What was your first
introduction to the Mighty Crusaders?
I was an avid comic collector in the sixties when The
Crusaders first appeared. I liked the idea of the Archie
Group delving into costumed heroes and thought they'd do as
credible a job with the group as they'd been doing with The
Jaguar and The Fly--two titles I enjoyed. Can't say I was
really impressed with the Crusaders, though. More than
anything else, Paul Reinman's art was a turn-off. The idea
that these great old characters teaming really captured my
Did you choose the Comet, or
was the job given to you?
When Archie revived the Red Circle line in the early eighties,
I had no intention of working for the company. I was
editing several titles for Western (Popeye, Turok, Yosemite Sam
and others), working on a title for Pacific Comics that would
keep a few of my old Warren artists busy (Bold Adventure) and had
teamed with two partners to open a new magazine company (Ion
International) with the intent of producing Videogaming
Illustrated and Choclatier magazines, a couple of monthly
newsstand titles. Carmine Infantino and I were also
collaborating on several new ideas for DC, as well--one a title
that company later used without us--Preacher. If memory
serves, I might even have still been working with
Warren. All this while still running my art studio,
The Cartoon Factory. I was keeping busy.
How'd you get hooked up with
When Richard Buckler, recently-appointed editor of the Red
Circle line, called to speak with his sister, Peggy, to whom I
was married, I was surprised to hear, at the end of their
conversation, that he wanted to speak with me. While
friendly, we never really had much to do with each other--both of
us too interested in our own paths.
He told me that he'd been having trouble with one of his
titles--The Comet. No one quite seemed to know how to
handle the character's revival. He asked if I'd like to
give the script a shot. I agreed, did a little research on
the character, sat down, wrote and had twenty-odd pages to him in
the next day or so.
Though The Comet probably wouldn't have initially been my
first choice, had I been given one, once I'd learned that the
original series had been created by Jack Cole, my enthusiasm
Did you choose the art team
for the book?
My reputation, apparently, had preceded me to the Red Circle
offices. When I walked in with my script, publishers Richard
Goldwater and Michael Silberkleit took me aside and asked if I'd
be interested in editing the Red Circle line. I have to say
that I was honored--but shocked. When they told me
they were unhappy with the way Richard was handling their comics,
(specifically, their deadlines) I explained to them that I'd have
my own troubles at home (not to mention in my other endeavors) if
I suddenly took over his position. I told them I could help
them with any title they felt was in trouble, but that I'd have
to decline editorship of the entire line--for all of the
I left the offices that day helming two titles--The Comet and
The Black Hood. Hood's assignments were already in the
pipeline, but I knew there was one artists I had to have in the
book--Alex Toth. I went home, called him, Carmine, Alex
Nino and Rudy Nebres, asking all of them to join me at Red
Circle. All enthusiastically agreed and I knew I had a
pretty reliable stable of pros who would make my job as
writer/editor not only easy but thoroughly enjoyable.
Why did the book only last 2
I joined the company pretty late in the game. A lot of
deadlines had, apparently been missed, a lot of money apparently
misspent. It was clear to see, from the start, that
Goldwater and Silberkleit were unhappy with costs and
results. They were used to fairly low overhead for their
Archie titles and these new super-hero books, they felt, simply
weren't worth their efforts.
I got a call from Michael (I worked out of my Connecticut
studio and never maintained an office at the Archie offices) one
morning, telling me that he was sorry, but he and Richard
(Silberkleit) had decided to discontinue the Red Circle
line--that "it just isn't worth the expense."
What was your role in issues
2 and 3 of the Black Hood?
As I said, most of the assignments had already been made prior
to my joining the company. I did want to give Alex Toth the
opportunity to work on any of the old MLJ characters he pleased,
however. He selected The Fox and it seemed as though it
would be the perfect back-up series for The Black Hood.
I thought the second issue
of the Comet was a nice commentary on certain things, and overall
was a very moving plot. Comments?
