Bill Mantlo

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Bill Mantlo
Bill Mantlo 1978 Marvel Calendar.jpg
promotional image of Mantlo from
1978 Marvel Comics Calendar
Born William Timothy Mantlo[1]
(1951-11-09) November 9, 1951 (age 62)
Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer
Notable works
Micronauts, Rom
Awards Eagle Award, 1979

William Timothy Mantlo (born November 9, 1951)[2] is an American comic-book writer, primarily at Marvel Comics, best known for his work on two licensed toy properties whose adventures occurred in the Marvel Universe: the Eagle Award-winning Micronauts and the long-running Rom. An attorney who worked as a public defender, Mantlo was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in 1992 and has been in institutional care ever since.

Biography[edit]

Education and early career[edit]

Bill Mantlo was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the oldest of three sons of William W. and Nancy Mantlo.[1] Growing up as a comics fan, Mantlo attended Manhattan's High School of Art & Design.[1] In college at the Cooper Union School of Art,[3] he focused on painting and photography. Following his graduation, Mantlo held various civil servant positions and worked as a portrait photographer.

Marvel Comics[edit]

A connection with a college friend in 1974 led Mantlo to a job as an assistant to Marvel Comics production manager John Verpoorten. Mantlo's first credits were as a colorist,[3] as he worked on several issues that appeared between October 1974 and April 1975.[4] Soon afterword, Mantlo wrote a fill-in script for a Sons of the Tiger story in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, which led to a permanent writing position on that title.[5] While scripting Deadly Hands, Mantlo and artist George Pérez created White Tiger, comics' first Puerto Rican superhero.[3]

Around this time, Marvel's then editor-in-chief Marv Wolfman instituted a policy to avoid the many missed deadlines plaguing the company. The policy was to have fill-in stories at the ready, should a titles be in danger of missing its deadline. Mantlo quickly became the "fill-in king", creating stories under very tight deadlines, many of which did find their way into print.[5] By the mid to late 1970s he had written issues of nearly every Marvel title. While writing The Champions he collaborated with artist Bob Hall, who praised Mantlo in a 2013 interview, "Bill was a peach - very helpful to me as I got started [in the comics profession]...I think we were both as enthusiastic as we could get about this particular comic, but more because we were working at Marvel than because of the book itself."[6]

Later, he became a regular writer at Marvel, notably for the licensed properties Micronauts[7] and Rom,[8] also known as Rom: Spaceknight. On Christmas 1977, Mantlo's son Adam opened a new present, a line of the Mego Corporation's Micronauts action figures. Seeing the toys, Bill Mantlo was instantly struck by inspiration to write their adventures. Convincing then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter to get the comics license for these toys, Mantlo was hired to script their series.[9] Mantlo and Michael Golden, the artist on Micronauts, took a few bits of colorful plastic and built an entire (subatomic) universe around them, with its own history, mythology, personalities, and even an alphabet. The Micronauts comic book series won the 1979 Eagle Award for Favourite New Comic Title.[10] Micronauts, along with Moon Knight and Ka-Zar the Savage, became one of Marvel's first ongoing series to be distributed exclusively to comic book stores beginning with issue #38 (Feb. 1982).[11]

Mantlo's first run on The Spectacular Spider-Man featured frequent appearances by the White Tiger, Marvel's first superhero of Hispanic descent,[12] He used the series to wrap up unresolved plot elements from The Champions series[13] and wrote a multiple issue storyline which included the first work by artist Frank Miller on the Daredevil character.[14] Mantlo concluded his first run on the series with a crossover with the Fantastic Four #218 (May 1980).[15] Mantlo, Mark Gruenwald, and Steven Grant co-wrote Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980) which featured a new story starring Spider-Man vs. the Hulk set at the 1980 Winter Olympics.[16]

