James Shooter (born September 27, 1951) is an American writer, occasional fill-in artist, editor, and publisher for various comic books. He started professionally in the medium at the age of 14, and he is most notable for his successful and controversial run as Marvel Comics' ninth editor-in-chief, and his work as editor in chief of Valiant Comics.
|Born||September 27, 1951|
|Area(s)||Writer, Penciller, Editor, Publisher|
|Legion of Super-Heroes|
Solar: Man of the Atom
|Awards||Eagle Award, 1979|
Inkpot Award, 1980
Jim Shooter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to parents Ken and Eleanor "Ellie" Shooter, who are of Polish descent. Shooter read comics as a child, though he stopped when he was about eight years old. His interest in the medium was rekindled in 1963, at the age of twelve, through the comics in the children's ward of the hospital where he convalesced after undergoing minor surgery. He found the DC Comics stories to be similar to the DC stories he had previously read, but was impressed with the style of the Marvel Comics, which had only begun publication two years earlier. Thinking that if he learned to write the types of stories that Marvel published, he would be an asset to DC Comics – whose books, Shooter felt, "needed the help" – Shooter spent about a year reading and studying comics from both companies.
At age 13, in mid-1965, he wrote and drew stories featuring the Legion of Superheroes, and sent them in to DC Comics. On February 10, 1966, he received a phone call from Mort Weisinger, who wanted to purchase the stories Shooter had sent, and commissioned Shooter to write a Supergirl and Superman stories. Weisinger eventually offered Shooter a regular position on Legion, and wanted Shooter to come to New York to spend a couple of days in his office. Shooter, who was 14 and lived in Pittsburgh, had to wait until school was in recess, after which he went to New York with his mother, spurred in part by the need to support his financially struggling parents.
My family needed the money. I was doing this to save the house; my father had a beat-up old car and the engine died – this is before I started working for DC – and that first check bought a rebuilt engine for his car so he didn't have to walk to work anymore. I was doing this because I had to, working my way through high school to help keep my family alive.
At 14, Shooter began selling stories to DC Comics, writing for both Action Comics and Adventure Comics, beginning with Adventure Comics No. 346 (July 1966), and providing pencil breakdowns as well. Shooter created several characters for the Legion of Super-Heroes including Karate Kid, a teenage superhero who predated the martial arts fad of the 1970s; Ferro Lad, a teenage superhero who can transform to living iron; and Princess Projectra, who could cast realistic illusions; as well as the Sun-Eater and the group of ultra-powerful villains known as The Fatal Five. He also created the Superman villain the Parasite in Action Comics No. 340 (Aug. 1966). Shooter and artist Curt Swan devised the first race between the Flash and Superman, two characters known for their super-speed powers, in "Superman's Race With the Flash!" in Superman No. 199 (Aug. 1967). Shooter wrote the first issue of Captain Action (Oct.-Nov. 1968), which was DC's first toy tie-in.
In 1969 Shooter was accepted into New York University, but after graduating from high school he successfully applied for a job at Marvel Comics. Unable to pursue both his studies and work for Marvel, he decided against going to New York University and quit working for DC as well. While at Marvel he worked as an editor and occasional co-plotter, taking his residence at the YMCA, but after only three weeks his financial situation compelled him to give up the post and return home to Pittsburgh.
After leaving Marvel, Shooter took up work in advertising concepts, writing, and illustration for several years, supporting himself through an assortment of menial jobs during periods when advertising work was unavailable. An interview for a Legion of Super-Heroes fanzine led to his again applying to both Marvel and DC. Though both companies offered him work, Shooter opted to return to DC because they had offered him more prestigious assignments: Superman and a chance to again write Legion of Super-Heroes, now in their own book, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. However, his relationships with both Superman editor Julius Schwartz and Legion editor Murray Boltinoff were unpleasant, and Shooter claims that for varying reasons the two editors forced him to do a number of unnecessary rewrites. In December 1975, Marvel editor-in-chief Marv Wolfman called to offer him an editorial position.
In the mid-1970s, Marvel Comics was undergoing a series of changes in the position of Editor-in-Chief. After Roy Thomas stepped down from the post to focus on writing, a succession of other editors, including Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, and Archie Goodwin, took the job during a relatively short span of time, only to find the task too daunting as Marvel continued to grow and add new titles and a larger staff to turn out material. On January 2, 1976, Shooter joined the Marvel staff as an assistant editor and writer.
