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The Comics Code

The Truth Behind the Rise
and Fall of Atlas Comics

© 2010 Robert J. Sodaro. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

As told by Jeff Rovin to Robert J. Sodaro

This article originally appeared in an issue of Comics Buyers Guide

In issue #1055 of the Comics Buyer's Guide, writer/artist Howard Chaykin used a portion of an article about his past achievements and his upcoming Bravura comic, Power and Glory, to sound off about a 20-year old grudge against Jeff Rovin, his editor on The Scorpion, the comic he wrote and drew for Atlas Comics back in 1975. The accusations made by Chaykin surprised and saddened Rovin, who always had (and still has), nothing but respect and admiration for Chaykin. Still, Rovin could not let these accusations go unanswered - especially as he felt that Chaykin had been laboring under a serious misconception all these years. Hence Rovin - even though he is uncomfortable with this type of apologetics/self-promotion - felt that it was high time for him to speak up on the matter of the untimely demise of Atlas/Seaboard.

Hence, he prevailed upon the publisher and editors of CBG to print an article explaining his version of the rise and fall of the Atlas/Seaboard line of comics. Rather than merely being simply Rovin's "side of the story" that led to the ultimate failure of the line, the following article is an insider's account of those events from the point-of-view of one of the line's founders and editors. Rovin further requested that the article be written by freelance writer Robert J. Sodaro, who conducted the original interview with and penned the article about Howard Chaykin which appeared in CBG #1055. Having complied with his requests, Rovin would like to extend his thanks to Greg Loscher and Don and Maggie Thompson for their cooperation in helping him setting the record straight.

In 1991, seven hot young artists laboring in the vineyards of comics determined that they had had enough with the industry's corporate structure, as well as the work-for-hire contracts under which they had been toiling, and - very vocally - split with the established comic publishing houses. These seven intrepid souls then went off on their own, and did what they wanted to do, which was create and own their own line of comics. These seven were the founding fathers of Image Comics. Two years later, in 1993, history - after a fashion - repeated itself; not once, but twice. Frank Miller, John Byrne and friends founded Legend, an imprint of creator-owned comics that is distributed through Dark Horse Comics, and Malibu Comics began a line of creator-owned comics entitled Bravura with Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, and others.

In interviews, both Miller and Simonson have publicly acknowledged their debt and lineage to Image, yet there is another company, one no longer in existence, and that is little known by much of today's comic-buying audience that is an earlier ancestor of all three companies. That company is Atlas Comics. While the company lasted barely a full year, and none of its books were published for more than four issues, the effects of Atlas are still echoing throughout the industry today, some 20 years after its demise.

The Lineup

According to Jeff Rovin, co-editor (along with Larry Lieber, Stan Lee's brother), of the line stated that save for the lack of a Direct Market, "...I think we would have been Image Comics." Considering the array of talent that contributed to Atlas, this is no idle boast. A partial list of contributors includes Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, Alex Toth, Mike Kaluta, Al Milgrom, Sal Amendola, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Neil Adams, Pat Broderick, Marshall Rogers, Pat Boyette, Mike Sekowsky, Pablo Marcos, John Severin, Russ Heath, Frank Thorne, Ernie Colon, Jim Mooney, Larry Hama, Michael Fleisher, Archie Goodwin, John Albano, and Rick Meyers.

According to Rovin, Atlas was founded in 1974 by Martin Goodman, former publisher of Marvel. "I went to work at Atlas in June of '74. At the time, Martin Goodman, who is of course, the founder of Marvel Comics, wanted to publish five color comics, and two black and white comics. Even before we started, it became apparent to him that in order to get the rack space we needed, we had to publish more titles than that. We ended up with 20-odd monthly magazines. I was doing about six plus black-and-whites, and Larry Lieber was doing four color books.

