Tagged: Gil Kane

His Name Is … Savage! Returns this December

That’s right! Gil Kane’s 1968 creation will be returning to the world of comics with new adventures starting in December through Paper Movies. His Name Is … Savage! for those who are unfamiliar is a short lived noir comic with a story you could picture the likes of James Bond having to endure. After Gil Kane had passed in 2000, few people thought they’d ever see more of this rather obscure creation from the man that brought us characters like Hal Jordan and Iron Fist. 

Writing this reboot of His Name Is … Savage! is veteran comics writer Steven Grant whose known for his work on comics like Punisher and The Avengers. Illustrating this return is up and coming artist Jesus Antonio Hernandez Portaveritas with colorists Falk Haensel and Raul Manriquez. The new logo and lettering was done by multi-Ringo Award nominated letterer Taylor Esposito who also contributed to ComicMIx’s Mine! anthology. 

For a recent interview with Steven Grant about his work on His Name Is … Savage! as well as more information on what Paper Movies will be publishing soon, check out this Deadline article.

Ed Catto: Great Graphic Novels, Old and New               

There’s a peculiar mix of older graphic novels and new graphic novels in our home right now. The new stuff is all part of a top-secret project I’m working on with my daughter, Tess. We can’t let the cat out of the bag yet, but you can check out her showcase of street art for the sneak peek tease. (And now that I think about it, who even puts cats into bags ?!?)

I’m struck by the wide variety of engaging, superlative creative endeavors we cram under the umbrella term “graphic novel.” While there’s one line of thinking that argues Geek Culture has outgrown the phrase “graphic novel,” it’s still handy and flexible enough for hardcore fans, casual fans, librarians, and bookstore owners.

Here are a few of the so-called Old Graphic Novels floating around here:

  • Fiction Illustrated Vol. 3 featured Chandler and was originally presented as “Steranko’s first visual novel, a ground-breaking blend of pictures, words and graphic design…”. It’s a gripping noir mystery with a stylish sense of visual design. I enjoy it more every time I re-read it. There are so many instances when you could say that Jim Steranko is at his best and this is one of them.
  • Gil Kane’s Blackmark is a sci-fi/sword and sorcery thriller that was first published as a Bantam paperback in 1971. Veteran comic artist Kane told this story with illustrated panels, captions, and only the occasional word balloon. Interestingly, with eerily parallels to today’s willful ignorance of climate change, this adventure takes place in a time when “Science is abominated, its secrets buried, its last adherents scourged and cast out by the people…” And the results weren’t pretty. Even when rendered by Gil Kane.
  • The Stars My Destination was an award-winning novel by Golden Age Green Lantern writer Alfred Bester, but for many, it really came to life when Howard Chaykin and Bryon Preiss collaborated on the graphic novel version. It’s a detailed adventure that expects the reader to keep up from the get-go. Chaykin, as you probably know, has a rich history of providing topnotch comics and graphic novels. He shows no sign of slowing down as he continues with his provocative The Divided States of Hysteria, published by Image.

And just so you don’t think I’m too enamored with the past, here are a few of the Newer Graphic Novels scattered around here:

  • Emil Ferris rocked the comics world last year with her debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters. It’s a wild ride by an unconventional, yet monstrously (sorry, couldn’t resist) talented creator. It was instantly talked about and then difficult to get. Now it’s available everywhere. With her clever illustrations and natural storytelling ability, Ferris shows readers how to create something spectacular and incorporate some of your favorite things along the way,
  • Charles Burns isn’t really the David Lynch of comics, but I can see why you might think that. His work is often confusing, dense and just a little bit creepy. As a reader, however, you feel that he would never take the easy way out. Burns engages his audience in a complicated covenant based on a respect for intelligence and his making-it-look easy skills. His 2012 The Hive is part of the trilogy but it stands well enough on its own. Of particular note to lovers of old comics, Burns absolutely nails the zeitgeist of old DC romance comics and John Romita romance art in particular.
  • Francisco Francavilla is absurdly likable as both a person and an artist. He’s hard-working, optimistic and personable when you meet him. Artistically, he uses his creations to embrace everything he loves and then wraps it all up with innovative design and unexpected color. You may be enjoying his current work from Dynamite on Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers. His latest Graphic Novel, Black Beetle: Kara Bocek is a collection of short installments, originally appearing in Dark Horse Presents, featuring Francavilla’s own pulp hero.

  • Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, as realized by Ramon K. Perez, came out a few years ago and I got my copy as part of the swag bag at the Baltimore Comic-Con award ceremony. (As an aside, the Baltimore Comic-Con just held the first annual Ringo Awards, which will become the new awards ceremony at this well-respected comic-con. I heard it all went very well. Kudos to all!) Tale of Sand is a skillfully rendered tale full of compelling moxie.

And, for a graphic novel that’s A Little Bit Old and a Little Bit New, let me offer this one up:

  • Classic Comics Press just released Kelly Green: The Complete Collection by Stan Drake and Leonard Starr. The hardcover collects five Kelly Green graphic novels from the 80s. As a bonus, it also contains one story that was never printed in English, The Comic-Con Heist, that’s all about Geek Culture. These adventures are sexy thrillers with realistic, sexy art by Starr at top of his creative game.

So many great things to read. I’ve got to read fast in order to also get to my Fast Company and Inc. Magazine.

Mike Gold: Time, Space, and Adam Strange

It was, for its time, the coolest comic book on the racks. Lucky for me, having just turned eight years old I was at the perfect age to best enjoy it.

In fact, I already was lusting for the comic by the time it hit my local drug store. The house ad promoting the issue had been running in several of the DC comics for a few weeks, and it intrigued the hell out of me. Back in those days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, new comic book heroes were very few and very far between, even though 1958 was something of a boom year. DC had a title called Showcase that offered new concepts a try out – usually three issues. Yes, it was joined by The Brave and the Bold, but not until the summer of 1959. Showcase begat the Challengers of the Unknown, Lois Lane, the Metal Men, and the silver age Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom… among others.

Whereas it isn’t hard to get an eight-year old all excited, this comic book had a pedigree that few others approached. It was created by, if you’ll forgive the word, legends. Julius Schwartz was the editor and the ringleader, and he reached for his A team. Gardner Fox, arguably the most accomplished comics writer in American history, did the scripting and he co-plotted it with fellow comics writer and science fiction icon Edmond Hamilton, along with the aforementioned Julie Schwartz. The cover artist was Gil Kane, and the story artist was Mike Sekowsky.

The series was called Adam Strange. It featured a run-of-the-mill Earthling who found himself transported by Zeta Beam to the planet Rann where he fell in love with the chief scientist’s daughter while flying around, usually with her, vanquishing alien invasions and monsters and such. When the Zeta Beam wore off Adam faded back to Earth, usually right after he saved the day but right before he could kiss his lover. That drove him bugfuck, and back on Earth he figured out where and when that Zeta Beam would strike next… usually just in time to save Rann once again.

What made Adam Strange work – in 1958 – was the costume. It was classic science fiction spaceman. Jet-pack, helmet, ray gun, and all red with white accents. It was designed by still another legend, Murphy Anderson. Murphy had been drawing science fiction heroes since 1944. In fact, he drew the newspaper adventures of one of the very first such heroes, Buck Rogers, and Buck’s influence on Adam’s costume was quite evident – and very welcome.

The whole thing started as a contest. DC executive vice president Irwin Donenfeld thought what the world needed was a new s-f hero and he challenged editors Julius Schwartz and Jack Schiff. Jack’s Space Ranger was published in Showcase #15 and #16; Adam Strange lived in the next three issues.

