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Tag Archives: West Coast Avengers

Bob Hall, Comic Artist, Writer & Actor Vid Interview by Alex Grand & Jim Thompson

Read Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books published by McFarland Books in 2023 with Foreword by Jim Steranko with editorial reviews by comic book professionals, Jim Shooter, Tom Palmer, Tom DeFalco, Danny Fingeroth, Alex Segura, Carl Potts, Guy Dorian Sr. and more.

In the meantime enjoy the show:

Robert “Bob” Hall is an American comics artist and writer as well as a playwright and theatre director. He is the co-creator of the West Coast Avengers for Marvel Comics and has worked on such series as “Armed and Dangerous” and Shadowman, which he both drew and wrote for Valiant Comics.

Alex Grand and co-host Jim Thompson interview Bob Hall, from his early days as a comic reader, his University education in Theatre, his turned in first work for Charlton Comics, studying at the John Buscema Comic Art School, getting into Marvel under editor Archie Goodwin, then under new editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, the Yellowjacket Wasp story, Squadron Supreme with Mark Gruenwald, co-creating West Coast Avengers, Emperor Doom, Valiant Comics, Future Comics, his Joker graphic series for DC, and his modern theatre work.

🎬 Edited & Produced by Alex Grand. Thumbnail Artwork, CBH Podcast ©2021 Comic Book Historians.

Images in artwork ©Their Respective Copyright holders.
Bob Hall Biographical Interview by Alex Grand & Jim Thompson

📜 Video chapters
00:00:00 Welcome Bob Hall
00:00:32 Family background
00:01:50 Early reading
00:05:01 Sunday school teacher
00:08:32 College theater & horror movies
00:11:47 University of Iowa, Nicholas Meyer
00:13:02 Masters in University of Nebraska-Lincoln
00:16:02 Nicholas Meyer
00:17:57 Moving to New York
00:19:14 Breaking into comics
00:24:35 Worked for Charlton Comics
00:27:09 John Buscema Comic Art School, Job at Marvel
00:30:03 Writing Dracula play, George Street Playhouse, David Richmond
00:37:08 Dark Shadows
00:38:46 Dracula play recording
00:42:06 Our Love Story no.36 cover 1974
00:43:36 Fighting Marines 132 cover 1976
00:44:19 Working at Marvel | Bill Mantlo
00:47:26 Assigned to group book, Ghostrider
00:51:16 Continue John Buscema style?
00:54:53 Fantastic Four Annual 12, 1977
00:56:30 John Buscema & Tom Palmer
00:59:11 Don Perlin
00:59:45 Champions to Supervillain team up
01:01:01 Editor-in-chief Jim Shooter
01:04:50 Shooter made me an editor
01:09:37 Marvel Team-Up 74, Saturday Night Live Marvel Comic
01:12:22 NBC Symbol
01:15:12 Hercules 44, 1978, Frank Giacoia, John Byrne
01:17:41 Defenders 61, Al Milgrom
01:19:39 Gene Colan | Daredevil
01:21:14 Frank Robbins
01:22:33 Editing Feedback?
01:23:37 Working on Human Fly, Tarzan
01:26:51 Frank Giacoia, Bob Lubbers, Lee Elias
01:30:36 Break from comics
01:31:48 Jim Shooter about Hank Pym Wasp panel
01:41:32 Hank Pym abuse blowback?
01:43:28 Emperor Doom | Leonard Pitt
01:45:36 Drawing Speed Demon – Squadron
01:47:37 1981: Weird War Tales | John Celardo, Len Wein
01:53:58 West Coast Avengers – Roger Stern, 1984
01:56:06 Inking my work
01:56:56 Favorite inkers | Joe Sinnott, Vince Colletta
02:01:10 Squadron Supreme with Mark Gruenwald
02:11:27 Emperor Doom inking by Keith Williams 1987
02:12:50 Jim Shooter to Tom Defalco
02:17:56 Carl Potts on Jim Shooter
02:21:40 Artistic Repertory Theater, 1987
02:23:25 Comics that never got printed
02:24:06 Adaptation of Captain America movie
02:25:35 Less work from Marvel
02:26:50 Bad parting with Marvel, Bob Harris
02:30:01 Valiant Comics with Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Don Perlin
02:44:33 Armed and Dangerous | Drug bust outside Lincoln
02:55:13 DC comics | Batman: I, Joker
02:59:30 Future Comics, Bob Layton
03:03:11 Shooter forced out of Valiant comics
03:05:19 Kiss, Gene Simmons
03:07:06 Carnival of Contagion, Coronavirus for Kids | https://worldofviruses.unl.edu/
03:09:53 The Ghost Haunted Hallways, Alumni Magazine
03:11:07 Teaching Comics
03:12:57 Flatwater Shakespeare, Shakespeare Festival
03:15:34 Abstract paints
03:17:46 Shakespeare adaptations
03:19:02 Favorite Shakespeare experiences
03:24:23 Wrapping up

#BobHall #SquadronSupreme #ComicBookHistorians #Avengers #EmperorDoom
#CarnivalOfContagion #MarvelComics #ValiantComics #JohnBuscema
#ComicHistorian #CBHInterviews #CBHPodcast #CBH

Transcript (editing in progress):

Alex Grand:
Welcome back to the Comic Book Historians Podcast with Alex Grand and Jim Thompson. Today, we have a very special guest Mr. Bob Hall, who has an interesting and very fun career in penciling, inking, editing and writing comic books. Bob Hall, thank you so much for joining us today,

Bob Hall:
Glad to be here.

Alex Grand:
All right. So we’re going to hopscotch through your life. This is your life Bob Hall.

Bob Hall:
Oh, good.

Alex Grand:
We’re going to start in your early years. Go ahead and take it away.

Jim Thompson:
You were born in fall 1944 in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is definitely your place amongst all your travels, correct?

Bob Hall:
Yes.

Jim Thompson:
And I always like to ask a little bit about family. I know you, you come from a blue collar background. Tell me about your mom and your dad.

Bob Hall:
Well, my mom and my dad were supers of an apartment building where we lived until I was about six and a half years old. Then we moved right across the street from it. So my dad could continue that work. And my mother worked with him, although she didn’t get paid, of course. This was the late 40s, early 50s. And she was just supposed to help him. And, but he had that job. He got it though the depression. They were both older, which I never figured out until, oh, about 1997. I found out that I was adopted, and so I have no idea who my birth parents were, but these guys were my mom and dad. They were great people.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s interesting. At age four, and this is a common trope with a lot of comic book creators and such, but at age four, you had [inaudible 00:02:01] to put you in the hospital. In your case, it was intestinal measles. Is that right?

Bob Hall:
That’s right. They didn’t know what was wrong with me. So they put me in a private room because they didn’t know what was wrong with me, which was good. And they tried to pacify me because I didn’t feel that terrible. After the first day I was apparently vomiting blood. That was my folks was of course, very worried. And they stuck me in this private room and to pacify me, they kept bringing me comic books and I couldn’t read yet, but I ended up accumulating a huge stack of them. And then they were actually going to do an exploratory on me. And they were about to wheel me out. And the nurse noticed me itching behind my, scratching behind my right ear. And she looked and some of the measles head appeared and she said, “Oh my God, you’ve got measles.” We have to call the doctor and he confirmed it and said, we’d have to get you out of here out of the children’s ward right now. Measles being one of the most contagious diseases going. And you have to take all those comic books with you. And so I ended up with this stack of. Oh, if I had those today, but be that as it may.

Jim Thompson:
And that would have been your introduction to Donald duck and Uncle Scrooge, which became one of your favorites?

Bob Hall:
It probably wasn’t my introduction to Carl Barks. I think my folks had bought me some of those with the Dell Comics seemed to be wholesome, so they bought those. And it was my introduction to unwholesome comics. And I don’t remember exactly what they were. I presume there was some curvy in there and that would have been the, I don’t know if EC was in operation by that point. I’m not a good enough comic historian, but some of the second chair superheroes, and of course some Superman, Batman, and that kind of stuff, some DC comics as well. So it was my introduction to the more adult kind of comic book.

Jim Thompson:
[crosstalk 00:04:06] When I was doing the timeline. It looked to me like you you dropped out of comics in your early teens at the latest, which is around the time that EC would have been right in there. So, I think you might’ve missed that.

Bob Hall:
I missed… I don’t think I quite missed EC because I think I got the beginnings of EC. I remember for some reason, Atlas Comics horrors, more than I remember reading a bunch of the EC, but I had no idea of the EC ethos at that time, you know. I was just a kid and Atlas, probably read whatever was available to me on the spin rec.

Alex Grand:
I learned about tainted meat from DC comics. So…

Bob Hall:
I can believe that. Yes.

Jim Thompson:
So I read a story, an interview where you mentioned something about a Sunday school teacher. I think her name was Evelyn.

Bob Hall:
You got a good memory. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
Tell me about that.

Bob Hall:
Oh, well, I was sent to church and my folks were not churchgoers, but they felt… I think they felt a great deal of responsibility as adoptive parents when I looked back, that I should have a normal childhood in spite of the fact that they were both over 40. And so I was sent to church. Well, the church was right across the street from where we lived, so that was convenient and it felt safe. They could just send me across the street and it was called the City Wide Gospel Tabernacle. And it was… I guess they themselves evangelists, although it wasn’t evangelist in the current sense of it. It was evangelist in the Billy Graham sort of evangelism, which is a more progressive sort. I guessed. It certainly seemed kind of benign.

Bob Hall:
Although I was never managed to get sick as a kid. And I kept going all the time. I remember my first taste of cognitive dissonance was when, of course I found out immediately that everybody was going to hell unless they accepted Jesus. And I began to pray incessantly for all my friends and relatives and my folks and my dad one day caught me praying. And he said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Praying.” And he said, “Oh, well, that’s that’s that’s okay. What are you praying for?” I said, “Well, everybody’s going to hell and you’re going to hell, I don’t know if you’re a saved.” And he took a deep breath and he said, “Look, you have to go to church because your mom wants you to go, but don’t take it too much to heart.” And that was total like, holy moly. Then what is it that one’s life mean then?

Bob Hall:
And I kept trying to sort that out for a long time and some somewhere when I was about 10 or so, I think I began to realize that I was basically an agnostic, but I still had to keep going to church and I’m not getting to Evelyn, but church was great because in some ways, because we had to memorize all these Bible verses from the King James Bible. And I found that by the time I was in high school, I understood Shakespeare because it’s the same lingo. And so that’s been my other career as a Shakespearian director. So that’s a whole nother story.

Bob Hall:
Evelyn, I was in love with, but she was an early crush of mine. She was these, the Sunday school teacher. And then the minister’s maiden daughter who never married and stayed, she was a church lady. And she did what was in essence comics on a flannel board. She had these characters and she would tell these stories and put these figures up on the flannel board and make them walk across and do all this stuff. She was a great storyteller. And that part of it was I think, influential in, she was doing comic books. She just didn’t know she was doing comic books, so.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s great. I like that story when I read it. And I wanted to ask you about that. So the combination of all the Bible verses and some of this other pointed you in the interest in Shakespeare, I assume at an early age, pointed you toward University of Nebraska Lincoln and studying theater?

Bob Hall:
I loved comic books when I was a kid, absolutely adored them and had a ton of them. Which again, wish I had now, but nevermind. My folks got rid of most of them when I ended up going to college, and they just sort of disappeared and that was okay. That was what seem to what was supposed to happen. They tore up… My mother tore up a lot during the Frederick Wortham, Dr. Wortham days. Anything that had like Wonder Woman or a scantily clad woman on the cover. So there went the EC, then went Wonder Woman. And so, I had stopped reading comic books mostly by the time I was 12. I guess I was just gotten in on the DC relaunch of their second-tier heroes. I remember the first I had the first Flash Issue and those that’s the one I remembered. The first few Flashes.

Bob Hall:
And at some point in there… But the idea of course, what that time was that you were expected by the comic companies that get kids would stop reading them at a certain point. In fact, DC recycled so many of their stories and would have them redrawn because you assume that that nobody was going to read them twice. You know, there, it was a limited timeframe. And I did, I became much more interested in theaters, and theater and horror movies, Hammer films had a great influence on the Hammer films and Shakespeare. And so when I got to high school, they would do these speech contests. And I did one of them in my… Did Shakespeare. And my teacher thought I was pretty good. Actually, I was kind of disappointed. I didn’t get the highest grade.

Bob Hall:
And she said, maybe you just listen to it yourself. So I listen to a tape recorder and found that I had sounded like this. I had a Sylvester, pussycat lisp, which kids will have, and they don’t know they have it. You don’t don’t hear it the same way on the inside. So I had to lose that, but then I became… I’d never been… I’d always been a shy kid and I could never quite find my place in the universe, which was usually in my basement reading comic books. And this was the first time I had found something that was a social activity that got me out of the house and got me working with other kids. And I really kind of was being pretty successful as an in college as and high school wasn’t as an actor and later as a director. And because I can draw, I also did a lot of scenery design, so it was a whole new world for me.

Jim Thompson:
And your bachelor’s in 1967 and then went on and got your masters in 1969, both at University of Nebraska Lincoln. Is that right?

Bob Hall:
Right.

Jim Thompson:
Now, I saw some reference to University of Iowa. Was that a mistake, or did you do something?

Bob Hall:
I went to the University of Iowa for one year, and had some good experiences? The best experience was that I became friends with, close friends with Nicholas Meyer, who-

Jim Thompson:
Oh.

Bob Hall:
The director now he’s the director, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and all the Star Trek films, and still been in touch keeping I’ve kept in touch with him all this time. And he was going to the University of Iowa as well. That was the best thing about the University of Iowa. But, and I was, I don’t know, my career would have taken a whole different tack, but it was the Vietnam era. They draft had not ended. And I was classified as 1A, which meant that you were going to go. And that was at the end of my first year at the University of Iowa. And so they were starting a summer theater at the University of Nebraska, and they asked me to come back and direct.

Bob Hall:
And I did that gladly because I kind of wanted it to be at home. I wanted to figure out what I was going to do. And I was also scared shitless because I had terrible foot problems. I still do. My feet were, I had high arches, extremely high arches. And I didn’t realize that when you went through a physical, the only thing that automatically kept you out was flat feet and a guy at the University of Nebraska. So I’m back at the University of Nebraska. And this guy named Jim, who was interesting fellow. He was studying, acting at the University of Nebraska on the off season and playing for the Buffalo Bills in the on season. And it started as a football player at the University of Nebraska. He realized he was never going to be a great football player, but he was huge and he was offered a contract with the Buffalo Bills. We decided to go.

Bob Hall:
So he carried some weight in more ways than one. And he said, well, what are you doing back here? What’s going to happen? What are you, what are you up to? And I said, “Well, I think I’m going to get drafted. I don’t know.” He said “They can’t draft you. I’ve worked with you for several years now you have terrible feet.” And I said, “Well, yeah, but they classify me 1A.” And he said, wrote down the name of a doctor. He said, “Go to this doctor.” And so I went to the doctor and a orthopedics guy, and he looked at my feet and he wrote this letter to the draft board. It was one of the snottiest letters I’ve ever heard, said, “You could draft Mr. Hall, but have to have three different pairs of orthopedic shoes. One for a normal wear, one for standing of attention and one for combat. And he would have to change them constantly. So do what you want.”

Bob Hall:
And I was afraid to give this to the draft board. And I handed it to the draft board guy, had made an appointment. You can request another physical. I handed it to the officer who was in charge and he looked at it and he said, “Okay.” And that was, of course, there in my underwear with no shoes on. He said, “Put one foot up on my desk.” And I put the foot up and he looked at it and he said, “Leave up there and put the other foot up.” And I paused a moment. And then he started to laugh and said, “Nah, you’re out.” And of course I realized then that all these guys knew each other, this guy was friends with the orthopedics guy.

Bob Hall:
And so I was not drafted, but by not till it was too late to go back to the University of Iowa. And I was kind of disgusted. I just wanted to get to New York at that point and pursue a career in directing. So I opted for getting a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska, which I could finish in one year and just get on with life.

Jim Thompson:
That explains a lot. Because I was trying to figure out the Iowa thing. And that helps a lot just to go back to Nicholas Meyer just for a minute. I just want to say I was, I read Seven-Per-Cent Solution before he ever started in film and it was a real favorite of mine. And also he did Time After Time. Alex, have you ever seen that?

Bob Hall:
Sure.

Alex Grand:
I have not. I have not seen that.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s a great film. Great. H.G. Wells time-travel. Jack The Ripper.

Alex Grand:
I haven’t seen it.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, Malcolm Miguel. It’s it plays wells. It’s fantastic.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. He’s got a number of new Holmes, books. Every time he’s not engaged in movie work, he writes a new Holmes, novel and Sherlock Holmes and the Peculiar Protocols is the latest one and I highly recommend it.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, I will look for that. Because I haven’t read those since of the first one.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. So yeah. Oh yes, he has several. So look them up. They’re all great fun. Nick had one of the most peculiar careers. When I talk about careers, I think he would probably deny this, but I think Nicholas was just sort of raised by parents who made him feel that he was successful. He was already a successful human being when I met him and I was saying, what do I have to do to be a success? Nick was wondering what he had to do to pursue a career because he was a very confident person seemingly. Now, maybe I don’t know what he was on the inside, but he outlined that what he intended to try to do was write a best-selling book. And then he would be hired to write the screenplay. He would insist on writing the screenplay and that would be his entree into movies. And he did it. He did exactly what he said.

