Mark Rogan and A Few Words About This Picture…

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Bullpen of 1980!

Mark Rogan operating the Pos One System photostat camera. C. 1980.

When I entered Marvel Comics, roughly in late 1978, Mark Rogan was there to “show me the ropes.” I had used an old fashioned monstrous photostat camera and these Pos One cameras were little wind-up toys in comparison. A word about historical technology: Photostat. Before electrostatic photocopying (ahem… Xerography) became wide-spread, photostats were the only way to enlarge or shrink a piece of art or a photograph. Yes, you could use an “overhead projector” or Lucy Machine and re-draw things by hand– but this was the 70s Man! The Pos One System was a compact– very compact– stat camera. It was small enough to fit through doorways and could roll around on the floor. Mark’s hands were inside the part of the camera where you could place light-sensitive paper. There was a little light-tight paper safe in there as well. The image plane where artwork image was focused was the only part of the camera that didn’t move. Everything else did.

You can see the upright black shape, the copy board, which was what held the artwork. There are some very bright lights that were on arms that moved in and out so as to evenly illuminate the copy board. Not so easy to see is the lens, which was moved along with the light bars. All motor driven and fun to operate. There was a very nice chemical processing lab– four chambers filled with different chemistry that needed to be fussed with every day. (A black&white “monobath” chemistry for those that care!) Dozens of little rollers moved the paper through the compact labyrinth in about 3 minutes. Finally there was a fan that blew hot air over the prints, on top of the machine. Very neat.

Marvel used the stat cameras for a lot of things. Making full-sized copies of proof rolls of entire past comics for foreign markets. Making art corrections– the use of durable photostat paper meant you could cut it, rubber cement it, add black ink or White-Out correction paint to it. Most logos were copies of an original, same for cover copy and those floating heads on covers that heralded who was going to appear within the comic. Page numbers! Typeset once, copied many, many times. “Special effects” when an image needed to be copied or shrunk so as to appear several times or made a “negative” or artwork copied on clear “acetate.” All done by the versatile Mark and his Pos One.

Mark ran one of three machines that Marvel had in use. Stu Shwartsberg ran a literal antique stat camera, probably made just after WWII (Stu and his machine, had been at various Marvel office locations as far back as I can remember; and I had been a messenger boy, taking stuff to Marvel and parent company, Magazine Management, at age 13-14) and I ran a machine identical to Mark’s but for the “Black & White” and “British” Departments. Mark was all Bullpen.

Mark was a very nice co-worker, worldly and light-hearted. He knew “things” like why one should invest in a leased automobile. If you thanked him for something, his return catch phrase was, “Don’t thank me; thank God for making me so good.” For some reason, that didn’t get worn out. Mark invented “stat soup” because we were so poor on the day before payday, we would make a sandwich of old comic books and stats, with a little stat soup on the side. Mark moved on from the Stat Room, to the Bullpen proper. He did what were called “paste-ups and mechanicals.” When the Letters Collumns needed to be put together, or a house ad– he gathered materials, had myself or the “new guy” (Robbie Carosella) make some stats and he would slam it all down with old-style and deadly rubber cement!

Then, about mid-1981 to my crumbling memory, Mark departed altogether to a huge art department in some magical, high-paying advertising agency, he started as a lowly rubber cement pick-up maker. Within a year, he was barking orders and demanding fealty. Now he owns and runs a fabulous, 1000-person office, in the digital age doing wondrous things. (Alright, I don’t remember what he does now, but it has something to do with print; maybe magazines– it’s been a while…)

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