Mike Netzer vs. Neal Adams Over the Creation of Ms. Mystic

Posted by May 15, 2018 Comment

Once upon a time, Mike Netzer drew a comic I wrote for Boom Studios, The Church Of ScienThorlogy. A parody of the Thor films, he was picked because a) he’s a great artist, if reminiscent of Neal Adams, who he used to work with and b) for some time he declared himself to the Son of God and the messiah of comics, and I thought he might have some divine insight into portraying an Australian god on the page.

Yesterday, he posted the following on Facebook regarding his relationship with Neal Adams and the creation of the Continuity Comics character Ms. Mystic, along with the following image.

Mike Netzer wrote:

WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU’VE DONE, NEAL

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 had done.

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 worked on it, 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.

17) In 1985, after seeing a copy of Pacific’s Ms. Mystic #1, I contacted you to ask why you were credited as the sole creator, and why there was no mention of my penciling. You said it was a mistake that’ll be corrected with the next issue.

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 Twomorrow’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 much whom 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 in 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.

30) A few years after the law-suit, I got over it – tried to mend this broken bridge between us, but you’d have no part of it. Instead, you took every opportunity to paint me in the most negative light, whenever Ms. Mystic is mentioned. I tolerated this situation until your recent Ms. Mystic interview in Back-Issue.

31) Seems that in your effort to hermetically cover-up the terrible thing you’ve done, your strategy has been 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, flaunting 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 values and expectations; those of your fellow creators and the industry that’s elevated you.


In response, Neal Adams replied to Bleeding Cool with the following.

***

Before I start this is a full and direct quote from Back issue #94 from Michael Netzer in an article named “Continuity Comics and the Talent Behind Them”

THE FATHER OF CONTINUITY COMICS

“In New York, Neal’s Continuity Associates was the vortex of an amazing movement where commercial artists, comic book artists, and designers intersected. For many [perhaps most] of the generations of younger artists this was the place to be, and as so many of my peers/contemporaries, we made our way, one way or another, to enjoy the fruit of an innovator’s efforts. Neal was generous enough to take many of us under his wing and give us work as fledgling comic-book artists all the while holding down the fort of being an entrepreneur, father, professional commercial artist, and advocate for various artist’s issues.”

MICHAEL NETZER (Megalith, Samuree)

It is shocking to me that people hear one side of a story and do not hear or ask for the other side of the story before making up their minds and then express what seems to be, “their” opinions.

I hate Donald Trump, but I listen to what he has to say before I express my opinion. Everyone could easily go to Back Issue Feb. 27 2017 #94 and read exactly what Mike Netzer has to say about my relationship with him and all the people that worked at Continuity. Was he lying then and not now?

My suggestion is everyone should think before they jump. Research before you spout. And compare what people say from one day to the next.

People lie when they get upset. That is a fact. I do not, because I carry the weight of my studio and fellow creative’s in my industry on my shoulders. Michael said it himself in his notes.

He can say what he wants because he has nothing to lose and he tells you that I have. That is why I never lie and I treat everyone as an equal up to the point that they betray people around them. I am sorry that people had to read these lies and I hope you can turn it into a life lesson, not to react till you know the whole story.

And then posted, a line-by-line rebuttal.

I have answered this before and I will answer it again,…because when someone lies about one, unfairly or in a nutty way on a Public Forum, you must answer for the sake of the people who care!  So, here!

I created a series of characters of my own creation to be printed in a portfolio. I began with Ms Mystic and created several others!   (Mike created nothing!)

When I was asked by Pacific Comics for an original creator-owned series, My first choice of those several characters was Ms Mystic.

Since I always try to advance the work of other younger creators, I asked the young Mike Nasser if he’d like to join me in this project? He said yes.

This is what I proposed. Since I created Ms Mystic, inspired by Eve Jones (From “The Heart of Juliet Jones” )by Stan Drake. One of my Heroes. And Black Canary, that I had done for D.C. I would write and rough out the story and script. Mike would pencil the book and if he completed 12 issues, for the first year of monthly books,  I would share the creator profits, (if any.) He agreed.

2. Ms Mystic was never offered to D.C. Comics EVER by me!

How could I possibly propose Ms Mystic to D.C.  if I was going to publish it myself?  It was MY independent project.

(A very big lie by Michael, but worse, as you will see.)

Behind my back, never saying a word, Michael took Ms Mystic over to D.C. Comics and offered it for sale…. and as if it couldn’t get worse… Michael billed D.C. for the pages he had half finished…. and just as incredibly D.C PAID HIM FOR THE PAGES…. AT MY RATE!…. convinced that I was fully participating!

