Friday, January 30, 2015

DC Comics Production Department - 1986

(standing l-r) John Holiwski, Steve Bove, Muffy Greenough, Bob LeRose, Shelley Eiber, Al Aiola, Helen Vesik, Julia Schick, Albert DeGuzman, Kathy Petruccio, Helen Ramirez, Todd Klein

   Back in the mid-'80s, DC Releases was a newsletter published for staff and freelancers containing news and information about what was happening in the company. When the spotlight fell on the Production Department, I was asked to write about my staff and said article was accompanied by the art above, drawn by artist Ray Alma.
  We had some turnover between the time Ray did the art and I wrote the article. As you'll notice, there are people mentioned in the article below who are not in the picture above, and vice versa.
   The art was done in black and white. The version above was hand-colored by ace production man Bob LeRose and given to me as a gift. And speaking of coloring, that's what I appear to be doing in the drawing, though I don't seem to have anything to use but what is on the brush.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015



  I spent a couple of hours on Sunday with the Jason Hunt and his Rogues Gallery cohorts Tim Harvey, Jeff Hackworth, and Kendal Sinn recording a podcast at We discussed Gotham and The Flash, along with my days as writer / editor of the Daily Planet page and the origin of the Answer Man. It was great fun, but we ended up going so long that Jason has split it into two installments.
  You can check out the first half here.
  And the second half is here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Old Photos of the Week #3

  Most comics fans are familiar with the writers and artists who produce the books they enjoy. Those who are truly devoted can also rattle off the names of letterers, colorists and editors involved. But there are a lot more people who have worked behind the scenes over the years. From that DC retreat in 1985, here are some of those people...

  From the left: Helen Vesik was a longtime member of my Production Department, doing art and lettering corrections as well as other mechanical work on the pages of the books. Ruthie Thomas was DC's receptionist, greeting every visitor to our offices with her warm smile for a number of years, before she moved to Production and became my administrative assistant. Denise Vozzo-Conaty was a long-time member of the Accounting department, one of "the folks upstairs" at 666 Fifth Avenue. Jeanette Winley was in charge of the film library (which has now become Archiving Services or something like that) and is one of the very few folks who were at the retreat who still work at DC.

  Helen ("Helenita") Ramirez was my administrative assistant in the '80s, Bonnie Miller was a member of the growing Marketing department, and Julia (Schick) Sabbagh was an art director working on promotional items and our just-starting line of reprint editions.

  Kathy Petruccio was the art director for the Special Projects department. Terri Cunningham started in that same department, then moved into the editorial administration department and is still in charge of it. Linda Robak was another member of the Marketing department.

  Muffy Greenough was a member of the production department, doing paste-ups of the letter columns as well as on many of the covers. Shelley Eiber started at DC just a few weeks after I did and has remained with the company ever since; she is now the senior-most member on the staff. Another longtime member of the staff was Midge Bregman, who started in the Production department well before the rest of us arrived. Midge was Sol Harrison's administrative assistant for many years and then filled the same position for Paul Levitz until she retired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Alex's Weekend Adventure

 While his parents spent a long weekend together in the Poconos, Alex came to visit Gamma and Poppa and special guest visitor Aunt Sammi. Yes, I know I've been "Gappa," but that has somehow morphed into Poppa and or occasionally Poppop.

  It was a very busy four days for the little man. He has been very musical since he started walking and talking, singing songs and dancing. After a recent visit to the Liberty Science Center with his parents, he became fascinated with guitars. Thanks to our friend Angela, who had a child-sized guitar on hand, we were able to give Alex the opportunity to put on a number of concerts. He started by having us sit on the couch in the family room while he stood on the "stage" in the kitchen and then treated us to a medley of his hits, including the ABC song, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Later, he launched into a rendition of "Happy Birthday to Mommy," which Sammi recorded and uploaded for Rebecca to see. Alex so enjoyed watching his performance on the computer that he continued to sing throughout the weekend, telling his Aunt to get the camera and "Upload."

  The weekend also included a Saturday visit to the Long Island Children's Museum, where we spent two hours playing with various blocks and puzzles and musical instruments.

  There was plenty of fun at home as well, particularly on the very rainy Sunday. Building with Legos, making a picnic out of Play-Doh, drawing pictures, and reading filled the day.

