Did I Ever Write a Marvel Thor story? Come to Think of It ...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So I was chatting with son Stephen on Mother's Day, and I'd just come from seeing the Thor movie. Stephen asked if Don and I hadn't written a story for Marvel Comics' Thor series, and I realized I'd forgotten all about it. Why, yes, we had - and I went into a discussion about Editor Roy Thomas' talking with us about wanting to do a Marvel take on the fact that there was a Superman movie and involving long-time Superman artist Wayne Boring with the project. Etc. The next morning, I looked it up - and discovered Don and I had plotted, not one, but two Marvel stories about the thunder god. (How do you forget this sort of thing? I didn't even have duplicate copies on the shelf - though I may have them somewhere else ...) [Note: While I'm tending to use the words "written" and "plotted" as synonyms, of course, they're not. Except that, in writing comics "Marvel method," what happens is that the artist is handed the plot and then creates the story - which is then scripted. We didn't script the stories - and Roy replotted what we'd plotted. Just so's we're clear on this.]

Here's what appeared in the letters column of the issue about the movie (Thor #280, February 1979): Wayne [Boring] himself has returned to his real-estate chores for the nonce – but we think the story he drew, as plotted by Roy [Thomas]'s old friends Don and Maggie Thompson, is just what we called it on our splash page: "Perhaps the most awesomely offbeat Thor epic of all" 'Nuff said?

What I had forgotten in my conversation with Stephen was that our first Thor plot had probably been for Thor Annual #8 (1979). As Roy wrote in his editorial on the issue: So, I decided that even putting a northern deity like Thor into the story of the Trojan War wouldn't do any more violence to Homer than had already been done – and besides, it'd be fun. Thus, I began to mull over in my mind how best to do it, but the pressure of comics and other work kept me from getting to it.
Enter Don and Maggie Thompson, longtime friends and comics fans now turned more or less pro with articles and comics stories in various Marvel mags. They were looking for assignments, and I mentioned to Maggie that I was bogged down and could use some research help on bringing Thor into the Trojan War without changing the details of the actual story in any major way. … Why couldn't it just as easily have been Thor, on a jaunt down from the north, who was merely MISTAKEN for this or that Olympian.
Answer: It could have been! Maggie and Don took the idea, and ran with it. A few weeks later, I received two or three pages of notes which placed the action of the proposed Thor story in a very particular part of THE ILIAD, starting with the Third Book (we’d call it the Third CHAPTER) in which Paris and King Menelaus fight a duel to decide the fate of Troy and beauteous Helen. I rewrote their notes into an eight-page plot which I then sent to John Buscema, who rendered it beautifully amid complaints that there were "too many characters."

As I recall, we even had notes on a third adventure (which Roy teased about in that annual): one that would involve Thor with events in either The Aeneid or The Odyssey or maybe both. But, as it turned out, Roy didn't write another Thor annual, so that tale remains to be told. In any case: Why, yes, Stephen, we did write for Marvel's Thor, now that you mention it.


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