Mike Mantlo - BILL MANTLO'S LEGAL GUARDIAN and Brother Apr 12, 2018 22:51:00 GMT
Post by richardvasseur on Apr 12, 2018 22:51:00 GMT
Interviews with: Mike Mantlo (2009, 2012, 2017)
Legal position: BILL MANTLO'S LEGAL GUARDIAN and Brother
Interviewed by: Allen Klingelhoets
Allen: Mike please talk to me a little bit about yourself. What kind of career do you have? Where do you live?
Mike: Allen, I worked for FedEx for 30, starting as a Courier back in 1979, up through my final 20 years as a Dispatcher in New York City. I formally retired at the end 2009. I met, and married my wife Liz in Mexico in 2010, and we are am currently living on a small farm in Laurel, Delaware.
Allen: Tell me what it was like growing up in your family. Tell me about your youth family life. Where did your parents raise family? Also, when were your brothers and you born?
Mike: Our family life was wonderful, primarily because of the times we grew up in. My parents were working class people for most of their lives (Pop became an executive in his later years). Our father was a Banker.....started as a Teller, and worked his way up to Vice President just before he retired. Our mother was a housewife, initially, but went back to work as a Secretary once Bill & I were old enough to watch out for our "little brother" Arthur, while mom was at work. We grew up in Queens Village, NY in the late 1950's-early 1960's. Things were so different then.....friends could come and go into each other's houses (no locked doors), everyone knew each other in the 4-block "square" that your house was in, there were TONS of kids (the baby boom in full swing), and life was just plain simpler (and nicer, in my opinion). Bill came along first, in 1951. I followed in 1954, and Art popped up in 1956.
Allen: Tell me about Bill Mantlo’s and your appreciation for reading. Who sparked imaginative spark to read comic books? What sort did you both read? Did your other brother Arthur read comic books as child?
Mike: Both of our parents encouraged us to read at early ages, but since mom was a "stay-at-home" mom for most of our childhood's, I guess she gets the majority of the credit. She basically "home schooled" us to the point that we were graded as being about 4 grades ahead of other kids our age when we started school. In kindergarten, Bill & I could already read and write on a 4th grade level (Art fell a little short of that, as TV played more of a role in his development.....but he was also in honors classes). Pop pitched in on weekend, reading us (and teaching us to read) the "funnies" (the comics section of the newspapers). Both of our parents were also voracious readers, so there were always books around. It was Pop that introduced us to comics. He was a big Tarzan & Western fan when he was a kid (pulps), and he would bring home comics for us to read when he would come home from working in New York City. We read everything that we got ahold of.
Allen: What sort of television shows did you like to watch while growing up?
Mike: Well, remember, times were very different. We didn't have a TV set in every room of the house, there were no VCR's or DVD players. We had ONE BLACK & WHITE TV set in the living room, and on weekdays, we were only allowed to watch TV after dinner, with the whole family. We used to pick 1 night apiece, wherein that person decided what we would watch from, usually, 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Bill and I usually opted for either sitcoms, or action/sci-fi programs....."The Untouchables", "The Twilight Zone", "Combat", "The Outer Limits", "Rawhide", "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "Topper"....there were so many more, and then there was always "Million Dollar Movie", which played on a local channel.....it would show the SAME movie for 5 nights in a row. "King Kong" was shown repeatedly...."Plan 9 from Outer Space", "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers", "Mighty Joe Young", "House On Haunted Hill".....great stuff! Pop favored Westerns (everything except "Gunsmoke"....nobody ever liked that show), and Disney movies and cartoons (he LOVED cartoons)! On weekend, we had the TV to ourselves, and Saturday mornings were the BEST! Old serial cliffhangers, weekly action/adventure shows, plenty of seeds for our young imaginations.
Allen: Tell me about Bill’s ability to create art. Where did he get art training?