As it turned out, neither character won – yet neither character lost, either. Adam Strange became the lead feature in Mystery In Space, drawn by the near-mythic Carmine Infantino and always occupying the cover, while Space Ranger lived in Tales of the Unexpected. For the record: Space Ranger also was created by Gardner Fox and Edmond Hamilton, but the two were as different as night and day. The main difference: Space Ranger was rather typical, and Adam Strange was exciting.

Both series lasted until the mid-60s. By that time, the United States and Russia had sent a passel of humans (and a few dogs) into outer space, and the reality of what you could see on the home screen was vastly more compelling than 1950s science fiction heroes.

Of course, in comic books nothing ever goes away, and here Adam got the best of the Ranger. Adam Strange remains a vital force in the DC Universe to this day, and now Adam Strange is going to enjoy something of a starring role in the latest DC teevee show, Krypton. Mindy Newell reported on this Monday, although she revealed only a fraction of our deeply existentialist conversation.

I’m glad to see Adam is still around, but I’m reminded of DC publisher Jenette Kahn’s reaction to the character back in 1977 when Jack C. Harris and I discussed a run in the revived Showcase. She took home a couple bound volumes from the library, read them over the weekend, came back and pronounced it “dated.”

Yup. It was. And that was the point. But DC needed to develop its astrophysical borders, so Jack pretty much kept the story, which also featured Hawkman and Hawkwoman. We renamed the series Hawkman, and it did okay.

Amusingly, Hawkwoman (or Hawkgirl) will be joining Adam Strange in the new Krypton series. This will not be the same woman from the current DC/CW teevee shows as these shows (except Supergirl) inhabit a parallel universe in which Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman do not exist.

As of yet.

Television has learned a lot from comic books.


Dennis O’Neil: Authority Figures Are Often Full Of…

Pay attention now. There’s a lesson to be learned here today and you should believe what I’m about to write, but we’ll get to that later… after we produce some evidence.

Here’s the lesson – in italics to emphasize its importance: Authority figures are often full of shit.

I’m not saying all authority figures are wicked per se. They are, after all, a gift of evolution and anything that evolution offers has a reason for being. But keep your skepticism at the ready when visiting the experts, especially if they’re speaking outside of their specialties.

You might want to heed a brain surgeon’s recommendation regarding your gray matter, but pass on his political opinions.

And about those specialties: be at least a tad skeptical there, too. A few months a medical specialist with the white jacket and the framed certificates on the wall – the whole package – gave Marifran a pretty alarming diagnosis. She accepted it – he’s the doctor – and we got on with our lives. Then the lovely Perri Pivovar suggested we visit a university-affiliated clinic that specializes in the kind of illness Mari allegedly had. But she didn’t. A thorough examination revealed no trace of the illness, just some residual damage from a stroke Mari had seven or so years ago, eminently treatable.

Now, that evidence. But first: by some criteria I’m an authority. No kidding. Not a claim I’d make for myself, but over the years I’ve occasionally worked as an editor and a college professor, and those are authority-type jobs. So here is what this “authority” wrote last week:

“The best of them was Master of Kung Fu for which Roy Thomas had the bright idea of making his hero the son of Fu Manchu, a master

The only problem here is, Roy did not create Master of Kung Fu. That chore was handled in 1972 by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. It was published by Marvel Comics, of which you may have heard. Roy and Gil Kane created another martial artist hero: Iron Fist, a.k.a. Danny Rand, who first appeared in 1974 and was the subject of last week’s column and of a television series that may be streaming on a TV set near you if you’re a Netflix subscriber.

Now, I’m willing to affirm that everything in the preceding three paragraphs is true and the only reason you may have to doubt it is that it comes from someone who has admitted to being an authority and we have agreed, have we not, that authorities are inherently untrustworthy. What to do?

Perhaps you could join a cult? Scientology may have a few openings.

