DC Comics Offices at 666 5th Avenue Promo Video, 1984

Building number where DC Comics offices were in 1984
This and all images © DC Comics

Yesterday I received a link to a wonderful artifact from my own and DC Comics’ history, a promotional video made in the DC offices recently posted on YouTube. The link is HERE.

It was a joy to watch because of all the people in it that I used to work with (and I’m there too), and I think makes an excellent companion piece to my articles about the DC offices in this building, beginning HERE.

It was produced for DC by Lynn Vannucci Productions. I found only one other reference to that company, another video produced for DC in 1985: “A Chat with Alan Moore.” I’m not seeing that one on YouTube, though one reference says it was there in 2014. A Lynn Vannucci wrote a novel, “Coyote” that was published in 1987 by Bantam, could be the same person. If so, she had a Facebook page that uses the same photo as the book’s author page on Amazon.

This was a very small-time production, one actor: Matt Sarles playing reporter Jack Ryder (the alter-ego of The Creeper in comics) and an unseen cameraman, Bruce Robertson. I found an entry on Linked-In for Matt Sarles (at least it certainly looks like the same person) HERE.  He seems to be teaching English in China. All footage is hand-held as Sarles interviews DC editors and some writers and artists, mostly in the DC Conference Room, with an opening bit in the reception room. This was obviously a promotional effort meant to be shown to retailers and fans, and nearly all those talked to promote specific upcoming or ongoing projects. I’m going to run through who’s talking and what’s talked about to see if we can get a better handle on when it was made, though the video is © DC Comics Inc. 1984.

DC Comics 50th Anniversary video title

This logo for DC’s 50th Anniversary is shown at the beginning, and the video title on YouTube is:

DC Comics 1984 Kick-off 50th Anniversary Editorial Party

If you take the first comic published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson as the beginning of the company, that was NEW FUN #1, which hit newsstands in January, 1935:

New Fun #1 cover

NEW FUN became MORE FUN, and was soon joined by NEW COMICS (ADVENTURE COMICS), DETECTIVE COMICS, and the beginnings of ACTION COMICS before Wheeler-Nicholson was pushed out of the company he started a few years later by Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz. Kind of ironic for DC to celebrate that heartless beginning, but it does make 1985 the 50th anniversary year.

Jack Ryder and Clark Kent statue

The video opens on 5th Avenue with a hapless “Jack Ryder” dropping his hat several times, and pointing up at the 666 sign before entering the building. Sarles has some fun with the Clark Kent statue that sat in the reception area at 666. The outer door with porthole can be seen briefly.

Ruthie Thomas Chisolm

Receptionist Ruthie Thomas Chisolm greets “Jack Ryder,” an actress playing Wonder Woman meets him to bring him into the offices, and soon we’re inside, heading into the Conference Room, where a party is underway.

Karen Berger

The first person interviewed is editor Karen Berger (2:01), who talks about SWAMP THING, specifically the “American Gothic” storyline written by Alan Moore, which began in SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #37 cover dated June 1985.

Swamp Thing promo art

Also seen is the first of many pieces of promotional art, not printed comics. I think these were large photostats that were hand-colored by production staffers like Bob LeRose.

Swamp Thing 38 cover

This art appeared on the cover of SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #38, cover dated July 1985 with very different colors by Tatjana Wood. The issue would have hit newsstands in May 1985, and probably went to the separator and printer around March 1985.

Julius Schwartz

Next up is editor Julius Schwartz (2:54), who promotes an Ambush Bug Mini-series, a Superman Annual by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and hints at his upcoming Science Fiction Graphic Novel series. The first AMBUSH BUG miniseries is cover-dated June-Sept. 1985. SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11 by Moore and Gibbons went on sale in May, 1985. The first SF Graphic Novel, “Hell on Earth,” went on sale in Sept. 1985.

Michael Fleisher

Next is writer/editor Michael Fleisher (4:27) promoting HEX, a relaunch of western character Jonah Hex in a dystopian future. The first issue went on sale in May 1985.

Gary Cohn

Writer Gary Cohn (5:18) is next promoting he and co-writer Dan Mishkin’s BLUE DEVIL, which ran 22 issues from (cover dates) June 1984 to March 1986. He also mentions the miniseries CONQUEROR OF THE BARREN EARTH which was cover-dated Feb.-May 1985.

