Saturday, January 26, 2013

E.C.? P.C.!-- PART 2

The more I think about the matter, the stranger it seems to me that Gary Groth, as I noted in Part 1, should even raise the question of how "generous" William Gaines was to his artists.  What form of largesse could possibly be of any significance, given that Gaines neither allowed creators to own their own works, nor returned art to the artists?  Why not just laud the EC work in terms of its excellence, and leave the question of Gaines' ethical deportment for separate consideration?

Gaines, I believe, is frequently given a "pass" in these matters due to the critical position EC Comics occupies in the minds of the Bloody Comic Book Elitists.  As example-- and this is, to be sure, not a COMICS JOURNAL-specific concern-- I cite these passages from ALTER EGO's interview with Sheldon Moldoff, conducted by Roy Thomas.
 

MOLDOFF: Well, as I said, you've got to come out at the right time and the right place. An interesting part of my career-and I have written proof, since I've kept all my records from 'way back-
When Max Gaines was killed in his motorboat accident, his son Bill took over EC. I had met Bill before, but now he was in charge, and I was doing some work for him. I asked him, "How's things going?" He said, "Lousy. The family's considering closing up and getting out of the comic book business." I said, "Bill, if I give you an idea which I think will be the next trend, will you give me a contract and a percentage of sales if it shows a profit? I only want it if there's a profit; I'd get paid a percentage of the profit. I think I know what's going to come in next." And he said, "I'd be glad to!" I said, "Okay, I'm going to bring you a couple of titles and a little breakdown, and show you what I have in mind."

Moldoff asserted that this handshake deal wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

 So I went running down there, and they're still at Lafayette Street, and I said, "Bill, what is this?" He said, "I knew you'd be here." I said, "Well, do you blame me? We have a contract, and you're supposed to use mine! I'm supposed to be the horror man!" He said, "Well, I decided I'm not going to give percentages. I don't want to give percentages. I'll give you all the work you want, but no percentages." I said, "No, we had an agreement, and I want you to honor it!" He said, "Well, there's nothing you can do about it, Shelly. I decided I'm not paying anybody percentages."
 Thousands, perhaps millions, of words have been written to pillory the employees of Marvel and DC for their heinous acts in "stealing" the works of Jerry Siegel, Jack Kirby, et al.  In the quote reprinted in Part 1, Gary Groth accused Marvel of "impoverishing" its employees.

How many words have been written, online or in print, to excoriate William Gaines for his alleged crime, for which there's at least as much evidence as there is for the "crimes" of Stan Lee?

Has anyone so much as alluded to Moldoff's allegation when making an assessment of Gaines, be it in the JOURNAL or anywhere?  I honestly would like to know, as I can't very well read everything.


Assuming that my hunch is correct-- that Gaines' problematic status has received little to no comment-- am I alleging a conscious conspiracy to protect the rep of William Gaines, because he's one of the Fathers of Quality Comics That Snooty Elitists Like Best?

No.

But I think that elitists are unconsciously selective when it comes to the purported offenses of their heroes.  Gaines' offenses, even if they are genuine, are just old news, no one cares about whether or not he cheated a minor player like Moldoff.  But Stan Lee's offenses against Jack Kirby, DC's against Siegel and Shuster-- these are "evergreen," because Marvel and DC remain "the enemy," now and forever, World Without End.

In Part 3 I'll address certain contemporary reactions to EC comics.





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