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21 January 2010 @ 09:23 pm
Steve Englehart Sticks It In Your Ear  
Today's mail brought yet another omnibus volume from Marvel Comics which reprinted one of my late '70s stories. With the reprint books I've been in over the past few years, plus the ones coming out over the next 12 months that I already know of, there'll soon be little left from my early Marvel comic-book output that won't be available to new readers.

The latest collection is Essential Avengers Vol. 7, which includes my 8-page story about the Vision, drawn by Herb Trimpe. It's a fun little story, but as I flipped through the book, and realized that it included writer Steve Englehart's final issues of the Avengers comic, I remembered I owned something I think you'll find far more interesting than anything I ever wrote.

Check out the panel below from Avengers #149, the July 1976 issue, as it was originally published. Well, not exactly as it was published, since the comics were in color, while all of the Marvel's Essentials volumes are in black and white. And forgive me for the distortion of the image, but since scanning the panel would crack the spine, I snapped a photo instead.



Nothing at all odd or unusual about it, right?

Not to you or to most (if not all) of the comics-reading audience, but as for me, I suddenly remembered—I have a photocopy of the original artwork for that panel as it was handed in, and it had a very important difference. So I dove into the vault and dug out the following—Steve Englehart's farewell footnote on the final panel of the final page of his final complete issue of Avengers. (Steve shared a co-scripting credit on issue #150 with Stan Lee.)



Quoth Englehart: "Dear Bullpen—Stick it in your ear.—Steve."

And that's not the only interesting thing about this photocopy. If you click through enough times, you should be able to read a note in the bottom margin of the page—cut off on both sides, so it isn't complete—that I think might be a note from George Perez asking to be taken off the book so he could pay more attention to other titles. Or maybe he's just begging the editors to force the writers to be more timely with their plots:

REASONS FOR LOSING IT ON OTHER-EARTH). THESE ARE JUST SMALL ITEMS, BUT WE HAVE TO KEEP THIS

ROWING—AND #150 IS THE PERFECT ISSUE FOR THOSE NEW [ILLEGIBLE]

SCHEDULE, I NEED THE AVENGERS ANNUAL IMMEDIATELY WITH TWO MONTHLIES LIKE AVENGERS AND IF [IRON FIST?], ANY DEL

AL MAY BE TOO MUCH AND I COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT CONFLICTING WITH THE TWO MONTHLYS—


There's an entire history of comics written in the margins and gutters of original art ... but it's a history that, since I doubt anyone would ever initiate a project to tracking down tens of thousands of pages to transcribe them, has been lost.

But as for Steve Englehart—I can no longer remember all of the politics surrounding his departure, only that he wasn't happy with Marvel at that point. Others will have to fill in the details. But I do what I can, offering this up to the universe as one more bit of historical evidence as to what it was like to work in the Marvel Bullpen in the days when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
shiai66 on January 22nd, 2010 04:14 am (UTC)
I recall reading that Englehart quit Marvel when the new EiC (Gerry Conway, maybe? Or was it Jim Shooter by then?) decided he wanted to write THE AVENGERS, and told Steve he was off the book after #150.

Thanks for sharing the tidbit, Scott! And I can't wait to pick up ESSENTIAL AVENGERS 7.
t_guy on January 22nd, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, this was the report in the fan press at the time, with Conway as the mustache-twirler.
rab62rab62 on January 24th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
One odd thing here: not only did Englehart make his protest, but Tom Orzechowski apparently lettered it as if it was actually going to appear in print! I'm not sure if the sentiment implied by Tom doing that would be more aptly described as "support for a colleague" or "making sure the message was received"...
scottedelmanscottedelman on January 24th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
I'm sure that's because Tom Orzechowski was part of the younger generation, in on the gag, and and up for such things. Someone like Artie Simek would not have played along.
(Anonymous) on December 1st, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
I think that's a faded "FF" rather than an "IF"; Perez was on Fantastic Four at the time.
(Anonymous) on December 1st, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Whoops, Sean Howe here.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )