What brought you to Impact?
Not what, but who! Mike Gold and Brian Augustyn put the team
How did you end up writing
two series for the line?
I think it related to how much time I had available and my
participation in the original brainstorming. I was looking to
expand my involvement in comics and had time available for more
than one project. Also, I was very aggressive during our
brainstorming sessions and I think the editors recognized my
excitement for the concepts.
What kind of research did
you have to do for the Fly and the Web?
I read some of the old Red Circle books, of course, but I also
did a lot of demographic research on younger readers. Our
original intention was to make the !mpact books accessible to new
comic readers-a somewhat younger audience that had not read
Which of the two series did
you like better?
The Fly was more consistently enjoyable. Working with Mike
Parobeck was a tremendous joy and seeing his pencils on my
scripts always made me giddy.
Was there concern over Joe
Simon's claim of ownership of the name "The Fly"?
Not by me. I can't recall anyone at DC raising the
issue-except that we shouldn't duplicate the origins from the
In the Web #3, a flashback
panel shows the Web in a uniform similar to the MLJ/Red Circle
version. Is there any reason that uniform never showed up again?
No special reason. My original intention was for the costume
of the original Web agent, who later became know as the Sunshine
Kid, to have a similar costume.
Did you get to choose the
artistic contributors to the two series?
No, but I knew Mike Parobeck from before !mpact and wanted to
work with him. Mike was local and a protege of Brian Augustyn. He
and I worked on a charity project, "Quest for Dreams
Lost," for the Literacy Volunteers of Chicago.
I didn't really know Tom Artis, but I generally enjoyed
working with him and he was a very serious contributor to the
concepts of the Web. Many of the characters and most of the names
came from Tom Artis' military background. Tom is wildly creative.
What are your thoughts on
the late Mike Parobeck?
Mike is my favorite artist of all my comic collaborators. He
was a story-telling genius and his style set the pace for the
animation style cartooning that now has become popular. He never
got the credit he deserved and stupid editors at DC often
attacked his work.
I believe that while working in comics gave him great joy, the
way he was treated by some editors contributed to the health
problems that led to his early death. In particular, I have told
but I cannot confirm that DC Executive Editor Mike Carlin did not
think his work was appropriate for super hero comics. This got
back to Parobeck and upset him greatly. Mike always lacked
self-esteem and the comic process undermined it further.
I miss him. Whenever I think about doing comics again, I think
about how Mike's passion for comics went unrewarded. If DC ever
wanted to redress the wrongs I believe they did him, they could
reprint The FLY and our JSA series.
Why did Tom Artis leave the
Web after only a handful of issues?
Tom has a variety of conflicts with DC over payment and
deadlines. He kept claiming that checks were not reaching him. DC
kept producing documents that indicated the checks had reached
him. Tom was never happy with his inkers and never quite able to
keep up with the schedule demands.
How involved were you with
the Web's appearances in the other Impact books?
Generally we all brainstormed together and talked between us
about appearances of our characters.
Were there any characters
from the MLJ/Red Circle line you wanted to see used that weren't?
Not really. We used the best. I think
What was your part in the
development of BlackJack and Fireball (both visuals and
Hard to remember. Brian Augustyn was heavily involved on the
character creation of both and Mike did the visuals. I can't
recall contributing very much to either.
You were the writer of The
Web 1-12. Why were you no longer writing on #13 and 14?
Michael Golden, who along with Jim Owlsley, rank among the
worst and most duplicitous editors with whom I have ever worked,
assigned the stories to someone else. Golden was a jerk who
didn't return telephone calls, so I can't explain his motivation.
I found out that I was not writing the last episodes from the
schedule director at DC, not my editor. None of the decisions
were ever discussed with me.
What did you have in store
for the Fly, had it not been cancelled?
Lots of stuff, but I can't remember now. Sorry.
Was Jason Troy, Sr, ever
going to learn the Fly's secret?
Sure. At some point.
Did you ever consider having
a Fly-Girl in the series?
Sure. She would have showed up eventually.
Did you sense Impact's
demise before being officially told the line was being cancelled?
No, but we knew sales were not good.
What are/were your thoughts
DC says it was a last ditch attempt to save the line.
Actually, I believe it was just another attempt by Jim Owsley to
give work to his friends inside the company-a favorite tactic by
editors at the time. I didn't really read the issues, but I am
told that much of what went on was the result of ideas discussed
at the !mpact creators retreat though they were not credited.
What was your personal
favorite issue that you did for Impact?
I haven't read the series in a long time, but I always liked
the origin story of the Fly.
What, if anything, would you
have changed about your work on the Fly and/or the Web?
Nothing on the Fly. I would have tightened the focus and the
storyline on the Web series. In retrospect, I think we tried to
tell too many stories too quickly.
Why do you think Impact
Comics didn't survive past it's second birthday?
Lots of reasons, but some major contributors were:
--DC Comic marketing botched the deal. We intended the series
to be available to an audience that was trying comics for the
first time. However, the comics were never made available to that
audience. They were simply added to the glut of comics sold in
the direct market to existing comics fans.
At the time shop owners were starting to have budget problems.
I was told by several storeowners that when they asked DC
marketing how to allocate their sales, they were told the !mpact
books should be a last priority.
--Change in editorial leadership undermined the creative
focus. When Jim Owsley took over the leadership of the editors,
he seemed anxious to bring in personal friends and his own ideas.
He was unbelievably arrogant and quite the bully. When he was
hired at DC, he was assigned to edit the FLY, but after he sent
me a stupid, arrogant letter about how he wanted scripts
prepared, I refused to work with him. Mike Gold neatly avoided
the conflict and switched editors.
To this day, I believe DC does not properly train its editors
and maintains very poor oversight of their work. As a journalist
and former magazine editor with more than 25 years of publishing
experience, I can say without any doubt that the comics industry
has the worst group of editors I have ever seen. Most have no
formal training as editors. Many are failed artists or writers or
wannabees interested in developing their own creator careers, not
fostering the work of others.
What are your thoughts on
the "Impact ruined the characters" thinking?
Please communicate the following to the folks who say that.
Would you tackle the
characters again, if given the chance?
Do you have a "personal
favorites" list (for fans who might want to pick up some of
your other work?)
I still recall fondly my JSA series with Mike Parobek, PRIME
written with Gerry Jones and PROTOTYPE written with Tom Mason.
Although my involvement with TROLLORDS was mainly as a coach and
editor, I liked all of those books very much. The creators are
Scott Beaderstadt and Pail Fricke.