The news recently broke that ROY THOMAS has been added by Marvel as a co-creator of Wolverine along with the late LEN WEIN and the late JOHN ROMITA SR. not to mention the late HERB TRIMPE. Thomas was the editor of Incredible Hulk #181 (N'74), the first full appearance of Wolverine and was Editor-In-Chief (EIC) at the time. 

Thomas had stated since the 1980s, particularly in The X-Men Companion Volume 1 that he wanted to ressurrect the X-Men as an international team like the Blackhawks and suggested a Canadian member with the name Wolverine. 

As we know, Art Director Romita Sr. designed most of the new characters during this period and drew the initial sketches of the future X-Man. We also know that artist DAVE COCKRUM brought Nightcrawler fully developed from a Legion of Super-Heroes spinoff book that DC rejected and combined several of those characters to create Storm. Wein had his ideas for Wolverine, Colossus and Thunderbird.

The problem with this is that all of the people who were around for Wolverine's genesis, except for Roy Thomas, are deceased and cannot dispute these new claims. Even Wein's widow was not present for any of this. Making a claim at this late date is not going over well in either the fandom or the professionals. It should be noted that, according to at least one source, Roy is NOT asking for any financial reparations or royalties, just credit he feels is long overdue.

However, since he was the editor at the time, should he get any creator credit? Should STAN LEE get co-creator credit for the Vision because he suggested that Roy create an "Android Man" to The Avengers? In fact, Roy had said numerous times that he re-used older names (Vision, Yellowjacket, Black Knight, Golden Girl, Human Top, Firebrand, Amazing Man) because of he knew that he wouldn't get credit or royalties for the characters he created.

Not to mention that fans believe that Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont and John Byrne deserve some credit as well.



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  • Roy Thomas and Len Wein both contributed introductions to Marvel Masterworks: Hulk v10 (the volume introducing Wolverine) in 2016.

    Here is what Roy Thomas had to say about the creation of Wolverine:

    "I had nothing to do with Len's use of the Missing Link in #179 or the Wedigo in #180. But I did have a lot to do with a new character who made his debut in the final panel of #180.

    "His name was... Wolverine.

    "For some time, I had been musing on the fact that 5 to 10 percent of Marvel's readers lived in Canada, yet we didn't have a single Canadian character. I'd always had an interest in 'internationalizing' Marvel, as witness the Banshee and Sunfire in X-Men.

    "As a name for the newcomer, I was briefly torn between 'Wolverine' and 'Bager'--both fierce beasts native to Canada. I settled onn 'Wolverine' because that word had a 'wolfish' feel, while to 'badger' someone just means to annoy him. Both animals were fierce and ill-tempered, a quality I wanted in te new character. Also, because a wolverine is a small carnivore, noted for his willingness to attack creatures far larger than itself, I wanted our guy to be faitly diminutive.

    "So I told Len I'd like him, in Hulk, to introduce ASAP a Canadian 'villain'(who'd also have heroic qualities--I didn't intend to offend north-of-the-49th readers by making the first Canuckin U.S. comics a true bad guy!)... that he be called the Wolverine... and that he be short of stature and fierce as hell.

    "Len may or may not remember my mentioning those last two attributes to him. No matter. As soon as he looked up 'wolverine' in an encyclopedia, those qualities would again stare him in the face.

    "After that, I bowed out of activr participation. I had a good writer (Len) and a good artist (Herb) working on a good concept (Wolverine). Art director John Romita, who would design the character's look, has said that, before he looked it up, he thought a wolverine was a female wolf.

    "The wolverine debuted at the end of #180 and took over #181. Len and Herb and soon others did the heavy lifting, making him a mutant, and giving him claws and an entire skeleton composed of Adamantium, a metal I'd concocted in Avengers. Those additions made the Wolverine a far better character than I'd ever dared hope he'd be."

     Here is what Len Wein had to say about the creation of Wolverine:

    "It was a typical day at Mighty Marvel, deadlines looming, staff scrambling, nothing unusual. I was up at the office, dropping off pages of whatever my then-current script assignment was, when I walked past Roy's office, and he beckoned me in. I tossed down my bag, grabbed Roy's quest chair, and said, 'Hey. what's up?'

