Jack Schiff

    Person » Jack Schiff is credited in 1153 issues.

    Editor, Writer and Creator during the Golden Age. Edited all the Batman Comics during the 40's & 50's and did all of DC's Public Service Announcements. Also a co-creator of Tommy Tomorrow & Starman (Ted Knight).

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    Writer and Editor who co-created the DC character Tommy Tomorrow & Ted Knight (Starman). Worked as a writer in the series Mystery in Space. It was rumored that Shiff demanded under the table kick-backs from artists and writers of the period.

    But this is what Alvin Schwartz (who worked with Schiff for years) said about Schiff when asked "What kind of a person was Jack Schiff?"

    "I worked with Schiff for years. I found him intelligent, caring, fair and literate-- a combination which Mort Weisinger, who took over from Schiff was thoroughly lacking. Schiff could write as well. None of the other editors at DC except Kanigher could write, not even Jack Miller who started as a writer and got a job as editor.
    Schiff was not easy to work with in the sense that he wouldn't swallow a bad plot. But he could plot himself and I remember with pleasure some of the plotting sessions we had.

    But more than that, Schiff went out of his way to see that writers and artists were treated fairly within the limits of his role as an editor. I remember him fondly, and was supposed to visit him a couple of years before his death and some years after his retirement, while traveling from Florida to my New Brunswick, Canada summer home. Unfortunately, I was unable to make that stopover, so while we had some correspondence, I never saw Jack again after I left DC in 1958. He was the man mostly responsibe for the quality of writing and grammar at DC. He always had a Fowler on his desk, and he alone of the editors knew that a subordinate clause containing a subject and predicate even when it was the object of the whole sentence did not use "whom" but "who". He was, for the comics business,the only quality editor I ever came across.


    However when Jack Kirby left National Comics due largely to a contractual dispute in which editor Jack Schiff, who had been involved in getting Kirby and the Wood brothers the Sky Masters contract, claimed he was due royalties from Kirby's share of the strip's profits. Schiff successfully sued Kirby. Some DC editors also had criticized Kirby over art details, such as not drawing "the shoelaces on a cavalryman's boots" and showing a Native American "mounting his horse from the wrong side."

    to Elaborate on this:

    Sky Masters of the Space Force began life as a science fiction strip created by artist Jack Kirby and writer Dave Wood called Space Busters, which was designed to be sold to a newspaper syndicate This strip did not sell, however.

    In 1958, Harry Elmlark, "an agent from the George Matthew Adams Service", asked DC Comics editor Jack Schiff for a science-fiction comic to be adapted into strip form, to capitalize on American interest in the Space race in the wake of the previous year's launch of Sputnik. Schiff rejected Space Busters and then either collaborated in the creation of a new strip, or simply encouraged Kirby and Wood to produce "a strip that dealt with rocket launchings, moon shots, and general story lines just a little ahead of current developments in the news

    With art samples and story outline approved by Elmlark, Kirby penciled the strip, which was initially written by brothers Dick & Dave Wood and inked by the unrelated Wally Wood; at that same time, Dave Wood was also working with Kirby on the Showcase Comics issues of Kirby's "Challengers of the Unknown" feature for DC Comics, and Wally Wood would later ink issues #2-8 of Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown comic book series during the last half of 1958 and the first half of 1959. Later "Sky Masters" strips were written by Kirby, and inked by Dick Ayers, with the final month penciled and inked by Kirby alone.

    Ayers described in participation in a 1996 interview:

    "I also began [work on] Sky Masters, the newspaper strip. There is a lot of confusion on this; people think Wally Wood inked them all, because they're signed Kirby/Wood. But that was Dave Wood, the writer [who was unrelated to artist Wally Wood]. I began Sky Masters with the 36th Sunday page; Jack's pencils, my inks, in September of 1959. I ended the Sundays in January 1960. I also did the dailies for a period of [over] two years, from September of '59 to December of '61. These were complete inks; I was the only one doing it at the time. Of course, Wally Wood also worked on that strip, in the beginning, before me."

    Dave Wood promised Schiff "a percentage for arranging the deal," which Kirby allegedly assumed was a one-time payment but that Schiff understood to be on-going. In Spring 1958, pre-publication, Kirby verbally agreed to pay Schiff an ongoing percentage, in large part to safeguard his (Kirby's) lucrative relationship with DC. But confusion over whether the percentage should come from gross or net income (and the apparent expectation that Kirby would personally cover the strip's production costs) strained the relationship between Kirby and Schiff. Kirby also butted heads with writer Dave Wood, requesting a higher percentage of the royalties, ostensibly to cover costs of paying Wally Wood for inking. When Kirby threatened to leave the strip, Schiff implied Kirby should ink himself, and noted that Wood required money to pay his brother, Dick, who was helping with the writing.

    On April 15, 1958, Schiff drew up a formal agreement documenting the royalty cuts between Kirby and Wood, and also Schiff himself (4%). By July, Schiff requested a higher percentage before the strip debuted on September 8, 1958 in "over three hundred newspapers." With the arrival of the first royalty checks, the Wood brothers sent money to Schiff, but Kirby refused, leading to tension between himself and DC. In an attempt to defuse the situation, Kirby attempted to buy Schiff out of the contract, reiterating the feeling that Schiff was only due a onetime payment rather than an on-going percentage of the royalties.

    Legal challenge

    Schiff refused the offer, and subsequently fired Kirby from Challengers of the Unknown, claiming that ideas from the Challengers story conferences were finding their way into Kirby'sSky Masters work. On December 11, 1958, Kirby discovered that Schiff was suing both he and the Woods for breach of contract, and counter-sued Schiff. Kirby claimed that Schiff was merely an editor who had "assigned him, the Wood brothers, and Eddie Herron freelance work," that Kirby and the Woods had visited Elmlark without Schiff, that Schiff was not involved in the agency agreement, but that he and the Woods had offered Schiff a gift. Kirby further alleged that Schiff had implied that not paying his demands would lead to Kirby losing work at DC.

    Brilliant Sky Masters example, with each panel representing a level of the spaceship. It would have seen print horizontally. Published 01/30/59.

    Schiff's lawyer Myron Shapiro questioned Kirby at trial, and confirmed that Schiff had not verbalised such threats. Jack Liebowitz (executive vice president and general manager of National/DC) testified on Schiff's behalf, and the signed agreement promising Schiff an on-going percentage led the "very short trial at the supreme court in White Plains, New York" led to Schiff being successful. Kirby left then "market leader" DC, and returned to work for Atlas Comics, but continued to draw Sky Masters until early 1961.

    ***partial notes from wikipedia


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