Apparently part of the deal when Goodman had sold Marvel Comics to Magazine Management Corporation, was that his son, Chip, would still work there. "It was never clear whether Chip quit, or was fired," Rovin stated, "But when he became unemployed, Martin started Seaboard Periodicals. We also published romance magazines, puzzle books, and a mystery magazine, which was pretty interesting. I don't think Chip's heart was ever into comic books."

In the Beginning

Given the presence of a direct market and the plethora of comic book publishers in 1992, it may be hard to understand that it wasn't always this way. In fact, for quite a significant period of time, there were almost virtually just three comic book publishers, DC, Marvel, and Archie. Between these three giants, they had all but cornered the U.S. market. It was in this atmosphere that Martin Goodman ventured back into the market after selling off Marvel. Speaking from this historical perspective, Rovin related Atlas' auspicious beginnings; "When we started, there were only two other comic book companies of any significance (producing superheroes), DC and Marvel. There was Gold Key, of course, but they had their niche. Charlton was around, they had their niche. Mike Friedrich was doing his comic books (Star*Reach).

Other comic companies at the time that were producing non-superhero titles included Warren (where Rovin was working when he jumped to Atlas), which stuck to black-and-white magazines; Archie, which all but owned the teen-age humor market; and Harvey another kiddy/humor publisher. Needless to say, DC, Marvel, and Archie were the big three commanding the lion's share of the market, with all other publishers comprising the bottom 10% or so.

"Word went out, that anybody who worked for Atlas would not be permitted to work for DC, with exceptions. It scared a lot of artists off." This memo (see photocopy) was direct from the office of then VP and editor-in-chief of DC, Carmine Infantino. The memo indicated that a number of benefits would be forthcoming to all freelance writers, artists, colorists, and letterers. These included bonuses, returned artwork and color proofs, rate increases, and reprint rates. However, implicit in the memo, was the restriction that said freelancers were working solely for DC.

Infantino's reason for doing this was plainly obvious to Rovin. "At the time, there was a rather limited pool of talent to draw from. Justifiably he was afraid of loosing writers and artists." Marvel's reaction to the impending birth of Atlas was not as overt. "They had to be careful because of Martin's former relationship there. Also, Stan Lee was very gracious. He made a call very early on, saying he felt there was room for everybody. I don't think it was Stan who decided to flood the market with reprints at that time, and grab up the rack space, but none-the-less that's how Marvel responded."

Needless to say, starting up a new color line of Code-approved superhero comics in 1974 was going to be an up-hill battle. Yet, in spite of the odds stacked against them, the Goodmans determined to give it a try. "We had a lot of writers come over and make inquiries," Rovin revealed. "But I think we were used as a lever to get better deals elsewhere." According to Rovin the tide really turned when he managed to convince Howard Chaykin to come on board. "The first artist who joined us, was Howie Chaykin. His courage in doing so was enormous."

The Scorpion #1Rovin - who was still working for Warren at the time - approached Chaykin (who had just dropped off a job at the Warren offices), and informed him of the new company. "Howie had just turned in a job that I liked a lot," Rovin related. "I followed him into the elevator and explained to him what was happening. He said, "Count me in." He didn't hesitate for a second. I told him we wanted him to do a monthly book, and that he would have complete freedom to do what he wanted to after we hammered out the initial concepts."

Much of Rovin's admiration and regard for Chaykin is a direct result of Chaykin's complete willingness to sign up with the company, given the state of the industry. "He was the first name we got, period. The fact that he came along and had all this enthusiasm fired up a lot of people. Which I think and I don't want to speak for him, even though I think I'm accurate, I think his levels of enthusiasm are proportionate to his bitterness now about some of it. Because he was so excited. Because it was so free and open, the disappointment we all felt was proportionate to that. I think he certainly took it on the chin that way. I'm just - again - sorry he's allowed it to manifest itself in the ways that he has."

