Bob, in your time as production manager at DC, I assume you had a fair amount of contact with the colorists and letterers. While reading John Byrne’s message board and looking at interviews with various artists, I sporadically see complaints about the coloring and lettering.

Can you provide us some insight of the behind the scenes reasons why the artists are accurate or not in their statements about the coloring? I tend to think that, as with any situation, there are two sides and the artists might occasionally be misinformed about why their coloring recommendations were ignored.
— Leo W. (

Back when I first started working at DC, it was part of the job of the editor (or assistant editor) to provide color notes for the colorist. This varied from things like “Superman’s heat vision is red” to “It’s night” to “Make sure Lois is wearing a BLUE dress.” Former editor Murray Boltinoff, whose notes I recall as being among the most detailed, began the instructions for every story in such books as GHOSTS and THE WITCHING HOUR with “Make moody and mysterioso.” The premise was that the colorist was probably not reading the story and needed to be told what was important. [Sometimes they weren’t even reading color notes that were right under their noses. I recall one story in a DC war book that inadvertently had a color note printed on the page. It read, “Desert uniforms are tan” and all the uniforms were incorrectly colored gray.]

I cannot recall too many situations in which the artist provided color notes, but they would have to be delivered to the editor, who would in turn give them to the colorist. [We’re talking about the regular books here. In a case such as THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Frank Miller was sitting at a drawing board right next to the one where his wife Lynn Varley was doing the color.] If there are artists complaining about colorists ignoring their recommendations, they should be taking it up with their editors.

I have been offered a Clark Kent head drawing with an inscription done in late 30s believed done by Joe Shuster. [Collector states: A late 1930s-era menu from The Chimney Corner Inn in Stamford, Connecticut featuring a black fountain pen ink drawing of Clark Kent next to an inscription reading “Superman ate here!/I know!/Clark Kent.” Highly detailed, this drawing was likely rendered by Joe Shuster himself when he dined at the Inn, though no signature appears.
Mint condition and the likeness is perfect.] What should I offer for this piece? Thanks.
— Paul Burgess (

Offer whatever you are willing to pay for it. THAT is what it is worth.

Any information on Monel, from DC Comics, would be welcome. A one euro bet rests on the fact that this super-hero did exist, with the same strengths as Superman, but with a specific weakness. Please help
— Jim Reid (Scotland) (

Mon-El, named because he was mistakenly thought to be Superboy’s older brother, made his first appearance in SUPERBOY #89 (June, 1961). He was actually Lar Gand from the planet Daxam and while his powers matched those of the Boy of Steel, his “kryptonite” was lead. Dying of lead poisoning, Mon-El was sent to the Phantom Zone by Superboy, where he remained for 1000 years. Brainiac 5 discovered a cure and released Mon-El and he became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Much of this has been reworked in recent years, but that’s the original version of Mon-El’s history.

At what point did Superman lean to fly instead of just jumping high? Did this “just happen” or was it explained in the comic.
— Brandon (

It just happened. Keep in mind that long after the Man of Steel was flying around Metropolis, he was still being described as “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Of course, there’s also the story “How Superboy Learned to Fly” that appeared way back in SUPERBOY #69 (December, 1958) which had Pa Kent helping to train him with helium-filled balloons.

Did the characters Chief O’Hara and Aunt Harriett from the 1960’s Batman TV series ever show up in comic books (i.e. the “official” DC Universe)?
— Greg Plantamura (

Aunt Harriet turned up in the comic books before the TV show debuted; she was introduced after Alfred “died.” Chief O’Hara was created for the show and I recall one instance in a comic book in which Commissioner Gordon makes a reference to him.

I’ve been slowly reading my Superman back issues from the mid-70s to early 80s. I’ve noticed the exclamation “By Rao!” quite a bit. What is Rao and is it something in Superman’s past that was wiped out by Crisis?
— Gabriel Garcia (

Rao was the Kryptonian name for God. It was decided by editor Julie Schwartz to have Superman use the exclamation instead of “Great Scott!” The concept of Rao as part of Kryptonian history is still used in the books, having played a major role in a recent prestige book, SUPERMAN: ANCIENT BLOOD OF RAO.