Robert Greenberger

Editor Bob Greenberger (6:02) talks about the DC CHALLENGE maxi-series, and V, based on the TV show. DC CHALLENGE ran from (cover dates) Nov. 1985 to Oct. 1986. V ran from Feb. 1985 to July 1986. The first issue of V went on sale in November, 1984, and Bob talks about the TV production company’s high opinion of it when they saw it, so that would date this video to not long after that, probably mid to late November 1984, which seems right to me.

Richard Howell

Artist Richard Howell (7:17) promotes the mini-series THE SHADOW WAR OF HAWKMAN, which was cover-dated May-Aug. 1985. Writer Tony Isabella gets a shout-out.

Paul Kupperberg

Writer/editor Paul Kupperberg (7:46) promotes ARION, LORD OF ATLANTIS, which was ongoing, the final issue appearing with a Sept. 1985 cover date.

Nick Cuti

Editor Nick Cuti (8:33) talks about the reprint series he’s working on, specifically Deadman by Neal Adams, and a WARLORD Annual with a first map of Skartaris, where the series takes place. Note a brief appearance by artist Ross Andru behind Nick. The DEADMAN reprints ran from May to Nov. 1985. WARLORD ANNUAL #4 with the map went on sale in April, 1985.

Andrew Helfer

Editor Andrew Helfer (10:07) talks about a new direction for GREEN LANTERN with writer Steve Englehart. The Englehart run began with issue #188 cover-dated May 1985.

Steve Lightle, Larry Mahlstedt

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES penciller and inker Steve Lightle and Larry Mahlstedt (10:51) talk about new characters and aliens coming up in their book, but nothing specific.

Ron Randall

Artist Ron Randall (11:40) talks about the graphic novel ME AND JOE PRIEST, which went on sale in August of 1985.

Janice Race

He also briefly introduces his editor, Janice Race (12:37).

Alan Gold

Editor Alan Gold (12:56) promotes a RED TORNADO miniseries, and a return for SWORD OF THE ATOM. The Red Tornado mini has cover dates of July-Oct. 1985. the latter reference is probably to SWORD OF THE ATOM SPECIAL #2 which went on sale in April 1985.

Marv Wolfman

Writer/editor Marv Wolfman (13:35) talks about TEEN TITANS and VIGILANTE, but not specifically enough for me to pull issues. He also mentions CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, which was cover-dated April 1985 to March 1986.

Dick Giordano

Editor-in-Chief Dick Giordano (15:07) has some fun with the character of Jack Ryder, who he edited when the character first appeared from DC years earlier, and talks about a planned series of crossovers with publisher First Comics beginning with Batman and Jon Sable by Mike Grell. Sadly, that never happened.

Linda Robak

Next “Jack Ryder” talks to Advertising and Sales Manager Linda Robak (16:58), who models some DC character sweatshirts.

Mike W. Barr

Writer/editor Mike W. Barr (17:43) talks about the wedding of Metamorpho in BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS ANNUAL #2, on sale June 1985, and STAR TREK ANNUAL #1, on sale July 1985, featuring the first mission of Captain Kirk.

Don McGregor

Writer Don McGregor (18:58) talks about the second NATHANIEL DUSK miniseries, which is cover-dated Oct. 1985 to Jan. 1986, and unlike anyone else in the video, he has some photocopies of the artwork in hand, though it’s too small to see well.

Len Wein

Writer/editor Len Wein (20:14) talks about WHO’S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE, the first series, the first issue of which was cover-dated March 1985.

Todd Klein

The penultimate speaker is…ME! (20:49) promoting OMEGA MEN, which I was then writing. I have no memory of doing this, and it was as much a surprise to me as anything here, but also fun to see. Wish I still had that suede vest, but it probably wouldn’t fit now…

Joe Orlando

And the program ends with a nice toast from editor Joe Orlando, a triple toast. First, to the people who began the company (without naming anyone specifically), then to the current staff keeping things going, and finally to the fans. A very classy closing.

Also seen in that final screen capture is production man and colorist Bob LeRose at left. Elsewhere I spotted the following staffers: Bruce Bristow, Albert DeGuzman, Denise Vozzo-Conaty, Pat Bastienne, Peggy May Ordway and Helen Vesik. I’m sure there are more that I missed. Thanks to Karen Berger to sent a link to this video my way yesterday, it brought back many fine memories!

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