SAN DIEGO, DAY 3: Marvel Bullpen reunion looks back at the early years

On Saturday a Marvel Bullpen reunion was held at Comic-Con: International in San Diego, hosted by Mark Evanier and featuring Marie Severin, John Buscema, Gene Colan and John Romita Sr.

Most of the time was spent reminiscing about old times, looking at original art created by each of the artists in turn, and sharing stories about working with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The highlight of the event came when the following exchange took place.

Mark Evanier: John (Buscema), do you have any stories about Stan?

Buscema: Did he work at Marvel? (Laughter)

Evanier: I'm sure you loved Stan's plots.

Buscema: I hated them. (Laughter) I just tried to stay out of the man's way. He told me what to draw and I just did my job.

Romita: No you didn't! You complained every step of the way. "Why does Peter have to have nine Goddamned friends? Why can't he have just two friends? Why can't we draw Spider-Man in the desert? Why does their have to be so many buildings?"

Buscema: That's a lie! I just hate drawing cities and Spider-Man with his nine friends. (Laughter)

Romita: You complained more than anyone else, but then you'd turn around and send in the most subtle, beautiful works of art I'd ever laid eyes on.

Colan: I looked up to John Buscema. He was the best. He could smoke a cigarette, carry on a conversation with someone and finish the most incredible page of artwork all at the same time.

Buscema: That's a lie! Look, I hate kids, I hate puppies. This isn't true! (Laughter)

Romita: John, those issues of The Avengers that you did were the best comic art I'd ever seen. We used to wait around in the Bullpen for your finished pages to come in and then everyone would want their own photostats of the pages.

Marie Severin: Well, I'm tired of talking about John Buscema! (Laughter)

At this point, host Mark Evanier took questions from the floor. The first question was, "Which of you on the panel were responsible for the death of Gwen Stacy?"

Buscema: Who is Gwen Stacy? (Laughter)

Evanier: She was a character in Spider-Man and you don't care.

Buscema: Oh, yeah. (Laughter)

Romita: We wanted there to be a death in the Spider-Man book. At first someone suggested Aunt May and I said that most fans would probably cheer. Then someone suggested Mary Jane and I said she was an airhead and only a few hundred Mary Jane fans would send letters and then it would quiet down with no real impact. Then I suggested that it should be Gwen Stacy. If you want to shake things up, you need to kill Gwen Stacy. So we ran it by our editor and he ran it by Stan, or he told us he had run it by Stan and that Stan had said it was ok. But the issue came out where Gwen Stacy died and Stan had been out of town. He claims to this day that he knew nothing about it. Stan demanded that we bring her back. I argued that we had to show people that characters could die in a book, that no one was safe.

Severin: Stan always had a thing for blondes. (Laughter)

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