Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Little More Levitz

I finally finished my corrections the Teenagers from the Future book at 5:30 this morning. If all goes according to plan, we'll have some nice thick copies of the book--a collection of essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes--at the New York Comic-Con. The thing's going to be over 400 pages, by the looks of it. Since I'm completely wiped out, I thought I'd toss out another very brief excerpt of my Paul Levitz interview. This part regards the infamous Legion of Super-Heroes tabloid edition that drives collectors crazy (how the hell do you store something that size?), and my line of questioning didn't really go anywhere, but I did gently tease Paul about Legion reboots:

Tim Callahan: My final question is about the tabloid story [c-55]. The 64 pages with no ads--that was probably your first time working on that scale of a canvas. How did you approach that story differently than your 22 pagers?

Paul Levitz: Well, there were a couple of goals, I guess. One was that I got to work with [Mike] Grell, and Mike had been the scheduled artist when I took over the book and had been, at the time, very much a fan favorite, so it was, “how do I provide the right opportunity for Mike to do his stuff?” Second was, if this was going to be the biggest, most expensive Legion comic ever made, “what do we do that’s important enough?” And it certainly seemed that marrying Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl would qualify on that basis. All of that very influenced, I think, by the 60’s Marvel Annuals. They had some--Stan in particular had just--beautiful moments in a couple of the event issues that he did there. And trying to carry that logic forward, and then adding to it by the thinking that it’s a physically giant comic book, it should have some really big, rich pictures.

TC: And then you you decided to bring the Time Trapper in because he’s someone who’s such a huge villain and...

PL: I guess. (laughs)

TC: Someone who’s a giant threat to match the giant scale of the comic.

PL: I guess. Sure. I’m not sure I remember the story at all. It’s been quite a few years since I last reread it.

TC: Well, arguably, it could be considered the first Legion reboot, since the Time Trapper reset everything and the future was totally changed when Superboy showed up, and then changed it back to the way it was.

PL: Yeah, well, I don’t know. I don’t think we were rebooting in those days.

TC: You booted back. You debooted.


Richard said...

That wedding tabloid...or "TFT" as it quickly became known in Legion fandom? Paul Levitz is one of the true all-time greats in comics history and an admirable person as well -- and all due respect to Mike Grell for his accomplished career -- but that was very probably the worst comic either creator ever did. Staggeringly bad. Misconceived, poorly executed, and the only saving grace was it looked as if it was done in a breakneck hurry so no one involved can claim to have wasted much time on its creation.

I can only assume you agree, and that's why you illustrated this post with the cover of a completely different tabloid comic.

Timothy Callahan said...

Yeah, I couldn't find a pic of the other tabloid. Maybe I should look harder.

Timothy Callahan said...

...but yeah, I don't really think it's so hot.

Timothy Callahan said...

There, searching for C-55 did the trick.

I think the problem with the Legion Tabloid isn't so much the lack of quality (the Grell art looks pretty good at that size), it's that you look at that cover and think about a novel-length adventure with the Legionnaires and you get...not much.

Michael said...

Just think how much better it would have looked if they had someone competent doing the inks instead of Vince "I can have the book ready for you by Monday" Colletta.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Vinnie, this was one of the cases where the deadlines were such that the company DID ask for an almost instant job, which he provided Mike and I are both still around to defend ourselves (and I'll let the work speak for itself in my case, for better or worse).

Michael said...

Well, I do apologize for saying Colletta was incompetent, that was a bad choice of words. Obviously he was very competent or he wouldn't have continued to get work as long as he did.

When you needed to have the job done overnight (or nearly so), Vinnie was the man. It's too bad that his speed at the inks made his work look too rushed. Maybe it would have looked better at normal size rather than tabloid size.

In fandom circles in the 1990s when I was getting into the internet, this became known as "TDT", or That Damned Tabloid, and it was almost a rite of passage to get it signed by both Grell and Levitz.

Matthew E said...

I cannot wait for 'Teenagers From the Future' to exist. It's one of those deals where I won't let myself believe that it's going to happen until it actually happens. I am extremely stoked.