I’m back from my six weeks in lovely, bucolic Chestertown, Maryland, where I’ve once again been a part of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth summer program. (A quick hello to those of my recent Writing & Imagination students who are checking out this column to see if they are actually mentioned.)
The emailbox has filled up a bit since I left, so let’s play “Twenty Questions” …
Are your columns archived?
— Mike Kooiman (email@example.com)
Indeed they are, Mike – all 174 of them. Check out that lavender box on the right, scroll to the bottom of it, click on “More” and, lo and behold, there are links to every one of them! Enjoy!
Way back when, there were what DC called 100 PAGE SUPER-SPECTACULARS. Usually. they included a new story and then 2 or 3 reprints. At one point I had one of these called THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES (not WORLD’S FINEST, I’m positive about that). It did not include a new story, but it did include a reprint of the first JLA-JSA team up. The rest was golden age reprints. I loved this book, and would like to have it again, in any condition just to read. HELP!
— Richard E. Graef (firstname.lastname@example.org)
That would be DC 100-PAGE SUPER-SPEC #6, Richard.
When is DC Comics coming up with a TPB of that great comic mini-series of the early 90’s HERO HOTLINE???
— JJ Ferro (email@example.com)
I’m sure it’s on their list, JJ, right underneath ‘MAZING MAN ARCHIVES.
My girlfriend thinks superheroes are dumb. She likes Dori Seda and the Hernandez brothers, but they aren’t exactly spandex power fantasies, are they? We’ve been together for almost three years now, and I’m rather fond of her, so I’m reluctant to break it up just because she won’t watch “Justice League” with me. What should I do?
— Nick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
P.S. Your new logo is cool.
Sharing an interest in superheroes is not necessary for an enduring relationship, Nick. My wife has never read a complete issue of a superhero comic book in her life and we’ve been married 29 years. My advice, find other interests you DO share.
I was just told by a friend that Robert Loren Fleming died some years ago, a bus crash? I had always thought he had just moved on from comics as so many people do. Do you have info if this is true and if so what are the true details?
— Wayne Markley (WayneM@FMinternet.com)
As far as I know, Mr. Fleming is still among us. As to the question of one Wayne Markley, who used to work in DC’s marketing department… no one knows what happened to him.
A great penciller drew two early issues of Marvel’s TRANSFORMERS (inked by Kyle Baker). His name is William Johnson and I read that he had been discovered by Denny O’Neil and before the TF work had pencilled some DAREDEVIL. Is this accurate? Where did he go? His TRANSFORMERS work was a cut above. Thanks!
— Tim Finn (email@example.com)
William Johnson had a four-issue stint on MASTER OF KUNG FU (#s 122-125) in 1983, followed by eight issues of DAREDEVIL (#s 197-202, 205, 207) in ’83-84. He also has penciling credits in ROM ANNUAL #3, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #264, SAVAGE TALES #7 and G.I. JOE #62. The last was in 1987 and I can find no information after that.
I’ve always been curious, about the twenty-four hour limit of Green Lantern’s ring. Was it twenty-four hours of power usage or was it simply the ring needed to be recharged every twenty-four hours regardless of how much it had been used during that time span?
— Jason Cornwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It had to be recharged every 24 hours regardless of how much (or how little) GL used it.
Here’s a question that’s stumped me for a while. Do you know what the first appearances are for Don-El (Superman’s cousin) and his father, Nim-El? Where was their relationship established and did they ever appear together?
Don-El’s first appearance was in LOIS LANE #78. I am unable to find first appearance info on his father. As for the establishment of their relationship, it has all the earmarks of an E. Nelson Bridwell “family tree” in one of the Annuals.
Are you aware of anything on the ‘net about The Ghost Patrol? The version I’m thinking of included a girl–the series was set during World War II and the main characters were actually ghosts of dead pilots or something like that.
— Arik Jackson (ArikTheRead@aol.com)
Other than a listing for the Ghost Patrol that debuted in FLASH COMICS #29 in 1942 and another that began in WINGS #66 in 1946, I can’t find much of anything.
Do you know who started Marvel in the beginning; was it Stan Lee?
The company existed (as Timely Comics and then Atlas) from the 40s, but it was Stan who turned it into Marvel with FANTASTIC FOUR #1. As Stan tells the story, publisher Martin Goodman had played a game of golf with DC publisher Jack Liebowitz and Liebowitz was boasting about how the new JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA book was selling. Goodman instructed Stan to come up with a team of super-heroes and the result was the FF. The rest is (Marvel) history.
Not long ago, I purchased a copy of the classic GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW #82. I opened it to compare it to my 1983-reprint, when I found that several panels on various pages were all of one color, and this was not the case with many of those panels in the 1983 reprint.
Was this lack of color a printing error, or was it intentional? (And, if it was intentional, why was it colored in in the reprint?) Will this affect the value of the comic, should I choose to sell it?
— Orville Eastland (email@example.com)
The stories were all recolored for the reprint series. I’m sure you’ll find numerous other “inconsistencies” if you look closely. This has no effect on the value of the books – all copies of the issue are the same.
