Jim Shooter On Amending The Legion Of Superheroes (UPDATE)

Artist Francis Manapul has responded, below;

On a recent blog entry discussing marriages in comics, Jim Shooter reprints a synopsis to his editor for a two part Legion Of Superheroes story, during which he says;

About 30 years later, in 2007, I went back to the future and wrote the Legion of Super-Heroes again for a while. That proved to be one of the most frustrating and disappointing professional experiences I’ve ever had, and this is me, remember, so that’s goin’ some. Nonetheless, I think I wrote some good scripts.

Later in the comments, he gave examples of some of the problems…

Here’s a list I sent to the editor after issue #41:

Issue #41 is my fifth issue of LSH. All five issues have significant production errors and other mistakes overlooked, ignored or caused by editorial. A partial list is appended.

PARTIAL LIST OF EDIT/PRODUCTION MISTAKES

Bleeding Cool hit the scanner to match up what was finally printed, and if it finally matched what Jim wanted, or not, or how they worked around it…

ISSUE #37

PAGE FOUR and elsewhere, where screens appear, meaningless images rather than the ones called for are used, though reference was provided.


PAGE SEVEN:

Panel 4: This is supposed to be the introduction of the DUTY ROSTER, which plays a major role in this and many subsequent stories. The Duty Roster is a LIST. Mike, we went back and forth about whose names and what information should be on it. What was printed is a grid of random images unrelated to the story. It’s unbelievable. I never got to see this page before the book was put to bed, but surely someone did.

PAGE EIGHT:

Panel 1: This was supposed to show a “Duty Roster Detail” that gave more information about Princess Projectra. Instead it’s BLANK. There’s nothing there. Who looked at this and thought it was right? Also, my LIST is now inexplicably a grid of headshots.

Panel 3: There’s that grid of headshots again. I never asked for a grid of headshots.

Panel 4: This was supposed to be Colossal Boy’s Duty Roster Detail. The copy I wrote was left out, though it’s important. Again, there’s the unwanted headshot grid.

Panel 7: Headshot grid. Also, this panel isn’t in the script. Francis decided to play editor and that, apparently is okay, without anyone even mentioning it to me.

Panel 8: Headshot grid.

PAGE THIRTEEN:

Panel 1: There is supposed to be a sign on the Safety Shelter identifying it. I noticed that it was missing when I saw the coloring for this page and asked for it to be inserted. What I got is a crooked caption that says “Safety Shelter” that’s not near the shelter—confusing, amateurish non-functional. Twice after that, when the Shelter appears, there is no sign, crooked caption or otherwise.

PAGE SEVENTEEN:

Panel 1: Headshots instead of my Duty Roster again.

Panel 2: I called for Princess Projectra’s Duty Roster entry to be shown. What I got was another BLANK SCREEN, this one colored green.

Panel 3: Headshot grid.

Panel 4 and on: Francis changed a male character into a female character. It was too far gone to change by the time I saw it, so I renamed the character to accommodate the art.

ISSUE #38

THROUGHOUT: The Duty Roster is a headshot grid. A “Safety Shelter” sign was added at the last minute, at my request, but is barely visible.

ISSUE #39

The book was pushed back a week to accommodate the new colorist, who had a personal crisis. I’m fine with that. First things first. However, the book still went down to the wire and NONE of my color/production notes, a copy of which is provided below, were addressed:

PAGE ONE: Per the script, Princess Projectra’s home is “utterly dark.” No indication of lights in the windows. To dramatize this, there should be, again, per the script, “…lights in some windows,” of the less-damaged buildings.

Also, Princess Projectra is so small here, as are the Science Police Supervisor and his Robot helpers guarding her erstwhile house, that they may be missed. (…) I asked Francis to draw her “medium” depth, i.e., more in the foreground, but he gave me microscopic. (…)

PAGE TWO:

Panel 4: The idea here is that the “great room” pictured here has been stripped bare and is dark and desolate compared to the same room as recreated in its glory by Princess Projectra in Panel 7 of Page Three.

PAGE THREE:

Panel 6: The plan here was for Princess Projectra to be medium or close medium depth and be making a distinctive illusion-casting gesture, accompanied by her illusion-casting effect. None of that happened….

Panel 7: this shot should contrast with all the other shots of the great room.

PAGE FOUR:

Panel 1: Princess Projectra is dismissing her illusion of the former opulence of this room. Please show her illusion-effect around her right hand, and improve the “vanishing” of the few luxury items seen. Right now, it looks like the pillar may be fading out, which wouldn’t happen.

PAGE FIVE:

Panel 1-3: Depth, please! There are distinct foregrounds and backgrounds in these three panels, all medium values and running together, as is. Also, it’s very difficult to see Princess Projectra and grok what’s going on.

Panel 3: The story being told here is that the Robots were never firing at the Supervisor, and that he has without (real) reason, blasted them in their backs. The drawings don’t get that across very well, but maybe you could help it by adding some smoke, sparks, even licks of flame coming from the damaged parts of the robots.

PAGE SIX:

Panel 1: We’re supposed to be seeing the “informative screens” seen in Panel 3 of Page Seven of issue #38. Is that a production thing or your biz?

Panel 3: The DUTY ROSTER IS A LIST. NO HEADSHOTS. A LIST. I don’t know how or why my description of the thing was ignored and my carefully written copy was left out, but it should be a LIST, as described in ALL the scripts to date. For this issue, it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that it is a LIST, AS WRITTEN. Whatever your role may be in making that happen, please do your part.

Panel 4: You have left NO ROOM on the Duty Roster Detail for the COPY as written in the script.