Joe Corallo: Iron First – Lose / Lose


Last week news broke that Marvel Entertainment has cast Finn Jones to play Iron Fist in their Netflix series slated for 2017. Jones is a blonde haired, blue eyed, straight cis white man and despite playing a character that in the comics would also match that description, this was also looked to as a chance for Marvel to cast differently as the character of Iron Fist appropriates heavily from Asian cultures. So, basically, this was a lose/lose casting situation for Marvel, and Marvel chose to lose.

To me the real question is not why they cast the way they did. My question is, why are they making an Iron Fist show at all? Sure, part of this is me being flip, but I’m also trying to make a valid point.

For those unfamiliar with Iron Fist, here’s a quick background. Iron Fist, a.k.a. Danny Rand, was created in 1974 by comic book legends Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. His primary ability is being a master of martial arts, but he also has some additional powers including an ability to concentrate his chi in his fist, which gives him his name. The character was heavily influenced by the early-mid 70s interest in martial arts in Western culture – even Jon Pertwee as The Doctor practiced a form of Aikido. Iron Fist started in the pages of Marvel Premiere, later getting his own title, then joining up with Luke Cage a.k.a. Power Man. After his “death” in Power Man and Iron Fist #125 in 1986, Iron Fist would fade in and out of the Marvel Universe, occasionally getting his own solo series again, most notably a run in the mid-2000s written by Matt Fraction. Oh, and like most other characters created at Marvel from 1974 and before, he’s a straight cis white man.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see how Iron Fist was problematic. Not only is this a character that appropriates Asian cultures, he’s been written and drawn almost exclusively by straight cis white men. Larry Hama has contributed to the character, but he’s one of the rare exceptions. Yes, I completely understand that Iron Fist is a white man, but maybe if you’re going to appropriate a culture you should have some input from people in that culture.

Iron Fist will be, if everything goes according to plan, the fourth solo Marvel Entertainment Netflix series. We’ll have had two seasons of Daredevil, a season of Jessica Jones, and a season of Luke Cage before Iron Fist has his own show. Maybe he’ll show up in Luke Cage. So why are people upset? Why does Iron Fist just seem like a bad idea now?

The primary reason for me, and maybe a lot of you out there who also aren’t thrilled by the prospect of an Iron Fist show, is the lack of diversity casting. Not because Iron Fist should have been cast different, but because he we don’t need an Iron Fist show. The TV shows have a much larger audience than the comics. And often a much different audience.

The people who have been enjoying the Marvel Netflix series, and even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been watching Marvel move towards more diversity. Daredevil featured a straight cis white man, but Jessica Jones was about a straight cis white woman and Luke Cage a straight cis black man. Having them go back to a straight cis white man lead after this comes off as a step backwards to many in the audience, and rightfully so.

Fans of the comics can yell from the rooftops until they’re blue in the face. They can point out how Iron Fist/Danny Rand has always been a straight cis white guy. They can call out people for being casual fans and criticizing them for having never read an Iron Fist comic. All of that misses the point. Marvel Entertainment on TV has been giving off the impression to its viewers that they care about diversity, and to many viewers out there this is a move against the expectations that Marvel has set up and a betrayal to an audience that expects more.

Some people may be thinking to themselves who else could Marvel have even picked. Didn’t Marvel Entertainment have to make an Iron Fist show if they wanted to do The Defenders? The answer is a resounding no. In all of Marvel’s TV and movie adaptations they don’t always follow the comics that closely. Sometimes they don’t follow them at all. If they did, the first Avengers movie wouldn’t have had Captain America, Hawkeye, or Black Widow in it, the first X-Men movie would not have had Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Mystique, and many others. Black Widow in particular was added to Avengers because of Joss Whedon’s instance to have more representation after all.

