Friday, February 26, 2010

sketchbook: george's iron man and ron's hulk!


so here's some more from the sketchbook.
hope you like 'em...

sadly, we lost george tuska back in october, but i was fortunate enough to meet him and his wife and constant companion, dorothy, at heroes in '98. i had been a great fan of george's iron man and countless other jobs for both marvel and dc. (i had thought it quite a compliment back in the day, when dick dillin, about 3/4 of the way through his titanic run on the justice league of america, had to take a sick day/issue off and asked if his friend george could fill in.) though already losing his hearing back in '98, george was always a friendly guy with a huge smile and a wave--and eager to chat when dorothy would run interference.

here's the iron man he did for me in '99.

and, while we were not yet the great friends that we are today, nick was sitting next to george and i didn't want to hurt his feelings, so i had him whip me up this cool kid flash...

same show, mike introduced me to ron garney, who was friendly and talked a lot of art with mike and was really excited as he was just about to take over on the hulk--like he had just found out that day!--it wouldn't be until '03 that ron and i would really bond--become break-up buddies, in fact--when howard porter, ron, and i drove down to the baltimore comiccon together, ron and i both mooning the whole way down, commiserating with one another over our recent break-ups and our irreparably broken hearts.

we're both much better now...

poor howard--had to sit through that.

this was one of the first hulk's ron did that weekend back in '99.


and speaking of the hulk--since everybody had so much fun with him in the comments to monday's post--here's a funny story.

well, not so much funny as, y'know...frustrating.

and when i say frustrating, i mean f**ked up.

back when mike and i were doing sensational spider-man, then editor in chief, bob harras thought it was the shit. i was told by many of my friends on the inside, that bob would regularly gush over the book and that he used the infamous flashback issue as an example of what a spider-man story should be. (these 12 years later, i'm still quite proud of that...)
and so it was that, when the powers that be decided that--after the supposedly disastrous clone saga--the spider-man line needed a reboot, that they were gonna cut it down to 2 books, sweep the boards clean and bring in a new creative team, bob told mike and i that we could do whatever we wanted.
we were thrilled!
of course, that meant whatever we wanted that other people weren't already doing, but still...
we pitched nova, but they said that the character wasn't popular enough.
we pitched a new new warriors, but they said that the hadn't been cancelled long enough.
we pitched a new marvel team-up featuring spider-man and a new marvel two-in-one featuring the thing, but they said that nobody liked the team up books.

we also pitched them the idea of doing a separate series, out of continuity, that rebooted spider-man for the 2000s, to make him new and fresh and accessible to a whole new generation! we were so psyched!
they said that the spider-man legend didn't need any updating, that nobody would want that, that marvel would never do that.
a year later marvel announced ultimate spider-man.

so mike and i bounced from little job to little job, a fill-in here, a one-shot there--and then bob harras put it all together...!

mike and i were gonna re-boot/re-launch/re-define the hulk!

now here's the thing. for those of you who don't know--and if you don't you should--by this time peter david had been writing the hulk for a little over ten years, the book was still selling great and peter had--with the help of a handful of very talented artists--continued to make the adventures of both the hulk and bruce banner exciting, compelling, and, at times, heart-breaking. peter had--and still has--a huge fan base and, much like chris claremont's monumental run on the x-men, it didn't seem like there was any end in sight.
but here's the thing; many years before, peter had made the hulk smart.
the hulk isn't smart. the hulk is hulk. the hulk should be savage and rampaging and talk like a baby.
bob felt that it was time for both peter and the smart hulk to move on.
he wanted the classic, traditional, dumb hulk back.
so he gave us the book.

now here's the thing. the editor on the hulk at the time was the esteemed ms. bobbie chase. bobbie was a great editor because of what she brought to the job--or rather, what she didn't bring. bobbie was a literary editor. a very strong and confident editor. and woman. she knew story incredibly well and she made it a point that her books would be solid, with tight plots and dialogue that was believable and didn't ring of comic book cliche. bobbie always wanted stories that were fresh and new and not steeped in ancient marvel mythology. this mostly because, prior to getting the job, bobbi hadn't been a comic book reader, her brain wasn't super-saturated with all the mindless nonsense that we writers and artists and other editors had been soaking up for the past 20 or so years. bobbie had a fantastic relationship with peter, they worked well together, trusted one another, and produced a great comic together. so when bob harras told bobbie to fire peter, well...bob had never mandated anything to his editors, least of all bobbie, and she was stunned. and scared. suddenly her whole world is being turned upside down. and now she's having mike and i thrust at her and being told, here're your new guys.

