The Roy/Neal War Continues On Bleeding Cool

The Roy/Neal War Continues On Bleeding Cool

Posted by December 18, 2018 Comment

Roy Thomas is a legendary comic book writer for Marvel Comics. Neal Adams is a legendary comic book artist and writer. They have worked on classic uns together, and have built up their own legacy apart. But now it’s kicking off.

To sum up. Neal Adams took exception as to how Roy Thomas was talking about the conception of the Kree/Skrull War, soon to appear in the Captain Marvel movie. Roy Thomas took exception to that exception. And Neal Adams started posting in the comments as Bleeding Cool commentators have provided their own hot takes. This included Neal telling us.

Let’s be clear. When I took over the Avengers, Roy was doing a rather scattered series that included many characters. When I asked if he had a specific direction, Roy said not really, but since we were working Marvel Method, I could go in any direction I wanted. I looked at what Sal and Roy were doing,…thought about it, and told Roy that I’d like to do a very long story. perhaps 10 or 12 books and lead the whole thing including ALL the Marvel characters into a full out Kree-Skrull War, all to focus on a much unused Rick Jones. Roy seemed very pleased, and so I began. In all honesty the story just got off the ground and Rick was in place, the opposition lined up and the meat of the war was to begin. The Kree Skrull War.
Then….well, things changed. And the wonderful John Buscema was instructed to shorten and end the story, I can promise you I had quite fantastic things planned.

And

The Kree-Skrull War began with three Skrulls shooting down the Vision. Those Sal Buscema stories were a series of Avenger adventures that one could tag onto the later stories or not.
I tried to create a smooth transition between Roy and Sal’s adventures and give them a purpose.
“Writing”, we might agree, has to do with words on paper. Not thoughts in one’s head. I plotted, wrote and drew the Kree-Skrull War until i HAD TO DROP OUT. The words are all over the borders of the pages,..and in the end, Roy added his wonderful dialogue. For that he deserves much credit.
Roy’s ‘ending’, however was much like the Sal b’s earlier books, hardly part of the EPIC ‘as planned!’

And

The ‘smooth” transition between Sal’s stories, and the Kree-Skrull war was my choice entirely. I am a professional and it is my job, just as I did with the X-MEN, to cause such a transition and not to insult, in any way, fellow professionals.
Had I gone in another direction, which I was invited to do, at my discretion, there would be no Kree-Skrull war. We try, if we can, to build on other’s work, not ignore it.
The two questions you have to ask are these, 1. If Roy believed in or created the story, why did he drop it right after I had built it up to this grand concept, and 2.did Roy actually WRITE anything for me that lead me to plot and draw the Kree-Skrull War.?
He did not.

And

I had a short conversation with Roy and I asked for and was given Sal’s pages, then, I went off to decide which way I would go with the next book and several after.
Roy gave me NO script, NO outline, No notes, and definitely NO story conference. I plotted, at home. I wrote the words for action and dialogue along side the pages, (Copies of which I have),… and proceeded to build the kree-Skrull War, All on every single page.
At times I called Roy to tell him what was coming up, and as with the X0men he listened. He wrote no notes, or called me unless he was confused about a sequence.
I left the project with Rick Jones, which I intended as the “turn into the war”, John, for reasons we need not discuss here, was to take over.
These are the simple FACTS.
I’m sorry. I’m repeating and boring myself. Good Morning
Neal

Anyone who reads the story can easily see the abrupt change in style of the following ending, compared to my work.
But THAT, to is a matter of opinion.

Then in the following article

A script, and an outline and even NOTES are “writing”.
Writing is what I wrote along the edges of the pages.
Ranting and raving doesn’t change FACTS! Nor does hostility.
Roy did his job, as he did on the X-men and Stan did on the two Thors.
1, The reason I approached Stan to do a poor selling title was that Jim Steranko visited me at D.C. comics, and told me about the “Marvel Method” he was doing with Stan. I liked the idea and went to see Stan. Stan was ecstatic because he said Deadman was the only D.C. book they read at Marvel. A book I was writing at that time. (Is that bragging? Sorry.)
Stan agreed I could do X-men till they canceled it in 2 issues. Then I ‘d have to do a “Popular Title” like Avengers.’We did 10 issues and X-men was canceled.
Stan asked if I would work with Roy under the same conditions. I agreed and Stan explained to Roy.
2. I had one cup of coffee with Roy at a nearby coffee shop to get up-dated as to the story in X-Men at that point.
It sounded like the Batman T.V. Show and I resolved to expand the theme and go from there.
I had no other discussions with Roy Thomas, except to explain where I was taking the story.
3. I created Sauron. Roy stole the name from Tolkien. I did it because I wanted to do a Vampire Mutant, but it was not allowed by the comics code.
So I did a leathery winged “ENERGY VAMPIRE”.
4. I phoned Roy to tell him about opting jack Kirby’s forth skrull.
Interestingly he had also remembered it and told me so, so he liked the idea,..which made things easier to move on. I always respected Roy’s historical knowledge of the Comics

Well, Roy Thomas who finds himself unable to post in the comments for some reason has issued us with a new response. He writes,

I hate to spend time volleying back and forth with Neal.  It’s like playing ping-pong with someone from another reality… and that reality keeps changing.

