|BENDIS: You can’t think of one? |
BREVOORT: I can’t think of one specifically. I’ll go home tonight and I’ll read something online that’ll piss me off and maybe I’ll send you an e-mail and say, “Maybe you can strip this in. This is what it was.”
BENDIS: What’s the worst mistake you ever made?
BREVOORT: Worst mistake? I have a whole story for that one. The worst mistake I ever made, and this embittered me to the point to where I won’t even work with the guy involved, and it was a stupid sort of rookie mistake, but I made it kind of earnestly. This was, again, around ’96-ish and for whatever reason, that week Bob Harras was in a Howard the Duck mood. I don’t know what it was, whether someone upstairs had said “Howard the Duck,” or if he just woke up one morning going, “Wow, I really love Howard the Duck.” I was editing Spider-Man Team Up, and he came down and said, “Why don’t you have Howard the Duck in the next issue of Spider-Man Team Up.” I kind of went, “Yeah, OK, that’s fine.”
So myself and Glenn Greenberg, who was my assistant at the time, talked about this, and I think that I also talked to Kurt Busiek because I was working with him a lot at that point on Untold Tales. The general consensus was that you don’t really have Howard the Duck unless Steve Gerber writes it, and Steve had gone through plenty of years of bad times at Marvel and so forth, but it was like, what the hell. We’ll call him up and see if he wants to write a Spider-Man/Howard the Duck story for this issue of Spider-Man Team Up.
We called up Steve and he took a couple of days to think about it and he came back afterwards, and he said, “Tell you what. For Erik Larsen at Image I’m doing this Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck crossover, and what I would like to do, if you’re up for it, is that I want to do a noncrossover crossover. I want to do an unofficial crossover where we’ll do these two stories—the one in that book and the one in your Marvel book and we’ll set them in the same location, but the characters won’t really run into one another. They’ll just kind of run back and forth across the same landscape, but if you have the two books together you can kind of see that it’s this larger tapestry.” I kind of thought, “Oh, that’s cool.”
But I said to Steve, “The part that worries me about this, Steve, is that I don’t know what’s going to be on those other pages. I know exactly what’s going to be on the Marvel pages, but I have no idea what you’re going to do over there.” And he said to me, “Don’t worry. Trust me. I give you my word. I’m not going to do anything on those pages that’s going to get you into any trouble.” I was young and stupid enough that I went, “OK.” When he said it I genuinely believed that was his intention, but the thing that happened is suddenly all these solicitations for Howard the Duck stories started popping up everywhere. He was guest-starring in Ghost Rider and he was in Generation X and they were going to do a special and whatnot—and I’m putting words into Steve’s mouth a little bit here based on what came back, but I think that he felt he had been sold a bill of goods, like suddenly Marvel was going to put this big push on Howard the Duck with this big, coordinated thing, and that he’d somehow been wrangled and roped into being a part of it and somehow giving it his stamp of approval.
I remember that he and his lawyer, Harris Miller, called up to our publisher irate and said, “Oh, Steve is very upset about this.” I called Steve back and I said, “Steve, I hear what you’re saying. I understand where you’re coming from, and if you want to just shake hands right now and walk away, we can. You don’t have to do this. I solicited a Howard the Duck story so I’m going to have to do something with Howard in that issue, but it doesn’t have to be the story that you write, and if you’re uncomfortable you can just walk away right now.” He paused and he said, “No, nope. I said I was going to do this story and I’m going to do it.” And that was it.
|So it went from there and we were producing our story and we’re doing our thing, and then months go by and it’s right around the Thanksgiving holidays. This was ’94 or ’95 so there was an Internet, but it was a nascent Internet. Harris Miller had a reason to talk to me about something else. I forget what it was. It was some other client. I forget what it was about, but he said to me, “Oh, did you see that thing that Steve posted at his Web site? Boy, he’s really pissed at us and he blames me for getting him involved with you and all of this.” I went, “What the f--- are you talking about?” |
I went home, and at the time I only had a little laptop computer and it had no memory whatsoever in it, and I had to go in and strip out all of these programs and reallocate memory and whatnot so that I could finally do my little dial-up to get to Steve’s Web page. And on Steve’s Web page was this enormous screed about how he’d been taken advantage of and how he’d been screwed on this and lied to and everything, but he was going to have the last laugh and he was going to do something in Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck that was going to totally thumb his nose at Marvel and rake us over the coals and that we weren’t going to see it coming.
Literally, if Steve had lived on the East Coast during those holidays I would’ve gone to his house, because not only was I furious, but I was like, “Wow. They’re going to fire my a-- good. They’re going to fire my a-- right out the door because of what this guy is going to do.” And as it turned out, two things happened. One, the Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck book shipped like four months late and so it didn’t actually come out alongside our book, and then the second thing was that it came out and absolutely no one cared. The part that always pissed me off though, and Steve years later would sort of reach out to me every once in a while—we were on an Avengers mailing list at one point together—with what, at least as I took it, a sort of the nonapology apology, which was, “Well, I’m really sorry that I had to do that to you, but you were in the way of the gunfire.”
It was that sort of thing, and the part that still pisses me off to this day is that I felt like he promised me. It wasn’t Marvel. Steve Gerber promised me, “I won’t do anything in those pages that screws you up.” Then, I gave him the out. I said, “Steve, if you want to walk away we can shake hands and go.” But no, because at that point, in his head, he already had the plan and whether he wanted to shoot me or whether he wanted to shoot the guy standing behind me, he decided that me and my life and my family, we’re perfectly acceptable collateral damage to the larger point that he wanted to make.
BREVOORT: This was a real pisser for me too because Steve, for years, was like this big bastion of moral integrity and moral fiber, the little guy fighting the man and whatnot, and to be just completely plowed over by this guy and completely just “I’m throwing you right under the bus, pal, because I have to stop the bus somehow and you’re standing here. You happened to be the guy that flagged me over.” That was a huge thing. So it’s been years and years and it’s not like I fume on it every day, but it’s not like I want to work with Steve again.
BENDIS: Wow. I’ve never heard that story.
BREVOORT: No. Few people have, and it’s not like you’re going to read about it on the Steve Gerber Web site.