Jim Thompson:
That’s amazing. Because that never works.

Bob Hall:
Just astonishing. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
All right. So you, when you’re back at school, you’re trying to finance a move to New York through, one thing that you’re doing to save money is you’re doing a lot of posters for the theater department and for the Nebraska Union. Is that right?

Bob Hall:
I did that. And well, actually that was what put me through undergrad. As a grad student, you got an assistantship and I was building props. I was very good at building stage props. And so I did that. And then they hired me again to direct in their summer program. And then for two years I ran a children’s theater in Omaha that they were looking for a director. And so that was a job job. And I can actually save some money. Which at that time, if you were moving to New York, you thought, oh, if I can just have a thousand dollars in the bank, I’ll be okay. Which is, of course insane now. You could no more move to New York for a thousand bucks than God only knows, but you could in the early, this would have been 1971 when I finally finally made the move.

Jim Thompson:
Now, did you have anything lined up? I know you became resident director, this CSC Repertory, and you had other things with the George Street Playhouse and various jobs there, but were any of those already on your radar when you left?

Bob Hall:
No.

Jim Thompson:
No?

Bob Hall:
Nah. I had nothing. I had nothing. All I had was friends in New York that we could stay with until we could get an apartment. I had a wife, my first wife who was willing to get a job. She was dying to live in New York, thank God. And she was much more employable than I was because she’s smarter than I am. And I had been trying to figure it out. I would… I visited New York and realized that if you wanted to be a theater director or an artist or anything in the arts in New York, that unless you were wealthy or had a job lined up, or had a ton of highly successful contacts, you needed some kind of marketable skill. And a friend of mine who was a comic book fan, and I had started reading comic books again a little bit. I was very fond of the Warran comics. And I picked one up in the magazine section and flips through. And the art was so wonderful that I would occasionally buy Warrens, but-

Jim Thompson:
Those early, those were in the early years, like when Archie Goodwin was the editor and people like Alex Totes and Steve Ditko were doing it, or was it later?

Bob Hall:
It was just a little bit later. Just a little bit later. I think Archie was still working for them, but it was the time when, well, occasionally Neil would be doing something, but I’ve got, now I’m blank on the names of the people that I really loved. Ernie Cologne was doing work for them. And I remember liking Ernie’s work because it was different. And so it would have been about that era. Would have been 1969, 70 right in there. And my next thing was, my friend, actor friend of mine, Bill Szymanski loved comic books. And he said, “Well, why don’t… You’ve always drawn. You can draw. Why don’t you consider doing comic books?” And I remembered some of those comic books I got, that I still had from the, when I was sick. I think I still probably had those until I was 11 or 12 years old and tons of other comics that I had that I bought.

Bob Hall:
There was a Salvation Army store near where I grew up, where you could buy comics for two cents a piece and you could come home with shopping bags full of them. And I shudder to think what those comics would be worth because they were a lot of the comics that they had were very pristine looking ones from the 1940s. And I remember there were wonderful artists, but there were also some pretty lousy artists, especially in the 1940s and early 50s ones. And I thought, well, I can be lousy. I mean, I thought I could kind of at least fit in. And so he gave me some stuff to look at. Well, what he gave me was Berry Smith’s was doing Conan. That was also the first ones he gave me. So my introduction was Berry Smith. And then I started going to the newsstand and Jack had just left Marvel or was about to leave Marvel, I’m not sure, but he was in his prime.

Bob Hall:
Bernie Wrightson was doing work for DC, and also for Warren. Joe Kubert was doing some of his stuff. But I think he, I think he had just started doing Tarzan. I know-

Jim Thompson:
Yeah that would have been about right.

Bob Hall:
I know Neil was doing Batman and Green Lantern and also The Avengers, had just started as one of The Avengers, somewhere in there had just started his run and he started his run on The Avengers. But in other words, Bill showed me the best people. And I said, I can’t do this. I’m not good enough to do this, but I really wanted to, because I thought this incorporates everything that I’ve done all my life, the storytelling, the art, and because you had both Roy and Stan quoting Shakespeare all the time, and that didn’t hurt either. So it felt like something that I could do. So I was crazy enough to think, okay, well that will be my marketable skill. I’ll break into the comic book industry. And actually I did.

Jim Thompson:
Now, is that what led you to go to the, to go to the School of Comic Art of John Bueschema?

Bob Hall:
John? No, it… Eventually, but I got to the point where I was submitting portfolios, and getting rejected and had just learning on my own, copying a lot of work and I can actually produce something that wasn’t bad if it was like a single illustration and I spent a week on it, but I got, you know, I got good enough that Charleston hired me to do some of their horror comics. And don’t ask me which ones, because they all had, where something like Dr. Creeper’s House of Slimy Things, you know, they really strange titles that Charlton have. And I really don’t remember what was it that I did.

Jim Thompson:
I can tell you that the two that I saw that you drew, not covers, but actual inside was the werewolf’s ghost that was in Baron Werewolf’s Haunted Library. So that was, and that was with Nicola Cuddy. And you did one called He Worshiped Beauty and then he goes to Dr. Graves. And that was written by Joe Gill.

Bob Hall:
That was the first one that I did was the He Worshiped Beauty. And I may have done one more or I may just have done a few covers for them because shortly after I got the job and remember I was doing theater all the time. I really was breaking into the theater business.

Jim Thompson:
Passionate Dracula, you were working on that. That started in 70, was it 76 that it started running on off Broadway?

Bob Hall:
I think it was 70… Either 76 or 77. I don’t, yeah, it might’ve been 76. It was, what year did I become an editor?

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that was 78.

Bob Hall:
It may have been 77 because they’re connected. So I wasn’t working, but no, I wasn’t not working on that yet. At about the time that I got accepted by Charlton, shortly thereafter, John put an ad in the back of Marvel Comics that he was going to start teaching this class. And you had to bring him a portfolio and you had to be living in the New York area and you had to bring in a portfolio.

Jim Thompson:
So, then that class was in 1976 then? Probably around the time when you did the Charlton cover.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. So that was 75, I think was the class.

Alex Grand:
Okay. So then probably when you made those, when you-

Jim Thompson:
76 is when the Charleton books are coming, but you may have done them in 75.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I think John’s was 75, 76 the class. It started, it was really a full, he admitted that he had actually given it to many weeks eventually, but he had, he met except for holidays. You met every week for the year, for the school year. Like a school year. And so it started in the fall and went through the spring. And I got in the class, I got accepted. And it turned out that I was the most experienced person in the class. It was the beginning of fandom. Well, not the beginning, but beginning of the point where fans were trying to break, seriously breaking into the markets, that just about everybody, if you think about it after that point, who broke into the market, instead of being people who wanted to be doing newspaper strips back in the 40s and, or wanting to get into commercial art in the 40s and 50s, and now they may have changed in this. I didn’t know my career is in comics, but their initial impulse was usually not comic books.

Bob Hall:
And that all changed in the early 70s. By that time, there were fans that were devoted fans that wanted to be comic book artists, and they were fans of John’s. And almost everybody who broke in was a fan. Some very talented people, but they had not had anywhere near the amount of art experience that I’d had. And so after the class was over, John wanted, I think somebody from that class, and I’m not saying that I was all that good, but I was the one in the class that had had some background. And John wanted somebody in that class to get a job at Marvel, I think, or maybe I’m being too humble. Maybe he really said, you’re ready to go to Marvel. But I kind of think maybe a little of both, but he, he got me the job at Marvel. And without that, I don’t know if I ever would have… I suppose eventually I would have, but helped me on the way.

Jim Thompson:
That’s, that’s great. Now. So at the same time that you’d taken that class, that’s when you’re writing with David Richmond, the, the Dracula play, which does start in September of 1977. So that’s that’s right, timeline-wise.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. The George Street Playhouse was a regional theater that started in, and it was a commute from New York. It started in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the Eric Krebs who ran it, wanted to have a Dracula. And I looked at the Dracula scripts and said, “There aren’t any good scripts.” And he said, “Well, why don’t you write one?” And I had written, I think, yeah, I adapted to children’s play. But that was the extent of my writing. And so I felt, okay, well, I’ll give it a shot and worked on it for a while, but it wasn’t ready to go by the time we needed to do it. So we picked one of these other ones and I kind of cut it and rewrote it. I can’t remember what it was called. It was the, not the… Dean is the original Dracula. And it’s what the Donald Lugosi movie is based on.

Bob Hall:
And that was the standard script. And it creaked a lot. It was pretty creaky. I thought, well, everybody, you know, it was all based on, nobody knows what a vampire is. And you’re dealing with the time when everybody knew some of the things about what Dracula supposedly was. And so you, I think I required a different script. And the one that we did was campy. I took some of the camp out of it, and it was okay. Was well directed and well acted, but we had… The theater wasn’t burning rich, and we had to fly a bat. In a proscenium theater, that’s pretty easy, but this was a three quarter round theater. And we kept trying to find a way to do it. And David Richmond was a wonderfully wonderful guy, very bright and a career alcoholic, who, my stage manager, he played the Butler in this version of Dracula.

Bob Hall:
And my stage manager, a woman named Lois said, “You want to cast this guy, actor, David Richmond.” And he came and auditioned. And I said, “Well, he’s, but I think some other actors.” She said, “No, you want to cast him.” And I said, “Why?” And she said, “He’s been sleeping on my couch for two weeks. And if you cast him, he’ll have enough money that I can throw him out.” And I said, “Okay.” So I cast him. And so we were trying to figure out a way to do this bat. And we had things, we had no money. So we had one of these plastic windup things, that flap their wings. And we tried running that across. Painting at black and running that across a line. And it, it, all it did was go around the wire in a circle, and then finally broke the wire and is flapping at my feet.

Bob Hall:
And every time we’d try something new, this guy, David Richmond would come up and say, “I think I know how to do a bat.” And I would usually say, “Yeah, I’ll talk to you later sometime.” And finally, when it was, this thing was flapping at my feet, I said, “Okay, you’re telling me how you want to do a bat.” And it turned out that David had toured with a magician called Dr. Silkini, who did what they called spook shows. And if you don’t anything about spook shows, you guys ought to read up on spook shows. Because they’re… Somehow they relate to comics a little bit. They’d get… These itinerant magicians would travel around the country, rent for walling, a movie theater for usually a midnight show.

Bob Hall:
And they would do a magic. They’d show Pirates and Prince of Dracula and Frankenstein, and then do a magic show, which basically amounted to turning out the lights and making spooks fly around. And you got to collect your date. And David had toured with this guy. And so he knew, what it evolved into was we built an origami that out of screen wire painted it with luminous paint. Did, if you have the timing just right, you could actually make it look like Dracula disappeared. And all of a sudden there was a luminous bat flying around and buzzing the audience, which was really a kid with a spook pole, shaking it in your face, but you’d been blinded by flash pots. And all you could see was the bat. And it was so good that Clyde Barnes from the New York Times, Eric got him out to see the theater. And he said, he said, “Well, it’s… The play isn’t that good. But, just the most sensational.”

Bob Hall:
The play isn’t that good, but this is the most sensational, special effect I’ve ever seen, and on the basis of that, Eric said, “I’ll produce the show if you and David write it.” And so, we wrote it. And it turned out to be a hit, and it was helpful that we had no idea that this Balderston Deane version had been optioned and was going to be done on Broadway with Frank Langella. And that was [inaudible 00:35:32].

Jim Thompson:
[inaudible 00:35:32] time-wise that that was right around the same time. Interesting.

Bob Hall:
It was… We had thought we were safe because that particular version had been optioned to be made into a musical, and it kept getting announced in variety with different people. It would be announced that Ricardo Montalban was going to play the lead, and then six months later, it would be announced again and Haley Mills was going to play the ingenue, but Ricardo Montalban was nowhere in the list. Usually what that meant was that was out of gas. They weren’t able to really commit to these people, and they were scrambling trying to raise money. If you’d been around the theater a little bit, you knew that that meant this is never going to happen. And so, they let the option expire.

Bob Hall:
We didn’t know that these people were waiting with production for that option to expire and they were going to bring it into Broadway with the Edward Gorey sets and the whole thing. We said, “We got to get ours on first. This is our only hope. Otherwise, we’re going to look like we’re just imitation.” So, we did. We had a remarkable cast, and the play got reviews as good or better. Everybody reviewed the sets for the uptown one and Langella’s performance, but we got reviews as the reviewers liked to play and they liked our cast. And we ran for two solid years with it, which is pretty darn good for off-Broadway

Jim Thompson:
And you’re lead, Chris [Burnell 00:02:09], he came from Dark Shadows?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. He’d been in Dark Shadows. And he was known for soap operas. Yeah. That soap opera. I think some other ones. He had a certain following. He wasn’t a huge star, but he helped us… His presence helped raise some money. Lovely man. Really was a fine Dracula. Poor guy died of AIDS in the AIDS epidemic. Right? Died way too young. The other thing about that, to get back to comics, that happened was that Marv Wolfman and Jean both came to the play, and there is a issue of Dracula where Dracula comes to see our play.

Alex Grand:
Oh, that’s awesome.

Jim Thompson:
Wow. That’s amazing.

Bob Hall:
I can’t think what the.. I’m no good with those numbers. I’ll send you a scan of it actually, of the cover [crosstalk 00:38:14].

Jim Thompson:
Yes, please.

Alex Grand:
Would love to that. That’s so cool.

Bob Hall:
But the cover is the real Dracula throttling our stage Dracula.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I remember reading that because I read that run not too long ago. That’s crazy that that was yours. So, yeah, in the later part of the run. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
That’s really cool.

Bob Hall:
I was insane at the time not to ask Jean for the pages. I think he would probably have given them to me, and I don’t know where they are now and I probably couldn’t afford to buy them if I did know. But I would love to have them.

Jim Thompson:
Now, my only last question on the Dracula production is, is Showtime actually filmed it as part of their Broadway on Showtime thing that they were doing at the time. Do you know if that’s available in any format that we could watch it?

Bob Hall:
Well, I have it. If I can find it. I have it on disc. It’s really awful. It’s just terrible.

Alex Grand:
I’m sure that adds to the charm, though.

Bob Hall:
They had no idea. First of all, it was of the theater. It was a theater piece, and they were originally going to do it as a theater piece. They were going to get an audience in and do it live. And that’s the standard now. If you’re doing these things like live from the National Theater in London and the RSC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, they all have series where they stream things, and you watch it live. And they do all the camera work. They do it extremely well. But this was the first time anybody had suggested doing that, and live television was a lost art. It was no longer being done much at all.

Bob Hall:
And so, they chickened out, and they did it soap. And so, doing something soap means that you’re using a two camera setup, and it felt like a soap opera, meaning that the pace is slow. And we had a couple wonderful actors playing Van Helsing, and they wanted more of a name and they got somebody that I think he… I don’t remember what he had been on. I’ve blocked his name because he was, again, he was just not right. Then the special effect had no meaning in the [inaudible 00:41:02] on a soap type production, which means that it felt like a TV show minus or a movie less. The special effects had no meaning whatsoever because you can do them… They were magic tricks. They were amazing because they were happening right in front of your eyes, and the minute you have the chance to cut away or do them as media, it had to be done a different way and they never could figure out why. So, it’s awful, but I’ll try to get you a copy.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, please. I would love to see that just for the fun of it.

Bob Hall:
Sure.

Jim Thompson:
I only have a couple of cleanup questions in terms of the Charlton stuff and the early stuff, and then Alex is going to take you through Marvel.

Bob Hall:
By the way, as you can hear, I’m perfectly capable of holding forth, and since this was going to be edited, I’m just blabbering. So, if that’s okay, I’ll just keep doing it.

Alex Grand:
No. Yeah. Sure.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, no. I mean, obviously, we’re digging into a lot of stuff, so we want to do a thorough job. And the GCD, they credit you with a Marvel cover, Our Love Story Number 36. before you do any of the other stuff, did you have any recollection of doing that?

Bob Hall:
No. None.

Alex Grand:
But that’s probably an error. That’s what we were thinking because that’s actually dated earlier than all the other stuff, so it didn’t makes sense.

Bob Hall:
That makes no sense to me at all. No.

Alex Grand:
Okay. So, that’s wrong.

Bob Hall:
Wrong!

Jim Thompson:
That’s good to know. And then-

Alex Grand:
And then, also, in… Oh, maybe Jim’s going to say this, but in Wikipedia, it says that you’re doing the Charlton stuff in ’74, but all this stuff is in ’76. So, that’s another, I think, thing that’s just out there that’s wrong, also.

Bob Hall:
I could have done something that was put in the drawer in ’74. That’s entirely possible. In fact, I think that’s accurate. I think that first one was done in ’74 because I did it and remember trying to get it done because we were going to London. It was the days of the Freddie Laker plane flights, where you could go to London for 100 bucks. Well, we were going, and I think I got that done just a little bit before. And that was in ’74. So, I suspect it just stayed in the drawer, because the nature of those horror stories, they hung around for awhile. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
That makes sense. And then the other cover I wanted to ask you about was it was in a Fightin’ Marines Charlton 132 in 1976, And they have you drawing that and Dan Adkins inking it. And it has Hitler on it.

Bob Hall:
It’s conceivable that I’ve forgotten something, but I don’t think so.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. All right.