If Krypton was made of Kryptonite, and that’s where Superman is from, surely he wouldn’t be affected by it. WHY does he go weak? I need to know – it’s been bothering me for about ten years!
— Jennie W (

Krypton wasn’t MADE of kryptonite; the chunks of the planet were transformed when it exploded. For the complete saga of the many forms of “K,” check out John Wells’ fill-in columns from earlier this year. (,, and

I have often heard reference to Commissioner Gordon’s son. The baby was an important part of BATMAN: YEAR ONE as well. Since YEAR ONE, his son has never been mentioned again. What happened to him?
— George Tramountanas (

Again, we turn to a past column by John Wells, which talks about Tony Gordon’s pre-Crisis appearances. (

In the Mort Weisinger era of Superboy stories, many of the characters that Superman met in his adventures, both friends and foes, starting appearing in Smallville. I’m aware of a story where a young Bruce Wayne, traveling with his parents, helps Superboy in the guise of the Flying Fox, thus initiating the World’s Finest team in our heroes’ youth. I know, of course, that Lex Luthor was brought into the Smallville sphere and Lois made at least one appearance. What others? Did any other of Superman’s established villains or members of the super-hero community make appearances in Smallville, too?
— Mario Flores (

It might be easier to ask who DIDN’T show up in Smallville, Mario. Off the top of my head, I can remember stories featuring young Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan, Aquaboy, Lori Lemaris, Barbara Gordon (and her above-mentioned brother Tony) and Robin (in a time-travel tale). A few of these stories appeared after Weisinger had retired; the Barbara Gordon tale was written by some guy named Rozakis.

Was the character Little Iodine a comic strip by that name or was she in another comic strip? Do you have a picture or know where i could find one?
— Clara (

Iodine first appeared in Jimmy Hatlo’s “They’ll Do It Every Time” strip and eventually graduated to her own feature, as well as a comic book series that ran from 1949 till 1962 and even a movie in 1946. For more info and a picture, click on over to

In her first appearance, in the early days of the Fantastic Four, Alicia Masters is described as looking almost identical to the Invisible Girl, Sue Storm. If I recall correctly, the other FF members were even fooled when Alicia wore a blonde wig! Has this resemblance ever been mentioned since then?
— Greg Plantamura (

I don’t recall another story in which this startling resemblance was used. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen… and if it did, I’m sure we’ll hear about it.

I have noticed over the years that different creators have taken liberties (as creators without caring editors will do), with the bit of The Batman’s origin where the bat flies into the study inspiring his motif. I have always stuck by the belief that the bat would have flown in through the open window but would never have crashed thought the glass as seen in other versions. I know it’s a little thing, but it always makes me wonder. I believe that Frank Miller used the smashing glass for noir-ish /dramatic effect, but wouldn’t a bat’s radar/sonar (whatever it is) have kept it from flying into a plate glass window? Just wondering what your take on this was. Thanks for a great column and for all the wonderful comics over the years.
— Wes Wescovich (

One would think that the bat’s “radar” would have kept it from flying into a closed window, but when did science ever stand in the way of things happening in comic books?

My favorite spin on the origin is one that appeared in PLOP! “Suddenly, a bat flies through the window…” and it’s a baseball bat!

Who was the first foreign artist or writer to get his work published by Marvel or DC?
— Omarissimo! (

This is a tough one because an argument could be made for a number of foreign-born artists who lived in the U.S. (virtually all of them in the New York City area) and got work at DC. I’d guess that the first who lived overseas and worked for DC were Nestor Redondo and the variety of artists who lived in the Philippines, whose work started appearing in the early 70s.

What’s the current status of DC’s Air Wave? I can’t remember the last time he popped up…but I think it was post-Crisis.
— ES (

Hal (Air Wave) Jordan has been appearing regularly in JSA.

