Pondering Projects

Pondering Projects 300 200 Paul Levitz

With the Eisner book entering the publishing/marketing phase (a significant time consumer, but not a major intellectual challenge for the writer), I’m starting to think seriously about my next large project. Both the Taschen DC History program and the Eisner book partially came to me, so I’ve not yet had the experience of really hawking a new book from scratch. I’ve had one YA fantasy project kicking around for a while (translation: sitting on my desktop with a handful of words attached), and there’s a popular culture book I’d like to do which would require a fair amount of research. And the only idea I’ve pushed away has been a memoir per se–it just feels too early and too final, if you know what I mean by that contradiction.

Suggestions could get posted in the comments section if anyone’s inclined. After four decades as a writer who got assignments, this much of a blank page is a lot more challenging than I’m used to.

A Moment or Two With Murphy

A Moment or Two With Murphy 150 150 Paul Levitz

In honor of his passing, recalling a small moment that showed the length of Murphy Anderson’s career. We were walking back from lunch, and as we approached 1700 Broadway, Murphy smiled, and told me it had been on the very same site that he had gotten his first assignments from Fiction House, many decades before. Apparently that spot at 53rd and Broadway was magnetic for comic book publishers (not to mention the Beatles, Ed Sullivan, Letterman and Colbert across the street)…

Another nice memory is the last time I saw him. I’d been invited to a 40th anniversary celebration for MS. MAGAZINE, down at City Hall where they were going to receive a proclamation. I called his son, and convinced him to bring Murphy along. Got to watch Gloria Steinem giving Murphy the biggest hug in front of a giant blow-up of Murphy’s famous cover for #1. A nice capstone memory…

Murphy Anderson

Murphy Anderson 150 150 Paul Levitz

Just got word of the passing of an old friend:

Murphy Anderson’s deep voice and sweet Southern charm were as smooth as his beautiful brush line. Dependably excellent at everything he did, he was one of the first people to enter comics loving the medium. Carrying his portfolio to Fiction House in the war years, graduating to a definitive Buck Rogers run in peacetime, and then moving to DC Comics.

At DC he became one of the standard-setters: creating the visuals for CAPT COMET, which some have argued was the first super-hero of the Silver Age; contributing to almost 600 covers over a 40 year span, many as penciller and inker; creating visuals for characters from the Atomic Knights to Zatanna, and virtually every letter in between; helping change the whole field by leading the charge to shift to a smaller original art size in the 60s and better color separations in the 80s; and becoming one of the handful of people who defined the DC “look” for the Silver Age of comics. His powerful Wonder Woman was the image on MS. MAGAZINE #1, making a statement that forever aligned that character with the feminist cause.

Murphy did fewer comics in his years producing PS MAGAZINE, but never lost his love of his field, his eyes twinkling when he talked about Lou Fine’s art, or recalled working with Will Eisner on the Army publication. He looked for any opportunity to be part of the comics world, and each time he was, a part of him was again a kid, biking across the hills of the Carolinas to find the comics he loved.

The family requests donations to the Heroi Initiative in lieu of flowers.


READING 833 556 Paul Levitz

A very small book that you probably couldn’t get hold of, but should: TALES FROM A TINY ROOM by Wayne Ree. Delightful very, very short stories contemplating the peculiarities of the universe. And if the universe was created a god’s bad day, while walking in Bloomsbury Park, it might explain a lot…

Someone should publish it in the U.S.


Doctor Fate #5

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In case it’s not obvious from the work, I’m greatly enjoying doing the new DOCTOR FATE series. The collaboration with Sonny Liew is a special joy, from his innovative covers (love this month’s ode to Frank King and Chris Ware), hate that he does them completely digitally so I can’t get an original to hang on my wall. With issue #5, Khalid has grown a bit more confident and competent (though it’s still less than a week of real time since he became Fate), but it’s clearly not enough to face off against a god.

Part of the fun for me is exploring things that are genuine Brooklyn, sadly even including looting in the wake of a blackout or disaster. The good news is that hasn’t happened much in the wake of Sandy, but it’s certainly something I remember from the big blackout of my childhood, most of who’s waking hours I spent on my front porch in East Flatbush, waiting for the power to return.

