This being the first of what may well become a series of reminiscences of my early days in the comics biz.
Okay, so it's 1973 and I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, not bad for a kid in his mid-20s. The Marvel offices are on 575 Madison Avenue, I can't remember which floor. Head Honcho Stan Lee has the corner office, and what has lovingly come to be known as the Marvel Bullpen fills most of the rest of the same side of the hall. The Editor-in-Chief's office is a glass-walled room inside the much larger Bullpen area, so the E-i-C is available as needed to his staff. The Marvel editorial staff in those days, as best I can remember it now, includes Chris Claremont, Scott Edelman, Roger Slifer, Roger Stern, Irene Vartanoff, and almost certainly several others who will e-mail me immediately after this is published to chastise me for forgetting them.
Anyway, on this particular day, I had just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the West Coast to attend the now-omnipresent San Diego Comic-Con and spend some vacation time visiting with friends. During the course of my trip, I'd paid a visit to the self-proclaimed "Happiest Place on Earth", Disneyland. Now, being a responsible person and knowing I can't return home to the "kids" empty-handed, while at Disneyland, I've bought my entire staff those classic Mickey Mouse ears with their names embroidered on the back. Got it so far? Good.
So here it is, the end of the day, and the entire Marvel Bullpen is sitting at their desks, diligently doing their jobs, copy editing, color correcting, making bad puns, all of them to a man and woman wearing their mouse ears, and Stan strides by the Bullpen, heading for the lobby and the subway home. He glances into the Bullpen distractedly as he strides by, wishing us all a good evening, and then he's gone from sight.
A beat. Two beats.
Then Stan's hands come into view, grasping the side of the Bullpen door frame, followed a moment later by the top half of Stan's head, peering into the room sideways as if to verify he did indeed see what he just thought he saw. He looked a bit like the famous Kilroy drawing that was so popular during the Second World War. Seeing Stan's confusion, I raise a finger and open my mouth to explain why his entire staff is sitting there, wearing mouse ears. But, with a gesture, Stan stops me before I can utter a word.
"No, don't tell me," he mutters, sadly shaking his head, as he picks up his attache case and heads for the door, "I don't think I want to know."