Tagged: Dick Giordano

Mike Gold: Bad Taste Tastes Good

I am of the opinion that “bad taste” is a good thing. It’s the most ridiculously subjective concept imaginable: what offends me (admittedly, very little) might be absolutely awesome to you, and we each have a right to our opinions.

I was fortunate enough to be the editor and, along with ComicMix co-conspirator John Ostrander, co-conceiver of a DC Comics series called Wasteland. It was the black hole of humor, a monthly love-letter to bad taste. The stories usually had a point with enough wiggle-room in each concept to cause the reader night sweats. John wrote the series, often in tandem with improv legend Del Close, and we had a rotating gaggle of extraordinarily gifted artists as our visual collaborators. We’d have four going at any one time: three doing interior stories and one doing the cover. The one who did the cover in month one would do an interior job in month two, and so on. The artists usually came up with the cover concepts.

I only rejected one Wasteland cover. Drawn by Bill Wray, it happens to be my favorite. Those of you who are familiar with the Wasteland run might wonder just what it would take to cross my line. What it took was my concern for the continued existence of the comic book shop retailer: if not for the fact that we had to sell the thing, I would have published the cover about a hobo fishing off of a bridge into a sea of floating dead babies in a heartbeat.

 (Just for shits and grins, I took it to editor-in-chief Dick Giordano anyway. He took one look at it, laughed, and said “You already rejected this!” I miss Giordano a lot.)

All of this is my way of reviewing a truly wonderful new book, [[[Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See]]] by Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker and publisher of TOON Books. Under her editorship, The New Yorker’s covers shifted rather rapidly from inoffensive fodder to litter doctors’ waiting rooms into a powerful agent provocateur lurking on the newsstands with the sole purpose of confronting our assumptions and values.

Well, not quite every week. Perhaps their most infamous of these covers rests atop this column; it is among the many that has acted as a pie tossed in the face of the pathetically uptight. Most of these covers are reprinted in Blown Covers…

… and so, as the title suggests, are many that didn’t make it. Most of those reprinted in this tome are certainly print-worthy, and to be fair, many didn’t make it because somebody else beat them to it, including Mad Magazine, which also employed the aforementioned Bill Wray. Some… simply… crossed the line. That inevitable, damned line.

Reading Blown Covers is great fun. Just looking at the pictures is great fun, but reading about the decision-making process should be de rigueur for anybody who thinks editing stuff might be a legitimate way to earn a living. Quotes from the artists abound.

My favorite of these rejects was one that wasn’t even offered for publication: it was done by Art Spiegelman, a frequent cover contributor and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Maus, to his wife, the aforementioned Ms. Mouly. It was a drawing of a cattle car overstuffed with Jews on its way to a Nazi concentration camp. One guy was on his cell phone… and his über-cramped neighbors in the cattle car were annoyed and pissed.

What? Too soon?

Like I said, Blown Covers is great fun. Give it out as Christmas gifts to all your relatives.

I will.

Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See • Françoise Mouly • Abrams Books • $24.95 retail, also available in electronic editions.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil and the Secret To Getting Hired In Comics!


Mike Gold: Before Watchmen, Because…

It seems everybody has his or her tits in a wringer over this upcoming Before Watchmen thing. I’ve made a few comments here and there, but now that these books are about to come out, I’m going to weigh in officially.

I’ve been reading the solicitations in the Diamond Catalog and to be sure there’s a lot of great talent involved on these efforts. Really top-notch people, some of whom we haven’t seen much from lately. Most of these folks are basically if not emphatically pro-creators’ rights. Aside from the latent listings, I’ve read the thumbnail descriptions as well as DC’s press releases. There’s a lot of comic books involved here, and I approach Before Watchmen with the same question I approach any new effort: “Does this seem like it’s worth my time?”