Bob Hall:
I don’t think that’s mine either. I’m sure I would remember Dan Adkins inking me. I’ve always wanted Dan Adkins to incoming, but I don’t think it ever happened.

Jim Thompson:
All right. Those are the ones that stood out as I don’t know about that, so that’s good to know. Alex, Marvel.

Alex Grand:
So, then, you were saying that John Buscema had recommended you to Marvel through his class. He saw that he liked your style, that it stood out. Was that to Archie Goodwin then?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. That was Archie. By the way, he pronounced it Buscema.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Buscema. And you’re right. It is Buscema, and I always do that for some reason. I took an Italian class in college. I took an Italian class in college, and I’m cursed with saying his last name wrong.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. He knew it was not the Italian way. He said it had evolved from the time they entered an Americanization.

Alex Grand:
Right. Of course. Yes. I know about that. Anglo-cessation is evolution. Am I right?

Bob Hall:
Yes. Or something.

Alex Grand:
Something like that. Now, this is interesting. So, then, Archie then, did he assign you to a book then? Because it looks like that was The Champions probably. Right?

Bob Hall:
That’s right.

Alex Grand:
And he assigned you to that. And then it looked like Bill Matlow was the writer. So, he was the first writer you worked with at Marvel?

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Okay. And then, it looks like that was Champions eight through 10, dated 1976. Then you also did issue 16. How was working with Bill Matlow? Was that Marvel style? Was there a plotting session first before a script?

Bob Hall:
No. I don’t think I ever engaged in a plotting session at Marvel, ever. Except that maybe when I finally did Emperor Doom with McEleney, I think that would be the only one. Everything else was… People don’t think of Marvel as much of a writer orientation because of the Marvel method, but pretty much at that time, the writer would get an approval from the editor in chief and then they would assign an artist, unless you were on the series. But usually, while you were finishing the last one, the writer was writing the next one.

Bob Hall:
So, yeah. And working with Matlow, I appreciated Bill and always liked working with him and stayed friends with him until he had his terrible accident. He was very generous in saying, “Okay, I’m going to teach you how to read one of these scenarios,” especially working with him as to what was wanted. And I learned a lot about storytelling from Bill cause he was generous with his time. And I think probably in that first one, I’m not sure I thought that Bill was the best writer going, because I don’t think I liked the Champions stories all that well. But when I think back, because Bill, I think became a very good writer, and was somebody that I turned to a lot when I was an editor, I think it was almost an impossible group to write.

Bob Hall:
Tony Isabella originally pitched it, and he’s told me that he intended it as a buddy comic based on Route 66 with just the two X-Men meeting up with people and having adventures. And it grew as it was accepted as a concept, but it grew into a group book. And the group was one of the strangest collections of characters, which I suppose might be the charm of it, unless you were trying to draw Ghost Rider as your first thing that you get assigned… First of all, getting a job at Marvel and getting assigned a group book, I suppose is like being thrown not into deep water, it’s like being thrown into the Bermuda Triangle because everything is about… You’ve got to get it in within a month. And I was like [inaudible 00:48:28] and Ghost Rider. I’m the kind of person that I should not be allowed within six feet of a motorcycle, let alone on one. I knew nothing about motorcycles. And this was the time when you couldn’t get picture reference.

Bob Hall:
So, Ghost Rider, to me, I looked back at those and say, “He looks like he’s riding a bicycle all the time.” I mean, the way he’s sitting on it, the way that… And just getting enough reference to draw a motorcycle, I was not good enough to know how to fake stuff. In drawing comics and that kind of schedule we had, everybody had to learn how to fake stuff so that you would draw the shape of a motorcycle eventually, and then if you were somebody who used a lot of reference, you could fill in and make it more realistic, but you had to be able to lay it out accurately without tons and tons of photo reference, because you couldn’t get photo reference. It was hard to… You go out and you try to find exactly the picture of the motorcycle that you need if you’re drawing from a photo it was hard. Now, artists do it all the time, but [crosstalk 00:49:45] online.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Google makes it a lot faster, obviously.

Bob Hall:
But back back then… And so, my job was, I think it was the first issue, it might’ve been the second one, but the rule was you had to get Ghost Rider in as many scenes as possible because he was the only star at that time that was in the group. And he was put there to help sell the book, which I think he did not do because it was so insane to have him there because he’s a loner, for one thing.

Alex Grand:
Anti-hero, not a team player.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. He was there all the time, and if he was there, his motorcycle had to be there. So, my first thing I had to draw was an office on fire with Ghost Rider there on his motorcycle in the office. And it made me insane because the hard part was drawing an office. I had to have [inaudible 00:50:44] Polaroid camera and have my wife sneak me into the office where she was doing temp work to take pictures, because one of the hardest things is to draw stuff where everybody… Nobody has ever looked at it closely, but everybody knows if you’re doing it wrong. Doctor Doom’s laboratory is easy because everybody just makes it up, but the real stuff is what’s difficult. Thank God for Google images. Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. And then, now, I know that you were kind of doing that Buscema style at this point, did anyone ever say, “Draw like Jack Kirby?” Or were you pretty much just continuing on with more of a Buscema, or Buscema, approach to it?

Bob Hall:
I loved the class, and I certainly became an acolyte of John’s style because I felt it was… It’s what I learned. And also, because I think it was what people rather expected of me. S, when I turned to an image, I would turn toward him. It took me a while before I figured out that I had not gotten the job in order to draw like John Buscema. That wasn’t what was expected of me, per se, maybe the first couple of things, but it took me a long time to do something else. So, it was my default. [crosstalk 00:00:52:21].

Alex Grand:
Yeah. More Buscema than actual Kirby, it sounds like.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Nobody ever said, “Draw it like Jack,” except that when Jim Shooter took over, he would take artists aside and showed them some Jack Kirby stuffs. He loved early curvy Kirby, like before started doing the big flashy stuff, he loved smaller panels where Kirby would pull the camera way back and you’d see a lot of stuff. That’s about the only time was when I was doing the Avengers that I thought I was being forced into a Kirby mode and it wasn’t the Kirby that I-

Alex Grand:
That you particularly liked. It was almost the more boring Kirby in a way.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Yeah. It was… Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
Not boring Kirby, but okay.

Bob Hall:
It’s not boring Kirby. It’s great storytelling, but it was stuff that I felt, “Well, this is 10 years out of date.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. And I think a lot of Shooter’s stuff seems to have a lot of that zoomed out that you’re talking about.

Bob Hall:
But he was very concerned that people would not understand where comics were going, that comics would be produced… And to some extent he was right, that there would be comics that the average kid couldn’t pick up off the newsstand and look at and understand what stories were there. And I think he was right about that. I think the only thing he was wrong about was the idea that who was reading comic books anymore. [inaudible 00:53:53] being a big transition from kids to fans.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I will say, though, as a kid in the ’80s, I did like the stuff that he had a little more control over that. I was born in ’78, so as a kid, I did appreciate it. I was able to hook right into the Marvel universe through a lot of the stuff he was overseeing, so it did help me integrate into it.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. No, I think exactly that. It felt like an accurate assessment is what you had to do, because I remember going to those spin racks that were still there when I started reading comics again and saying, “Okay, wow. Well, I want to find the issue before this because I want to catch up on it, but I can understand it if I start at this point. I’ll still get it.” And we were all, we were all quite concerned with the storytelling when I started, that you had to be able to do that.

Alex Grand:
And then, now, you did FF annual 12 1977. This book was split in half with Keith Pollard, and the script was by Marv Wolfman. It was an Inhumans issue. So, did you ever have to go back to` Kirby Fantastic Four as any reference on the characters? Were you already familiar with a lot of these characters by this point? How did that work?

Bob Hall:
The ones that I was drawing I was familiar with, but that was the first realization of what would haunt me, really, for most of my career at Marvel was that I’m slow. I got much faster once I started working at Valiant. But I was supposed to do the whole thing, and I just could not turn that out in the length of time that was available and had to go to John [inaudible 00:55:54] and say, “John, I can’t do it.” I’m just not capable of doing that at this point in my career.”

Alex Grand:
I see. That’s why it was split in half like that. I see.

Bob Hall:
That’s why it was splitting in half. That happened to me several times during my career at Marvel that I felt… I think sometimes the Marvel people thought, “Oh,, he’s just off doing theater again,” but the truth was that I just was too damn slow. And I think people didn’t quite get that because I was John Buscema’s pupil, and Buscema was the fastest person, one of the three fastest people, in comics.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. He could do like three pages a day or something. Yeah.

Bob Hall:
He could do up to five pages if he was doing breakdowns.

Alex Grand:
If it was just breakdowns, that’s true.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. And those breakdowns were astonishingly good. You had to have somebody as good as like a Tom Palmer doing the finish on them, because a lot of artists, unless the artists could draw really well, you didn’t know what to do, or you’d try to redraw it in your style or whatever. But they were magnificent line drawings [crosstalk 00:57:13].

Jim Thompson:
We talked to Tom just a couple of weeks ago about exactly that, about… He talked about doing atoms and he talked about doing colon. And he was saying with Buscema, that it was layouts, but it was perfectly done and how much he enjoyed working off of those pencils.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. The draftsmanship inherent in those pencils was crazy. He showed me how he did it. He was always working with a light box, and I own a bunch of his underlays that he did. He would do these gestural drawings that were on the first section, and then he would go slap those on a light box and do these line drawings over them. The gestural drawings are magnificent.

Alex Grand:
Oh, I see. That’s cool. because he had stock poses basically.

Bob Hall:
No. [inaudible 00:58:08] of stock poses. That’s what’s crazy. It was like he had done it probably holding the pencil like this… Not going to get the pencil in there. Yeah. Right? Like this. And very sweeping. And with John, the amazing thing was that… Watching John draw was like those old semi coloring books that you used to get where you would brush water on the page and a drawing would emerge that was hidden. And with John it was like, that he would move his hand around almost too fast for you to see, but very elegantly, and this drawing would just start to emerge on the page.

Alex Grand:
Wow. That’s cool.

Bob Hall:
It was astonishing.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That sounds astonishing. And I would have loved to see… I have some of his pages, some breakdown, some more full, and he would doodle on the back of them, too. But-

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Always. Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Okay. Now, you also worked with Matt Lowe in Super-Villain Team-Up, issues 10, 11, 12, 14, 1977. Now, this is interesting, Don Perlin inked a lot of that stuff, and you guys worked together at Valiant. So, were you guys friends?

Bob Hall:
No. I never met Don until I was an editor. I think a lot of the people I met, Matt Lowe, a lot of those guys, the people that I worked with, I never really met until I was an editor there. Can I tell you one story about shifting from Champions to Super-Villain Team-Up, which I thought was a, “Thank God.” I was able to do a book with a contained number of characters. But I was at, I think it was the New York… Yeah. It was the New York Comic-Con. I think it was just called the New York Comic-Con then. And it wasn’t ReedPOP at that point, it was just one of the early Comic-Cons.

Bob Hall:
And this kid who couldn’t have been more than 10 came up and said, “You’re Bob Hall. Right?” And I said, “Yeah, how’d you know?” He said, “Somebody told me. You were working on The Champions.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s what I’m doing.” He said, “No, you’re not. They’re going to put you on Super-Villain Team-Up. They’re going to give that to John Byrne and put you on Super-Villain Team-Up,” and he walked away. And it was the first experience I’ve had with a fan, especially a preteen fan, knowing more about what was going on in the Marvel office than I did, but that was fandom. Now I understand fandom.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. “No, you’re not. You’re going to do this.”

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand:
Okay. Now around this time, then, ’78 starts coming up, and Archie Goodwin then is no longer editor in chief. Jim Shooter becomes editor in chief. Do you recall that shift and any changes in Marvel at the time? And were you at the bull pen a lot when you were there?

Bob Hall:
Well, I would go into the bullpen on a regular basis because that’s how you got work, especially if you were doing books like The Champions. And I was on the, “This book is going to fail,” end of the Marvel universe at the time. They used those books well. They use them as training grounds for people, and they would shift new people around and see how you did. But yeah, there were a lot of changes. When Archie was there, it was the time of the writer/editor, and I was glad I didn’t get mixed up with that very much because I was working for Matt Lowe and Matt Lowe was giving me… It was a more typical relationship. He would give me the Marvel scenario.

Bob Hall:
Nobody who was working from that kind of Stan Lee thing where he called up and just gave you a real quick synopsis of what you were going to do. They would be written out, usually page by page as a scenario with no dialogue, or maybe one place where the writer knew damn well that he wanted you to do a panel where there was a major speech, and he would have heard that in his head and he would write that out for you. But the writer/editors, of course, were notoriously just… Their books got, for the most part, later and later and later. And that was a big problem. And some of the books went off into a strange place. That wasn’t true of all of them. Sometimes in hearing that it sounded like that was happening with everybody, and I’m sure it wasn’t. But the books at Marvel, because of this revolving door of editor in chief, Archie was probably the most successful one of that… We had Len and-

Alex Grand:
And Marv.

Bob Hall:
We had Len, we had Archie, who else was… Is there somebody else who was editor in chief? I can’t remember.

Alex Grand:
Well, Marv Wolfman was also an editor in chief.

Bob Hall:
That’s right. It was Marv. It was Marv. And you had to have some consistency there to get the books on time. And Archie is a wonderful, probably one of the best editors ever to exist in comics, but not necessarily as an editor in chief, whose primary job was making sure it was a business and that it got done at that point, because Marvel was turning into a different kind of company. And Jim was quite capable of doing that, and I think really saved Marvel’s but [crosstalk 00:29:34].

Alex Grand:
Right. [inaudible 01:04:35] Landau in ’75 was president, and then some things were happening with the money so Jim Galton comes in, and now he was the one that wanted everything to be more business run. And then, Jim Shooter probably becoming editor in chief was instrumental in making that happen.

Bob Hall:
Yes, he was very much so. I was part of the first wave of editors. He called me and asked if I wanted to be an editor. And I had done the play at that point. I had taken time off from Marvel because we’d been doing the play. Getting a play on off-Broadway, we were rewriting constantly, and especially off-Broadway, we were all doing more than one thing with the production and blah, blah, blah. And so, Jim called me, said, “I would like you to be an editor.” And I thought about it and didn’t really want to do it. And one reason I didn’t want to do it was that it looked like Passion of Dracula was going to get options to be done in London, and I certainly was going to go to London if that happened. And I wasn’t quite sure it was going to happen, and so I didn’t feel like committing… The job sounded like a big commitment.

Bob Hall:
And Jim kept calling me back and wanting me to do it, and I think Jim thought I was negotiating because he kept offering me more money. And finally, because I had never made any money the time I was in New York and doing Marvel… You started your page rate when you first started with something like, I think it was slightly less than 30 bucks a page. Unless you were very fast, just couldn’t make much money. And I thought, “Wow, I can make enough money doing this to successfully go to London,” so I made the deal that I would do it for six months, and that if the London thing was going to happen, then I would leave and do that. And he said, “Great.” So, I did it for six months.

Bob Hall:
And indeed, every book that I had was behind except for Devil Dinosaur done by Jack Kirby, which was six months ahead, which was typical Kirby. But most of my job during that time was to try to get the books back on time, and that was what we were all doing for a while. We weren’t doing that editorship of planning stories. All of that stuff came later. This was about nuts and bolts. These books have got to get back on a monthly schedule.

Alex Grand:
Interesting. So, then, did you find that you faced some backlash from the artists and writers then when you tried to reel them in like that?

Bob Hall:
For the most part, it involved just telling people that, “Okay, hey look, this is the situation now,” and people would go with it. And I think everybody knew that that had to happen. There were a couple of things, and I won’t talk about who or what, where the only solution was to fire somebody because things were behind and they clearly weren’t going to get more on time. That was the least fun part about it because you would find people who were sometimes [inaudible 01:08:27] and one instance in particular, it was a very talented person, but it just was clear that it was not working.

Bob Hall:
And then you would turn toward some of the remarkably fast artists to get things back on time. Usually it would be Sal Buscema or… John at that time was pretty much his own man. You could get him to do some filling kind of work, but he was pretty much assigned to what he was doing and you weren’t going to be able to get him to help you out. But Sal was still at that point where he was the go-to guy, and he wasn’t firmly on the Hulk yet. We got him on the Hulk. I think Don Perlin ended up on The Defenders. Some things like that we were behind that you solved it that way.

Alex Grand:
That’s interesting. Yeah. Because just to name a few issues under that time, some Marvel Team-Up issues, Mary Joe Duffy was your assistant editor, there was Chris Claremont and John Byrne was working under you there in the beginning part of that. There was an interesting issue, the Marvel Team-Up 74, where you actually had Saturday Night Live-

Alex Grand:
… ’74 where you actually had Saturday Night Live in the [crosstalk 01:10:06].

Bob Hall:
Not Ready for Prime Time Players technically.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and you did the interior art for that. Cochran did the cover, Chris Claremont wrote that one. And then Marie Severin, I guess because it was a comedic one, Marie Severin then inked that issue. How did that issue come to be?

Bob Hall:
Well, Chris pitched it and we all liked it. I don’t know who, probably Shooter, managed to make the contact with Saturday Night Live. I can’t remember who did that, probably to Lorne Michaels, and they said yes. Then I was editing Team-Up and I was damned if I was going not do it myself, because I knew we would get together at 30 Rock and meet those people, sit in on rehearsal, and we did. So it was great fun. Loved doing it. The only probably I had with it was that Chris was a television watcher and I’m not a television watcher.

