Blood, Sweat, and Ink | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Blood, Sweat, and Ink

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To the editors:

[Re: Hot Type, July 24]

A couple of points and then I must go back to drawing my final 30 days of Popeye. My judgment of Doug Marlette's priest character and the use of priests in a comic strip was based not on Doug's ownership of his own strip but on the basis of its permissibility by individual newspaper editors. Regardless of any of this, I had the Sea Hag utter "There goes Roe v. Wade" as early as 10/25/91 and didn't hear a peep from the syndicate so I quite naturally thought I could expand this idea into a story without getting any flack. At this same time, my copy began coming back to me uncorrected; words whited out and not replaced in the haste of a deadline remained unreplaced, spelling errors (and I don't mean "potatoe") remained uncorrected. Whenever I was requested to make changes by the syndicate I always complied. Whenever my contract was up for renewal I requested changes in a businesslike and civilized fashion, i.e. through my lawyers. When St. Martin's Press requested the Mondo Popeye book they specifically stated that they were calling because they were interested in a "mainstream" Bobby London book and not a Popeye book. To not get royalties would be, I felt, yet another way King Features was exploiting my reputation, which took, I might add, 20 years of blood, sweat, and ink to establish. The single individual with whom I had this run-in was also rumored to be the guy who priced Popeye out of Roger Rabbit and was eventually fired himself. The "King of Licensing" story was not drawn out of spite as much as it was a way to walk through a simple plot to both get ahead of schedule (I inherited a deadline that was right up to engraving time and was struggling for six years to loosen it up) and concentrate on my Bud Sagendorf impression, fine-tuning the art to please both myself and the vice president of King: Larry Olson. To say that I had a running feud with them is to imply that I was unrealistic about my situation. If they had asked me to stop the abortion story in mid-stream I would have quietly segued into a story about the Economy and saved Roe v. Wade for Dirty Duck. As it stands, we will soon see who does the better Popeye.

Bobby London

Somewhere in Gotham

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