Robyn McBryde and Bob Rozakis, photo by Albert DeGuzman 1985.
I don’t know when Robyn McBryde joined the DC Comics marketing team, but it was certainly by 1984. Robin was outgoing, enthusiastic and upbeat. Before long, she and Production Manager Bob Rozakis had joined forces to become the unofficial morale officers of the company. Bob had already been doing that sort of thing at the previous offices from time to time, and when teamed with Robyn’s enthusiasm, the events got bigger. I have photos from two such events that took place in the production room.
The first happened in 1984, the “mock wedding” of production artists Helen Vesik and John Holiwsky, all photos by Albert DeGuzman. Bob writes:
“As I recall, John Holiwski was on his hands and knees picking up stuff that had fallen off his desk. Helen Vesik, who sat in front of him, turned and said, ‘What are you doing?’
“‘I’m proposing marriage, what does it look like I’m doing?’ John replied sarcastically. I (and most of the production department) heard it and I thought, ‘Here’s a morale event if I ever saw one.’ So we had the mock wedding, with Father Joe Orlando presiding. I think I was best man, Helenita Ramirez was the maid of honor, and Bob LeRose gave the bride away. Shelley Eiber may have been the flower girl.”
Of course most of the staff were there to bear witness, and it looks to me as if Shelly Eiber as flower girl is about to announce the appearance of the bride through the revolving door.
Here are the best man and maid of honor probably during the ceremony. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of Father Orlando and the bride and groom doing the vows, but I think they would have been entertaining, as all three could be funny.
Here’s John, the groom, with best man Rozakis, perhaps during the ceremony, with Shelly at left and a few audience members, Carol Fein and I think Arthur Gutowitz.
Helen Vesik in her bridal gown and crown, celebrating with her “daddy,” Bob LeRose. They were only drinking soda as far as I know…!
The groom with Carol Fein, already hanging out with another woman. Nick Cuti is in the background.
And of course, the wedding feast was New York City pizza. Looking toward Bob Rozakis’s office, here are Bob, Bruce Bristow, Dick Giordano, Terry Cunningham (seated) and Mike Flynn.
Looks like Robyn McBryde caught the bride’s bouquet! Here are Diane Perla, Robin Phelps, Robyn, not sure of the one just right of her arm, Helen Ramirez, Terry Cunningham and Angelina Genduso.
Bruce Bristow with the bride’s garter in hand, looking somewhat puzzled. Laughing in the background are Karen Berger and Midge Bregman.
Not sure who that is on the left, center is Terry Cunningham talking to Lucia Goepfert on the right.
Nick Cuti and Alan gold enjoying the pizza…
…as are Dee Nelson and Angelina Genduso.
Front left in this group shot is lettering legend Gaspar Saladino. Not sure if he was just visiting that day, or if this was the short time he worked with us in the office in the 1980s. Front right is Neal Pozner, with Mike Flynn to his left. In the back are Carol Fein, Bruce Bristow and Nelson Bridwell.
Gaspar with the bride, unfortunately out of focus. As a wedding, this may not have been much, but as a morale booster it was great, and I think everyone enjoyed it, including the bride and groom.
Another morale-building event took place in 1985, Loud Shirt Day. On his blog, Bob Rozakis, above, remembers:
“‘Here’s your chance to wear that shirt your Great Aunt Edna bought you the week after she went blind!’ That was how we invited the DC staff to participate in Loud Shirt Day, one of a variety of crazy morale events dreamed up by Robyn McBryde and yours truly back in the 1980s. The staff gathered in the Production Department and watched each contestant emerge from the stat room in all their eye-blasting finery. Everybody voted for their favorite and the winner received a Superman tie that was created by my wife Laurie.”
We’re not sure, but we believe all these photos of the event were taken by Albert DeGuzman. Bob acted as Emcee, and flamboyantly introduced each contestant as the emerged from the rotating door of the stat room to applause and laughter from the rest of the staff. Here’s Editorial Coordinator Pat Bastienne.
Production artist Helen Vesik’s entry is a hand-made sweater, so clearly the one that took longest to make.
Artist and cover designer Ed Hannigan, who recently said on Facebook that this was a real Hawaiian shirt bought by him in Hawaii.
Production artist John Holiwski in a floral design.
Editor/writer Len Wein in one of his collection of Hawaiian shirts that he wore to work any old time. Rozakis said that discussions of Len’s shirts might well have led to the idea of Loud Shirt Day.
Production artist Bob LeRose seems more interested in the pizza than the contest.
Vice President and Creative Director Joe Orlando’s entry seems pretty tame compared to Rozakis behind him.
Assistant Production Manager Todd Klein, that’s me, in an eye-burner.
Robyn McBryde in a custom-made shirt that is certainly eye-catching.
Designer Julia Sabbagh with a more impressive hand-made entry that is LOUD in every possible way!
With all the contestants revealed, Bob Rozakis displays the Superman Tie made by his wife Laurie that would be the prize for the winner.
The contestants wait tensely for the audience to vote for their favorite.
Announcing the winner was Publisher Jenette Kahn, here with Bob Rozakis in front of his office.
Some of the staff audience enjoying the show. Not sure who the first person on the left is. After that left to right are Shelley Eiber, Richard Bruning, Peggy May (I think), Angelina Genduso, Alyce Raeford, Kathy Edwards seated, and I’m not sure of the person on the right.
And the winner– ME! Here I am wearing the winning necktie.
Now a confession: this contest was rigged! Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t wear loud clothing. My so-called wardrobe at the time consisted mainly of jeans and shirts in earth tones and pastels. Bob Rozakis really wanted me in the contest, though, so he lent me this horrible shirt from his own closet, and everyone thought it was pretty funny when I won, even myself! You will never again see me in anything approaching this level of ugliness.
Moving on to new additions to the production staff, in early 1987, after the departure of Scott McCloud, Steven Bové was hired as a production artist and occupied the seat just ahead and right of mine. That’s Steve on the left as I remember him with Tammy Brown and Daniel Vozzo, Denise’s brother, photo supplied by Danny. Steve and I got along well, and he soon became my right-hand man in the department, at least until I left staff in the fall of 1987. We’ve stayed in touch, and Steve was a big help with this article, doing much of the work on the floor plans, for which I thank him. Steve was on staff until 1990, and created some fine logos.
Danny Vozzo was hired in 1987, first as an administrative assistant to Bob Rozakis. He then eased into helping with production work and doing coloring. Computer coloring began making inroads into comics in the mid 1980s, and DC decided to try it out on staff, with Danny as one of the initial trainees. Two or more computers and assorted equipment were installed in one of the new construction offices in the back, and the years-long process of switching from all hand-coloring and hand-separation of DC comics to eventually all digital coloring began. Later the computer coloring staff moved to Flushing, Queens alongside Milt Snapinn’s film library, with Danny supervising that department for about a year before going freelance full-time. Danny became a regular colorist for the company.
Tammy Brown was a Marketing Associate working with Peggy (May) Ordway and Bob Wayne. She was, as she put it to me recently, “making sure fans and retailers knew about all the cool stuff.” She and the rest of the teams in Marketing, Circulation and Advertising worked hard to get the word out and the comics into the hands of fans.
Here’s a photo from Steven Bové of some production artists from after my own staff time. At left is Ana Dempsey, standing is Jerry Acerno, then Cheryl Smith, and an intern whose name we don’t know.
Here are Cheryl and Bob LeRose at his desk, looking toward the shelves at the back of the room. Cheryl remained on staff for many years.
Toward the front of the room in a 1986 photo by Mike Carlin are Veronica Lawler in front, better known to us as Ronnie Carlin, and Janice Walker in the back. Ronnie was a production artist, Janice worked on special projects, and is still with the company today.
Two more new hires in Production toward the end of the 1980s are Bhob Stewart and John Wren. I don’t remember meeting Bhob, but John and I worked on cover lettering assignments for a number of years.
Another new production artist I don’t recall meeting at 666 was Nick Napolitano, who later helped start DC’s on-staff digital lettering department in the 1990s, seen here in a photo by DeGuzman. He also is still on staff.
Fred Ruiz was hired as the Assistant Production Manager in 1989 following the departure of John Workman for freelance work. He remained with the company for about 25 years. Photo by Albert DeGuzman.
And while we’re in Production, here’s another photo of Bob Rozakis in his office provided by him. He also had a red phone, and the production/printing schedules are getting longer.
Among the things on Bob’s shelves is the DC Comics Style Guide, which we worked on through the 1980s, though the original material in this ring binder came out in 1982. Cover art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dick Giordano.
Well, it looks like I have too much material to fit it all into this post, so I’ll wrap things up next time. Other parts of this article and more you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.
The unnamed intern wearing the Bart Simpson T-shirt is Kenny Hill.
Kenny was instrumental in my obtaining my very first freelance inking job. In ’92 I was hired as a freelance production artist (DC having moved to 1325 at this time), and shortly thereafter, a slot opened up for me to transition into a staff job. My drawing table was next to Kenny’s in the back of the bullpen.
One afternoon, Kenny somehow misplaced one of the boards of a Deathstroke issue he was doing corrections on. The issue needed to go out for color seps the following day. Fortunately, editor Rob Simpson had a photocopy of the pencils, but there was no time to get it to the inker and back to DC, so being in a bind, he asked me if I could ink it on vellum overnight.
After work, I made the two-hour commute back to Jersey, pulled an all-nighter, delivered the page the first thing in the morning, and got my first credit!
Thanks, Rob, great story!