Author Archives: Todd

Pulled From My Files #98: DC Inside Cover Art

This and all images © DC Comics.

In my first few years on staff at DC Comics I was given all kinds of odd jobs, and I enjoyed the challenges and variety. Here are a few that I kept, and which I will have for sale at the Baltimore Comic-Con this Oct. 18-20. Above is the inside front cover of the Legion of Super-Heroes Tabloid, official title ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION VOL. 7 #C-55, 1978. For this essay probably written by Paul Levitz about the origins of the LSH, I made an open book against a starry background with decorative title and initial capital “I.”

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And Then I Read: TEHANU by Ursula K. Le Guin

From “The Books of Earthsea” with color paintings and black and white
illustrations by Charles Vess.

Continuing my reading of the complete Earthsea in one new hardcover edition, the fourth novel was published in 1990, eighteen years after the third one, “The Farthest Shore,” but in the story it follows almost immediately after that book. The viewpoint character is Tenar, as in book two, “The Tombs of Atuan,” now a much older woman living on a farm on the island of Gont. She had been brought here by Ged after they escaped the Tombs and returned with the Ring of Peace to Havnor. For a while she lived with Ged’s old master, the wizard Ogion, but as she grew to womanhood she decided she wanted a more normal life. She moved down from Ogion’s cliff house to Middle Valley, where she met and married a farmer, Flint. He has died, but she continues to manage the farm with help from a few farm workers. As the story begins, Tenar is brought to see a terrible thing, a young girl who has been thrown into a campfire. One side of her face and one arm are badly burned, but somehow she’s alive. Tenar takes her in and nurses her back to health, but the girl, Tehanu as she comes to be named later, is as emotionally scarred as she is physically, and the occasional presence of her torturers, a group of two men and a woman (her mother) living rough in the woods, keeps Tehanu terrified. To escape this, Tenar and Tehanu flee to Ogion’s house and take up residence there, but soon another threat surfaces nearby, a wizard who works for the local landowner who seems to wish both of them harm.

While at Ogion’s house, the dragon Kalessin arrives with the barely alive Ged, back from his harrowing journey through the land of death, as seen in “The Farthest Shore.” Tenar and Tehanu gradually nurse him back to health, but he has lost all his magic. When the new king of Earthsea, Ged’s companion in the land of the dead, sends some of his men to find the former Archmage Ged, he flees into the mountains, unwilling to be found. To escape the malice of the local wizard, Tenar and Tehanu return to the farm in Middle Valley, but more trouble finds them there. Will Tehanu’s growing power and courage be enough to protect them?

This book is very different from the first three. It’s written for Le Guin’s adult audience, not necessarily just for young adults, and includes difficult issues like rape and torture, as well as mistreatment of women as a theme. At times we feel the powerlessness and terror of the main characters. Like the first three books, the writing is superb, and perhaps the maturity of the author gives it more depth. There is magic here, and dragons in unexpected places, but much of the story focuses on the characters and their struggles in a difficult time. Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: PLANET OF THE NERDS #5

Image © Paul Constant, Alex Robinson & Ahoy Comics.

As editor Tom Peyer points out in this issue, writer Paul Constant has done something unlikely in this series, of which it’s the final issue: made us root for the bullies. Steve, Drew and Chad bullied classmate inventor Alvin, so when they entered his cryogenic freezing machine in the 1980s, he did nothing to help them. Thirty years later when they somehow came back to life, he didn’t even know about it at first. When he found out, Alvin was very happy to see them because he was now the CEO of a tech startup company about to launch cryogenic freezing for the masses. There’s just one problem with his plan…it won’t work.

I liked how this story resolved, and particularly the fate of the three bullies. In the backup story we see things from Alvin’s point of view, also interesting. Yes, nearly everyone in this story has moral flaws and bad deeds behind them, but it works all the same.

Recommended.

Pulled From My Files #97: DC PROMO BROCHURES

This and all images © DC Comics.

When I started working on staff at DC Comics in New York in 1977, there were copies of this brochure from the previous year around, and I took a few home at some point. Dollar Comics were still being published at the time. The brochure is 8.5 by 11 inches and printed in red and black. The art is by Neal Adams, probably inked by Dick Giordano. The display lettering is probably by Gaspar Saladino.

