MICHAEL NETZER



Very shortly after I posted my interview with Josef Rubinstein, I was contacted by Michael Netzer.  In his initial email Michael expressed his views on some of the comments that Joe had made about him (Michael) and his past, and also gave an insight in to how and what might make Michael tick.  Michael would have to be one of the most misunderstood artists in the comic book industry, not just now but throughout the bulk of his career.  Such is the pity, because Michael is a true visionary - unlike some artists who've made a career out of swiping the likes of Neal Adams, Michael adapted the Adams style and applied it to himself.  Still, the other artists still work and are lauded by many, and Michael is considered to be somewhat of a pariah. 

Joe and Michael go back many, many years.  Both did the hard yards together and both men have a great deal of admiration and respect for each other - that much is clear when to speak to either of them about the other.  With that in mind when the first email came in I instantly gave Michael the chance to air his side of the story - after all fair's fair.  That's the best part of being truly independent - If someone does take issue with anyone's comments then they're welcome to write in and say so - I'm happy to make their views known.  So, without any further comment from myself, sit back and read Michael Netzer's reply - just be kind to the guy, I don't believe that anything he's written here is malicious.

I've colored the text from the interview a dark blue, that way you know what's what.  All the comments are from Joe, barring the one time I came into it - and never let it be said that I'm above taking a shot myself.

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Woody, which is what we called him, was a very sweet child-like man, he was very nice, he was sweet, he liked to play, he liked music, and he liked to joke.  The only problem was that he was an alcoholic and a drug addict and for all kind of reasons that Iím sure his therapist could get into.  I think it was always pretty much assumed that Woody would one day kill himself, which is what he did, because he was also a gun enthusiast.  As a matter of fact, I had never seen him yell at anybody.  He would have these wonderful wry jokes and you liked to be around him when he wasnít drinking, but when he was drinking you sure didnít want to be around him.  I only saw him drunk once; he more or less kept to himself.

Hey Joe, doesn't this below sound like a better way to say what you said above?  Just a suggestion.

Woody, which is what we called him, was a very sweet child-like man, he was very nice, he was sweet, he liked to play, he liked music, and he liked to joke.  He was also a very troubled man as all good souls are.  His sensitivity to the callousness all around him caused him to retreat into his own worlds within him and he sought some comfort by doing so, sometimes with the help of alcohol or other substances - as do many good souls tortured at man's inhumanity to man all about.  It's clear that any help he thought he'd receive from therapists was ill hoped for, as most therapists haven't the foggiest notion what troubles such sensitive spirits. Much in the same way as Don McLean sang about Vincent Van Gogh in Starry Starry Night - when Woody saw that there was no hope left in sight, on that starry starry night... well, we all know how that song ended. As a matter of fact, I had never seen him yell at anybody. He would have these wonderful wry jokes and you liked to be around him when he felt uplifted, but there were other times when Woody felt the weight of the world on his shoulders and he could display little patience for some of the vanities which characterized his environment. At such times, he preferred to keep to himself.

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Neal Adams, he has a reputation, and what can I say that wonít get me sued.

Well, you could probably say anything you'd like without any fear of being sued by Neal.  Neal has heard and read many malicious things said about him, both in industry gossip and in printed material which he's never ever confronted with the same maliciousness as was directed at him. Although he could have, Neal has never brought any litigation against anyone in the comics for their opinions of him.  So let loose if you'd really like to - get it out of your system already and maybe that'll help everyone see the better side what you're saying and the better side of the man who was just maligned in a relatively sneaky way as we just read.  This man whom, by the way, we all owe a great debt to in considering the wonderful careers we've had in the comics and where our ability to forge those careers came from.

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I donít think Neal helped people for good reasons so much as to benefit himself.

There's no doubt that Neal benefited from all the help he gave to people along the way in his life.  Question is why we have this tendency to take away from the good he did by focusing on a misconstrued notion of him doing all this good only for his own benefit?

Could it be that Neal realized early on in life that the only way to truly help others is to help himself also - and vice versa?

Even if we're to consider the life of one of the most giving people to have graced our history, Jesus of Nazareth, one could say that he only helped all these people he healed and others whom he helped understand the world - well, he only did it for his own benefit so he'd be called the Son of God. This would be perhaps one side of the truth, but obviously an unfair assessment of someone who gave his life to do the good he did.

Perhaps we could allow Neal the benefits he reaped from all the help he gave to others, by seeing that he gave far more than many other creators did, all those who focused only on their own little piece of the pie divided amongst us all and rarely tried to help others along the way, with the  tenacity and scope which Neal did.

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I think that there are a lot of stories about Neal having done quite a bit of psychological damage to artists as they came through the studio.

