“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits!
Last time, I was telling you how a stewardess living in the apartment above that of a Marvel assistant editor was murdered, with a result of that being that the assistant editor’s wife insisted that they get out of the city for a while. He called me and asked if I’d fill in for him for six weeks. I was living two hours out of the city then, so my regimen involved getting up at 6, getting to work at 9, getting home around 8, eating, sleeping, rinse and repeat. Only a young guy hungry for his chosen career would ever do anything so stupid, and that would be me.
Now, for those of you who don’t have the history of comics at your fingertips, Marvel Comics was a force to be reckoned with in those days. It had come into existence in the late 1930s, like DC Comics, and during World War II, it had given DC a run for its money. (DC had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman; Marvel had Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and the Human Torch).
After the war, Captain America became an instant anachronism and DC had settled into the dominant position. In 1958, Marvel even went bankrupt. But they pulled out of it, and in 1961, editor Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four. In 1962, Stan and Steve Ditko created Spider-Man. And throughout the 60s, as Stan and his artists created more hits (Hulk, Thor, Iron Man), Stan consciously played to the teenage and college demographic. Marvel became hip and happening. Not very long after I came on board, Marvel surpassed DC in sales for the first time. To celebrate, Marvel’s publisher took everyone on staff to DC’s favorite restaurant for dinner (it was across the street from their offices).
Now, this was cool enough me, a young guy who seemed to have chosen the right team, but there was more to the moment than just that. It turned out that the same woman whom I would later meet and marry once I moved to California was working as a waitress in that same restuarant that night, and may well have served us while we were there.
(She tells a neat story about that place, by the way. The menu offered both venison and boar, and if someone at a table ordered one and someone else ordered the other, the waitresses told the second party that they were out of that—because they were the same thing.)
(I had the squab.)
Steve Englehart is a novelist, comic book, film, television, and video game writer known for his work on high profile titles, including Marvel’s Captain America, The Hulk, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, DC’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and many more.