Rovin went so far as to liken the effect of signing Chaykin to work for Atlas to the effect of signing Brando to act in the first Superman movie: it immediately gave Atlas untold credibility with the artistic community, which soon became apparent when Chaykin's contemporaries began to contract for work shortly afterwards. "Walt (Simonson) was with him (in the elevator) at the time, or Bernie Wrightson I forget who. Then Walt came immediately thereafter. He didn't want to do a monthly book. He just wanted to do black-and- white. Whatever else we could come up with. We gave him one story. Gorgo vs. Rodan. We were negotiating with ToHo at the time to do their monsters" However, unfortunately for Atlas, Marvel moved in and bought that out from under them. "That was kind of frustrating. We had lots of deals. We had deals to do movie stuff that Chip backed out on, now that I think of it. We were suppose to do Planet of the Vampires: the Movie."

The Atlas Effect

As indicated by the reactions of both Marvel and DC, it was apparent that they were running scared at the birth of Atlas, and to combat the threat of a new publisher of four-color superhero comics, they began to scramble to secure their stranglehold on the marketplace. "We were paying, in some cases, better rates. Certainly to get talent who was reluctant to work with us, we had to pay better rates. Guys like Neal Adams weren't cheap." Among the long-term contributions to the field, that came about as a direct result of Atlas Comics were better working conditions for creators (in the form of returned work and better pay), as well as the beginnings of creator-rights.

"We were single-handedly responsible for artists getting their work back from DC, and for royalties being paid. If you look at Carmine's document, you will see August 13, 1974 in National Periodicals' new program for a broad-range of added benefits, sending out bonus checks, increased rates, artists got their originals back, etc. This was a direct result of our coming into the field, and the fact we were doing that."

Marvel also began to wake up and smell the coffee, although it took a while longer. "Marvel (didn't come around) until Jim Shooter got in there and duked it out. Jim Warren had to do the same things. Artists, I won't say became spoiled, because we weren't around long enough, but they saw it could be different. So they rallied behind people like Neal Adams and became something of a force for creator's rights. Neal was, of course, very active in that at the time. We talked on many occasions on how we could do things better."

One of the other things that Rovin managed to acquire for his team of creators was a partial ownership of the characters on which they worked. "One of the things I had negotiated with Martin, was a partial ownership of all characters, and royalty set-up for the writers and artists. At the time you had to publish three issues before you got sales reports, so I was not around when the sales reports came in, but I subsequently learned that the titles did very well, before they were altered. Theoretically everyone should have been entitled to royalties. We have documents to that effect."

Unfortunately, not everyone got to sign those documents. "Howie, Michael Fleisher, Ernie Colon, and one or two others were the only ones who ever got to sign them. I have a copy of those here. (see illustration) Martin is dead. We can't really confirm what he agreed to with me. It was understood, that if we took these characters and did other things with them, that he would get a percentage of the money. It was a large percent, like 75%, but we would be free to market them elsewhere in other formats. Novelizations, a cartoon series, whatever."

Martin Goodman, who was only interested in the publishing end of things was apparently not interested in any ancillary rights, so he told Rovin to go ahead and let the creators run with those things. He did, however want the lion's share of the money. In terms of today's market, 75% corporate ownership is an outrageous sum. In 1974 it was an unprecedented freedom to have. "It is my understanding that Chip has licensed the characters to other publishers. For years he was holding out for Marvel, hoping they would take it. I think that if anybody would want to put claim to them, the creators would have a viable class-action suit."

The Chaykin/Rovin Dispute

Cutting to the heart of Chaykin's dispute with him, Rovin had the following to say: "Howard recently said that I screwed around with that title. That's simply not true. I think we all carry scars from Atlas. I know I've been used as a punching bag for it, for a long time. I think in Howie's case, there was a lot of bitterness involving that character. But, I have to take issue with some of the things he said about it, in your recent article. First, he presumes that I sent him off with only... (quoting from the CBG article)... "Rovin gave me the title The Scorpion, and sent me home expecting, I think, a Shadow pastiche" According to Rovin, this simply wasn't true.