Marvel has many, many characters to consider instead of Iron Fist. In a conversation I had with fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson, she suggested why not Moon Knight? What about Dakota North? Monica Rambeau? Squirrel Girl? Or the incredibly obvious choice of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel? It doesn’t matter if these characters were in The Defenders or not, they could still just as easily be in the team. Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage all show Marvel’s willingness to use lesser known properties in a different medium to give them new life and a larger audience. Why not also use that strategy to expand other characters profiles to expand representation rather than adding yet another straight cis white guy to the mix? Marvel could still even just add Iron Fist to Luke Cage, just as Luke Cage had a big role in Jessica Jones. Iron Fist doesn’t need his own series for that.

Some will write this off as overzealous social justice warriors that just don’t understand comic properties and are searching out the next trivial cause to latch themselves onto. That is not what’s happening. What we’re seeing, as far as I can tell, is backlash to a tone deaf company that’s expanding its audience reach and not following through with the unspoken promise of better representing the audience that people like Joss Whedon worked hard to cultivate for them.

Ed Catto: The (Not Quite) Secret Origin of Pacific Comics!

1047384-vanity_1_0001Just a few decades ago, astronauts, presidents and cowboys and were some of our cultural role models. But today’s cultural heroes are the brave souls who pitch their ideas on Shark Tank. So it’s not a surprise to find an entrepreneurial high school (or middle school) student who has created a cutting edge product, service or app. That’s why the subject of this week’s column is all the more impressive. In the early 80’s, two teenage brothers launched a their comic publishing business, showcasing talents like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams and Dave Stevens. At that time, they didn’t have any role models. They didn’t have weekly comic conventions in various cities. They were on the frontier with no maps or guidebooks.

That’s why I’m so pleased to present my recent conversation with Bill Schanes. He’s a great guy who’s accomplished so very much in his career. Conversations with him could fill up several of these weekly columns. But for now, I will focus on the early days, and the origin of Pacific Comics.

Kirby PacificEd Catto: Pacific Comics, as a publisher, was preceded by your mail order business, several comic shops and even a distribution business. How did you decide to start publishing Pacific Comics?

Bill Schanes: Since my brother Steve and I had several different but related businesses going at the same time, we noticed that there wasn’t very many “new” releases when it came to new comic books from the New York publishing houses. (It’s important to remember, the only mainstream publishers at that time were Archie, Harvey, DC and Marvel.) There were a number of “underground” publishers putting out books, like Print Mint, Rip-Off Press, Last Gasp, Kitchen Sink and others, but there just wasn’t enough new periodical releases to drive consumers into our stores on a weekly basis, so we decided to give it a try.

We first published a black and white comic book called ONE, which was part photo/illustration, and part traditional comic book style of artwork. We did this to make sure we fully understood how the whole editorial production cycle worked, plus we felt ONE had enough potential on its own to reach a wide range of consumers.

Most people don’t know this next tidbit, but we intended on our first major release to be a project Gil Kane was working on at the time – Blackmark.

Steve and I had also been involved with the San Diego Comic-Con since its second year (only missed the very first show), and during those early years, we got to know a number of the writers and artists who were the big names at the times, plus a wide range of new and upcoming talent as well.

EC: When you launched Pacific, the comics industry was very different than it is today. What are some of the major differences between the industry, then and now, specifically as it relates to publishing a new line of comics?

alien_worlds1BS: As I mentioned previously, there were very few mainstream publishers releasing books at that time. The idea of a graphic novel or a trade paperback just wasn’t even being contemplated, except for a couple of exceptions.

Those early days were very innocent, as there really weren’t any rules or boundaries at that time. Competition was limited in the “superhero’ genre to DC and Marvel only, so we felt there was a fairly large gap into what we thought the market would respond to, which was to break out of the mold, and introduce new concepts that featured the creative teams as much, if not more than the character name, as any characters that Pacific Comics would be introducing would be brand new to both retailers and consumers.

While we had a general idea as to what we wanted to publish, we didn’t have a formal business plan at that time (silly looking back on it now).

