Mantlo saw his son playing with those things on Christmas 1977 and thought, "Someone should make dozens and dozens of awesome comics out of that." So he convinced Marvel to buy the licensing rights and became that someone. The comic was a hit and outlived the toy line by years. The same thing happened with ROM: SpaceKnight -- no one gave a crap about the toy, but everyone loved Mantlo's inexplicably good, 75-issue comic saga about it. In 1988 he wrote one of DC's best crossovers, Invasion!
In 1992 he was struck by a hit-and-run driver and left with permanent brain damage, in need of constant medical care for the rest of his life. In 1995 he wrote his last story as his mind slowly slipped away from him.
As Mantlo got worse, his insurance company decided instead of rehabilitation he needed long-term care -- which, shucks, they didn't cover. His brother, Mike, was forced to sell off his assets, including his personal comic collection, just to get Mantlo on Medicaid. For the continued use of his characters, Marvel gave him as much money as he was entitled under the work-for-hire contracts he signed: that is, "not enough to live."
In 2012, he ... wait, no, I'm sorry, I almost said "fell into a coma," but I was thinking of the other '80s comic writer who was struck by a hit-and-run driver and left with permanent brain damage: Roger Slifer, who created DC Comics' Lobo with Giffen. Hey, it's weird that two of Giffen's co-creators had similar accidents, right? It's about 2 percent as weird as the fact that they both created multi-million-dollar characters for Disney and Warner Bros.-owned companies and still had to struggle for cash to survive.
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To be fair, Marvel has been cool to Mantlo lately: they started giving him more money, and they hooked him up with a private screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, which Mike Mantlo says was Bill's greatest day in 22 years.
Very nice, Marvel. But why does the movie have a watermark that says SUPER-TORRENTZ.RU?