Interviews

THE ABORTED DAVE COCKRUM INTERVIEW


By Leroy Douresseaux
Jun 21, 2005 - 13:31

In late 2003, I began conducting an interview with legendary comic book artist Dave Cockrum (a co-creator of "the New X-Men" in the mid-70's) that I was unable to finish, but we did discuss his appearance as a guest artist on Legion of Super-Heroes #25 last year, which was the LSH 45th anniversary celebration issue.

I'd received the answers to the initial round of questions (which focused on his new Legion work) in late November 2003. At first, the interview, originally done for Mr. Charlie Opens the Door, was going to focus on Mr. Cockrum's current work. However, the second group of questions that I sent him focused on issues of creative ownership, credit, and (the lack of) royalties to veteran comics writers and artists who had created many characters that were earning (and had already earned) millions of dollars for both Marvel and DC.

In Dave's case, the X-Men, in particularly the New X-Men, had turned into a lucrative film and merchandising franchise with the film, X2: X-Men United becoming one of the biggest box office hits of 2003, grossing over $200 million domestically. Yet Marvel Comics, their owners and the larger stockholders, 20th Century Fox, and, director Bryan Singer were reaping all the benefits of the X-Men's film success, and the various comics creators who created the most popular X-Men concepts were seeing little and, as was the case of most X-creators, nothing.

When I didn't hear back from Mr. Cockrum, I assumed that I'd either insulted him with the second batch of questions or had touched too raw a nerve. Then, veteran comics writer, novelist, and screenwriter, Peter David reported on his web log (www.peterdavid.net) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 that Dave Cockrum had been hospitalized at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in the Bronx, NYC. According to the information that David received, Mr. Cockrum was suffering from pneumonia and was on a respirator; he had been admitted into the hospital two week earlier for complications of diabetes. David later reported on his blog (Sat., Jan. 17, 2004) that Cockrum was off the respirator and had been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit.

On Monday morning, Jan. 19, 2004, comics website NEWSARAMA (www.newsarama.com) published a letter from Clifford Meth, a long time friend of Mr. Cockrum and his current publisher. He informed the industry and readers that Mr. Cockrum and his wife Paty were, of course, in that time of grave illness in need of financial assistance. According to Meth, he was going to publish a tribute book, THE UNCANNY DAVE COCKRUM TRIBUTE. An art portfolio, the book would feature artistic and written contributions from friends and admirers of Mr. Cockrum including Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Marv Wofman, Roy Thomas, Johnny Romita, Ron Garney, Walt Simonson and others.

cockrumtribute.jpg

The book eventually did see publication as The Uncanny Dave Cockrum... A Tribute through Meth's publishing concern, Aardwolf Publishing, www.aardwolfpublishing.com. The final list of contributors also included Travis Charest, Alan Davis, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Bob McLeod, Alan Moore, George Perez, and Joe Quesada among others.

Through his efforts, Meth's fundraisers, art auctions, and an agreement with Marvel to help pay Mr. Cockrum's medical bills, Dave is apparently on the mend. Meth also apparently negotiated an agreement with Marvel that would "allow the Cockrums to live securely for the rest of their lives," which seemed to be the only public description of the undislosed early to mid- 2004 settlement between Marvel and Mr. Cockrum.

So here it is; that tiny almost forgotten interview is now Mr. Charlie #55:

How did the Legion #25 assignment come about for you?

DC: I was posting on the DC Legion boards, and there was a lot of pressure from the other posters to have me back on the book. Steve Wacker, the editor, reads the Legion forums, and I guess that made him decide to include me in this special issue.

Without giving away secrets, what part did you work on in the issue? Are you pencilling, or did you get to contribute anything more?

DC: Just penciling. I did a five-page segment involving Live Wire, Spark, and their brother, Lightning Lord.

What does working on the project mean for you personally and professionally?

DC: Well, it was great to do some mainstream work again, even if it was only five pages. I'd like to be getting more mainstream work.

At this point in your life, do you miss the Legion characters and do you have a real desire to return to the characters. Why or why not?

DC: I've always liked the Legion. I'd enjoy having another chance to do a book. I have a couple of ideas for Legion “Elsewhen” stories that I'd like to do.

THAT’S IT. Jim Amash conducted a short interview of Dave in Roy Thomas’ ultra fanzine, ALTER EGO #24, for which Dave provides an X-Men illo as one of the covers (AE is a flip book with two covers), and that issue may still be available from Two Morrows Publishing (www.twomorrows.com). That same issue also contains the transcription of an X-Men panel discussion at 2000 comic convention in which Dave participated. Back in the first volume of Jon Cooke’s fine magazine, COMIC BOOK ARTIST (at the time, also a Two Morrows publication), Dave spoke at length in issue six, which is no longer in print.


Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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