Earlier this week I blogged about Erik Larsen's comments on Amazing Spider-Man #583 and Savage Dragon #137 that appeared on the ComiCon.com message boards. If you haven't seen those comments, go read them first before you read this post, as it'll make more sense that way.
Everybody up to speed? Good. Here's Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker, who sent us an email responding to Larsen:
I’ve been watching for a couple days as a guy I’ve never met swings away at perceived phantoms, accusing myself and his fellow creators or ridiculous "betrayals" due to our story in ASM #583. I’d say this was a grasping at straws, but that assumes there are some straws around. So here’s some info:
I don’t know Erik Larsen from Adam (admittedly I stole that turn of phrase!) and I don’t follow the news surrounding Savage Dragon at all. However, I know this isn’t the first time he’s insulted writers that work for me under the guise of criticizing Marvel. I’m also aware he and many people around him aren’t happy with Spider-Man comics and that he’s written long and hard on the topic, but that doesn’t excuse him from blatantly accusing anyone of plagiarism... particularly based on such flimsy “evidence.”
Reading Erik’s statement, he wisely (if you want to cut off all logical arguments) proclaims that the actual truth of the matter -- that Marvel has a history of showing presidents in our books -- is a “false argument,” but I’m going to ignore him and make the point anyway because, well, ignoring that fact is as silly as his pretend outrage.
Marvel DOES regularly show politicians and we have for years. That’s the whole point. In fact, Marvel has spent the past year putting a fake presidential candidate in most of our books. The idea that we’d follow that up by putting a Spidey-fan-made-good on our cover can’t really come as a huge surprise to anyone smart enough to be a publisher.
The Spidey Obama short was just a goofy story to celebrate something interesting happening and no one is trying to claim it was anything else. Eric’s proposal that we only did this to get attention on Spidey is practically message board-ian it’s insightfulness. As a young Steve Wacker would say, "DUH!" or even “DOY!”
I’ve never in my life read Savage Dragon (which isn’t meant as a knock since people obviously enjoy it) and certainly no plot or cover ideas were stolen from it, unless Erik created the idea of the imposter/doppelganger story which made me laugh just to type it.
Hell, the whole idea of someone posing as a public figure idea is a clichéd trope at this point (Sorry, Zeb), but it fit exactly what we were trying to do with the quick 5-pager with a one week turnaround. No one involved thought we had discovered a never-before-climbed branch of the story tree (which apparently Erik thinks he may have done a couple years back when he apparently had the president replaced in his book.)
And Eric’s notion we stole the idea of the fist bump from him is also absurd. We actually stole it from reality. Like he did. Duh!
Onto another accusation of Erik’s, the decision to put the president on the cover was made because:
#1 – As I mentioned, we recently had some success putting another public figure — who was running for President in the Marvel U — on a variant cover. So I didn't have to travel too far to think of this one.
And #2 - (and don’t miss this one because it’s an important point, so don’t start typing yet): The president actually used to read Spider-Man! He even quoted Spider-Man in the letter to his daughters released earlier in the week. Believe me, if McCain had declared himself a Spidey fan, I’d have been all over it. (You know that well-known Batman fan Sen. Patrick Leahy was in the newest Batman movie, right? I hope Leahy wasn’t featured in Savage Dragon first! Yikes.)
The idea that this was off-limits because the President-Elect had appeared on another comic cover (or that we wouldn’t have had this idea without Erik Larsen) is beyond preposterous. I suspect this is more of an overall “Marvel would be better if I were in charge!” bone to pick that Erik seems to carry around -- which, if you get me on the right day, I completely share. But that bone doesn’t mean that anyone at Marvel’s “betraying” him as Erik dramatically puts it.
I’m a company stooge, so I don’t expect Erik’s going to care too much about what I think, but at the very least the writers and artists who are busy not stealing from him don’t deserve his mewling accusations.
-WackerCongrats for the controversy, Robot 6!