    "Nothing special," replied Roy. "I just wanted to tell you I hate you."

    "Gee, thanks," I think I said, 'I really appreciate--say what?"

    I stared at the man. "Wh-what did I do?" I stammered.

    "Oh, nothing in particular. It's just that I've been reading your Brother Voodoo stories in Strange Tales, and I love the way you write Caribbean accents. I can't write a foreign accent to save my life."

    "Well, thank you, I... I think," I said.

    Before I could say anything more, Roy added, "I would love to hear how you write a Canadian accent."

    "Probably not well," I said.

    "Nevertheless, I want you to try," said Roy, adding, "I've got a name in mind... Wolverine."

    "You mean, a little wolf?" I asked, stupidly.

    "Nope. different creature, entirely," sighed Roy, adding, "I want him short, tough, and Canadian, and I want to see him in print soon."

    "Got it," I said, picking up my bag and heading for the door. "I'll see what I can come up with."

    "What I did next is what I've always done when creating a new character, either hero or villain. I did research.

    "Back in those halcyon days before Google or Siri or Bing! or even the home personal computer, for that matter, research meant a lot of time at your local library or poring over your personal set of encyclopedias. what I learned about wolverines was that they were small, fierce, fearless mammalswith razor-sharp claws and nasty dispositions, who would not hesitate to tackle creatures ten times their size.

    "There it was, all laid out right in front of me. Easiest job of creating a character I ever had."

  • That was basically the story from The X-Men Companion except it sounded more like barnstorming with no one remembering exactly who said what. 

    In essence, the main complaint seems to be that an editor or EIC can't be an official co-creator since they're management. But Marvel had a long history of writer/editors including both Roy and Len. 

  • I have never doubted the veracity of Roy Thomas when doling out or claiming credit, either one. Avengers #102 has a credit which reads "From an idea suggested by Chris Claremont" on the splash page. About that, Thomas had this to day...

    "A special aside: This story's credits say it was 'from an idea suggested by Chris claremont.' And that deserves a bit of explanation... except that my memory is rather fuzzy on the details. Youngster Chris was then an unpaid intern at Marvel, working for college credit if I recall a-right; but he was already eager to get into the field full-time one day. So, quite possibly unbidden, he wrote up a storyline that involved the Sentinels (though perhaps not the Grim Reaper and other story elements) and presented it to me. Recognizing a good idea when I saw it, and being increasingly busy as Stan Lee's associate editor, as well as trying to find the time and way to make a wounded marriage workafter my first wife and I had been separated for several months at the turn of 1972, I saw to it that Chris was paid a token sum for his several-page plot (according to the standards of the time), and I proceeded to merge Chris' ideas with mine... while Rich, in penciling, would add a few touches of his own. 

    "I wish I could remember today what I took from Chris' synopsis, and what Rich and I added on our own... but I can't. It's quite possible there was a bit less of Chris in parts 2 and 3, in Avengers #103-104, because otherwise I might have given him splash page credit again... but, since Chris had almost certainly come up with the basic Starcore situation, It just might be that, having credited hi in #102, I felt no need to do so again. And perhaps Chris' intership had ended by then, so he wasn't around to remind me. We didn't tend to worry about such things in those days, no matter which end of the stick we were on; after all, I myself had anonymously co-plotted an Amazing Spider-Man tale for Stan, as well as plotting out the first issue of Tomb of Dracula, which I'd then turn over to Gerry Conway to dialogue, without asking for written credit."


  • In essence, the main complaint seems to be that an editor or EIC can't be an official co-creator since they're management.

    And that argument is bullshit. In this case, we're not talking about Martin Goodman or Bill Jemas; we're talking about Roy Thomas. The whole "worker vs. management" mentality has no place in a discussion involving true creativity. Here's another example of Thomas discussing credit for the "Write pretty, Roy!" conculsion of X-Men #59.