As with anyone, there are certain topics that hit close to
home. Comics may not be the best medium in which to address
them all, but in the case of The Comet and his brother, The
Hangman, I was given an opportunity to address issues that seemed
to fit into the title's continuity quite nicely. I would
have loved the chance to work more with the DC characters to
further explore the personal and psychological ramifications of
cavorting about as a costumed hero. Unfortunately,
the powers-that-be at DC never went out of their way to make me
feel very welcome.
I have been told that there
was a different cover planned for the second issue of the
Sorry, I don't remember any other cover for issue #2 of The
Comet other than the one that was used. It's possible that
I've forgotten, but to my best recollection, what was published
was what was scheduled all along.
What was planned for issues
3-6 of the Comet?
It's been almost twenty years since those stories were plotted
and written, so it's hard to remember specifics, but I do recall
that I was planning for both of our heroes Comet and Hangman, to
hang up their tights and follow more realistic directions in
life. I think you'll find that in any good story, there's
usually a hint or two of the ending dropped into the
opening. In page two or three of The Comet #1, I think
you'll find John Dickering expressing his desire to hang up his
mask and cape. Certainly, his nephew, Steve, the new
Hangman, made a much better doctor than costumed vigilante.
I knew the idea of losing a valid character license (or two)
wouldn't go over well with Michael and Richard, but etching
definitive endings into a character's history seemed to me then,
as now, a far more graceful way of ending a title than having it
canceled because of slipping sales (or a publisher's lack of
Did it include Steve
Dickering taking over full-time as the Hangman?
Yes, Steve would have continued on as The Hangman--only long
enough to feel for himself the pressures and frustrations his
father felt as that same costumed vigilante. He would have
begun taking his frustration out on his love interest, Lori,
realized that he was more like his father than he'd ever want to
admit--then continue on in his role as a full-time doctor
specializing in helping abused youth. Probably predictable,
but I anticipated having a lot of fun getting there working with
Carmine, Alex, Rudy and Adam (Kubert).
Some have speculated that
the Comet introduced in the 60's was supposed to be like a Barry
Allen/Flash revamp character, with no real ties to the original.
Were you going to touch on this at all?
Actually, I thought I had touched on it in the first
issue. The storyline recaps the character's origin, his
early Jack Cole created adventures in Pep Comics and takes him to
a distant planet and back again like, I believe, the sixties
Comet. I may not have used that awful sixties costume, but
the continuity was all there. Really didn't feel it was my
place to stray from what had been established before, whether I
liked it or not.
And PLEASE tell me you were
going to explain his 60's costume as being some mental problem he
was going through!
Okay--so the sixties costume was the one part of the
continuity we ignored.
Any idea why the Red Circle
line was all at once changed to Archie Adventure Series?
I seem to remember Michael mentioning that the Archie
character license was far more profitable and valuable than the
Red Circle franchise and that it was better to direct focus
rather than spread it about uselessly.
And any comments on the line
after your departure from there? When it quit being Red
Circle, the continuity went out the window....BAD!
You know, there was a wonderful, intelligent, articulate
gentleman at Archie who didn't give a damn about
continuity. He even felt, I believe, that fan
overindulgent attention to continuity was one of the many things
that were making comics virtually unreadable for the
masses. I agreed then and continue to agree with his
thinking. His name is Robin Snyder and, if given the
opportunity, he could have breathed new life into the comics
industry. He was Dick Giordano's assistant at DC for a
time, took over my books at Western Publishing, worked with
Stanley Harris on his early Warren-inspired efforts and did more
for the Archie Adventure Comics than he'll ever be credited
with. It was my pleasure to work with him on both the
published and unpublished adventures of Red Circle's Mr. Justice
title and I would have loved to have seen him given even more
latitude--especially at DC. He's one of those rare,
right-thinking individuals that would only have improved
everything he touched in any medium in which he chose to
work. Like him, I'll take a good story over rigid
continuity any time.