Obviously, sometimes I make the wrong call – particularly when it comes to television. I’ll decide to pass on something and within short order all my friends, most of the reviews, and complete strangers at conventions will excoriate my witlessness. That’s fine; endorsements from people whose opinions I respect carry a lot of weight. Of course, if I try something and I don’t like it, I take a hike. I haven’t tried a second bottle of Moxie in three decades.

So as I gaze upon all these Before Watchmen comics, I ask myself “Does this seem like it’s worth my time?” And I hear myself say to myself “Well, no, it doesn’t.” Oh, I’ll probably check out a few produced by friends. But, by and large, unless I’m persuaded otherwise I’ll be giving the overall effort a pass.

Here’s the beauty of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: it was a true graphic novel, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. They created it, it came out the way they intended it to (or very close to that), we all read it and it went on to become one of the best selling graphic novels of all time. I suspect that latter part was for a reason, that reason being I was not alone in my assessment.

They left no room for sequels, and they really didn’t leave any room for prequels. Those prequels were already done. They were published by Charlton Comics during the Dick Giordano reign, just as Watchmen was published by DC during the Dick Giordano reign. The characters were called Peacemaker, Blue Beetle, Peter Canon Thunderbolt, The Question, Captain Atom, and Nightshade. Without these characters Watchmen either would not have happened or would have been based upon other characters DC owned but didn’t care all that much about – most likely the Fawcett or the Quality heroes.

So in my mind, Before Watchmen is unnecessary. Been there, read that. Your opinion may vary, and that’s totally okay by me. In fact, these friends of mine would like the opportunity to earn themselves some Watchmen royalties.

Then there are the moral issues.

Legally, nobody knows where it stands unless they’ve read the contract(s). I haven’t, but I was an executive at DC Comics at that time – actually, about a month later – and I can tell you that, in my professional opinion – DC didn’t commit in writing to anything but money, and maybe a few artistic oversight issues. Maybe. It just wasn’t done then; it’s barely being done now, and it was only sort of done from time to time in between. Somebody might have given his or her word about how merchandising, licensing, promotion, prequels, and sequels would or would not be done and Alan and/or Dave might have trusted those people… but those people are no longer around. Well, they’re not at DC Comics; they’re still around.

What it comes down to, for me, is respect. It makes absolutely no damn sense to alienate anybody in the creative arts, and it’s really, really stupid to go to such lengths to alienate people of the highest caliber. It’s bad business, it’s worse human relations.

I’ve read much if not all of what Alan has said, and I while I disagree with some of his sentiments there is one thing that is unimpeachable: as a creator, as a writer, as a source of wealth for the publisher, Before Watchmen shits all over him.

Some of my friends disagree, and I respect their positions. This isn’t clear-cut in the least: morality is a personal thing, and what is immoral to one person is just ducky with the next. You can react emotionally and that’s fine. Sometimes that’s all you will get.

Thus far, nobody has picked up a gun and started shooting up the place. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s happened in other media. Google “Marvin Glass” and “shooting” and find out how it came down in the toy design business.

So, yeah, I think Alan was treated badly here. But that’s really not the reason I’m planning to avoid Before Watchmen. I’m avoiding it because, when everything is added up, it just doesn’t seem to be worth my time.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil Passes The Test


Mike Gold gets Dick Giordano Humanitarian Of The Year Award from HERO Initiative

We are exceptionally proud to note that our own Mike Gold, Editor in Chief of ComicMix, was given the first Dick Giordano Humanitarian Of The Year Award from the HERO Initiative at this year’s Harvey Awards ceremony at the Baltimore Comic-Con. The award was presented by Mark Wheatley.

While note was made of Mike’s long career and assistance to various creators and causes, and the publishing of Dick Giordano’s last major comics work, White Viper, he was singled out this year for the efforts in raising money to save comics writer John Ostrander‘s eyesight.

In his acceptance speech, Mike thanked Gail Simone and Adriane Nash, who worked with him on fundraising.

