Denny O’Neil

[ 0 ] June 13, 2020

Denny’s gone, brought social conscience to comics. He was a journalist at heart, and knew his obit would have Batman in the lede, but I think he’d have been prouder of this way of looking at his life. Not that he was the first, much less the only one, but damn it he was the loudest. Not personally, he wasn’t a shouter. But the stories he told and edited screamed for justice for the causes that mattered to him. From GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW to SEDUCTION OF THE GUN, and in subtle moments as well as the loud ones, he set the standard for giving a damn.

He was a teacher, maybe the best of his generation teaching writing and editing in comics. He taught me copy editing, and how to parse my dialogue for comics to be effective. His disciples filled the field. He was the most economical of writers, communicating with his collaborators in the briefest of art directions but getting great work from them, offering tight dialogue that was precisely on point.

He was a philosopher, searching for ways to make the world better…even exploring how a new religion might be necessary for a time when it was no longer about man mastering the Earth, but learning to live in harmony with it. And having buried the lede, he made Batman what he is, writing the stories and editing others that set the tone for the post-camp Dark Knight on through everything that Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan leaned on.

Denny got a second lease on life from his marriage to MariFran, and they shared amazing years until her passing. Once she was gone, it was only a matter of time until he followed.

This is the second of my poker buddies to cash in their chips in about a month. He lived a full life, was shocked at the recognition he achieved, and leaves behind his son Larry, with whom he shared many personal and professional joys.

But most of all, and ever so relevant at a moment like this, he taught us that we could…no, we should…damn it, we must use our podiums as writers, editors and teachers to push the world to become a better, more just place.

-30-

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