Saturday, May 19, 2018


(cautiously edited by John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino)

My pal John Cimino came up with this notion about a colored drawing that would depict me with most of the Marvel heroes (and a couple of villains) with whose creation I'd been associated.  I really liked that idea, because I'd always loved those oft-reproduced drawings of Jack Kirby, John Buscema, John Romita, Herb Trimpe, et al., sitting at a drawing board with "their" heroes swirling about them... and I'd even written a panel like that for Stan Lee when I wrote a story for the STAN LEE MEETS... series a few years back.  John engaged a talented young artist named Joe St. Pierre to do the drawing, and it turned out beautifully, with Yours Truly sitting at a typewriter and all these characters coming (at least partly) out of my head.  Then, with the help of Brian Overton, John got Marvel's okay--indeed, Marvel kindly handled the printing of the posters--to sell the posters, with a proportion of the money going to the Hero Initiative, the comic book industry's own charity, and we were off and running. 

When John released the print to the masses, he told me to write a little something to advertise it.  This is what I came up with:

"I couldn't be happier or prouder! For the first time ever, I have a color print ready for sale that features a pandemonious panoply of some of the greatest heroes and villains I was privileged to write over the years for Marvel Comics--some I co-created, others I merely helped develop. So, next time you see me at a comics convention, my buddy John Cimino and I will have these available for purchase, and I'd be happy to sign it for you, with a percentage of the money going to the comics' own Hero Initiative charity. Talk about win-win!"

My buddy John Cimino is making sure I spell my name correctly as I sign a print for some lucky fan.

Here's a list of all the characters that made the cut onto the print, and how I, along with some of the best comic book writers and artists ever, came up with them.

Wolverine - I came up with the name Wolverine because I wanted to do a
Canadian hero/villain and wanted the name of an animal that lived in
Canada.  I told Len Wein that he should be, like the beast itself, both
short and very fierce/bad-tempered.  Len sometimes forgot that I'd given
him those latter two qualities for the character, but that in no way
makes Len less of the co-creator of Wolverine.  The original look of the
hero was designed by John Romita, and it was Herb Trimpe who first drew
him in THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  I consider the four of us to be the co-creator
of Wolverine, and I regret that Herb wasn't listed as a co-creator in
the "Logan" movie.  Artist Dave Cockrum may or may not have shown me his
notion of a character called the Wolverine, one of a number of Legion of
Super-Heroes types he'd created... I don't recall... but I already knew
what a wolverine was.  If I had taken the name from Dave, then I
wouldn't have been debating in my mind for a short time, before the
meeting with Len Wein, about whether to call the hero Wolverine or
Badger.  I decided on "Wolverine" because that sounded fiercer than
"Badger," a word that has the connotation of "to annoy," while
"wolverine" sounds a bit like a wolf.  In fact, John Romita has said
that when assigned to design the character, he thought a wolverine was a
female wolf.  I chose Len because he was a good writer, but if Len had
preferred not to do so, there would've still been a Marvel Wolverine who
was Canadian, short, and vile-tempered... but he would've lacked Len's
particular virtues.  I presume it was Romita who came up with the claws...and
others later (Len and Chris Claremont) who decided they and his skeleton were
made of Adamantium, the metal I'd made up for THE AVENGERS earlier.  For the

Warlock - based on Stan Lee/Jack Kirby character Him from FANTASTIC FOUR
- co-designed and co-re-created by Gil Kane, who designed the costume
with my input and who suggested he have the first name "Adam" to my
"Warlock"--the concept was partly a takeoff on Kirby's Fourth World, but
mainly a response to my love of the record album "Jesus Christ
Super-Star," before it became a Broadway musical and movie.

Killraven - in my basic concept for the Marvel sequel to H.G. Wells' WAR
OF THE WORLDS, inspired partly by Hunt Bowman in the PLANET COMICS
series "The Lost World" and co-created for Marvel by artist Neal Adams
and myself.  Named by Gerry Conway, who dialogued the first story.

