Saturday, February 04, 2012

THE 1970 COMIC ART CONVENTION: Bill Everett and Joe Kubert interviewed by Gil Kane and Neal Adams


People who attended the 1970 Comic Art Convention Luncheon received a definite treat when Bill Everett and Joe Kubert, who were the guests of honour, were interviewed, on stage, by Gil Kane and Neal Adams respectively.  The use of Gil Kane as an interviewer was an inspired one, and, to be frank, Kane should have done far more interviews than he really did.  He made a good subject for an interview, but, upon reading, he made for an excellent interviewer, with the ability and knowledge to draw the best out of his subject.  Certainly his admiration for Bill Everett is clear to be seen in his exchanges with the man and there’s more than a passing influence in Kane’s stylised art and the early 1940s art of Everett.

As for Joe Kubert, well there’s not much that anyone can say about the man that hasn’t already been said.  He began to influence others when he started in the comic book industry, and is still cited as an influence today.  Always one to give back to the community, Joe established the Kubert Art School in the late 1970s and has been giving advice and assistance to artists wanting to further their crafts and careers ever since.  It’s hard to find anyone who is as giving as Joe, or who is in such demand – still – and whose art shows no sign of a lack in quality for over five decades.  Joe is a true icon in the comic book world, and, even back then, he was able to turn the likes of Neal Adams, who was the artist if the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, into a gushing fanboy on stage.  As with Kane, Adams, with his insider knowledge and a healthy appreciation of his subject, is a more than apt and adept interviewer, free flowing and genuine with his praise for his subject.  It’s hard to think of anyone who could have done a better job.  Unlike a few well known interviewers of today, both Kane and Adams generally refrain from pumping themselves up, but instead allow Everett and Kubert to do all of the talking.  This is a lesson in interviewing your peers that a few people could do worse than to adopt.

Bill Everett and Joe Kubert interviewed by Gil Kane and Neal Adams
THE 1970 COMIC ART CONVENTION
July, 1970 Luncheon

GIL KANE: It's my privilege to introduce Bill Everett.

Bill was one of my original inspirations; and the thing that I always thought of in connection with Bill was, he was an artist of great facility, but more than that he was an unparalleled storyteller. I think that, for instance in A-Man, the Amazing Man, he did one of the most remarkable jobs of telling a story; you could follow the action so perfectly from panel to panel. The dynamic storytelling, the tension build-up, the action, the continuity of movement; all of these things were done so beautifully that you didn't realize you were looking at single frames. There was just this feeling of continuity all the way through. And of course, when he started to do Sub-Mariner, why, he was virtually at the peak of his capacity as a storyteller, and he did absolutely brilliant stuff. Regrettably, he hasn't done much work on Sub-Mariner since that time. Bill was the best artist on Sub-Mariner because he had the best feeling for the character, and the character had a life and personality all its own that it never had for anyone else. And it was in that storytelling quality and that special characterization that Bill really rose above most of the other artists in comics.

Bill, what is your background; what sort of an art education did you have?
BILL EVERETT: First, I want to thank everybody here for the honor of sitting at this table. Without you people I don't think we'd amount to too much today; certainly not what we are.

To answer Gil's question, my formal art training was never complete. I have to first state that I was born with this talent and can take no credit for it. If I take any credit at all, it's in having been able to do something with it. I've had a pencil in my hand almost all my life. I actually had only two years of art training, and I didn't really have that. I was credited with two years of training because I got through three years in about a year and a half, and this was due only to an inborn talent and drive. I had to get somewhere fast. That's about the size of my formal training. I think that anything else was just an innate talent and a desire to put things on paper.