But I feel I should simply state the places, point by point, in his recent response where I feel he is not speaking the truth, and then try to let this thing die.

(1)  “Writing” has many facets… or else there wouldn’t be all this passion about the Lee/Kirby and Lee/Ditko relationships.  If I discuss a story with someone, and then he draws it and writes margin notes, does that mean he’s the only one who “wrote” that story?  Of course not.

(2)  While it’s hardly my job to worry about 1960s DC credits, I feel I should point out that, while Neal says he was “writing” Deadman, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, and Jack Miller are all listed as scripting those Deadman stories.  But I’ll let him duke it out with the Grand Comics Database over that one.  The whole world seems to be ganging up to steal credit from poor Neal.

(3)  If Neal started doing X-MEN because Stan said it was going to be cancelled in “two issues,” then why did we wind up doing so many more than that?  Stan didn’t make decisions as to when to cancel books in the late ’60s anyway… Martin Goodman did.  When the word finally came down to cancel X-MEN (sadly, based on sales figures of our early issues as well as the ones that preceded them), i came from Goodman, not Stan.

(4)  As I said before, Stan basically assigned Neal to X-MEN (with my enthusiastic approval after the fact), but he never said a single word to me or anyone else about Neal “writing” the book, or about any pre-conditions as to how we would work on it.  That was all up to me, as official writer of X-MEN and associate editor of Marvel.  As I mentioned, I offered to Neal to let him write the book, but when he asked me to stay, he got me as not only writer and co-plotter but as de facto editor, subject of course to Stan.  Neal’s alleged conversation with me in which he “explained” the working conditions he had worked out with Stan is pure fantasy, born on whatever planet his brain currently abides on.

(5)  Neal and I shared a number of meals–not just “one cup of coffee”–in the course of our various collaborations, at least one or two, I believe, at a pizza house called Original Joe’s…and there was never an issue begun by him–not one–without at least a conversation between the two of us, in person or by phone, so that we were in agreement where the story was going.  I’ve never denied that he contributed greatly to the plots–what the hell did I care if he wanted to do more than he was going to be paid for, as long as I was happy with where the story was going?  We worked out the “expansion” of that first Living Pharaoh storyline together, coming up with Havok (my name, but also my co-development) for the brother of Scott Summers, who had been Arnold Drake’s idea.  Neal totally designed the costume look, and it was a brilliant one… but that’s just one aspect of the thing.  Neal’s statement that, after that “one cup of coffee,” he had “no other discussion” with me about X-MEN is far enough from the truth that it’s hard for me to credit even Neal with believing it’s true.  Even Neal.

(6)  No, Neal Adams didn’t create Sauron.  He co-created him.  We discussed the idea of a psychic vampire–whether it was a suggestion of his or mine I don’t recall, but that doesn’t mean his recollections are necessarily correct.  After our discussions, I let Neal go off to draw it as he saw fit.  After all, I could always change anything I wanted.

(7)  There was one, and one only, X-MEN issue that Neal could legitimately claim to have “written” in the sense of fully plotting it:  #65.  He came to me and told me, in just those words, that he’d like to “plot” the next issue. (He’d hardly have had to do that if he was the “writer” and full plotter all along, would he now?)  I said okay, because I was getting busier with additional Marvel duties.  Matter of fact, because Neal plotted that story, I felt so little connection to it that I ended up handing it to Denny O’Neil to write… and I didn’t feel I had to get Neal’s permission to do so.

(8)  Neal might possibly have phoned me to tell me he wanted to choreograph for AVENGERS #93 a mini-battle between the Avengers and the three cow-Skrulls (about which I had told him earlier, which he has conveniently “forgotten”)… but when he says that he told me he was going “opt Jack Kirby’s fourth Skrull,” it’s hard for me even to figure out what nonsense he is talking.  With Sal Buscema as penciler, I had introduced Senator Craddock into AVENGERS #92, and (while naturally I can’t “prove” it because I didn’t state as much in that issue), it had been so that he could be the “fourth Skrull.”  Far as I know, the only panel Neal ever drew of Craddock was in #93, p. 18–and that was essentially nothing more than a flashback to the panel in #93.  Craddock was only revealed as a Skrull in #97–which was drawn by John Buscema, not Neal, after Neal had utterly blown every deadline he’d been given so that production manager John Verpoorten and I agreed there was no choice but to replace him.

It’s unseemly for two people who produced a number of pretty good comicbooks together to argue in public about who did what… but Neal’s ridiculous assault and claims in bleedingcool left me little choice but to respond, if I don’t want  his “fantasy-football” version of events to be taken as gospel by the mentally impaired.  I don’t like being either the victim of fantasy or falsehoods, whichever one Neal seemed hell-bent on perpetuating.

Best wishes,

Roy Thomas

And those with a dog in this race have been providing pages from comics that Roy worked on which indicate artists’ roles in the margins, compared to what was published, as well as just what those Neal Adams notes looked like… looks like I may have to do some reading tonight…

Look to the comments…

 

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

(Last Updated December 18, 2018 2:32 pm )

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