Bob Hall:
So Chris would … I watched Saturday Night Live, I loved Saturday Night Live, but he would want characters from the Muppet Show to be in it and stuff. I didn’t know who these people were, but they had to get me reference because I … Again, the reference problem, if you turned on the TV, those characters were going to be there until … It might be three or four weeks before they would appear. But it was a fun project, we did get to meet, say hello to most of them. But we did give the cover to Belushi and got to … He invited us to the opening night party, the wrap party, for … Maybe it was the opening, I guess. I guess it was the opening of Animal House. I got to meet him, had a little bit longer conversation with him, and give him the cover.

Alex Grand:
That’s the cool thing about everything being in New York, it’s all close by like that.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Yeah, and I remember there was one weird thing that happened with it that had to do with coming from Nebraska. And that was that the lawyer for NBC. We tried to figure what would we … How would we do the logos stuff on the comic. We felt we had to represent NBC in some way and the show, but we couldn’t put everybody’s face on the cover. Actually, I kind of wanted to do that, I thought it’d look like an old Blackhawk comic, but that wasn’t what was wanted. So I said, “Let’s use the NBC symbol.” Everybody said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” Then we got a call from the NBC office and their lawyer invited us, didn’t invite us, said, “You have to come talk to me about using that symbol.” We sat in the office and the guy said, “Now you cannot change this symbol in any way.” And we said, “Okay, fine, we won’t.” He said, “No.” [crosstalk 01:13:29]-

Alex Grand:
Yeah, it’s a trademarked symbol, you have to be careful.

Bob Hall:
He said, “You’re not … Understand, you really cannot change it.” And he said, “You can’t, in any way, you can’t.” It got to the point where you was saying, “Well, what’s the real deal here? This is … Yeah, yeah, we got it. What’s …” He keeps stating it. Suddenly the light dawned on me and I said, “I understand, I’m from Nebraska.” He said, “Then you know what I’m talking about.” I said, “Yes, I do.” And that was the end of the meeting.

Bob Hall:
And we got in the hall and I think Shooter was there, and Mary Jo, and they said, “What just happened?” And I said, “There’s a educational television station associated with the University of Nebraska and this guy, Jim Brown, was their staff artist. He invented the NBC symbol, only for Nebraska television, and it was exactly the same as what they later came up with. That NBC eventually came up with their symbol, post Nebraska television having the same one. So it was already trademarked and Nebraska sued them.” And they had to settle for … I think eventually they settled out of court and gave them a remote truck which is what they really wanted. So that was the story, that was the guy was all about this Nebraska-

Alex Grand:
That’s funny. There was actually a legal thing there.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah, weird.

Alex Grand:
And then you also worked with Chaykin doing Dr. Strange. You did a nice-

Jim Thompson:
No, that was Marvel Team-Up. It was just Dr. Strange was the guest in that one.

Alex Grand:
Was the guest in that one, and then there’s also a Marvel Two-in-One Thing in Hercules #44, in 1978. It says that you penciled the cover, there’s a question mark in the Grand Comics-

Bob Hall:
I did not pencil the cover.

Alex Grand:
Oh.

Bob Hall:
I did the interior.

Alex Grand:
Oh, that’s interesting.

Jim Thompson:
You did the layouts on the interior? They’ve got you drawing and inking the cover.

Alex Grand:
They have you as actually penciling and inking the cover, too. That’s wrong then?

Bob Hall:
I believe that’s wrong. I’ll take a look at it, but I don’t think I did the cover. I might have done the cover, maybe I did? Oh, no. I did do the cover.

Jim Thompson:
It’s a good cover.

Alex Grand:
There you go.

Jim Thompson:
You should take credit for it.

Bob Hall:
I’m thinking of something else. No, I’m thinking of a Cochran cover. Yes, I did the cover. I did the cover as well.

Alex Grand:
And did you ink it, too?

Bob Hall:
I don’t remember. I might have, I think I did. I think it might have been the first cover that I inked myself.

Alex Grand:
So GCD may have gotten that one right then.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I remember that issue because I did full pencils and Giacoia inked it. I really appreciated Frank Giacoia’s inking. He also inked a Super-Villain Team-Up I did, I think. Somewhere in there I got two things inked by Frank, and they were the first time I thought it all looked professional. He really made me look like I knew what I was doing. It was the first time I had almost no quarrel with any of how it was turning out. Because a lot of … I think John Byrne was somebody who came in with a style that controlled the inker, almost anybody, unless you really tried to change him, you just followed his pencils and it’d turn out well.

Alex Grand:
Controlling the inker, that’s an interesting concept, yeah.

Bob Hall:
I was struggling to do that. It was not turning out the way I hoped it would turn out. So that one did and I recall it fondly.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Now you also took over editing Defenders from Shooter around issue 61. You’re both listed as editor on that issue, so it sounds like it got handed off to you in the middle of it maybe?

Bob Hall:
Probably.

Alex Grand:
Probably, that makes sense. It seems like toward the end of the editing, Al Milgrom kind of came in after you. Is that correct? It went to Al Milgrom after you?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, they were looking for the next editor, because I knew I was going to leave. They were doing it in London, and so I said, “It is happening.” And about that time Al was let go by DC, and I heard that he was available and suggested that Al be the person that take them over.

Alex Grand:
Oh, you suggested that?

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Well, that’s cool. Yeah, that’s from the DC implosion that him and DeFalco and other people went over there.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. I would have liked to seen Mary Jo take it over, but that wasn’t happening yet over at Marvel.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s interesting.

Bob Hall:
And that’s just my opinion, I just think that wasn’t something that was ready to happen yet. I think she would have been great.

Alex Grand:
Interesting, so almost like maybe you had mentioned that to Shooter and he-

Bob Hall:
I don’t think so. I think it’s my fault. I think I sort of felt that was the way it seemed to be working. That it was-

Alex Grand:
At the time [crosstalk 01:19:22].

Bob Hall:
… all of the people who had come in at this point were men.

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bob Hall:
And I sort of felt, “Well, that’s the deal.” Again, you got to remember it was the ’70s, and I sort of felt, “Well, I guess that’s the deal,” rather than thinking, “Why don’t I suggest …” So I still kind of feel …

Alex Grand:
Yeah, it was almost like a cultural subconscious thing.

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Now you also edited Daredevil around this time, a few issues there. And there were some that were drawn by Gene Colan. Did you know Gene Colan?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I got to know Gene after he did that thing with the Dracula play. And he invited me and my wife out to his house and played … He had a movie studio in his house. Not for taking movies, but I mean for showing, a showing room. A viewing room. I think we watched King Kong. But it was just great to go out and see some of his work hanging on the walls. Some of his early commercial work, too. I really liked Gene a lot.

Bob Hall:
Again, it’s one of those things, it’s an odd thing, that I’m not listed as the editor for the issue where Gene started doing it again. Because I think it was another one of those things where I was just starting as editor and it got handed off to me. But I wasn’t credited, but I know that people were saying, “Who can do Daredevil?” We were looking for an artist for Daredevil and I said, “Well, hey, I want to call Gene. Let’s see if I can get Gene back on the book for a while.” And I remember that as being one of my things that I felt, “Okay, I’ve done some good. That’s a good artistic move, we’ll get Gene back on Daredevil for a while.”

Alex Grand:
And how about Frank Robbins? I think he drew one of those as well, right?

Bob Hall:
I don’t remember if he did a Daredevil. The one I remember Frank with was the Human Fly.

Alex Grand:
Okay.

Jim Thompson:
He did a Daredevil during your editing. I checked it last night.

Bob Hall:
I’m sure he may have. I just don’t remember it. I remember the Human Fly because we kept going through inkers and I think Leialoha did some of his stuff. Made Robbins look pretty good, but it didn’t quite look like Robbins, and eventually I put Frank Springer on him. Which I thought was a good team, because I was looking for somebody that made Robbins … I mean, Robbins, I think is one of those guys if you … I know there were people that didn’t like his work, but he just needed to look like Robbins. I mean, Frank Robbins is Frank Robbins, and trying to give him a different look just isn’t there. He needs to be what he is and Springer was able to do that.

Jim Thompson:
Springer was his best inker during the Marvel stuff, I think. It worked really well, I agree with you.

Alex Grand:
Now also then, Hulk, you did a few issues of Hulk also. And you edited that Hulk Annual #7, December 1978, by Stern and Byrne, and that was a great issue. So when you’re editing, are you giving feedback on the art, or is it mostly the script and then assigning who does the issue?

Bob Hall:
It really depended on what it was. There would be times when I would give feedback on the art, there were times when you felt you did not have to give feedback on anything. And you were sort of praying for that to happen because you were juggling all of these books and trying to make sure they all got out and stuff. So it was very nice when a combination like Stern and Byrne were pretty self-contained. You got two of the ultimate pros going.

Alex Grand:
Right, right. Because they had a great Captain America run, obviously, too. So now, in 1979, you did the Human Fly, cover to issue 17, five Tarzan issue covers, you inked over Sal Buscema on some interiors, inking over John on some covers. So tell us about that, working on Human Fly and some of those Tarzan images. And did you like Tarzan, and what was up with the Human Fly?

Bob Hall:
Well, the Human Fly was weird. It was strange, because Stan had apparently met the Human … You know the Human Fly was a real guy?

Alex Grand:
Yeah, Rick Rojatt or something like that?

Bob Hall:
I can’t remember. Probably, that’s sounds right. And Stan had met him at a party or something and thought, “What a great idea for a comic.” So we did it. Yeah, it was kind of fun in that it was not superhero, and it was sort of fun to do one non-superhero book although he was sort of a semi-superhero. There was something about it that it never quite … I don’t anybody believed that it was going to take off.

Alex Grand:
Because he was like a Evel Knievel-type stuntman, right, masked?

Bob Hall:
He was Evel Knievel-type stuntman, but shortly after we started doing the book, he stopped doing stunts. And part of the deal we felt was, “Well, we’ll sell the book because he’ll be doing these stunts like Evel Knievel, and unless he gets killed, the stunts will help sell the book.” And we eventually thought, “Whatever good, great stunt he comes up with we’ll try to incorporate it in the book.” And he just kind of stopped doing stunts. Came up to the office with … He had wanted us to put in a sidekick, and he brought him up and introduced him, he said, “This is Speedy, my sidekick.” And this is unfair, but we, several of us in the editorial department, got together afterwards and said, “Speedy, this looks like this guy picked up Speedy in a bus station. This is not good. This is not good.”

Alex Grand:
Maybe outside of a Studio 54 or something like that.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah. We got to get him to do more stunts. That’s the whole idea. So I called and pressured him, “You’ve got to do more stunts.” And eventually he called me back and said, “I got it. I’m going to fly across country for Easter strapped to a wing of a Boeing 707.” And I said, “Okay,” and thought about it, and told other people. They said, “What did you just tell me?” And I said, “The only question I have, do we just tell him that he’s going to die if he does this? Or do we just let him do it?”

Alex Grand:
Just let him do it. It’s fun.

Bob Hall:
And eventually he decided not to do it and the book got canceled about the same time. The good thing about the book was that for some reason Jim decided because, not being a superhero, it didn’t have to have a Marvel look. That he would ask me to use a number of older artists who were looking for work who had amazing backgrounds, but were not doing the Marvel style. So I got to work with Frank, and Bob Lubbers, and Lee Elias. And they were superb. They were all just wonderful.

Jim Thompson:
Which one did the splash page, the opening page where he’s just playing the guitar? Because that’s the one I remember.

Bob Hall:
I don’t remember, I don’t remember.

Jim Thompson:
Those were all so fun. That’s the only reason I bought the book at the time was because I knew who they were bringing out, the artists, and it was a real treat. Lee Elias was especially good.

Bob Hall:
And Lee Elias, it was great to see his pencils come through. He had a unique style, he worked with a stump, you know what I mean? A paper stump, so he would put in the black areas by rubbing the pencil with this stump, which doesn’t sound that interesting, I guess, except for they were beautiful. They were beautiful pencil drawings. Just gorgeous.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, I like his Beyond Mars strip. Because I think he’s always thought of as somewhat of a Caniff imitator, but he had his own skill, obviously.

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
All right, so then-

Bob Hall:
Well, that was actually kind of the problem. You’d get people who had been raised in the Caniff school and we were definitely … Everyone wanted to look like Adams at that point. If you were with it, your stuff looked like Adams, I guess.

Alex Grand:
I see, it was almost old-fashioned to be a Caniff imitator in 1979.

Bob Hall:
Almost, yep. You could be other kinds of things, but the Caniff school was sort of out, which was really too bad, because it’s really superb stuff.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, sure.

Bob Hall:
But it somehow didn’t seem to fit the superhero genre as it was being done at that point.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, yeah. I think even John Romita, transitioning from his Caniff-style in the ’50s to his Marvel-style in the ’60s. Although it looked smooth and sleek I think it was actually hard for him to make that adjustment, but he did, obviously. And he was a great art director and all that stuff. But it’s still a different thing and there is a transition.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, and you can always see it in when John would feel he had to redraw a face on a cover. The part of the Caniff that he retained would be sometimes very much like, “Oh, John Romita redrew that face.” And it would [crosstalk 01:30:10]-

Alex Grand:
And there would be a Caniff face there, nice.

Bob Hall:
There would be a Romita Caniff face, yeah.

Alex Grand:
A Romita-sized Caniff face, right, exactly.

Jim Thompson:
And Bob, I just looked, it was Lee Elias was the one that did the Human Fly kicked back on the couch, playing the guitar.

Bob Hall:
Oh, cool.

Jim Thompson:
And that one stood out. But Goodwin was editing it, by that point, so that’s probably why it’s not in your mind.

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
And then you took a break from comics and that was basically to work on your theater, right?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, it was spent … Or at least four weeks in London, and came back and I have no memory of exactly what happened when I came back. I know I went back to doing stuff. You probably know more about that I do. That’s sort of a vague period for me up until Shooter asking me to the Avengers.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, in the database, 1980 is a complete blank, you have zero credits.

Bob Hall:
Well, that’s why it’s a blank, that’s why it’s vague to me. I was apparently going through vagueness. I actually think I was doing a lot of theater at that point. I was a guest artist at Cornell University and working at the George Street Playhouse, and just doing more theater work.

Jim Thompson:
All right, so now we have to talk about the Avengers. This is a tricky part, because I hate what happens, you know? I mean, beyond hate, because if I was a kid, a juvenile, I would say that Ant-Man, Hank Pym was one of my favorite characters. But I’m an adult, so I’m not going to say that. Hawkeye is my favorite character. It’s such a different controversy because I want to read what Jim Shooter says about it. And then let’s talk about that, because he kind of, in my opinion, hangs you out to dry on this after the criticisms come in. Where he says, “In that story, Issue 213 …” And for anybody that doesn’t know, we’re talking about Hank Pym-

Bob Hall:
Walloping the Wasp.

Jim Thompson:
Yep, committing domestic violence against the Wasp. Part of my distaste, Bob, when I’m not doing the comics stuff, I’m a divorce lawyer and I deal with domestic violence all the time. So this one’s little personal for me. Also, I think this was a turning point in comics the same way that the 1986 stuff over at DC with Dark Knight and Watchman was that this was the beginning of a darker tone to comics that I never liked especially.

Alex Grand:
And this was kind of a little after the Jim Shooter Hulk story of the rape at the YMCA and stuff like that. So there’s a few different things that was happening.

Jim Thompson:
Shooter’s doing that, Englehart’s doing some stuff later in West Coast Avengers, things that … There’s a lot more rape and lot more brutality going on in superhero comics. So in this issue, Hank Pym, who’s kind of lost his mind at the time, there’s this panel where he just knocks the hell out of the Wasp over to the corner. And what Shooter says is that wasn’t his intent. That he had a very nuanced notion of this and it wasn’t going to be like that. And that, I’m going to read it, so I don’t get it wrong.

Jim Thompson:
“In that story there’s a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration, making a sort of get-away-from-me gesture while not looking at her. Bob Hall, who has been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action turned that into a right cross. There was no time to have it redrawn, which to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the wife-beater story. When that issue came out, Ben Sienkiewicz came to me upset that I hadn’t asked him to draw it. He saw the intent right through Hall’s mistake, and was moved enough by the story to wish he’d had the chance to do it properly. By the way, I was too busy to finish the story, so Roger Stern took over two thirds of the way through. I thought he did a great job.”

Jim Thompson:
So what’s your response? Does that jibe with your memory of it? I’ve read your response to it, but I didn’t know if that was still your mindset. So I just want to ask you, what do you think of that?

Bob Hall:
I don’t know. My biggest response to it … What was the date of that, the issue?

Jim Thompson:
Oh, the issue itself? 1981.

Alex Grand:
1981, yeah.

Bob Hall:
1981, so that’s 40 years ago. That’s my response to it. It’s 40 years ago and I don’t think anybody remembers anything accurately after 40 years. So I think Jim’s memory of it is probably as accurate as Jim can remember it. And I won’t try to dispute it. I know that, yes, I had trouble drawing it. I wasn’t sure what was wanted and I eventually did that. I don’t think I got to the point where I could pull off something subtle for another three or four years. I think I was … I think all the work that I did on the Avengers was crap. It was another group book and I don’t think I ever felt comfortable doing it.