KANE: You were always, in my estimation, one of the best writers that comics ever produced. The writing on the Amazing Man was just superb. And I thought Sub-Mariner was one of the great character creations in comics. It was the first time someone attempted to do a leading character who was a villain, but still attractive, you know; he created the tension in the feud with the Human Torch. Were you interested in pulps? Were you interested in movies? What shaped your taste in stories?
EVERETT: I knew Gil was going to ask me some tough ones, and this is a tough one to answer. I came into the comic business almost by accident, by necessity. I had done some writing; but as far as my inspiration, if I were to use that term, is concerned, I don't know that I really had any. I was sort of led into cartooning by my father's wish. He always wanted me to be a cartoonist, and he died, unfortunately, before he saw that come true. But that probably was in back of the whole thing.
As far as storytelling is concerned, I read a great deal when I was very young, through junior high school and high school. I read what was then considered the deeper novels, the high class literature. I didn't go much for pulp material. I didn't even read the daily comics.

My education was very limited. I dropped out of high school; I dropped out of art school as well. I had to make up for this in reading, and I wanted to be a writer. But if I had any idol at all, it would have been Jack London. I liked the way he told a story. And I figured that rather than try to be the greatest novelist of all time, I would attempt merely to tell a story in the simplest terms that I could summon, that I could utilize. And I think that this showed up in the early writing, as Gil mentioned, in the Amazing Man series (which is a little amusing; I think a lot of you people remember a lot more about it than I do). Unfortunately, I didn't stay with the strip long enough to get very deeply involved. I was permitted, however, almost complete leeway on what I did with it, and it was a chance to express myself by using Amazing Man as, if Roy Thomas will forgive the expression, my alter ego . . . a chance to just put down on paper and write about myself, had I been able to be what I'd like to have been. And this again evolved into the Sub-Mariner.

I am only recently beginning to learn that there was more to my writing of the Sub-Mariner than I actually thought at the time. He was an angry character, and I probably expressed some of my own personality. But, again, at least in the origin of the Sub-Mariner, in the beginning of it, I was allowed full expression. There were no limitations set by editors, no limitations set by publishers, no limitations set by anyone, art directors or others. And this was a case where an artist or an artist-writer could freely express himself. And if you had something to tell which was worthwhile, this was an outlet for it. Unfortunately, business was very good at the time, and we didn't realize what it would eventually lead to. A great many of us could have done more with it had we had the foresight—we didn't.

KANE: During the thirties most comics were not sold directly to publishers, but through agents. Will Eisner was an agent. In fact, that's one of the ways comics started; they ran out of syndicate material to reprint. A lot of the syndicates had their own comic books so that peripheral publishers who would like to get into it were desperate for material. So they would get somebody like Will Eisner who said that he would produce it for the same rate that they were buying reprint material. And of course they thought that they were getting watered-down stuff, and they didn't realize that they would simply pass the reprint material by in no time at all.

And it was at that time that Bill, along with Carl Burgos and several other artists, formed an organization called Funnies Incorporated, which was one of the early agencies. It was through Funnies Incorporated that a lot of the characters like Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch and so forth were created. Bill was one of the prime movers, one of the creative forces in that agency.

Would you like to tell a little about how those agencies worked, how this particular agency got together, and what was the role of Jacquet in that agency?
EVERETT: To begin with, I had been at Centaur Publications (John Harley), and Lloyd Jacquet at that time was their editor, or managing editor, and he felt the need to break loose and form his own company of some sort. So a few of us banded together: Lloyd Jacquet, Carl Burgos, myself, Paul Gustayson, Ben Thompson, a few other people, and we decided that we would sort of go on our own and form our service to supply a package deal to the publisher. In other words, we would provide the story, the complete art work as an entire 32 or 48 page book (I think we were doing 32 pages then). We started out as a very small nucleus, which rapidly built. And one of our first customers was Martin Goodman, who at the time published Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel as you know. And we had a salesman—you can put that in quotes, we had a 'contact man'—who went out and contacted other publishers such as Curtis Publishing Company, and negotiated other contracts to produce work for them. And this is the way Funnies was started; just a handful of guys who wanted to get out from under the publisher and to concentrate on story material and art material with absolutely no restrictions; and the publisher would buy it just the way it was, and what he did with it after we sold it we didn't much care.

