KC Column: Dick Giordano


Dick Giordano

Dick Giordano

by KC Carlson

Dick Giordano passed away on Saturday, March 27. He had been battling leukemia and had been hospitalized for the illness. He passed away due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77.

There are already a ton of tributes to Dick popping up all over the internet (see links at the end of this column). Many of these talk about what a great artist – and especially inker – Dick was. More discuss his many and varied accomplishments in steering DC Comics as a company in the 1980s and 90s. Even more are talking about what a wonderful teacher, mentor, friend, and just plain good person Dick was.

All of this is true.

So I’d like to spend a little bit of time talking about a period of his life that is largely being glossed over – Dick’s career as a comic book editor. I’ve talked about this a little bit previously, here.

I first discovered what comic book editors are by reading comics produced by Julius Schwartz and Stan Lee. It wasn’t hard to miss that Stan was editing everything at Marvel in the 60s. As far as Julie’s books went, he was editing my favorite characters, so I read every word in the comics he edited, including the indicia, where I discovered his name for the first time. Julie also ran very informative, although very formal, letter columns. Stan, as we all know, was always very informal. That right there pretty much summed up the major difference between the Marvel and DC comic books of the Silver Age.

But it was Dick Giordano’s editorial work in the late 1960s/early 70s that made me start to understand what an editor actually does - and how they have the power to change things.

Late in the Silver Age, DC Comics had a major talent (and editorial) turnover, when several of the old guard either decided to leave DC (or were asked to) and former Flash and Adam Strange artist Carmine Infantino started taking on more and more managerial duties for the company, eventually becoming the Publisher. As Infantino was faced with declining sales, aging talent and the public perception that many of DC’s titles were “behind the times,” he made a couple of important decisions when hiring new editors to replace outgoing ones (like Mort Weisinger, Robert Kanigher, George Kashdan, and Jack Miller). His new editors were going to be younger and more willing to work with and train younger creative talent. Fittingly, these new editors were all artists themselves, as was Carmine. They all spoke the same language. So, during this period, longtime DC artists Joe Kubert and Mike Sekowsky, former EC great Joe Orlando, and Charlton mainstay (and former Executive Editor) Dick Giordano all found themselves at editor’s desks, as well as behind a drawing board.

Kubert pretty much stuck to editing DC’s classic war comics, with the occasional new project (Firehair, Son of Tomahawk), and Sekowsky became in essence an artist/editor, editing only those projects that he was also drawing (Wonder Woman, Metal Men, a brief stint on Supergirl). Conversely, both Orlando and Giordano were all over the DC line-up. They not only edited superheroes; they also worked on romance comics, teenage comedies, funny-animal comics, and lost genres like Western and jungle comics. They upped the ante on firing up the longtime not-so-scary “mystery” comics into full-fledged horror comics (although they still weren’t allowed to be called that).

Go-Go #9

Go-Go #9

Of course, for Dick Giordano, this was – for him – business as usual. He was just doing it in a different (and bigger!) town. He had started editing at Connecticut-based Charlton Comics in 1965, where as eventual Executive Editor, he was editing most of the comics line. Here’s just a partial listing of the titles he worked on at Charlton: Army Attack, Army War Heroes, Attack, Billy the Kid, Career Girl Romances, Charlton Premiere, Cheyenne Kid, D-Day, Drag-Strip Hotrodders, Fightin’ Army, Fightin’ Five, Fightin’ Marines, Ghostly Tales, Go-Go (starring Miss Bikini Luv!), Grand Prix, The Gunfighters, Gunmaster, Hercules, Hollywood Romances, Hot Rod Racers, Hot Rods and Racking Cars, I Love You, Just Married, Love Diary, The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves, Marine War Heroes, Outlaws of the West, Romantic Story, Scary Tales, Strange Suspense Stories, Sweethearts, Teen Confessions, Teen-Age Love, Teenage Hotrodders, Texas Rangers in Action, Time For Love, Timmy the Timid Ghost, Top Eliminator, War and Attack, War Heroes, Wild West, World of Wheels, and Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal.