Bob Hall:
It always felt, to me, like I had more to draw than I could fit in. I always wish that I had … In fact, when I was working with Roger even, on West Coast Avengers, I think I eventually said, “Look, if you can write me …” These are 22 page stories. “If you can write me 20 pages, and just give me two pages to do something interesting.” So I can expand action rather than try to draw a million panels. But I was never comfortable doing it, it felt … No. I don’t think I did a very good job on it. So I think that part of it is probably true. I do have the reaction that next … And then, I have a different reaction to it as a writer, which is that the next day she shows up at the Avengers headquarters with a black eye. So clearly something had happened, and to her, that was brutal, it didn’t have to be that brutal.

Bob Hall:
I read a book on boxing. One time I was trying to figure out, “God, I’m sick of doing fights that look like roundhouse rights.” I got a book on boxing that had a bunch of photographs. I don’t remember if it was Ring Lardner, I can’t remember who wrote it. But I remember that he said, “The hardest punch he ever saw thrown in his life was Rocky Marciano hitting,” I believe it was, “Ezzard Charles.” Charles had dropped his guard, he was actually winning the fight, he had dropped his guard. Marciano saw the opening and that the blow traveled maybe 12 inches, and boom.

Bob Hall:
I am certainly not disputing that it could have been a more subtle slap or hit, but it definitely gave her a black eye, so that was part of the plot. My sense of it is if that happened by accident, then the entire story should have been scrapped. That if he didn’t slap her and intend to hit her, then the idea that, “Oh, it happens by accident.” No. I don’t buy that for a second. I think the intention of the story is that he … The marriage is sour, he’s crazy, it builds to the point that he hits her. And I think the hit ends up, in the story with Hank, implicitly, is that Hank is involved in that syndrome of people who hit their wives, or hit their spouse, it can be the other way around, too, on saying, “See what you made me do.” And I think without that syndrome being there, there is no story.

Jim Thompson:
I couldn’t agree with you more. If you go back and read the story, and it’s not just Hank, but Janet Pym is acting like an abused … Like a spouse that got hit, she’s lying about it, she’s making excuses, everything that both of those characters do indicate that that’s how that entire story is written, not just that one panel that you did.

Alex Grand:
That one panel. Yeah, it was intended to be domestic violence. Like when she takes her sunglasses off at work, and her coworkers see it, and they’re shocked and concerned, right? That’s what happens at Avengers mansion.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, she’s lying about it and that’s a sign that she was being abused, not that it was an accident where he accidentally raised his hand like that. So I think your interpretation of that as a writer is exactly spot on. So I’m glad you said that.

Bob Hall:
Yes, yeah. And on the other hand, I think, yes, Ben Sienkiewicz could have handled it more subtly. I didn’t really know … I knew that at the time, I tried drawing it more subtly, and it never seemed to work when I did it. I think it took a level of draftsmanship to do that I didn’t not … I had not attained at that point. And so, that’s the part of it that I would agree is my fault. It wasn’t a matter of intent, it was a matter of I did what I could.

Jim Thompson:
Did you get a lot of blowback for it at conventions and things? Did people come and talk to you about it?

Bob Hall:
No, I don’t consider it blowback, I consider it interesting to have had this be the most iconic thing in my career.

Jim Thompson:
And I’m sorry for the fact that I done that to you.

Alex Grand:
Good going, Jim. Thanks a lot, Jim.

Bob Hall:
No, it always happens. And I think what people are … What seems to strike people, if it wasn’t for this particular moment I don’t think I would have said much about … I don’t think I was a very good artist at the time. I think there were a few things that I’d done that were okay. And people are just … That seems to be what gets people upset and I understand why. Is I’m taking something that they remembered and saying, “Well, it wasn’t very good.” And I think it’s important to know at some point about this time, and it had something do with that issue, that I looked at that and said, “I’m not doing what I want to do.”

Bob Hall:
And I started going back to square one with drawing, started going to a studio in New York called the Stacy Studio. They just had a model in three or four times a week. And I would go in three or four times a week, and spend three hours drawing naked people. Drawing models, trying to get the draftsmanship to where I thought I could do something like that and pull it off.

Jim Thompson:
Because in five years time, when Emperor Doom comes out, I suspect that people come up to you and talk about that book in a very different way. That’s a fan favorite, I know.

Bob Hall:
It might be, but nobody ever comes up and talks to me about that book.

Jim Thompson:
Really?

Bob Hall:
The only feedback I have gotten from that book … I think that is probably not completely true, but no, it’s not part of the regular Marvel Universe. People who are heavy-duty fans are into the continuity stuff, I think. But, no, I think that was the best work I did at Marvel, but some years ago-

Jim Thompson:
That’s what I was thinking. So I’m disappointed everybody else isn’t doing that, because that’s what I would have said to you.

Bob Hall:
There’s an op-ed, nationally syndicated writer named Leonard Pitt who is in all kinds of papers and he … Doing editorial stuff, and he wrote something about the nature of power and stuff and referenced Emperor Doom. And I wrote to the guy and said, “I drew that and I was so pleased that you remembered it after 20 years.” And he said, “Oh, yes. I have never forgotten that.” He said the idea that Thing has nuance, that Dr. Doom actually-

Bob Hall:
He said the idea that thing is nuanced, that Dr. Doom actually does a damn good job of running… The trains run on time, but nobody has free will. He said that the concept of free will with a benign dictator was a fascinating problem to have explored. I appreciated that. So that’s the best feedback I’ve gotten on my book.

Jim Thompson:
That’s great. All right. In ’81 as well. There was, and I think it might even have been a fill in, I don’t know. But Spider-Man 222, you draw the Speed Demon formerly the Whizzer. I just want to make sure, so that’s the first time that you… That’s sort of a harbinger of things to come, in that that’s the first time you’re drawing one of the Squadron’s… Well, this is Squadron Sinister, but what will become the Squadron Supreme book that you do. Is that the first time that you did any of those characters?

Bob Hall:
Oh yeah, I believe so. Yes, I believe so. Yes.

Jim Thompson:
Did you redesign the costume or did someone else?

Bob Hall:
You know, I don’t remember. I think that there were…. I think I had some input into some of the costumes in the new ones. But I expect that they were redesigned for me. I think I would remember if I really did the designs. I think there were some tweaks that I suggested. But I suspect that they were done in-house by somebody.

Jim Thompson:
I’ll let Alex ask about the actual Squadron Supreme. I was just asking about when the Whizzer became Speed Demon, that costume.

Bob Hall:
Oh no, no. That one was just… I don’t know who came up with the design. But at that point you usually got a… You were presented the job with a design.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. Then in ’81-

Bob Hall:
Especially on team-ups, because team-ups were not considered the place where people… Costumes got altered.

Jim Thompson:
In the same year, in ’81, you’re starting to do some work for DC as well. Are these all done by… They’re the Weird War Tales. Is that under the war editing or is that under Joe Orlando and the horror editing? I take it that’s under the War Books, right?

Bob Hall:
It’s under the War Books, yeah.

Jim Thompson:
And you did [crosstalk 01:48:08]

Bob Hall:
I don’t remember, who did I talk to? Who was the editor of that? I don’t even remember.

Jim Thompson:
I’m not sure. Because it changed over time. Was Kubric doing it at that point?

Bob Hall:
No, I would have remembered that.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. So you do one with [crosstalk 01:48:24] Barr.

Bob Hall:
He did some of the covers, which was an embarrassment. Because he was so much better, more than the insides [crosstalk 01:48:34]. I’ll [inaudible 01:48:35] with Joe, yeah.

Jim Thompson:
Weird War Tales does have some really amazing Alex Toth short stories. He did a few that are stand out. You did three, I think. One was, were a couple with… One was with Barr, one was with DeMatteis and-

Alex Grand:
DeMatteis.

Jim Thompson:
You did a House of Mystery story called New Hope with Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn.

Bob Hall:
The House of Mystery story, I don’t remember that at all. I’m listed, I know I am and I can’t remember it.

Jim Thompson:
I’ll ask those guys. I’m friends with both of those. Gary lives in Richmond where I’m from. I’ll ask him about it.

Bob Hall:
The Weird War was… I think what I wanted to do was I just was beginning to become kind of tired of superhero stuff.

Alex Grand:
There you go.

Bob Hall:
Exclusively. And I wanted to do something else. I enjoyed doing them. I was always a little bit disappointed in the finish. John Celardo, I think it’s Gelard, or there might be Celardo, John, do you know…

Alex Grand:
Yeah, Celardo, he did… Gosh, that… The Captain Easy… After… He took over Captain Easy at some point.

Bob Hall:
Well, he was… it was a thrill for me to have him ink it, although I don’t think it turned out very well. But he was the Tarzan artist when I was a kid. Who was doing my Sunday paper Tarzan. He was… I just the other day, somebody posted one of his Tarzan’s and it’s a very Burne Hogarth, derivative Tarzan. But he was the Tarzan artist for me. I used to imitate it when I was a kid. So the fact that he did it, I’m still thrilled that certain people… That I got inked by certain people.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, that is cool.

Bob Hall:
And he was one of them. Even, I don’t think we were compatible, but still, it’s like, I think that’s great. Him, oh God! And now I’m blanking on his name, the guy that… The big influence on Adam’s the Heart of Juliet Jones, guy. Trying to see if I have one right around here. Never mind.

Jim Thompson:
Also, I just looked up, the editor on Weird War Tales during that period was Lynn Wayne.

Bob Hall:
That’s what I kind of thought, was Lynn. Yeah, that’s it. If I had had to answer the question, I would have said Lynne.

Jim Thompson:
Was he a good editor?

Bob Hall:
I don’t know.

Jim Thompson:
Okay.

Bob Hall:
I don’t… He never… I don’t think we ever had any interaction on that book. So, I mean, he certainly was getting some successful stuff at Marvel. At that particular one, I think that was sort of a… it was kind of a throwaway book, maybe for him. I don’t think there was… I don’t think it was taken that seriously.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
There was not an attempt to make it into a really, really great looking book.

Jim Thompson:
The covers were really good though.

Bob Hall:
The covers were magnificent, yeah.

Jim Thompson:
You know the other thing I really liked about it now that I think about, is the EC artist that did all the planes. He came back out and did a lot of work for that. The one that did Aces High.

Alex Grand:
What? Angela Torres or something like that?

Jim Thompson:
No, no, not Torres. He only did plane stuff. Well, I’ll think of it. But, he was a really good war artist dealing with those biplanes. He came back and worked for those books.

Bob Hall:
I think I had a Hispanic artist did the second one, I think. Of the Weird War Tales. At any rate, it was a lot better. It was pretty well inked.

Jim Thompson:
Let’s see, there is a Charlton cover that popped up. I’m sure that was just one that was in an inventory. You never went back to Charlton to do anything, did you?

Bob Hall:
No. What’s it say I did?

Alex Grand:
There’s a cover to Scary Tales 27. But probably, like Jim said, inventory. That’s what I was thinking too.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Scary Tale I think maybe that was the Martian kind of flying saucer wasn’t it?

Jim Thompson:
George Evans was the artist that I’m thinking of.

Bob Hall:
Oh, sure, sure, sure. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
That was really nice to see him get work again during that period.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Really good artist.

Jim Thompson:
And Alex back to Marvel and back to you.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Personally, I loved your Marvel. I love your Marvel lady stuff still. But even the stuff that you don’t like, I like.

Bob Hall:
That’s good. That’s good.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I mean, really, I can read that stuff any time. Now in 1982 pretty much through 1991, you’re working over at Marvel. Avengers, we mentioned before Squadron Supreme. There’s a really great Thor, Annual #10, 1982. It had like the dark hold and the Marvel kind of chthonic creation, myth of Marvel that you penciled. That’s great because they reference that in later stories. Then you also then co-create the West Coast Avengers in 1984 with Roger Stern, which I love that book. Tell us about how that came about.

Bob Hall:
It came about the same way I’ve described everything coming about at Marvel. Is that you got called up and said, “Would you like to do this book?” And Roger, I’m sure, pitched the idea and got a go ahead. I would like to think I was the first choice artist, but I doubt it. I would suspect that I was available and pleased that I got a chance to work with Roger. Working with… There is something about working with certain people that you just say, “Oh, this is easy.”

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
Roger’s one of them.

Alex Grand:
Like, as far as being like visually able to write the story, something like that?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. He writes visually, he writes economically and he gives you a little space.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
I thought Squadron was, I’m sorry. West Coast was maybe the first thing I did at Marvel that I was… There were two things, I don’t know which came first. That this one I thought turned out pretty well. Then I did a What If Conan was Trapped in the 20th Century, Part Two?. That one I got to ink myself. It was the first time I’d inked my own work for Marvel in an interior.

Alex Grand:
Uh-huh (affirmative)

Bob Hall:
I thought that that looked really good.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. You felt like he probably looked more like you as well, right?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. I eventually realized that my problem with inkers was that I’m a person that likes to draw when I ink. So the pencil drawings I do just aren’t quite complete. When I’ve inked one, I ink my own pencils. I change things a lot.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s interesting, because I was going to ask about, there was a Thor issue… Or you did some Thor issues and you had a range of inkers. You had Colletta on one hand, you had Joe Sinnott on another hand. Actually, that’s interesting that you’re saying that. Did you have a favorite inker of those guys? Did you feel like, Ooh, that doesn’t look good on me. That looks pretty good on me. Or would you rather just ink your stuff?

Bob Hall:
Well, it depends on whether you’re asking what I felt at the time or what I feel when I look back at it?

Alex Grand:
Yeah, sure.

Bob Hall:
Like the… Colletta was Colletta and he always… I think he got kind of a bum rap a bit because he would leave out stuff. You’d put in a lot of detail, he was famous for leaving it out.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
That’s not good, but people that John… John, Vinnie, Gene Colan also, people from… You started in the 60s with Marvel, the rates were so damn low that you made money by…

Alex Grand:
Cutting corners.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. It was a really a by the pound business. You had to turn out a lot of work to support your family.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), sure.

Bob Hall:
If you could find ways to do that. For some people like Vinnie, it was leaving stuff out. Jean would, sometimes… The pencils wouldn’t feel quite complete, although they always looked gorgeous when they came in. But sometimes it would just clear. He was rushing a panel here and there. And Buscema learned to do it by doing the breakdowns and sometimes not doing his best work. Something had to inspire him or he would, he was kind of… John as brilliant as he was, could be kind of a hack. So now I look back at Vinnie’s stuff and say, “Hey, that’s kind of fun.” You know, “My stuff looks like Vince Colletta, Hey, that’s not so…” At the time, I think I was like, why did I put all that time into it?

Alex Grand:
Yeah. At the time. Right. But looking back, it’s kind of cool. Because he inked Kirby on Thor and he inked you on Thor. That’s kind of cool.

Bob Hall:
Oh yeah, exactly, exactly. I don’t remember everybody else. I remember… [inaudible 02:00:02] inking me once on Thor. That was a little later and I thought, boy, that one turned out really well. It was sort of a collage of Thor’s career.

Alex Grand:
Oh Yeah.

Bob Hall:
I had a lot of fun with that one. Again, my draftsmanship was getting a lot better and it showed.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Towards mid to later 80s, you feel like you’re coming into your own at that point?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. There were some… I know some Thor that… Maybe it was just covers that Joe inked something and I always liked, I’ve always liked what Joe did, Rubinstein did over me.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
He would be one of my favorite inkers. I think again, he always made me [crosstalk 02:00:47]

Alex Grand:
Oh that’s cool. And he inked like, well almost the whole Marvel Universe books too.

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
He knows how to ink for sure. Then another thing [crosstalk 02:00:58]

Bob Hall:
Have you seen what he’s doing lately with watercolors?

Alex Grand:
Oh yeah. he’s an artist for sure.

Bob Hall:
Oh my God, he’s just like a brilliant portrait artist, yeah.

Alex Grand:
He is. An illustrator for sure. Then another thing I actually kind of like personally, as a kid reading West Coast Avengers, that you did. Off a newsstand at 7-Eleven, by the way, so it was like your real comic reading experience. But also I was also reading Mark Gruenwald’s Hawkeye mini series and I felt like there was some… There was a cool, integrated feeling of those two limited series that came out around the same time. So for me as a reader, I loved it.

Bob Hall:
I don’t remember if Mark was the editor of…

Alex Grand:
West Coast Avengers?

Bob Hall:
Of West coast Avengers. But I know he and Roger worked close [crosstalk 02:01:49] together.

Alex Grand:
Closely, storywise.

Bob Hall:
So it was the same character. I liked that too. That was who Hawkeye was.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, Clint Barton, for sure. Then speaking of Gruenwald, obviously you guys then worked on Squadron Supreme together. Which I love, that first issue just starts out with a bang where you see what Hyperion in space and there’s stuff falling to earth. The angles, I mean, it felt cinematic that was a real treat. Seeing your… Especially your issues on it. Tell us [crosstalk 02:02:26]

Bob Hall:
Go ahead.

Alex Grand:
So tell us about getting that script and going through Squadron Supreme and some of the talks with Mark Gruenwald and working with Mark Gruenwald in general.

Bob Hall:
Again, it’s been a long time and I remember liking Mark a lot. I remember we talked about it and I don’t remember much. I know he had it in mind and the script was pretty well complete. But he was very open to me… I think it was the first time that I made some suggestions and back and forth about the art and what we liked. I said, … I remember that I was saying, “Okay, I want Tom Thumb’s laboratory to be just a mess. Not look anything like a Dr. Doom laboratory that has a lot of cords hanging around. That the screens they just been through hell with stuff. So things are held together with tape and stuff.” And have a lot of fun with it in that way.

