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  1. #1
    Ditkomaniac Rob Imes's Avatar
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    Default Mort Weisinger, surrounded by idiots?

    I just got the new TwoMorrows book, The Krypton Companion, and I'm slowly making my way through it. But one of the early chapters startled me in its content, an interview with Mort Weisinger's son Hank. After admitting that his father had an abrasive personality, Hank says this:

    "So yes, he was abrasive and critical and he was a tough boss. A lot of people probably didn't like him because of this. Now, here's what is not said. One of the reasons my father was a difficult boss was that he thought the people working with him were "idiots." He felt very few were creative and could write well. As a result, this created much more work for him. He would give a writer a story idea, then the writer would do it. Problem was that it was so bad he would have to do it over. No wonder he was abrasive. [....] A lot of the other editors were jealous of [his] success. And yes, my father would love to gloat, which I am sure did not make him more likable. So he was abrasive and critical, but from what he used to tell me, I think it was because of his frustration from having to work with low-level creative people.

    "Next, it is often written that my dad would take credit for other peoples' ideas. No way; it was just the opposite. He thrived on creativity, on being original, and he despised mediocrity. The fact is, his job would have been a lot less stressful if others had made significant contributions. That's what he wanted. He would always give credit to others."

    This last sentence is contradicted by the previous article (written by Will Murray, probably my favorite writer about comics history) in the book which states that Weisinger had "written" a best-selling novel titled The Contest which was actually only plotted by him, and actually written by many other writers.

    Hank Weisinger says that his father respected writers Ed Hamilton, Otto Binder, and Alfred Bester. Hank doesn't provide names of who some of these "idiots" and "low-level creative people" who were making Mort's job harder. I find it hard to believe someone who had the stable of writers and artists that he had working for him could have such a low opinion of them.
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  2. #2
    Nyah! Paradox's Avatar
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    Wasn't Mort known as somewhat of a megalomaniac (yes, I'm overstating)? Keep in mind this is his SON saying this. And he's saying Mort THOUGHT he had to rewrite them. Could be they were bad...could be that Mort was just being a hypercritical fusspot. How old was Hank when he was getting this info? And was it a serious discussion, or is he just distilling and combining several rants he heard as a kid? If Mort called them "idiots" and complained about always having to rewrite stories...well, that sounds like the kind of overstated bitching anyone could be guilty of.
    Last edited by Paradox; 12-23-2006 at 08:38 AM.
    'Dox out.

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  3. #3

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    Hank sez: "I think it was because of his frustration from having to work with low-level creative people."

    Mort Weisinger worked with the same pool of creators that the other editors worked with, yet somehow his reputation is far worse than that of any other Silver Age editor. Either the creators were stepping up their game for every editor but him, or he was a crank.

  4. #4
    It's Too Quiet Red Oak Kid's Avatar
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    I think the previous posts are spot on. I'd like to add my two cents.

    Some fans today, may not realize how bad it was for comic book creators in the late 50s early 60s. Because of the Wertham witchhunt that resulted in the Comic Code Authority, many creators were ashamed to admit they wrote or drew comics during this period. Many creators kept a low profile in their personal life and wouldn't even admit what they did for a living.

    I think this was Weisinger's way of trying to distance himself from "comic books" which had a horrible reputation for many years.

    I'd love to have been a fly on the wall at a NYC party when someone asked Weisinger what he did for a living. He probably said something like " I'm an editor for a large publishing firm that has it's magazines distributed nationwide."

    Instead of saying " I edit comic books."

  5. #5
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    Late in his life, in an interview with (I think) Legion Outpost, Weisinger heaped praise on Jerry Siegel. He insisted Siegel was the best Superman writer of them all and deserved far greater recognition for his contribution to comics. Weisinger was dismissive of the notion of himself being an authoritarian figure who stole the ideas of others -- but then he would, wouldn't he?

    Weisinger was a strong editor with very firm ideas on how things should be done. "My way, or the highway..!" He therefore frequently put noses out of joint, whether he meant to or not. Jim Shooter's regime at Marvel was similar in many ways. Of course, not coincidentally, Shooter started out as a Weisinger protege...

  6. #6
    Månriddare Agentum's Avatar
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    Yes, Mort is one of those eic's that was not well liked, one of those you can read people writing bad stuff about even today.

    Some people is assholes.

  7. #7
    Member Chad's Avatar
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    I don't know too much about what went on behind the scenes myself, but I do have access to some quotes from people who should. Since I'm interested in learning more and since I think this discussion promises to go in interesting directions, I'd like to contribute a few statements from those who would have been in the know.

    "Now Mort Weisinger was a controversial person. He was a large, imposing, well-spoken man. He knew the business inside out. He was a major editor at DC and wanted his own way. He wanted things done the way he thought they should be done, which is the perogative of an editor. If you want to work for him, then do it his way. He didn't ask you to sacrifice any of your great artistic integrity, which is a bunch of malarkey anyway, so far as I'm concerned.

    You're in commercial art. You're doing commercial art for pay. It's not gallery work. Some artists really disliked him because they did not do it his way. After two or three attempts, he'd read them off and took them off the assignment...the heck with 'em.

    About ten years ago, I read some interviews about some of these guys who were asked about Mort, and you should read what they said about him. It's ridiculous. They were just backbiting because of their own deficiency in being commercial people, so they took it out on Mort. That's crazy! He was one of the kindest men I ever knew. If he liked you, you were king. He didn't necessarily like you because you did the work the way he wanted, although that was important. He liked a lot of people, which was why he was so darn popular. He did many things as a writer. He wrote for the great, slick magazines of the era, like the Post, Collier's and Reader's Digest. A very,very talented man and my good friend. I mourn his loss and treasure his memory."

