Friday, October 28, 2011

Me and Roy down by the schoolyard....

Hey people!

So last week I proudly announced that legendary comic creator Roy Thomas was guest-speaking at a nearby college where I live. Well, it went really well actually.

He briefly talked about his career and most of the major projects he's done over the years, as well as telling an amusing story about how he got hooked on comics in the early 50's.

He tells how there was a comic book burning event that he and his parents went to, and how he was the only kid he knew that actually came home with comic books as opposed to most kids losing theirs in the bonfire.

He talked about starting his fanzine Alter Ego with partner Dr.Jerry Bails, then taking it over solely a few years later.
From there he worked for DC writing a few titles in the Superman family, such as Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. He noted that he didn't particularly care for famous Superman comics editor Mort Weisinger, nor did he like working for him, and that Stan Lee called him up and asked "What will it take for you to work for me?" Roy's reply was "You just did."

Roy then went over his list of accomplishments while working @ Marvel, which any and every comic fan worth his salt such already know.

Here's some highlights anyhow though:
  • He didn't like to write Spider-Man, despite the fact that he wrote and co-wrote the Spider-Man newspaper strip w/ Stan Lee. He didn't like the teenange angst factor of Spidey, but did like him as a reader.
  • He created the name and background of Wolverine. John Romita created the visual of course, but Thomas came up with the main elements of Wolverine up to that point. He then handed the character off to Len Wein, and the rest is history.
  • He also came up with the international aspect of the new X-Men; this was based off corporate wanting to really sell the comics in more international markets like Kenya, Russia, Germany, and so on. He claims to have also created Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Storm in an attempt to better represent those countries.
  • He created Sunfire of course, but snuck him in his last issues because Stan didn't care for the character.
  • He also created Banshee, which lead to an amusing story about Stan wanting the character to be a man, not a woman as is tradition, because "It didn't look right to have 5 guys gang up on a girl." I swear he actually said this!
  • Created Havok
  • Wasn't a big sword and sorcery fan at first, but after discovering Conan around age 20, fell in love with the character and s&s.
  • Has written over 300 Conan stories, as well as a recent run for Dark Horse comics, and created Red Sonja.
  • Legendary artist John Buschema hated superheroes except for his work on the Avengers, but loved Conan.
  • He did indeed save Marvel in the mid-70's after he was approached by George Lucas and co. about Marvel possibly publishing Star Wars after Stan Lee turned the idea down. Roy himself wasn't too big on SW until he saw the artwork for the Han Solo vs. Greedo scene, and some others. This was in late 75, before the movie ever came out. Jim Shooter mentions this on his blog.
  • Speaking of Shooter, Roy Thomas said he quit Marvel because "an editor he didn't like became Editor-in-Chief." He didn't mention Shooter by name, but it's no mystery that's who he's talking about. Again, go to Jim Shooter's blog for more on that story.
  • Favorite artist to work with was John Buschema, as well as Neal Adams on X-Men.
  • He didn't create too many characters of his own, because he knew whatever company he worked for would own them.
  • He's been married twice, with each wife co-writing or contributing on whatever he was working on at the time.
  • His favorite work was Conan and the WW2-era characters he worked on, such as the JSA, All-Star Squadron, and The Invaders. This should come as no surprise if you're familiar with his work.
After all that, the he answered some questions, then signed hardcover copies of his works, and then after waiting ever so patiently, I managed to get my picture taken with him.

And how was your week?


Dan said...

Wow mate - how awesome was that?! I still think the line-up of Giant Size X-Men #1 is one of the best ever and that international feel he mentions is also what I think makes it better than any Avengers line-up for that franchise as well, as Earth's Mightiest generally all end up being American.

What an amazing career.

googum said...

Ah, now I'd call Roy on creating Nightcrawler--that's straight-up Dave Cockrum. Roy might'a been, "Well, he's German now," I'd give him that.

(I say that, but I'd never call him; he's done enough cool stuff to get a pass!)

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah, I'll readily agree withn you Goo on Cockrum being Nightcrawler's "real daddy", especially since he created the visuals, which were originally intended for use on his LoSH run. Of course the editor(s) at the time rejected "crawler, and thwe rest is history.

So yeah, Roy might have made him German, but the look was all Cockrum. Funny how when they 1st came out, Stan Lee thought the name sounded silly because he figured people wouldn't know what a "nightcrawler" was, you know, other than a bug.

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