Mike: Bill caught the "art bug" early on.....when we were kids, he would ask for (and usually receive) an art set called: "Jon Nagy's Learn to Draw" (I don't remember where Jon Nagy came from....whether he was on TV, or not). He would sit and practice constantly (I'm guessing this was from around age 5 or 6-on), until he actually became quite good. So good, in fact, that when he sent in an application to the High School of Art & Design in NYC, he was accepted, and upon graduation, he was offered a full Art scholarship to Cooper Union collage.
Allen: What caused him to shift away from art to writing stories?
Mike: Again, because of our upbringing surrounded by literature, Bill was always writing.....poetry, song lyrics, jokes, short stories, even his own crude comic books (in "MANTLO: A Life In Comics" his take is that he wrote comics in junior high school making the "bullies" into superheroes, so he wouldn't get beat up.....and it worked!). In the middle of his 4-year run at Cooper Union, he thought his artwork wasn't good enough to ever survive on, so he switched his major to Photography (which is the degree he graduated with). After graduating, the only job he could land was that of "Portrait Photographer" at EJ Korvettes department store. Hating that, he got a call from a former classmate that was working at Marvel Comics (she remembered his affection for comics), and applied for, and got a job as kind of an intern, and "go-fer". According to Tony Isabella, Bill was working in the "paste-up" department (everything was done by hand back then....no computer graphics) one day when an Editor ran into the room frantically shouting that the writer for one of the horror stories in an upcoming comic had missed his deadline, and he HAD to have a story by that afternoon in order to make it to press. Bill supposedly piped up "Why don't you let me write the story?". Tony convinced the Editor that it was better to take a chance than to blow the deadline empty-handed, so Bill got his foot in the door. On his lunch hour, he cobbled together a short horror story, and lo and behold, the Editor thought it showed promise, and ran with it. From that point on, Bill was offered more and more writing jobs (fill-in's for established writers, mostly), and his knowledge of all of Marvel's characters, and story arcs, earned him the respect and admiration of the powers that be at Marvel. I don't know if it's really true, but legend has it aside from STAN LEE himself, that there is NO OTHER WRITER in Marvel's history that has written MORE stories than Bill did.
Allen: How did Bill get interested in working for comic book industry? Who inspired him the most?
Mike: Bill's love of comics is what got him interested, but until his friend got him the job at Marvel, I don't think he ever imagined he would work in the industry. His first real inspiration was to be a comic artist, and his idol was Gil Kane from DC ("The Atom", "The Flash"). But, Marvel captured his attention when he discovered "Spider-Man", and JACK KIRBY became almost an obsession. I believe it was Kirby (whom Bill had met, and somehow arranged visits with while he was still in school) who inspired him the most, and who probably encouraged him to write (and to create his own characters). Kirby was a GOD!
Allen: Tell me a little bit about Bill’s time with Jack Kirby.
Mike: See the previous answer.
Allen: Tell me about Bill’s Congo Comics productions.
Mike: I wasn't around Bill during this period, and don't know much about them.
Allen: How did Bill break into comic book field? When did this occur?
Mike: All this is detailed above in previous answers.
Allen: Would you like to talk about Bill’s time at Marvel Comics?
Mike: It was magical! Bill was in his element, letting his vivid imagination run wild. There were stretches at Marvel when he was writing up to 8 different titles simultaneously each month! It was amazing.....he was coming up with ideas, it seemed like, every minute of the day! His run, between say 1974-1979, was the most incredible outpouring of ideas that any human being could have produced, and it was the highest quality of content of Bill's career. Sadly, around 1979-80, there was a regime change in the editorial staff, and Bill's workload began to shrink due to his combative relationship with the new Editor in Chief, Jim Shooter.
Allen: Did he happen to mention some of his favorite stories worked on?
Mike: Of course.....he was most proud of his run on "The Incredible Hulk", although the critical acclaim didn't seem to come until he left that title. His favorites were the characters he created ("Cloak & Dagger"), or the ones that he brought life to ("Micronauts", "ROM: Spaceknight", "Alpha Flight"). He loved every story he wrote....anything that allowed him to put his imagination into words was granted a special place in his heart. He just loved creating/telling stories.
Allen: Who were some of artists he seemed to work best with?