With the quick turnover at the top, Shooter rapidly found himself rising in the ranks, and in 1978 he succeeded Archie Goodwin to become Marvel's ninth editor-in-chief. During this period, publisher Stan Lee relocated to Los Angeles to better oversee Marvel's animation, television and film projects, leaving Shooter largely in charge of the creative decision-making at Marvel's New York City headquarters. Although there were complaints among some that Shooter imposed a dictatorial style on the "Bullpen", he cured many of the procedural ills at Marvel, successfully managed to keep the line of books on schedule (ending the widespread practice of missed deadlines), add new titles, and develop new talent. Marvel enjoyed some of its best successes during Shooter's nine-year tenure as Editor-in-Chief, such as Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run on the Uncanny X-Men, Byrne's work on the Fantastic Four, Frank Miller's series of Daredevil stories, Walt Simonson's crafting of Norse mythology with the Marvel Universe in Thor, and Roger Stern's runs on both the Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man.
In 1981, Shooter brought Marvel into the lucrative comic book specialty shop market with Dazzler #1. Featuring a disco-themed heroine with ties to the X-Men (based upon an unproduced motion picture set to star Bo Derek), the first issue of this series was sold only through specialty stores, bypassing the then-standard newsstand/spin rack distribution route altogether, as a recognition by Marvel of the growing comics shop sector. Subsequent issues of Dazzler, however, were sold through newsstand [returnable] accounts as well. Dazzler was the first direct sales-only ongoing series from a major publisher; other Marvel titles, such as Marvel Fanfare and Ka-Zar, soon followed. Later that same year, Shooter wrote Marvel Treasury Edition No. 28 which featured the second Superman and Spider-Man intercompany crossover. Additionally in 1981, Shooter was recognized as one of six "New Yorkers of the Year" by the New York chapter of the JayCees, for his "contributions toward revitalizing the comics industry and helping Marvel Comics achieve a new pinnacle of success." Shooter also institutionalized creator royalties, starting the Epic imprint for creator-owned material in 1982; introduced company-wide crossover events, with Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions and Secret Wars; and launched a new, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, line named New Universe, to commemorate Marvel's 25th anniversary, in 1986.
Despite his success in revitalizing Marvel, Shooter angered and alienated a number of long-time Marvel creators by insisting on strong editorial control and strict adherence to deadlines. Although he instituted an art-return program, and implemented a policy giving creators royalties when their books passed certain sales benchmarks or when characters they worked on were licensed as toys, Shooter occasionally found himself in well-publicized conflicts with some writers and artists. Creators such as Steve Gerber, Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, John Byrne, and Doug Moench left to work for DC or other companies. Roy Thomas, who left Marvel following a contract dispute with Shooter, reflected in 2005 on Shooter's editorial policies:
When Jim Shooter took over, for better or worse he decided to rein things in – he wanted stories told the way he wanted them told. It's not a matter of whether Jim Shooter was right or wrong; it's a matter of a different approach. He was editor-in-chief and had a right to impose what he wanted to. I thought it was kind of dumb, but I don't think Jim was dumb. I think the approach was wrong, and I don't think it really helped anything.
Shooter was fired from Marvel in 1987.
Shooter and his investors then founded a new company, Voyager Communications, which published comics under the Valiant Comics banner, entering the market in 1989 with comics based on Nintendo and WWF licensed characters. Two years later Valiant entered the superhero market with a relaunch of the Gold Key Comics character Magnus, Robot Fighter. Shooter brought many of Marvel's creators to Valiant, including Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as industry veterans such as Don Perlin. Valiant also established "knob row" — taking in raw talent and teaching them how to make comics Valiant-style – and launched many careers, most notably Joe Quesada's.
Occasionally over the years, Shooter was required to fill in as penciller on various books he wrote and/or oversaw as editor. During his period as Valiant's publisher, money and talent were often at a premium, and Shooter was sporadically forced to pencil a story. To conceal this fact, he drew under the pseudonym of Paul Creddick, which is the name of his brother-in-law.