Of special note was Dick’s work in reviving Charlton’s superhero characters under the Action Heroes line, featuring Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, and later, The Question. Other heroic Charlton characters included Judomaster, Peacemaker, Sarge Steel (which he also drew), and Thunderbolt. During this time, his primary artist for the line was Steve Ditko, who returned to Charlton after leaving Marvel Comics in 1966.

Bomba the Jungle Boy #5

Bomba the Jungle Boy #5

Initially at DC, he inherited a bunch of series begun by others and pretty much doomed to cancellation, like Bomba, the Jungle Boy and Blackhawk, but he managed to put his mark on them on the way out. His final Blackhawk issues thankfully righted the series to its original concepts after a disastrous (and unintentionally funny) revamp of the WWII vets as awful superheroes like The Listener (who wore a skintight costume featuring pictures of ears. No. Really.) and M’sieu Machine.

Giordano was initially hired at DC based on a suggestion by Ditko, who had begun working there. At DC, they were reunited on two new Ditko creations, Beware the Creeper and The Hawk and the Dove. What we have here are basically templates of interesting new characters that don’t quite jell completely, as Ditko abandoned each series before its conclusion. (Each ran just six issues, after introductory Showcase installments.) The Creeper was originally dialogued by Denny O’Neil, another Charlton talent who traveled with Giordano to DC. The Creeper still exists today as the same basic character, although many, many attempts to launch him into his own series have met with frustration and failure. Despite this, he remains a popular cult character. (A hardcover collection of this series and other early Creeper stories is being published by DC Comics this week.)

The Hawk and the Dove concept also still exists at DC, albeit in a much different form than the original. For one thing, the original two men have died, and the powers have been transferred to two women. In the past few years, this new Hawk and Dove have appeared as occasional Titans characters. Ditko’s original concept for the characters was based on 1960s political slang for defining a person’s beliefs based on (specifically) the Vietnam War. Hawks were those who supported the war, often in outspoken, angry, and violent ways. Doves were against the war, in favor of trying to find non-violent ways of ending the conflict. The Hawk and Dove of the comics were two brothers in high school, Hank and Don Hall. As you can probably guess from their not-so-subtle names, Hank was a Hawk and Don a Dove, and the series revolved around their ongoing conflict, which had to be occasionally reigned in by their father, a judge. One day, a mysterious source gave the pair tremendous powers. Hawk became a violent combatant, while Dove used his powers to try to non-violently capture or subdue his foes. Of course, this being DC and not wanting to get controversial or appear to be taking any sides, the comic became toothless pretty quickly, and Ditko bailed. Steve Skeates was the scripter, and Gil Kane appeared as artist to wrap up the series. The book had tons of potential, but DC was still a pretty conservative company at this time in history, so the series had nowhere to go.

Secret Six was another series that Giordano inherited and made his own. (He also edited the series revival years later in the pages of Action Comics Weekly.) This was an espionage series created by E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Frank Springer (who left the series after two issues; it was continued by Jack Springer). Secret Six featured a number of disparate non-powered characters all brought together and blackmailed by their mysterious leader, Mockingbird, who it was quickly revealed was one of them. It was intricately plotted, with just enough clues (and false leads) in each issue to keep everybody on their toes. Unfortunately, the details of the series were worked out in advance of Giordano’s arrival, and he accidentally eliminated two of the suspects through the insertion of two thought balloons. The series was also unexpectedly and abruptly canceled with issue #7, with Mockingbird’s identity unrevealed. Giordano kept the secret for almost twenty years, until the series was finally revived in 1988 and the identity exposed, only to have the original team killed off and replaced with new characters. The Secret Six name (but not its concept) survives to this day in the popular super-villain series written by Gail Simone.