Bob Hall:
I had more fun with that book. And that was the… There were two things about it that I was… And I loved… Both of my inkers on that book were good, but I thought, what’s his name, John? Was it Beatty? Who did the first few. I thought, wow! That guy’s … this feels good. Because he was doing his style over my style and and they mished.

Alex Grand:
Yeah! It does, you’re right.

Bob Hall:
It was one of those things where you felt you were interacting, Oh, I see what he’s doing, I’m going to pencil into, or work what he’s doing with it too. That doesn’t happen that much. Sometimes you feel like, Oh, I’m going to pencil tighter so that the guy can’t do what he’s doing. And [crosstalk 02:04:31]

Alex Grand:
There was actually a synergy on that, you’re saying?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. And unfortunately I was wondering why they took him off it. And then it later… More recently he told me, “Well, he had a deal that he would, whenever they did stuff with Zeck that he would work with Zeck.”

Alex Grand:
I see.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, because he was The primary Zeck collaborator for sure. They did a lot of work together.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. So he got… A Zeck project hadn’t come through and so he was available for this. But then a Zeck project came through. Now I can’t remember, I’m blanking on the guy’s name, who did it, the next one. He was fine, but it was… I really liked that maybe established the way the look of the book with me and that was great.

Bob Hall:
Then what happened was my slowness got to me eventually. At the point where they were putting the bad guys in and it got to be a book with… close to what it was, it was close to 20 characters running around all the time.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
Which was not my forte. I could not make the deadlines and continue the quality I was doing with the book. I think at the time I thought about suggesting that I go to breakdown, but I really didn’t want to do it with that book. I was… Felt I was really doing some wonderful draftsmanship. But I had to say, “I can’t, I just can’t do it.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s why you didn’t do issues six and seven. Then is that also why you didn’t do the last four, also?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. And the other thing, I didn’t like the ending.

Alex Grand:
Oh! Okay.

Bob Hall:
I also felt… I had really felt strongly about where the book was going and felt that… I don’t… Believe me, I don’t want to speak ill of Mark, because I think he’s brilliant, was brilliant. He was a brilliant person in-person. Because one of the most fun people…

Bob Hall:
I remember there was once that I forget who it was, it was Marvel wanted us to be more corporate and to dress better in the office and to be neater and have less debris around. Mark’s response to this was to have a platform built for his desk. The desk went on the platform. I think both he and I think it was Mac Macchio was his assistant at the time. They both were raised up. Every piece of paper that came in, they wadded it up and threw it over their shoulder. Until after a week and a half or so, they were floating in a sea of paper. So when this guy came back and opened the door, it was like the office had become everything he feared. That was the end of that, that notice that Marvel should become more… Have a more corporate look in the building.

Alex Grand:
Oh, that’s cool.

Bob Hall:
So Mark was brilliant. But I felt that there was the one kind of book that I did not like at Marvel and never liked, was the kind where you felt as if we had this character, this character superpower is this. This person has this kind of weapon, and this has this kind of a weapon. Then you would have them match with the heroes and the heroes would have to figure it out on the spot, how to overcome this person. The last issues are just filled with that. I thought somehow the center of the book had gotten shifted. Then the last issue, it tried to wind it up into something and it never quite went where… It was one of the books that I really believed in where it was going and it didn’t go there.

Alex Grand:
I see. So it was almost like you’d rather not even do it.

Bob Hall:
I would rather have not done it. That’s, and that’s… And I felt…. While, I continued to work at Marvel, I felt that it was really, in a funny way, it was some of my best work and also kind of a death knell. Because I think I got… I think I had before done somebody who would take off time to do theater. I think people just kind of… At one time that was a big advantage, because I got to do movie books and stuff. I got to do all kinds of stuff because I was doing short runs on things. Somewhere in there, I think that the whole feel of it, of the place changed. That people were not happy with me for that part of it. But I think it would’ve been very different. Had I said, I’ll do it. I can’t make the breakdown, but I’ll do it in breakdowns. But that was the reason that I didn’t want to do that.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, later, later, years later, I moved back to Lincoln and I used to work in a coffee house down here called The Mill at one time. I would get tired of being in my studio and I would just… They had almost a table that I would go down and just be doing Shadow Man in that space. The guy who owned it was a friend and he would sit there roasting coffee in this big coffee roaster, reading the New York Times. He walked over one time at the time, he said, “Hey, got this something, some guy Marvel died and they’re putting his ashes into the ink.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
I looked up and I said, “Oh my God, it’s Mark.” He must’ve known that he had a problem, because he had made the…

Alex Grand:
Put that in his will, right?

Bob Hall:
Put that in his will, that he wanted his ashes put into printer’s ink and used to reprint Squadron Supreme. So, a few weeks later I got my issues of… Like a couple of months later, I got my issues of Mark’s… A little bit of Mark.

Alex Grand:
With a little bit of Mark in it [crosstalk 02:11:02].

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Marvel actually… There was some time way before that, that kids put their blood in the ink. So I guess there’s a rich history there.

Bob Hall:
Well, I… Yeah, they… I suppose they did that, who knows?

Alex Grand:
The witchcraft people, the witchcraft people love that stuff.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I know I know.

Alex Grand:
So now Emperor Doom, you mentioned that earlier. It’s a beautiful book and you penciled and inked it in 1987, but there was some inking assist by Keith Williams? What was the story behind that?

Bob Hall:
He did my backgrounds.

Alex Grand:
Okay, so it was more inking backgrounds, actually?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah. I wish they had put backgrounds in…

Alex Grand:
That way it’s more specific, yeah.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. But no, I inked everything.

Alex Grand:
Oh, that’s cool. All the characters and stuff. [crosstalk 02:11:51] Yeah, I love it because it’s almost like another West Coast Avengers story, too. For me as a West Coast Avengers fan, I love that book.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. It was a chance for me to do the West Coast Avengers, plus. I was able to even give them a little bit more character. I loved doing that book. Although, it was pointed out to me by somebody, can’t remember who, but they said that, “The most powerful thing that’s ever happened in the Marvel universe is where Iron Man manages to seal up the hole in Doom’s underground thing where the sea is pouring in. Because if it would be like impossible to do.” So I said, “Well, it wasn’t really in the middle of the ocean, it was in the middle of stiller water or something.” I don’t know.

Alex Grand:
Maybe there’s a plausibility there, sure. Tell us about the last… This shift between Jim Shooter to Tom DeFalco. Did you notice anything going on that would suggest that there would be a changing of the guard at Marvel at that time?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. I kind of think that… You kind of knew something was going on. There were people who were more intimate with what was going on than others. I almost date something… Jim being interested in a different direction. Jim interested in of course, wanting to buy Marvel at one time. From the New Universe. That it was clear that Jim wanted to remake a universe in a different way.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
Somewhere around there, I thought… I remember kind of thinking, Jim wants his own company.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bob Hall:
Now, I think he was… It took him getting fired at Marvel to get him to do that. So maybe it was a good thing. But certainly different. I think Jim was Jim. He was a strong, strong personality. I think sooner or later, something was going to clash. I always liked Jim a lot and disagreed with him also. I think there were things about stuff he did that… There would always be something that people, somebody would not be happy with something that Jim did. But overall I think he made Marvel into… He took Marvel when it needed to be made into a company and made it into a company, made it into a business. You can say that Jim disagreed with the way Jim changed the look of the comics. But as we both said, I think it needed that stability of the sense that kids had to understand what was going on. That’s what I thought was very good. At the same time, some very experimental people like Sienkiewicz and Miller got their big shot under Jim.

Alex Grand:
That’s right.

Bob Hall:
So he was… When he saw a genius at work, he worked with it.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
And gave it some room. So I think he did a good job. I think it’s just one of those things that happens. I mean, he had a long thing at a company and the changing of the guard of the company. I know that there were various things that went on. Jim told me about it, has told me about it. I don’t remember all the details because it was… Details that were very important to him that are not very important to me.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, the corporate stuff, right.

Bob Hall:
I remember it being a good story. We hadn’t seen each other for years and we got together at Louisville. I thought gee, because that was after all these stuff about the slap kept coming up. And I said, “I hope Jim will come out and we’ll have a drink and we’ll just talk about… I’d like to get that… Just see if he’s really pissed at me or something?” We ended up closing a bar in Louisville and having really a lovely time. I’ve always enjoyed Jim. Jim was on the board of directors of a small… after he left Marvel and while he was in process of starting Valiant. I did a… Had a little theater company in New York called the New Rude Mechanicals and Jim was on the board of it.

Alex Grand:
Oh cool.

Bob Hall:
So I kept in touch with him. Jim was on the board and Stan was sort of on the board. We were trying to form a board and I wrote to Stan who was mainly out in LA and said, “Would you be on the board?” And he wrote back and said, “No, I would never be able to come to a meeting.” And I wrote back and said, “Stan, I don’t care if you ever come to a meeting. I just want to be the only theater in New York that has Stan Lee on the board.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah, just put his name on it!

Bob Hall:
He wrote us this wonderful letter back saying, “As long as you promise never to stage any adaptations of DC Comics or any porn, I will be on your board.”

Alex Grand:
There you go.

Bob Hall:
“And I don’t have to come to a meeting. I’ll be on your board.” [crosstalk 00:32:50].

Alex Grand:
Yeah, he had his [crosstalk 02:17:50].

Bob Hall:
So we published that in our first program.

Alex Grand:
He made his boundaries well-known. Now DeFalco, how was he at… Actually a quick thing. Carl Potts mentioned that behaviorally, there was a flip that went off or something switched in Shooter during his run. Had you encountered anything like that or was he pretty much even keel with you the whole time?

Bob Hall:
I did not work closely with Jim. I got to know Jim, enjoyed him, but I didn’t work with him.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
After the Avengers and after I… I think it was after the Avengers. I didn’t work with him very much. I think the last thing that we kind of had input on, was the Emperor Doom book. Because I remember he called me into the office and did what I called the Cosmic Eraser Speech. One of Jim’s things that he was always trying to get right was, what would happen if somebody had a cosmic cube or he would say, “This eraser, supposing I could take this eraser and it would give out something that everybody on earth would listen to what I would say.” Now maybe this was the editor in chief’s fantasy of any editor in chief, but it was also… Jim would massage that story and assign it to people, I think. Because I ended up… I think he had forgotten that I already had already drawn it twice. Once in the Super Villain… When Super Villain team-up met the…

Bob Hall:
I’ve been talking too long. The first book that I did for Marvel was the…

Alex Grand:
Yeah, like the serial table with Red Skull and Dr. Doom?

Jim Thompson:
Or champions, you’re saying?

Bob Hall:
The champions, yes, thank you. When the super villain team that makes the champions and those two things came together and it was about Dr. Doom having this gas that made everybody obey him, and it was really Squadron Supreme… I mean emperor doom done…

Alex Grand:
Again.

Bob Hall:
Well, the first time and Jim may have done it before but this was the first time. And then I did something with the cube, with Moondragon, having that same power in the Avengers, that was one of the first avenger things that I did. Basically the same idea and then we did it one more time with him for Doom.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
And I think Jim had been talking to Michelinie about it and we did it and I thought it was probably the more successful-

Alex Grand:
Version.

Bob Hall:
…of the attempt. And so I remember Jim, bringing him in the office and talking to me about that and I never… I thought I want to work with Michelinie and I’m going to insist on inking it myself because it’s not out of continuity. And I’m just not going to tell him that I’ve done this story for him twice before and maybe he knew, maybe he thought, “Well, you’ll be able to get it right this time.” So, it was a good experience. That was the last Marvel interaction that I remember having with Jim.

Alex Grand:
With Jim.

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, because he-

Jim Thompson:
Speaking of that, I just want to do a timeline question. At some point, Dr. Miller of University of Nebraska, Lincoln theater department invites you back to return as the Artistic Repertory Theater, in charge of that, and you did that for six years. Is that, and there’s a blank spot there, is that coming in around 1988, ’89? I mean, when is that happening?

Bob Hall:
’87.

Jim Thompson:
’87?

Bob Hall:
The first year was ’87 and-

Jim Thompson:
…which is when Shooter leaves. So, that’s what I thought, that’s the right timeline.

Bob Hall:
Yep.

Jim Thompson:
So, you were gone from comics for a while?

Bob Hall:
No, I’m doing fewer comics because Jim was very conscious about giving me the work. That was maybe my big interaction with Shooter and no matter what anybody else says about him at that time, Jim kept me working and he would remind me occasionally that I should get a raise. And after Jim left, I don’t think I had the same…

Alex Grand:
Deference.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I didn’t have somebody that was doing that for me, I had to try to scrounge the work a little bit and go and get in the office and wander around and see who had something and I never had a project that I liked as well as Emperor Doom, really ever again. But I had a number of things that I did and some of it, some of my favorite stuff, I don’t know whatever happened to it. I don’t know if Marvel still has it but it was… They were doing a Nightmare on Elm Street comic and I did a couple of those and then they never got printed. Somebody said, “We can’t do a comic about a child molester and they dropped it. And under Tom, I did one of the last Howard the Duck’s and that never got printed.

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bob Hall:
And then I did the… One of the probably worst things I did for Marvel was the adaptation of the Captain America movie was about that time.

Jim Thompson:
I was going to ask you about that. What Captain America… Are you talking about the really bad one?

Bob Hall:
The Salinger one.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah the Salinger one.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, Salinger.

Bob Hall:
And I did it because Stan was supposedly going to write it and I thought, “Well, I’ll get a chance to work with Stan and Stan looked at the script because we were going to work from the script and he looked at some of the photos from it. And I don’t think we ever saw a print of the movie but we saw a focus from it, and Stan essentially said, “I can’t do this.” And so I did ended up doing the adaptation and just really from the script, as if it were a scenario and then Stan wrote the dialogue.

Alex Grand:
There you go.

Bob Hall:
So, in essence, I got to work with Stan, but boy it was bad.

Alex Grand:
Well, you know, I did read it when it came out. I liked it, but I mean I was 11, but yeah. So it sounds like the main difference going toward DeFalco was that just you weren’t having as much deference or someone keeping you occupied with work, it was actually less stuff of yours was being printed and you were being called less, things like that. That’s the main difference it sounds like.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, and I was working in the theater and I didn’t… That was when I would have had the small theater in New York and I was trying to get that started and I had determined that I was going to try to pursue that theater career.

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bob Hall:
And part of that was I was doing in the summers, the thing in Lincoln was a summer thing, but the pay was good and I was enjoying it and I’m really a very good stage director.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
And I enjoyed being able to do that. And also because of the nature of it, I got to hire people and so I would direct usually one show a season or sometimes two and then I could bring in other people that I knew and bring in New York actors and integrate them with some students and with some remarkably talented local people. And I was enjoying that but I continued to do the work for Marvel, occasional work for Marvel, it wasn’t as steady but that was okay. And I continued doing work right up through… I had one disastrous ending with Marvel and it was when, again I’m blanking here, the guy that followed DeFalco.

Alex Grand:
Oh, Bob Harris?

Bob Hall:
Bob Harris. I’ve never talked to Bob about it but Bob was not yet… This was still under DeFalco and Bob was doing a… There had just been a mini series about… I’m trying to think… I can’t. I really have talked too long, I’m beginning to run out of steam here, the Nick Fury, the Nick Fury series. And that had been quite successful, I think it was Zack did it but so they decided they wanted a monthly and they asked me to do it and I was…

Bob Hall:
I can’t remember what I was doing at the time whether it was another comics project or a theater project but I said, “I have time to do it but only if there’s a script waiting for me as soon as I’ve turned in the last one, the next script has to be there because I’ve got other stuff on my plate and I can do it as long as we keep rolling with it.” And I did the first one and it was good, Harris was writing it. And when [inaudible 02:28:55] the script and there was no script. And I said, “Okay, well, can I kind I get it in a couple of days?” And he said, “Yeah.” And I’m purposely blanking on who the editor was, I just don’t want to [crosstalk 02:29:12]

Alex Grand:
Don’t want to say it, yeah.

Bob Hall:
And getting back in a couple of days, no script and a week went by and a week and a half went by and close to two weeks went around then I had to say, “Look, you’ll have to get somebody else, I can’t do this. I told you, I now would never be able to get it in on time.” And then Harris… And I don’t think… In retrospect, I’m guessing that Harris was never told that that was the deal because I can’t imagine him not endeavoring to get the script and I didn’t know about it well, and he always works through an editor, you weren’t going to call somebody up and say, “What’s going on?” But then he became editor and then I never worked for Marvel again.

Alex Grand:
Ah, interesting. So that was… So, now we’re going to just go through the later years and I could-

Jim Thompson:
We’ll move faster.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, we’ll move faster for you.

Bob Hall:
I’ll try to talk less.

Alex Grand:
No, you’re great.

Jim Thompson:
No, you’re great.

Alex Grand:
But okay. So then in 1991 then, you left Marvel pretty much to then go to Valiant with Jim Shooter and Bob Layton, you worked on Shadowman, which you actually did some plotting then also writing and penciling, Don Perlin would ink you. Tell us about… How did you hear about Valiant? How’d you then start working for Valiant and Jim shooter again?