    Dick Sprang - Alter Ego No. 19.

    "Weisinger was an infantile man with very serious ego problems. He had a terrible inferiorty complex. I could just see him as a little kid, being laughed at because he was fat. He wasn't very bright....

    I'll give you an example. I walked into the office one day and Weisinger was thrilled to death that he'd just written another one of his awful articles for one of the slick magazines - something to do with the March of Dimes. He showed it to me and the first paragraph read (I've never forgotten it): 'Every year millions of Americans shell out an incredible march of dimes across the counters across the nation.' He could tell from my expression something was wrong. 'What's the matter?' he asked. 'That's a terrible mixed metaphor,' I answered. He didn't know what a mixed metaphor was so he turned to another editor and read it to him: 'Is this a mixed metaphor?' He got a big nod in reply. Mort was crestfallen.

    Mort would get an article on medicine into Reader's Digest and Jack [Shiff] would say to me, 'I could never write that, because I'm not that ignorant'. Mort could say things because he was so totally ignorant he didn't know what he was doing.

    Very often a writer would come to Weisinger with some plot ideas or cover ideas and he'd say 'None of them are any good' - then hand them to someone else later on, claiming them as his own. Everybody knew he was doing it; he was the worst plagarist I ever knew. He always felt a need to be on top. A need for adulation and admiration, a hunger for recognition."

    Alvin Schwartz, Wizard: Superman Tribute Edition.

  8. #8
    Senior Member MDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad View Post
    I don't know too much about what went on behind the scenes myself, but I do have access to some quotes from people who should. Since I'm interested in learning more and since I think this discussion promises to go in interesting directions, I'd like to contribute a few statements from those who would have been in the know.
    I would love to see a well-researched book about the comic book business, especially in the 60s. Men of Tommorow was a deifinite step in the right direction, but there's still a lot to be put down in a cohesive form.

    MDG

  9. #9
    Oddball Cartoonist! Scott Shaw!'s Avatar
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    Exclamation

    If you're interested in what Mort Weisinger's assistant, E. Nelson Bridwell, thought of the office politics at DC in the 1960s, I suggest you read my ODDBALL COMICS column on INFERIOR FIVE No. 6. Since Bridwell wrote the script and Mike Sekowsky (who was another guy who never was treated well at DC) drew it, you don't have to look too closely "between the lines" to get a sense of what a political snakepit it must have been. My column includes a scan of a nice little sequence showing how Weisinger continually tried to exploit his "celebrity" connections.

    This comic got the highest rating in my ODDBALL COMICS Rate-A-Rama poll since the site was launched last April (100% five Oddballs!), so you kinda owe it to yourself to check it out at:

    http://www.oddballcomics.com/article...nferior%2BFive

    Aloha,

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  10. #10
    The Jesuit Rob on the Job's Avatar
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    I once had a boss that fits the negative -- and even positive -- characterizations of Weisinger.

    It was pure hell to work for a guy like that. Nothing you did was ever good enough; the only thing that pleased him was to make others miserable and jumpy.

    My boss had zero "people skills." Sounds like ol' Mort was the same way.

    BTW, wasn't Weisinger the guy responsible for Roy Thomas fleeing DC for Marvel after only a week or two, when Thomas first broke into comics?
    "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."
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  11. #11
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Shaw! View Post
    If you're interested in what Mort Weisinger's assistant, E. Nelson Bridwell, thought of the office politics at DC in the 1960s, I suggest you read my ODDBALL COMICS column on INFERIOR FIVE No. 6. Since Bridwell wrote the script and Mike Sekowsky (who was another guy who never was treated well at DC) drew it, you don't have to look too closely "between the lines" to get a sense of what a political snakepit it must have been. My column includes a scan of a nice little sequence showing how Weisinger continually tried to exploit his "celebrity" connections.

    This comic got the highest rating in my ODDBALL COMICS Rate-A-Rama poll since the site was launched last April (100% five Oddballs!), so you kinda owe it to yourself to check it out at:

    http://www.oddballcomics.com/article...nferior%2BFive

    Aloha,

    Scott!
    Nice work Scott... for me, maybe its a bit of schadenfreude, but hearing about all of this kind of evens out, or adds a measure of equilibrium to the mainstream comic publishing universe. Long have I heard of the famous squables and difficult office politics over at Marvel, under various watches from Stan Lee to Jim Shooter... but in my ignorance I always thought the more conservative DC sailed upon smoother seas, and operated a more well oiled ship. Higher pay was offered, and if a degree of stagnation set in, at least slick, reliable work was turned out at the hands of unharried creators. Boy, was I wrong. Thanks for the insight.

  12. #12
    CotM Member Rob Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob on the Job View Post
    BTW, wasn't Weisinger the guy responsible for Roy Thomas fleeing DC for Marvel after only a week or two, when Thomas first broke into comics?
    Yes indeed. Mort actually fired his assistant, E. Nelson Bridwell, in order to hire Roy. In his second week, Roy had a talk with Stan Lee and accepted Stan's offer of a job. Roy offered to stay at DC until Mort could find a replacement, but Mort didn't want "a spy for Stan Lee" in his office for a single minute. Bridwell had his job back the next day.

    Note - the preceding is from memory and may not be 100% correct. But I promise it's pretty close.

    I've had some interesting conversations about this alternate-universe scenario: What If.... Roy Thomas had stayed at DC and Stan Lee had hired Nelson Bridwell instead?
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    Rob Allen

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