However, this couldn't work very long, because we represented a middle-man, which meant that the publisher had to pay extra to get what he wanted. He soon discovered this, and the agencies were eliminated because it was an additional cost to the publisher. In a way it was unfortunate, because it was a wonderful means of expression for the individual artist. We had quite a staff at Funnies. The office staff was small, but we had a great many free lance writers and free lance artists contributing to us. And the writers did some pretty sensational stuff. Because it was new, it was original, and it was different.

KANE: One thing that becomes apparent as you look back over the earlier stuff was that different organizations started to develop their own personalities almost immediately. For instance, almost from the beginning, National Comics was more reserved in their characters. Their characters weren't as flamboyant, and they had a variety of characters who were more like duplications of syndicate strip characters. And even with the arrival of Superman and Batman they didn't proliferate super characters the way you might have thought they would.

On the other hand, Will Eisner had an entirely different quality of material; it was a recognizable style. Even if you didn't recognize the artist, you could tell that it was published by this particular company. Well, of course the same thing was true about Funnies Incorporated. The great thing about Funnies was that when they found the superhero they just didn't stop; they just kept on going as though they had found a downhill course and it was just no pedalling all the way home. They did some remarkable things. And Bill himself, after the Sub-Mariner, did the Fin and several other characters which had some of the same pitch, the same excitement and glamor of the Torch and the Sub-Mariner, which are really classic creations.

And all the artists, like Paul Gustayson, they all had this feeling of movement and excitement. They had a kind of pulp feel which was quite special and quite different from the illustrative quality of Eisner and the rather stately quality of National. Funnies had an excitement which to some extent is still the standard. I can't believe that Stan Lee could have been unaffected by all of this material, and to some extent he still carries through all of this quality, a sense of headlong excitement.

How did you develop the feud between the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch? It seems like a natural thing now, but it was the first time that I remember characters overlapping their strips in adventure comics and doing their thing together.
EVERETT: I don't know if you want to get too deeply into this; it's a long story. There are a few articles coming out which will discuss it in detail. Actually, the idea of combining two major characters under one story was not original. I really don't remember, exactly, how it actually did come about. We were faced with the project of a commission to do a semi-annual book of 64 pages and the big question, editorially, was, "What will we put in this type of book?" And going through the various characters that we had established, the Angel, the Torch, Sub-Mariner and all the rest of them, the only two things that made any sense, the two most powerful characters were the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. And since one represented water and the other represented fire, it was a natural thing to have combat between the elements.

If I'm making it sound simple, it wasn't. It was very complicated—how to introduce the characters to one another; how to get them involved in a situation which would create a `historical' battle. It was rather intricate. We had a lot of fun doing it; it was a sort of party time. But it was a heck of a lot of work, and a lot of people were involved. The story of its actual writing is an episode in itself and it had its amusing moments. But it was a tremendous amount of work which we accomplished in a very few days—literally, the whole book was produced in a matter of about five days, but it took a lot of people to do it. It was successful, and I think that just because of the nature of the characters themselves representing the two opposing elements, it just had to be successful.

KANE: I always thought that Amazing Man was so well supported that in many ways it could measure up against some of the things that Philip Wylie did. And Sub-Mariner, too, was an unusual character. If you had, at this point, the freedom and the resources to do whatever it was that you wanted to do, which direction would you go and how would you approach your work?
EVERETT: Oh boy. I'll go back to a short conversation I had with Al Williamson yesterday about this. We were talking about Amazing Man; and I would love to see something like that done again. I would like to see it done in the same simple style that it was done originally, instead of going into all kinds of semantics and use of quotations and, oh I don't know, trying to 'classify', what's the word I want, trying to 'elevate' the writing.

To try to get down to basic human writing; if I were given the opportunity to reinstate some of my original ideas that I had back in the forties, I would do it with this in mind. I would appeal to any person, any person, any reader. I would try to create my writing and my storytelling, structure .it so that anyone at any level of intelligence could enjoy it.