Banshee - maybe the first villain I co-created for Marvel, a mutant from
X-MEN, first penciled by Werner Roth from my suggestion of his general
look as a slightly older mutant than the X-Men, Irish, flying,
sonic-powered, etc.

Sunfire - co-created with artist Don Heck for X-MEN; he designed the
character from my verbal suggestion of a costume that was an embodiment
of the imperial Japanese Rising Sun flag, as Japanese or Japanese-American.

Ghost Rider - basically the idea of Gary Friedrich, using the name of
M.E. and Marvel's western Ghost Rider.  I worked out the precise  look/design
of the character-- skull head with leather costume (loosely based on the black

leather outfit that Elvis wore in his 1968 comeback special)--with
artist Mike Ploog in a meeting which Gary didn't attend, but I can't say
whether Gary and I had ever discussed the look of the new character
before I talked to Ploog.  Gary was the initiator, however.

Starr the Slayer - a Conan/sword-and-sorcery type hero that I conceived
for an issue of CHAMBER OF DARKNESS, before Marvel had thought seriously
about licensing an S&S character.  I went to Barry Smith to be the
artist, and he fleshed out my story of a barbarian hero who was the main
character in prose stories written by a pulp-style author who wants to
kill him off, so that the barbarian comes into our world and slays the
author instead. Barry and I later decided to carry the wonderful  helmet
he designed for Starr, with the horns in front like a bull's instead of
on the side, over to the early issues of CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

Tiger Shark - enemy of SUB-MARINER.  John Buscema designed him from my
general description of a sharp-toothed guy with a fin on his costume. 
As I recall, after John had penciled the first story, Stan had him alter
the fin so that it was far larger and extended down his back.

Luke Cage, aka Power Man - In 1972 Stan Lee decided it was time Marvel
had an entire comic devoted to an African-American hero, so he conferred
with me and (perhaps at the same time, or perhaps by a second meeting)
Archie Goodwin to create such a hero.  He wanted the character to be an
escaped, naturally innocent convict who tried to make super-heroing pay
(unusual for the day) and who wore a rather untypical super-hero
costume.  John Romita basically designed the costume, with a bit of
kibitzing from me, but I don't recall any specific thing that I may have
suggested be part of the costume.  My own contributions were the name "Cage" 

(which I realized later I'd seen in a list of potential character names Gil Kane had shown me some time before). The name "Hero for Hire" and the particular levels of power--bulletproof, but bullets would raise welts on his skin... inspired by Philip Wylie's hero Hugo Danner in his novel GLADIATOR. It was later that I decided he should have a super-hero name, and gave him that of a previous villain, Power Man.

Thundra - a 7-foot Amazon type that I conceived as an homage of sorts to
characters like Kirby's Big Barda in his Fourth World by DC Comics.  I
asked John Buscema to give her a bandolier around her torso because a number of
women's-lib types were wearing them (sometimes with real bullets) in
photos in newspapers and magazines.  The name Thundra, besides coming
from "thunder," was probably inspired in part by Th'unda, the name of a
jungle hero first drawn by Frank Frazetta and written by Gardner Fox.

Carol Danvers, now Captain Marvel - When I took over the new Captain
Marvel series in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES with his second story.  I
don't recall if Stan asked me to make up a female head of security for
The Cape or if it was my own idea.  I named her, although I don't think
the name "Carol" appears until an issue or two later.  I wrote the first
few stories in which she appeared, but of course others turned her into
first Ms. Marvel, then Captain Marvel... and another heroine in between
called Binary.  I may have been subconsciously influenced in Carol's last name
by that of Supergirl's secret ID... but then, Danvers is a real name,
not a made-up one, so it may just be a coincidence, and certainly
Supergirl had no influence on Carol Danvers as a character.