Aquaman #45

Aquaman #45

Other series Giordano was much luckier with. Shortly after taking over Aquaman, Giordano quickly assigned former Charlton mainstays Steve Skeates (writer) and Jim Aparo (artist) to the title. Aparo replaced popular artist Nick Cardy on the series, which was controversial in fan circles at the time, but the switch was lessened somewhat by Giordano retaining Cardy on an incredible run of strong Aquaman covers. In the early 70s, Cardy would be the regular cover artist for most of DC’s superhero titles.

Skeates and Aparo (with Giordano) crafted an extremely memorable multi-part storyline (very rare at DC at the time) concerning Aquaman’s search for the kidnapped Mera over the course of nine bi-monthly issues. This dramatic storyline was radically different from the lighthearted, family-oriented (there was Aquaman and Mera, their son Aquababy (for reals), Aqualad, and Aquagirl, plus the “talking” walrus and sea horses) tales that had populated the title. Under Giordano, the book went from family romps to an ongoing adventure story. DC fans were not used to this kind of radical change (or any change at all, frankly) in their characters. I loved it.

After this “epic” concluded, Skeates and Aparo continued with a three-part Aquaman/Deadman crossover (kinda), with Neal Adams providing the artwork for the Deadman chapters of the story. The final issue of Aquaman (#56, when it was canceled) featured the Justice League and a radical new DC one-shot superhero, The Crusader. The Crusader also provided comics with one of the earliest, completely unofficial DC/Marvel crossover stories when elements from this story were picked up in an issue of Sub-Mariner #72 (ironically, also the last issue of Namor’s series), also written by Skeates. Dial B For Blog has the full story.

Teen Titans #16

Teen Titans #16

Another book that Giordano radically changed over a course of a fairly long run was Teen Titans. He started with issue #15, working primarily with Nick Cardy as the (mostly) regular artist, and a number of different writers including Bob Haney, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman (his first work on Titans), and Mike Friedrich. The title transitioned from another of DC’s lighthearted romp books to something that might actually appeal to teenagers and young adults in the rapidly changing real world of the late 1960s. Besides tacking some real-world concerns (but still in a DC-safe way), the earlier issues actually spent some effort at cleaning up some ongoing questions about the team itself. Speedy was finally brought in as a full member, while Aqualad began to drift away from the team (partially to help Aquaman in the search for Mera in a nice bit of early DC cross-continuity). And the question of “Who is Wonder Girl?” was first asked and solved. (Unfortunately, not for the last time, as subsequent changes in Wonder Woman history would impact Donna over the years.) As DC was beginning to develop other young superheroes, like brothers Hawk and Dove, they were also brought into the team.

Teen Titans #21

Teen Titans #21

Teen Titans #20-22 features DC’s first Jericho character, in a storyline with some unusual credits. The art is by Neal Adams, inked by regular Titans penciller Nick Cardy, which is a very interesting and pleasing (and never repeated) art collab. The writing is also officially credited to Adams, but the real story goes deeper than that, as this story was based on an original idea by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman to create a new African-American character for DC. For reasons too long to go into here, the original Wein/Wolfman story was rejected, the African-American character didn’t appear, and Wein and Wolfman were “blacklisted” by some of the higher-ups at DC over the story and their subsequent perceived behavior afterwards. Adams went to bat for the neophyte writers and volunteered to step in to get the story published, although it was radically changed for publication. (This altered story was recently reprinted in DC Universe Illustrated by Neal Adams Volume 1.) Not much of the original story remains, but copies of existing Cardy pages and an explanation of the story’s background appears in the sadly hard-to-find Comic Book Artist Collection Volume 1, which reprinted the original article from Comic Book Artist #1, both published by TwoMorrows. This story was also discussed recently in Back Isuue #33, also from TwoMorrows.

In issue #25, Robert Kanigher is brought in as the writer of the Titans’ new direction, as peace movement leader Arthur Swenson (think Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy) is accidentally killed and the Titans are directly involved. They decide to renounce their costumed identities and go to work for the mysterious Mr. Jupiter, aiming to continue Swenson’s peacekeeping work undercover as well as bringing his murderer to justice. It was the beginning of a multi-part story by Kanigher and Cardy, but it loses its way with a muddled and confused conclusion. However, things were happening in the Titans as characters started coming and going and new characters like Lilith and Mal (an early African-American character) were introduced.