It’s also important to remember that in the late 70s and early 80s, there weren’t thousands upon thousands of comic book specialty retailers. Pacific Comics was also the largest wholesaler/distributor of comic books on the west coast at the time, so we had a very good relationship with the vast majority of the comic book specialty retailers out west. We felt that they would treat us as one of their own, as DC and Marvel were those New York guys, who really hadn’t established any type of retailer programs yet.

Pacific Comics was the first “mainstream” comic book publisher who exclusively sold into comic book specialty market retailers (no newsstand), so the retailers really responded positively to this via very large initial order commitments. We combined key creators (Kirby, Ditko, Adams, Wrightson, Jones…), with what at the time was cutting edge color separations (blue line/grey line), upscale paper stock, which allowed for higher quality reproduction, and heat set printing. This basically means that once the ink was applied to the paper, the ink “set” on top of the paper. This is opposed to the traditional cold press printing method of the previous 40+ years, which the ink absorbed into the paper, and also transferred to the readers’ hands fairly easily.

Adams PacificEC: The roster of Pacific creators reads like a who’s who of comics – Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, Dave Stevens, Sergio Aragones…the list goes on and on. Which creators are your favorites and why?

BS: We were very fortunate, as at the time Pacific Comics was going into the publishing of comic books, DC and Marvel had just come off one of their worst periods in regards to creator/talent relationships. We were also very lucky to have a number of very bright people working for us at the time, including David Scroggy (now at Dark Horse running their merchandise program), Jon Hartz (former original Valiant EVP), Bill Lund (one of the original founders and 1st chairman of the San Diego Comic-Con), and many others.

I had played with the idea of “ranking” the talent/creators based on sales of the books they had worked on over the recent past few years (somewhat similar to sports stats). At that time (before excel), I put together a grid of sales stats (on a large oversized graph paper), broken down by writer, penciller, inker, letterer, colorist, editor and any other individuals involved in the creative process. Each month, I’d update the data to include the most recent sales. I also put a “point value” on each sales level for each category of creator, so when we wanted to put together an editorial team, we wanted to make sure that each new book or story within a book would have a “point value” which we felt would represent the best opportunity to achieve sales of previous books they had worked on. While it wasn’t 100% scientific, it proved to be pretty helpful.

Now to get back to your question, after weren’t able to come to terms with Gil Kane on his Blackmark project, we said we might as well go with the biggest names in the business at the time. That meant that the #1 on our list, and one of all of our personal favorites was Jack Kirby. Jack had left the business for a while to work at Hanna-Barbera; mainly because he was dissatisfied with the work-for-hire concept that was the standard in the comic book business at the time, as he felt he should retain ownership and be entitled to royalties versus just a flat page rate with no back end compensation.

We also wanted to work with Neal Adams – who wouldn’t want to? – as well as some newcomers, like Dave Stevens. When we first saw the Rocketeer concept and early pages, we were left speechless, and knew immediately that Dave was heading to be one of the brightest and biggest names in the business (Dave was lost far too early, so sad).

We were aware that both Jack and Neal had long fought for creator rights, and we wanted to work with both, to show the creative community that Pacific Comics was a new type of comic book publisher, one who wanted creators to work with us versus having creators work for us.

pacific-comics-edge-of-chaos-issue-1EC: Which projects or series were your favorites?

BS: Personally, I really enjoyed almost all of the books that April Campbell and Bruce Jones packaged for Pacific Comics. April and Bruce put together a series of fantastic titles, with all star talent involved. These included Twisted Tales, Alien Worlds, Pathways to Fantasy, Somerset Holmes to name a few. Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Berni Wrightson, Barry Winsor Smith, Tim Conrad, Art Adams, John Bolton, Joe Chiodo, Bo & Scott Hampton, Brent Anderson, and a host of others, plus April and Bruce wrote the majority of the stories, which lent to wonderful continuity along the whole line.

I also enjoyed the Elric series by P. Craig Russel (Mike Friedrich – from the then famous StarReach Productions) brokered this project with the creators.

