“…and it’s not like you’re going to read about it on the Steve Gerber Web site.”

Oh, sure you are.

Well, from a link on Steve’s web site, anyway.

In an interview for Wizard.com, Marvel editor Tom Brevoort relates the story of the worst mistake he ever made.

Basically, I’m it.

About 98% of what Tom says in this interview is accurate. The other two percent look different from his point of view than from mine, but I fully understand why he interprets my actions the way he does.

I hope he won’t consider the following a “nonapology apology”:

Tom, I am genuinely sorry for having put a very talented editor and a very nice guy — i.e., you — in a very difficult position.

33 Responses to ““…and it’s not like you’re going to read about it on the Steve Gerber Web site.””

  1. Andrew Wickliffe Says:

    You know… when I was reading that interview, I was thinking, “I think this’ll make Steve Gerber’s web site.”

  2. Fred Chamberlain Says:

    Wow. I have spoken with Tom Breevort a few times at cons and have watched him interact with fans from one end of the social competence spectrum to the other. Though he is obviously human and has his limits and bad moments, his rep as a professional is solid from what I’ve seen, read, etc. That being said, it is unfortunate that the behind-the-scenes stuff that is certainly absent from the telling of this story prevents you guys from working together at the moment.

  3. Fred Chamberlain Says:

    I neglected to follow up on what I found to be an inconsistancy that Tom Breevort actually acknowledges as such. He follows up on the story between you two with “the best advice” he was ever given, citing the importance of keeping specifics between parties private (Using John Byrne as an example): I can disagree, and again, it’s the whole reason why the John Byrne stuff is between me and John. It’s no one’s business but me and John, and that’s the way that we keep it.

    I can see this as an improvised conversation, but why not edit it or… well, something?

  4. mister_pj Says:

    Everyday, people make mistakes but, it takes a lot to own up to your actions and apologize for them. Good for you and hopefully Tom can let it go. It may not be enough but, it’s the best you can do.

  5. Jeff Zoslaw Says:

    Maybe as a peace offering you can give Marvel the rights to Leonard the Duck?

  6. gordon Says:

    I wonder if Tom reads this website to see that he indeed will see his words here!

  7. Stephen Payne Says:

    As a fiction writer myself, I know how protective (overprotective?) we can can be about our characters.

    Now, I know that I’m only hearing the parts of the story that you and Mr. Brevoort have shared, but in all honesty, do you feel that short-term ego issues and misunderstandings get in the way of long-term business acquaintances? I honestly don’t know what I could do or say to someone to the point that they would never wish to work with me again…

  8. Fred Chamberlain Says:

    Not Steve, but there are a handful of people that I would never, ever work with again. My ego has nothing to do with most of them.

  9. Pearce Says:

    Oh, wow. Back in 2001 I put together a whole website based around exactly this story.

    click click

    Hey, it’s still there! Awesome.

    I still love what Steve did with that Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck story. Every now and again I like to tell what I know of the story to people as an example of the power that creative people can have, if only their imaginations are up to it.

  10. Mike Lukash Says:

    Ego is a powerful motivator. I’m not sure if it is the artistic temperment, or the fact that the United States has a competative psyche-but many people choose their battles based on what the preceive is an injustice. Most of the time, its a PERSONAL injustice.

  11. Micah Says:

    Not knowing the comics business I wonder about a few things. Wouldn’t there have to be a description in the script of what was happening in the scene that Tom could read? Wouldn’t Marvel have seen the art well ahead of publishing? Do you genuinely have the power to get Marvel to publish something behind their back?

    I mean, you could have written some wildly pornographic scene and by that logic, Tom would have been helpless to stop it from being published.

  12. Steve Gerber Says:

    Micah: The Spidey/HTD team-up and the Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck team-up were published by two different companies, Marvel and Image respectively. All the changes — with the possible exception of a line or two of dialogue — were made to the Image book.

    The original plan for the “crossover” between the two books was exactly what I had initially described to Tom — an in-joke, an innocuous chance meeting that would take place mostly in the dark, wouldn’t affect the plot of either story, and wouldn’t mean anything to anyone who hadn’t read both books. (It was on this basis that I told Tom to “trust me”.)

    Only after Marvel decided to make the Spidey/Howard story part of a major Howard the Duck revival, with lots of other books written by lots of other writers all coming out in the same month, did I change my plans for the SD/DD book.

    Admittedly, I never apprised Tom, or anyone else at Marvel, of those changes. Nor did I tell Tom I could no longer be trusted.

    Beyond that, and a couple of minuscule details, I can’t dispute anything else in Tom’s account of the incident.

    And that’s really all I have to say about the matter.

  13. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Let’s see. One of the little details, of course, was, at the time, you didn’t HAVE a web site; the web barely existed at that point. You DID have the Bingo Bango Bongo BBS (”a rusty nail point of light”, IIRC). I don’t think your CI$ website existed until 1997 or so.

    I certainly remember the discussions going on at the time, and specifically remember your announcement about the surprise. My recollection also is that the two comics came out within a month or two of each other, but that could be faulty memory.

  14. Steve Gerber Says:

    Bart: “One of the little details, of course, was, at the time, you didn’t HAVE a web site”

    Nope. Tom is right. I did have a web site at the time, spread out between CompuServe and AOL. The text piece published in the SD/DD book also appeared on the web. The actual site is gone, but this weird lingering remnant of the CompuServe site has a dead link to the SD/DD page on AOL. (Some of the other links, to other pages on the CIS site, still work.)

    I think you’re correct, though, about the release dates of the two books.

