When Ike Perlmutter Gave a Tour Of Marvel Comics

It's times like this, when we are all hunkered down in our apartments, or hovels, or semi-detatched suburban dwellings, or beachfront apartments in private Florida resorts, that we all need to read new stories about Marvel Chair Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter. Thankfully in our time of need, William Schanes, formerly VP Purchasing of Diamond Comic Distributors, has complied. It seems that it was the 'VP' in Bill's title that stuck in Ike's craw when they met at Marvel's offices back in 1998. William posted to Facebook;

When Ike Perlmutter Gave a Tour Of Marvel Comics.
When Ike Perlmutter Gave a Tour Of Marvel Comics. Screencap from CNBC.

"In 1998, Ike beat out fellow billionaire Carl Icahn for control of bankrupt Marvel Comics. Ike also owned Toy Biz, a moderate sized toy company at that time. Diamond Comic Distributors was one of Marvel Comics largest distributors, and was also buying millions of dollars annually of Toy Biz's Marvel and WWF action figures. For some reason, which I don't recall why, Diamond hadn't met directly with Ike previously, and since I was going to be attending the New York Toy Fair, I decided to include a meeting at Marvel's offices with Ike."

"Ike had a famous reputation for being a very strong negotiator, to the point of being ruthless, very frugal, didn't pull his punches, and didn't like long meeting. He had made his initial millions in the close out/liquidation business, buying truck loads of any product and flipping it quickly for a profit. When I got to Marvel's offices, the receptionist called Ike to let him know I was here for our scheduled meeting. I was told to wait in their main conference room, which had a beautiful double etched glass door, showcasing key Marvel characters, and once you got inside, the room was decorated with all kinds of Marvel licensed products, as well as Toy Biz Marvel action figures."

"Within a minute or two, Ike Perlmutter walked into the conference room and walked right at me with his hand out. I introduced myself, and Ike asked me what my title and job was at Diamond. I told him I was the Vice President of Purchasing, and was primarily responsible for contract negotiations, what product lines Diamond would be offering, margin requirements, inventory control, and order processing. If you've never met Ike before, he's maybe 5'3" or so, slender, in very good shape, and dressed in a 3-piece suit. Without hesitation, Ike said he might be meeting with the wrong person at Diamond, as I was only a Vice President. He then told me to follow him for a very quick tour of the Marvel offices (I didn't even have time to say that I had been there several times beforehand). It was a very strange tour, as he seemed to know every employees' name and area of responsibility, as well as financial compensation package."

"We walked passed the receptionist, who he said her name out loud, that she really didn't work very hard and spouted out her salary, for all to hear. He did the same for every single employee we passed, including some of the Marvel editors and executives. He even went so far to indicate if this or that employee had a future with Marvel or not. We ended the tour in his very modest-sized office, where we spent 10-minutes or so, with Ike Perlmutter asking me about what I thought of the management team at Marvel (a loaded question for sure). Ike then took me back to the same conference room where we first met, where Alan Fine, Ike's right hand guy, was waiting for us. Several other Toy Biz executives joined in the meeting, which Ike said would last no more than 30-minutes, as they had larger, more important buyers to see right after I left. Not exactly a warm and fuzzy feeling."

"Right at the 30-minute mark, Ike Perlmutter stood up and said they needed to wrap up our meeting, but he had a very special offer for Diamond, and how I would respond would tell him what he thought of me as a Vice President of Purchasing (with a bit of a sarcastic slang). Ike said that the previous Marvel management team had purchased the custom etched glass doors for over $10,000, and if I was representing Steve Geppi, I would buy these doors from him right now for the same price of $10,000. I was caught off guard by this extremely unusual purchasing pitch, and all I could think to say was that I thought unfortunately the doors wouldn't fit the Diamond conference room, and he might want to reach out to Steve Geppi directly on this topic. Ike said goodbye, and I never spoke to him again."

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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