Recent picture of Jeff Rovin, onetime editor in chief at Atlas Comics.
Courtesy of Jeff.
Rise & Fall of Rovin's Empire
A candid conversation with Atlas/Seaboard editor Jeff
Conducted by Jon B. Cooke
Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson
Book Artist #16
I first encountered Jeff Rovin's name when he served as an assistant
editor at DC Comics in the early '70s, and finally met the man himself
within moments of also meeting Jim Warren for the first time in 1998.
Since his stint as (co-?) editor-in-chief at Atlas Comics for a brief
period in the '70s, Jeff has done relatively little work in the comics
field, but he is a highly successful writer, renowned for genre encyclopedias
(e.g., The Encyclopedia of Superheroes), and his Op-Center series
scribed for Tom Clancy. Jeff was interviewed by phone on Oct. 4 &
11, 2001, and he copyedited the final transcript.
Comic Book Artist: Where are you from?
Jeff Rovin: I was born in Brooklyn, in 1951.
CBA: Were you attracted to comics at a young age?
Jeff: Oh, sure. It was a wonderful time to grow up, in terms
of the explosion of Silver Age characters... you had Zorro and The
Adventures of Superman on TV and when your parents weren't looking,
you could immerse yourself in this stuff.
CBA: Did you want to be a writer or an artist at a young age?
Jeff: I always wanted to be a writer, and always wrote. I
should also add it was a terrific time to read science-fiction, with
the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels coming back into print, the Doc Savage
novels being published by Bantam, and a lot of great science-fiction
writers doing some of their best stuff.
CBA: Did you read those paperback reprints of pulp material?
Jeff: Oh, sure!
CBA: When did you realize these things were from the '30s
and the '40s, from an older culture?
Jeff: When an uncle of mine saw the cover of a Doc Savage
book I was reading and said, "That's not what Doc Savage looks
like!" I said, "What are you talking about?" He said,
"Doc Savage has wavy hair, not a plastered-down bronze widow's
peak." He told me how he used to read the magazines as a kid,
and I was flabbergasted. Of course, I read Jules Feiffer's The Great
Comic Book Heroes and realized comic books went back that far as they
did. Still, it was a revelation about Doc.
CBA: So the wave of nostalgia hit at a prime time for you,
when you were 14 or 15 years old?
Jeff: Well, it was not nostalgia for me, [laughter] but it
was nostalgia for a lot of people, and it was great to discover that.
Of course, G-8 and His Battle Aces came a little bit later, and The
Spider, and The Avenger... it was just a flood of material. World-class
material, because a lot of those guys knew how to write.
CBA: And a lot of those guys didn't.
Jeff: Yeah... [laughs] touché! But they knew how to
tell a story. You can fault their grammar, fault their characterizations,
but they kept the pages turning.
CBA: I remember getting into the Doc Savages as a kid, and
then probably giving it up after about the eighth book, because there
was just so much repetition in the descriptive passages.
Jeff: I suppose those would be so easy to write today, because
you could cut and paste huge paragraphs of text! [laughter] Back then,
they had to type it all over.
CBA: After a period of time, did you become more discriminating,
looking for, perhaps, more literate fare?
Jeff: If you call discriminating going from Doc Savage to
The Avenger and The Shadow! [laughter] Of course, I looked for more
sophisticated storytelling as my tastes changed. That was when I discovered
Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and writers of that
CBA: You were guided more to the contemporary science-fiction?
Jeff: Correct, and it was kind of fun to notice that Gardner
Fox had written some space operas, because there was a name I recognized
from comics, and I'd say, "He's also writing novels," and
pick up his books and see ads for Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp
and other authors. So you'd get a wide variety of styles and subject
CBA: Did you do creative writing in grade school?
Jeff: I went to public school, made it all the way through
high school, tried a couple of months of college here and there until
the money ran out and the interest waned, got into comic books. There
really wasn't much of an airlock between reading and doing them.
CBA: What was your first professional sale?
Jeff: That was to Skywald comics, in late 1971. I was writing
a column called "The Psycho-Analyst," analyzing Psycho magazine
[laughter] and doing odd jobs, proofreading, that sort of thing.
CBA: What was Sol Brodsky [co-founder of Skywald] like?
Jeff: Sol was very enthusiastic about what he was doing. He
was in kind of a difficult situation because Herschel and Israel Waldman,
the publishers, were pretty much calling the shots in terms of frequency
and eventually whether the magazines would continue. Their main business
was coloring books. But Sol loved those magazines and really wanted
them to work. He was excited to be working with guys like Jerry Siegel
and Bill Everett, and newcomers like [editor/writer] Al Hewetson,
Augustine Funnell, and Pablo Marcos.
CBA: Were [Skywald art directors] Mike Esposito and Ross Andru
around the offices when you were there?
Jeff: No, I was there maybe two or three afternoons a week.
The only one I bumped into regularly up there was Bill Everett, who
CBA: Did you know of his illustrious past?
Jeff: By then I did, sure, and I was not smart enough to get
him to draw Sub-Mariner for me. Pablo Marcos was up there. Jeff Jones,
of course, was doing covers for them, Boris Vallejo... there were
a lot of interesting people.
CBA: Do you recall a tentatively planned book called Science-Fiction
Jeff: Yes, that was a magazine Jeff Jones had done a cover
for, and I think Al Hewetson finally used it on Psycho or Scream,
one of those. I remember we'd started to collect material for it and
never did it for one reason or another.
CBA: Yeah, Gardner Fox and Jack Katz did a story for that
Jeff: That's right! But Jerry Siegel was really the one, of
course, I wish I'd gotten to work with a little bit. He had done a
script or two, and just holding them was sort of exciting! [laughter]
I didn't keep them, unfortunately, but holding them was fun!
CBA: How did you get the job at Skywald?
Jeff: I'd gone up there to interview Sol for a research paper
for the week or so I was at New York University, and he offered me
work as an editorial assistant.
CBA: For that term paper, were you just focusing on Skywald,
or did you also go over to Warren?
Jeff: I went over to Warren. It was going to be about comic
books in the early 1970s, mainstream comics as opposed to the undergrounds-which
of course were exploding at the time-and I never finished it, because
once Sol offered me the job, I said, "Okay."
CBA: Did you go to any other publishers?
Jeff: I talked to Carmine Infantino, and at Marvel I talked
to Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas. But again, my memories of that time
are pretty much centered on Skywald because they gave me a job, and
that made a big impression.
CBA: How long did you last at Skywald?