Have to find a moment to get a good slice of Brooklyn pizza or a chewy Brooklyn bagel into the story!

NYCC 2015 Will Eisner PANEL

NYCC 2015 Will Eisner PANEL 956 411 Paul Levitz

Raina Telgemeier, Todd McFarlane, Denis Kitchen and me in conversation on Will Eisner :

Nice moments at NYCC

Nice moments at NYCC 150 150 Paul Levitz

I always enjoy seeing old friends at cons, but Saturday evening had a nice twofer: the reception for Michael Uslan’s new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS project gave me a good smile for my old friend (and an even bigger one for his wife, Nancy, who got to tell me about her new project to bring optometry to Rwanda), and an inner grin for my 9 year old self, recalling when I sent a shiny quarter in the mail for an early issue of the series. An added plus at the event was catching up with Athena Finger, and getting to congratulate her on Bill’s new credit on BATMAN comics and media. The first time I had lunch with Athena some years ago I was able to give her one of Bill’s original scripts which I had salvaged to study, the first artifact of her grandfather’s life she touched. She felt good about that, but I’m sure even better about seeing his name honored. The view from the United Nations dining room across to Newtown Creek and the Pepsi sign was beautiful that night too. Holding it at the U.N. was fitting, yet a little worrisome–given the side effects the Agents often suffered (e.g., death, premature aging and the like) were we being summoned there to celebrate or to be selected as the next team? Hmmm…


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People always ask writers where they get their ideas. It’s mostly an
indirect process, and often we don’t really know where we get our
ideas. But once in a while we do, or we can at least talk about works
that inspired us. For my current project, DOCTOR FATE, I went back to
re-read Roger Zelazny’s CREATURES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS. Zelanzy was
a master of taking elements from mythology and twisting them into
science fiction settings, and CREATURES dove deeply into Egyptian
myth. He was an extraordinary wordsmith and a brilliant writer in
many ways I’ll never equal, but jealousy aside, it was a pleasure to
re-read his treatments of Thoth, Anubis and a host of the Egyptian
pantheon set in a far future.

What Happens When You Answer Your Mail

What Happens When You Answer Your Mail 150 150 Paul Levitz

Got a lovely note the other day via FB, in response to my usual query to people asking to “friend” me (“”Thanks, but can you tell me why you want to friend me?”).  The writer said she was a single mom, and fondly recalled me taking the time to send a letter back to her 14 year old daughter when she wrote in, talking of her aspirations to be an artist.  I had sent the girl some books on how to draw (things that would show up from time to time in my office and needed to find a better home).

Now the girl was about to graduate college, having continued to focus on art, and her mother said my encouragement had a lot to do with it.  I recall how good I felt about a couple of responses to letters I sent to comic  companies when I was young, so I can believe it, but it made my day to hear the story.

Levitz by Tanghal

Putting Joe on the shelf

Putting Joe on the shelf 291 291 Paul Levitz

randomI just received a copy of Fantagraphics’ JUDGMENT DAY AND OTHER STORIES Illustrated by Joe Orlando, a book that made me smile on many levels.  Joe had singled out “Judgment Day” as his favorite story that he ever worked on—probably because it cause conniptions between the Comics Code and Bill Gaines, and Joe both hated the Code and enjoyed making trouble.  But I also smiled because the reason I knew it was Joe’s favorite is that he selected it to go in the AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS issue about him that I edited.  That made it the only E.C. story to ever be reprinted in a DC publication.

I’m probably overly fond of my own weird statistics, but this is a good place to share them from time to time so you can smile with me (or laugh at me—either one is fine).  I tallied up 890 text pages I wrote for DC, counting letters columns and the like.  Probably the most any one writer has done for the company, as far as I can tell.  It’s a pretty dubious honor, but I made at least one lifelong friend among my regular correspondents and a bunch of more casual pals.  I hated approving the request from the editorial staff to drop the letters pages when I was Publisher, but the argument that the velocity of the Internet had made them obsolete seemed valid.