Do you know anything about Marvel’s future plans for the ESSENTIALS line? I heard ESSENTIAL HUMAN TORCH was to be the last of the old Silver Age series to be reprinted. There are still loads of old, cheesy comics they could have been reprinting! And they really should reprint some of their old horror anthologies, like WHERE MONSTERS DWELL or WHERE CREATURES ROAM.
— Gaute Hjartaaker (

I’ve seen in the current PREVIEWS that an ESSENTIAL TOMB OF DRACULA volume is scheduled for later this year, so the series doesn’t seem to have ended quite yet. But I doubt you’ll ever get your wish for a WHERE MONSTERS DWELL book. Maybe they could do an ESSENTIAL FING FANG FOOM, though.


As a follow-up to the question last week about Golden Age artists, I’ve found that there is an immense online collection of bios and art samples at

Re: First movie tie-in Happy Meal toys. I believe that honor would go to STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE around 1978-1979. I believe there were 4-6 different toys and 2-4 different boxes. The only toys I remember are a red plastic “compartment ring” with Kirk on the lid and (maybe) a blue pencil top eraser in the shape of bust of Spock. There might have been another ring with Spock on the lid. I’m a little hazy but I do remember getting those Happy Meals in Illinois during that time period. What complicates naming an exact movie tie-in as being first is that Happy Meal promotions were usually done regionally until sometime in the 80s with only the rare national Happy Meal before that.
— Sean Dulaney (

Okay… In Tagalog/ Filipino, “BATANG” was derived from the root word BATA (kid). So the literal translation of Batang X is Kid X or, in this case, X Kids (since there five of them).

“BAWANG” is GARLIC in Filipino. The Filipino term for ONION is SIBUYAS.

Lastik from Lastikman is taken from the word “LASTIKO” meaning rubber band. It can be linked to as slings since rubbers are used for some slingshots.

By the way, there’s a DARNA three-issue miniseries published for the international market by Mango Comics. The first 2 are already out and we’re just waiting for issue 3.
— Christian (

Giovanni Spinella mentioned a BATMAN ANNUAL that introduced a character called the Wrath (misspelled the Wraith). It was actually BATMAN SPECIAL #1. Giovanni is right in that the Wrath is a mirror image of Batman whose criminal parents were killed by Gotham City Police Officer Jim Gordon the same night Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered. This character was retconned out as a result of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, since the post-Crisis Jim Gordon spent the beginning of his law enforcement career in Chicago.
Take heart, though, for I believe the Wrath inspired Grant Morrison to create the JLA villain Prometheus.
— Matt Spaulding (

I might be able to answer the question from the woman looking for her friend’s acknowledged idea in a Katy Keene story, but her question didn’t contain her friend’s name. Every story idea, poem, pinup, costume, etc. in KATY KEENE COMICS was inspired by a fan’s submission, so her friend’s name is needed.
— Arthur Chertowsky (

Thanks, Arthur. I will leave it to her to contact you directly.

After reading your answer to the Supergirl/Barry Allen question, I’m wondering how many people had to be involved in the decision to have Hal Jordan go bonkers and kill off all the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps? That seems like an even bigger creative change than just killing off a major hero. And didn’t any of those people clue into what a phenomenally stupid way of introducing a new Green Lantern that was? Even though sales went up a bit, they’ve got to be kicking themselves over all the fans they ticked off and outright lost over it. I personally know of two longtime fans who dropped comics completely when that happened and still haven’t looked back. Not exactly a smart business decision on DC’s part.
— Jay D’Aoust (

Considering the things that were done with Hal afterwards, it could be construed that the editors realized they had not chosen the best way to introduce a new Green Lantern.

Re: the question of Spider-Man’s costume: Is it blue with black highlights or black with blue highlights?

I don’t know if there was any specific reason for doing so, but Erik Larsen’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issues circa 1990 clearly had Spidey in a red and BLACK costume. Strangely, there were no highlights at all (except the odd panel here and there), even though characters like Venom and Black Cat did have blue highlights on their black costumes.
— Kelvin Green (

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