Stingray - Needed a villain for SUB-MARINER, and wanted an underwater
type (just like others I devised, like Tiger Shark and Orka the Human
Killer Whale and Commander Kraken) who created a costume for his sub-sea
life.  I think Marie Severin designed the character pretty much on her own.

Tigra the Werewoman - a tricky one.  I have this vague memory that that
idea and name were mine, but even if they were, it was Tony Isabella and
the artist who did all the work of changing the former Cat into a new
and more werewolf-oriented character. Tony told me he doesn't recall
if he or I came up with the precise name and concept.  Either way, Tony
did the stories and development, with the artist (Don Perlin?), and is
at the very least the co-creator of Tigra, along with the artist.

Spitfire - my concept of a WWII English character, though except for
maybe a general discussion the costume was designed by Frank Robbins for
THE INVADERS.  I wanted a vaguely fiery feel to her, since she got her
powers from the Human Torch.

Union Jack - I knew just what I wanted this WWI and WWII English hero to
look like--a walking Union Jack flag--so I drew that costume on one of
the photocopies or stats of the character design sheet that John Romita
had come up with for such purposes.  Frank Robbins, and then Kirby on
the cover, caught that feeling perfectly in THE INVADERS.  Wish I'd
saved my original "drawing."

Valkyrie - I wanted a sort of female Thor, but of course at first I just
made her a disguise of the Enchantress in THE AVENGERS.  I left the look
mostly to John Buscema, though I may have said I wanted her to be blonde. 
Dissatisfied with that first story, I made up a second (visually identical) Valkyrie in THE

INCREDIBLE HULK (that was in issue #142 and "Scrapper 142" was the nickname given
to the Valkyrie in the THOR: RAGNAROK movie), as the alternate identity of a
modern-day woman.  When Steve Englehart took over THE DEFENDERS, for some
reason he gave the Valkyrie persona a third alternative identity, another
modern woman.

Doc Samson - I wanted a super-powered human with green hair to fight THE
INCREDIBLE HULK, and I showed Herb Trimpe copies of the "Captain
Tootsie" comic strip ads that ran in 1940s comics, with a hero designed
originally by Fawcett Captain Marvel co-creator C.C. Beck.  I had Herb
add the lightning bolt and different boots in honor of that CM, but the
basic look in Captain Tootsie, as Herb remembered and often stated.  His
real name was Leonard Samson... I presume he's the "Leonard" who's in
the second HULK movie, and might have joined in the action if there'd
been a third solo HULK film.

Iron Fist - My wife Jeanie and I went to see our first (?) kung fu
movie... I forget the name just now... and it contained a "ceremony of
the iron fist."  I decided that, in spite of Marvel already having an
Iron Man, Iron Fist would be a good name and concept for a Caucasian
kung fu super-hero... we already had Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, an
Asian who was basically the creation of Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. 
When Stan gave me a verbal approval to star him in a series, I contacted
Gil Kane and we worked out the costume and story.  I had Gil give him a
dragon brand on his chest, inspired by the one branded into Bullseye, a
great western character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  At Gil's
urging, we took some story elements from Bill Everett's 1939 hero
Amazing-Man, which itself had borrowed heavily from James Hilton's novel
THE LOST HORIZON and the first movie made from it, which introduced
"Shangri-La" to the world.  I called our city "K'un-Lun," a city of the
gods in a book I had called CHINESE MYTHOLOGY.

Black Knight - he was a combination, visually, of the Black Knight that
Stan Lee and Joe Maneely made up in the mid-1950s, with the concept Stan
and Kirby had done as a villain of that name, complete with winged horse, in THE AVENGERS.  There was also a bit of an homage in there to a DC hero I'd liked in the 1940s, the Shining Knight.  I shouldn't have named his horse Aragorn, though.  I wasn't even that great an admirer of  THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
  John Buscema, was scheduled to be the artist of the story that introduced him into THE AVENGERS, but that wound up being a guest stint by George Tuska when Stan took John off the book for one issue to do something else.  John Verpoorten and I designed the costume.