I suppose that artists who are prone to psychological damage could have been hurt by Neal but not because of Neal - rather because they're psychologically vulnerable and they're likely to get hurt by anyone and everything in the world. Along with all of the damage you mention, Joe, your average web server doesn't have room to list the number of creators who've risen to prominence because of Neal's psychological meddling which pushed them into finding the strength within themselves to become the creative giants they are.  Howard Chaykin, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz and so many others are a tip of the iceberg of the creators influenced by Neal's probing into their psyche in order to open up the creative ability they became known for. There may be room to consider the possibility that someone who loves people as Neal does, was willing to suffer such accusations knowing that he'd help so many creators find themselves and the true creative power they have within them.

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Daniel Best:  It brings to mind the Michael Nasser/Mike Netzer situation.  Mike worked with Neal for so many years and appears to be having some kind of a conflict or a love/hate relationship with him.

I do have some good news and an update on this issue which is of great importance to us all in the comics.

A few days after I sent out the press releases for my web site's recent update, I headed to the Big Apple Comics Convention in NY where Neal Adams and his family were being hosted at the top of the guest list.  Neal and his family welcomed me graciously upon my approaching their table and invited me to spend some time with them. Neal, his family and I have reconciled completely over the differences we had in the past and I thank them greatly for this forgiveness. I was there
for Neal's interview conducted by Frank Miller, who also welcomed me graciously and has put behind him the criticism he had of some of my art emulating his and the litigation I'd brought against Neal. I also sat in on Neal's film presentation of his Science Project where Neal and I explored ways to bring his findings out into a wider public awareness during the question and answer period which followed.

Neal and I parted with a warm handshake to the eyes of all who were near his table and have agreed to keep in touch in order to advance the bringing of good tidings to our world through the comics. We've corresponded by email since and are back to rebuilding the good friendship we both know we truly have, which we'd both like to maintain and nourish between us.

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Well, Mike, as it was in the 70ís, took a lot of drugs and never stopped. He chain smoked pot and God knows what other substances he smoked and lost his mind.

Geez, thanks Joe. You've just made me see the error of my ways.  You've just made me see how, if I would've refrained from taking a lot of drugs as others did, that I'd be a much better person.  How I'd be a good friend who tries to bring some truth into the world and help his friends and show the world the good side of his friends and his friendships and remembers his good friends who helped him and whom he helped since knowing them by giving them a chance to show how talented they are, even at their own expense.  You see, I never understood this before probably because of all the drugs I took which probably made me self righteous and snug in my not taking drugs or taking them depending on who was the one remembering his good friends and saying only good things about them so the world could understand how good they really are. 

Now do me a favor and please try saying what you want in a less derogatory way or so help me, I'll call on the wrath of... wait, I promised not to do that anymore. Forget I mentioned it and carry on. Just please, be a little more careful how you talk about people, not everybody understands what you say in the good way you really intend it to be.

One more thing. I check this on a daily basis ever since I can remember and I can tell you that I've never really lost my mind. It's always been there in my skull and I could always feel it there working away even with all the substances I ever took and my mind has remained where it's been ever since  I can, however, sympathize with anyone who may have misplaced theirs. So, to all those who may have lost their minds, I would only advise you all to check again in the last place you may have left them and you'll find that they've been there all along.

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He got delusional and Iím not sure if he thought he was Jesus or Jesusí prophet.

You're right again, Joe, That's another weakness of mine, this being delusional. You know, a dreamer, like Martin Luther King Jr. or other such wackos who were delusional about their ability to bring something better to a troubled world.  Non-delusional folk should've locked us up a long time ago and stopped us from running our world down with our delusions in our attempt to help make our world a little better. Stupid us, such delusional wackos, we should just let the non-delusional sane people of the world keep running the show seeing what a wonderful job of bringing social oppression and bloodshed into our world which they've done, and are so proud of flaunting in our face as if they have some sane superiority over us madmen. If it takes a dreamer to show the way, we aught to just kill all the dreamers right now and save the world from the agony they bring to our wonderful world which is so perfect without them.

Now, about this Jesus thing. I don't remember ever saying or thinking that I was Jesus himself because Jesus was the Son of God and a product of his time. It was okay for Jesus then because that was his role.  It's a different world today and we do have to adjust ourselves to properly accommodate the needs of today's world.  I may have thought I was Moses but... wait, I can't really take credit for being Moses because that's who Neal Adams is, so I probably never thought I was him because I know that I'm not Neal because Neal is taller than I and sees things from up there which I can't see from down here. 

Let's see there was also Buddha but again, no...not quite because that's Al Davidson - if you ask him he'll tell you how much like Buddha he is - and he really is. Maybe I thought I was John, Jesus' friend who wrote the book of Revelation...but no, no I can't be him because that's Alan Weiss and I know that I'm not Alan because he always has a big smile for everyone he sees, which I don't see when I look in the mirror.

