Robot 6

Talking Comics with Tim | Greg Pak on Bill Mantlo

Greg Pak's first Bill Mantlo comic

Greg Pak‘s Afterword tribute to Bill Mantlo in the final issue of his Hulk run (The Incredible Hulks 635) genuinely gave me pause (and as I said as much in that week’s WAYR). Then last week when Kevin Melrose made us aware of LifeHealthPro/Bill Coffin‘s devastating profile of Bill Mantlo’s life since 1992, which clearly struck a chord with many Robot 6 readers. Once I saw Pak’s comment in the thread, I realized I wanted to talk to Pak about Mantlo. While I have long respected Pak as a writer, his decision to set up a donations page for Bill Mantlo’s care is the reason why I admire him. My thanks to Pak for the interview and for scanning the cover to the actual copy of his first Bill Mantlo comic (Micronauts 3), which we get to discuss also.

Tim O’Shea: At what point in your run on the Hulk did you realize that you wanted to write the Afterword, partially about Bill Mantlo?

Greg Pak: I’d cited Bill Mantlo as a big influence many times over the years in press and publicity for my various Hulk storylines. So it was a natural for me to focus on him in the afterward to Incredible Hulks #635. And it was a huge pleasure to be able to formally dedicate the run to Mantlo on that final page.

O’Shea: Was an issue of the Micronauts the first Bill Mantlo-written comic you ever read?

Pak: Yep. Micronauts #3. I read and reread that thing approximately six trillion times. Man, you’ve got me pulling it out again now… check out that tattered cover!

It’s just a fantastic issue — with the Micronauts’ crazy dogfight in the streets and skate parks of Daytona contrasted with Steve Coffin’s suburban angst, that creepy old lady requesting Prince Argon’s body back in Homeworld Body Banks, exiled prince Acroyear hacking that traitor’s spaceship IN HALF, nonstop quippage and banter and romantic tension, and the eerie image of the battlecruiser and dead baddies in the shoebox on the final page. LOVE.

O’Shea: You wrote an entire column for Newsarama detailing your respect for Mantlo’s writing and its influence on your Hulk run. But can you elaborate further on what it is about Mantlo’s storytelling that has always appealed to you?

Pak: I love Mantlo’s dedication to emotional story and his total embrace of completely loopy, big ideas. See the “Micronauts” #3 description above. So much crazy fun, and yet Mantlo always has his thumb on his characters’ emotional pulse. We’re thrilled ’cause it’s so insane — and because he’s made us care about the characters.

O’Shea: Did your Marvel editors ever push back when you wanted to work Mantlo homages into your own Hulk run? Speaking of all the homages, which one were you most pleased to have worked into your Hulk run?

Pak: Marvel editor Mark Paniccia, my big partner in crime on my Hulk run, is also a big Micronauts fan. So I think he got a kick out of all the little homages I tossed in. I gave my insectivorid Miek a recurring “kik” in his dialogue — a tip of the hat to the Micronauts’ Bug and his “tik.” I had several characters in “Planet Hulk” check out with big screams of “GLEEEARGH!” — one of Mantlo’s favorite exclamations. But I’m probably most happy with the way we worked flashbacks to Mantlo’s Incredible Hulk #312 into the Skaar/Hulk confrontation in Incredible Hulk #611. It made the whole issue resonate on about three more levels. Thanks again, Mr. Mantlo.

O’Shea: In acknowledging Mantlo’s influence did you initially hope to be able to bring his current plight back into current day discussion, or was that just a happy coincidence?

Pak: Every time I talk about Mantlo I try to mention his condition and give people an indication of how they can help out with his daily care. When someone gives you so much joy, it’s important to give back if you can. Amazing folks like David Yurkovich and Jason Leivian set the stage for this with their hard work on their Mantlo benefits; I’m just happy to have the chance to follow their lead.

O’Shea: For folks who have never read Mantlo’s Hulk issues, where would you recommend that people start?

Pak: If you want to plunge into the action, I’d recommend Incredible Hulk #297-300, which tell the story of a mindless Hulk going on an insane rampage that leads to a massive showdown with a huge number of Marvel heroes in New York City. And then the Crossroads saga, which spans from Incredible Hulk #301-313, during which Doctor Strange exiles the Hulk from Earth in hopes of finding him a dimension in which he can be happy. That run includes the amazing Incredible Hulk #312, which had such a huge influence on my own exploration of Banner’s relationship with his father and mother.

O’Shea: Were you surprised when Mike Mantlo reached out to you with a note, after you wrote of Mantlo’s influence?

