RICH MORRISSEY, 1954-2001
You could count on one hand the number of times that Rich Morrissey and I were together. A couple of times when he visited the DC offices, one San Diego convention, maybe another convention somewhere.
And yet, I “saw” Rich almost every Monday night for the past six years. You see, he’s been one of my “regulars,” one of the relatively small group of comics fans who have been coming to my AOL chat since its inception.
Rich could always be counted on to contribute – whether it was stories about his friendship with E. Nelson Bridwell, bits of information about Golden / Silver Age writers like John Broome and Gardner Fox, or the occasional tirades about that particular artist whose work (and attitude) he did not like.
Mostly, though, it was Rich’s knowledge of comics history and trivia that astounded us. It was almost a certainty that no matter how obscure a bit of trivia I’d use in my quizzes, if anybody was going to know the answer (or know where to find it), it was Rich. And, I’ll admit it, I did try to come up with questions that I hoped would stump even him… and plenty were the nights when I’d be sitting there staring at the monitor, reading his answer, and saying, “How does he know this stuff?”
Rich and I shared plenty of letters pages over the years, first when we were both fans and later when I took over handling those pages for Julie Schwartz and other DC editors. His missives were consistently well-written and thoughtful, and editors would send him photocopies of new books in hopes of getting a letter from him for inclusion in an early issue. He had earned their respect.
Monday nights will be a little quieter now, a bit empty, and I guess some trivia questions will go unanswered. The “regulars” will be one member short and we’ll all feel it. But I’m sure that somewhere, Rich is lining up interviews for a fanzine he will have to call COMIC BOOK HEAVEN.
So long, Rich… and thanks.
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
The conclusion of the four-part theme…
38. Ready? Who starred in a book featuring the Giant Circus of the Mighty?
39. Steel Sterling was one of the MLJ heroes who DIDN’T get his own title under what DC imprint?
40. The Kirby-created Machine Man first appeared in what title?
41. Lots of Bizarro Supermen inhabit their square world; how can we identify the original?
42. Everyone seemed to share a title with Richie Rich, including his pooch; name this canine.
43. The Patriot and Lady Liberty are parents to a member of what team?
44. Taking a bite of what gave Rodney Rabbit his powers?
45. Everyone knows the lovely Miss Plumm and personable Mr. Wilson by what names?
46. Robot F2324, better known as Ilda, was the secretary to whom?
47. Crime Alley was the scene of the murders of Batman’s what?
48. Looking for his PhD, Ray Palmer would have to write what?
49. Um, Rudolph had his own comics, but can you name the other eight reindeer?
50. Eight-pagers starring Air Wave, Aquaman, and The Atom (among others) fell under what blanket feature in Superman-starring book?
51. Surprisingly, it was Harvey that brought Marty McFly to comics in what title?
BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL
1. Some insects can live up to a year without their heads.
2. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.
3. Chocolate has dangerous effects on a dog’s heart and nervous system; ingesting just a few ounces can kill a small sized pooch.
FROM THE EMAILBOX…
Was Bob (FATMAN) Daley the hidden head of Hero Hotline? Come on, Bob, you can tell me… I promise to keep it a secret!
— Chris Gumprich (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Did Mr. America actually die?
— T5 (email@example.com)
During his tenure as writer of ALL-STAR SQUADRON, Roy Thomas was pretty much the custodian of all things Golden Age DC. His intricate weaving of the characters who were in the Justice Society with those who appeared in the various DC (and Quality and Fawcett) books was off-limits to the rest of us.
Still, when I created the concept of Hero Hotline, I had decided that the unseen coordinator would be an existing character from DC’s past, one who would have ties to the rest of the super-heroes. He had to be relatively obscure, someone who was not likely to reappear somewhere else.
So I made my choice. And was told that I could not use the character.
There used to be a list at DC, maintained by Bob Greenberger, of all the existing heroes and villains. The purpose was so that the same character would not suddenly turn up in two different storylines, doing contradictory things. Editors could “claim” characters for use in a specific series or if they had a writer developing a potential series or miniseries for the character. In the case of the hero I wanted to use, it was the latter and it was Roy who had dibs on him.
And so the Coordinator remained a mysterious figure whose identity was only hinted at. Rather broadly hinted at in HH #4, by the way. When the Hotliners discover a star-spangled hero frozen in a block of ice – a gag pretty much every reader saw the origin of – they bring it back to headquarters.
“Visual identification: Tex Thomson a.k.a. Mister America a.k.a. Americommando,” says Sooz, the robot secretary. “Active as undercover agent in Europe and Pacific during World War II…”
“It’s not the real one, Sooz.” interrupts the Coordinator.
“There have been cases before of people suspended in blocks of ice, sir –“
“I said it’s NOT the real Americommando, Sooz. Trust me on this, okay?”
This bit is repeated with Private Eyes later in the issue and again with Microwave Mom in #5. Of course, the reason the Coordinator knew it was a fake was quite simple: He IS Harry “Tex” Thompson. Always had been, always will be… even if it is never acknowledged in a comic book. So, to answer T5’s question above: No, Mister America did not die… at least not in the BobRo corner of the DCU.
As for Bob “Fatman” Daley, who was Tex’s sidekick… let me say this: There were two other characters in Hero Hotline who knew the Coordinator’s identity. One of them was Tom Longacre, a.k.a. Stretch, who always referred to the HH boss as Harry and who, it was intimated throughout the series, has known the Coordinator for a good many years.
The second turned out to be the man behind the frozen Americommando and other attacks on HH headquarters, a villain who invades the building and says, “You know me, Harry – leave as little to chance as possible.” The Calculator.
Is one of them actually Bob Daley? Gee, THAT would be telling, wouldn’t it?
MORE FROM THE EMAILBOX
What led to the demise of DC Comics’ Helix imprint? And why the name change from “Matrix”?
— Alex Dionisio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Comics publishers do not stop publishing books that make money for them (except for very rare occasions which we will not discuss at this time – those of you who were about to write to me about the 1992-93 JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA series, please don’t!). The collection of Helix titles obviously did not sustain the necessary sales volume to continue. TRANSMETROPOLITAN, which eventually switched over to the Vertigo imprint, was the only real “hit” and you don’t hang an entire imprint on one title.
As for the name change, it was discovered after the announcement of the line that someone else held the trademark on “Matrix.” Like something out of an alternate universe, there was an entire set of promo material for the Matrix books – posters, header cards, et al – that was reprinted with Helix on them.
Who created the new style “alternative” comic character of the 60’s featuring a long beard, robe and boots…and what was his name?
— email@example.com (bobbi)
I presume the character you’re referring to is Mr. Natural, created by Robert Crumb.
That will do it for now. All of this week’s correspondents get 10% off anything they order from Comics Unlimited in the next seven days. Want to get your questions answered and save a few bucks at the same time? Use the handy box in the column on the left.
38. The Tick
40. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
41. He wears a medallion reading “Bizarro #1”
42. Dollar the Dog
43. Inferior 5
44. A glowing carrot
45. SUGAR & SPIKE
46. Star Hawkins
48. A thesis
49. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen
51. Back to the Future
If you’re still puzzled about the theme of this four-part quiz, you might want to look down at the keyboard in front of you.
Meanwhile, if you want more trivia, type in www.wfcomics.com/trivia for the daily Anything Goes Trivia.
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.