COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Ghost Rider was delayed after being mostly finished because the inker never returned the finished pages.
Let's say you picked up the following comic book...
Cool cover, right? I bet you can't wait to read the Hulk/Ghost Rider fight inside!
But you open it up to find...a reprint of Ghost Rider's first appearance?!?!
The following issue had ANOTHER Hulk/Ghost Rider cover...
but finally, the insides has the Hulk.
So what the heck was up with that?
The writer of the issue, Tony Isabella, revealed the mystery decades after the fact to Jon Knutson in Comic Book Artist #13.
Sal Buscema had done very tight layouts from my plot for "The Desolation Run" (which ended up appearing in Ghost Rider #11). I had scripted the issue and it had been lettered. That's where the problems started.
The finisher was supposed to be Bill Draut, a teriffic artist who had worked with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby on Black Magic and many other classic comics. Most recently, he had been drawing stories for Joe Orlando's mystery titles over at DC.
For some reason, Draut wasn't getting work or enough work from DC. He came to Marvel and we all thought his style would work well on Ghost Rider. What I didn't know was that Draut was going through some serious personal problems. I won't speculate on the nature of these problems, but, whatever they were, we never received even a single page of finished artwork from him. Worse, he didn't return any of the penciled and lettered pages either.
Out of desperation, I grabbed the biggest assistant editor I could find - Scott Edelman - and took a taxi to where Draut lived. Where he lived was some sort of enormous welfare hotel in Hell's Kitchen. The cab driver refused to wait for us. He said he would circle the block for ten minutes and then he was out of there. I was usually too stupid to let stuff like that scare me, but this time, it did. When Draut refused to answer his door, we returned to Marvel empty-handed. I figured a reprint issue was a small price to pay for my and Scott's lives.
If memory serves me correctly, Mike Esposito, Frank Giacoia and John Tartaglione had to ink the issue from Xeroxes of Sal's laouts [The issue credits Tartaglione and George Roussos - BC] and on vellum overlays. The lettering had to be redone and pasted down onto the overlays. What a nightmare.
We never heard from Draut, but the post office eventually returned one of the two packages of layouts he had been sent. He had never picked them up. Naturally, the package arrived weeks after we had sent Ghost Rider #11 to the printer.
Draut worked for Warren in the 1980s and for the G.I. Joe animated series. He passed away in 1993.
Thanks for the great info, Tony and Jon!
Okay, that's it for this week!
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