Twenty years as a utility infielder
I just had a sobering realization that this month is my twentieth anniversary of working in comic books professionally. Gah.
I was in college, between my freshman and sophmore year and my summer job in the city had just gone bye-bye. I started looking for internships, and decided to give DC Comics a shot– even though Marvel had a better known internship program, I was more of a DC guy. I applied to every editor, to Paul Levitz, and to Bob. Most of them had no use for me, but Bob called me in for an interview: he had just lost a guy in the production darkroom, and did I know how to use a stat camera? I said I’d used one for about a week at the local village newspaper. He seemed interested. Since the interview was late in the day, he invited me along to that evening’s softball game. Bob was the manager of the company team, the DC Bullets, and they had a game that night against the crew of Late Night with David Letterman. Sure, I said.
I got to the appointed field in Central Park, and got word that the Late Night crew was going into overtime on a bad shoot and had to forfeit the game. Since everybody from DC was already there, Bob decided to get the team to do something unique: practice. And since we were short-handed and it was all for funsies, Bob told me to take the field. I didn’t have a glove, but what the hey, I head for the outfield. Mike Carlin takes the bat and steps to the plate, tosses the ball up, and hits a weak blooper to the infield.
Someone pipes up that you can hit harder than that, you need to get angry at the ball. Yell out the names of freelancers that are making your life hell. He picks up a ball, yells a name I’m not going to repeat, and smacks a line drive straight to the outfield.
Later on, Bob asks me to pitch to the batters, and I seem to be reasonably competent, a surprise to both him (kid’s not bad) and me (I have any skill in this? I guess in comparison to everybody else…) A week later, Bob offers me an internship in the production department at DC, working in the darkroom.
So why was I hired? As far as I can tell, it was because:
- I could work a stat camera;
- I could fill the slot almost immediately;
- I could pitch softball better than most of the rest of the players (comics pros ain’t noted for athletic prowess) and;
- since I was a college intern, I was a cheap hire. I think the difference between what any other new employee would have to get paid and what I actually received was what paid for the cover embossing for Cosmic Odyssey #4.
And so I started at DC Comics, a glamorous educational experience where I was literally kept in the dark. But just as on the field, I found myself doing all sorts of odd jobs, from creating odd effects in the darkroom to comic book trivia to catching a weird logic problem that would have made Grant Morrison’s first Doom Patrol story incomprehensible. (Okay, more incomprehensible.)
But best of all were the people, some of which I’m working with to this day– Mike Gold, who I didn’t make an impression on until Halloween, when I came in wearing a Question outfit. Mike edited The Question. He was impressed [Actually, I thought you had an allergy and I was impressed you’d come into work without a functional face. — MG], writer Denny O’Neil was amused, and I recall that there was even some talk of trying a photo cover of some sort. And Bob Greenberger, who was editing Doom Patrol and ended up being the first person I ever gave a Secret Santa gift to.
And to this day, I still find myself doing the same things I did back then in the field– being thrown in with no warning, no warm up, and still expected to get a save.
So thank you again, Bob Rozakis, for deciding I could play in the big leagues.
Glenn Hauman is the head of production and all around utility infielder for ComicMix. That means he does a little bit of everything for the company, as it’s hard for a company with employees spread all over the world to field a softball team.