Over the years, I’ve given many speeches about comic books, many of them in elementary schools. Though the children’s interest and familiarity with the books is less these days, they still recognize Superman, Batman, Spider-Man well enough to pay attention, particularly if they think they’re going to get some of the books when I’m done.
Early in my career, I was added to a mailing list for various high schools on Long Island and was frequently called to speak at Career Day events. Most times, these programs were very interesting and a lot of fun. The students would be given a list of speakers who had been invited and would sign up for ones that interested them. I’d do three or four rounds of a prepared speech about comic book history and then open the floor to questions. (Even before I created the Answer Man column, I was answering questions.) The students would ask about how I got started, how much money they could make in the business, and, on one occasion, who dressed up as models for the artists. There was one school, however, that I eventually came to dread being called by. Their idea of Career Day was to invite two different people each day for a few weeks, but without any formal program. I and the other unlucky participant of the day (a dental hygienist or a short order cook) would end up sitting at a table at the end of a hallway, waiting for someone to come and talk to us. Invariably, I’d put out some comic books that I’d written in the hope of attracting some attention. (The hygienist has these plastic teeth. The cook had recipes but no food.) The comics usually did attract attention: I’d end up answering the same question over and over: Are these for sale? When I said no, the disgruntled students would move on without saying another word.
One time, a friend asked if I would visit her daughter’s fourth grade class. I agreed and had a wonderful time. The children were enthusiastic and the teacher, Sue Neifeld, combined what I talked about into a writing lesson..The following year, I got a call directly from Miss Neifeld. Would I consider speaking to her class? And could I bring one of the artists along? I said sure and persuaded Alex Saviuk, who was drawing a lot of my stories at the time, to come along with me. We spent most of the morning with the class, telling them about comic book history, looking at their drawings, and answering questions. Alex even drew a giant Superman on the blackboard; it went unerased for the rest of the semester.
After that, I became a regular feature of Miss Neifeld’s curriculum. When Alex couldn’t join me, I dragged along, …er, invited Howard Bender or Stephen DeStefano. One year, when I was writing the “Dial H For Hero” series, the class created a character that we used in a story. (Jimmy Gymnastic in NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY #37)
Miss Neifeld always made us feel welcome. She would prep the students for a few days prior to our visit with lessons that tied in. One year, Alex had to cancel at the last minute to finish a job and I went alone. Miss Neifeld turned his absence into a lesson about meeting your obligations and how important it is to schedule your time properly.
After Miss Neifeld retired, I figured my visits to her class were over. Well, they were. That’s when she started inviting me to speak to her senior citizens group!
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ:
This is Part 3 of the 4-part themed quiz:
26. Stalking the Twice-Cursed Man was a task for what occult hero?
27. Tommy Troy became what hero?
28. The alternate world’s X-Men team up with Havok in what title?
29. How did Chris King become a superhero?
30. Egad! Who were Zan and Jayna?
31. On retainer as a detective, who solved crimes for the Penny Steamship Line?
32. Rozakis and spouse teamed up regularly to write what comics features?
33. Dane Dorrance, Rick Flagg, and Cave Carson were members of what team?
34. Enamored of his namesake, this circus performer created jet-shoes and committed crimes under what name?
35. Residents of what city on the Atlantic coast hosted (and boasted of) Aquaman’s headquarters for a time?
36. In addition to Laziness, Greed and Pride, what other Deadly Sins did Billy Batson pass when he found Shazam?
37. Name the Seven Dwarfs.
OBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
1. The Bronx is the only borough of New York City that is on the mainland. Manhattan and Richmond (Staten Island) are islands, Kings (Brooklyn) and Queens are part of Long Island.
2. George Washington Carver developed hundreds of industrial uses for peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes.
3. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff?” was Mike Nichols’ directing debut and won Oscars for Sandy Dennis and Liz Taylor.
One of the most popular “show-and-tell” items I bring along when I speak is a acetate color proof for a cover of a comic book. First I show the actual printed cover and ask the students how many colors of ink they think were used to print it. Guesses range from “a few” into the hundreds and there’s always at least one kid who tries to count each separate color he sees. Then I pull out the proof and slip white paper between the layers, showing the yellow, magenta, cyan and black sheets separately. When I remove the paper and show how the four colors combine, the “oohs” and “aahs” are always great!
DIDYA KNOW: Then-fifteen-year-old Stephen DeStefano created Blackjack, one of the characters used in the Dial H For Hero series. If you read the column about Dial H two weeks ago, you already knew that!) He is perhaps better nown as the co-creator, with yours truly, of ‘Mazing Man. Alex Saviuk is currently the penciller of the Sunday page for the Spider-Man newspaper strip. Howard Bender is co-creator of Mr. Fixitt and was the artist on the Dial H series when it ran in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY.
FROM THE E-MAILBOX:
I’ve often read that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster sold away their rights to Superman for $130. Is that all they ever got paid?
– Fred Schneider
Far from it. Jerry and Joe were making a nice bit of money each year for their work on the Man of Steel’s adventures. But they did sign away Superman by endorsing the checks they received for their first story.
Here’s how the check endorsement routine used to work: Freelancers would be paid a page rate for their work, be they writers, artists, letterers or colorists. Upon delivery of the work, they would be handed a check. On the back, above the line on which one had to endorse it, was a printed statement that said the recipient agreed to sign over all rights to the work to the company. If you didn’t sign it, you couldn’t cash the check. If you crossed it out and then signed the check, you probably wouldn’t be getting any more work.
These days, freelancers sign a contract / voucher signing away their rights long before they ever see the money. Of course, not all these have actually been signed by said freelancers; sometimes an editor will sign the freelancer’s name in order to have a check waiting when the work arrives.
In any case, back in 1938, when they received their checks for that first Superman story in ACTION COMICS #1, Siegel and Shuster endorsed away everything for $130.
[For having his question used, Fred gets an extra 10% off anything he orders from SBC this week. All readers’ whose questions are used can earn discounts, so send your questions using that convenient little box in the column on the left right now!]
That’s it till next week. Seeya in seven days!
TRIVIA QUIZ ANSWERS:
26. Mister E
27. The Fly
28. Mutant X
29. by Dialing H for Hero
30. The Wonder Twins
31. Captain compass
32. Julie Schwartz’s letter columns
33. The Forgotten Heroes
34. The Trickster
35. New Venice
36. Envy, hatred, selfishness and injustice
37. Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy, Doc, Dopey and Bashful
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.