One of Dick’s true talents as an editor was getting really exceptional work from his artists and writers. He spent a lot of time and effort mentoring much of the new talent coming into the field (and specifically to DC) during these years. Plus, he got a lot of really good work from folks that had been doing comics for a while, some of whom had been coasting a bit here and there. Great examples of this are Jack Sparling’s final issues (and covers) for Bomba and later for Secret Six; Pat Boyette’s work for the final issues of Blackhawk; Robert Kanigher’s scripts for Deadman and Teen Titans; and much of the work that popped up in Giordano-edited anthology books.

After Joe Orlando’s successful revamp of the House of Mystery as a horror anthology, he did the same trick for House of Secrets. But after editing one issue of that, Orlando handed it over to Dick, who edited the title until he left DC in 1971. Shortly after that, Dick was credited as the editor of DC’s newest horror title, The Witching Hour.

Witching Hour #13

Witching Hour #13

I preferred Witching Hour out of DC’s growing line of horror anthologies, largely because I liked the hosts of the book – the Three Witches, Mildred, Mordred, and Cynthia – and the “generation gap” of stories they presented. The two old crones presented traditional mystery stories, while youthful Cynthia (supposedly) spun tales with more contemporary fare, like psychic phenomena or E.S.P. The witches were originally designed and presented by Alex Toth (and if he wasn’t available, Neal Adams filled in) in wraparounds scripted by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, or Gerry Conway.

The Witching Hour was filled with creative surprises throughout the first lucky 13 Giordano-edited issues. Consider this creative line-up: Toth, Adams, Berni Wrightson, Denny O’Neil, Gil Kane, Wein, Sergio Aragones, Conway, Murphy Anderson, Gray Morrow, Don Heck, Steve Skeates, Wolfman, George Tuska, Nick Cardy, Mike Sekowsky, Pat Boyette, Sid Greene, Jack Sparling, Bob Brown, Bill Draut, Win Mortimer, and Jerry Grandenetti. Pretty scary, eh, kids?

Strange Adventures #213

Strange Adventures #213

Deadman (in the pages of Strange Adventures) was another series that Giordano inherited after it was conceived. The gritty series was incredibly unusual for DC at the time, and somewhat remarkably consistent, despite all the various writers who worked on the project. The only real constant of the series was artist (and occasional writer) Neal Adams, who really threw himself into the project. Considering what else DC was publishing at the time, it’s actually kinda amazing that this series existed as long as it did, because, in retrospect, it seems too “real” to have co-existed in the DCU at all. Some of the metaphysical themes have dated it badly, but it’s still a landmark series for DC. Reportedly, it was the only DC series read by the contemporary Marvel staffers. Dick didn’t work on too many issues of the series, basically mopping up the final issues before passing the book back to Julie Schwartz for a (reprint) revival of Adam Strange. Those last issues are some of the most memorable, and critical to the series. Also, Dick whipped up some incredibly thought-provoking letter columns for the series. (Thanks to some incredibly intelligent letters!)

Hot Wheels #6

Hot Wheels #6

Based on the Saturday morning cartoon series, which was in turn based on the wildly popular toy car line, you would think that a Hot Wheels comic book didn’t stand a chance. And you’d be right – the title only lasted six issues. But if you’re looking for visual treats, you’ve come to the right place. The first five issues all feature stories illustrated by Alex Toth, and Neal Adams takes the lead in issue six. Even the normally workman-like Ric Estrada comes to life under Giordano’s fluid inking in the back-up stories. The scripts by Joe Gill are just serviceable (and issue #5’s lead script was tossed out completely, as Toth himself wrote and drew “The Case of the Curious Classic” in a tight 8-panel grid format – a brave choice for an action comic, but which totally works here). Both Toth and Giordano were closet gearheads (Dick’s Charlton resume includes a number of “Hot Rod” books as well), so they were a perfect fit for this quirky, near-forgotten series (and sadly, probably never to be reprinted, due to the licensing restrictions).