now here's the thing. bobbie and i were friends. i had met her when i first started working at marvel, i had done a few projects with her, she was the proof reader for my particular spider-man each month, and she lived upstate by me so we shared a few trips into and out of the city together. so with all of this, i saw the shock and pain that bobbie was in and reached out, trying to help. she was flabbergasted that bob had steamrolled over her like that--they had come up in the company together and had always been friends as well--sad that she was being forced to fire peter and end their historic (and comfortable) run, and scared of having to work on a book featuring a hulk that, frankly, she just didn't know. or care about.

i pitched stories that featured SHIELD and MODOK, the leader and juggernaut! bob loved 'em--bobbie hated them. i pitched tales of hopi prophesies and biblical confluences, of environmental repercussions and medical miracles...she dug that, bob, not so much. bob wanted one thing, bobbie another. when i told them i was being asked for two totally different things, they said, no we've talked about this, we're in agreement. i said, "let me come down and the three of us can go to lunch, talk this out, get on the same page." we did and i can remember bobbie's assistant editor, polly watson and i sitting in between bob and bobbie following them like two people watching a tennis match as one would describe what they wanted and then the other, each saying the exact opposite of the other, and then smiling and saying, "see--it's the same thing." i asked polly if she was seeing what i was seeing. she confirmed it.

bobbie and i talked on the phone a few times over the next few days where she would fluctuate between frustration and anger, more than once, close to tears. she apologized for leaving me in the middle. but that's where i stayed for the next week or so. until, finally, i told them both that i couldn't keep writing story outlines and continue to not go forward, that if they couldn't find a common ground soon, i was done. they couldn't and i was. i told mike and he called bobbie two hours later to tell her that he was gone too. (that conversation, by the way, was the one where mike and i decided that we would go do a book fo our own. it wasn't called tellos yet.)

bobbie quit three weeks later.

while we were waiting for bob or bobbie to give us the go-ahead and start our series, bobbie had mike do this cover for hulk 465.

and here is a commission mike did of my favorite orange superhero facing off against my favorite green one~!

so there's your hulk, rich!
see what you started.

have a great weekend!
smell you later~!

this is post no.697.


Matt Wieringo said...

Wow. I'd heard that story from Mike (though not so diplomatically put) but I don't think I've ever seen that drawing. It's gorgeous! I have to admit that I wasn't quite taken with Mike's Hulk (the only time that's ever happened) as he drew him in Sensational. There were so many damned versions of the character I don't think he knew which one to do early on. But he drew him several times over the years and he really seemed to get a grasp of him. The version he did for his unfinished WHAT IF? was just stunning. I think that's the one he drew in that commission. Thanks for sharing it, Todd. I think that's going to be my new desktop image.

And thanks for the story. It was nice to get more background on why Chase had such a hard time with the idea of using you guys. I was holding a grudge (I really wanted you guys to do that book!) and now I can let it go.

Rich Woodall said...

Thanks Todd! I could listen to tales of the Hulk all day... sure, this is a sad story, but you've got to know a happy hulk yarn right?

Brian said...

Todd, that story was both Amazing and Incredible. ;-).

I've seen Mike Hulk vs. Thing before, but I never saw that cover. Thanks for sharing as it is a great one.

Hulk am very happy to see it.

Warren said...

When I was young, I dreamed of being a comic book writer. I thought it would be just making up stories and writing scripts and sending them off to the artists and having MY comic book with MY stories on the stands...

I never got into professional writing of any kind, but about sixteen or seventeen years ago when I started going to cons in Charlotte, and started just hanging out at tables and listening to the pros' discussions (yeah I did that, and I still like to eavesdrop on these conversations), I realized that writing comic books (or drawing them) would be as hard as any other job. Except not only were you selling your employers your time -- you were also selling them your *ideas*.

All jobs have their downsides, it seems. That's why people who get their "dream jobs" are often so disappointed. But I'd still like to be a professional comic book writer. I'll probably want to be one even when I'm ninety years old. By never being one, it can still remain a pristine dream. :)

Heywood Jablomie said...

more cool sketches! i've not seen alot of george tuska's work, but the stuff i have seen i've liked. and ron's stuff has always impressed me.

nice to have heard that whole story, even thought it is pretty shitty, as you've mentioned briefly about that before.

matt-i feel the same way, when mike finally found his niche with the hulk, man it was sweet.

warren-i was the same way, i wanted to draw, write, the whole thing, then i realized my skills weren't up top par to make a living on it i went a different path.