After being ousted from Valiant in 1992, Shooter and several of his co-workers went on to found Defiant Comics in early 1993. Despite some initial success with the first title, the new company failed to secure an audience in the increasingly crowded direct sales market and folded after thirteen months of publishing.
In 1995, Shooter founded Broadway Comics, which was an offshoot of Broadway Video, the production company that produces Saturday Night Live, but this line folded after its parent sold the properties to Golden Books. In 1998, he spoke of a planned self-publishing, Daring Comics, with a projected eight titles including Anomalies and Rathh of God, with artist Joe James scheduled to draw at least one. Shooter returned to Valiant, by now called Acclaim Comics, briefly in 1999 to write Unity 2000 (an attempt to combine and revitalize the older and newer Valiant universes) but Acclaim folded after the completion of only three of the planned six issues.
In 2005, former Marvel Comics letterer Denise Wohl approached Shooter to create Seven, a series based on the Kabbalah. Writer Shooter created a team of seven characters, one from each continent, who are brought together in New York because they share a higher consciousness. The project, which was to be self-published by Wohl, was announced at the 2007 New York Comic Con, to debut in July of that year, and was projected to "evolve into television and film projects, video games, blogs, interactive Q&A, animation, trading cards, apparel, accessories, [and] school supplies." Wohl was to donate a portion of her proceeds to the "Spirituality for Kids Foundation." Only the first issue of the series has been published.
In September 2007, DC Comics announced that Shooter would be the new writer of the Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5 series, beginning with issue #37. Shooter's return to the Legion, a little over 30 years from his previous run, was his first major published comic book work in years. Shooter co-created the new Legionnaire Gazelle with artist Francis Manapul while on the title. His run on the series ended with issue No. 49, one issue before the book was canceled.
Shooter was hired by Valiant Entertainment, a company that bought Valiant's intellectual property in a bankruptcy auction of Acclaim Entertainment, to write from the end of 2008 into the summer of 2009.
In July 2009 Dark Horse Comics announced at the San Diego Comic-Con International that Shooter would oversee the publication of new series based on Gold Key Comics characters from the Silver Age of Comic Books, such as Turok, Doctor Solar, and Magnus, Robot Fighter, and write some of them as well. Valiant sued Shooter over his moving to write the Gold Key characters for Dark Horse as they expected to get the rights and that he interfered with their ability to license the Key characters by indicating that he would write them for Dark Horse. As of January, 2010, Valiant had given up the lawsuit against Shooter.
Jim Shooter is the subject of a volume of the University Press of Mississippi's Conversations with Comic Artists series, published in 2017.
While Marvel editor-in-chief in 1982, Shooter detailed what he considered the necessary qualities for a good comic book story:
- The characters must be introduced.
- Their situation must be established.
- The conflict must be introduced.
- Suspense must be built.
- A climax must be reached.
- A resolution must be achieved.
... When I evaluate a story, should one of the essential elements listed above be missing – say, the characters are not introduced properly when they are brought onstage – I immediately suspect that the author of the "story" knoweth not what he ith [sic] doing.
Second, I look for how well the story is told. Is the conflict worthwhile? Is the climax exciting? Is the resolution satisfying? Is the plot good? Are there interesting twists and turns? Is there a theme? Is there character development? Is it dramatic? Is it entertaining? This is the really important stuff. It should go without saying that a writer or a prospective writer should know enough to meet the fundamental requirements of a story. It's the power and the passion and drama and characterization that I really look for.
As writer unless otherwise noted.
Deadlines. Had to sit there – the left end of the couch was my spot – sketch the pictures and write the words
In his first-ever published story, fourteen-year-old Jim Shooter admitted four new members into the Legion of Super-Heroes ... Shooter's long, memorable tenure as one of the Legion's greatest writers was officially underway.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Captain Action was DC's first toy tie-in title ... Editor Mort Weisinger ... brought in his young firebrand Jim Shooter to craft an identity and back story for the character.
The controversial story ["The Dark Phoenix Saga"] created a sensation, and The X-Men became the comic book to watch.
| Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
E. Nelson Bridwell
| Adventure Comics writer
| Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes writer
| Avengers writer
| Daredevil writer
(with Gerry Conway in early 1977)
Bob Budiansky & Danny Fingeroth
| Avengers writer
| Dazzler writer
| Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5 writer
The Beyonder () is a fictional cosmic entity appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck, the Beyonder first appeared in Secret Wars #1 (May 1984) as an unseen, claimed to be omnipotent being who kidnapped the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe and had them do battle on another planet called Battleworld.
