Magik echoes Storytellers:
Al Ewing & Paco Medina,
Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez, James Robinson &
Jöelle Jones, Gerry Duggan & Mike Hawthorne Sources:
New Avengers (2015) #12,
Civil War II #1, Scarlet Witch (2015) #9, Deadpool (2015) #14
Former Warner Bros. Records Executive Jeff Gold describes a few fond memories of working with Prince in the early 90’s
“I first met Prince in early 1991. Uncharacteristically, Prince had been open to feedback about his forthcoming album, Diamonds and Pearls, from Warner Bros. chairman Mo Ostin and president Lenny Waronker (himself a legendary record producer) and I believe sr. vp’s of a&r Benny Medina and Michael Ostin. When finished, many at the label felt it had great potential.
I was WB’s new senior vp of creative services, responsible for the art department and much of marketing, and when I saw Prince’s proposed album cover—a tight close up of his face, with two fingers in front of his lips, and his tongue sticking out between them, I thought it was kind of…ridiculous.
Since the album was a major priority for the company, I went to Mo and Lenny with my concerns. They suggested I have a meeting with Prince, and so Benny Medina, who worked closely with Prince, set one up. I was a major Prince fan, having seen him on Purple Rain tour and a few other times, and while I knew of his difficult reputation, figured ‘what have I got to lose?’ What followed was surely the most difficult meeting of my career.
Benny’s office was dark and sort of cave-like, with no windows. I entered to find Benny at his desk and Prince sitting in the middle of a couch, with the obvious spot for me a couch opposite Prince. There was no small talk, then or ever, with Prince. Benny got to the point, introducing me and telling Prince that I wasn’t particularly fond of his album cover concept.
Just as Benny finished delivering the bad news, there was a knock on the door, and Benny’s attorney stuck in his head. He needed Benny right away. Benny left, and I was alone with Prince, in full hair, makeup, and clothed like he was about to take the stage (as he always was), sitting about 5’ across from me, not particularly happy. In hindsight, I’m not sure anybody at Warners had ever offered up a negative opinion about his album artwork. He’d earned the right to call the shots, and expected to do so. But still, that photo was so…weird.
We had an hour or more of very difficult semi-conversation, mostly about what I thought he might do instead. Prince had enormous charisma, knew it, and knew how to use it. He also knew how to use silence and pauses in conversation to intimidate people, and he did a great job with me. I spoke respectfully and generally about why I thought a different image might be better. He glared. At one point, he asked with incredulity ‘What do you want me to do, wear overalls like R.E.M.?’ A bit later he said ‘Maybe I should have some clothes made for you’. I was wearing jeans and a button up shirt; he was wearing lime green skin-tight pants, high-heel boots, and a day-glo green, pin-striped, see-through shirt.
After one pause, he said ‘show me some album covers you’ve done.’ I ran upstairs to my office and collected about 20 cd’s I’d worked on, most from my previous job at A&M Records. He looked at each one, saying something dismissive about it, until near the bottom of the pile, he saw a holographic limited edition package I’d worked on for Suzanne Vega’s album Days of Open Hand (which I’d won an art direction Grammy for.) ‘Now this is great’ he said. Why can’t I have a hologram?’
Ah, finally a potential break. A few weeks earlier I’d met with a salesman for a company with a new, much less expensive hologram technology. I told Prince about it, and he perked up a bit. I promised to follow up and get back to him, and the meeting was over.
I pitched the hologram company’s rep –how would you like to introduce your new technology on Prince’s new album cover? Somehow, miraculously, we were able to pull it off, and Diamonds and Pearls was the first mass market CD with a holographic cover.
A few memories: We did a 4 hour hologram shoot at Studio Instrument Rentals (SIR) in Hollywood, where Prince and his two dancers, ‘Diamond’ and ‘Pearl’ sat on a small circular platform. After speaking to the holographer, he decided on an arm motion to perform while a motion picture camera on a dolly shot them in a 180 degree arc. Multiple takes were completed, with a lot of down time. I remember trying to make conversation (near impossible) and asking him about collaborating with Miles Davis (he was pretty dismissive.)