Showcase #78

Showcase #78

Dick also took his turn at editing a number of issues of DC’s Showcase try-out anthology. Two out of the three concepts he tried weren’t awarded their own series, but fans fondly remember both, and the characters were re-used on and off later in DC’s history. Jonny Double was in the mold of the classic down-on-his-luck private detective, created and written by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman and drawn by Jack Sparling in Showcase #78, with an absolutely gorgeous cover pencilled and inked by Giordano. The character has appeared as a supporting character throughout the DCU over the years, most notably in Wonder Woman and Kobra, and in 1998, he was awarded his own Vertigo miniseries, written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Eduardo Risso.

Showcase #79

Showcase #79

In the following issue, Showcase #79 presented the touching origin of the woman named Dolphin, in a beautiful story written and drawn by romance comic great Jay Scott Pike. This Dolphin tale was also pretty much a romance story, albeit one with fantasy elements. Dolphin ended up being a minor superhero in the DCU, primarily appearing with The Forgotten Heroes, until she became a supporting character in the Aquaman series. Initially a romantic partner of Aquaman, she eventually married Aqualad/Tempest and gave birth to their child, a boy named Cerdian. Both mother and child went missing during the destruction of Atlantis in Infinite Crisis and were presumed to have died in the chaos. This was more-or-less confirmed, as Black Lantern versions of the characters recently appeared during the Blackest Night event.

Windy & Willy #1

Windy & Willy #1

The one Giordano-edited Showcase series that did make it to its own book (although for only four issues) was the weirdo Windy and Willy, which reprinted old Bob Oskner-drawn The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis comics, except they were re-drawn (and re-lettered) so that the characters no longer looked like the TV actors. At the same time, old Golden Age Binky stories were also being reprinted, with art corrections to make the clothing fashions seem more contemporary (and also so the stories could be passed off as “new” to the casual reader – a strange and time-consuming practice of the era).

In addition to all these great comics, Dick also edited a pair of excellent romance titles (Secret Hearts and Young Love – the home of the memorable “The Life and Loves of Lisa St. Clair” series), a funny animal reprint book (Sheldon Mayer’s The Three Mousketeers), and some teenage humor comics (Date With Debbi, Debbi’s Dates). Along with the Joe Orlando-edited Binky and a re-tooled Scooter (which was originally an interesting original concept), these books were a blatant attempt by DC to tap into the contemporary big sales for the Archie line of comics, even down to copying the traditional Archie blue and red logo treatments!

He also attempted a Western revival with some very nice Western reprints in the Super DC Giant series and in the first four issues of the new All-Star Western, but Dick was gone before Jonah Hex made his debut in the title (and the title changed to Weird Western Tales). Giordano’s biggest editorial misfire was probably the last three issues of The Spectre (following Julie Schwartz), where he abandoned superheroics completely in favor of having The Spectre host another mystery/horror anthology. Luckily, Joe Orlando would have better luck with The Spectre a few years later.

Dick left the DC staff in 1971, after conflicts with publisher Carmine Infantino. He continued to ink for the company, working on the Batman titles, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and Justice League of America for Julie Schwartz, who gave Dick all the work he could handle. Soon afterwards, Giordano formed Continuity Studios with Neal Adams. At this time, Dick was only an editor for DC for about two or three years. His books were generally not big sellers, but they made a big impact on the comic book industry and also on an impressionable 14-year-old who started to realize that maybe being a comic book editor was a worthwhile job to aspire to as an adult.

Dick later returned to DC in 1980, brought in by new Publisher Jenette Kahn to edit the Batman titles. Dick quickly rose through the ranks to become Vice President/Executive Editor in 1983, and shortly thereafter he was involved in developing many of the big projects that got fans talking about DC again (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen). He initiated a new wave of creativity at DC, culminating in dozens of new projects and ideas and even new imprints like Vertigo.