The Vision - I thought about bringing the old Simon and Kirby
Timely hero the Vision into THE AVENGERS, but when Stan finally told me
I could introduce a new character into the Avengers, as opposed to
bringing in Hercules or Black Panther or Black Widow, he didn't like the
Vision enough to approve that idea, and told me that he wanted the new
Avenger to be an android.  He didn't tell me why, and I never asked.  So
I introduced an android, but made him a modern Vision, with a costume I
asked John Buscema to alter a bit.  I suspect I suggested a cowl instead
of a bald head, although the jewel on his forehead (now so important in
the films) may have been either my idea or, I suspect, a design elements
tossed in by John.  I did ask him to give Vision a chest symbol--a
diamond--as a focal point, because he could make his body hard as
diamond.  I took that from the WWII comic hero Spy-Smasher.

Ultron - When I decided to make a self-aware robot the next AVENGERS foe,
I sent John Buscema the image of a similar menace from a 1951 issue of the Fawcett 
comic CAPTAIN VIDEO, which was loosely based on an early TV show. That killer robot's
name was Machino.  I named him "Ultron"--which I thought at least was an improvement on
"the Ultroids," the meaningless robots I'd used in one of the first AVENGERS issues I had plotted.

Havok - Arnold Drake, when writing X-MEN briefly, gave Scott (Cyclops)
Summers a brother who might or might not be a mutant. When I was asked
by Stan to take over the next issue, I definitely made him a mutant. 
And when Neal Adams came aboard as artist, I asked Neal to design a
costume and I planned to call him Havok, from the Shakespearean quote in
JULIUS CAESAR:  "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!"  Neal came up
with a wonderful costume and added gimmick, in which the concentric
circles on his chest showed how much energy he was emitting, and got
larger as his power expenditure increased.

Hyperion - the first of the 4 members of the Squadron Sinister I
designed for THE AVENGERS, to be an evil counterpart of Superman, kind
of a parody/homage.  I took the name from the Greek sun god, by way of
the Shakespearean quote from HAMLET:  "...that was to this, Hyperion to
a satyr."  I made sure that every costume line on Hyperion was different
from those on Superman... boots, belt, length of sleeves, face mask,
etc.  And I gave him a cape that only attached to one shoulder, after
the look of a 1940s character called Dyna-Man in a Harry Chesler comic. 
(As revealed elsewhere, this initial takeoff on 4 members of DC's
Justice League was the result of writer Mike Friedrich suggesting to JLA
writer Denny O'Neil and me, at a party at my apartment, that each of us
find a way to slip the other's group into the comic he was writing.  A
year later, I made up the good-guy equivalent of the Squadron Sinister,
the better-known Squadron Supreme, with additional characters made up by
Len Wein and myself.)  Unlike any of the other characters on the Joe St.
Pierre drawing except Union Jack, I drew the costumes of all four of
these SS members on the Romita-designed character sheets and gave them
to artist Sal Buscema.

Dr. Specrtum - the Green Lantern type of the Squadron Sinister/Supreme,
with primary colors overlapping on his chest to form a white "oval." 
His belt/pants should probably have been black, or maybe blue to match
his mask, instead of green.  The Power Prism was a takeoff on GL's Power
Ring, of course.

The Whizzer - Squadron Sinister member named after 1940s Timely hero,
but with a different costume.

Nighthawk - fan Richard Kyle had once pulled a fandom hoax by making
fanzine-publishers Don and Maggie Thompson print a piece about an old
pulp magazine or some such thing called NIGHTHAWK... obviously supposed
to be a precursor of Batman.  So as a joke, I took that name (which had
later, but not relatedly, been a DC cowboy character) and made it the
name of the Batman homage in the Squadron.  Again, as with the preceding
three, I drew the costume.  I was really disgusted when the costume was
changed a few years later.  In fact, I feel that about the change in
all the Squadron Supreme costumes.  Mine were better... more
importantly, they were the originals.  Why can't all these geniuses just
make up new characters to go with the costumes in their heads?