Mike is a 30-year veteran of the comics industry, having served as group editor and director of editorial development for DC Comics, founder and editorial director of First Comics Inc., and publisher of Classics Illustrated. Prior to ComicMix, Gold had been editorial director for ArrogantMGMS, creating intellectual properties and overseeing media and ancillary rights and packaging comic books published by numerous comic book imprints, including Image, Acclaim and IDW.

He was a pioneer in the creation of an American market for graphic novels, and edited more than three-dozen graphic novels and anthologies, including the bestsellers The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, The Joker: Stacked Deck, GrimJack: Killer Instinct, Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail and American Flagg!.

In addition, Mike has an extensive background in the media and in the youth social services field, having been a broadcaster and radio personality, director of communication and education for a major Chicago drug abuse prevention program, cofounder and director of communication of the National Runaway Switchboard, and creator, and managing editor of Video Action magazine.

He has been an author and editor of, or contributor to, more than one dozen books, including, as Mark was quick to point out, [[[How To Draw Those Bodacious Bad Babes of Comics]]] with artist Frank McLaughlin. His work has appeared a wide range of newspapers and magazines, including The Chicago Tribune, The Realist and the British edition of MacUser magazine.

He has also served as a consultant to the Organic Theater of Chicago (home to Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, Ray Bradbury and David Mamet), the Stratford Connecticut Shakespeare Festival Theater, to numerous political efforts, and to The Child Care Center of Stamford, an award-winning Head Start and early childhood education program, as well as a media coordinator for the Chicago Conspiracy Trial.

Mike has received numerous awards previously, including the prestigious Comics Buyers’ Guide Award as favorite editor and the Golden Apple Award for best comics limited series (Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters).

DENNIS O’NEIL: Not Dennis O’Neil

When is a Denny O’Neil column not a Denny O’Neil column? When it’s being written by Man-Child editor Gold. Denny is under the weather – hopefully no longer in pain, as the only thing worse than being sick is being in agony. I know, because that was my situation for half of June and July.

All this means Denny and I are old and, obviously, decrepit. Let me tell you something, kiddies: that sucks. I’ll tell you two other things: it beats the alternative, and therefore if you live long enough for it to happen to you, you’re lucky.

But since we have this space that’s Denny’s, I’m going to say a few words about the old geezer. I can do this because he’s even older than I am, and I was a teenager when I started reading his stuff. I loved his work (and continue to do so) since before there was a Dennis O’Neil byline in comics. His phenomenal work for Charlton, Children of Doom (Charlton Premiere #2 November 1967, drawn by the late-great Pat Boyette and edited by the similarly late-great Dick Giordano), was published under the pen name Sergius O’Shaugnessy.

Jeez, Denny. Can you get any more Irish?

Anyway, if you can beg, borrow or steal a copy, do so. Go to your local schoolyard or crawl under the covers with a flashlight and read the thing. You will be amazed, entertained, edified, and overwhelmed by the succulent smell of deteriorating newsprint. And as I recall, Charlton used pre-deteriorating newsprint on their presses.

Denny and I became wall-mates during our respective tenures at DC Comics in the mid-70s. When we both returned to those hallowed halls (well, they had moved but DC is always doing that) we became office-mates for several years. And here’s a shock: I was totally honored to be sharing space with the man.

In fact, when I became his editor on [[[The Question]]] (yes, I’m bragging), I was totally intimidated. How the hell could I edit this man? Now, this is a fanboy response and not a professional one: I edited Will Eisner and even Peter O’Donnell, and those were not self-intimidating experiences. Then again, I didn’t live with them eight hours a day.

I had a great time on The Question. At a few points, it was an almost volatile experience – DC is known for its office politics and fighting with the bureaucracy and particularly with our crack marketing department was an ongoing thrill. Some are convinced I enjoyed that.


I don’t get to see Denny enough, but when I do I feel a strong connection to a kindred experience – one who, on his worst days (we both have a background in “journalism”), can write rings around me. So when his wife Marifran told me he would miss this week’s column – as saintly as Denny is, his being married to Marifran is an act of astonishing luck – all this dribble immediately popped up in my brainpan.