 And there was plenty of time to cuddle with Poppa too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Old Photo of the Week #2

  Another picture from the DC retreat thirty years ago.
  The powers-that-were decided that bringing in some new editorial staff who had experience in the "real" publishing world -- in other words, the book industry -- might instill a new level of professionalism in the department. Among those recruited were Tom Condon (seated, left), who came in as Managing Editor; Brenda Pope (seated, second from right), proofreader; and Janice Race (seated, right) as an editor. All three eventually returned to that "real" world. In Janice's case, she decided she'd had enough when she was told that an issue of J'emm, Son of Saturn that she'd edited had been the worst-selling comic book in DC's history. (That record has since been eclipsed a number of times.)
  Also in the photo are Andy Helfer (seated between Tom and Brenda), who came in as a member of Joe Orlando's Special Projects department; Arthur Gutowitz, the head of DC's accounting department; and Angelina Genduso, who was Joe Orlando's assistant. (That's a waiter growing out of Angelina's shoulder, not a DC staff member.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Old Photo of the Week

[My cleaning frenzy of the past two weeks unearthed a cache of photos from events during my days at DC Comics. Above is the first of many I plan to share over the next few months.]

Thirty years ago, the entire staff of DC Comics traveled to a resort in Great Gorge, New Jersey, for the first "retreat" in the company's history. The three days and two nights included a number of meetings about the future plans for the company, but there were also a variety of social events, including the "DC Olympics," which I will discuss in more detail in a future post.

On the left above is Bob Greenberger, whose current exploits you can read about by clicking here; Bob was a relatively new member of the editorial staff at the time. Next to Bob is Super-editor Julie Schwartz, who was on the verge of celebrating his 41st anniversary with the company. Barbara Randall was another new addition to the editorial department; her penchant for playing practical jokes on me resulted in my referring to her as "the kid sister I never wanted." On the right is Robyn McBryde, a member of the marketing department; Robyn and I were the unofficial morale officers at DC and were responsible for a number of crazy events, including some of what went on at the retreat. 

Shatner's World

  Laurie and I went to see William Shatner's one-man show "Shatner's World, We Just Live in It..." this evening. Though there are some pictures and video clips on the projection screen behind him, the majority of the show is Shatner bouncing back and forth across the stage telling stories and anecdotes about his life and career.

  The stories ranged from his first acting role at age six through his days playing Denny Crane on Boston Legal. I particularly enjoyed his story about starring on Broadway in The World of Suzie Wong with actress France Nuyen. On the other hand, his story about a race horse he owned seemed to go on forever. And while he makes some comments about his years as Captain Kirk, Trekkies expecting most of the show to be about it will be disappointed.

  All in all, though, it was an entertaining two hours and it is always nice to see someone live who I've watched on TV for many years.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cleaning Up

My library / office has been crowded with books for years. Added to those are the couple of bookcases-full in Laurie's office. Sorting and culling has been on my to-do list for quite awhile now, but I knew it would not be an easy task.

With the holidays providing a pair of four-day weekends and Laurie on a trip to Thailand with Sammi, I finally had the opportunity to tackle the job the way I wanted and needed to.

I pulled books from every shelf, every cabinet, every closet and every nook and cranny that I had them stored in. There were stacks everywhere as I matched up books by series, by author, by whatever esoteric connections I gave them. Then I went through them to decide what I wanted to keep and what I was willing to part with.

As it turned out, I had dozens (and dozens) of books that I knew I would never read again and, therefore, had no good reason to keep. So I loaded a batch into bags and brought them to the library, where they have a spinner rack for giveaways. I managed to fill the rack with what I brought.

Two days later, I was back at the library with another batch of bags. Almost everything I had brought the first time was gone. Again, I loaded the rack.. Three days of work between the two holiday weekends slowed down my sorting a bit, but I welcomed in the New Year by loading up another dozen bags.

I was not really surprised, when I went to the library last Saturday, to discover that virtually everything I'd already brought was gone. This time I had more books than would fit into the rack, so I left a large pile on the window sill next to it. Even as I was loading the books, a woman was pulling some from the rack and asked if I had any more by specific authors. She walked out with a stack of books.

As the second long weekend wound down, I had all the remaining books sorted into logical order and got them to fit onto shelves. No more stacks in front of the bookcases, no more piles on top of cabinets, no more "I need to find a place for this."

And there's even a bit of room for some new ones.