Friday, November 5, 2010

An Interview with Roger Stern. Machine Man gets Stern Treatment

We've been writing about Jack Kirby's last Marvel comic, Machine Man. After Jack left comics in 1979, editor Roger Stern decided to let the character borrow some life in the pages of Incredible Hulk, which he wrote at the time.

Here's Roger Stern's questions; anybody got one I didn't think of yet?
Quote, Dawn:
We've had a great time on the Jack Kirby's Machine Man thread, with the last survivor of Kirby's Marvel Return. With his departure into the animation field;
a young writer named Roger Stern hosts the next chapter of the continuing Machine Man saga.

At the end of #9, Jack knew the Machine Man was headed into the pages of the Incredible Hulk, which was already written by you at the time.

Roger Stern:
I don't know if Jack was aware that Machine Man was going to appear in the Hulk. By the time his last issue of MM went on sale, I believe that Jack was already working in animation.

We wonder how the assignment became yours, what parts of the character you felt you should highlight as you kept him in circulation, and what were your favorite aspects of the original series.

Roger Stern:
I had been proofreading MACHINE MAN since the first issue, and when I learned that the book was being cancelled, I asked if I could guest-star MM in the HULK. I just loved the character, and wanted to see him survive. (Don't forget that the Hulk's first series was cancelled after six issues, but Stan kept bringing him back until he finally found his audience.)

Were you approached about writing MM's revival?

Roger Stern:
No. And since my day-job was being an editor, I wouldn't have had the time to write another monthly book.

Was there anything parallel in the characters that guided the choice of pairing Machine Man and the Hulk, or was the choice a default one, in hopes of someone at Marvel keeping Machine Man alive by guest starring him in Hulk during this period made especially popular by the CBS series?

Roger Stern:
I just wanted to write MM for a few issues.

How did those books sell? I imagine: well, since the title comes back soon afterwards!
Any thoughts on why the character never blew up bigger?
You may have even more interesting answers that I have questions to ask at this hour, but if you don't mind...

Roger Stern:
I really don't remember if those issues of the HULK sold better than any others. As I recall, the decision to relaunch the MACHINE MAN book came long before my HULK stories went on sale.

And I don't know why MM never really found an audience. Like I said, I loved the Kirby MMs -- and the Ditko issues for that matter -- and I would love to write a new MM series. I think I'd do a better job now.

Of course, if I ever did get a chance at a new series, I would want to be more faithful to the character that Jack created.

And younger readers would probably complain that I wasn't writing him as a drunken reprobate. (That's a reference to the Warren Ellis version in NextWave!)

-- Uncle Rog

(Thanks! And thanks to IMWAN Forum for hosting our questions--Dawn)

Roger did an awful lot of work well remembered by longtime comics fans. Here's a sample, on links where you can own the hardcover collections for yourself: You've got STarhawk of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, even X-Men!

And of course: X-Men versus Avengers!

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