Thanks for letting me share. And Denny, get well soon or I’ll have to write that Dark Denny piece!

Recommended Reading: Charlton Premiere #2 November 1967, “Children of Doom,” written by Sergius O’Shaugnessy, drawn by Pat Boyette and edited by the similarly Dick Giordano.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

MINDY NEWELL: How I Became A Comics Professional…

…or how the fuck did that happen? Part One

So how did I get into comics?

I wasn’t going to write about this because the last column was all about me, and I don’t want you all thinking that “it’s all about her,” because it’s not, really, but I just reread my first column, and I did promise you, so…

I wish I could tell you that I always knew I wanted to be a comics writer, and that I was encouraged by my high school teachers and then went to university and majored in English with a minor in writing, or that I was a “convention-ho” and showed sample after sample after sample of my writing to every editor who didn’t make a beeline for the bathroom when they saw me coming. Or that I’m related to someone in the comics world, and hey, a little bit of nepotism doesn’t hurt. (Let’s get real, here, right?)


Once upon a time –1983 – I was working in the OR at a “great metropolitan hospital of a major American city.” It was an ordinary day, with no hint of things to come. Lunchtime came, and, not having anything to read while I ate, I went down to the hospitality shop, thinking I would pick up a magazine or maybe a paperback. None of the magazines or books was really catching my interest, when out of the corner of my left eye I noticed a rack.

A rack of comic books! (more…)

Some Thoughts on DC’s New World Order

In 1986, as the Crisis on Infinite Earths was winding down, Marv Wolfman made the radical suggestion that DC indicate the universe had truly changed by altering the numbering on all the titles and restart everything with a #1. For a number of reasons, it was a great idea but the timing couldn’t allow the move. Years later, Dick Giordano indicated it as one of his greatest editorial regrets. However, he can’t be blamed since the Crisis was wrapping up while DC was still negotiating to relaunch its flagship heroes. At that time, only Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli had been lined up for Batman: Year One while John Byrne was still being wooed for Superman, and very late in the process, Greg Potter and George Perez were circling Wonder Woman.

Had the stars aligned, it could have avoided two decades of constant revisions to the reality.

It now seems DC’s executive team has spent the last year moving the stars around. Today’s bombshell announcement indicates the rebooted line will kick off in September, with Justice League #1 previewing the new order on August 31.

I can only hope that DC has its house in order and can avoid embarrassing fill-ins and radical creative team changes early in a title’s run – problems which have plagued the core titles for the last few years.  The worst example may well be Batman: The Dark Knight, written and drawn by David Finch. After debuting in November, the fifth issue of this monthly series is not coming out until August and only then with a fill-in artist.

That aforementioned new Justice League book is coming from DC’s two busiest executives: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Sure, it’ll read well and look great, but will it be a monthly and for how long will the talent remain intact? At minimum, these new titles, all 50 of them, need consistent talent on board for at least the first six issues and fill-ins need to be carefully integrated. (more…)

The Point Radio: Rob Corddry Joins ‘The Boys’?

The Point Radio: Rob Corddry Joins ‘The Boys’?

Hot Tub Time Machine‘s Rob Cordrry has a few dream projects in mind – one of which is starting in the big screen version of a little comic created by Garth Ennis. Can we make this happen, or better yet, can he?

Rob shares his thoughts here plus a Dragon sized box office, 24 clocks out and the passing of the legendary Dick Giordano.

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Dick Giordano: Mentor

Dick Giordano: Mentor

Sitting here at I-Con, the word is spreading throughout the Green Room with alarm that Dick Giordano, one of the most universally beloved figures in the comics world is gone.

Growing up as a comics reader, I was first aware of Dick as a superlative inker, usually in tandem with Neal Adams on Green Lantern and Batman. It was only later I learned of his work at Charlton, editing the line of Action Heroes titles followed by his short stint at DC as an editor.