Morbius, the Living Vampire - When Stan had to leave AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
for four issues, he wanted Gil Kane and me to create Marvel's first
vampire as a foe for Spidey, since the Comics Code had just been changed
to allow vampires and werewolves.  Gil and I were just going to bring in
Dracula (not yet a Marvel character), but Stan said he wanted more of a
super-villain.  I came up with the name Morbius (not remembering it had
been the name of the scientist Walter Pidgeon played in a beloved movie,
"Forbidden Planet"--but of course, I was thinking of the word "morbid"),
and instead of a real vampire, I wanted to do a man with a blood
disease, an idea I borrowed from a late-50s movie called simple "The
Vampire."  (Not "Atom-Age Vampire," as some think.)  Gil wonderfully
designed the look of the character, and we did borrow a bit from
DRACULA, especially in Morbius' origin and his sea voyage.  I wish he
were controlled by Marvel now, because he'd have made the perfect star
of one of the Marvel/Netflix shows.

Man-Thing - I'd already made up a Heap-type character called the Glob in THE 

INCREDIBLE HULK, and Swamp Thing was just a little in the future, when
Stan decided he wanted a monster-character called Man-Thing for SAVAGE
TALES #1.  I didn't like the name, since we already had the Thing... but
Stan was the boss.  We kicked around several ideas in brief, and the one
Stan decided he liked (probably his) was that of a man who's tainted by
a swamp to become a Man-Thing, in some sort of spy or crime story.  I
went off and fleshed out the idea into a synopsis that ran 2-3 pages
(it's been printed), and gave it to Gerry Conway to turn into a script
for artist Gray Morrow.  Whether Gerry wrote it Marvel-style or full
script, I don't recall... but he followed the synopsis, so that
Man-Thing has three writer co-creators... Stan, myself, and Gerry.  Plus
Gray as the artist, who was (as I wanted) inspired by the Heap in the
design of the character.

Werewolf by Night - When the Code allowed werewolves again, I knew Stan
would like Marvel to have one.  I made up a series I called "I,
Werewolf," which would be narrated by a teenage werewolf, obviously a
combination of Spider-Man and the 1950s hit "I Was a Teenage Werewolf." 
My wife Jean helped me work out the precise plot for the first issue.  I
then turned that plot over to Gerry Conway to write and Mike Ploog to
draw.  So Werewolf by Night has four creators.  (Later, when Stan wanted
a second werewolf, whom he named Man-Wolf, my main contribution was to
have him get his changing "powers" from a moon rock.  I don't know whose
idea it was to make him J. Jonah Jameson's astronaut son.)

Brother Voodoo - Stan wanted to put a new hero in a revival of the title
STRANGE TALES.  I had made up a Phantom-looking hero called Dr. Voodoo
when I was 11 or 12, so I suggested just a name to Stan:  Dr. Voodoo. 
He thought about it a second and said, after a pause:  "Brother
Voodoo."  I knew what he meant, so I went and got Len Wein to turn that
into a character.  Len did pretty much all the heavy lifting on that
one, looking up voodoo and coming up with the twins idea.  When he
suggested that to me, I immediately thought of the old Captain Triumph
character in Quality's 1940s comics (a man who was helped by his dead
twin), and mentioned that to Len.  He took it from there, and Gene Colan
was brought in to draw... though John Romita designed the look of the
character, making him a co-creator.

Red Wolf - I wanted an American Indian hero for THE AVENGERS, so I told
John Buscema to draw one who had a wolf-mask set up on his head, plus
bare chest and those rawhide leggings, with a wolf buddy named Lobo.  It
worked out fairly well in THE AVENGERS.