I consider comics part of the entertainment field, and I think that people need to be entertained regardless of whether they're looking for a message, something deep, or not. And I think the best way to entertain someone is to present your creation in a way that someone can readily and easily understand, without being too complicated. I think, if anything, in the beginning of the comic book business this was what the writers did and what the artists interpreted—a basic story, a plot, a simple storytelling, and all of them I think without exception used this format. And it was successful. Oh, we never got wealthy on it, but it was the nucleus of a booming business, and I think that if I had to do it again I'd do it exactly the way I did it in the first place, which is simply to tell a story, but to do it as well as I possibly could, as simply as I possibly could.

I think really (if you want to get into it, and I don't want to get into it too deeply), I think that what has been happening lately is we're getting too deeply involved in some of the stories being put out by all the publishers. We've gotten ourselves so involved that we feel we have to carry a message of some sort; and I don't think this is true, necessarily true. In writing to entertain people, I think we ought to give them what they want, because it is a business. I think that the writer as a creative person should be allowed to express himself, but to do it in a way that everyone can understand.

KANE: During these recent years when fandom has developed so vociferously, I'm sure you've been asked—if you were to advise those budding artists in the audience who want to find the secret of cartooning, the new route to the Indies; if they're going to achieve success, or even acceptance, in this business, what would you advise?
EVERETT: The basic thing is to have the talent to begin with, and to read as prolifically as possible. Read as much of the material that is being produced today so that you have a basic foundation in it. And then if you still have the desire to do it, you also must have a desire to work and work hard. It's like anything else; you're not going to make a go of it unless you are willing to put an awful lot of time, with very little money to begin with. You have to have a drive, an impetus, some sort of incentive to get into this business, because it's not an easy business to break into. And unless you have the willingness to sacrifice a little bit. . . and I'm not preaching, but to me it's a must. You've got to be able to fight all kinds of odds and be persevering and really express yourself and not try to imitate.

This was a beautiful part of the beginning of this field, too; we had nobody to imitate. All of us had idols in the daily comics, our Alex Raymonds, Milton Caniffs and so forth, but we couldn't very well imitate them because our field was another expression of what they were doing.

Now, you've got to have the same feeling for adapting yourself to the methods of our field today, but doing it in your own way. If you have a belief in what you're doing and the willingness to work for it, you can make it, whether you write, whether you illustrate, or whether you're just a mechanical artist, such as an inker, who does no creative work. It's still a good business to be in. So I would suggest first that you discover whether or not you have the talent, whether or not you have the desire. And with the talent and the desire there, if you're willing to work, then find someone to guide you in the right direction and just work like heck at it and you can make it. Thank you very much. [applause]

PHIL SEULING: It gives me very great personal satisfaction to present this award, which reads, "1970 Comic Art Convention, to Bill Everett, for a career-long dedication to superior quality and imagination in the field of comic art." [applause] .
EVERETT: I just want to say in appreciation to everyone: it's taken me approximately thirty-three years to get this and I'm awfully awfully grateful. Thanks very much.

NEAL ADAMS: It's my privilege today to introduce Joe Kubert. I'm going to give you a few personal experiences of mine that I've had in association with Joe Kubert without his knowledge, and some with his knowledge. When I started reading comic books, I became almost an immediate fantastic dedicated fan of Joe's. I'm younger than he is, obviously, [laughter] but I really wouldn't have to be, because he started at twelve-and-a-half, and he got his first feature at fourteen, which kind of shakes me up.

I was a semi-dedicated fan of Joe's until I reached the age of eleven, when I read my first Tor comic book. That was one of the times in the history of this industry when writing and art came together to form an almost perfect piece of material. I look at it now, and it seems better today than most of the stuff that's happening today. I was an Army brat; I was in Germany. And when we were coming back, I stopped at a newsstand in Ireland and picked up a 3-D comic book with Tor in it. It blew my mind. I don't even remember the trip back; I just remember that book. Ever since then, I felt that if I could do anything anywhere near to what Joe has done, to me that would possibly be one of the greatest things that could ever happen to me.

