I remember once, many years ago, Jack Morelli and I were coming back from lunch and there was a guy in the Marvel reception area who was trying to get an editor to look at his portfolio.
He just showed up and didn’t have an appointment or anything like that. I think the editors were still at lunch or maybe too busy or something.
As Jack and I got off the elevator on the tenth floor, the fellow was asking the receptionist, “Well….will YOU look at it?”
Before she could answer, I interrupted, “I’ll look at it!”
“Who are YOU?” the young man demanded to know.
Jack was my assistant, and I guess he was a little incensed at the question,
“Well–you were just getting ready to show it to the receptionist,” he shot back.
I calmly explained that I worked in the bullpen and that I was an “artist”.
Alas, as I should have suspected, his work was, as Will Eisner used to say, “Beyond the Pale,”or as the noted New York art dealer, Ivan Karp might tell someone, “Your work is alien to my consciousness”.
I wanted to like it. Lord knows I did.
I’m a nice person.
I wanted to be helpful and for a moment or two as I beheld his “impasto” application of black and white on paper, quite unlike anything I had ever seen this side of a Jackson Pollack–I struggled to come up with something postive to say, a few words of encouragement, as I ran my index finger over the surface of one of the pages to see if indeed that really was three-eights of an inch of Snow-Paque® on that figure.
“A blind person could have a very enjoyable tactile experience here, just touching this….” I thought to myself.
Searching for something helpful to say, I confessed that I was having difficulty discerning what was a figure and what was background.
The young man became increasingly agitated when it became clear that I was not going to tell him what he wanted to hear. I suggested as tactfully as I could that, “…perhaps, it might be a good idea if you made a careful study of the books Marvel is actually publishing, and, “make your work more like that….”
This information only resulted in the poor chap becoming even more defensive, and, frankly, a little agressive and threatening toward me.
This annoyed my friend Jack to no end. Jack was a bodybuilder from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and a former deckhand on the fishing boat, The America who had detached human body parts from fishing hooks, upon which they had snagged in the waters off Brooklyn– and Jack had a close relative who was a pro wrestler. Jack had been in a few fights in his young life and I could tell he was ready to mix it up with the guy if he became any more aggressive.
“YOU AIN”T NEVER GONNA WORK FOR MARVEL!“, said Jack, as I moved my own body between them.
Luckily, the elevator arrived and the young man wisely got on it.
As the doors closed and the elevator descended back to street level, taking a young man’s dreams with it, the young man shouted at us, “I’M GONNA MAKE YOU EAT THOSE WORDS!!”
I held Jack back, we both went down the hall and went back to work, and as far as I know, sadly, the young man never did work for Marvel.
From the perspective of thirty years, I wish I had yelled back, “I HOPE YOU’RE RIGHT!”
But I did not.
For the record, I would be perfectly happy to eat those words, even now, for I would have been very happy had he developed his artwork to the point where an editor thought he was good enough to draw for us.