Bob Hall:
Well as I said, Jim was on my board of directors and he was starting Valiant at the time and I did some work for Valiant during that time, some early stuff of just posters of wrestlers because they had all this [crosstalk 02:31:02]

Alex Grand:
You mean the wrestling stuff, yeah.

Bob Hall:
All this kind of work going on for a while and I was going to do a Zelda book for them but they abandoned the Zelda thing before I could really do it, and that’s just as well. And then, it became clear… The theater job I had in Nebraska, and by this time I was going through a divorce, I decided to just move out to Nebraska for a while. I really wanted to get away from New York and then I found that the job in Nebraska was not going to continue probably because it was tied to the chairman of the department. And the Dean of the college said, “Whenever this guy Tyson Miller leaves that post, I’ll have to offer what you’re doing to the next chairman.” And I said, “Well, we are now at the place where we would have to develop a five-year plan if this was going to go anywhere so I’m just going to make this my last year then.”

Bob Hall:
And I thought, “Okay, well, what am I going to do?” And I called up Jim and he said, “We don’t need more artists right now, we need writers,” he said, “We’ll work with you as an artist too but for right now, what we need is artists.” And he said, “I’ll give you a choice of four or five different books,” that he mentioned that he was juggling around with, who would write what and then I picked… Shadowman was one of them and I read all of them and Shadowman seemed to me to be a failed book. There had been five issues and there have been, I think maybe three different artists or three different writers and two different artists or something like that but it was just changing all the time and it was not clear who the character was or what was happening. It just was clear that it was not going somewhere and I thought, “Well, I’ll take that one and if I fail with it too, I’m in good company, and if I succeed with it, I’ll look pretty good.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
And besides which it was tucked away in a corner of the universe and I thought, “We know it’s not going to be as much crossover with this guy and it’s New Orleans and if it does work, I’ll have to go to New Orleans.” So, I thought that all of these things are good things. So, I did take it over and took it over with issue six, which was kind of fun, Steve Ditko had drawn it and I got to write the dialogue for it. I think I may be listed as a co-writer but really it all been plotted, I just wrote the dialogue and then started.

Alex Grand:
Did you meet Steve Ditko at all?

Bob Hall:
I don’t think anybody met Steve Ditko at that point. So, I think maybe two or three issues that I wrote with other people drawing it and then I took over drawing it as well, and drew it through, basically did that, wrote it and drew it through issue 43. And so it was a long run and the book did well.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, you brought it back.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, it wasn’t a giant yet but it was always in the top hundred. And I felt I was doing good work, was inked by John Dixon and then by Tom Ryder. The thing with it was that by the time I had done the first story arc, and I was nervous about it, I thought, “Okay, I’ve not written a real arc stories for comics before, I had written plays mainly and I had not done a lot of comic book writing.” The closest I came was doing some rewrites when I was an editor and so I’m going to have to show this to Shooter and we’ll see what he thinks of it. And by the time I finished it, he was gone.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bob Hall:
He’d been forced out of the company, and so I was working with Bob Layton and Layton pretty much left me alone. And Don Perlin was my editor and Don was a good editor, sometimes he didn’t know exactly what it was that I was doing because I was able to go off into some odd directions. But he had a lot of faith and he went with me on it and the feedback I got from him was always good. And I just had a wonderful time doing it and probably as much pleasure doing that. And the next thing I did, which was Armed and Dangerous, which I created from scratch as anything I’ve done in comics because there’s something very heady about writing and drawing your own stuff. And so that was probably the best time I’ve ever had and we were all making a lot of money and it was the nineties.

Alex Grand:
Oh, cool.

Jim Thompson:
Alex, can I pick that up with Armed and Dangerous?

Alex Grand:
Yeah sure, go for it. And just one quick thing, did you enjoy drawing what you wrote?

Bob Hall:
Oh my God, yes, because you were interacting with yourself, you would get an idea… And I usually use the Marvel method, I would do a scenario and I would draw it and as soon as I drew a panel, I knew what they were saying in the panel. So, it was a good experience, and it worked right up until when Acclaim took Valiant over, the handwriting of doom was on the wall. For one thing, sales were solely going down at that point, they were starting a collectors market, was starting to… That collectors market was just insane and it really was beginning to deteriorate, and I never understood collectors markets but they almost always, from the first one in history, the big tulip market that burst back in the 17th century, those bubbles always burst. And so if you’re smart, you didn’t buy a Porsche, you saved your money and in my case, my indulgence was I went and lived in Europe for a while, for a couple of years in England in Ireland but I was still working at the time so it worked out very well.

Bob Hall:
But we got to the point of Acclaim taking over and a claim was very insistent to what they… The guy, head of the company came in and said, “What we want is you to create icons that we can make into games.” And apparently, I was the person that opened his big mouth and said, “Well, if that’s all we’re doing, the company’s going to go under, we’d better tell good stories too.” And I don’t remember that except several people from Valiant had said, “Don’t you remember you saying that?” I said “No,” but it was true. And if one thing Valiant had was pretty good storytelling, it slowly went downhill because there’s a lot of stories that were still in the… they were underway and stuff. And then it was a certain point where I got called in and they said [inaudible 02:39:26]. And I said, “What do you mean? He said, “Well, he’s a black guy.”

Bob Hall:
And I said, “Well, he’s a Creole, he’s always been a Creole. That’s a very specific kind of culture and that’s what he’s always been, that’s what he’s always drawn.” And was quite insistent that he was a black guy and there certainly were enough African-Americans in the strip, it wasn’t [inaudible 02:39:53], it just that wasn’t who this particular character was. And I, “What’s going on?” And then I realized Valiant, Acclaim has done the demographics and decided that if they make Shadowman into a game, it will work better with the black protagonist. And so I said, “Look, this is a different character. Why don’t I do something else?” And because first of all, I was under contract, I’ll do something else and relaunch it, reboot the character with whatever Acclaim wants, and everybody was agreeable to that.

Bob Hall:
And I had the chance to almost kill off my character, I left him in issue 43 halfway, he jumped off a building because he was supposed to have died in the year 2000 and I thought anybody that was stuck with that as a prediction would be having a nervous breakdown. He went, “What’s happened if I tried to commit suicide before 2000?” But I can’t. And so I gave him a nervous breakdown and had him jump off a building and left him halfway down and said, “Okay, if they want him to live, I know how we can do that. If they want him to die, here’s their chance.” And as soon as I can tell, he’s still halfway down the building, so I went on to do Squadron Supreme so that’s the story of that one.

Jim Thompson:
So, you were talking about going to England and then Ireland, and you were living in Cornwall for a while. You were working at Valiant at that point? Okay. And how many years or how long were you over there?

Bob Hall:
About two and a half years until things really until the shit really hit the fan with the comics industry. Valiant was… Well first of all, that’s where it was when I found out I was adopted, so I did want to come back to Lincoln, that’s why I’m in Lincoln now because I said, “Okay, I want to move back to Lincoln for a while and try to find out something about that.” And also it just became clear eventually that the Acclaim was going to go under. You can just see the print runs were getting… I was doing Armed and Dangerous, print ones were getting less and smaller and smaller and smaller. And I think the last issue that was published of Armed and Dangerous, I had to find it on the newsstand and buy a copy, they weren’t even sending out copies to the artists anymore.

Jim Thompson:
And were you in England? Were you in England at that point?

Bob Hall:
Yep, I was living in York, England at that point. And so I said, “Well, I got to be back in the States.” I still was making pretty good money, my page rate was what was on my contract and so I was still producing the comic and it was the royalties that were going to hell but it was still fine and I’d saved a bunch of money but I… So, you came back home and actually had one more arc of Armed and Dangerous that I was doing and it was a four issue thing. And at that time, Fabian had taken over as editor and he called me and said, “Produce these pages as fast as humanly possible and we’ll try to pay you for anything that you get done.” And so I got three issues that I knew it would never be published.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
But that they paid me for it. And I thought I would never see those again but actually, they got returned to me about three years, four years ago.

Jim Thompson:
Before we talk about Armed and Dangerous, where did you live in Ireland? Just curious.

Bob Hall:
Dublin.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, okay. I love Dublin.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I loved it too. It was great.

Jim Thompson:
You a stout drinker?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I drank entirely too much Guinness and actually, my drug of choice was a Bushmills Black and yeah, well I came back weighing considerably more than I do now after all the stout but it was… yeah.

Jim Thompson:
So, let’s talked about Armed and Dangerous, that’s my favorite thing that you’ve done. I think that’s really-

Bob Hall:
Me too.

Jim Thompson:
That’s really good work, amongst other things I like, but that one, that’s special. What was it like? Because you’re doing that at the time that Miller has done Sin City, Stray Bullets is out, there’s some black and white stuff going on that’s really nice. Was it intimidating to jump into that?

Bob Hall:
I think when I first… Bob Layton suggested that that should be what I do as the alternative to Shadowman, was a crime thing of some kind. And I knew what they were looking for, nobody was saying you have to do imitation Miller, but I knew that it was in their heads and it was also in mine and I had to get it out of my head before I can do it. And Bob was very helpful, I did a little long one act play at that point in New York, I was living back in New York at that point. And Bob came to see it but but I also did a poster for it, and the poster was nothing like what my comic book work had been like, and he said, “Can you do that style for the book?” And I said, “Well, I can play with it,” because I’ve done a lot of black and white poster work and stuff like that, and I said, “Yeah, I can do… it won’t be exactly like that but I’ll come up with something.”

Bob Hall:
And that freed me a little bit from the Miller thing but the really freeing thing, I think if you start with a story and don’t feel it has to look a certain way but you let the story determine the look of what you’re doing, which I think was a little bit what I had done to discover that it was Shadowman because with Shadowman, I was at least freed from the think of everybody had to look like, “Yeah, I want to do my own thing but it has to look like Marvel, you know for Marvel. And so it was more freedom with Shadowman than with Armed and Dangerous. And so Armed and Dangerous, I just started trying to work from stories that I knew or had heard for most of the details in the book. The overall plots were mine but the details were all based in something, and so they had a life of their own already. And I think that’s why the book worked so that the first issue was…

Bob Hall:
Early on, when I moved to New York, we had just moved into the second place we lived, which was on West 81st street and it wasn’t a great neighborhood at the time, it’s really a lovely neighborhood now but it was a rough neighborhood, a lot of the upper west side was in the early seventies. And it wasn’t that far from Needle Park down on 72nd street to what’s known as drugs. A lot of drugs around the neighborhood and dealing, and there was a laundromat a block away that occasionally we went to and one day, I was walking past the newsstand and looked at the New York post and it said something about a severed head being found in a dryer in a laundromat. I looked and it was that laundromat, and I kept that story in my head for years, and for a while, I read the New York post because I wanted to find out what happened to that and it’s the only story I ever heard about it. I never heard about why the story… whether they caught anybody or stuff.

Bob Hall:
So I said, “Well, the first story that I do for Armed and Dangerous is going to tell the story of how that head got into that dryer, and I just went from there and the plot I’d had was a kid who didn’t know his folks were in the mob, had been kept somewhere upstate in a boys school, and it had been kept from him, and now all of a sudden, there had been deaths in the family and he was going to have to come down and he’s found himself in this milieu. He was called upon to be part of this severing of the head that his uncle, was one of the guys working for the mob, and he gets involved in it. And at the same time, just a lot of little smaller details with things that I had run into in New York or even things that happened to happen to me when I was in school, when I was just kid’s age and I could use them, transfer them to New York and use them.

Bob Hall:
And that gave, I think the thing of life and made it other than a Frank Miller rip off. I mean I was very satisfied with that, I would suggest to anybody that that’s the way to work, is to take stuff that you know and it will all of a sudden have a different identity. And later on, there was another story that I thought was just… Somebody told me this story and I said, “Oh my God,” that’s a whole issue that really happened, that there was a drug bust just outside Lincoln and somebody from Lincoln… I was living in New York and they had sent me this article, that the Nebraska highway patrol had stopped a car coming across to interstate 80, coming across country on its way to New York and found that it was a car full of cocaine. And so, the FBI got involved and there was a dispute between the highway patrol and the FBI as to who had jurisdiction.

Bob Hall:
But it occurs to the FBI’s they said, “No, they crossed the state line, that’s our,” and they were resistant and they said, “Look, okay, we won’t object,” but the guys who made the bust on the highway, “We get to go to New York and watch the FBI in action.” And so the guys in the car had talked and said where they were supposed to leave the car. And so that’s great< it’s their story, here’s the car sitting at a spot in New York and I have all of my characters sitting in one pizza place across the street, keeping an eye on it, they’re not going to go to that car until they’re sure it’s safe. And in this restaurant on the other side are the FBI and the guys from Nebraska watching it too, waiting for the crooks to come. And this is the part of the story that was a wonderful, it was true. It was parked in a no parking zone and the New York tow came and started to tow it away.

Bob Hall:
And the FBI came running out and said, “You can’t, you can’t tow this car, we’re FBI.” And the tow truck guys said “To hell with you, we’re New York tow.” And they got into a fight and the FBI’s trying to arrest the tow truck guys. So there’s a guy outside the tow truck and there’s a guy inside the tow truck, and the guy inside the tow truck called in an SOS and more tow trucks show up and block the street.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s great. Fantastic.

Bob Hall:
And so my guys are sitting over in the restaurant saying, “I think we’re going to let this one pass.” And it was just you can’t think up stuff like that, you could build on it but it was a gift, they was a gift that just all the stuff that had happened when I was in New York just could be there.

Jim Thompson:
So, would you say Armed and Dangerous was a book that’s unfinished, that you would have liked to have kept doing, that you were having fun with it?

Bob Hall:
Oh yeah. Well, like I said, I kept doing it and there’s an unpublished one, but we don’t even know who owns the rights to it, Armed and Dangerous. Supposedly, Valiant bought it maybe on mass and you can’t really ask, it’s like… Oh, I can’t think of the guy’s name, he’s the CEO of IDW, Goldstein?

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. Is that right, Alex?

Bob Hall:
Yeah, I think it was Goldstein. And he called me up few years ago and said, “I was working as an assistant at Acclaim back when they went under and they gave me a whole bunch of pages to put in a cardboard box and keep in my garage.”

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s how you got it back.

Bob Hall:
And he said, “I’ve been going through it,” and he said, “…and this stuff is great. Do you own the rights to it?” And I had to say, “No, I was under contract. Valiant owns the rights.” And I spent a little time trying to find out, I emailed Fred, who just avoided the issue of, “Did they buy that when they bought…” But of course, why would they not say that they own it? It’s easier for them to say they own it. And I would have to prove they didn’t own it and it’s… So anyway, but yes, I loved it. I would’ve kept doing it forever.

Jim Thompson:
That seems like a work of yours that other fans that weren’t necessarily following your Marvel stuff or your peers, some of the artists that you knew, would come up to you and just say, “Yeah, I really liked that.” That’s obviously a different level.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, there aren’t thousand…

Jim Thompson:
… different level.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, there aren’t thousands of them, but when they do, it’s memorable. They really remember that book.

Jim Thompson:
I’m one of those guys. I like that an awful lot. Do you think it helped you when you moved? Because after this Valiant goes … Or Acclaim goes away, you go and you do a little bit of work at Marvel, but you go and do a second round at DC doing Batman and stuff. Do you think that the grittiness, the urban aspect of that, of Armed & Dangerous, and getting away from Marvel helped you understand or do anything differently in terms of Batman and the Joker stuff?

Bob Hall:
Oh, I think so, although I’m not sure it was for my own good. It was in Denny O’Neil’s last days there. He was going to retire soon. He liked my ideas and what I did. And the best thing I did was an Elseworld’s thing called I, Joker. And I loved that, because it sort of anticipated the Hunger Games by any number of years. And that one was great fun. Then I wanted to do just a typical Batman story from when I was … The kind of stories that I read when I was … That I remembered them as being when I was a kid, although they weren’t really like it, but with a little bit of the early ’70s Batman, which I really loved thrown in. And I did Batman: DOA, and I had fun with that one. I just enjoyed doing it. It was just doing Batman.

Bob Hall:
Then, finally, I think it was my death knell at DC. Working with Denny, it was the last vestiges of the sane Batman. It was Batman had not gone really … He was grittier than some, but Denny didn’t do a gritty Batman. He did a dark Batman. You know what I mean?

Jim Thompson:
Yeah.

Bob Hall:
And it hadn’t gotten to that point where Batman was psychotic or was he not psychotic or that it got to be later on. It was kind of an old-style Batman. My favorite thing, but I think it was just like totally out of sync with where DC was going, was to do It’s Joker Time. Which had Joker take over a reality TV show, and because he had been … It was my version of Network. It was all about TV, and they were trying to cure him in Arkham Asylum by forcing him to watch daytime television constantly. It eventually made him even more insane than he had been before. The Joker end up winning at the end. And I kind of loved it, but it was all satire, and I think satire wasn’t in. I think it just puzzled people in DC.

Jim Thompson:
Did you see the recent Joker movie?

Bob Hall:
Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
And did you think of that at all when you were thinking back about your stuff?

Bob Hall:
I think they read I, Joker, or It’s Joker Time. I swear they did, because a lot of little elements in there that were …

Jim Thompson:
It’s hard to see it otherwise.

Alex Grand:
That struck a chord when I was looking over it, because there was Joker child abused as a kid, and then like him yelling at the TV cameras and the crowd, and I was like, “This is from the Todd Phillips movie.”