Jeff: Until October of 1972, because I really wanted to work
in color comics. I think by that time Sol had discontinued his color
line, and I went up to DC and couldn't get in to see Carmine, so I
sat in the lobby until Carmine came out. That was from about ten in
the morning until about five or six in the afternoon. I assumed he
would come out for lunch, but he didn't, he sent out to Friar Tuck's
for a salad, so I missed him. But he told me to go see Dorothy Woolfolk,
who was still there, and I went to see her. She was editing romance
comics, and as it happened, her editorial assistant was leaving to
get married so I took her place.
CBA: Who was her editorial assistant?
Jeff: Deborah Anderson. She was doing letters pages, proofreading,
that type of thing, advice to the lovelorn, so I just took over all
CBA: What was Dorothy like?
Jeff: She was about as animated as a person can be-always
moving, speaking, acting... often, not in that order. She was very
much a feminist, and wanted Lois Lane and the love comics to reflect
that, and it was just a great learning experience, because I hadn't
been working with anyone-well, [laughs] I hadn't worked with anyone
except Sol, but it was fun working with someone who was that dynamic.
CBA: Alan Kupperberg and Alan Weiss said she clicked with
the younger generation.
Jeff: Oh, yeah, she clicked, she just loved them, she loved
us and the ideas, and I'm just sorry I didn't get to know her better,
because I got shuffled off to Joe Orlando, Joe Kubert, Bob Kanigher....
CBA: How long did you last with her?
Jeff: It was maybe two months, and then Joe Orlando asked
me to come over and help handle the horror comics and Swamp Thing,
and who could resist that? Then Joe Kubert decided he didn't want
to come in every day, his assistant Marv Wolfman was leaving, and
so he needed somebody to fill in, so I kind of rotated, mostly between
the two Joes.
CBA: Kubert was only coming in a couple of days a week?
Jeff: Yes. He was deadline-challenged by the war books and
Tarzan titles. That, of course, was the pinnacle of that era-working
with Joe Kubert, learning about his storytelling and insights into
comics. Then I spent a little bit of time with Bob Kanigher, who as
I recall replaced Dorothy and did Wonder Woman, which he insisted
on referring to as "WW," even though I pointed out saying
the initials had more syllables. [laughter] We just didn't get along
that well. Bob didn't get along with too many people, although he
got along well with Joe, even though Joe Kubert rewrote him extensively.
But Joe used to do-and I have them here somewhere-these wonderful
thumbnails for all of his artists. Even in those crude little pieces,
the drama was so clear.
CBA: Joe Kubert certainly has a reputation as a very heavy-handed
editor, of extensively rewriting almost everybody's stuff; whatever
came across his desk, he really worked on.
Jeff: I don't know that I'd describe it as heavy-handed, I'd
describe it as heavy, because his editing usually-in my experience-improved
what he was working on.
CBA: I think Bob Kanigher is one of the best writers comics
Jeff: I really appreciated him more when we weren't working
together. At DC, Carmine asked me to edit reprint titles, including
Legion of Super-Heroes (which, I believe, was the first time they
had their own title), Doom Patrol, Metal Men, and I had to go back
and look at the material Kanigher wrote, and I had to cut the page
number down because there were more ads and fewer story pages.
It was actually heartbreaking to take those pages out, and difficult
to have it still make sense! But you really saw how tightly scripted
some of his stories were. Bob also was a heavy-handed editor, [laughs]
and I mean that in the way you meant it! He used to take scripts from
George Kashdan, and people of some repute, and massacre them.
Glorious Neal Adams cover art to Ironjaw #2. Courtesy of Victor
Lim. ©1975 Seaboard Periodicals, Inc.
CBA: I first came across your name in those short-lived DC
reprint books. Did you do any writing for the company?
Jeff: I co-wrote a horror story for Dark Mansions of Forbidden
Love, but I don't think I did any others. I co-wrote that with a guy
named Michael Pulalski. He had sent in scripts; Joe Orlando thought
the idea was good, but wasn't crazy about the script, so he asked
me if I wanted to rewrite it, so I said okay. I got co-authorship
credit on that.
CBA: Did you get an idea why there were suddenly an enormous
number of reprint books at DC? It didn't seem to make any sense from
a reader's point of view, as so much of the material was dated and
Jeff: Not from a reader's point of view perhaps, but it did
two things: One, it preserved rack space for DC, which was important
because Marvel was expanding at the time. Also, it gave DC an income
on very low-cost titles. They were not making a lot of money on the
highly-publicized books like Green Lantern, "Sgt. Rock,"
Shazam!, so Carmine decided to do these reprint books.
CBA: At one point Marvel publisher Martin Goodman made his
entire line of comics giant-sized, bringing them up to 64 pages for
25¢ apiece, and DC immediately followed suit, but then the next
month Martin dropped down to 20¢ for 32 pages, but DC remained
at the giant-size for about a year. That was the time Marvel started
overtaking DC in sales.
Jeff: Yeah, and it was also a time when it looked like Jim
Warren's format might end up dominating comic books. DC was in really
bad shape at that point, and I don't know how much of that impacted
Carmine's tenure there, but clearly they were hurting, and sales at
Warren, conversely, were growing exponentially at that time.
CBA: What was the atmosphere like at DC while you were there?
Jeff: There was really a lot of energy from the young Turks.
That was the time Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Mike Kaluta, Dan Green,
Steve Mitchell, and a lot of the new generation of creators were coming
in, and Carmine had created a kind of a lounge in the back where everybody
could go hang out and get in trouble away from Murray Boltinoff, who
was a little suspicious of some of us. There really was this generational
explosion going on, as there was in the rest of society at the time.
That was the outstanding thing I remember.
CBA: And yet, Carmine really brought these young guys on board.
He was the one who really brought in a new generation of creators.
Jeff: Carmine nurtured them, Joe Orlando nurtured, Julie Schwartz
nurtured, Dorothy nurtured... and to an extent, Joe Kubert as well-that's
one of the reasons he started his school-but still, there were the
old guard at the production department....
CBA: Sol Harrison, Jack Adler.
Jeff: ...there was Gerda Gatell... oh, I've forgotten some
of the other people's names. But it was a fun time, it was definitely
a fun time.
CBA: Do you think Dorothy got her due from the company itself,
or was she short-shrifted?
