Don't Call Us, We Ain't Gonna Call You
I love this kind of stuff. Seriously I do. I stumbled across this little ripper over the weekend as I was collating data for insurance purposes regarding my collection of original art. What you're looking at here is a genuine, mid 1990s Marvel Comics rejection letter. You can say what you like but I'm telling you, no matter how it's dressed up it's still a 'DCM'*. Go ahead and click on it. It's short, sharp, to the point and a bit misleading, but in a good way. How do I know it's misleading? Easy - the artist who sent me this (I'm not going to name him, I'm sure he's aware of who he is) has never worked for Marvel, certainly he's never worked on Spider-Man. He's done his fair share of commissions featuring Spider-Man and they're damn good, but he wasn't deemed good enough to draw the character at the time.
Why? Probably because he didn't draw like Todd McFarlane. I expect that in the mid 1990s the race was on to discover the next Toddler, and our artist's style is light years removed from that. Ironically enough our artist did work for Image - go figure - but at a time when Marvel had found it's own little house style, which revolved around McFarlane, Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, there was clearly no room for originality and uniqueness - don't believe me? Pick up virtually any comic that Marvel published in the mid 1990s and tell me the difference between them. Hence the rejection letter above. Sad really, because at the same time Marvel editors were busily telling established artists such as Herb Trimpe that they had to draw like Liefeld or face the sack - as we know Trimpe did as instructed and still got fired. The fact that Marvel produced some of the worst books that's ever graced the comic book world at the time didn't faze them - hey, slap an embossed cover on it, bag it up, issue it in eight formats and people would have bought it before they realised the insides were shit. That's marketing for ya!
I'm happy to say that the artist who received this rejection letter has forged a healthy career in the field of animation, comic books and commercial art. At the end of the day it was probably a good thing that Marvel said no to him - they might have beat any originality out of him and turned him into just another clone, but then the Marvel of 1994 is light years removed from the Marvel of 2008. I'd hazard a guess and say that in 1994 Marvel wouldn't have even looked at hiring Jack Kirby if he presented to the company, and if they did they'd have wanted him drawing like Jim Lee.
Hey - if you've got a rejection letter and/or story from one of the companies, by all means let me know. You can remain totally anonymous. In fact, I'll call them the Mystery Marvel Staffers - it'll fit right in with our Former DC Staffer.
* Sporting and workplace terminology - DCM = Don't Come Monday = You've Just Been Sacked