The character later appeared in a more antagonistic role in the 1985 sequel Secret Wars II, in which he took human form, and threatened to destroy the Marvel multiverse. Although he first took on a physical, humanoid form in Secret Wars II #2, it was in Secret Wars II #3 that he took on the permanent form in which he remained for the rest of his existence, that of a Caucasian human male with curly black hair. Although the character met his demise at the end of Secret Wars II, he has subsequently appeared in stories well into the 2000s, although in greatly diminished form.Chemical King
Chemical King is the name of two fictional characters in the DC Comics universe. The first was Mr. Lambert, who was murdered under the direction of Alfred Stryker in "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," the feature story of Detective Comics #27. The second character named Chemical King was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.Controllers (DC Comics)
The Controllers are a fictional extraterrestrial race existing in the DC Universe. They first appear in Adventure Comics #357 (June 1967), and were created by Jim Shooter, Mort Weisinger, and Curt Swan.Emerald Empress
The Emerald Empress is a fictional character in DC Comics. A supervillain that is an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes and a member of the Fatal Five, she was created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, and first appeared in Adventure Comics #352 (January 1967).Fatal Five
The Fatal Five are fictional characters, a supervillain team of the 30th century in the DC Comics universe. They were created by Jim Shooter and first appeared in Adventure Comics #352 (1967) as enemies of the Legion of Super-Heroes.Laurel Kent
Laurel Kent is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics universe. She first appeared in Superboy (vol. 1) #217 (June 1976).Leland McCauley
Leland McCauley is the shared name of several fictional characters in the 30th and 31st centuries of the DC Universe. They have been frequent antagonists of the Legion of Super-Heroes.Mano (comics)
Mano is a fictional character that is a DC Comics supervillain living in the 30th century and, as a member of the Fatal Five, a foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Created by Jim Shooter, the character first appeared in Adventure Comics #352 (January 1967).Nemesis Kid
Nemesis Kid is the alias of Hart Druiter, a comic book supervillain in the DC Comics universe. He lives in the future, comes from the planet Myar, and is an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Created by Jim Shooter, Nemesis Kid first appeared in Adventure Comics #346 (July 1966).Persuader (comics)
The Persuader is the name of three fictional characters featured in comic books published by DC Comics.Princess Projectra
This page discusses the humanoid version of the character. For the post-Zero Hour/pre-Threeboot version, see Sensor.
Princess Projectra is a fictional character, a superheroine in the DC Comics universe. She lives in the 30th and 31st centuries, and is a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Created by Jim Shooter, she first appeared in Adventure Comics #346 (July 1966).Pulsar Stargrave
Pulsar Stargrave is a fictional supervillain featured in DC Comics as a foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes.Rond Vidar
Rond Vidar is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #349 (October 1966), and was created by Jim Shooter, Mort Weisinger and Curt Swan. An Earthling from the 30th century, he is the final member of the Green Lantern Corps—an intergalactic police force—who interacts with the Legion of Super-Heroes.Sun-Eater
A Sun-Eater is a fictional, artificially-created living weapon in the DC Comics universe. It has played an important role in various storylines.Tharok
Tharok is a DC Comics supervillain and an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He is the leader of the Fatal Five. Tharok and the Fatal Five were introduced in Adventure Comics #352 (January 1967), and were created by Jim Shooter.Tornado Twins
The Tornado Twins are superheroes in the DC Comics Universe. The twins are Don Allen and Dawn Allen, the children of Barry Allen (the second Flash) and Iris West-Allen. They first appeared in Adventure Comics #373 (October 1968).Universo
Universo is a fictional Legion of Super-Heroes supervillain in the 30th and 31st centuries of the DC Comics universe. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #349 (Oct. 1966).Validus
Validus is a fictional DC Comics supervillain, an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes and a member of the Fatal Five.Wanderers (comics)
The Wanderers are a fictional group of superheroes appearing in comics published by DC Comics. They first appeared as allies of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics #375 written by Jim Shooter, illustrated by Win Mortimer with a cover by Neal Adams. DC published a thirteen-issue series featuring the team in the late 1980s.