Jeff: Dorothy had editorial freedom. Whether she got respect
from her peers, I can't say. She probably didn't care about that very
much, because she just enjoyed what she was doing, and she enjoyed
talking to Steve Mitchell or myself, or even Ethan Mordden, who was
another one of the assistants who went on to be an author of some
note. I just don't think she cared, but I will say she liked sparring
with Carmine. She really took some kind of pleasure in that, but she
was also very protective of her properties. I remember the first thing
I did for her was put together this Wonder Woman book with Gloria
Steinem, and Dorothy really wanted to be sure it was the best and
most representative Wonder Woman material there was, and she would
fight for things like that. So maybe her integrity got in the way
CBA: This is the Wonder Woman reprint hardcover, with a Gloria
Steinem introduction, and Dorothy chose the stories?
Jeff: Dorothy and I went over them-library copies-and as I
recall, we sent over the ones Dorothy thought were best. Gloria didn't
do much, so to speak.
CBA: I did notice a preponderance of bondage stories in that
Jeff: You're talking about a woman who had a magic rope that
tied people up, Jon.
CBA: Did you see Gloria in the office at all?
Jeff: Maybe once or twice. I just don't remember, because
she was all around town at that time, and I don't remember if it was
there or at some other functions.
CBA: After Mike Sekowsky's tenure on the book, Dorothy was
editor of Wonder Woman for a very short period of time, right before
the transition back to the Golden Age character. Was Sekowsky there
when you were there, or was he already out?
Jeff: No, he wasn't there. I didn't meet him until the Atlas
CBA: You were editing the reprint books, none of which lasted
Jeff: Well, they lasted beyond my stay there. I know Allan
Asherman continued them another issue or so.
CBA: Where did you go?
Jeff: I started an ad agency with a friend and decided I didn't
like advertising, although the agency endured for 20 years. I went
up to see Jim Warren, and he hired me. At first, I was just doing
Captain Company copywriting and picking products to sell through Captain
Company. I think my title was marketing director, but then I began
doing editorial work as well, and at one point, I suppose I became
assistant editor-I don't even remember what the title was-of Creepy
or Eerie, one of those.
CBA: How long were you there?
Jeff: That would've been from early '73 to mid-'74, when Atlas
CBA: I apologize for not interviewing you for the Warren book,
but I don't recall seeing your credit line very much.
Jeff: Well, I wrote stories and I was on the masthead of virtually
every issue from The Spirit #1 onward.
CBA: Than I'm blind. [laughs] Did you have a good time over
Jeff: I loved it. Jim was-and is-amazing, as you know. Bill
DuBay was creative, one of the hardest workers I ever knew. Everyone
up there was just pretty terrific and really motivated, because they
were doing great material, Jim was a terrific leader, and that was
a lot of fun.
CBA: Did you go through the legendary "Summer Push"?
Jeff: Yes, but I don't remember the agony of that so much
as trying to do the Moonraker one-shot in two weeks, from concept
CBA: That was obviously later, right?
Jeff: Yes. I don't remember a Summer Push so much as a Constant
Push, you know? I remember Jim tearing up mechanicals from Famous
Monsters #108, and the entire staff quitting on a Friday.
CBA: [laughs] The entire comics staff?
Jeff: Bill DuBay, Sherry Berne, myself, Michelle Brand...
I don't remember if Bill Maholley left. But Jim was just... [laughs]
It started because one of the page numbers had been pasted down crooked
and it really pissed him off, and he started going through the magazine,
tearing it apart, and he was really upset with it, because that particular
issue was going to be going against the first issue, as I recall,
of Monsters of the Movies from Marvel, and he wanted it to be absolutely
perfect and it wasn't. So we all quit on Friday and he went looking
for a new staff over the weekend. I guess Bill DuBay made overtures
that we should come back, and we did. [laughs]
CBA: Jim is definitely a very interesting guy. He's got a
reputation in the business, and a lot of people love him, and a lot
of people hate him.
Jeff: Yeah, they do. Jon, I think anybody in a position of
publisher/editor-in-chief-whether it was Jim Warren or Jim Shooter
or myself or Carmine-is going to generate those kind of feelings among
CBA: Jim is certainly, perhaps, unique in that group. He has
a way of teasing, a way of testing people's limits, and, as Weezie
Simonson says, a inclination to "push" people's "buttons."
I perceive it as half a put-on, that he can be blustery, can look
a lot bigger than he is, and be scary, but he's testing a person's
limits; but I also perceive something... very humane about the guy,
but he can bust balls really bad!
Jeff: I'll go further. I loved the man, without qualification,
but I will say that back, then-I don't know if you knew him back then-but
he was a sadist. [laughs] There's just no getting around it. [laughter]
He heaped cruelty upon artwork, upon stories, and certainly upon mechanicals
of FM #108, [laughter] but he did it in such a way that you never
took it personally-or at least, you shouldn't have. I've studied martial
arts for a long time, and my sensei does the same thing, he will tear
you apart, but it's only so that when you're out in the street, you
don't get your ass kicked. I won't say that Jim's motivation was the
same, but the end result was the same. You didn't take him personally,
and you got better, or at least you did things the way he wanted them
done. You certainly couldn't argue with the quality of the product
he was putting out, and he did give guys like Bill DuBay an awful
lot of leeway, and Bill brought his own sense of style and professionalism
to the magazines, that improved upon what Jim did. So, it was really
a kind of Golden Age for that type of magazine.
CBA: Certainly, there was a renaissance that took place at
Warren, with DuBay spreading his wings and Louise taking the mantle
for a time. Did it feel like a special time?
Jeff: Yes, because Warren was the best, and if you were there,
then de facto, you at least had a chance to be one of the best. I
wouldn't say any of the stories I did for him were any better than
mediocre, but stories that other people did for him-like Bernie Wrightson
or Rich Corben-were certainly incredible, and even guys like Ken Kelly,
when Bill DuBay would art direct him, produced some of their best
work. Bill gave people like Leo Summers the opportunity to come in
and experiment, and a lot of the Spanish artists. It really was a
special time. Even to the point of hiring commercial artists like
Ted Coconis to try to do things. He approached-and this was my idea,
and probably a silly one-Charles Schulz at one point, because I wanted
him to do a Halloween cover, but he politely declined. [laughter]
But, then of course, you were surrounded by the Jack Davis Creepy
cover from #1, Frazetta artwork on the wall-not the posters, the originals!
It was overwhelming.
Apparently this is Larry Lieber's Kirbyesque character design for
the planned (but never fully realized) character Whiplash, a Western
hero conceived by Jeff Rovin when he first joined the company. From
The Comic Reader #110, courtesy of Mike Friedrich. ©1974 Seaboard
CBA: How did you first hear about Atlas/Seaboard needing somebody?
