Dave Cockrum Interview

You were the artist for the Wrath of the Comet, which was supposed to be released by DC/Impact Comics, but never was.  Mark Waid sent me a photocopy of the issue, and it looked pretty neat.

Yes, and I still have the entire story art.  Pencils only, but occasionally I get a noodge to ink them (I probably won’t–my inking isn’t considered commercially viable any more).

I was looking forward to doing a new series again, and was very disappointed that DC let the whole thing drop.  Though, to tell you the truth, my affection goes to the Simon and Kirby Shield (the Double Life of Private Strong), the very first red-white-and-blue hero I ever encountered.  I would have loved having a chance to do him.

Who brought you to Impact, and did you lobby for it?

Frankly, I don’t remember.  I got a call asking me if I was available.  I imagine it was whoever was editing the line.

What kind of research did you do on the Comet before drawing the book?

Well, I had the earlier Impact books, and I went back and read them to refresh my memory.

Did you ever draw issue 2 (or was it never written?)

No, I didn’t draw it, and if the plot or script had ever been written, I didn’t hear of it.  I turned in the pencils of #1, and after some length of time when I didn’t hear anything else, I called DC and was informed that the project was cancelled.  I never knew whether it was because they didn’t like my art, or if there were other reasons.

What was your first introduction to the MLJ characters?

I’m older than most of your readers, and my first introduction was to the Archie Adventure Series titles, ‘The Double Life of Private Strong’ (Simon & Kirby’s version of the Shield) and ‘The Adventures of the Fly’, back in the ’50s.  I still have the Shield’s two issues tucked away, and two or three early ‘Flys’ too.  S&K’s Shield was the first red-white-and-blue superhero I’d ever seen, and I was immediately hooked.  I guess I just missed the early ’50s appearances of Captain America.  Anyway, I thought the Shield was terrific.  I loved the Fly, too.  The early Fly was somewhat creepy, standing out perpendicular on a wall, or upside down on the ceiling (this was way before the birth of Spider-Man).  Unfortunately, the Shield’s title only lasted two issues, and he turned up once later on as a guest star in the Fly’s book, but stripped of most of his powers.  Originally, he was invulnerable, he could fly, and he could generate bio-electricity or some other such force.  His features resembled Clark Kent’s, and he was raised as a foundling by an elderly couple who lived on a farm.  I always suspected that DC (and possibly Marvel as well) sued Archie over resemblances to Superman (and possibly Captain America).

Were you told to make your story shorter to make room for the Steel Sterling back-up?

I didn’t know there was to be a Steel Sterling backup.  That could well be.  They never told me much at DC.  I know it was shortened by one page because the whole line was to have a text splash page which would tell the readers who the character was and bring them up to speed on the storyline.  Personally, I thought it was a stupid waste of a splash page.

Would you tackle any of the MLJ/Red Circle characters again if given the chance?

Hell, yes!  I’d love to do the Lancelot Strong Shield or the Fly (that is, the pre-Impact version).  I never liked the original Shield, and never had much interest in Steel Sterling one way or another.

visit Dave’s website: http://www.DaveCockrum.com