I had very few opportunities to meet Joe, because I really didn't get into the field early. I had a syndicated strip before I got into comics. But I was given an opportunity to get in touch with Joe because somebody asked me who would be best for a particular job, and I suggested Joe, and I met him that way. I felt at that time, 'what a way to meet a guy; he's bound to be nice to me because I helped him get a job.' And he was. But I learned later that Joe was the kind of guy that you didn't have to do a favor for, for him to be nice to you. He's the nicest guy in the world. There are an awful lot of nice people in comics, but Joe is just about the best.

I soon started working for National, and I possibly got the greatest compliment I've ever received from anybody, because I respect Joe more than just about anybody. I handed a job in to him one time—it was an Enemy Ace. He took about ten pages home on a weekend. I could see him doing ten pages in a weekend, but he came in on Monday and said to me, "It's as if somebody had crawled into my mind." Well, I was on air for a week. I didn't show it in my face, and I suppose I said, "Thank you," but nobody in this field could have said anything better to me, ever, than that, and nobody will ever be able to say anything like that to me that will make be feel like that again. I have pages at home that I did when I was learning to be a cartoonist, about this cave man who was advanced for his time and who wanders around killing dinosaurs and pterodactyls, which looks amazingly like bad Joe Kubert, and I won't ever let anybody see it, I suppose. But this is how much I appreciated this guy.

Joe, I think that just about everybody would like to know how the Tor thing came about, how it developed, and what happened to it.
JOE KUBERT: Thank you very much, Neal. Before I answer that, though, I'd like to explain the kind of off-hand remark that Neal had made about setting me up for a job; it was the presentation of my work to someone whereby the Green Berets strip was given to me. It was something of a very high compliment. I'm rather floored by Neal's presentation. I don't know what the heck to say, but I'm very much flattered.

Tor was an idea that came to mind, kind of patterned after the Tarzan strip. I felt that the formula was a good one. I was in Germany at the time; I was in the Army. I was heading home, and I had made some preliminary sketches of a character that I felt might be applicable to things that were happening today; morality, ideas, ethics, and so on, and could be put down to its basics in a milieu of a stone age type strip.

I have gotten many letters to the effect that man did not exist during the age of the dinosaur. As a matter of fact, it's a point that Neal has brought up, much to my chagrin, many times. However, I had done a certain amount of research on it, and no one can prove to me beyond any shadow of a doubt that there might not have been an overlapping of man existing in some form during the time of the dying out of the dinosaurs. That's my cop out, anyhow. But basically, that's about how the strip started. I wrote the Tor strip. I did the original ideas and stories and so on.

ADAMS: What impressed me so much about Tor was that all the analogies that Joe had made were in kind of a simplified form. They're little human lessons in story form and they set me thinking about what could be done in this field. When Joe got into the war books, it kind of surprised me. And then I noticed that just about the time Joe got into the war books, they started to change. Now, whether this was due to the fact that Joe got into it, I don't know; but it took them out of people shooting other people down and being kissed by the pretty girl into real life stories about what war seemed to be all about. Now times have changed. War is a whole different type of thing. But at that time I felt that an awful lot of advances were made in that particular field, and I credit a great deal of it to Joe, in spite of the fact that his editor Bob Kanigher had a lot to do with them. I'd like to know something about your association with Bob Kanigher on that material.
KUBERT: Well, I would say about 95% of the direction and motivation of the stories that took on some sort of an anti-war tinge was really all of Bob Kanigher's doing. He was the editor and he was the prime writer, I think, on most of the material that I had done. Within the last two or three years the things that you see in the war magazines more or less reflect my own personal feelings. But back ten years ago and further back than that when, as Neal describes it, the war stories took on more of a personal emotional feeling rather than kill-kill-bang-bang, this was Bob Kanigher's doing, and I think that any kudos that would come should come directly to him.