Jeff: There was an ad in The New York Times. It didn't say
for what or whom, it just said it was for comic books, so I answered
CBA: It was looking for specifically a comic book editor?
Jeff: Yeah. I think it said editor and writer, but in any
case, I answered it, and got a call from Martin Goodman, which I have
to tell you, is quite a way to end the day! [laughter]
CBA: Were you called at home, or at work?
Jeff: He called me at home. I didn't leave my office number.
CBA: Yeah! [laughs] You obviously wrote that you had experience
working at Warren.
Jeff: Yeah, I ran down everything I'd done, so Martin called
me up and asked me to come to lunch, and I did, and he asked me to
come to another lunch, which Chip, his son, attended, and that was
CBA: What was Martin like?
Jeff: Martin was gruff, a bottom-line guy.
CBA: How old was he at the time?
Jeff: Certainly in his late sixties, early seventies, I suspect.
He was an angry man, too; he was angry at what happened to Chip up
CBA: I know you didn't work for Marvel between entering the
field and the time you answered the ad, but were you surprised it
was Martin Goodman, and did you realize his reputation, who he was?
Jeff: I knew who he was, but I didn't realize what he was
CBA: Did you think it had something to do with Marvel Comics?
Jeff: No, I'd known he sold the company.
CBA: How did you know that?
Jeff: Well, it had happened maybe six months to a year before.
CBA: So it was just scuttlebutt around the industry?
Jeff: Right. A figure of that magnitude doesn't leave the
business unnoticed. At the time, there were various industry meetings
of creators, and occasionally publishers and editors were invited,
like Neal Adams was very much at the forefront of, you know, creators'
rights and getting a stipend for Siegel and Shuster... there was a
lot of righteous indignation growing in the industry about rights,
so we would have these meetings in various halls, or at offices, or
up at Continuity, Neal's studio, and people would talk and find out
what was going on in the industry. It was a very grapevine-y time.
CBA: It was actually one of the few times in which comics professionals-outside
of conventions-had sociable events to attend.
Jeff: It was still a small community, and everybody knew everybody,
[laughs] yet nobody knew what Martin had in mind when he started Atlas
Comics. I remember he'd talked to Roy Thomas-I don't know why they
didn't come to any kind of agreement, but in our first meeting, Martin
said that he had already extended an offer to Larry Lieber to edit
some titles, and I'd known Larry's artwork, of course, but that sounded
fine to me. As I said, by the end of the second lunch, they'd offered
me the job; they were ready to go.
CBA: You were aware that Larry had an older brother, Stan
Jeff: One of the things Martin said was he wanted to get Larry
a chance to step out from behind the shadow of Stan Lee. Which again,
seemed to me a good idea.
CBA: Had Larry helmed books, perhaps secondary books, back
in the day? Did he have editorial experience?
Jeff: I don't think so.
CBA: I know he wrote some Westerns, and he also wrote some
super-hero stories for "Thor" and "Iron Man" for
a period of time.
Jeff: I'm not really sure what was going through Martin's
mind, because I was 22, Larry had not a lot of experience, and there
wasn't really a clear vision of what Martin wanted to do. He didn't
express what he saw the new company as being, [laughter] and so, I
wasn't surprised that Larry was there, because I don't think we had
a mandate to do anything!
CBA: Did you think he wanted to re-create Marvel Comics?
Jeff: Not at first. That came later. That was, unfortunately,
when I think was the start of the end of Atlas. I really think that
at the time we started, he was just plain angry. He wanted to get
something onto the newsstands fast, wanted to put money into it, wanted
it to look good, just wanted to eat up rack space, and he wanted to
punish Cadence Industries for mistreating Chip-I don't know what the
details of Chip Goodman's contract with Cadence were....
CBA: Can you outline what had happened?
Jeff: Martin sold Marvel and its related companies to Cadence
Industries. It was my understanding that Chip was supposed to remain
in some high managerial position, but he was either minimized, or
demoted, or fired, I'm not really sure what happened. I wasn't privileged
to that information. Whatever it was, it pissed Martin off enough
that he wanted to strike back, and very quickly.
CBA: So, it would seem by appearances that the creation of
Atlas/Seaboard/Seaboard Periodicals was an act of revenge.
Jeff: Oh, absolutely. As a matter of fact, people used to
refer to the arrow in the "A" as an "up yours"
in the logo. [laughter]
CBA: And Steve Mitchell designed it... did Steve know he was
Jeff: I don't know, I think it was John Costanza who designed
it. Steve came on a little bit later, after we started to get things
CBA: Steve takes credit for it.
Jeff: Well, Steve can have credit. [laughter]
CBA: He didn't get much else out of the company, I think!
Jeff: Yeah, it's quite possible, although he was the first
person to use the word "sh*t" in a comic book. I think he
got that out of the company. [laughter]
Two attempts by Russ Heath at a Tiger-Man cover. At left, courtesy
of Terry Austin, looks to be the first try and right (salvaged from
the trash at Continuity Associates by Bob Wiacek) is apparently the
second attempt. Neither were published. Bob tells CBA that Russ rendered
billows of smoke for this assignment, only to trim it out for use in
another Heath masterwork. Always a recycler, that Russ! Art ©2001
Russ Heath. Tiger-Man ©1975 Seaboard Periodicals, Inc.
CBA: Did you start realizing what you were getting yourself
Jeff: Well, Martin was like any of my grumpy old uncles, so
it didn't intimidate me that much, and he was, at the start, a kind
of a fun thing, because he only wanted to do five color comics, and
maybe two black-&-whites. For some reason, he wanted Larry to
do the black-&-whites and me to do the color, and I pointed out
to him that maybe we should do it the other way around, because I
had more experience in the b-&-w's than Larry did. Then I suggested
it might be good to do a monster magazine, Movie Monster magazine,
because those are relatively low-cost things to do. It wasn't original,
but it made sense. So, we ended up doing the b-&-w's, and we started
developing some color comics, and Martin very quickly decided-even
before they'd come out-that five wasn't going to be enough, and he
wanted to really flood the racks and do about 20. I'm pretty sure
that's when Steve Mitchell came on, right in the beginning when that
decision was made, because I know he had another art director up there
named John Chilly, and John was doing a lot of Martin's other magazines,
puzzle books, confession magazines, Gothic romances-or they wanted
to do Gothic romances, they couldn't really put that together. And
then they bought Swank, and that became their primary interest, but
that was later. Very quickly, it went from this kind of gentlemanly
small boutique shop with trying to compete head-on with Marvel and
DC, which meant you couldn't just develop new talent, you had to raid
the stables for other talent.