Mike Grell was just in the middle of his fantastic run on Warlord, and we were really pleased to be able to publish his book Starslayer.

EC: And as a follow-up, which comics were you most proud of publishing?

BS: It’s hard to say anything other than KIRBY! The King had returned to comics and Pacific Comics engaged him on a creator ownership deal, whereby Pacific Comics licensed Jack’s titles from him, paid him a page rate, royalty from copy one, and at the end of the day, Jack owned 100% of his titles. (As it should be, as far as we were concerned).

Loved Dave Steven’s work on The Rocketeer.

April and Bruce were incredible to work with.

Steve Ditko did some back up features for us – I felt especially proud we were able to get Ditko back into the business (as we had done with Kirby).

SERGIO – need I say more! Sergio was, and is to this day, one of the nicest guys in the business. Sergio had done signings at our retail stores in the early 70’s, and was an absolute pleasure to work with (along with Mark Evanier).

pacific-comics-groo-the-wanderer-issue-4EC: I’m especially intrigued by the Somerset Holmes series by Bruce Jones and April Campbell, and their Hollywood struggle. What do you remember about that one?

BS: Somerset Holmes was a series put together and packaged by April Campbell and Bruce Jones (a really terrific team). April was the main “model” for the lead character, and my wife at the time (Cynthia Lee Vice) was also involved in the photo shoots for reference materials used later on.

EC: After Pacific Comics, you started working at Diamond Comics. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about, and what your responsibilities there were initially?

BS: After Pacific Comics wrapped up its various business entities in 1984, I took a few months off from returning to the workforce, just to recharge and see if I still had enough in me to give another run. I was 26 at the time, started Pacific Comics with my brother Steve when I was 13 and Steve was 17.


Sometime in the late summer of 1984, I had taken a few months off, and felt I could re-enter back into the industry that I loved so much. I reached out to Bud Plant (the largest wholesaler/distributor on the west coast), Russ Ernst (one of the largest mid-west distributors – Glenwood), Milton Griepp and John Davis (Capital City), and Steve Geppi (Diamond). These four interviews were all somewhat unique, as we both interviewed each other in regards to help to fully understand if we’d be a good fit together. They each had a long list of questions and talking points, and I also had put together a detailed list of questions and thoughts based on each of their individual strengths.

After these four interviews, I felt I could have the most impact by joining Diamond, which I did on November 11, 1985. I moved my family, dog and exotic African Macaw from San Diego to Baltimore via a semi-truck. I drove all 3,000 miles for the first time in that semi-truck.

When I got to Diamond, there were only a handful of employees at the “home office”. I originally handled customer service, sales, order forms (no Previews catalog yet) and “other duties as called upon.” Within my first week, I was attending a trade show in Chicago, with the instructions to meet with the largest accounts in the Chicagoland area (this included Moondog’s, Larry’s Comic Shop, Joe Sarno’s Comic Kingdom and Carl Bonasera’s Amazing Fantasy Comics.

EC: Looking back on your experiences with Pacific, is there any learning that you could offer to new publishers starting today?

BS: It seems to me in order to be a successful comic book publishers today, you need to do a number of things very well. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Personal vision
  • Business plan
  • Dedication to honoring your word with both creators, comic book specialty retailers, media, and other 3rd party partners
  • Relationship building
  • Publishing on time, every time (leave no doubts that your serious about your publishing plans, and do what you say)
  • Flexibility to change direction quickly
  • Define what niche you are good at, and stick to what you know
  • Financially ability to fund the start-up, building of, and continuing of your publishing business – over a 2-4 year time
  • Treating creators (writers, artists, colorists, editors) and creator rights (outside of licensed books from major intellectually property owners like Warner Brothers, Disney, Fox…) with ultimate respect.

EC: Bill, great insights, stories and advice. What a treat! Thanks so much.