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My Comics Life-List 1982

Image © DC Comics.

This is the fifth in my ongoing series of articles listing where and when I first worked with other creators, mostly on inside pages, in chronological order based on cover dates of the comics. You can find the previous entries on the COMICS CREATION page of this blog.

Ground rules: I worked on staff at DC from July 1977 to August 1987, and in that time worked with every staffer and many freelancers in some capacity, and did art and lettering corrections on a host of comics. I can’t count those. Some of the things I did in comics did not usually involve working directly with artists and writers: logo design, house ads, cover lettering and production work of various kinds. Another thing I won’t count are relettering foreign stories, as I did for HEAVY METAL early on. To be added to my comics life-list, I thought I should be part of the creative team making stories. That means I was the letterer (in most cases), occasionally the writer, and rarely the artist or colorist. Of course this lists only the first time I worked with someone, so anyone from the previous year lists will not be here. Entries are tagged as a writer (w), artist or penciller-inker (a), penciller (p), or inker (i). I did not often interact with colorists (c) in pre-digital days, as my work was finished before theirs began, but I’m including them as an important part of the creative team. My credit is for lettering unless otherwise noted.

Scott Shaw! (p) NEW TEEN TITANS #16, Feb. 1982, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew 16-page preview

Ross Andru (p) NEW TEEN TITANS #16, Feb. 1982, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew 16-page preview

On this project, Ross did the Superman figures, Scott did the rest. I worked with Ross and knew him well at DC when he was on staff. Scott I only know from his panels at the San Diego Comic-Con, though we probably met at DC. I also lettered the first issue of the series, out the following month.

Pablo Marcos (i) BATMAN #345, March 1982

Pablo was a fine penciller, here he was inking a Catwoman backup story. A few years later I worked with Pablo when I was a writer on THE OMEGA MEN. We met in the DC offices, and he was kind and friendly, but I didn’t know him well.

Jan Duursema (a) WARLORD #55, March 1982, Arion, Lord of Atlantis backup

Jan was a wonderful, warm person who I got to know in her many visits to the DC offices, a rare female artist at DC at the time. I loved her art on ARION, and she’s still doing fine work today. We also worked together on the Arion logo.

Ron Randall (p) WEIRD WAR TALES #109, March 1982

Gerry Talaoc (i) WEIRD WAR TALES #109, March 1982

I know Ron from talking to him many times at the DC offices and later at conventions. I never met Talaoc. This was a two-page story early in Ron’s career.

Mike deCarlo (i) GREEN LANTERN #153, June 1982

I met Mike at the DC offices, but I don’t remember talking to him very often.

Pat Broderick (p) THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #2, July 1982

I don’t recall meeting Pat, though I may have.

Stephen DeStefano (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #306, July 1982

Stephen spent a lot of time hanging out in the DC offices in the early 1980s. In comics, he’s best remembered for ‘MAZING MAN, but for this title he did some one-page “I…Baby Vampire” stories that were great. Stephen was as fun and as funny as his art, and today he’s working in animation and teaching.

Jerry Ordway (i) WONDER WOMAN #295, Sept. 1982

Before Jerry became one of DC’s best superhero pencillers, he was getting work as an inker, here on a Huntress backup story. I talked to him many times as we worked together over the coming years.

Lou Manna (p) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #309, Oct. 1982

Sam Grainger (i) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #309, Oct. 1982

Nansi Hoolahan (c) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #309, Oct. 1982

These creators were all on a four page story, “Through a Lens, Darkly” that I wrote and lettered. I don’t remember Lou or Sam well, I think we met at the DC offices, and Lou has recently gotten back in touch on Facebook. Nansi was on staff with me, another production artist.

Gene Colan (p) NIGHT FORCE #4, Nov. 1982

I remember Gene from meeting him at the DC offices. We worked together a number of times, but this series was a highlight for me. I appreciate his art more now than I did then.

Sam de la Rosa (i) WORLD’S FINEST #285, Nov. 1982

I believe I met Sam, but do not remember him well.