CBA: When it was the boutique, at that stage, what concepts
were you working on and thinking of?
Jeff: Well, the first ones were The Scorpion, Ironjaw, Wulf
the Barbarian, Phoenix, Tiger-Man, and The Grim Ghost. All of them
came about for different reasons. Tiger-Man came about because Joe
Orlando had sent Ernie Colón up to see us, and Ernie and I
hit it off right away, just started playing around with ideas, and....
CBA: Why would Joe Orlando send Ernie your way?
Jeff: Because Joe couldn't use him. Perhaps his roster was
full. It might also be Ernie was perceived as a Harvey type of artist,
and Joe felt he could do action-adventure, which he'd proven up at
Skywald-where I'd never actually met him, but I'd seen his work.
CBA: He did a bunch of Warren stuff.
Jeff: Yeah, he may have, but I wasn't aware of it then. Then
you had guys like Larry Hama. I don't remember if we suggested to
him that he do a Conan type of thing, or he suggested it to us, but
you know, that had a very distinctive look, and Howard Chaykin and
The Scorpion, where there was bondage for sure. Mike Sekowsky, because
we wanted to do something with a great Silver Age guy, and he was
crusty and cantankerous and fun. We just kind of put together this
eclectic bunch of comic books. Larry did The Destructor with Steve
Ditko and Wally Wood.
CBA: ...and Archie Goodwin. In a way, there's a perception
that these are different books, but there was also that these were
knock-off books. I think a lot of fans immediately looked at The Brute,
and said, "Oh, look: That's the Hulk."
Jeff: The Brute was the first book of Martin's "new wave"
of books and not part of the original group. Martin specifically told
me he wanted to knock off the Hulk, and that was really the best we
could do, in terms of not being a direct rip-off. That sounds like
a clumsy defense, [laughter] but we were told, "Do a comic book
like The Hulk." Okay, how do we do that without plainly stealing
the damn thing? And that was indeed the start of the "Marvelization"
of Atlas, it was one of the first things I had a problem with, with
Martin and Chip, because he really wanted me to raid the Marvel Bullpen.
Not only didn't I want to do that-because it wasn't the right thing
to do-but we were looking for our own identity, and imitating Marvel
wasn't going to get us there. However successful or not they were,
magazines like The Grim Ghost and "The Tarantula," even
Morlock and some of the other wacky ones, had their own personalities.
CBA: I know you didn't edit the book, but did you look at
The Destructor and think, "That's an awful lot like Spider-Man."
Jeff: No, I stayed completely away from Larry's books.
CBA: But just the perception, did you look at that? Because
certainly, as a reader, we looked at that and said, "Wow, it's
even drawn by Steve Ditko," you know? [laughs]
Jeff: You're right, I can't dispute that! But you know, Sgt.
Stryker was Sgt. Fury, and [Western Action] was the Marvel Western.
Lomax was supposed to be Kojak, but he had hair, and it just didn't
make sense. [laughter] Over on my side of the office, when we got
hold of Howard Nostrand, and asked him what he wanted to do, he wanted
to do some kind of spy thing, and Ric Meyers came up with Targitt,
and had a great time. Neal Adams had sent Howard up there...
CBA: Neal started off as an assistant for Howard Nostrand.
Jeff: Correct. Howard was a tough guy to work with, but he
did some great Will Eisner-esque stuff, and it was just... We were
really excited about a lot of it. Ric Meyers wrote a story for Alex
Toth to illustrate, "A Job Well Done," and I thought it
was one of the best things he'd ever done, and I was fortunate enough
to have him illustrate it. That kind of stuff really makes you happy.
The things that didn't make us happy were the deadline problems; those
were immediate stumbling blocks between me and Howard Chaykin and
Larry Hama. There was a lot of miscommunication, because of the numbers
of books we were doing. I had Ric Meyers coming into the office a
couple of days a week, but we were doing about 20 titles plus the
black-&-whites, plus helping out with Gothic Romance. It was just
too much, and that's where I said before, "You can't be in this
position and not piss people off." Well, that's when it started
to happen. [laughs]
A fine Frank Thorne cover (sans logo and blurbs) for The Cougar #1,
a book created and written by Steve Mitchell, a comic inspired by the
famed TV movie, The Night Stalker. ©1975 Seaboard Periodicals,
CBA: You edited 12 color and three black-&-white titles.
Jeff: There were other ones, by the way, that were on the
drawing board that never got produced, for one reason or another.
Steve Ditko had done a thing called "Wrecage," which was,
I think, one of the best things he ever did. It was spelled with no
"k." [laughter] I don't remember really what it was about;
it was a bunch of guys in costumes who were breaking things. He had
penciled this job, and it came in, and the lettering, the balloons
were in the middle of the panels instead of butting up on the edges,
and he was so angry about that, he just threw the pages down and said,
"You've taken the heart out of it," and walked out. We never
saw him again. That was one book that, even though we had done the
script, done the pencils, worked every detail out, it never got done.
CBA: Ditko was angry because the balloons were in the center
of the panel?
Jeff: Right, instead of butting up against the panel borders,
which is how he apparently liked them, but neglected to say.
CBA: Did you look at that like as an idiosyncratic response?
Jeff: Well, if I had known, I would've put it up against the
panel! [laughter] I felt bad, because we didn't know, and if he had
told me and I didn't hear it, or failed to communicate it to the letterer,
it was unfortunate, but there you go! Again, we had other titles we
wanted to do, like The Avenger, and we actually did a lot of work
on it, and negotiated with Condé Nast, only to find somebody
else [DC] stepped in and took it away from us. We had been negotiating
to do Godzilla. Put a lot of work in on that. So, there were a lot
of comics we developed and spent a lot of time on that never got done.
CBA: If we can, if you don't mind, go through a few of these
titles, and just perhaps give in a nutshell what the thinking was
Jeff: I'll tell you what, Jon, who really cares? I've got
to ask you that. I mean....
CBA: Was the idea behind Ironjaw, "Barbarians are hot,
let's do a new barbarian."
