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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 26 February 2021 at 7:24pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

It wasn't really considered that many people at all were paying attention to credits on comic books, so they weren't too meticulous in crediting things when they did. E.C. would be an early exception, but often original writing in comics was credited to a shop or studio name ala 'W. Morgan Thomas' on Sheena if at all, and artists credits were often down to them signing their name somewhere in a panel. In the early '60s comic books were still considered an ephemeral bottom rung of publishing with a mainly less discriminating child audience (or their parents which Dell comics often would address directly as the assumed buyers, and Fawcett would display a Good Housekeeping seal or something along those lines).


 QUOTE:
(nothing you've heard of, I'm sure)


I've seen some nice portraits in Alter Ego. :^)

I had some of those later Mighty MLJ/Archie comics too, and they made the fairly mundane Fly and Jaguar comics preceding them look good (well they had nice art by John Rosenberger anyway).

Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 26 February 2021 at 7:27pm
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 26 February 2021 at 7:48pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

It wasn't really considered that many people at all were paying attention to credits on comic books, so they weren't too meticulous in crediting things when they did.
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Exactly. Unless I'm mistaken, Stan went above and beyond what was standard practice at the time to give credit where credit was due. Which isn't to say he did everything right, but measured against the yardstick of the day, it seems harsh to pick him up for these things.

What actually happened with the Marvel Method seemed to vary substantially, but if there was an 'average' way in the early days, it sounds like it was Stan wrote a synopsis, Stan discussed it with the artist and they fleshed out the plot, the artist was empowered to deliver what they discussed as they saw best, Stan then added the dialogue and captions. How best to describe that in simple credits? Maybe ideally in hindsight there should have been some forensic analysis over who conceived of exactly what, but in practice... These were books put together by a small team of people on tight deadlines. And no one knew they would become these huge cultural properties.

When someone did care enough about the ins and outs, it seemed Stan was happy to talk over the process, which is how we got to learn about the Marvel Method.
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 26 February 2021 at 9:35pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I get the feeling his collaborators probably worried more about the money and security than they did the credits.  Sure, there were probably those who did, but they were in it to make a living.

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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 26 February 2021 at 10:05pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

 Eric Jansen wrote:
Another example that sticks out in my memory is, after being the artist on DAREDEVIL for hardly any time at all, Stan Lee made a big deal in the credits box of Wally Wood writing a couple of issues too.  Why would Stan give full credit to a "new guy" in the bullpen but not to his two most important collaborators?  Unless he based the credit on the balance or percentage of the writing work?
It was simply because Woody demanded it, not because he was doing anything different than what the other artists were doing.  Same reason Ditko eventually started getting plotting credit.

Wood:
I enjoyed working with Stan on DAREDEVIL but for one thing. I had to make up the whole story. He was being paid for writing and I was being paid for drawing but he didnt have any ideas. Id go in for a plotting session and wed just stare at each other until I came up with a storyline. I felt that I was writing the book but not being paid for writing.

I persuaded him to let me write one by myself since I was doing 99% of the writing already. I wrote it, handed it in and he said it was hopeless. He said hed have to rewrite it all and write the next issue himself.  Then I saw it when it came out and hed changed five words, less than an editor usually changes. I think that was the last straw.

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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 26 February 2021 at 10:19pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

 Peter Martin wrote:

Exactly. Unless I'm mistaken, Stan went above and beyond what was standard practice at the time to give credit where credit was due. Which isn't to say he did everything right, but measured against the yardstick of the day, it seems harsh to pick him up for these things.
It's true that most comics didn't have any credits prior to Stan.  But if you're going to start printing credits, printing deceptive or inaccurate ones is arguably worse than printing no credits at all.  A great deal of the early books simply say "written by Stan Lee."  I could see where that would be frustrating to an artist who was co-plotting (or solo plotting, as in Ditko's first Doctor Strange story).


 QUOTE:
What actually happened with the Marvel Method seemed to vary substantially, but if there was an 'average' way in the early days, it sounds like it was Stan wrote a synopsis, Stan discussed it with the artist and they fleshed out the plot, the artist was empowered to deliver what they discussed as they saw best, Stan then added the dialogue and captions.
My understanding is that often Stan discussed it with the artist first and wrote the synopsis as a summary of that discussion.  And pretty early on, he stopped writing synopses and switched to simply discussing with the artist.  It's also notable that Kirby and Ditko provided rough dialogue with their art, which Stan then rewrote.


 QUOTE:
When someone did care enough about the ins and outs, it seemed Stan was happy to talk over the process, which is how we got to learn about the Marvel Method.
True.  But when discussing the Marvel Method, Stan was not really forthcoming about the fact that on many occasions the artist did the lion's share of the plotting, or sometimes did all the plotting.