Incidentally, before we go any further; apropos of Bill Everett here, I recall very distinctly when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when I was going to the High School of Music and Art (as a matter of fact, I had just started), one of the excursions with a guy by the name of Norman Maurer, who was my partner when I was putting out the Tor magazines and who was going to school with me at the time, one of the many excursions we'd go on would be to drop in to see any one of the 25 different comic book publishing houses that were strewn all through New York, in addition to the places that Bill has described who were putting together material for publishers—Harry Chester, Jerry Iger, and so forth. And there were these two kids, Norman and myself, and one of the guys that we would go up to religiously, to see and kind of pester, was Lloyd Jacquet. We never got as far as seeing Bill; we couldn't get in to see the hoi polloi. But we did get to see Lloyd and our experience was.. . I think the experience  of almost everybody who has been in the business is that when you've brought a piece of work to show any pro, invariably the guy would take, no matter how pressing a deadline he might be working on, he'd take all kinds of time out to sit and talk to you and explain... My experience has been that in this field there are the nicest bunch of guys that I have ever met.

ADAMS: Since Tor, Joe hasn't had much opportunity to write much of anything. Now he's getting the opportunity as his own editor. I would like to ask Joe to tell us how it feels to write his own stuff, and what, as an editor, he thinks the field is going to look like in the seventies. We've heard a lot of noise from a lot of artists, but Joe's in a position of editor now; he's in a position to make suggestions and make definite programs. So I'd like to hear what he thinks the 1970's are going to be like.
KUBERT: As Neal suggests, I have been fortunate in that I have seated myself on every side of this field; I have published, drawn for editors, edited, written, lettered, colored, put the stuff up before the engravers' cameras to have it shot, and so forth. I think it's a very enviable position, the one I find myself in now, in that my relationship with Carmine has been a very close one through the years. Carmine, now being the directorial head of National Publications, has given not, only me but all the editors who work more with him than for him, almost carte blanche to do anything, to go in any direction that we may think feasible, that in the long run we feel will be also fiscally successful. I find now, that I can inject and do almost anything that I want in the strips. I feel no inhibition.

As Bill mentioned before, he was working at a time of hands-off; there was no suggestion until the work was completed, then the publisher did what he wanted with it. I don't think we have that complete a freedom because we are inhibited by the fact that we feel that there's a certain market, and we feel that we have to hit this market regardless of anything else. Above and beyond what we think we'd like to do, we have to do something that we feel is going to sell. Regardless of how nice or how beautiful or how good a particular thing might be, if it doesn't sell that's down and it's out. So we are inhibited by that. But outside that, up at National anyhow, I find that I have as much freedom, and I like also to pass that freedom over to anybody who is working for me, to allow him the freedom to do anything that he'd like to do. Because I have found myself in the position of the fellows who are writing for me, the fellows who are drawing for me, I feel that I do know what their problems are, and I do like to give them as free a rein as possible, and I think I do.

As far as what I project for the coming seventies, it's my own personal projection based on what I see and what I've been told is and will be going on up at National. I think that the magazines are going to take a turn much for the better. I think that Carmine has done yeoman service in trying to pull up National specifically and the business in general to a point where it's going to reflect a lot of the original initiative and a lot of the originality that has for a long time not been seen in comics. It's going to extend itself into areas where the comic book as we know it now, the small size, will be extended and stretched and perhaps reduced in all different sorts of directions. What is going to happen is, where a fellow trying to get into this business before felt limited perhaps in that he had to produce for this one particular type of magazine, may now find that he's doing half-tone work; he's doing illustration more than he's doing comic book text type material. He may find that he's doing things that are very reminiscent of the pulps years and years ago. He may find that he's doing full color. There's going to be a widening, a tremendous widening of range, and a tremendous demand for new talent that will be coming into this field. I see a great future ahead for this business.