Jeff: Yeah. I have to say, in defense of Ironjaw, we really
had wanted to push the Comics Code, certainly push the boundaries
of what they would permit, and that was the first title we did, and
from the very start we had problems with them. One of the things we
really wanted to do with "Tarantula," Tiger-Man and Ironjaw
was make them a lot more violent, kind of what Wolverine ended up
being. So, the idea that it was going to be like Conan is not quite
what we had in mind; we just wanted it to be really rough, sexual,
primitive barbarian kind of thing, but boy, the Code ripped us apart!
The Code administrator, Len Darvin, actually went to Martin and complained
that I was a pain in the ass, [laughter] that he should replace me,
blah, blah, blah.
CBA: Whoa! [laughs]
Jeff: Yeah, he was not pulling punches, because we had really
harsh words over Ironjaw. There was one panel were a woman's back
was facing the reader, and she clearly had clothes on, and he made
us put them on, even though we were just seeing her naked back. We
gave her a skirt but no top. He was livid.
CBA: A lot of the books had pretty edgy writing for the time,
replete with a lot of "damns" and "hells" in the
dialogue. Believe it or not, when I was a kid, "hell" and
"damn" were considered swear words, and here they were in
a comic book with the Comics Code Approval stamp on it!
Jeff: You know, I guess we got the stamp because we took so
much stuff out they forgot the other stuff was in there. [laughter]
This was a time of movies like Death Wish, and I think there was a
kind of rampant impotent rage, whatever you want to call it, that
we carried out of the '60s and into the '70s, and I think that was
trying to come out in the comics, and also we had seen so much being
done in the undergrounds, in the Star*Reach comics, in the Warren
titles, that it seemed absolutely ludicrous to be handcuffed by the
Comics Code! Particularly when the things we were doing were not so
rough. Certainly not compared to these other things.
CBA: Well, with the cynicism that permeated American culture
at the time, you had probably the premiere cynical mainstream comics
writer, Mike Fleischer, working for you. How did you choose him?
Jeff: Mike was one of the first people who came to talk to
us, and that was a very bold move at the time, because we were pariahs.
There was an implicit blacklist of people who came to work for us.
We were paying more per page than other companies, and particularly
DC rightly figured that people would defect, and they wanted to hold
on to their people. Michael was offended by that notion, since he
was a freelancer, and came up partly because he had great ideas, and
partly because it was an act of defiance just to do it! I really respected
CBA: Did you like the writing? There seemed to be certainly
a strong element of misogyny in Ironjaw, [laughs] he tended to treat
horses better than women.
Jeff: Well, there's some of that in Robert E. Howard, too.
Certainly Howard was writing at a different time, and maybe we should
have been more sensitive, perhaps, but...
CBA: Michael took a lot of critical hits in the early to mid-'70s,
especially with "The Spectre," about being extremely violent.
Jeff: Well, people didn't have to read it. Michael was expressing
whatever he wanted to express, and he did that in the novel Chasing
Hairy, and it was okay by me. I wasn't there to censor him, but to
give him a platform to tell his stories, and we liked the stories
he was doing, and they all had a different voice, really; The Grim
Ghost and Tarantula were different from one another.
CBA: You used him a lot.
Jeff: Yeah, we used him a lot, but he was happy to do it,
and he was always surprising, which was fun.
CBA: I read an article you wrote for The Comics Journal ["How
Not to Run a Comic Book Company," TCJ #114, Feb. 1987] about
the rise and fall of Atlas, and one of the interesting things you
brought up was your desire to get licensed, recognizable properties
and adapt them into comic book form. You tried to get The Avenger,
but DC came in and scooped it up. Was The Scorpion part of that thinking?
Was there a pitch to Howard to say, "We want a pulp character?"
Jeff: Actually, I left that up to Howard, and I don't think
that we contributed anything except the title on that initial concept-I
do intend to go back and check that-no, I think that was pretty much
all his idea.
Courtesy of the artist, Larry Hama's unused cover rough for Wulf
the Barbarian #1. Wulf ©1975 Seaboard Periodicals, Inc.
CBA: Looking at the book, Planet of the Vampires, immediately
when I was a kid, I thought of [the Charlton Heston film] The Omega
Jeff: Well, yeah, we had tried to get the rights to [science-fiction
vampire novel] I Am Legend by Richard Matheson but we couldn't.
CBA: What would you have named that book? I Am Legend?
Jeff: That's a good question, we never got that far!
CBA: Would it have been an adaptation of The Omega Man?
Jeff: It probably would've been closer to The Omega Man. I
think the main thing was who we would end up getting the rights from,
whether it would've been Matheson or whether it would've been Warner
Brothers, who we were talking to. If it had been Warner Brothers,
clearly The Omega Man was the better-known title at the time. So,
we probably would've gone with that. By the way, you mentioned The
Scorpion, that was again one of the early battles I had with Martin;
he felt the drawings were too small, and he couldn't tell what was
going on, and I wasn't going to go back to Howard and say, "Gee,
Howard, could you draw bigger?" It's amazing, the things that
come up that you don't expect when you're just trying to do....
CBA: A dozen books, plus three black-&-white titles. [laughs]
Jeff: When you're just trying to give people some creative
freedom, and at the same time, keep the publisher happy, [laughs]
it's really tough! Especially, by the way, when you're a dumb kid!
CBA: And you were young!
CBA: Were you surprised when you were hired? Were you cheap,
Jeff: I was getting, I think, $20,000 or $22,000 a year at
the time. That was good. I had to edit and write I don't remember
how many stories a month for that, but no, that was a great salary!
That was [laughs] when we were doing five books, but I still made
the same money when we doubled that.
CBA: Goodman used the comics as catalogs for his merchandising
department, and you had experience with Captain Company.
Jeff: Well, that was actually my idea, because I had been
Captain Company's marketing director, and it seemed obvious that if
you were going to publish these magazines, you'd use them as catalogs.
Jim Warren invented that concept in comic books, and I saw how much
money he made, and it just seemed like a good idea for us, plus I
was able to take free toys!
CBA: Archie Goodwin, one of the great editors in comics history,
could've been available at that time... I wonder why he wasn't approached.
Jeff: A lot of these guys wanted a lot more money than I was
getting, and I think that was the problem they'd had with Roy Thomas,
he wanted a larger salary than I got, and a contract that was a number
of years-I didn't have a contract-and so....
CBA: So you were attractive in that way.
Jeff: Yeah, and I could, in theory, get the material onto
the newsstands, and that's all that Martin cared about at first.