My point here is that Stan did do things that arguably amount to taking too much of the credit.  And those things did frustrate his collaborators, as did the fact that they were not paid for their writing work.  It's true that for a lot of artists, working Marvel style was more satisfying.  But it also involved more work for them, and they were not paid for that, as Wood notes in his comments.


Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 26 February 2021 at 10:20pm
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 3:21am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Are you trying to balance the discussion or do you come down one way or the other, Jason?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 8:18am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

My understanding is that often Stan discussed it with the artist first and wrote the synopsis as a summary of that discussion.
------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------
From a letter Stan wrote in early 1963:


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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 8:24am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

This is what I was basing it on when I described the 'average' process and I was assuming when he said he writes the story plot that it meant he wrote it down -- but looking back at it, that may not be the case.

Which further illustrates what I'm talking about in terms of in an ideal world it would all be perfectly spelt out who did what, but how that is not practicable in the real world. Even here, where Stan is going into full detail of the process (far beyond what we could realistically be expected to appear as credits on a title page) it has some ambiguities and people can assume one thing or another without really knowing -- and that is not Stan's fault.

Incorrect assumptions does not mean a credit is deceptive.

[In the same letter, Stan says that Ditko came up with the first Dr Strange story. Someone asked for some info on forthcoming projects, Stan volunteers full credit without being pushed.]
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John Byrne

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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 12:26pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It's true that most comics didn't have any credits prior to Stan. But if you're going to start printing credits, printing deceptive or inaccurate ones is arguably worse than printing no credits at all. A great deal of the early books simply say "written by Stan Lee." I could see where that would be frustrating to an artist who was co-plotting (or solo plotting, as in Ditko's first Doctor Strange story).

Comics were aimed at people who didn't want to have to do a lot of homework in order to read them. Not, in other words, the kind of hardcore fans who compose most of the (vastly diminished) audience today.

Stan gave the credits in their simplest form, and readers (such as myself) were not confused.

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 1:04pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I met Stan Lee a couple times and he always struck me as generous, absolutely not hesitant to give Ditko and Kirby etal lots of credit for helping to co-create the characters and to help flesh out plots. By the same token, I don't think it's possible that Stan could have solely written and edited all of the monthly titles in the 1960s that he was credited with. The "Marvel Method" by nature leaned more heavily on the artist. But I do think Stan was running the show and he did have a vision and a standard for Marvel and the buck stopped with him. He was the heart and soul of the company and deserves the majority of the credit as he's been given for unerringly steering Marvel from a young upstart into the world-crushing behemoth it became. I'd never known Ditko apparently wrote the first Dr. Strange for which Stan was credited as writer... I don't understand why Stan got that writer's credit if he had no part in it. But I have seen the early draft for FF #1 and a letter written by Stan to the publisher talking about his hopes for it and it basically has everything in it that that first issue had. Stan was lightning in a bottle, the real thing, a force of nature and the right man at the right time. He was simply associated with too much greatness that his artist compatriots like Wood, Ditko and Kirby rarely if ever subsequently reached in Lee's absence on their own. I don't know the truth but if I had to guess, I'd say the complains of the artists regarding credit is probably partially true. But if the writers' rates were kept lower at Marvel than DC as Thomas asserts, then that suggests Marvel acknowledged this and compensated to a degree.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Regarding: Dr Strange.

This is comment in that letter that Stan wrote in early 1963:


Maybe others have more detail, but going from what's here, it's a little ambiguous (but only a little). Ditko definitely came up with the character and the germ of the idea for the story. Stan named the character and would have scripted it. It implies that Ditko maybe wrote the whole plot -- this seems most likely --  though I couldn't 100% say that's what it means.

Even then, who dreamt up the name Nightmare for the villain? Who invented that Nightmare is Dr Strange's ancient foe? I'd hazard a guess that these additions are both by Stan. Aren't those part of the story?


Edited by Peter Martin on 27 February 2021 at 2:00pm
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 27 February 2021 at 2:26pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

 Matt Reed wrote:
Are you trying to balance the discussion or do you come down one way or the other, Jason?
Balance, I guess.  I certainly don't think Stan should be pilloried, or that he did nothing creatively, or any other extreme POV.  He was a fantastic editor, with his ability to spot talent, his ability to get the very best out of that talent, and his ability to help creators refine their work and make it more commercial and accessible. And his vision in conceiving of a shared universe concept and his ability to engage with readers were unprecedented at the time.  On the creative side, his dialogue was warm and human and eminently relatable in a way superhero dialogue had not been before.  And he certainly contributed to the creation and development of the characters.

At the same time though, he did sometimes do things that I believe amount to taking too much of the credit for shared creations and collaborative work.  His collaborators were expected to co-write but were not paid for their writing work and sometimes were not credited for it.  A significant portion of his collaborators ended up feeling frustrated and embittered by these things, and his two most significant collaborators both ended the working relationship for those very reasons.
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