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#504500 - 12/23/02 12:20 PM Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
D.Rednour Offline
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Registered: 02/09/02
Posts: 43
Y'know, the writer of Jonah Hex.... did the outcome of the slander case move him to leave comics as a career, or were there other factors at work?

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#504501 - 12/23/02 12:25 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
The OC Offline
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Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 1985
Quote:
Originally posted by D.Rednour:
Y'know, the writer of Jonah Hex.... did the outcome of the slander case move him to leave comics as a career, or were there other factors at work?


Libel, not slander.

I believe he wrote some for Marvel after losing the case, and I know that he wrote for 2000 AD and DC (HAYWIRE).
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#504502 - 12/23/02 03:38 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
TIP Offline
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Registered: 06/19/01
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Was he not also the writer of CHASING HAIRY?

T

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#504503 - 12/23/02 03:52 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
Paul Rainey Offline
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Registered: 11/19/99
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The 2000 AD stuff he did was about ten or so years ago and was pretty weak by all accounts. It was the beginning of the end for 2000 AD as far as I'm concerned - Offering this clearly inferior writer work over people like Mark Millar and Grant Morrisson.

What was this libal case all about then?
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#504504 - 12/23/02 04:55 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
The OC Offline
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Registered: 03/27/02
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He wrote CHASING HARRY well before the libel suit came to court and while still writing for DC and Marvel.

Briefly, Gary Groth interviewed Harlan Ellison for TCJ, and in the course of the interview, both made comments that Fleischer viewed as libelous, and he sued over them. He lost.
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#504505 - 12/23/02 05:38 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
WGeorge Offline
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Registered: 09/27/02
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Loc: Las Vegas, NV
Fleischer's career in comics was due almost completely to Joe Orlando. Orlando was saying he could train anyone to write comics. Fleischer was a kid who had a deal to write an encyclopaedia on comic book character histories and he had gained access to the DC library. Orlando found him and trained him and declared him the greatest writer in all of comics and gave him many many comics to write. No one else seems to have cared much for his writing. Julie Schwartz let him write an issue of Batman and then found out that the plot was out of an old issue so he never used him again.

I don't know the circumstances but he lost favor with Orlando and stopped getting six comics a month to write. He got some work from Marvel but no one there liked him. He was pretty much out of comics when Ellison made some remarks in TCJ that Fleischer didn't like. He felt that he wasn't getting work because people in the biz thot he was insane and that Ellison had contributed to that. Jim Shooter and other people who hated TCJ or Ellison or both encouraged Fleischer to sue and he found a lawyer who thot there were big $$$ to be made. They sued and lost mostly because Shooter took the stand on his behalf and the jury hated Shooter. Shooter claimed he was the most powerful man in comics but could not explain why his company was not giving Fleischer work. After that Fleischer disappeared from comics but he wasn't getting much work before that.

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#504506 - 12/23/02 06:23 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
Robert Morales Offline
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Registered: 06/30/02
Posts: 38
Loc: New York City
Quote:
Originally posted by WGeorge:
He was pretty much out of comics when Ellison made some remarks in TCJ that Fleischer didn't like. He felt that he wasn't getting work because people in the biz thot he was insane and that Ellison had contributed to that. Jim Shooter and other people who hated TCJ or Ellison or both encouraged Fleischer to sue and he found a lawyer who thot there were big $$$ to be made. They sued and lost mostly because Shooter took the stand on his behalf and the jury hated Shooter. Shooter claimed he was the most powerful man in comics but could not explain why his company was not giving Fleischer work. After that Fleischer disappeared from comics but he wasn't getting much work before that.


Harlan discusses the Fleisher matter in the latest issue of Comic Book Artist, by the way--#23, with the Mike Mignola/Hellboy cover.