CBA: Ernie Colón had endless nice things to say about
Jeff: Ernie's senile. [laughter]
CBA: He called you a wunderkind, repeatedly. You were pretty
young, and dealing with a lot of creators who were certainly older
than you. Did you possess something that made you right for the job?
Did you have a self-confidence, for instance? Was Brooklyn instilled
in you? You were a cocky kid, right?
Jeff: I was a cocky kid, but a lot of that came from working
for my uncle in Times Square-it was actually on 45th Street, between
Broadway and Sixth-he had a costume store across from the Peppermint
Lounge, and it was from the time I was about 13 to when I was 18,
I was there an awful lot, largely because I got to fit G-strings and
pasties on to go-go dancers, [laughter] among other things. But, that
was a very, very aggressive business, dealing with Broadway people...
Laurence Tish and Loews, because we did the costumes for his ushers.
Jackie Gleason because he shipped the costumes to Miami for The Jackie
Gleason Show, and at the same time my uncle was a civilian cop, because
that was a fun thing to do, and he had a gun permit! [laughter] So,
he'd go around in a squad car at night, and his partner was a guy
named Johnny Kuhl (pronounced "cool"). [laughter] Best name
in the history of the world.
CBA: In Times Square? [laughs]
Jeff: Exactly, and these guys, they would protect the prostitutes
from their pimps, they would mingle with the mobsters. It was The
Untouchables, The Naked City and Batman all rolled into one, and I
just reveled in it! But I saw the kind of grit they needed for their
respective businesses, and in the streets, and it was inspirational.
I just carried that same mindset into the comic books, plus there
was the love of the material! Unfortunately, I think I had the creative
chops at the time, but I did not have the managerial skills necessary
at the time at all.
CBA: Howard Chaykin said that he came into the office after
the second issue of The Scorpion, and saw evidence that Alex Toth
was working on the book.
Jeff: Well, Alex Toth was working on a concept for The Scorpion
in case we had to change it. There were two things that were happening:
One was Howard and I had a massive miscommunication about the deadlines,
and he got incredibly burned-out. The second thing that happened was,
Martin was more and more vocal about hating the book, and put me into
a real tough spot, because Howard created the character, and we came
up with the title, so what do you do? What do you do if you want to
change a book? Legally, we would've had the right to continue it in
his vein, but morally, I didn't think we did, so yeah, I was prepared
to go in another direction, which in fact we ended up doing. Am I
sorry about it? Yeah, Howard was doing great stuff. Would I have done
it differently now? Sure, I probably would've quit along with him.
But that's not the way it went. Figure, if you quit, everything goes
to hell, everything that you fought for, all the people you do get
along with-and I got along great with Jack Sparling, John Albano,
Michael Fleischer, with a lot of the people. You didn't want to lose
that. Sal Amendola. We were all having great success, creative success.
CBA: Another person who had a bittersweet experience was Sal,
and he told me his heart went out of the book he was doing-The Phoenix-to
a degree, and he felt that you had to accept the dictums that were
coming down from Martin Goodman, that you were just squarely stuck
in the middle of these arbitrary decisions.
Jeff: Well, here's how arbitrary it was: Disaster movies were
big, so Martin decided the cover of The Phoenix #1 that I had worked
on with Dick Giordano that we all liked would be much better if we
had a city falling down around him, which was not the way the cover
was designed, and it was not what we wanted to do, but Dick, being
a professional, went ahead and put in buildings falling down. [laughter]
CBA: Sal sent me his thumbnails for the first two issues of
The Phoenix, and I noticed the only difference I could ascertain from
the final work and the thumbnails was that the capital city of Iceland,
Reykjavik, was changed from a more rural-looking, smaller city, to
a metropolis with skyscrapers. Was it changed to justify the cover?
Jeff: Yep! [laughter] Never mind what the city really looks
like. Let's make it look like Earthquake and The Towering Inferno.
Yes, there were dicta coming down from Martin, and some of them I
had to carry through, partly because there were also some victories.
For example, Pablo Marcos needed a downpayment for his house, so I
got him an advance for $3,000. Walter Simonson was really sick at
one point, and we had to advance him the money and carry the story
as done when in fact it was not done, but there was a lot of good
we tried to do to counterbalance the bad, and I'm not going to defend
the bad, because it was bad! I'm sorry people got hurt. Again, when
you're 22 or 23, and trying to manage all these temperaments, and
with a personality as strong as Martin, with an anger as strong as
Martin's, with a checkbook controlled by Martin-it's awfully difficult.
CBA: Did you see him on a daily basis?
Jeff: Yes, except for the hour or two when he took a nap in
CBA: Did you have a daily meeting with him, or did you just
see him in the course of the day, with weekly or monthly meetings?
Jeff: No, he wanted to see everything that came in.
CBA: Every day?
Jeff: Every day. He didn't want to see the scripts or the
pencils, he wanted to see the finished artwork before we sent it out.
Increasingly, he would throw it on the desk with greater disgust than
the last time, and finally, Chip would get involved, and however gruff
Martin was, at least he had the background, he'd earned the right
to be gruff. Chip was a real lightweight in that sense, and I just
couldn't take it from him. He would be dismissive of work, but have
no suggestions on what to do better. It was so frustrating that at
one point, Ric, my assistant, went into the bathroom and cut off all
his hair, he was just so frustrated. [laughter] I felt that was really
a defining moment, because my God, look what's happening to us!
CBA: He's pulling out his hair, so to speak!
Jeff: Yeah, literally! [laughter] Howard Nostrand came in
one day so upset about something that... I don't know whether he threatened
to beat Ric up, or actually threw him against a wall, but I mean...
tempers were high. Those are only the ones that spring to mind, I'm
sure there were others. Mike Sekowsky lettering the word "sh*t"
on an airplane wing, which we didn't notice in the artwork, and even
Martin missed that one.
CBA: Did Mike Sekowsky, as far as you can tell, have an unhappy
experience at Atlas?
Jeff: He had an unhappy experience everywhere.
CBA: Were you unhappy with his work at all, that you could
see? For instance, I've got this real mystery, I've got this story
that's in pencil form that was originally made for 8 1/2 x 11, and
this will probably be stretching your memory, but it was called "Speed
Demon," and it was a race car Formula One story that Sekowsky
did, and I'm convinced that it's a rejected Atlas/Seaboard story,
and that Ernie Colón jumped in-and Ernie can't remember doing
this-but he did a story called "Speed Demon"...
Jeff: Yeah, where a guy disintegrates in the end.