  15. Jennifer Meyer Says:

    Considering myself an ignoramus(sounds like a great creature, doesn’t it?)regarding comics, I do, however, believe that your statement(s) will be grately appreciated by the powers that be. Super powers, of course!! Not unlike Jennifer Kale. Then again, perhaps I’m a little biased.

  16. Charles Bryan Says:

    Mr. Gerber, you are now, and you shall remain my favorite creator of “pseudo-sexual, liberal, pseudo-intellectual pretense obviously written by an over-sexed manic depressive”.

    And while I really resisted commenting on the subject of this thread — in that it’s none of my business — I just have to say that if the episode described in the interview constitutes the worst career-related mistake someone has ever made, well, his ain’t such a bad life.

  17. Herbie Poon Says:

    If Brevoort didn’t apprise Steve that these other Howard books were gonna come out, I can’t see how he acted in any worse faith than Steve did.

  18. Micah Says:

    Is it just me, or is there something bizarre about the idea of a man being fired over the fictional kidnapping of a comic book character by another publishing company?

    I’m not taking sides or trying to undermine the plight of someone who was concerned for their job, but the situation is sort of absurd.

    Imagine if Marvel had fired Mr. Brevoort. Imagine the wrongful dismal case that might ensue. It would set one hell of a precedent to be able to legally fire someone for aiding and abetting the kidnapping of a fictional character.

  19. Bob Kennedy Says:

    Steve, it looks to me like you’re occasionally capable of being a dick.

    Welcome to the club. I’ll show you the secret handshake later.

  20. Jeff Zoslaw Says:

    Imagine the trouble he’d be in if you had kidnapped Spider-Man along with Howard. Would they have been able to release the two movies?

  21. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    I see that most of the readers here are unfamiliar with the Zip/Arc wars.

  22. Jeff Zoslaw Says:

    The what, now?

  23. Steve Gerber Says:

    Bob: “Steve, it looks to me like you’re occasionally capable of being a dick.”

    Yup — and some would argue more than occasionally.

  24. Steve Gerber Says:

    Bart: “I see that most of the readers here are unfamiliar with the Zip/Arc wars.”

    I know which wars you’re referring to, but I can’t recall how they relate to this discussion. Was it something about PKZip appropriating or reverse-engineering the ARC code?

    (For those who have no idea what we’re talking about, there was once a battle for dominance between two file-compression formats, ARC and ZIP. ARC came first. ZIP, invented by the late Phil Katz, I believe, improved upon the compression algorithm to create significantly smaller files. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was a big deal for downloaders in the days of 1200-baud modem connections and pay-per-hour online services like CompuServe. The ZIP format won out and remains a standard today.)

  25. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Here is the relevance. As Steve pointed out, speed was a big deal; to convert a 300K file, ARC took about 3 minutes, and Phil Katz’ PKARC took about 30 seconds (on a 4.77 MHz PC). Rather than improve his software, Thom Henderson filed a lawsuit against Phil Katz, most of which was bogus, but one part of which had not been tested in the courts, and most shareware and freeware developers and users (meaning most of the online community at the time) did not WANT tested: The legal protectibility of file formats (an issue which STILL hasn’t been legally decided).

    In any case, Thom Henderson, regardless of how right or wrong he thought he was, was rather obnoxious about the way he went about it. Between the two issues, the online community was very squarely on the side of Phil Katz, which enraged Henderson even further (I’ve had some discussions with Thom since then, and have found that he has mellowed out a lot, although he still considers himself to be a victim of a major injustice).

    In any case, Phil Katz, with the help of a number of other developers (I helped out in the encryption system, so I was NOT an innocent bystander), came out with the Zip format, and the online world changed from ARC to ZIP almost overnight, not just because ZIP was that much better, but because people wanted to side with Phil instead of Thom.

    Sort of like the superior Howard the Duck of Steve Gerber vs. the inferior Howard the Duck of Marvel…

  26. Stewart Says:

    I appear to be reading an entry on the relevant merits of zip vs. arc on Steve Gerber’s website. I think I’ve stepped into the wrong universe.

    Any chance of an opinion piece regarding Big endian vs. Little endian memory storage?

  27. Todd VerBeek Says:

    The Web was definitely more than just an obscure technonerd haven in 1996. I was already running a comic-book reviews site (”Beek’s Books”) in those days. Not that that by itself proves my point, of course, but Comic Book Resources and Digital Webbing came along not long after that.

  28. Steve Gerber Says:

    Back when I was working in animation and TV and could afford it, I was a much bigger geek than I am these days. For a few years, I actually had a subscription to InfoWorld.

  29. Rantz Hoseley Says:

    Well, all I know is, from my experience… you were great to work with and your communication skills. patience, etc. were all above par when they really didn’t need to be considering the circumstances.

    So, we all have our moments of dickishness. They don’t take away from the greater whole.

  30. Alan Coil Says:

    Wow. Glad I don’t work for Brevoort. It sounds like he totally does hold a grudge. Otherwise…well, whatever.

  31. Steve Gerber Says:

    Alan (and everybody):

    I’d rather that no one take “sides” on this matter.

    I have absolutely nothing derogatory to say about Tom Brevoort. He’s a solid editor and, as far as I know, a perfectly nice guy.

    In fact, Alan, the chances are good that you’d very much enjoy working with Tom — as I did.

  32. Brian Spence Says:

    I’m having trouble remembering: Didn’t your MAX HTD book come out after this mini-push Marvel made of Howard? How did you get to be back with Marvel after this incident? Or were you able to sidestep the issue because you were working with another editor?

    I STILL wish we could see another HTD mini like that (and the sequel to NEVADA!!)

  33. Steve Gerber Says:

    The MAX line was published under the auspices of Marvel Knights. The MAX HTD book came about largely because Phil Winslade campaigned vociferously for it.

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