What's crucial to note is that the comments to which Fleisher objected were meant as praise by Harlan, who loved his run on the Spectre. Oddly enough, I actually sat in on most of the trial, as moral support for Harlan. It took four solid weeks, and while Shooter is popularly held to be responsible for Fleisher's loss, the reality is Gary Groth and Harlan made a persuasive defense while on the stand, and Fleisher came off terribly--while not wholly unsympathic--and was unconvincing in his claim of damages.
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#504507 - 12/23/02 06:41 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by King of the Seven Seas:
He wrote CHASING HARRY well before the libel suit came to court and while still writing for DC and Marvel.

Briefly, Gary Groth interviewed Harlan Ellison for TCJ, and in the course of the interview, both made comments that Fleischer viewed as libelous, and he sued over them. He lost.


Some fans have noted that CHASING HARRY also received a very scathing review in the JOURNAL by Dwight Decker-- I believe just a few months prior to the remarks by Ellison. And Fleischer had just been interviewed in the JOURNAL not long before, and had placed an ad for CHASING HARRY in the JOURNAL, probably the same issue as the interview.

How much all these circumstances may have also affected Fleischer's feelings toward the JOURNAL is open to conjecture.

It's my recollection that Fleischer remained consistently employed by both Marvel and DC while the suit was ongoing, but that his assignments started to dry up once the suit was over, aside from occasional forays like HAYWIRE. I can't recall what he was doing for DC, unless it was Jonah Hex, but it seemed like he wrote eleventy-million Ghost Riders, though he left the book before its cancellation.

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#504508 - 12/24/02 12:47 AM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
The OC Offline
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Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 1985
Fleischer cited the Decker review of CHASING HAIRY as evidence of a TCJ conspiracy against him, which was nuts.

Fleischer wrote most installments of the Jonah Hex feature -- after creator John Albano got edged out in a rights dispute and after a single issue by Arnold Drake -- and (I believe) all issues of its short-lived successor, HEX. In addition to GHOST RIDER, he wrote SPIDER-WOMAN for Marvel, and reams of CONAN material, plus maybe 30 percent of Atlas/Seaboard's total output, so he must have been making someone happy.

I seem to recall that his output dropped dramatically after the trial, and there were rumors at the time that principals at both DC and Marvel hated Gary Groth so much that they employed Fleischer largely to keep his lawsuit alive. I never really believed that, or, rather, I never believed the policy was all that widespread.

HAYWIRE and some stuff for Warren may have been his last substantial U.S. output.

I always thought he was a pretty good comics writer. His plots were often derivative but he had a style that was clear and naturalistic (by comics standards), and he wasn't afraid to put his own views into comics, regardless of how unsavory much of his readership found those views.
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#504509 - 12/24/02 02:38 AM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
Matthewwave Offline
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Registered: 06/04/00
Posts: 4993
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Ah, good ol' Michael "Bugfuck" Fleischer.

He did write some decent stuff. His Spectre, in Adventure Comics, was sick and memorable in particular.

That issue of TCJ devoted to the trial transcripts remains a favorite.

Matthew

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#504510 - 12/24/02 11:22 AM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
The OC Offline
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Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 1985
Quote:
Originally posted by Matthewwave:
Ah, good ol' Michael "Bugfuck" Fleischer.


I figure Ellison was sincere when he said that "bugfuck" was intended as a compliment, but I also think that Fleischer was justified in being offended by it (and "twisted," and "crazy"). Taking offense doesn't make it libel, though.
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#504511 - 12/24/02 01:31 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
Robert Morales Offline
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Registered: 06/30/02
Posts: 38
Loc: New York City
Quote:
Originally posted by King of the Seven Seas:


I figure Ellison was sincere when he said that "bugfuck" was intended as a compliment, but I also think that Fleischer was justified in being offended by it (and "twisted," and "crazy"). Taking offense doesn't make it libel, though.