"Because Howie was the first one to come aboard, The Scorpion was the first character I started working on, the day I got to Atlas. This notebook which I dug out is from that day, June 24. My thoughts on The Scorpion were that (referring to the notebook), he had a western background, or a circus background." Rovin went on to say that he had conceived the Scorpion's character more in the mold of the Phantom. "In my thinking, there had been a number of Scorpions through the years. We had talked about having a woman Scorpion, possibly a World War II nurse; a puritan; and alluding these characters. So, I did not send him off with just the title."Scorpion #2

Another of Chaykin's disputes with Rovin was that Rovin had summarily replaced him with Alex Toth; here again Rovin takes issue with Chaykin. "He (Chaykin) was running late with the second issue - we had mis-communicated about the deadline. He had brought in a lot of people to work with him." Apparently there was a problem as Chaykin was unable to produce a cover that satisfied him. Toth did, however come up with something that satisfied Rovin, but Chaykin didn't want to use it. In desperation, Rovin asked Ernie Colon to step in and produce the cover.

"We did not, at any time - I did not - ask Alex Toth to take over the book. What I did ask Alex to do, is to tell tales of another Scorpion, for our black-and-white magazine, Thrilling Adventure Stories. We had done that with Tigerman, and the response was favorable. We were able to do things outside of the Comics Code, and Alex was the perfect person to do that. Howie, had a lot of respect for him, and I didn't think it would offend him to have Alex involved with the mythos. Alex, at the time, was having a lot of personal problems, and he wanted to work, he wanted freedom, and he didn't want to do a monthly or bi-monthly book. So, I asked him to do a black-and-white Scorpion story."

It was at this point that Martin Goodman wanted the character to become a Marvel Superhero clone. Close to the end of his tenure, Rovin threw up his hands in disgust and let Goodman have his way. "I'm not sure if it was Chip or Larry who brought in Jim Craig, who drew the third issue. I had nothing to do with it. I'm sorry that Howie thinks I betrayed him in any way. I'll say it again; my gratitude to him for coming aboard when he did is profound." Still, the more serious and insolent complaint that Chaykin leveled against Rovin was that Rovin used Chaykin's Scorpion plot ideas for a series of novels that Rovin wrote for Manor Books.

"After I quit Atlas, this was the first outside work that I did as a freelancer. Writers who work for Manor Books, were in no position to negotiate or bargain. They gave me the character. They gave me the stories. I had very little input to these. They're basically work-for-hire, as you would novelize a motion picture. John Littell and Joan Marie Kalter came up with the stories. They did not see Howie's outlines. It's insulting and absurd to think that, even had I had to come up with the stories, that I would use his ideas. The only thing that they have in common - and I looked through them - is the name Ruby, for one of the characters.

According to Rovin, the name Ruby had come about because at the time he was working on a book called, The Films of Chariton Heston. "Howie and I were talking about Heston films. We talked about Ruby Gentry and Lucy Galon. We thought it would be fun to name one the characters in Scorpion after her. I was able to use that in these novels. I was able to name one character Ruby." Rovin then went on to point out that both he and Chaykin loved that time era, and that many of Chaykin's later projects (Dominic Fortune for Marvel; Blackhawk and the Shadow for DC, even American Flagg! and Times2 for First had similar elements in them).”

"Howie loved that stuff. He was doing what he loved. That's what made it so good. That's what made him enthusiastic. I think part of the characters he created later, part of that creative energy had derived from his anger over the way things turned out. Again, I don't blame him. He had every right to recycle and embellish, and recreate those characters. The double standard at work there, it was okay for him to do it, not okay for me to write about a character of the 1920s without being accused of plagiarism."”

The Beginning of the End

Wulf the Barbarian #1The seeds of Atlas' destruction were, unfortunately, sown at its birth, for in spite of the major strides the company had initially made, the end was not far off. "You used the phrase 'crash and burn on the newsstand' in your article (CBG #1055) and that's not accurate. The fact of the matter is that Chip simply lost interest. I only edited two issues of most of the books before I left. I left in January of 1975, which was not a long time after starting. I'd only done two Scorpions, two Wulf the Barbarian, two Brutes, and two Grim Ghosts."