I just finished reading all of your columns. I’ve enjoyed them all. You were always one of the true gentlemen in the comics industry.
My question: Whatever happened to the Firestorm graphic novel “Corona” that was supposed to be printed in the 1980s? I remember one lettercol saying that it was supposed to come out “any nanosecond now” but I don’t think it was ever published.
— Jim Butler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I doubt that the book was EVER a nanosecond away from being published. I don’t recall it getting very far down the creative assembly line.
I was wondering if the Power (Peter Pan) Records Batman story “Mystery of the Scarecrow Corpse” was originally a comic story in either BATMAN or DETECTIVE (or any other comic for that matter) and if info exists on who wrote the story. The tale has nothing to do with the Batman villain “The Scarecrow” and includes the apparent ghost of Sherlock Holmes.
— Rob Silva (email@example.com)
The only time I recall Batman and Holmes meeting was in DETECTIVE COMICS #572 (1987) and that came out some years after the Power Records were released. Anybody have any additional info?
I’d like to know about creator rates in comics; we hear a lot about who pays better/worse/on-time/royalties, etc. but never even a vague idea of what those rates are. I’d like to see a column on this subject, even a simple “ball-park-ish” indies pay about xxx, majors pay about xxx for script, pencils, inks, colors, etc. I think a lot of people would find that interesting. Or is this info all out there and I’m just missing it?
— Daniel E. Folts firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s unlikely that the information is out there anywhere, Daniel, because few if any freelancers would want the rates they are paid posted for everyone to see. Comic book professionals have no union or other organization that sets rates, so every individual is free to negotiate what he gets paid by each publisher for whom he works.
Suffice it to say that the major publishers pay substantially more per page than the independents do. (Some of the really small companies have little upfront money and are offering only a percentage of sales.)
In the pecking order of rates, pencillers are usually the highest paid, followed by writers, inkers, colorists and letterers.
Why did Marvel and DC stop putting letter pages in their comics?
— Freeman Semons (email@example.com)
What are the steps in making a comic book?
— Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The actual work involved has been covered in detail in numerous articles, so I’ll just list the steps as they were for the first 60 or so years of the business. (With the advent of electronic coloring and lettering, some steps have been changed or combined.)
1) Editor and writer (and sometimes the penciller) plot story
2) Writer provides breakdown or full script.
3) Penciller draws the pages.
4) Writer provides dialogue (if s/he did not do a full script)
5) The pages are lettered.
6) The art is inked.
7) Stats of finished art are colored. (Or the art is colored on-screen.)
8) Color separations are done.
9) The book is printed.
DC Comics was once known by what company name?
— Leonardo Vargas (leonardo email@example.com)
Detective Comics Inc., National Comics, and National Periodical Publications.
The “ultimatization” / relaunch of the Marvel Universe is a hot and controversial topic. With your experience at DC, has there always been such a constant need for relaunching series and untangling continuity? Of course I know that it has happened on occasion such as with “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and “Zero Hour,” but at times it seems that current publishers are too pre-occupied with relaunches when new readers don’t seem to have the difficulties that the publishers perceive.
— Jason Borlinghaus (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You could point at the introduction of Barry Allen as The Flash as the first relaunch that DC did… and that was certainly responsible for pretty much every relaunch that followed. It was also the beginning of continuity, with Barry being inspired by his comic book hero Jay Garrick and the introduction of Earth-2 (and the rest of the parallel Earths).
Relaunching characters, whether it involved revamping an existing one (the teaming of Green Lantern and Green Arrow in the 70s was a major change in Oliver Queen), the replacement of one with another (killing off Barry and replacing him with Wally West), or just introducing a whole new character with the same name as an older one (The Creeper being probably the most recent example) has always been done for one reason: To generate interest and SALES!
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was supposed to simplify the DC Universe for new readers. Unfortunately, it was apparently far more successful at ticking off old readers than it was at attracting a new audience.
Why did DC Comics and Marvel Comics put on the market four titles of Superman, Batman, X-Men and Spider-Man? In the 70s, each character had one title and people were able to buy more different titles than just four or eight depending on which one they were purchasing. But now, an average joe who wants to read different titles just can’t, because just with the X, Superman and Batman titles we have more than ten titles. I’d like to read the adventures of all my favorites, but with four titles each, I just can’t. So why did the companies do that in the first place? If they change this situation, they change the market in a better place.
— Michel Gingras (email@example.com)
Publishers will always publish more titles starring their most popular characters because their job is to sell books. If the market will support four Superman books or eight X-Men books, the companies will publish them. And while you may think these characters dominate the schedules of their respective companies, you should look at the history of Richie Rich. In his heyday, he starred in a truckload of titles published by Harvey Comics.
Is Jack Adler alive? If so where is he and is he well?
— Joe Rubinstein
At last report, the former VP – Production Manager of DC Comics – he retired in 1981 – was alive and well and living in Queens, NY.
Still lots more questions in the emailbox. My goal is to get it emptied; your goal should be to keep it filled. Send your questions by using the handy mint-green box below. And after you’ve done that, try your hand at my daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.worldfamouscomics.com/trivia.
See you back here next week.