I finally got to meet him at Paul Levitz’s wedding in the wake of the announcement that he was returning to DC. It wasn’t until December 1983 that we finally had a chance for a conversation — when he interviewed me to join the staff.

DC in 1984 was a company poised to explode into a new age. All the pieces were being put into place as Dick was recently named to run the editorial department and was setting the stage for creators from Frank Miller to Alan Moore do some of their best and most memorable work.

Working on staff at the time allowed me to see the man in action and to learn from him. He was a superb artist and had excellent story instincts which he happily conveyed with any and all to walk into his cluttered office. Every lesson I’ve learned in how to review portfolios and talk to artists, came from Dick. Whenever I was looking art artwork and I knew something was wrong, but the words failed me, I could walk into his office and show him the page. He saw my point and then grabbed a sheet of tracing paper and showed me (and often the artist as well) what was wrong, why, and how to fix it.


Dick Giordano: 1932 – 2010

Dick Giordano: 1932 – 2010

It is with profound personal regret that I report comics legend Dick Giordano died this morning.

The man who guided two comics companies, Charlton and then DC, to greatness and served as collaborator, friend and mentor to more people than I’d have capacity to recall in a week – Neal Adams, Dennis O’Neil, Jim Aparo, Joe Rubinstein, Terry Austin, Steve Ditko, Frank McLaughlin, Klaus Janson, Al Milgrom, Bob Layton, Steve Skeates, and every young artist, writer and editor who passed through Continuity Associates and DC Comics during his tenure at those companies, to name but a very few. His own gifts as an editor and artist were nothing short of breathtaking.

Dick always defended creative freedom and aesthetic opportunity, sometimes putting him heads-on with management powers, often representing not his own work but that of the editors in his charge, most certainly including myself, for which I will be forever grateful. He knew the good stuff when he saw it, he knew how to improve it, he knew how to incubate it. Projects he saw through included Ditko’s Blue Beetle, Bat Lash, Deadman, Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, The Dark Knight, Watchmen... really, way too many to list in one place.

As an artist, he drew virtually every major and most minor characters for Charlton, Marvel and DC, including his own early work with Joe Gill on Sarge Steel. Best known as an inker on Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow (separately and together), and Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. One of his very last creative projects was the forthcoming graphic novel White Viper with Erin Holroyd and Frank McLaughlin, serialized on ComicMix and to be released shortly by IDW/ComicMix.

Much of Dick’s best known efforts were done in collaboration with artist Neal Adams, with whom he partnered in a commercial art studio, Continuity Associates, in 1971. A great many comics artists both young and old worked in that studio, often collaborating under the name “the Crusty Bunkers.” He authored the book Drawing Comics with Dick Giordano and served on the board of directors of The Hero Initiative. Even in his corporate capacities, Dick always championed the cause of creator’s rights.

A very warn, opinionated, feisty man with a disarming sense of humor and a knowledge of illustration history second to none, Dick suffered through many health difficulties, including asthma, hearing loss, and ultimately leukemia.

Dick was my friend and my mentor as well; I had the privilege of serving under him for seven years at DC Comics where we worked on Green Arrow, Modesty Blaise and numerous other projects. Dick did a public service piece for me in promotion of The National Runaway Switchboard, and I was proud to be his editor on The White Viper.

I’ll miss him a lot; in this, I will not be alone.

White Viper: The Way of the Snake

White Viper: The Way of the Snake


In today’s brand new episode of White Viper, by Erin Holroyd, Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin, our heroine learns to fight in the style of the snake.  Particularly, the viper.  Hmmm, I bet that’s going to be important.  Also, the bad guys decide to ride into town again.


Credits: Erin Holroyd (Writer), Dick Giordano (Penciller), Frank McLaughlin (Inker), Lovern Kindzierski (Colorist), John Workman (Letterer), Mike Gold (Editor)