When Martin and Chip saw what Rovin was doing with his books, they got nervous, because they didn't look like Marvel books. It was then that they made a demand. "They demanded that all the books, look, read, and sound like Marvel Comics. They started hiring on their own, all the talent. Some of whom were under contract with Marvel and were paid under the table, and worked anonymously. Without my consent they would redo covers to make them look more like Marvel. Wulf the Barbarian #2 was a beautiful cover, until they cut in some demon woman that didn't belong there."

It soon became apparent to all involved that what had begun as a haven for creators was turning into a third-rate, hack publisher. "I'll tell you what Chip was thinking. The difference in budgeting five titles and budgeting 20-odd titles is considerable. As the money was going out, he started to panic. He started to panic before the sales reports came in, and he just decided to lay the ax to the group, and stop spending. That meant killing the titles." It also meant that writers and artists who had completed work weren't getting paid.

Rovin complained that not only did the Goodmans hire people who were not going to be true to the storylines set-up. They were famous for firing artists they didn't like. "Chip would take home finished material over weekends. Read it, not like it, and not want to pay for it. That put me in a miserable position. I think Walt might have missed out getting paid on something. It was unbearable to be in that position." Chip even required Rovin to fire art director Steve Mitchell. "Chip never liked him. Chip wanted me to fire him, and I did. Steve is my friend, still, and I have made amends for what I did."

Rovin felt that in order to be able to salvage his relationship with Chip, such as it was - this was in December, towards the end of Rovin's tenure - had to remove this impediment (Mitchell), which he did. However, Rovin attempted to make an end-run around letting his friend go. "The only way I was able to fire him, was to make sure that he would have enough freelance stuff to make up for the loss of income. Chip agreed to that. Then, Chip started rejecting stories."

Other people that got screwed included Ernie Colon, who, according to Rovin ".. .Got screwed royally..." and since has become one of Rovin's best friends. (They are currently working together on a new project.) "Larry Hama's mother was dying. We had to get his book done. I put pressure on him, however tactfully applied, it was still pressure. I've since talked to him about it."Phoenix #1

Chip even asked Rovin to ask Dick Giordano do redo a cover. "The first Phoenix cover, because disaster stories were big, he wanted to have a city falling down in the background. We went ahead and did that. That was the first sign that we had to watch out for publisher interference. We figured it was an aberration, and let it go." In an effort to save money, Atlas began purchasing artwork from overseas artists, which angered Jim Warren because that practice cut into his talent pool. "That pissed off Jim Warren enormously, and I don't blame him. We were cutting into his market; using some of his artists. It was something that I deeply regret doing. In retrospect, we shouldn't have done the black and white magazines. Jim was something of a mentor. He was another one of the people that I would have treated differently in retrospect."

Unable to effect any changes, and unable to produce the kind of comics that he desired to, Rovin left the company early in 1975. As for what became of Atlas/Seaboard - the comic book publisher that could have been a contender - after that; Rovin adds this postscript "Sometime in 1974, Chip bought Swank, the sex magazine. That became his primary focus. That is all that survived in 1975. I don't remember how many years he stayed with that. He has recently been publishing a UFO magazine, and other things."

The Dust at the End of the Trail

When asked about the viability of the line if Chip Goodman had stuck with it a little longer, and allowed Rovin and Lieber preside over the comics, letting the various creators kind of comics they had set out to produce, he responded in this fashion. "If Chip had just stuck with the original concepts of the characters, I have no doubt that it would have worked." Rovin left the company before the first sales reports became available, but he states that he had gotten word that the books were selling well, and probably would have improved had the editors been free of publisher interference.