    "Neal pulled out all the stops in #59 for the finale of the second Sentinels saga... with psychedelic effects, vertical panels to give the feeling of height, powerful close-ups of those impassive Sentinael faces, etc., etc. Oddly, though, the most important thing about the issue--its climax and resolution--is a subject of minor dispute. Neal feels it was his idea to defeat the Sentinels by having Cyclops talk them into flying into the sun to try to neutralize the source of all the mutation on Earth that they were created to oppose. I sorta thought that was my idea... and future X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, who was working at Marvel as a college student 'intern' at the time, feels he contributed that notion. Either way, it was a strong ending, especially as drawn by Neal, with a minimum of the balckness of space around the page-filling image of the sun, to give the feeling of its all-encompassing heat."

    That was written in 2006, but it flows from the interview Adams gave to Comic Book Artist (#4, 1999) in which he claimed, among other things, not only that Roy Thomas was merely scripting over Adams' own plots, but also that it was Adams' idea for Alex Summers to be revealed to be a mutant. Unlike Roy Thomas, Neal Adams has a well-deserved reputation for being (How did Louis Armstrong put it?) "careless with the truth." Roy thomas offered a rebuttal in Alter Ego v2 #4 (which is the "flip-side" of CBA #4).

    "Actually, I knew a bit more about where the story of X-Men #56 was headed than Neal recalls. After all, #54 (written by Arnold Drake) and #55 (scripted by me, building on what Arnold had begun) had introduced the Living Pharaoh and Scott Summers' brother. And, contrary to an implication in the interview, it was I, not Werner Roth, who was plotting X-Men. If I was overly non-directive about where the book might go from #56 onward, it was because I was bending over backwards to make things comfortable for Neal as X-Men artist.

    "I'm afraid Neal also errs in believing he was chronologically the first person to have the idea to make Alex Summers a mutant.

    "At the end of #54, two issues prior to Neal's arrival, a blurb says #55 will deal with 'The Secret of cyclps' Brother!' Arnold always intended (and I picked up on it) that he would turn out to be a mutant."

    Thomas goes on in great detail about these instances (and others), and I refer those interested to this source. 

    Back to that "management can't be co-creators" argument, legend has it that Stan Lee's idea for Galactus consisted of the words "Have them fight God" and Kirby ran with it. That story is possibly apocryphal, but John Romita himself has said, "Stan would leave an index card tacked to my board before each plotting meeting with a name on it... no description of powers... just names such as 'Shocker,' 'Rhino,' 'the Kingpin,' 'the Prowler,' and other over the years. He let the names evoke their distinct abilities and behaviors." And Steve Ditko's estimation of Lee's relative contribution to the creation of Spider-Man have been well-publicized. Would those who espouse the "management can't be co-creators" philosopy advocate removing Lee's credit from Spider-Man and Galactus and the Fantastic Four? Probably.

    Anyway, you asked for "thoughts" and these have been mine.

    • Your examples of how comics were put together in the late Silver/Bronze Ages emphasizes how undocumented credit was back then. There are numerous examples of writers and artists helping out other writers and artists and not getting credited for it. Like Neal Adams touching up the Superman faces in Superman Vs the Amazing Spider-Man.

      But this is about the creation of a character that was going to included in a new book. What people are saying is that an editor or EIC's job is to produce comics and guide and manage creators. Whether or not, they were also creators themselves is not the point. Some of the most well-known writers of the period: Thomas, Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Jack Kirby, etc also were the editors of their own books, thus being both management and creative.

      The issue is does that guidance merit a co-creator credit. Could Len Wein's estate petition DC to list him as a co-creator for the New Teen Titans since he was its editor?

      Julius Schwartz, an editor, claimed to have created the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

      Mind you, I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with this decision. I'm just saying that the timing is suspect since everyone else involved is now deceased.

  • Let me put this as succinctly as I can: Roy Thomas deserves creator credit if he says he does.

  • Jeff of Earth-J said:

    Let me put this as succinctly as I can: Roy Thomas deserves creator credit if he says he does.

    Back then, no one was expecting movies and TV shows and (following Siegel and Shuster) creator credits.

    When I started with comics fandom in the mid-60s, Roy was one of its guiding lights. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him. I take him at his word.

  • Julius Schwartz, an editor, claimed to have created the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

    He probably did. The producer(s) of the Batman TV series requested her creation and most likely went directly to Julie. He probably came up with her rough concept (relationship to Commissioner Gordon and her occupation) as soon as it was decided to add her to the show.

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