Mike: First and foremost, GEORGE PEREZ. More than any other artist, Bill formed a very close bond with George. Aside from the talented Mr. Perez, Bill worked with just about EVERY artist on Marvel's staff, and you'd be hard-pressed to find even one that would say they didn't enjoy working with Bill. He always believed the artist-writer collaboration should be just that....a partnership. If one tried to stroke his own ego at the expense of the other, the comic was doomed to fail.
Allen: I spent much of my childhood reading comic book stories created by your brother. I read Iron Man issues that he wrote. I read issues of The Human Fly and many issues of Rom. I was even constant reader of The Incredible Hulk. How do you think Bill was able to work on so many different series?
Mike: By being a genius! Seriously....Bill had the uncanny ability to remember EVERY story he had read as a child & teenager.....almost a photographic memory. Plus, he read constantly....everything he could get his hands on....classics, poetry, song lyrics, newspapers, pulps, cereal boxes.....you name it....if it had printed words on it, he read it! His mind was constantly in motion.
Allen: Did you ever try to keep up with stories Bill was working on? Did you talk to Bill much during this creative period?
Mike: Yeah, during the mid-70's, but I couldn't keep up with EVERY title he was working on. I followed "Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man" pretty religiously, as that was the one character that Bill & I followed the most when we were kids. I loved his take on "Howard the Duck", primarily because it allowed him to express his sarcastic comedic side (which I think I share with him). Once I got out of the military (1975), we talked a lot.
Allen: What do you feel was peak of Bill’s creativity?
Mike: Without a doubt, 1974-1979.
Allen: When did Bill get married? Does he have any children?
Mike: Bill married Karen Pocock in 1973, and helped raise Karen's son, Adam. In 1980, they had a daughter, Corinna. They were divorced in 1989.
Allen: What kinds of hobbies did Bill have out-side of comic book industry? Was he an avid reader of novels? Did he like to watch certain types of movies? What inspired him?
Mike: Well, as I've said earlier, Bill was a voracious reader....anything and everything. He also loved movies, especially sci-fi stuff. He believed (and I believe he has been proven correct) that movies were really live-version extensions of comic books. He loved the first two "Aliens" movies....."Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind", anything directed by Hitchcock, he was a big fan of older stuff, too! Anything that told a story well, he enjoyed.
Allen: I read that Bill worked on screenplays. What sort did he try to write?
Mike: Ahhh, that's a tough one. He was all over the map. Sci-fi, drama, comedy.....he tried to do everything, but sadly, time ran out on him. I strongly believe that if the accident had never happened, Bill would be in Hollywood today, doing nothing but writing screenplays.
Allen: Tell me about Bill’s accident on July 17th, 1992.
Mike: This is nothing I like talking about anymore, but in a nutshell, Bill was rollerblading home from work (he was a Legal Aid criminal defense attorney at this point), and a car careened around the corner of Morningside Park in Mahattan, struck him, flipped him over the hood (striking his head into the windshield), and threw him to the ground on it's opposite side (striking his head, again, on the street). The driver fled the scene, leaving him lying crumpled and bleeding, in the street. That driver was never apprehended.
Allen: What kind of support did your family get when Bill was in accident?
Mike: Initially, not a lot. I had to struggle to fight his insurance company from cutting off his benefits, and the comics industry didn't really step forward until many years later (probably because Bill had left it in the mid-80's to become a lawyer). It was only when "H.E.R.O." (comic book professionals support group--now called The HERO Initiative) was formed in the late 90's-early 00's, that any assistance, or (financial) support came through. They deserve a LOT of credit, as does TONY ISABELLA, who's been the biggest champion of Bill's throughout this whole ordeal.
Allen: How is Bill doing at present time? What sort of care does he need?
Mike: Bill is completely incapacitated, and suffers sever cognitive impairments. He is generally angry most of the time. He has serious physical impediments (he cannot stand without support, and has limited mobility), but even more so, mental liabilities that leave him unable to control his thoughts, and actions. He requires 24-hour a day assistance and supervision just to perform normal everyday human functions.
Allen: What role did you take when Bill was so horribly injured?
