Dear IDW, Dear Marvel,
I quite enjoyed the new ROM comic that was part of this year’s Free Comic Book Day. I never actually thought I would see a new ROM comic in my lifetime, and it was great to see young readers excited by the character. I hope they will come to enjoy this ROM as much as I did the character during Bill Mantlo’s fine comic run with the character.
I was also pleased to see an advertisement for The Bill Mantlo Support Fund in that issue; it is good to see his contributions to both ROM and Micronauts recognized in the new book. I know you don’t need to be reminded of Bill Mantlo’s tragic circumstances (though you can find out more about them here), and devoting a page to spread the word about his needs was a generous act.
It would be wonderful to see you build upon this with a joint publication, however, with a share of the proceeds to benefit his continued support. IDW and Marvel have worked together well over the years producing a number of impressive Artist’s Editions of Marvel properties. With IDW now having the rights to both ROM and Micronauts, it seems like the perfect alignment to produce collections of well-regarded stories from both these properties, stories very integrated with the Marvel universe. Stories written by Bill Mantlo, who shepherded the properties from simple toys into fantastic science fiction comics.
Marvel certainly benefited from Bill Mantlo’s work on the comics when they were originally published, and the nostalgia for those original stories will no doubt give IDW an added boost with the new series. Even for the toys’ rights holders, Bill Mantlo added to the value of those brands: his work on both ROM and Micronauts outlasted the shelf life of the toys in this country. Without the comics, I think it’s fair to say there would be little to no interest in reviving the ROM brand, for instance.
I encourage you both to come together and publish benefit books collecting the original comics. For ROM, an Essentials-style treatment would be ideal, collecting all the appearances in what was essentially one epic adventure told by (essentially) one writer. For Micronauts, a trade of the first 12 issues, recolored and published on quality paper to best show off Michael Golden‘s artwork would attract a lot of interest. I don’t know what the royalty situation for these stories would be like, but considering when these comics were initially published, it shouldn’t be an insurmountable issue. Hopefully you could even get Michael and Sal and– dare I hope?– Steve on board for such a project.
Either (or both) projects would not only be a gesture of good will to comic readers and creators, but would help a creator who gave so much to the industry, who was able to craft great stories from humble beginnings. It would be likely to drive up interest in the new properties, and particularly warm the hearts of the many Bill Mantlo fans. Fans, in many cases, with money to spend.
For your consideration,
– Dale Martin.