"Martin had us put 'All new! No reprint!' on the cover. Marvel was charging 2O-25c for reprints, and we were charging 25c for all-new material. I think Chip got fed up with a lot of the artists. He didn't understand the mentality. He didn't understand why Mike Sekowsky felt the need to write 5H 17 on the wing of a plane, so it would reproduce to look like the word 'shit', because he didn't like what he was doing. None of us liked The Brute. It was Martin's idea. He wanted to do a character like the Hulk, so we came up with this. He didn't understand why Howard Nostrand, who was a remarkably talented man, would come in and grab Rick [Marshall) by the lapels, and throw him out the door, or over the desk, I forget which." (Apparently Nostrand did this simply because it amused him: Rovin and Lieber allowed the practice to continue so long as it was Marshall and not one of them.)

Weird Suspense #1In spite of all the hard work and aggravation, Rovin remembered the good times. "From June to November, when we were on our own, and just running free, it was magical, and we had a lot of fun." However much Rovin feels that - had they been left alone the line would still be on-going - he likewise feels that there is no way to go back and recreate that magic. "Those characters are very much of the time. I remember, for example, the Grim Ghost, and the Tarantula, both of which were nasty characters. Michael Fleisher really pushed the limits of the Comics Code on that. We had a superhero, or a character (the Tarantula) that was eating people. Pat Boyette, who drew it, brought a real quirky style to color comics."

Rovin felt that there was a whole Saturday Night Live sense of irreverence, and yet affection that was very much of the '70s, for the line. "If you did it now, it would just be more of the escapades of the Grim Ghost, or more adventures of the Scorpion." Rovin attributes this feeling of magic to the dedication, and drive of the creators involved. "We had the kind of dedication from people that was unparalleled in the field. Artists and writers were really busting their backs to do the best work that they could. Walt and Archie Goodwin did an incredible samurai story. New talent was coming to us. Sal Amendola, who had never gotten to do a superhero thing the way he wanted to was getting to do them. Oh yeah, if they had left us alone, we definitely would have been viable."

Further, in the works were all kinds of comic, and non-comic related deals; "We would have been in on the beginning of the direct market. Plus, I had already signed some book contracts with Citadel Press, and was developing contacts in other fields. We were talking to Otto Preminger - who was around the corner - about motion pictures. All of these things were just getting started when I left, and consequently they died."

These sentiments were echoed in a letter that Ernie Colon had sent to Amazing Heroes after the magazine had run an article about Atlas. The letter read in part; "About your 'Atlas Reconsidered' article in AH #81 ...I was surprised at the omission of Jeff Rovin's name.. It was his judgment which was mainly responsible for the team of artists who gravitated to Atlas, partly for better rates, partly because they were offered an artistic freedom unknown in the field. It was the tone that Jeff set that gave rise to the creativity that, had top management been more astute, would today have still been viable. Many of the characters birthed during his tenure are still with us, as you noted, under different names. ..Left to Jeff Rovin and under the fine team he inspired to put out some of the best work they've ever done, Atlas would still be here giving Marvel and DC a damn good run for their money."

Rovin said that, towards the end, his office often seemed the only safe place in the building, "We felt like my office was the Alamo towards the end. We just felt so embattled. So many of the things we wanted to do never got done. It's so heart-breaking to look back. Yet, the record needs to be set straight, because I'm tired of the misconceptions, and lies that circulate about the company and my tenure there."

Monkey in the Middle

At the risk of sounding like an embittered old man (which he most certainly is not), Rovin stated that working in a position that requires a person to act as an intermediary between the creators that produce the work, and the suits and ties that fund it, is an untenable position. "I think when somebody is an intermediary between money people and creative people, they're gonna get chewed up. It happened to Bill DuBay. It happened to Jim Shooter, It happened to me. Both of those people are nothing, nothing, like they've been made out to be, by so many people in the creative community. They are not the beasts and monsters they've been made out to be."

Rovin feels that such people wind up looking two-faced because they are required to play both ends against the middle. They have to go to the creators and say, 'Yeah okay, I'll take care of your ego,' and then go suck up to the suits and say, "It's okay. I've got them in line.' "I lunched with Jim (Shooter) about a month ago. We were discussing this very issue. It is simply impossible to please everyone."