Mike: I accepted the responsibilities of becoming, at first, his Conservator (to protect & manage whatever assets he had), and then was elevated to Legal Guardian status (to manage his care and well-being, as well as his finances) a year later. I voluntarily took on this role as our parents were aging rapidly, and Art had a wife and 2 daughters that he was responsible for. I was divorced, and living alone at the time, and felt it was my duty to help Bill in any way that I could. I know he would have done the same for me, had the roles been reversed.
Allen: Where has Bill been institutionalized?
Mike: After stays in 4 different brain injury rehabilitation hospitals (in 4 different states), he was finally moved to a newly created Head Injury Rehabilitative Nursing Home in Queens, NY. He resides there now, but after a long legal struggle, I have just been granted permission to move him to a facility here in Delaware, 8 minutes away from my house.
Allen: How did magazine MANTLO A Life in Comics happen?
Mike: David Yurkovich, an award-winning comic writer, contacted me several years ago, asking if there was anything he could do to help Bill, as Bill had inspired him to become a writer. After a year, or so, of exchanging e-mail's, and David writing a wonderful short story based on Bill's plight, he suggested we put together a "book" as a tribute to Bill's vast contribution to comics' history. I agreed wholeheartedly, and he got the ball rolling. The rest, as they say, is history!
Allen: How can person get a copy? What happens with donations?
Mike: At this point, the magazine is out of print. If someone is interested, but can't find a copy, they can write to me and I will find one for them (I have several copies left). If they wish to speed up the process, a copy can be ordered directly through Amazon's "print on demand" system, where the updated version (2014) can be produced at base cost--no 3rd party markups. Simply go to AMAZON.COM, and search under "books" for the title "MANTLO: A Life In Comics".
Allen: What is best way to give donation to help with Bill Mantlo? Is there way to send letters of appreciation to Bill? Do you ever try to read letters to your brother?
Mike: All correspondences, letters, postcards, notes ~and~ donations should be sent to ME (in MY name.....there are reasons for that, which I won't elaborate on here), at:
11101 Salt Barn Road
Laurel, DE 19956
I visit Bill once a month at this time, and yes, I read him every letter that I receive (even if he screams at me to stop.....needling him gets him to laugh, and that's always the best medicine).
Allen: When is Bill’s Birthday? It would be wonderful if readers of this interview would send Bill some birthday cards. It is hard to know what his mind sees. I am sure he would appreciate Birthday cards.
Mike: Bill's birthday is November 9th.
Allen: Are your parents still alive? What happened to Arthur Mantlo?
Mike: Our parents have both passed on....Mom in 2003, and Pop in 2007. Art is alive and well, and has produced 2 incredible daughters (one of whom has graduated with honors from Adelphi University....with a degree in ART!.....who'da thunk it?).
Allen: How are you doing at present time Mike Mantlo?
Mike: I'm as OK as OK can be, I guess. I'm about to retire from my long, (ahem) storied career at FedEx (30 years), and will be moving to my new home on the Delaware shore within the year. I expect to be doing a lot of fishing! UPDATE: WOW, the fishing never happened! I chose to get married instead, and I am much happier that I made that decision. We no longer live on the shore, having moved to our 5 acre farm in 2015. With Bill's transfer here to Delaware imminent, we are extremely excited about our family FINALLY being reunited (Art lives just 30 minutes away from us).
Allen: What would you like to say to our younger readers that might not have seen Bill’s work in comic book field?
Mike: READ THEM! ALL OF THEM! DO IT NOW! Just kidding.....but if you're interested in a good, solid story, with well thought out and imaginative characters, you'll never go wrong with a BILL MANTLO penned comic!
Allen: What is best way to contact you? Do you have website?
Mike: No, but I do have a website that I set up for Bill. Go to www.billmantlo.com, and you can catch up on all things Bill-related (as often as I get to update it), you can post messages, and you can find any contact information for me or Bill that you might want.