Mantlo began writing The Incredible Hulk with issue #245 (March 1980). Among the adversaries he created for the series were the U-Foes[17] and the Soviet Super-Soldiers.[18] Mantlo and artist Ed Hannigan co-created the superhero pair Cloak and Dagger[19] in The Spectacular Spider-Man #64 (March 1982). Mantlo, Gruenwald, and Grant reunited to co-write Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions,[20] the first limited series published by Marvel Comics. Other work by Mantlo includes runs as the regular writer on Iron Man and Alpha Flight.[4]

Public defender[edit]

By the mid-1980s, he enrolled in law school. Though he continued writing for Marvel, his workload began to decrease due to disputes with management.[21] He wrote briefly for DC Comics in 1988, scripting the Invasion! miniseries.[22] By this time he had passed the bar exam, and in 1987 began working as a Legal Aid Society public defender in The Bronx.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Mantlo was married to Karen Mantlo (née Pocock),[5] for some years a letterer in the comics industry. They have a son, Adam,[3] and a daughter, Corinna (born 1981).[25]

Skating accident[edit]

On July 17, 1992, Mantlo was struck by a car while rollerblading.[26] The driver of the car fled the scene and was never identified.[27] Mantlo suffered severe head trauma. According to his biographer, cartoonist David Yurkovich, in 2006, "For a while Bill was comatose. Although no longer in a coma, the brain damage he suffered in the accident is irreparable. His activities of daily living are severely curtailed and he resides in a healthcare facility where he receives full-time care."[27] In 2007, Yurkovich released the benefit book Mantlo: A Life in Comics, with all proceeds from the book donated to Mantlo's brother and caregiver, Michael Mantlo, to help toward the costs of maintaining Mantlo's care.[28] In addition, on December 6, 2007, the Portland, Oregon, comic-book shop Floating World Comics sponsored "Spacenight: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo", an art show consisting almost entirely of various artists' interpretations of Rom, to help raise funds for Mantlo's care.[29] Throughout December 2010, Floating World Comics sponsored "Spacenite2", also featuring artists' interpretations of Rom, with all proceeds going to Mantlo's care.[30] and an art auction at the end of December 2010.[31]

Awards[edit]

In 2014, Mantlo will receive the Bill Finger Award.[32]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Marvel Comics[edit]

