One fateful day, a regular 13-year-old from Pittsburgh named Jim Shooter was reading a DC comic when he thought "Eh, I could do better than this." And then, because 13-year-olds are smug little assholes, he wrote and drew his own comic and sent it to DC. So far, there's nothing unusual about this story. Dumb kids who think they're geniuses account for like 60% of the comments sections on the internet. What's unusual is that DC then hired this child as a writer -- a decision that would, no shit, end up changing comics forever.
NOTE: This article has more F- and R-bombs than you'd expect from the story of a kid who got to write Superman.
Superman's Editor Was Shockingly Abusive To Him
In DC's defense, Shooter may have written that first comic at 13, but he was a grizzled 14-year-old by the time DC offered him the gig. Also, it was 1966, and some people probably still hoped this whole "child labor laws" thing was only a passing fad. Shooter picked DC because he felt they "needed" him, since they were being outsold by those upstarts at Marvel. DC must have agreed, because they put him to work on comics starring Superboy. They also flew him and his mom to New York and even introduced him to Superman himself (or the guy playing him in a musical, anyway). It was a dream come true! Until the yelling started.
According to Shooter, legendary DC editor Mort Weisinger would regularly phone him at home and call him a "fucking moron" and a "retard" over every tiny mistake. It got to the point that Shooter started freaking out whenever he heard a phone ringing, wherever he was, as if Weisinger could find him at school ... which he did, once. The fear of making mistakes, getting yelled at, and failing his poor mother would paralyze Shooter for hours. Then he'd snap out of it and write about Superboy playing baseball with asteroids or something wacky like that.
DC Comics"Could the traitor be Kid Judas, whose superpower is betrayal? Nah."
Weisinger, by the way, knew that the kid needed the money and used that to motivate him. He'd call Shooter his "charity case" and made him feel like he could be fired any minute ... while bragging to other editors about this child savant. Years later, Shooter found out that Weisinger would yell at the only other teenage writer to "write like Shooter" while calling him an "idiot" and a "fucking retard," too.
In 1969, at age 18, Shooter quit DC and got hired as a staff writer at Marvel by Stan Lee himself ... but only lasted three weeks, because he could barely afford the cheap room he was renting at the YMCA. But that wasn't the end of his story with Marvel ...
He Grew Up To Rule Marvel Like A Real-Life Doctor Doom
In the mid-'70s, Marvel was in total chaos: Stan Lee was off Stan Lee-ing in Hollywood, they went through five different head editors in two years, freelancers were getting paid for the same jobs twice, and the receptionist was throwing away subscription forms and pocketing the money. Shooter rejoined Marvel in 1976 and rose through the ranks by doing the jobs no one wanted to do, eventually taking over as Editor-in-Chief in 1978. That was the start of the Shooter Era, a.k.a. the time when half the Marvel staff felt like shooting themselves.
Taking a page from his mentor/abuser, Shooter reshaped Marvel from a hippie commune into a fascist state. He had very specific ideas about what a Marvel comic should be like and made sure all creators followed them to the letter. And if they didn't like it, they could fuck off to DC. As the '80s advanced, more and more creators took him up on that offer.