At MoCCA this past weekend – that’s one of my favorite shows, by the way – a surprising number of people asked me about how I felt about DC Comics Entertainment Periodical Publications moving to the Left Coast.
It amuses me to note that only one of these people actually worked at DC, and he was being sarcastic.
In its 80 years DC Comics has moved more frequently than a family of vaudevillians. I worked at only three of their locations; I know many who worked at five or six. Every time DC moves, they relaunch Aquaman. They are now a fully integrated part of Warner Bros., so moving to LALALand is a no-brainer.
And I hope my friends at Marvel are paying attention.
Once Marvel joins Disney out in Hollywood, only one comic book leaflet publisher will be left in New York City proper, that being Valiant. (If I’m missing anybody, forgive me – you really can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and, besides, I haven’t seen Jim Shooter in about a year). If you consider the entire New York metropolitan area, that number grows to… what, two? Archie Comics is in Westchester County. If ComicMix returns to leaflet publishing, and, yeah, we’re considering it but then we collapse in a fit of giggles – then that’ll make three. The combined output of the New York comic book leaflet publishers wouldn’t amount to a fart.
For the record: I think it is absolutely great that we have comics publishers all over the nation. There’s no magic to publishing comic books in Manhattan, despite what lazy publishers told poor cartoonists between the middle of the Depression until the election of Ronald Reagan. Actually, I think it is great that we have so many comics publishers that they can be all over the nation.
I admit: the first time I dropped my butt into my chair at 75 Rockefeller Plaza – that’s four locations and 40 years ago – I was in fanboy heaven. It was a great feeling. Jenette Kahn offered me the job at a moment when, as they say in the business, I was “between radio stations.” In 1976, stations were changing their pretty much after every third song and I saw the handwriting on the wall. It said “Work for Superman.”
The fact is, most of my best and most enduring friendships have been formed while in the comics racket. I’ve lunched with Steve Ditko, I’ve worked with Will Eisner and Peter O’Donnell, I intervened in a, ah, friendly discussion between Stan Lee and Joe Orlando. Great stuff. ComicMixers Glenn Hauman, Martha Thomases, Denny O’Neil, Mindy Newell, Bob Ingersoll, and Robert Greenberger? These folks have been my friends forever, and I met them all through comics. Yes, they have amazing intestinal fortitude.
John Ostrander is different. (I can’t tell you how much I wanted to end this paragraph right here.) I’ve known John even longer, through our common interest in both theater and comics. I brought him into this business – at his own request, so he can’t complain.
I have absolutely no doubt that there are a ton of people just out of school out on the Left Coast who will put in their time at DC Comics and come out of it exhausted but with plenty of great friendships.
And for me, that is the magic of the comic book racket.