Other publishers[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Seitz, Lee K. (January 13, 2000). "Bill Mantlo". Rom Spaceknight Revisited! (fan site). Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  2. ^ Comics Buyer's Guide #1636 (December 2007); Page 135
  3. ^ a b c d "Micromails: Meet the Micro-Makers: Bill Mantlo," Micronauts #7 (Marvel Comics, July 1979).
  4. ^ a b Bill Mantlo at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ a b c "Interview with Bill Mantlo (via InnerspaceOnline.com)". BEM: The Comics News Fanzine (24). July 1979. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ Walker, Karen (July 2013). "'We'll Keep on Fighting 'Til the End': The Story of the Champions". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (65): 20–23. 
  7. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 180. ISBN 978-0756641238. "The Micronauts comics series, dating from January 1979, was based on toys made by the Japanese company Takara and distributed in the United States by the Mego Corporation." 
  8. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 191: "Prolific writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema created a Marvel comics series and a whole mythology around Parker Brothers' toy 'ROM'."
  9. ^ "The Micronauts: Gil Kane Thinks Small (via InnerspaceOnline.com)". Amazing Heroes (Fantagraphics Books) (7). December 1981. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Eagle Awards 1979". Eagle Awards. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. 
  11. ^ Catron, Michael (July 1981). "Micronauts to be sold exclusively though comics shops". Amazing Heroes (Fantagraphics Books) (2): 22–23. 
  12. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1970s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 96. ISBN 978-0756692360. "Hector Ayala, aka the White Tiger, had already made history as Marvel Comics' first Hispanic super hero. In [Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #9's] tale, by writer Bill Mantlo and penciler Sal Buscema, he would join Spider-Man's cast of recurring characters in both his identities." 
  13. ^ Manning "1970s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 101: "Bill Mantlo was the regular scribe of both Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Champions...The Champions had recently been cancelled, and Mantlo decided to tie up a few of the title's loose ends in his other comic."
  14. ^ Saffel, Steve (2007). "A Not-So-Spectacular Experiment". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Titan Books. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-84576-324-4. "Frank Miller was the guest penciler for The Spectacular Spider-Man #27, February 1979, written by Bill Mantlo. [The issue's] splash page was the first time Miller's [rendition of] Daredevil appeared in a Marvel story." 
  15. ^ Manning "1980s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 113: "In the conclusion to a tale that had begun in the pages of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #42 (May), writer [Bill] Mantlo and artist John Byrne had the latest incarnation of the Frightful Four face off against their Fantastic counterparts.
  16. ^ Manning "1980s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 113: "Spider-Man's fights with the Incredible Hulk were always popular with the fans, so Marvel decided to pitch the wall-crawler against the Hulk when the Mole Man and his gang of villains crashed the festivities of the prestigious Winter Olympics."
  17. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 199: "Inspired by the 1979 Graham Parker song 'Waiting for the UFOs', the creation of the U-Foes was truly a team effort. Writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema produced the first U-Foes story, but editor Al Milgrom helped design the costumes and Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter suggested some of the names."
  18. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 201: "The Soviet Super-Soldiers, the Russian equivalent of the Avengers, were a team of super-powered individuals assembled by the Soviet government in this issue by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema."
  19. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 207: "Cloak and Dagger's first appearance was written by Bill Mantlo and illustrated by Ed Hannigan. A socially conscious writer, Mantlo used the characters to address the problems of teenage runaways and the dangers of illegal drugs."
  20. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 208: "Plotted by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, and Bill Mantlo, and penciled by John Romita, Jr., Contest of Champions eventually saw print in June 1982."
  21. ^ Kelly, Dave (January 1, 1989). "Mantlo Wants Cloak and Dagger Back! Bill Mantlo's Fall From Grace". Amazing Heroes (Fantagraphics Books) (156): 48–50. 
  22. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Crossing over into dozens of titles, DC released the three-issue extra-length volumes of Invasion! by writers Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo, with pencils by Giffen, Bart Sears, and Todd McFarlane." 
  23. ^ Mantlo, Bill (January 19, 1990). "To the Editor: Grand Juries Can Defend Rights of the Accused". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  24. ^ Johnson, Dan (May 2006). "Marvel's Toy Story: Rom's Sal Buscema and Micronauts' Jackson Guice: A 'Pro2Pro' Interview". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (16). 
  25. ^ Shooter, Jim. "Bullpen Bulletins", Iron Man #148 (July 1981) and other Marvel Comics titles published that month.
  26. ^ Coffin, Bill (November 7, 2011). "Tragic Tale". National Underwriter Life & Health. Archived from the original on January 3, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Hatcher, Greg (October 27, 2006). "Friday with David Yurkovich". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved Accessed February 2, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Helping Legends Directly". no date. Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Spacenight: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo". Floating World Comics. November 13, 2007. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Spacenite2: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo". Floating World Comics. November 16, 2010. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Spacenite 2 – Fundraiser Auctions for Bill Mantlo". Floating World Comics. December 22, 2010. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Finger Award - Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo, Jack Mendelsohn to Receive 2014 Bill Finger Award". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2014. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gerry Conway
Thor writer
1975
Succeeded by
Len Wein
Preceded by
Roger Slifer and Len Wein
Iron Man writer
1976
Succeeded by
Archie Goodwin
Preceded by
Gerry Conway
Iron Man writer
1977–1978
(with Gerry Conway in early 1977)
Succeeded by
Bob Layton and David Michelinie
Preceded by
Steve Gerber
Howard the Duck writer
1979–1981
Succeeded by
Steven Grant
Preceded by
n/a
Micronauts writer
1979–1984
Succeeded by
Peter B. Gillis
Preceded by
Steven Grant
The Incredible Hulk writer
1980–1985
Succeeded by
John Byrne
Preceded by
John Byrne
Alpha Flight writer
1985–1988
Succeeded by
James D. Hudnall