Sunday, June 5, 2011

1983 - Uncanny X-Men #175 and John Romita Jr. and beyond

Came across a few interesting tidbits from an interview with John Romita Jr. in Modern Masters #18. While I loved Paul Smith's art, I came on a bit late and ended picking up his work in back issues. Romita Jr. quickly defined my treasured version of the X-Men.

On taking on the Uncanny X-Men in mid-issue during #175:

"Oh, that was because Paul ran out of time. He had a scheduling problem, so they aksed me to do eight pages over a weekend. [laughter] (...) They said, “Listen, it’s got to be done. Can you get it done by Monday?” I said, “Yeah”.

(...) I tried to make it look like his [Paul Smith] stuff, since it was the middle of the book. I believed in doing a slow grading into the next artist. I didn’t want to just shock everybody. At least, that’s what I said, when I could have just done my own stuff. So I did a little bit of Paul Smith-esque stuff the first issue or so.

(...) that was the first time I felt the wrath of the fans."

On working with Claremont:

"(...) Basically, he [Claremont] just gave very tight plots. They weren’t really scripts, they were plots, but his were very tight. (...) It was basically “do what he writes.” I would just start thumbnailing, do little notes and little doodles to pace out the whole book, and then start from first page."
On leaving the Uncanny X-Men and Star Brand:
“I got asked to do Star Brand, believe it or not. (...) because Jim Shooter asked me to. He asked me to, and said it would be good for me to do it, so I did. (...) I wasn’t happy. I found out that I was much more unhappy getting off the book because I didn’t enjoy doing Star Brand. (...) It was supposed to be Marvel’s version of Superman, and it ended up being Jim Shooter’s life story. It’s true! Very true. (...) And it failed, it was terrible. (...) I was very unhappy. And then I got a chance to work on Daredevil and that really turned things around for me."

Impressed by John Romita Jr.'s candidness in this interview. Gutsy and commendable to speak so honestly.


  1. First off, I love this blog, the 80s were "important" comic book years for me. I began buying comics in the late 70s,but didn't start seriously collecting until Spring 1980. I've been checking the archives for the past few weeks,good stuff.

    Thanks for posting this, I remember reading 175 and noticing the change in the middle, but I haven't heard Romita talk about this before.

    "I believed in doing a slow grading into the next artist."
    That's interesting, because if you read the first few Spider-man stories drawn by Romita Sr., some of the characters look Ditkoesque. So maybe Jr. got some advice from his dad about "slow grading into the next artist".

    I never cared for his X-men art, but I loved his work on Daredevil during the Nocenti run. And his art was fine on 'Star Brand' too.

    I recently started a comics blog(partially inspired by your blog) of my own dedicated to the 'Assistant Editors' Month' "event" of 1983. Since we're talking X-men, here's a X-men/New Mutants post from a couple weeks back:

  2. Hey J.A., thanks for the kind words about my blog. Thanks for sharing those links. I've had that topic in my queue for awhile, just never seem to get to it!

  3. I can remember being bitterly disappointed when Paul Smith left the X-Men, and that very issue was a bummer for me. Romita just didn't cut it for me as a replacement

  4. I love JR Jr's run on the X-men, I feel he defined the X-men in mid 80s. These issues bring me back to my childhood. Great blog by the way!



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