During this time, Dick also initiated a regular column in all the DC books called Meanwhile… Obviously inspired by Stan Lee’s beloved Bullpen Bulletins, Meanwhile… was essentially a DC hype page, but Dick usually spoke from the heart (or the gut, depending on the topic) while successfully avoiding Stan’s trademark hyperbole. Despite all the amazing projects (and some not so amazing) that were coming out of DC at the time, I maintain that Dick’s Meanwhile… column – plain talk during a very difficult time behind-the-scenes of the comic industry, with the distribution and business models of the industry going through significant evolution, as well as creator rights and content concerns – was a major factor in keeping DC (as well as much of the industry) on the rails and properly informed. It was often like Dick’s monthly Fireside Chat for comic fans.

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Date With Debbi #2

Date With Debbi #2

I got to work with Dick (although not directly, and not as an editor) when I was at DC Comics in 1989 and 1990. I ran into a big corporate roadblock that prevented me from transitioning from Design to Editorial (that I still don’t understand to this day), and Dick fought to keep me, but ultimately I returned to Wisconsin and Westfield for a brief time. I got the call to return to DC in 1993, this time from Mike Carlin, who was taking over many of Dick’s duties in anticipation of Dick’s retirement from DC. Carlin insisted that I get Dick’s approval before things became official. Something I did when I drove 900 miles (from Madison, WI, to Charlotte, NC) to talk to Dick at Heroes Con that weekend – part of a longer road trip including stops in Ceredo, WV, Baltimore, MD, NYC, Buffalo, NY, Niagara Falls, and up through Canada on the way back to Wisconsin. (The trip also included two other job interviews.)

When I showed up in Charlotte, Dick said, “Hey! I hear you’re coming back to help us out!”

“I think that’s up to you,” I replied.

“Nah,” said Dick. “That’s Carlin’s call. See you in New York.”

And that was my job interview to become a DC comics editor, one of the last hired while Dick was still there.

I was in the DC offices two days later. I don’t think Dick expected me that soon. “Hey! Did we hire you yet?” he laughed.

“Not yet. But I turned down two other jobs since I saw you on Saturday!” I replied.

“Good thinking!” he laughed.

I started driving home later that day. I had just two weeks to pack everything I owned and put it into storage. A couple of days later, I drove to New York with my mattress and box spring tied to the roof of my car. I was so broke that I couldn’t afford to stop overnight at a motel, so I pulled off the road somewhere in Ohio, found a remote area, and climbed up and slept on the mattress on top of my car.

After I got to DC, Dick was the first one to take me out to lunch. I think that was mostly to make sure I was eating regularly until I got my first paycheck. Amazingly, a lot of other DC execs also took me out to lunch those first couple of weeks. Maybe that was just DC tradition, but I’m pretty sure that Dick put a bug in their ear to help out the new guy.

Sadly, Dick was soon phasing himself out of the offices. His wife, Marie, was very sick, and Dick was spending a lot of time with her. (She passed away later in 1993.) Dick’s own health problems were also coming to a head by this point. Always a little hard of hearing since I first met him, Dick’s hearing problems were getting worse by then. Dick took it in stride in public, and it became a regular ritual of DC staffers to explain to office visitors that people weren’t screaming at Dick in anger – they were yelling so that Dick could hear them. It became a somewhat grim office joke that no one could have a “private” conversation with Dick any longer – even closed office doors couldn’t contain the raised voices.

It obviously wasn’t a funny situation, but Dick was often playful about it, occasionally pretending not to hear bad news, and then breaking out with a smile or a wink after the bad news bearer had left.

Dick was often the subject of a daily office pool: What did Dick have for lunch today? Inevitably, Dick would return from lunch with new spots on his tie. He loved soup.

