In the last month, for no particular reason, I’ve been going back and picking at The Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers, which reprints old Journal interviews. This led me to stumble across an old interview with Marv Wolfman from The Comics Journal #44 (Feb. 1978). Wolfman was editor-in-chief at Marvel for about a year between 1975 and 1976, when the original Man-Thing series ended. When asked about the then-recent cancellation of Tomb of Dracula, he brought up the aforementioned Man-Thing series:
When I walked in and told them that 72 will be my last issue [as writer of Tomb of Dracula], what I did was plot the last two issues, and send it off to Gene [Colan], and then announce that those would be the last two, because Gene agreed to stick on ‘til the end of the storyline, however long that would be. When I spoke with Jim [Shooter], Jim said, if that’s the case, he’d try to push to cancel it. I would never have considered that, quite frankly. I appreciate it greatly. I’ve only done that once: we did that with the last issue of Man-Thing.
Oh, that’s why it got canceled?
Yeah, it was gonna be continued, we had bought the next issue, by Steve Skeates, and it would have been continued for three more months, then it would have been canceled, because the book wasn’t doing well, but it was supposed to be canceled with whatever number, I don’t remember, and we just decided to leave it with Steve’s last, rather than wait a couple of issues and bring down the quality.
…Nearly six years ago, my series of Man-Thing posts—which began with my coverage of “Decay Meets the Mad Viking” from Man-Thing #16 (Apr. 1975)—was the longest series of continuing articles in the history of this blog. Aside from critical considerations, one of the key points of investigation with this series was how/why that Man-Thing series was cancelled. Research and interviews revealed that at one point Steve Skeates was set to take over as writer, but this never happened for reasons then unknown.
Well now we know. And most of my previous conjecture has been confirmed. Steve Skeates was indeed going to take over—and it even sounds like he may have submitted plots/scripts for as many as three more issues—but wiser minds decided it would be better to let the series end with Gerber’s last story.
I wonder if those story ideas by Skeates are sitting in a drawer in the Marvel archives somewhere? I’d sure like to get a peek at them if they are, strictly out of pure curiosity.