Harlan's unchallenged testimony was that, upon hearing Fleischer was upset, he called him to make amends and assure him no offense was intended. However, Gary Groth and other TCJ staff were openly derisive--at one point announcing they'd throw a "Let's Kick Michael Fleischer in the Ass" fest. Still far short of libel or slander, but the opportunities for the thing to blow over diminished greatly. And had either Shooter or Fleischer come off on the stand as well as Harlan and Gary, the jury (or so they told us immediately after the verdict) would have found for Fleischer out of sympathy.

It's too bad the Journal never got around to publishing Fleischer's testimony, it was...something to see. (And now I'll shut up and go back to work.)

Happy holidays!
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#504512 - 12/24/02 01:44 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
The OC Offline
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Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 1985
Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Morales:

Harlan's unchallenged testimony was that, upon hearing Fleischer was upset, he called him to make amends and assure him no offense was intended. However, Gary Groth and other TCJ staff were openly derisive--at one point announcing they'd throw a "Let's Kick Michael Fleischer in the Ass" fest. Still far short of libel or slander....


Hypothetical testimony and witness deportment aside, Fleischer severely shot himself in the foot by agreeing to be a interview and cover feature in an issue shortly subsequent to the Ellison one. Not a good way to shore up allegations that the publisher is out to destroy you.
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Posted by Otto Chelman

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#504513 - 12/24/02 08:17 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
James Van Hise Offline
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Registered: 02/14/02
Posts: 265
Loc: Yucca Valley, CA
I know this all happened about 15 years ago but I don't recall that Fleischer himself ever issued a statement after the verdict. Nor, to my knowledge, did he appeal it even though the judge found Fleischer libel for all court costs (amounting to 30 thousand dollars). At the time I heard that a lot of people who weren't bothered by the interview in the least nonetheless egged Fleischer on so that they could see Gary Groth get nailed (and it did cost Groth a lot of money in legal fees). One interesting thing which came out of it is that a fund rasier was held for Harlan's legal bills in the form of a roast attended by such lumnaries as Robert Bloch and Robin Williams. I went to it and it was funny but it was poorly staged in the auditorium in that there was only one microphone on the podium so you couldn't hear the comments Robin Williams made all through the proceedings to whatever anyone said, and that surprised me because the event was recorded (audio only, even though I know someone who volunteered to do a professional level videotaping of it for free, but no one ever got back to him).--James Van Hise
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#504514 - 12/25/02 06:07 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
metron Offline
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Registered: 10/13/01
Posts: 937
Fleischer couldn't have been all bad. The only comic book my poor late lamented mother ever read on a regular basis was--you guessed it--Jonah Hex.
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#504515 - 12/26/02 09:57 AM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
Rodrigo Baeza Offline
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Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 81
Loc: Santiago, Chile
Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Morales:


Harlan's unchallenged testimony was that, upon hearing Fleischer was upset, he called him to make amends and assure him no offense was intended. However, Gary Groth and other TCJ staff were openly derisive--at one point announcing they'd throw a "Let's Kick Michael Fleischer in the Ass" fest.


Part of the problem was that TCJ was initially willing to run an apology and/or clarification, but Fleisher specifically asked that the Journal should publish the apology that he (Fleisher) had written, and that the Journal editors and Harlan Ellison should sign their names under it. Since they understandably weren't willing to do that, Fleisher went along with the lawsuit.

Rodrigo Baeza
http://rodrigobaeza.crimsonblog.com

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#504516 - 12/31/02 05:04 PM Re: Whatever happened to Michael Fleischer?
GMSLegion Offline
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Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 284
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Fleisher was headhunted for 2000 AD on the basis of his work on THE SPECTRE. He was a regular contributor from around 1990-92, writing Rogue Trooper (with art by Ron Smith), Harlem Heroes (art by Steve Dillon) and Junker (art by John Ridgway).

I mention the artists because, charitably, these were the worst scripts any of these talented men have ever illustrated. There's a character in the last part of that Harlem Heroes story who delivers Fleisher's immortal line "Hey! What the hell happened to our quintuple X-rated movie?"

2000 AD has been a lot better since his absence.
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