When I first got to DC in 1989, it was still a fun place to be. While always a bit political, the DC offices at 666 Sixth Avenue were quirky and fun, if overcrowded. Comics were not yet big, corporate businesses like they are now. But that was changing rapidly. While I was there, DC went from being a relatively small part of the Warner corporation to being partnered with Time-Life and shortly afterwards a giant business entity merged with AOL. Lots of things changed, including two changes of address to increasingly more corporate headquarters. Suddenly there was a lot of concern about how big your office was, or which street your office was facing, or how many guest chairs you had for your office. Stuff that didn’t matter. You heard the word “No” a lot more often.

Dick probably saw this coming, and that may be another reason why he decided to retire. After he left, there was a lot more yelling at DC – and not because anyone was hard of hearing.

Dick didn’t say “No” very often. And when he had to, he always tried not to say the actual word. With Dick it always was, “Let’s see if we can find a way” or “Maybe we should try something different.” Dick understood how to talk to creators. He was a creator. When he talked to you, it was always like he was talking to a friend or peer. Dick seldom acted like a boss – and this is why he commanded so much respect from virtually everyone in comics.

Editorially, he was a big proponent of “Hire the best people you can, and get the hell out of their way so they can create.” Hell, he may have created that style of editing. Even if he didn’t, he owned the style. And yet, he was always there if you did need help. Dick had the remarkable ability to get the best work out of freelancers, whether they were tired old pros or inexperienced young kids. Dick became an important teacher and mentor for the entire industry, not just inkers.

He also stuck his neck out for things and people he believed in. He continued to give work to Len Wein and Marv Wolfman after they were “blackballed” by certain executives and editors at DC early in their careers. Think about how comics history would have been affected if that hadn’t happened.

Secret Hearts #147

Secret Hearts #147

Dick Giordano’s early editing career for DC showcased a remarkable feel for creativity. Left with a stack of either dead or near-dead books, he turned most of them into lasting properties for DC, although there wasn’t a major character in the bunch (discounting Aquaman and however you feel about him). Most of Dick’s series died with his departure from DC in 1971 (partially to make room for the arrival of Jack Kirby from Marvel and all his new titles), and the ones that did survive (Teen Titans, House of Secrets, The Witching Hour) weren’t the same. But sales figures aside – at this time DC had a Publisher who largely didn’t understand the sales figures, so who really knows how well Dick’s books actually sold. Aquaman reportedly sold better than first thought at the time. – Dick’s books heralded a coming revolution in comics.

Many of these Giordano-edited series are in my “fire box” (the box of comics that I would theoretically rescue if my house caught on fire). That’s because these are largely the comics that increased my enthusiasm for comic books overall and (although I didn’t know it at the time) inspired me to look to comic books, and editing in particular, as a potential career. I loved these comics as a kid and grew to love Dick when I worked for him.

In conclusion, I am really looking forward to the ultimate and inevitable Hero Initiative (of which Dick was an active Board Member) tribute book to Dick. Considering how many folks out there loved the guy, it promises to be thicker than the Manhattan phone book!

Dick, Thank You, and Good Afternoon.

FURTHER READING:
Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At A Time, by Michael Eury, TwoMorrows (2003)

Draw Comics With Dick Giordano, Impact Books (2005)

Interview: Comic Book Artist #1 (1998) Reprinted: Comic Book Artist Collection, Volume 1, TwoMorrows (2000)

Interview: The Comic Journal #119 (January, 1988)

Weblink tributes: Tom Spurgeon

an excellent (and concise!) overview of Dick’s entire career.

Bob Greenberger

Mike Gold

Heidi MacDonald (w/industry tributes)

Mark Evanier

several blog entries on March 27-March 30

Grumpy Old Fan (Tom Bondurant)

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KC Carlson has been working in comics since 1972, where, at the age of 16, he worked at the local magazine distributor, stripping the covers off unsold comics to return to the publishers. Since then, he has worked for DC Comics, Westfield Comics, Capital City Distribution, and many other places, continuing to destroy comics at every step.

The comics covers used in this column come from the Grand Comics Database.