What is especially galling to Rovin is that the stories that circulate always seem to be about atrocities committed by these people and rarely - if ever - are about the enormous good they do. "You don't hear about at Atlas, the artist who was incredibly ill, and had no money, who we advanced money against the job. You don't hear about other artist who needed a down-payment for his house, so I vouchered stories that he hadn't done yet, knowing that he would, so he could make the down-payment. I did not do any of these without Chip's approval, but I still had to vouch that the work would come in."

Rovin lamented the disparity of this. "You don't hear about Alex Toth being so depressed and having to be nursemaided through the stories. You don't hear about how Bill DuBay and Jim Warren did the same thing with Rick Crandall or Russ Heath. You rarely see letters in print from these guys. Somehow people just assume that Larry Lieber did it all, and that Martin Goodman waved his wand, and talented people just came over, which wasn't the case."

The Final Word

Still, even after all the grief that Rovin has taken over his roll in the demise of Atlas, he bears no one any ill will. "I am disturbed that Howie would think these things. I am disturbed that he would write them without checking to see if he was right, or giving me the benefit of the doubt. I'm disturbed that CBG ran it without checking the accuracy of the statements. But, it's probably not worth going to the mat about, in court, but I also think it's necessary to set the record straight. If Howard wants to call and talk about it he knows how to reach me."

Much to his credit, Rovin has always attempted to go back and repair any damage that occurred for which he may have been responsible (either directly or through inaction). I went back to work with Jim Warren again until the very end of his company. Indeed, we tried desperately to save Warren Publishing in the last couple of years. With Mike Schneider, who is now my partner in publishing. We were working for free. We were going to, when we started our publishing company, give Jim 20% of it, just so he would come out of the funk that he was in and contribute, because he is a brilliant publisher. There is another instance where we were blamed for all kinds of horrible things."

Rovin pointed to Warren as another person who got a really bad rap, and who couldn't have been nicer to so many people. "He was difficult, and he made some bad calls over the years, but who doesn't? What can I say? I hope to be working with a lot of these people again. I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, but I want to make this point, too. When I needed illustrators for a book I was doing, I called Joe Kubert, and he gave me two of his students to illustrate this book.

Yet I've never seen (these two) in their list of credits acknowledge that this was their first work, proving that it isn't just the publishers who twist things to make themselves look good, or to fit the history that suits them. I've always tried to give credit to people where it's due. I don't see that reciprocated as often as I'd like to see it."

Rovin wound up his bit of Atlas history by stating that if someone points out to him that he's made a mistake, he would try to set it straight. "I once did not acknowledge a writer whose book I used for reference. The next book I did I took a page out in front, to acknowledge it, and apologize. When I've done novels, where other people contribute to the research, they'll get credit."

As for Rovin, after he left Atlas, he went on to numerous other projects, including publishing magazines, writing books, magazine articles, short stories, comics, and TV, as well as securing work as a consultant on various projects (TV, comics, books, etc.) Never one to lay idly about, Rovin is currently immersed in the creation of a new line of comics involving a number of surprising very high-profile individuals and corporations. He and his partners were - at one point - even involved in a potential buyout of Innovation Comics, but backed out of the deal when they discovered that the principles wanted to get paid up front at the expense of the creators. "I wasn't about to get involved in that kind of a deal. We were willing to pay the principles over a period of a couple of years, but they wanted all their money up front. That's when we backed out.

As for his days at Atlas, Rovin still has no small amount of fondness for those characters and those days, and regrets that he and his crack team of creators were never able to fulfill the promise of what could have been achieved, if only they had been allowed to do what it was that they did best. Had they actually been able to do so, one can only surmise what comic books in this country would be like today had they truly been allowed to run free.

Comments or Suggestions ? Let us know ! 29-Sep-2010 9:06