3-D Man - With the 1940s stuff like THE INVADERS going, I wanted to do a
comic set in the late 1950s, so made up 3-D Man, even though 3-D was
really a phenomenon of 1953 to 1955 or so at the latest.  I gave him a
costume based on the original Daredevil of Lev Gleason comics, only
colored red and green instead of red and blue, and with a chest symbol. 
Young Canadian artist Jim Craig drew, which makes him co-creator.  I
named him Chuck Chandler, which was the real name of another Lev Gleason
character, Crimebuster... and I borrowed and altered a couple of
elements of Simon and Kirby's one-issue CAPTAIN 3-D as well.  I had
hoped it could be a real 3-D comic, but that was not to be.

John (always thinking) even made a few t-shirts of the print for us to wear at comic cons together. Hey, why not? And they're pretty cool too.

Print artist, Joe St. Pierre (shown here teaching John's daughter, Bryn Cimino the tricks of the trade) did a great job in capturing the majesty and might of the Marvel characters. Hey, I looked pretty darn heroic too...






Roy William Thomas, Jr.
Roy Thomas is a legendary comic-book writer and editor, who was Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is known for co-creating some of comics' greatest characters including Wolverine, Carol Danvers, the Vision, Iron Fist and Ultron. He introduced the pulp magazine heroes Conan and Red Sonja and sci-fi fantasy Star Wars to Marvel Comics. He's also known for his championing of Golden Age comic-book heroes -- particularly the 1940s superhero team the Justice Society of America. Roy had lengthy writing stints on Marvel's X-Men and Avengers, and DC Comics' All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc., among many other titles, books and a couple of movies. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2011 and currently edits the comics-history magazine Alter Ego and works with Stan Lee on the Spider-man newspaper strip.

John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETROFAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. John also hangs with Roy Thomas, bringing him to a Comic Con near youContact him at or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.


  1. All of those characters are favorites!

    The poster is spectacular, especially the Valkyrie! Even Dragonfang is spot-on!

  2. Wolverine, Carol Danvers, Luke Cage, Ultron, Vision, M'Baku, Iron Fist, Adam's kinda wild how many of his creations have hit the big and small screen in recent years. Wonder if he sees any cheddar from it.

  3. Yeah, I dunno...but Roy's had a good life. Married twice, worked with both wives Jeanne and Dann, went to all kind of (wild) parties from the 1960's on (sometimes calmly depicted in some old comics). So, I would probably say, yes, yes he did get some cheese.

  4. I was not aware he lifted so many elements from Golden Age books. Some of them I was aware of, but wow.

  5. I enjoyed reading this because, for once, here's a writer who seems to be a fan of including as many of the collaborationists as possible...unlike the frequently ungrateful versions attributed to Stan Lee.

    I also liked the thoughtful tip o' the hat on "Thundra, an homage to Jack Kirby's 4th World BIG BARDA".

    But I know so few of Thomas' 'creations' and those I do, I care little for (WOLVERINE) and characters specifically tokenizing genders and races. Maybe the quantity of monthly characters all but requires hollowed-out, one-dimension characters - Jughead, Archie, Betty vs. Veronica, Batman vs. Superman, etc.

    But it's a good read primarily because it contrasts to the sludge-pits that Stan Lee heaped onto me in the '80s and '90s. I just gave up.

    I only prayed that Jack Kirby would have found a Real Writing Partner in those early '70s so his tales would have been 'completed' satisfactorily.

  6. When Stan Lee finally dies, Roy will be the king of comics!

  7. The creation process is a complex one. I like how Mr. Thomas gives credit where credit is due. I have no doubt that he tells the truth and is not trying to take anything away from anybody else. This is a big reason why Roy is so respected in the industry. Shame most creators can't follow his lead and do the same.

    1. Like Len Wein did. Funny how he tried to take total credit for Wolverine calling himself the CREATOR of the character a few years before his death in 2017. Seems he left out Roy, John Romita and Herb Trimpe, yeah, I know Herb doesn't get "official" credit but he should. Glad Roy is setting the record straight. Wolverine was his idea and he picked Len to complete it. That's the real story.