CBA: [laughs] Right. But it's the same kind of thing: A demon,
the devil's in it, and it's like... do you recall at all?
Jeff: No, the title is not familiar. But then, there were
so many things coming in, God, I mean... Eliot Maggin came in with
stuff, I remember Alan Weiss wanted to do a comic called Red Blooded
and actually showed us some sketches for it. All I remember was Martin
Goodman said, "No way," and I had to tell Alan, "No
way," and... [laughs] that was that! What was I going to say
beyond that? Mike Grell actually came up as well, but I don't remember
what we talked about.
Unpublished cover by Howard Chaykin for The Scorpion #2, courtesy
of another renowned inker, Bob Wiacek. Art ©2001 Howard Chaykin.
The Scorpion ©1974 Seaboard Periodicals.
CBA: Did you ever have a heart-to-heart in the intervening
years since then with Stan Lee at all, and talk about Martin?
Jeff: We did briefly, but Stan wasn't going to say anything
bad about him, and I'm not sure Stan would have any reason to say
anything bad about him.
CBA: I just mean to say was Martin doing the same thing over
at Marvel, looking through all the art every day... was he any different
Jeff: Of course, Marvel was a much larger operation, and I
doubt Martin would have the time to do that.
CBA: It seemed to be a lot less arbitrary situation at Marvel.
You can see a logic, a discernable linear progression put into projects.
Perhaps the situation at Atlas/Seaboard was due to that anger.
Jeff: Yeah, and that's the key. Martin was spending an awful
lot of his own money on this! On higher page rates, for instance.
The whole idea that I had for the company to give some percentage
of participation to creators, he just wasn't happy about that. So
we really started out on a bad foot, because no sooner had I come
aboard than I presented him with this concept of giving royalties
on ancillary rights to people. This was a time when nobody was even
getting reprint money. So, he was immediately suspicious and on guard,
but I said, "Look, if we're going to get good people, this is
what we have to do." These are the fights that, as Jim Shooter
has often said, nobody hears about. This was a very real problem,
this was a time when you didn't miss deadlines, because news dealers
didn't like that.
CBA: You guys were distributed by Kable, who was a second-
or third-string distributor, historically. What was your feeling about
being distributed by Kable?
Jeff: Well, the comics were showing up where I shopped.
CBA: You saw them?
Jeff: My world was New York, so I knew nothing. [laughs]
CBA: Because the rest of the world did not see a lot of them!
Jeff: They may not have got them, but who knows the reasons
for that? I just don't know. Getting back to Martin and our struggles,
we had Tippy Teen reprints in Vicki. Very early, I said, "We're
doing Tippy Teen, can't we please do the other Tower comics as well?
They had some great super-hero stuff," and he said, "Well,
we'll look into it, okay, go ahead." So we put a lot of time
and effort looking into doing reprints of NoMan and Dynamo and T.H.U.N.D.E.R.
Agents and all that, and that came to nothing, because he just decided
he didn't want to do them!
CBA: Do you recall if it would've cost much?
Jeff: It wouldn't have cost anything, or else he wouldn't
have been doing Tippy Teen! [laughter] Of all the titles to pick from
that, Tippy Teen was arguably the worst! It was inconceivable to me!
I understand what he was reaching for, to try to get that teen audience,
but when the guy you hired to produce your super-hero comics says
to you, "These are some of the best that were done in this time,
let's bring them back," and he says, "Nah, I don't wanna!"
it's very debilitating.
CBA: [laughs] What was Chip's position at Atlas/Seaboard?
[Jeff sighs.] Was he officially the publisher?
Jeff: Martin got really angry at me because we listed he and
Chip as co-publishers in the first issue of a black-&-white magazine,
and he made me take his name off immediately. I suspect that had to
do with some kind of contractual arrangement with Cadence, not to
put out a competitive product in a certain amount of time. But Chip
was nominally the publisher, though he showed no interest in the comic
books, apart from just not liking them. It's very difficult for people
to understand that he would come in to the office, spend a lot of
time on the phone, a lot of time planning to buy Swank magazine, and
just kind of being dismissive about all the comics. I don't even know
if he wanted to do them at all.
CBA: The comics?
Jeff: Yeah. The puzzle books made sense to him, because they
were cheap and delivered quick revenue, the confession magazines the
same, comics were expensive.
CBA: [laughs] I think it was Steve Mitchell who said, "If
you think comic fans are rabid, you won't believe the crossword puzzle
people, when they would call up the office and demand when the next
issue's coming out!" [laughs]
Jeff: Yeah, it's pretty amazing.
CBA: So we ain't nothing!
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. And there weren't enough people to even
handle these things! That's why when the decision to publish Gothic
Romance came, Steve and I ended up getting all the artwork for that
from comic book artists-Neal Adams, Russ Heath, Howard Chaykin-so
there were some triumphs, but for every triumph, there was a Scorpion
situation, and then there was. How do you delicately go to Larry Hama
and nudge him to finish Wulf when his mother is dying? I mean, it
was an impossible situation!
CBA: Obviously it soured for you pretty quickly. You were
hired in June of 1974?
Jeff: I was hired at the end of June. I quit once in the Fall
because these guys just didn't know what they were doing, and they
were stopping us from doing our jobs. Chip persuaded me to stay, and
I just quit in January of '75 for good, because it was... I didn't
even give them notice, I just walked out.
CBA: Steve Mitchell mentioned something to me, he recalls
you writing a letter. Was that the Fall resignation?
CBA: So Steve went with you, and was basically dismissed at
that time, or he quit?
CBA: And you wrote a letter saying, "It's either me or
Jeff: Right. At first, Chip agreed to stay out of it. He said,
"We want you to stay, you're doing a great job," and that
lasted a day, because that was when Larry started going after the
Marvel people, under orders from Martin, and... oh, I forget some
of the titles we did then, that Dracula thing....
CBA: Son of Dracula, Hands of the Dragon....
Jeff: Right, and I... Steve and I were still trying to do
nifty stuff with The Cougar and Frank Thorne did the cover, and we
just... were still trying to do different kinds of books, but it became
increasingly impossible. Particularly when they'd change titles like
The Phoenix or even The Grim Ghost from what we were doing to Marvel
style before the sales had even come in on the first issues! So they
didn't even know if they were successful, and we were being told to
change them. [laughs] It took three issues at the time-and it probably
still does-to find out if it's selling.
For the rest of the Jeff Rovin interview, be sure to order your copy
of COMIC BOOK ARTIST #16
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