The legendary Jim Shooter is blogging. From what I’m told, he uses
that venue to put forth an alternate history of his career in the
comics industry. It’s “from what I’m told” because I have not been
reading Shooter’s blog...save for a solitary entry to which I was
directed by one of my readers.
The entry spins the fanciful tale of how I used to tape angry notes
complaining about Len Wein and Marv Wolfman to Stan Lee’s door on
a daily basis. In Shooter’s fiction, Stan shows Shooter a note or
notes, compliments the writing of the notes and asks if I’m working
for Marvel. Shooter tells him I am, which apparently pleases Stan.
The anecdote is far from the worst fabrication told about me, but
it annoyed me enough that, when Shooter’s blog was mentioned on a
mailing list, I curtly and maybe too cruelly responded:
Concerning Jim Shooter's blog, a well-intentioned reader directed
me to an entry on me. It was sheer "pants on fire" fantasy from
the Lurch Boy. Especially when he claims I posted angry complaints
on the door of Stan's office every day...during a period when I was
living in Cleveland. Hell of a commute, that.
I don't deny I had problems with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, though
I remain friends with both. But to claim I was crazy enough to
post these letters where they could see them, that's absurd. When
I had complaints, I took them to Stan directly or got them to Stan
via Sol Brodsky or John Verpoorten.
After DC fired me from my second Black Lightning series, some of
their editorial people spread all sorts of lies about me. I have
some documentation on that. But maybe that's why Shooter figured
he could sell the "Crazy Tony" in his blog.
Though capable of the occasional act of decency, Shooter was always
a creep. No matter how much he tries to rewrite the past.
If his entry on me is any indication, his blog is about as far from
accurate comics history as I am from playing in the NBA.
My admittedly too brief retort elicited an angry e-mail from a fan
who declined to sign his actual name to the note. He wrote:
Have you already posted your denials in his blog?
You also just called Shooter a Lurch Boy and a creep. Yes, yes, I
know you contend that his anecdote about you is false, but are you
insisting you have not been calling Jim Shooter names previously?
Somehow I sense a history of antipathy here.
Keep in mind that I don't know either of you personally. It's just
that I was a big fan of the CBG newspaper and I associate your name
with the newspaper. So I'm disappointed with your reaction.
Barely mentioning that I take people much more seriously when they
have the balls to sign their real names, let me see if I can offer
a somewhat more thoughtful response:
Jim Shooter’s story about me is a lie. I’m told he also claims he
was not the driving force behind the rewriting of my final issue of
Ghost Rider, that he was acting under orders from the then-current
Marvel editor-in-chief Marv Wolfman. This despite Shooter himself
telling me at the time that my story offended him and that was why
he was rewriting it. This jibes with the memories of other Marvel
staffers at the time, who have also told me the issue was ready to
go to the printers when Shooter abruptly pulled it back.
Marv Wolfman was one of three editors who approved of my two-year-
long Ghost Rider storyline. He and I have talked on occasion about
those years and seem to agree that we all made mistakes in handling
our various positions of authority. Unless and until Marv himself
tells me otherwise, Shooter gets the blame for undoing a two-year
storyline in another writer’s book.
I have always had a terrific relationship with Stan Lee. I worked
with him and learned a lot from him. He’s always been a fan of my
writing. When he found out I had left Marvel and was writing for
DC, he expressed his sadness over that...though he understood the
how and the why of it.
Busy guy that he is, I don’t think Stan has always known when I was
writing for Marvel and when I wasn’t, but, at the time of Shooter’s
fiction, he definitely knew I was writing for Marvel because we had
discussed the difficulties I was having working with Len and Marv
after Roy Thomas stepped down as editor-in-chief.
In his blog, Shooter positions himself as Stan’s confidant, but, at
the time of these imaginary notes on the door, I suspect that was
not the case.
I didn’t post corrections to Shooter’s blog because I had not even
the slightest expectation he would recant his lies.
Nowhere in my original comment or anywhere else that I can recall
have I ever “insisted” I hadn’t called Shooter names previously.
I have often called him names, as have many people who worked with
him over the years. My insults are tame by comparison.
At the end of the day, Jim Shooter is a human being like the rest
of us. He can list some amazing accomplishments on his record and
some sterling acts of good will. But that’s only part of his tale
and the other part has its fair share of distortion, outright lies,
bad behavior, and such. We are all the heroes of our own stories
and it’s not uncommon for people to “rewrite” those stories to put
themselves in the best possible light.
If I take more offense than some consider reasonable to Shooter’s
lying about me, it’s because I know too well the adverse effects of
such deceit. When I’m talking with industry pals, it’s a subject
that comes up from time to time.
Those adverse effects aren’t confined exclusive to the economic and
employment results. There’s a pain that comes with knowing someone
is lying about you and knowing they are doing it for, among other
reasons, because they believe they can get away with it.
In a previous incarnation of this blog, I was writing about my own
comics history, specifically the history of my association with DC
Comics and my creation of Black Lightning. I tried to be honest in
the telling of that history, offering disclaimers when my memories
weren’t as specific as I would like or when information was taken
from second-hand sources.
Was I the hero of my own stories? Of course, I was, but I also made
a sincere effort to include my shortcomings and errors of judgment
in the history I presented.
I intend to revisit the stories that appeared in my previous blog
and to include additional clarifications and information whenever
possible. My intent is to create as accurate and complete a record
of these matters I can.
Will you find my stories more believable than I find Jim Shooter’s?
I hope so. If I’ve burned bridges in the past, they aren’t going
to become magically whole because I stop sharing the truth of these
matters. It would be disingenuous of me to claim that I don’t care
about my reputation, but, really, I don’t care all that much about
what a great many people think of me. They either get me or they
don’t. They appreciate the quality of my work or they don’t. They
believe me or they don’t.
I know my heart, my talent, and my veracity. I’m thankful that so
many of you know them as well.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella