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After beginning work on staff at DC Comics in the Production Department in the summer of 1977, I soon learned that my salary there was not really enough to live on, and, like most of the other people in the department, I would need to supplement my income by doing some sort of freelance work for the company in my "spare" time. This was common practice, and among the freelance work available, I tried lettering, coloring, background inking, writing, and various kinds of paste-ups and other production work. Lettering became my main freelance work for the company, but I also enjoyed writing, and did a fair amount of that as well.


At the time, breaking into writing for comics meant selling short stories to the editors of DC's anthologies. These included mystery/horror books such as HOUSE OF MYSTERY, HOUSE OF SECRETS, THE UNEXPECTED, SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE and GHOSTS. There were also occasionally openings for backup or short stories in DC's war books such as G.I. COMBAT. This was the bottom rung on the writing ladder, also the entry point for new artists in many cases, and a great place to learn, sadly missing from today's marketplace for the most part, except in independent anthologies. Here are the ones I succeeded in selling.

"The Grimble", 4 pages, HOUSE OF MYSTERY #262, Nov. 1978. Based on a poem I wrote, the art was by Phillippines artist Tenny Henson, who did a competent job with great figure work, though it wasn't as scary as I'd imagined when I wrote it. I believe I sold this one to Paul Levitz.

Grimble page 1

© DC Comics

"The Man Who Cheated Destiny", 7 pages, SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #25, June 1980. This was a "Tales of Destiny" story with art by Trevor Von Eeden and Dave Simons. Nothing too exciting story or artwise, though I did get to use Destiny as a character. The same Destiny that Neil Gaiman made part of The Endless in SANDMAN, and a thousand times more interesting than this story.

"As I Grow Pale and Thin", 7 pages, HOUSE OF MYSTERY#304, May 1982. This is my favorite of the short stories I did, with terrific art by Ric Estrada. (He even put a nice rendition of Joe Orlando in the story as the newspaper editor.) I have black and white xeroxes of all but the first page, and I'm going to include the entire story, linked below. I sold this to Jack C. Harris, who suggested the ending.

Pale page 1

© DC Comics. Read the full story HERE

"Through a Lens, Darkly", 4 pages, HOUSE OF MYSTERY #309, Oct. 1982. Art by Lou Manna and Sam Grainger. A fun experiment with all but the last panel being round, for reasons that the title may give a hint to. The art has some rather blatant Neal Adams swipes. The story is not terribly original either.

Continue with more about WRITING FOR COMICS


All text and images © Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.


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