Panel 5: Ditto. And ONLY Saturn Girl’s Duty Roster Detail should be showing. Nothing else should be seen except part of the Duty Roster–which is a LIST–behind SG’s detail, i.e., NO Princess Projectra detail.

PAGE EIGHT:

Panel 1: The thing on the Journalist’s shoulder is a camera, not a flashlight. Per the script, the remains of the Alien Destroyer he’s filming are:

“…starting to evaporate! It’s decomposing down to the quark level. We need an interesting, dramatic, small-but-spectacular effect for this.”

Panel 2: More of the same. The AD is evaporating into sparks and sparkles. A mini-light show.

PAGE ELEVEN:




Panel 1: In the Duty Roster Detail, we should see a headshot of Colossal Boy with room for the copy in the script.

Panel 2: Ultra Boy is supposed to be using Penetra Vision to peer through the floor. See script. Effect needed.

Panel 4: The holo-book was supposed to be foreground so that its title was readable. That didn’t happen, so I asked for the letterer to show some of the book as if it were in the foreground official’s hand with the title readable. That was done. How you coordinate re: this I don’t know, but we MUST be able to see the book cover and title.

PAGE THIRTEEN:

Panel 3: Please do something to highlight the garage where Colossal Boy is heading. Nothing too artificial and contrived, please–but give the readers a fair chance to guess his destination.

Panel 4: Why put an important character (the girl, Min) in gray clothes? Especially when so much else is gray?

PAGE FOURTEEN:

Panel 1: More gray clothes. Feh.

PAGE SIXTEEN:

Panel 1: The glowing stick on the ground is largely irrelevant and way too prepossessing. Please quiet it down.

PAGE SEVENTEEN:

Panel 1: I don’t know how anyone could possibly guess that Ultra Boy is swooping in to throw his (invulnerable) body between Kublai’s gun and Colossal Boy, but that’s what’s happening here. Any effect you could add to suggest the swooping in thing would be appreciated.

PAGE EIGHTEEN:


Panel 3: The Duty Roster, per the script.

Panel 4: Only Brainiac 5′s Duty Roster Detail should appear, with enough room for the copy. That other rectangle should not be there. The background should be the regular Duty Roster, per the script.

Panel 5: Make sure there’s enough room for the necessary copy. Again, the background is the regular Duty Roster. I’m not sure how much of this is your territory and how much is a production person’s.

PAGE TWENTY:

Panel 2: Phantom Girl’s legs should look more phantom-y.

Panel 4: The Duty Roster, per the script.

Panel 5: The Duty Roster, per the script.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE:

Panels 1 and 2: The Duty Roster, per the script.

PAGE TWENTY-THREE:

Panel 3: “Transmatter” on the sign spelled correctly.

ISSUE #40

The cover is bad and doesn’t reflect the story event it’s based on.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE: Two alien tourists are introduced here that look different than they do in issue #41. They would have looked even more different if I hadn’t noticed the discrepancy and caused a last-minute partial fix to be done by the colorist.

NOTE: A few corrections were made by the letterer, but for the most part, the Duty Roster is still hard to read.

ISSUE #41

Fill-in artist Lopresti draws slickly, and the audience will assume that he drew what was intended, since they didn’t read the script. Apparently, neither did he.

Then there’s the Flight Ring Feature. This is my e-mail to you when I found out it was totally screwed up:

Dear Mike,

I don’t know whether you check your office e-mail on the weekends, but in any case, I wanted you to get this ASAP.

I delivered the Flight Ring feature script on June 13, 2007. You had TEN MONTHS to get it sorted out. But, it came to down to a last second sprint to the finish.

The first I knew that it was going to run in issue #41 was mid-afternoon Thursday when JD sent the coloring in. It was obviously much different from what I had planned, and obviously the copy that had been delivered TEN MONTHS EARLIER would need big changes to accomodate the art. I told you I’d do what was necessary, and I stayed up half the night to do it.

But, for nothing apparently. It appears that you didn’t receive or chose to ignore my revision; that you and/or Jeanine did a rewrite on my original and that’s what’s going to press.

That is unacceptable.

Here’s what I want:

1. Push the book back a week and fix the thing, or

2. Pull the feature and have the printer strip in whatever’s in the lineup for other 22-story page books that week, or

3. If there are credits, GET MY NAME OFF OF THEM. Have the printer strip it out.

It’s not that you and/or Jeanine did such a bad job. It’s that those are not my words and I don’t want my name associated with them.

You had my words for TEN MONTHS. There’s no excuse for this.

Sincerely,

Jim

That’s just the gist of it. There’s more.
_________

And that was just the tip of the iceberg, as it turned out.

Francis Manapul has responded at length on his Tumblr blog, including;

“A lot of it was really just lack of communication. Believe me I would have gladly allowed the letterer to fill out the Duty Roster instead of me drawing every head shot of the character. It was classic miscommunication. I thought the captions and descriptions on each character would go under their image. But I guess lettering missed that note too. The empty screens drove me me nuts as well. I would write notes on my pages for production to drop in the images from Jim’s script, but I think when the inks were handed in the notes had been taken off. It was quite problematic. (these days in a lot of my work, I find myself doing as much of it as I can by hand, lesson learned from this experience). As for the colors I wasn’t privy to them until the day before it was to go to press. Leaving little to no time at all to give any notes or any corrections. That’s if I was lucky, sometimes I wouldn’t see them until I got the book. There really was a breakdown in communication on the book which I think is the main culprit for these problems. I definitely feel for Jim on this. I know how frustrating it must be to have your intent misinterpreted, or overlooked.”