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand:
But by 20 years before it. So I thought that was interesting.

Jim Thompson:
And probably better than the movie, because I’m not a fan, but. And now we just kind of want to go through quickly some of your more recent projects, and then I want to talk a little bit about your drama stuff for a few minutes and we’ll be done.

Bob Hall:
Okay.

Jim Thompson:
I’m sorry, go ahead.

Bob Hall:
Go ahead, you’ve got a list of stuff, I’m sure. You have lists.

Alex Grand:
So kind of as we gear towards the end, you penciled an issue of Freemind for Bob Layton and Dick Giordano Future Comics in 2002. And I assume this was because of the Bob Layton connection you had from Valiant, is that correct?

Bob Hall:
Sure.

Alex Grand:
And what was your impression of this Future Comics endeavor that Giordano and Layton were going for?

Bob Hall:
I don’t know. Oh, what was the guy’s name that wrote A Brief History of Time?

Jim Thompson:
Hawkings.

Bob Hall:
Yeah. Hawkings.

Jim Thompson:
Stephen Hawkings.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, Stephen Hawkings, I felt it was a little in the design of the character was … I felt a little creepy about it. Because it was really, Stephen Hawkings as person who could become a superhero, and it was pretty clear that they were using his persona. The character looked like Stephen Hawkings. I thought it was a wonderful idea, I was a little … Just in the physicalization of it. I felt a little creepy about it, but I didn’t think it was a bad idea. It seemed kind of like maybe a little bit limited because … I didn’t know where the strip was going and that company didn’t go anywhere. It was just the wrong timing. It just wasn’t time for a new universe to be created.

Bob Hall:
I think it was too close to the cataclysm. And it was, in a funny way, it was old guys trying to do it. It wasn’t that Bob was that old, but it was like a time when what had happened was that the new guys had cleaned out the old guy house in Marvel and DC to a great extent. Most of us who were working, the majority of the people working back then, unless they had achieved superstar status weren’t getting work. And even some of those weren’t … I don’t think Walt got the much work for a while. Byrne continued to work, but it was always … Well, I think he wanted to do independent stuff, but-

Alex Grand:
Yeah, his own thing.

Bob Hall:
But it was just like people weren’t … People started getting work again, but it was just the wrong timing from that aspect. I think Bob wanted to do a good old-fashioned comic book company and it wasn’t the right moment.

Alex Grand:
Right, and I think I had also read that Diamond Distribution and them were doing something that didn’t work for them.

Bob Hall:
There was something going on there, Bob has explained it to me, and it kind of went in one ear and out the other [inaudible 03:03:09].

Alex Grand:
Right, right. And then a quick question, Jim will finish up with theater projects. When Jim Shooter, as you say, was forced out of Valiant in kind of the mid-’90s, and part of it was based on an interview with him that Layton and Massarsky kind of teamed up to get him out. Did you feel any … Because you’re friends with Shooter and he always looked out for you, did you in any way have any weird feeling towards Layton during the time of Future Comics or when you worked with him at Valiant because of that?

Bob Hall:
No. The one thing I did when Jim was fired, I mean, let go. He wasn’t fired in the same sense as Marvel, but he was forced out of the company, voted out of the company, I guess. I did call him up and said, “Well, what should I do? I’m working there now. You have to tell me if you … You were good enough to hire me,” I said. “If you’re going to tell me you can’t do that, I will probably go with wherever you come from with it.” And he said, “No, no. You have to keep working there, obviously, you got work. You must go ahead and do it.” And I had no ill feelings about … I felt, “Okay, that’s fine.” I think I avoided pretty much wanting to know the grisly details of it. It had nothing to do with me, and Jim had been gracious about it. And I thought, “Okay, this is fine. Bob was always decent to me, so that’s okay, you know?” It was what it was.

Alex Grand:
It was more like that, yeah. Okay. All right, Jim, let’s finish up with theater projects.

Jim Thompson:
A couple more comics that he’s done, and then we will. But I wanted to ask about you were going to say something, you had something you wanted to add, what was that about? Was that DC still?

Bob Hall:
Oh, no. It was about two things. The one thing that I did … I’ve done other comic projects in the meantime and a lot of them were private kind of runs and stuff, but I did do part of that one Kiss comic that they did with Platinum. And they wanted somebody who could harken them back to the ’70s, and so I actually got to work on a Kiss project, since you mentioned the blood in the ink. So I did a little bit of Kiss. In fact, I was out in San Diego when what’s his name called me, the guy with the tongue, what’s his name?

Alex Grand:
Oh, Gene Simmons.

Bob Hall:
Gene Simmons. The Platinum people called me and said, “Gene Simmons is here and wants to meet you. Gene Simmons knows who you are,” would know who everybody is. Because one of the deals with working for Kiss is that Gene buys all the art in advance. So he owns all the art. And they said, “He wants to meet you.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll try.” And it was San Diego, and 45 minutes later, I still had not made it to their booth. And Gene Simmons’ attention span is not 45 minutes, so I never got to meet Gene Simmons. I’m not really broken-hearted about that, but.

Alex Grand:
Right, right.

Jim Thompson:
It’s okay, from what I’ve heard.

Alex Grand:
And I’m a big Shannon Tweed fan. Jim knows that about me, so.

Bob Hall:
Yes, well that helps. No, what I was going to say is what I’m doing now. I’ve been working, I’ve been doing educational work, and have done work from … It’s usually on National Science Foundation grants and have done something about the measles called-

Jim Thompson:
Carnival of Contagion. That was a thing I was about to ask you about.

Bob Hall:
So I’ve done that. Well, let me fill you in the rest of it. This last year I did one called Mosquitoes Suck. That will be published at some point, I’m not quite sure when it’s coming out. That’s through the University of Wisconsin and again, the National Science Foundation. Then the woman who’s gotten me these jobs, a woman named Judy Diamond. She got this year a National Science Foundation grant to do, it’s called an emergency grant, to do weekly comic page on the coronavirus for kids. And trying to reach them in a slightly different way. So, that’s been going on. I just finished the last part of it today. It’s our last week, this week, because who knew it’d be going on this long? The great part about it is it’s the first time I got to do funny animals, which is great. If you want to take a look at it, you go to www, obviously, worldofviruses.unl.edu.

Jim Thompson:
Okay.

Bob Hall:
And I pretty much done most of the art with it. I got an assist in the second one from a couple of ones with Bob Camp, did a couple of them. And been working with a Native artist, collaborating with a Native artist on the last arc of it, but you might enjoy it.

Jim Thompson:
That’s a fascinating and rising field, doing medicine-related and health-related comics. And I’m seeing more and more of it and some of it is incredibly well done. I mean, really, really good comics in itself. So I’m very interested in that. So I’ll make a point of looking at that.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, take a look, let me know what you think.

Jim Thompson:
And I will send you a couple of links of some of the things that I’ve seen that I thought were pretty amazing.

Bob Hall:
That would be cool.

Jim Thompson:
Okay, we’ll do that. You also did one that’s not medical, I’ve seen some of it, and it looks just great. The ghostly haunted hallways one that you’re doing.

Bob Hall:
Oh, oh. Yes, yes. That was for the Alumni Magazine. They wanted me to do … It was the 150th anniversary of the University of Nebraska and they asked if I would do a comic about the … A series of comic pages in their alumni magazine last year on the history of the university. I said, “Sure, how many pages have you got?” And they said, “We can give you two to three each issue for four issues.” And I said, “I can’t do the history of the university in that length of time. But why don’t I do a history of one building?” And the theater building, which I know a lot about, is supposed to be haunted. So I said, “Why don’t we do that one and I’ll have the theater ghost narrate the history of it?” Again, it was a lot of fun, something different.

Jim Thompson:
You could tell you were having fun with it, the pages that I saw. That’s great.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, thanks.

Jim Thompson:
So super quickly, you were doing … And I’m not sure when, you started teaching comics a little bit. Teaching a history of comics and some other sequential drawing stuff. When was that?

Bob Hall:
I was working with a college out in central Nebraska, Hastings, Nebraska. They have a nice little college out there, and they asked me to come out and do a series on how to draw comics. So I would go out there. It was their January class. They had a special series in the month of January which was between semesters when you could take a whole class by somebody would come out and do every day for two weeks. So it was all a concentrated thing. Had a lot of fun doing it, and did it again for the University of Nebraska. And did it again for Nebraska Wesleyan University, so I’ve done it several times.

Bob Hall:
Don’t know if I ever want to do it again, but it’s quite enjoyable. It’s something I started having in my back pocket. People have talked about doing something with Native Americans, because what I try to do is get kids to tell their story as opposed to automatically going to do like manga or a superhero story. That’s something I got from doing the Armed & Dangerous is work with … You’ve got a story. You figure out what stories you have to tell, rather than feeling you have to tell other people’s stories, and so did that. This was all while I was running a Shakespeare festival here.

Jim Thompson:
Well, that was going to be my next question. Tell us a little about that. That’s the Flatwater Shakespeare?

Bob Hall:
Yeah. When I got back to Lincoln, I mean, everything was drying up. It was clear that the DC work was … I did some other stuff at DC, I did an issue of Chase, by the way, that was just the inking. The guy, again, I can’t think of the names, there’s been too many names in my … But he’s just a fantastic artist.

Jim Thompson:
Williams, right? Is it?

Bob Hall:
Williams, yes, thank you. And he inked it, it was just beautiful, it was beautiful stuff.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, he’s a great artist.

Bob Hall:
But I was back, I wasn’t getting any work, I intended to stay here for maybe a year or so, and try to see what I could find out, which was nothing about my background. But all of a sudden, the cost of living in Lincoln looked awfully good. I had saved up money during the ’90s and I was okay for a while. And then, the opportunity came to start a Shakespeare festival here. A small one, but we had a facility in a local historic cemetery that had been there since the end of the Civil War. And there was an old stables in that cemetery and somebody said, “You should take a look at this, this could be a Shakespearean theater.” And I thought, “Yeah, really? In a cemetery? Okay.”

Bob Hall:
I went out and it was perfect. You know, when the plague would hit London, Shakespeare’s troupe would have to go out and play in inn-yards, and they would have to leave London and tour around. They would play in inn-yards. His stuff works in that way, if you don’t have the audience at one end and play at the other end, if you have the audience all surrounding it. And it was just a beautiful place to do Shakespeare and we started doing it and it’s still going. I ran it for 15 years and that was enough. I realized that I had done, over the course of my entire career, I directed Twelfth Night six times and that was probably one time too many and it was time for me to pass it on somebody. And you want to pass these things on and see it have a life afterwards, but. And that’s when I started doing the educational stuff was about the time … And I went back to school and got an MFA in art also.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, was that at New School?

Bob Hall:
No, that was that down [Stacey 03:15:48] thing that I talked to you about.

Jim Thompson:
Okay.

Bob Hall:
This was like the year I turned 70, I started going back to school. I’ve always loved doing paintings that had nothing to do with genre stuff, and usually they’re on the abstract side. I’ll show you one, that one behind me here.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s nice.

Bob Hall:
And it was something I did when my writing partner, this guy, David Richmond I told you about, passed away. And he was living at that time on our horse farm down in Versailles, Kentucky. This one is called Mr. Richmond Walking Away. But I love doing this kind of work. And it’s just a different … It’s just such a different thing for me.

Speaker 1:
Daddy, do you want [inaudible 03:16:43]?

Jim Thompson:
Almost [crosstalk 03:16:43].

Alex Grand:
It’s interesting, that art, you can tell that you had quite an affection for that guy.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, yeah. I started doing painting on the side when I was in New York still.

Speaker 1:
[crosstalk 03:17:00].

Bob Hall:
When I was attending that studio where I do models. And I always did … I ended up doing mainly abstract work because comics is so much like drawing, sometimes it gets to be like engraving the Lord’s Prayer on the heads of pins. It’s like this kind of work. And doing something where I could just take paint and move it around was so cathartic. And also, I didn’t think much about trying to sell any of it. Occasionally I would sell a piece, but to do something I wasn’t trying to make money from was very freeing. It freed my head up a lot because everything you do in comics is to make money. I mean, you may really feel something about it, but it’s your job.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, it’s a commercial art, absolutely.

Bob Hall:
Yeah, and doing something very-

Jim Thompson:
I have two quick questions, Shakespeare related.

Bob Hall:
Okay.

Jim Thompson:
Did you ever want to do anything, any adaptation or anything, play with Shakespeare in terms of your art or your comics work?

Bob Hall:
I was going to do, you know, a Valiant … One of the last things that Acclaim … Acclaim was doing this, they bought the rights to Classics Illustrated, and I was going to do King Lear. I was going to draw King Lear and still would like to that. But there have been so many manga King Lears and various comic adaptions. I think most of them, there have been a lot of them, and most of them have been pretty lousy. So I would love to have a crack at that and see if you could do something as elegant as P. Craig Russell, is my idol for that kind of stuff. His adaptations of operas, have you seen any of those?

Jim Thompson:
Oh, yeah. All of them. Beautiful.

Bob Hall:
Oh, they’re just breathtaking. If you could do something that good with Shakespeare, it would be fun.

Alex Grand:
He’s a painter, too. So that would work out really well.

Jim Thompson:
And then my final question on that, is what was your favorite Shakespeare experience as either a performer, or as a director, or even as simply in attendance at a show? What was the most meaningful, just perfect, Shakespeare experience did you have?

Bob Hall:
I can tell you two. They’re probably not the most profound ones, but the first one is an actually Shakespearian experience. My ex-wife and I, Lorraine, and we are still very close, she and I. I’m now married to a woman named Paula Ray, that’s her last name, Ray, who’s … It’s just been a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful relationship. But anyway, Lorraine and I are going to London for the first time. It was that time when we went over on the [inaudible 03:20:04] Express and we’re seeing the [inaudible 03:20:08] and we go in every day to the Royal Shakespeare Company, and say, “What seats have you got?” So we can get the discounted seats which means that we’re seeing all these plays, but we’re seeing them in different parts of the theater the whole time.

Bob Hall:
And for Henry IV, Part 1, we’re seated in the front row. And Prince Hal and Hotspur are having a duel. And the sword of Hotspur breaks and goes flying into the air above our heads and comes down, falls at Lorraine’s feet, and bounces up and she catches it in her lap. We look up and all of the great actors in England are staring at Lorraine for one moment. And then someone tosses Hotspur a sword and they go on. And the only bad part is that at intermission, all of these usher people come running up saying, “Are you okay?” And she said, “Yes.” And they said, “Well then, give us back the sword.” We thought we could take it home.

Jim Thompson:
That’s like going to a ball game and catching a fly. That’s fantastic.

Bob Hall:
So many years later, it was at the end of the ’80s, by this time we’d done Dracula in England and we’re staying in Stratford with a guy named Jack Moore who was an actor, he was in that. He became a friend of ours and he’s playing Stratford. So we go over to see him because he said, “You can come over and stay with me.” So we’re there, and he arranges a reading of … I did an adaptation of Frankenstein that has been done a couple of times. It’s never quite been right, but the Royal Shakespeare Company did a reading of it which was delightful.

Bob Hall:
And then we go to see this play, now it’s not a Shakespeare play, but it’s at the Royal Shakespeare Company in their little theater where the audience is sort of surrounding everything. It was called The Art of Success. I don’t know what there was about night, but again, it was Lorraine and I, sitting, watching it. And it was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. There was something just magical about … The actors were wonderful, the play seemed wonderful, and it was just something in the air.

Bob Hall:
And they came out for a curtain call and the audience kept applauding, and they went off, and anymore standing ovations are a dime a dozen. Everybody stands up for everything because they’ve paid a lot of money and they want to be sure they’re getting their money’s worth. This was, the audience didn’t stand up, we just sat there. I still get emotional thinking about it, because it was like we just kept applauding, and we decided as a group, as the audience, that we demanded another curtain call. And they had already left. And we sat there and we just continued to applaud, and we applauded for what must have been like 10 minutes, which is crazy in a theater. It doesn’t happen. And finally the actors came back on and some were crying. Some had makeup, cold cream on their faces and in their bathrobes. And they had been rounded up and asked to come back to take one more bow.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, wow.

Bob Hall:
And the next day at breakfast, Jack said to us, “What happened? What happened? Everybody’s talking about it.” And I said, “I don’t know. It was just something that … I don’t know.” I probably will never have another experience like that again, where everybody makes this kind of decision that this was wonderful and we’re not ready to go home yet, and come back one more time. It was great. So that’s my best theater experience of all time.

Jim Thompson:
Well, we’re not going to get a better story than that. That’s great. So I think we should close out.

Bob Hall:
Okay.

Alex Grand:
Bob, thank you so much for your generous time. It’s actually quite amazing, you’re really different from the other interviewers in that you’re an actor, performer, writer, editor, artist, an auteur, and it was a real pleasure to learn the different dimensions of your artistic and professional outlets. Thank you so much for your time today.

Bob Hall:
Well, thanks for doing it. Let me know when it becomes a reality. You’re going to tell me, “Okay, now we’re going to get this down to 10 minutes.”

Alex Grand:
No, no, no.

Jim Thompson:
No, no. We go long.

Alex Grand:
This is a holistic Bob Hall experience, yes.

Bob Hall:
Okay. Great, this was a lot of fun.

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Interview © 2021 Comic Book Historians

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