Atlanta, couple of blocks from the Omni hotel, where we’re staying. Think it’s 1992, but maybe ’91. Me and Joe Linsner, the guy I was working with at the time, are waiting in a restaurant for a table, and the place is packed. Of course it is. It’s the Diamond Sales Seminar or whatever they called it, and the whole town is full of comic book people. Store owners, publishers, sales reps, business partners, supplies retailers – you name it, everyone is there. Along with a host of creators.
So, we’re starved, it’s been a long day, and we were sick of fast food. We wind up talking to some folks from DC comics, and the hostess tells us we’re looking at another 35 minutes or so, unless.
“Would you mind being seated together?”
I didn’t mind. Joe didn’t mind. The DC crew was in the same boat-starving and not terribly interested in continuing to forage. So, we get seated, order some drinks, start talking shop, and have a general good time.
Now, keep in mind, I was never a big comic book reader. Creepy and EERIE? Sure. House of Mystery? Chamber of Chills? You Will Believe In GHOSTS? That was my thing. But, much of the conversation at dinner is superhero talk, which I was still enjoying, but mostly listening to. At one point, Vince (I believe it was Vince Letterio, but it’s been forever, so if I’m wrong, chalk it up to that) says, “You’re awful quiet.” (Which of course, I rarely am, and we’d met before, so he knew it.) I mentioned that whatever book they’d been talking wasn’t my thing. So he says, “C’mon-like you wouldn’t want to write a Batman miniseries.”
And, truth was, I couldn’t have cared less. I didn’t read Batman, I didn’t think the movies out at the time were very good, and while DC money would’ve been nice, only one thing made the possibility appealing, and I told him so.
“Only way I’d write a Batman mini is if I could add a villain to the rogues gallery.”
Huh??? That was the reaction. Vince, the woman and guy – think his name might’ve been Dave – couldn’t imagine why that would be my lone requirement. (I probably said ‘Demand’, but even I wasn’t that much of a hard-ass.) So, I explained:
“Batman never kills anyone of consequence. Sure, the Penguin’s always losing henchmen and the Joker’s goons are cannon fodder, but why would I want to try and tell a different version of the same story? Plus, unless you throw in a stranger, why would anyone ever set up shop in Gotham? Batman lives there for chrissakes! He’s always thwarting villains’ plans. Why not go be a bad guy in Aspen, or Dallas?”
Well, that gets things rolling. And sure enough, that subject carries through all the way to dessert, which Joe and I bail on. But Vince mentions to me before I split, something along the lines of, “You oughta stop by the booth and run that by so-and-so tomorrow.”
But I never did. Not that I wouldn’t have followed through should someone in charge been willing to give me the shot. The DC credit alone would have helped me further hype my comic, which was, at the time, Cry for Dawn. But I had tunnel-vision. I only wanted to focus on making Cry for Dawn bigger. Banking more Cry for Dawn stories. Finding artists good enough to stand alongside Joe between the covers. So I never tested those waters. What I did do, though, because guest appearances were becoming hot in crossovers and inter-publisher partnerships, was come up with my bad guy. And so, the seed for what would eventually become the Villain & Hero ashcan – released in 1993 – was planted.
This past week, I’ve been cleaning out my garage and locating a lot of old books. Stuff that goes back to 1989 and the genesis of Cry for Dawn, short stories that were originally slated for the book but never made it in because the title couldn’t stay on schedule, etc. And I thought, “You know, I could rework the Villain & Hero short story to bring it up to date, but pretty much leave it as it was otherwise.” I dunno if I’ll do anything with the character(s) beyond that, but you never know. I still have a lot of friends in comics, doing stuff here and there. Would I want to do another comic? A horror comic? No question. A superhero comic?
Probably not. But, and there’s always a but, isn’t there? I’d sure consider guesting somewhere. Maybe not DC (or maybe DC, though I have no clue if I still know anyone over there), but somewhere. Why not? I’d be happy to throw a villain at just about anybody if they’d let me wreak the kind of havoc I like without too much hand-wringing over who dies and how.
I’ll letcha know how it goes. Pam’s gonna be scanning the originals into the computer and spitting me out a file to start workin’ on. I’ve already reached out to an artist I think would do a good job bringing the key character to life
Maybe even death. We’ll see.
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Currently listening to: “Enchanted” by Stevie Nicks