Allen: My prayers are with your family Mike Mantlo. I was honored to help out with Bill in my own personal way. UPDATE: I also just noticed Mantlo A Life in Comics is on WOWIO website. Adriano made comment about this in interview I did with him few days ago. -- I don't believe the WOWIO site is still up and running. See comment above if interested in finding this book. -- I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many people that care about your family and Bill. I am honored to own Mantlo Benefit book. I treasure my childhood times reading stories that Bill wrote. It is still a great feeling reading stories Bill wrote.
Would you like to lead us out of interview with any closing thoughts Mike Mantlo?
Mike: Allen, it is people like you that have restored my faith in humanity. Your tireless efforts in trying to help Bill in whatever ways you can never cease to amaze me! You deserve much more thanks than I do, and I am proud to call you a friend. God bless you, and your family.
Allen editorial note: Second interview was from 2012
This next interview is from 2017.
Interview with Mike Mantlo
Guardian to Bill Mantlo
Creative Force for many Marvel comics in 1980's.
Allen: How are you doing at present time?
Mike: We're OK (my wife & I). Working hard on getting Bill moved down here to our property in Delaware. We've had a house (Mobile home) purchased & placed right next to ours, and have been busy renovating/retro-fitting it to make it completely safe, and handicapped accessible for Bill. We are very excited at the thought of him being able to spend the rest of his life with us!
Allen: I want to get right to it. How is your brother Bill Mantlo?
Mike: Bill is pretty much the same as he's been for nigh on 25 years now. He's stable, health-wise, but still severely compromised by his injury. It's a daily struggle, but we deal with the cards we've been dealt, and try to make the best of things every chance we get.
Allen: What does Bill think of new Guardians of the Galaxy movie?
Mike: Can't answer that one yet, as he's not seen it. He is going to have a private screening in his room at the Nursing Home next weekend. I know he has enjoyed all the trailers so far, so I'm guessing he's pretty excited about it.
Allen: Were there special plans made for Bill to see movie?
Mike: See my last answer. Yes, Marvel reached out to us and offered to have Bill get a private screening of the new movie, just like the last time. I can't even begin to thank them enough for all the kindness and respect they've shown Bill.
Allen: What do you think are some of Bill's favorite characters in new movie. What are some of your favorite characters?
Mike: Rocket, no question about it! Bill considers Rocket his "baby". I'm just as partial to the furry fury, but also like Drax and Nebula quite a bit.
Allen: What are some ways that people can help Bill?
Mike: By continuing to read the stories that he created, and letting him know how much they enjoy them. They can write letters/notes to Bill via the Bill Mantlo Support Fund, 11101 Salt Barn Rd, Laurel, DE 19956, or post comments on the "billmantlo.com" website. There is also the Bill Mantlo Facebook page, and I'd encourage all of his fans to join up....we could kinda make it into the MMMS--"Merry MANTLO Marching Society" (for those of you old enough to remember what that's about--lol).
Allen: What are some things that you would like people to know about Bill?
Mike: Heck, that's a long list! Bill was, and is to this day, MY hero! He devoted his life to just causes, and defending the defenseless. He had an unbridled imagination, and thrilled at being able to entertain and enlighten his readers with the characters he brought to life, and the stories he (and they) had to tell.
Allen: What do you think people should remember about Bill's comic book stories?
Mike: From the feedback I've gotten over this past quarter of a century, that Bill was one hell of a writer! Marv Wolfman himself stated that Bill "saved Marvel comics in the 1980's" (at the Bill Fiinger Award ceremonies at SDCC2014). Bill was, as Marvel called themselves, literally a "house of ideas". There's no telling how many more quality tales he could have told!
Allen: What kind of things can Bill do at present time?
Mike: Sadly, not much. But I've made it my life's mission to ensure he's still able to smile, and laugh in the face of adversity! My wife adores him, and we do all that we can to make him as happy as possible.
Allen: How old is Bill?
Mike: He turned 65 last year.
Allen: Does Bill like any sort of television shows?
Mike: Nope. None, nada, zilch.
Allen: Thank you so much for new interview.
Mike: You're very welcome, and as always, you are a good man, Mr. Klingelhoets!
I got permission from Mike Mantlo to reput these interviews at Jazma.