SEULING: I have a double page of Joe Kubert's work on my wall at home, and it tells a story so beautifully I don't think a film could do it better. And that's why this plaque says, "To Joe Kubert, for the cinematic story telling techniques and the exciting and dramatic style he has brought to the field of comic art." [applause] If you'd like to ask some questions, maybe Bill or Joe would be able to answer now.

QUESTION ONE: Mr. Kubert, you have probably one of the most dramatic presentations, stylistically, in comic art, and I was wondering: is this something that just developed from childhood, or do you have any outside influences, any particular movie directors, or writers or dramatists that influenced you towards this style?
KUBERT: I think I've been influenced by every darn thing around me. The original movie KING KONG drove me up a wall, it was that exciting to me. Hal Foster's Tarzan was to me as exciting as reading Kipling's Jungle Books, which in word form brought forth the type of images that a man like Foster was able to put down in pictures. My own style and what I do is probably a compilation of all the things that I've been able to gather from everything I've seen.
BYRON PREISS: Joe, I had the pleasure of working with you these last few months in a program called Edugraphics. For the last decade I've heard talk of comic books in schools. It's not talk any longer, and I think this is due largely to you and your efforts to guide the program into a major company. I'd like to hear your feelings about comics in education.
KUBERT: Well, as Byron has suggested, we have started up at National trying to utilize comic books where we feel they can be extremely potent. And that is, using them as a stimulant to kids who are the age of eight, nine and ten who have not really been able to pick up on reading. Now, I'm not a devotee of "Read comics in lieu of anything," but I do feel very strongly that comic books can and should be used as a lever to get a kid started into reading. And this is one of the big things that is going on now up at National. Byron has been working very hard since the beginning of this summer up at National setting up a program whereby specific lessons can be set forth to these high school and pre-high school kids, utilizing, not any special magazine, but the comic books that are produced and sold on the stands today. When these comic books are shown with a specific program that Byron has devised, then the idea is put across very strongly so that the student looking at it can pick up words that up to that point had been almost impossible for him to comprehend.

Apparently the picture-word combination is such a meaningful thing to a child who cannot verbalize to that extent, that if the picture is exciting enough he will be motivated to want to read the words that go along with that illustration. And using this technique so far has turned out to be very successful.
QUESTION THREE: I've lived in New Mexico for four years, and your Bullseye Bill for Target amazed me because I assumed then that you lived in New York and I thought, how can a guy that's seen steel and concrete all his life know what a ravine looks like, and your rocks and yucca plants and so on. This surprised me until someone mentioned you'd lived in Arizona.
EVERETT: Well, I spent my early childhood in Arizona and in Montana. And so it was just natural to me; when I had to do a western it came quite easily.
QUESTION FOUR: Can you tell us where you came up with the name Sub-Mariner?
EVERETT: One of my favorite classical poems was "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge. It wasn't an easy name to come by; I don't remember precisely how I arrived at it. I wanted to use something which was significant of the sea, which would be 'marine'. And the word 'mariner' came quite easily enough. But the Sub-Mariner; I think that somewhere in the writings of the Antarctic they talked about the sub-polar zones, and, 'sub' meaning beneath, and this character was living beneath the water, so it just seemed to tie in naturally. But it took some time to evolve it.