Wait, I probably thought I was Isaiah the prophet... except that Steven Grant is Isaiah the prophet and I know I'm not Steven because I don't write a column which is always doing a lot of Permanent Damage at the Comic Book Resources web site. Let's see now, there are so many other positions to be had but it seems that they're all taken. This is a big industry of creators, after all, and they all have a role to play so I'll refrain from stepping on anyone's toes.

I'll just settle for Michael and you could think of me as anyone you want as long as you remember that I'm Michael.  I don't think I'm an angel or anything like that - perhaps an Arch-@#$% or something, it's all up to you, I'll be whatever you want, Joe, as long as it doesn't step on anyone's toes.

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If you asked Mike a question it was halting in the way he spoke because he had to get every word just right because he knew it was going to be in the next testament that God wrote.

As I clearly remember, my speech wasn't halting to - and didn't halt everybody I spoke with.  Perhaps only those who bulldozed into my speech were halted by it. Still, I'll try to be a little less halting next time we have a heart to heart bulldozer talk about these things.  Thanks for bringing this to my attention, though.

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Mike is a Kurd; I think thatís what they call it. Itís a sect in the Middle East and not Arabs exactly.  They are the ones that Saddam Hussein made a point of killing a great deal of them when they worked against him in the first Gulf War, so he never really identified as being an Arab. I think he may have been a Muslim but then I think he became a Christian and then most recently he became Jewish.

Oh my God, Joe.  I mean, how many times do we have to go over this history lesson in order to get it right?  You mixed me up with my wife again, who is of Jewish Iraqi Kurdish descent, whose family emigrated to Israel soon after the establishment of the state. The Kurds, like you said are the ones in Iraq, but I told you of my lineage being Druze - not Kurd. They're nice people, the Kurds and I've probably had some Kurdish blood mix into me somewhere along the way, just like every other blood in this world. So, let's put this confusion to rest, once and for all.

The Druze, not the Kurds, the people whom my father was born into, are the descendants of Jethro the Midianite.  If you remember Steven Spielberg's Prince of Egypt, Jethro was the Jolly old man who took Moses in when he escaped into the desert fearing Pharaoh's wrath because he'd just killed an Egyptian while defending an oppressed Hebrew slave. This is the same Jethro who gave Moses his daughter Zippora for a wife and who threw a big jolly old wedding party for them on their wedding night - in Spielberg's film, that is.

Jethro most likely threw this jolly old party in real life also but we only know about it from Spielberg's film, so we'll give Steven credit for the jolly old party. Steven loves good jolly old parties and we comics folk should throw him such a party for all the wonderful films he's given us... and for the parties.

The descendants of Jethro the Midianite converted and became Jewish after Moses freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and they went on to settle in the area north of Israel which is the area bordering on Lebanon, Syria and Israel today. They became known as Druze because the Moslems forced them to convert to Islam, but they never really did so - because their leader then, a man named Daraz advised them to keep their lineage a secret and only pretend they were Moslems. It's only in recent times, since the establishment of the state of Israel, that the Druze are beginning to discover their lost lineage and that's why they support Israel and not the Arab world in the regional conflict. Druze, not Kurds. Thank you.

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I visited with Mike a few times in Israel and he had invented this Ms Mystic character, which I was supposed to ink when it was a DC character.  Then when Mike came back from the Middle East to the US he found that Ms Mystic was owned supposedly by Neal.  Mike wanted his share of it and Neal, being Neal, decided to make a fight out of it.  So Mike started to sue Neal and get documentation from people and what have you.  Ultimately the case was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. That was the whole case; he had taken too long to bring the issue up.

You may not have seen this yet when you said this, but I've told the whole story of Ms. Mystic on my new website.  Go into The City Square section and read the article titled Blood which Flows from the Heart and it'll tell you everything you always wanted to know about Ms. Mystic but were afraid to ask. Don't let the answers frighten you, though.

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If you look at Mikeís drawings, at one period when he did a cover for Rom and some other stuff, it was very black and white high contrast, somewhat reminiscent of what Frank Miller went on to do in the Sin City.  He was always sneaking in crucifixes and Jesus like figures and stuff and you knowÖ I mean, maybe theyÖ we know they called Jesus crazy so Iím hesitant to say that Mike has lost his mind because Iím not agreeing with what heís saying, but Iím sure not agreeing with what heís saying.  I try not to judge him but I havenít joined the Apostles.

Aw, shucks, Joe. That's the nicest thing you ever said to me. Thank you, and color me blush.

And waddayamean you haven't joined the apostles? I gave you the application by hand last time I saw you and you promised to fill it out and consider my offer.
Now I'll have to find someone else to be the leader of the tribe of Rueben and It won't be easy to find someone as suitable as you. I beg you to reconsider, we don't have all our lives to dilly-dally on this anymore, you know.  The end of the world is nigh, near, never closer and even right now.  We all must make these tough decisions sooner or later, my friend.

Michael.
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