Why didn’t D.C. ever call me or contact me????? I will never know!

Actually, I was on a one-man strike against D.C. at the time. So I just don’t get it.

When I got wind of these shenanigans I contacted Jeanette Kahn and Paul Levitz and told them  “No, I never authorized such an offer or sale.  Mike was acting very strange at this time,..and so D.C.s people understood!

In FACT D.C. sent the pages back to me,  with the D.C. stamp on the backs.….and NEVER asked Michael for their money back!

Since I also paid Mike for the work,..he was paid twice for the same work!

3. Yep, I put Ms Mystic on the Ali cover,..with D.C.s permission,  (A clue for a future cross-over perhaps?)

4.  Only a few pages were completely penciled. Michael had the script for a YEAR! And gave excuse after excuse for not finishing the pages Or the story!.

In the end I had to re-pencil the pages and finish the story! I kept as much of Mikes work as I could,…but Michael was acting very strangely and in the final months of that year did NO WORK on the book!

Then I learned the terrible truth!

Michael was working in the back of the studio,..on a series of prints that he would have Sal Q print and sell …called Starchilde

The character looked exactly like Ms Mystic,..super long hair and all!

Of course others in the studio let me know what was going on!

I had no choice. I took Michael off Ms Mystic, told him the deal was off,  and took over the task of doing the pencils myself and finishing the book.

I also told him I expected him to remove the super-long hair from starchilde and I wouldn’t make an issue of his insult.

I was very worried about Mike by this time, since he was drawing himself as a kind of Messiah,.and included my daughter Kris in his drawings.

5. That “new Pursuit”???   Well, as folks who know will tell you,..that pursuit was the most troubling of all,, and because of Michael’s family I choose not to speak of it,…but  it was profoundly problematical!

6. Landings? Michael,.should tell the people what he was doing all this time and where he was sleeping at night and if and when he worked. He should tell about the phone calls from the police calling me to vouch for and identify him. Tell the people who he thought he was!

7. I TRIED to get Mike to straighten out!   Ms Mystic was DONE!  I was trying to save Mike. We all were.

8.  Nope!  NEVER finished the first book of pencils!

9.10. Correct….generally!

11.  Mike’s presence was NONEXISTENT!  Had Mike not disappeared. I would have helped him as best I could as I have done for many others.

Most of the rest of this is the rantings of what Michael has become… but I will respond.

12. No,…. I re-penciled and then inked! (Since the original layouts were mine for Mike to work from.

13. True. Mike was a true mess! My choice! And it remains my choice!

14. Incorrect!

15. Rant!

16. Mike here blames me for his going to Israel. GOOD, I’ll take that one. Moving to Israel was the best thing for Michael. He seemed to straighten his life out and gain some values. It was a relief for all.

17. A lie!

18. The rate was correct for the time… and I never mentioned he’d already been paid by D.C.

19. Mike promised he had “changed” and would “prove it to me.” If I gave him another chance. Against all advice I let him come back… If I could “see” the change.

20, 21, 22, 23, 24. And so the , old man Mike rears his head with lies! How does one fight flies? FACTS!

25.26. ______

27. Whoa. Dropping names in comic books is an old tradition. It was done as a tip of the hat and in good will and with a little affection, since Mike was doing so much better. Nothing was meant by it. It’s Arab names. If one broods over it, and one were that sort one ‘could’ twist it to another meaning…but I never meant it to be so! (Hey, a Jim Steranko effect!)

Let me explain further. The “Old Mike” when he began in the studio,… he and I played practical jokes on each other all the time. Mike once traced one of my pages and then with other paper ripped it up and strew it all over my work area, I in turn hid his chair in the outside bathroom,… he would in turn play another gag on me,… and sometimes this would go on for days.

THIS was the old-new Mike Nasser.

28. Yep. True? And, truly I again became concerned.

29. Nope. No heart attack. The judge had many more reasons. Many!

30,31,32,33,34, 35, 36-  Rant!

In some way, I wish some spark of Michael’s story was true,… So I might have some reason to reach out to him and relieve his self created burden and self pity! I want to,… but I cannot.

Mike has betrayed me time after time, as he has others and lied to get into my studio in many ways. He and I have had some few good times and many bad times . He has oppressed my family (5 adult kids, now) along the way and no matter how he may cry at my door, and he has. I will never let him NEAR me and mine!

For you, I hope you are never cursed by having a Mike Netzer as a life burden!  FOR MIKE’S FAMILY…BLESS YOU. You are in my heart and it wounds me that things I may have said, in any way have hurt you…. please

forgive me.

***

I don’t think this is over, somehow…

(Last Updated May 15, 2018 3:55 pm )