And please don't ask me where I got the name Namor. [laughter] It's Roman spelled backwards, but I have long since forgotten why I decided that I wanted the name Roman. I did it for some reason, but I've forgotten what the reason was.
QUESTION FIVE: It seems that recently the Sub-Mariner has 'regressed' somewhat to the way it was in the forties. I was wondering if you had anything to do with this, and will you have anything to do with the book in the future?
 EVERETT: No, that was editorially done. Then in the forties, when I was in the service, the Sub-Mariner also underwent quite a change in character and also of environment and I had nothing to do with it. Whether or not I'll have anything to do with it in the future is quite questionable. I doubt it. I would like to, but if I did I would probably bring it back to his initial origin, the Antarctic, and take it from there. Yes, Roy?
ROY THOMAS: I can probably answer that better than Bill. Three or four years ago for a period of about three years, Bill shared an apartment with me, first in the Village and then later on East Eleventh Street, and we talked an awful lot about the Sub-Mariner. So the recent return, with Sal Buscema penciling, to the shape of the head and some other features of the forties' Sub-Mariner, were all indirectly influenced by Bill through a conscious desire of mine to undo what has been done with the character for the last four or five years, albeit by very talented people. Probably I may never be able to implement this completely, but I guarantee that the first time I feel that I have a total carte blanche (I have about 50-50 now), the Sub-Mariner will, within a period of a few issues—you can't do it just overnight—probably regress to the point of using the same kind of slang; I don't know about "Galloping guppies", but. . . [laughter] . Even if he stays a prince, I would find ways to get back to something more of my idea of a human being. And I can practically guarantee that one would never again read in a Marvel comic book the expression "Imperious Rex". [applause]

QUESTION SIX: Recently, characters such as Green Lantern and the Sub-Mariner have been active in some of the social issues of the day, such as ecology and the race problem. I'd like to ask Mr. Everett if he is in agreement on how the Sub-Mariner is being handled in this matter. And I'd like to ask Mr. Kubert, is this going to be a major part in the future of comics, with heroes combating social problems?
EVERETT: Again, let me affirm that I have absolutely no editorial say-so now in the writing of the Sub-Mariner. Roy can answer that better than I. I think it's being handled OK as far as today's standards are concerned; I don't see any great objection to it. But what the future will be, we don't know; no one can tell about that. I see no damage being done by it. When we're struggling for anything that can reach the reader, if that's the trick that does it, then it's OK for now. But tomorrow may be something else.
KUBERT: I agree with what Bill said earlier this evening in that we are primarily an entertainment medium. I think that within the scope of entertainment, though, we could touch an awful lot of areas that are perhaps a little more serious and very much cogent, and of our times. However, I agree again With Bill when he says that once we become a preaching media, we kind of toll our own death knell. Primarily and foremost I think the stories have to be exciting, have to be entertaining, have to be something that one wants to read. If we're going to try to jam lessons down people's throats, I think we'd be making a terrible terrible mistake. However, that's not to negate the fact that certain important issues can, should and will be incorporated in most of the material that will be coming out of National.
SEULING: I'd like to ask you all to join me in thanking all of these people up here. [applause]

This text was taken from the 1971 Art Convention programme.  According to that book, amongst those who attended the 1971 Convention were people who would become household names in the comic book industry.  Artists Rich Buckler, Mike Zeck, Joe Rubenstein, Robert Griffin, Nic Cuti and a young Dave Simons mixed with writers such as Tony Isabella, Scott Edelman, Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz (both of whom handled the fanzine side of things), Mike Nolan (who would later be known as Michelle Nolan), Marty Pasko, Alan Brennert, Neal Pozner, Gary Dolgoff, Steven Grant, Ken Barr, Don Rosa, Mike Barr, Ken Bruzenak, Bill Black, Duffy Vohland, Bhob Stewart and many more.  There was, of course, those who straddled many fences and would go on to become dealers and publishers in comics and/or art, such as Larry Shell, Bob Beerbohm, Howard Rogofsky, Bud Plant, Denis Kitchen, Alan Light, Gary Groth and Sal Quartuccio.  Naturally this is just a small sampling of those who really attended, and if you were there, and remember the events then do share – what were the conventions really like, over forty years ago, and how do they compare to the multi-media events of today?

1 comment:

Richard Guion said...

Thanks for posting this, I love old convention guides and panel interviews. Fascinating to read how much Gil Kane loved Everett's work. I first got into Everett when he drew Sub-Mariner in the early 70s and then later read Steranko's History of Comics to discover that he created the character. I thought Everett's 70s work was still very good and better than most of the artists Marvel put on the book.