Pak: I actually tracked down Mike through Jason and asked if he’d like to send me a note to include with that Newsarama column. Mike has done so much for so many years for his brother that I thought it would make a big difference if folks could hear from him directly how their notes and support have helped.

O’Shea: Are you proud that you have been able to indirectly use your run on the Hulk to partially bring Bill Mantlo’s life into present day focus, and encourage fans to donate to his care?

Pak: You bet. It’s so easy to feel helpless when you read about something as tragic as what happened to Bill Mantlo. But there are always things we can do to help, and I’m very happy to have the chance to help point people in the right direction.

And thank you, Tim, for doing the same by writing this article! Much appreciated.

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Comments

13 Comments

If you follow Greg Pak on Twitter, and seen his hard work for various causes, it’s obvious he has a huge heart and the willingess to support his empathy with action to help others in need.

Besides being a great writer, he’s a fine human being.

Presumably, being a huge corporation, Disney (and its subsidiary Marvel Comics) occasionally gives to charity with an eye towards public relations and, giving them the benefit of the doubt as human beings, philanthropic duty.

If that is the case, can someone please tell me why they cannot do something to benefit Mr. Mantlo and other creators who have helped build the Marvel Universe and provided countless hours of entertainment to readers over the years? Would that really be so difficult for them to do? I’m genuinely asking, as I do not have a good understanding of how that kind of thing works.

hopefully now that more word gets out about bill maybe some execs at Disney will step forward and do the honorable thing if nothing else maybe give some back royalties with cloak and dagger being in the spotlight lately like in the spider man current story line and also the in the works tv show. or better Disney out of the kindess of their rep offers to set up a fund for bills care . and props to Greg for helping to get the word out on bill and looking at ways to help him.

Marvel should really do a series of Bill Mantlo Visionaries of those Hulk issues….with profits going towards Mantlo. His run has not been traded yet and would be a hit, especially if the comic community knows it would benefit Bill.

God bless Greg Pak.

Mint City Comics

November 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Although I have read nearly all of Mantlo’s stuff, the Micronauts and Rom left the greatest impression on me. I remember getting so pumped up with those “The Micronauts are coming” ads along with “Rom has come…evil is on the run.” Both of those series I still enjoy. With limited newsstand distribution in my area, I first read Micronauts #1, and then Micronauts #3 (I didn’t read #2 until nearly 20 years later!). It blew me away! Loved that final panel with Karza crawling out of the Prometheus Pit, the Man-Thing issue, and that final appearance of the Time Travelers…wow! And Rom wiping out those Wraiths, figthing the X-Men, returning to Galador, that awesome Gene Day Shang Chi cover, that incredible “Rom…Man!” cover! I could go on-but I will stop to fully recognize how Bill Mantlo created an incredible light in my childhood/early teenage years that still illuminates my imagination! I hope he gets the help and recognition he deserves.

“Marvel should really do a series of Bill Mantlo Visionaries of those Hulk issues….with profits going towards Mantlo. His run has not been traded yet and would be a hit, especially if the comic community knows it would benefit Bill.”

I brought this up to Tom Brevoort before and got a very cold “we have no plans to do that” reply.

Some of Mantlo’s stuff has been traded recently, particularly in the Premiere Hardcover series

I immediately donated. Bill Mantlo brought me a lot of joy as a kid. Reading about his plight was just heartbreaking. We should all have a brother who loves us so much.

Bravo, Greg Pak. Bravo.

“I brought this up to Tom Brevoort before and got a very cold “we have no plans to do that” reply.”

This doesn’t surprise me. It’s been proven time and time again the man has no heart. I’m refraining from name calling, but he’s one of the biggest things wrong with Marvel right now.

@Matt Halteman

Corporations only care about making money.

I decided to create a Facebook page to encourage Marvel and Hasbro to either create new Rom material or collect existing material by Mantlo himself (or both) and have the proceeds go to Mantlo’s care: https://www.facebook.com/groups/141453282624884/

There may not be plans at this time for that, but maybe if enough people demand it, they’ll see that this would create some good publicity for them, thus translating into sales for more profitable projects.

I interviewed Greg Pak for speak on it for his PLANET HULK GRAPHIC NOVEL , He is a really nice guy. Bravo mr PAK. And I Too LOVED Mr Mantlos work back in the day. WITH MICRONAUSTS,CLOAK&DAGGER and ROM,HULK being my favorites . MARVEL PLEASE start collecting his work in trades. so at least some of the proceeds go to his care.

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