A few days later, I met him at a studio in Hollywood to watch video transfers of the various takes (each a few seconds long.) We chose one pretty quickly, and I was on my way. A few weeks later I got a ‘glass plate’ test hologram, which I thought looked great. Benny and I took it to Larrabee Studios, where Prince was recording. When he saw it, he loved it—and I think I detected a bit of a thaw. Progress!
Our next encounter was probably the highlight of my music business career. Benny and I went to see Prince at SIR, where he was rehearsing his band; I think it was to show him the first actual stamped hologram samples. He was very happy with what he saw, and asked what we were doing after we left. We said something to the extent of ‘going back to the office’, and he pointed to an old funky couch and suggested we sit down, alongside two Dutch journalists who were writing a story. We did, and Prince proceeded to rehearse his set, with full band, for about an hour, for the four of us. We were maybe 10 feet in front of him. It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen. As I reflect on it now, I think he may have been sort of saying ‘nice work on the hologram. Now take a look at what I can do’.
When he finally saw the finished album cover, he was thrilled and sent me this note. His assistant told mine that she’d never seen him send a thank you note, ever. I’d passed the test.
From then on, he never gave me any grief. That’s not to say it was always easy. But as we continued to work together, I understood that Prince was driven by a relentless pursuit of perfection. He knew exactly what he wanted. He did things his own way, and that worked for him. The word “no” didn’t exist in Prince’s world. If you told him ‘no’, he’d move on and find somebody else who would give him a ‘yes’. The absolute worst thing you could say to him is “but everybody else does it this way.”
Prince knew exactly how talented he was, had supreme self-confidence, and saw no reason to settle for anything less than his vision. And you had to respect him for it. Nobody worked harder than Prince. He was a perpetual motion machine, exploding with creativity.”
I love the new Uncanny X-men character named Fabio Medina, unfortunately given the code name Gold Balls. Thank you brianmichaelbendis and Chris Bachelo, I have been waiting for this my whole life.
All my life I have loved comic characters, imaginary heroes and anti-heroes. I wanted to change to be them. I wanted to grow up to be one of them. I wanted to have a better body. I wanted to be blonde and brave and heroic. Let’s be honest, I wanted to be white. It was always what BETTER looked like.
And then Gold Balls happened.
I knew from the first time we got to see Fabio I had a new favorite—because I knew I didn’t have to change a thing to be like him.
A hispanic kid from Southern California that grew up Catholic with questionable facial hair choices? Done. Then we see a confrontation with law enforcement that becomes a race issue (anti-mutant in this case) and violent. Have you ever been in a situation where you have done nothing wrong but feels like you are about to get pepper sprayed or tazered and you are freaking out? I have, luckily my (White) Dad was able to stop it. (I’m a halfie, btw) Wasn’t actually till later when I had calmed down that I realized it was even about race.
So I knew I had to cosplay and show my love for Gold Balls. Which is when it hit me, I don’t have to buy any clothes for Fabio. He dressed exactly how I used to! (Dressing to hide your body, not to flatter it.) I just had to go through the we-were-going-to donate-that-to-the-Thrift Store-and-thankfully-didn’t-yet pile.
With that revelation it occurred to me why I love Fabio so much. He’s not the hero I want to grow up and become. He’s the kid I used to be. The chubby goofball that is freaking out, but really wants to be useful. Honestly, it’s the first time I have actually related to a character.
I want to see him become a proud hero, even take pride in how he looks. One day he may not have a healer on his team. And if your fighting style/power requires you to stand in the middle of a super power fight you might need some armor? Yeah I know, comic books. But those are the little things that make me giddy. I’m a dork.
Like me, I hope Gold Balls can find someone that makes him always want to be a better person. But I don’t want him to loose his chubby goofball personality. I look forward to seeing him grow up and become the legend Future-Deadpool claims he will be. So excited to experience this as it happens.
This is pretty much my honest reaction to meeting brianmichaelbendis. I seriously almost cried big, fat, man tears when I met him.