
By Richard Johnston
for why I was fired and did I see it coming? Yes, I saw it
coming. Reasons given: Painful restructuring. I was laid-off.
is I WAS laid off, but the reasons are several. I was one
of Bob Harras' guys. And I WAS. He hired me, and I worked
closely with Bob for years. Add to that, I was NOT an easy
yes-man or team-player. Anything but. I mean, I was pretty
frank with Joe... that must have helped me out the door.
that probably torpedoed me is that I criticized Bill Jemas's
Wolverine "origin" idea at our first editorial conference
after Joe and Bill took over. ULTIMATELY, I believe that's
what did me in. I was a little too honest about what I thought
with him. Bill clearly has a lot of decent ideas... that's
evidenced by what has happened to Marvel in the last few years.
But is he a creep who has a painfully unrealistic self-image
and doesn't like any real dissent? In my opinion, absolutely.
And I was free and loud with my dissent during my short tenure
under Bill's reign.
my feelings toward Bill & Joe were, and whether or not I was
a good editor or not, the fact of the matter was that I wasn't
going to happily jump on their game plan. I was going to continue
to question things as I always had with Bob Harras and Mark
Powers before. Now I was just doing it with TWO editor-in-chiefs:
Joe & Bill. And they happened to be two people who didn't
like my brand of disagreement. What they needed to forge their
vision ahead were people who wouldn't fight them, but who
would do their jobs.
let me go -- a good decision for them, and for what they were
doing. And you know-- I do NOT like them. I think they're
pretty immature fellas, each in their own way.
Bill Jemas changed the way credits in comics are written so
HIS name, the president's name, was listed with the CREATIVE
TEAM of the book. That's just silly. At the time, I figured
if the president of Marvel was concerned about getting his
name in a comic book, his priorities HAD to be profoundly
out of whack. So I found it difficult to get "on-board" with
their ideas and drives. So getting rid of me (as much as I
disagreed with it) was sound management at the time, because
I lacked the ability at the time to put my emotions aside
and do my job. I simply would never have been on their team.
And in their situation, they needed team players.
What projects are you most proud of at Marvel? What projects
never made it that you wished had?
I'm awfully proud of the Generation X Underground Special.
Primarily because it shouldn't have ever existed... and I
know that my championing it (and Jim Mahfood's amazing talent)
are what got it made. Always lots of mold-breaking being done
in comics, and I thought that stylistically that book was
a wonderful book for Marvel to do, and it helped people realize
that certain molds could be broken.
of Heroes Return.. or should I say the Heroes returning to
the Marvel Universe. Why am I proud? Because I was too stupid
and inexperienced at the time to realize that I should keep
my mouth shut. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I
honestly believe I was the first person on editorial row to
scratch my head and say, "Maybe we should aggressively go
after getting these characters back from the Image guys, rather
than just waiting for someone to tell us we're getting them
part of a very early Saturday meeting at Marvel, an unofficial
meeting where we came up with a strategy. The idea was simply
to get the books back under Marvel Editorial. At the time,
I felt like it was a righteous fight. And I'm proud of the
fact that the Marvel Universe didn't become some fragmented
thing. That may not have helped the business, but I grew up
on the Marvel Universe, and it was a good fight at the time.
Oh, and I still have my original sketch where I proposed that
somehow the Celestials would be a cool element to the Heroes
Returning. My idea. And they kept that idea through an entire
editorial conference where Heroes Returned finally WAS planned.
THAT'S damned cool. Because that first sketch was really quite
proud of Bishop: The Last X-Man. I'm sure people might roll
their eyes, but they probably didn't read the book. The thing
is, I was given the assignment to launch a Bishop solo series.
A solo Bishop series isn't an intrinsically good idea. In
the end, Joe Harris and I thought about it, about all of the
cliched ways you could go, and finally just decided to do
something we thought would be fun. I liked that book a lot,
and working with Joe was a great experience. He's a talented
writer and he became a good friend, too.
of which, I was awfully proud to work with Joe Harris and
Enrique Breccia on a fully painted Wolverine story. It was
a prelude to what would eventually become a fully-painted
graphic novel, which did NOT happen. Breccia is a special
talent, who has been around for decades, and it's a shame
he's not utilized better in this country. I'm disappointed
that the existing pages got buried... and that's why I sent
out the jpegs I still had.
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