DC Comics

DC Comics was the first place I ever went to seeking work as an artist. I was a sophomore in high school and I really had no idea at all what to expect other than the gates of Heaven opening and me becoming the new penciller of "Batman." I had a bunch of 18x24 poster shots of characters in a open ended portfolio that only stayed shut by way of tying strings together on the unbound edge of it.
I can't remember whom it was that I talked to but I do remember that he showed me around the offices after he looked at my work and ended the tour with a stop in a room where Curt Swan was drawing a page of "Superman". I had always thought that I was good, I bought "Superman" and other comics and thought that my work stood up favorably compared with what was printed but seeing the actual page, right there in front of me really changed my perspective on everything that I thought and believed. My guide, I wish I could remember his name, then took me back to the lobby and said with no small smile in his voice but no obvious malice either, "Thanks for coming and showing us your work, come back again after you've learned how to draw."

Four years later, I was back and actually made it back into the inner offices. I had been back other times but never had anyone look at my work anywhere other than the outer lobby and after politely thanking me for visiting, showing me back to the elevator.

This time - wearing platform shoes, a brightly colored flowered shirt and a giant afro - I was being led in to see Vinnie Colleta and on the way we paused at a door where I was told that the guy sitting at a desk drawing was Trevor Von Eden, he was the newest penciller there and he was working on a new title, "Black Lightning". (I'm pretty sure that he looked up and waved "hello" at me but this was over thirty years ago...) After this brief stop I was finally led to Vinnie's office for him to look at my work. While I was there someone came in to speak to Vinnie about a problem they were having on "Brave and Bold".
Jim Aparo was apparently thinking of cutting back on his work on that title and they needed to start looking for someone else to do a couple of issues a year to lighten Jim's load a bit. I was very fast to offer my services but both men just looked at me and said, "You don't just walk in here and get to draw Batman. People are lined up around the block to draw Batman."

Well, at least they didn't break out laughing right there on the spot...

Anyway, after technically ripping my samples to shreds Vinnie told me that I didn't have the chops to draw for DC Comics yet but to come back with more samples when I had them.

My next visit was about six months later and - *still* wearing platform shoes, a different brightly colored flowered shirt and a slightly less giant afro - I was introduced to Paul Levitz. He gave me a five page story for "The House of Mystery". I finished it in a couple of weeks and was given another story and then another.

When I was given my third story, I have to admit I was a bit sad that it was still one for THoM and I let it languish on my desk in my college dorm room at Pratt while I went on about ignoring it and starting the Fall semester at college.
I finally finished it about two months later, called DC and brought it in.
I recieved a kill fee for the work and was told that taking that long to do five pages was unacceptable.

I didn't get another chance to work at DC Comics for years after that, mainly because I was not able to convince myself to call and ask.

Go to MD's Marvel comments now if you wish to follow this in an accurate timeline.

Five or six years later...

At this point had been working regularly for Marvel Comics for about five or six years and I was currently drawing half of a book (the "Hawkeye" stories in "Solo Avengers") a month and had a "Fantastic Four" Graphic novel script that I was waiting for. Christopher Priest - then known to the world as Jim Owsley - was now working at DC Comics as a writer on "Action Weekly" doing the "Green Lantern" installments.
When whomever it was that was drawing the "Green Lantern" installments decided to leave the book my "Jimmy Owsley Signal Watch" once again started buzzing like crazy and next thing I knew, I was in Denny O'Neil's office asking if I could be the new guy to draw "Green Lantern."

A week later, I was.

To say that I was happy at the time is putting it extremely mildy. I had liked the "Green Lantern" character and was a rabid fan of the book when Denny and Neil Adams had their brief run on the title. Another thing that was great is that my basic thinking on drawing any character was that if Neil Had drawn the character, then that was the way that the character should be drawn. He had such a terrific grasp of body types and faces. Now I had the chance to work on "Green Lantern" and be edited by the person whom had created the best stories ever done on that title and once again working with one of my closest friends. Not too shabby, huh ?

The really cool thing was that while I was a popular penciller in the Marvel Comics offices, I was *really* popular at DC Comics. And despite having feelings of doubt about doing work for a company other than Marvel Comics, I found DC Comics to be just as much fun to work for. OK, I also thought that it was kind of cool that the editors dressed more "corporate" at DC Comics.

The only glitch was that "Action Comics Weekly" was, well, WEEKLY. Seven pages a week, every week and we were the only story arc that was in every issue. The other stories in "Action Weekly" were four or five installments long and then some other character replaced them, which was fine because the fourth or the fifth week was pretty much where everyone started to fall behind in the work which is just what happened for Priest and I. Soon we were driving back and forth to one another's homes dropping off script or art for the other one to finish up over night and drive into DC Comics the next day. Let me not fail to mention that the drive from my place to his was forty-five minutes making these excursions an hour and a half round trip - with each of us making these drives falling asleep at the wheel.
I remember one night I was finishing my drawing late, really late and when I called Priest he said that he was exhausted from working on something else and going to bed. We made the decision that I was going to drive down and leave Xeroxs ( I have no idea where it was that I found to make copies) of the pages in the bushes by his apartment. He would get them in the morning, write the dialogue and drive the work in when he finished. We were a couple of years away from each owning a fax machine.

Even with this kind of nutty "gotta get it done" work ethic we were in really hot water with Denny by week eight. Thank goodness "Action Weekly" was cancelled after our tenth week of doing "Green Lantern."

OK, so this had been a bumpier ride than I had expected but with my sixth installment of "Action Weekly" Romeo Tanghal took over the inking chores on "Green Lantern" and that was one of the best things to happen to my life in comics. I thought that his inks captured my pencilling mannerisms perfectly and he even fixed the places where I fell down.

Make that 'book number TWO that Priest and I killed.'

With "Action Weekly" cancelled "Green Lantern" was put into his own book again with a mini-series, "Emerald Dawn", being the kick off for the new series. The whole "Green Lantern" experience finally took it's toll on Priest and he moved off to other projects.

I was still having fun and enjoying Romeo's inking immensely, editor Andy Helfer actually believed me when I said, "the first time I have to draw a talking chipmunk, I'm out of here" and I really liked the intergalactic aspect the "Green Lantern" so I stayed on to finish "Emerald Dawn" and then the regular monthly with Kevin Dooley editing.

"Green Lantern wasn't the only thing I did for DC Comics during this time, there was fill in work on various titles, most notably three issues of "Batman". I also did about ten or twelve issues of "G.I. Joe" for Marvel Comics. Eventually came "Valor", which I had intended to stay on for as long as possible but Milestone Comics entered the picture and after my fifth issue of "Valor" I was back to only pencilling "Green Lantern" at DC Comics.

At some point after taking on "Icon" for Milestone, Kevin Dooley and I began having a bit of head bumping over various things, not the least of which being my problem with deadlines and I was relieved of my pencilling chores on "Green Lantern."

Go to MD's Milestone comments now if you wish to follow this in an accurate timeline.

DC Comics

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