WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE, NEAL
by Michael Netzer
1) In early 1977 you invited yourself into project I was given by DC Comics. I agreed to do it with you and we became partners; co-creators of a property that was my idea. You would write it and I'd draw it.
2) You became good friends with the new DC publisher, who agreed to many of your ideas for expanding the comics market, including the publishing a Ms. Mystic series, created by Neal Adams and Mike Nasser, slated to be DC's first creator-owned book.
3) During that summer, as we worked on the first issue, you drew Ms. Mystic into the Superman/Ali cover - she's listed inside as a DC character.
4) I finished penciling the first 17 page story you wrote and was paid for it by DC. It was of my best pencil work at the time. Josef Rubinstein was scheduled to ink it.
5) Some months later, having little to do with Ms. Mystic, I took a break away from drawing comics. I was on a new pursuit in life - but you tried to pull me back into pursuing it through comics.
6) During one of my landings at the studio in 1978, you told me that you were no longer good friends with DC's publisher and the Ms. Mystic series was cancelled.
7) You also showed me the New Heroes portfolio starring Ms. Mystic, properly credited as our co-creation. You said that maybe this will help me get back into doing comics.
8) My finished pencils for the first issue were returned to you by DC. They waited on the shelves for a possible future publishing venture.
9) Around 1980-81 you were invited to contribute a project to independent publisher Pacific Comics, who offered creator owned contracts.
10) They only asked that it be an all-Adams project, not a studio effort or collaboration.
11) Considering that my presence in comics was becoming scarcer - you, one of the more influential artists in comics history, lauded for championing creator's rights, decided to do something that rubs the grain of everything you stand for. You decided to wrench away from me the character I had created and to claim it as your own.
12) You decided to ink my first issue of Ms. Mystic and say that it was all yours. You added a credit of "with assistance by Mike Nasser" and later changed it to "some layouts", but you claimed the work to be your own. You added pages because Pacific used fewer advertisements than DC and needed more than the 17 pages we did.
13) While you were doing all this, I was on the west coast far away from comics. I stopped by the studio in the spring of 1981. You greeted me at the door and said that I wasn't welcome there anymore.
14) Some years later, upon seeing the first issue of the Pacific's Ms. Mystic and considering the time-period you must have finished the first issue, I came to the realization that you didn't want me to come into the studio in the spring of 1981 because you were inking my Ms. Mystic pages at the time. It dawned on me that this was the main reason for shutting me out.
15) You did not want me to discover the terrible thing you were doing. Betraying everything you stand for. Doing something that no one else I know in comics would even lightly entertain. You've tried to extinguish a well-earned accomplishment of my fleeting career in comics.
16) Having come to a dead end, largely because of the way you shut me out, so as to cover-up what you'd done, I left America on my way to Israel in the fall of 1981.
18) You sent me a payment for the art. I didn't argue the unusually low page rate.
19) In 1990, you invited me to work at Continuity again. So I moved to NY with my wife and daughter. After some time in the studio, I started seeing the extent of Ms. Mystic comics you'd published. And the interviews you gave about the project.
20) In all your interviews, whenever Ms. Mystic is mentioned, from 1982 until the most recent one in Tomorrow's Back-Issue #94, you spared no opportunity to misrepresent me and my work on the character.
21) You talk about me as someone who became crazy while working on the project you created. You have so effectively warped time in order to cover up your tracks, it seems to make sense to most people who could hardly remember, or know, that my creation of, and work on Ms. Mystic, our collaboration, was finished months before I had any thoughts of stepping away from comics.
22) This is of the most contemptible and malicious things that you have done. To take advantage of my absence and parting of ways, because I chose a different path from yours - and to then use it against me to harm me, in order to cover up your terrible deed.
23) So, reading all these interviews at your studio in 1991, I realized that this was a done deal for you. But I nonetheless expressed my discontent. I thought you'd at least be slightly conciliatory. As a good man in such a position would be.
24) Upon my opening the subject, you led me into a small storage room and closed the door. You towered over me, very stern and somewhat threatening. "Look Mike, I created Ms. Mystic. I made the character what she is, and she's mine. You've had a difficult life but you now have a family. If you make the slightest issue of it, you'll suffer a lot more than you already have." you said.
25) I then left the studio and started working for DC again. It was difficult to keep working with you and reconcile the image of the visionary influential mentor that you were to me - with the impression of an opportunistic and ruthless man who doesn't care who you trample, on your path of self-aggrandizement.
26) Still, I was willing to let things go - except that you apparently felt an uncontrollable need to rub the salt a little deeper into the wound. Or that you perhaps take some sadistic pleasure with your bullying of people you believe to be lesser than you. Maybe in the same way you seem to enjoy kicking people when they're down, all in the name of "tough love".
27) Soon after I left, you published a comic book using both my names, Mike Nasser and Netzer, as names of a Mid-East terrorist operating in NY. You did this soon after I returned from a decade in the Middle-East.
28) I called you to protest such a vindictive inclusion, but you said it was just a joke. That I should be laughing - or that maybe something's wrong with me. "Are you alright, Mike? Are you really alright?" you asked cynically.
29) I sued you in Federal court for the misappropriation of Ms. Mystic and for the terrorist libel. You suffered a heart attack when the papers were served. The case never went to trial - dismissed on the Statute of Limitations.
31) It seems that in your effort to hermetically cover-up the terrible thing you've done, your strategy was to make me appear as unworthy as possible of being Ms. Mystic's creator.
32) It's unfortunate that you've taken this path. It certainly hasn't helped your case. It was also entirely unnecessary. Had you been a little more conciliatory, instead of the bulldozer bully, wallowing in your superiority, it could have all been worked out far more amicably between us.
33) You know I don't have the same stake in comics that you do. I'm just fine with my lot in life - little to lose or gain by telling this story. But I want you to think about how much you have to lose by bunkering down in your lies. Or how much you have to gain by taking the first steps towards telling the truth.
34) I also do not want to see you wind down your remarkable life and career with such a bloody stain on it. I refuse to accept that you are incapable of admitting you've made a mistake.
35) I will not rest until you admit to what you've done, Neal. You can certainly come up with some "tough love" justification for doing it – but I still believe in the good side of you that captured my imagination and that of a generation of admirers. I believe that in the end, you will come clean and tell the truth about Ms. Mystic – and about me.
36) The best we can do now is to tell this story until it sinks in deep, far and wide. Perhaps this is what it takes to convince you to step up like a man and own-up to what you’ve done; to tell the truth like a man who lives up to your own expectations, those of your fellow creators and the industry that’s elevated you.
This post has been provided and posted with permission of Michael Netzer.