Paul Kupperberg talks writing essentials and his career! (2024)

Paul Kupperberg Interview

Casey: [00:00:00] All right. So I’m going to introduce myself real quick. My name’s Casey Allen. It says Kendrick on the thing, Kendrick is the guy who who is the host of like the. W w the founder of the podcast. And I use his zoom because he has the pro and I’m cheap, and I’m not gonna pay for it. I’m I’m from calling from about 30 minutes outside of Birmingham, Alabama.

[00:00:25] Okay. And I’m, I’m assuming you’re in New York or Connecticut. I’m in Connecticut. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I hear it’s nice out there the summer year, so,

[00:00:33] Paul: [00:00:33] well, right. Yeah. Today it was like 70 degrees and beautiful. We got a stretch, a nice weather coming up, but it’ll become new England soon enough. So

[00:00:43] Casey: [00:00:43] I hear ya.

[00:00:44] All right. Well I’m going to Do a quick introduction and then we’ll just, we’ll just get into it, man, and mask real quick. Before I say something that makes me sound even dumber than I than I already am. That. Okay. Kupferberg I just wanted to double check. Okay. All right, everybody. Welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show we have a guy, he he’s been in comics for awhile.

[00:01:14] He’s been pretty much everywhere. And it’s got a ton of experience and a ton of books under his belt to boot. So everybody welcome to the show. Paul Kupferberg.

[00:01:26] Paul: [00:01:26] How are you doing?

[00:01:27] Casey: [00:01:27] I’m good, man. I’m good. So kind of stressed, but things are looking up.

[00:01:34] Paul: [00:01:34] The numbers are slowly creeping up in, in the favor of, of goodness.

[00:01:38] Yes.

[00:01:39] Casey: [00:01:39] It’s been a wild ride. I figured it would be because a

[00:01:46] Paul: [00:01:46] country full of dopes.

[00:01:47] Casey: [00:01:47] Exactly. Yeah. But Yeah. I’m, I’m looking forward to hopefully not saying a particular family in the news anymore

[00:02:00] Paul: [00:02:00] for the foreseeable future.

[00:02:04] Casey: [00:02:04] So Paul, you, you do comics. And not only do you do comics, you’ve, you’ve done a ton of things in the comics world and out of the comics world. Can, can I ask you what, what got, why comics, what got you

[00:02:20] Paul: [00:02:20] started? Comics were kind of well, they, they were there so early in my life. I mean, I, you know, I joke I came out of the wound reading an issue of Superman, but you know, that’s a joke because really it was, you know, it was a little dot comic cause you know, Superman was too sophisticated for me when I was born.

[00:02:38] No. I mean, I, you know I I, I, my, my older brother, a couple of years older than me, there were comic books around because of him. My uncle who is only 10 years older than me lived next door. So he had comic books all the time and you know, they were just there and the, I read them, they were around and I picked them up and I saw her.

[00:02:59]I first saw Superman the Superman cartoons on television. They were in the 1940s Fleischer studio, Superman cartoons. And I just fell in love with the character. And you know, a little while later I turned around at the candy store and looked on the new stand and there was the same guy, but, you know, in in color and you know, and, and I got the Superman comics and, you know, that was it.

[00:03:20] I was just I was just a fan. I just love them. They, they, they sparked my imagination. They provided me a kind of, a little, a little safe Haven to crawl into for You know, certain circ*mstances in my life. So comic books.

[00:03:36] Casey: [00:03:36] Yeah. Yeah. And I mean the, the way you’re talking about the safe Haven, I, I can definitely relate to that.

[00:03:43] That was a big part of what drew me to them and kind of, it offered me a lot in that.

[00:03:51] Paul: [00:03:51] I think, I think a lot of kids go to comic books or stick with comic books or that there’s a, you know, no matter how screwed up the world is around you there’s this very definite world of black and white, you know, we’re good and evil.

[00:04:05]And you know, you know, you know, whose side you’re on and you know, which side you should be on as opposed to, you know, living life.

[00:04:15] Casey: [00:04:15] When you were initially writing comics, did that ever come to mind when, when you were thinking about your potential audience while you were writing it, did it do you think you ever wrote for the person that you were when you were a kid.

[00:04:32] Oh,

[00:04:32] Paul: [00:04:32] I think, sure. I think we all right for the person we were when we were kids, you know, this is there’s you don’t get into comics. It’s it’s such a specific world. I mean, well, I mean, it used to be more specific than it is now, now it’s everywhere, but you know, books was just a very small insular world and you, you got into that, you know, if you got into the business, it was kind of like, now you’re, now you’re able to become part of these characters that meant so much to you because they were the safe Haven.

[00:05:05] I mean, I, I kinda, I don’t know if I had it in mind. Originally, but pretty early on I had written this backup feature in venture comics. It was an accolade three part of it. I think it was like, you know, the secret origin of ACO. And it was just, you know, it was a little three parter is nicely drawn called call Carl Potts and Dick to your domino.

[00:05:27] I think that the art and but a year or two after it was published a fan approached me at a convention and. Told me that that story had come at a time in her life that you know, it was very difficult. And for whatever reason, that story helped her get through it, you know, the, the way accolade resolved his problems and dealt with his life whatever it was in there.

[00:05:53] I mean, to me, it was just, you know a couple of six pagers, but to her. You know, there was there was deep meaning there was something in there that, that meant something to her. And, and so from that point on, it was kind of like, Oh yeah, there are people reading this and no matter what my motive, and usually my motive is, you know, how do I feel, 20 pages?

[00:06:12]You know, it does it, I, you know, I’m being facetious there, although, you know, early on, back in the seventies, you know, I started writing in 1975. And we were, you know, we were just a few years away from that goofy, you know, Mort Weisinger era of Superman and and that even sillier Jack Schiff, era Batman, where he fought, you know, aliens and monsters and you know, so that kinda, you know, stories were just beginning to have more meaning, you know, we were just writers would just be.

[00:06:48] put more into stories than just, you know, Superman beats up, Lex Luther, you know? So, and I was kind of, you know, so focused on being a comic book writer. It just didn’t occur to me that I had to write about anything other than writing comic book stories, you know, later on again, with, you know, incidents like with the accolade story that the B the awareness comes along.

[00:07:14] But you know, sometimes it’s just like, you know, seriously, you know, how do you feel 20 pages this month?

[00:07:21] Casey: [00:07:21] Yeah. And I was looking at, you said you came in right at 75. You were. Actively participating, whether you knew it or not. And in a huge paradigm shift in how comics were written and perceived.

[00:07:38] Okay.

[00:07:39] Paul: [00:07:39] Well, I came out of the fan movement out of fandom in the early seventies, Paul Levitz, and I met in middle school. And you know, we were publishing fanzines in the early seventies that, you know, led to Paul’s. Job at DC and says wild. So, you know, I mean, I, I was deep into it. I was, you know, we were we were publishing the comic reader.

[00:08:04] And, you know, we were, I think we were selling about 3,500 copies a month, which was, you know, pretty damn good for something being produced out of Paul’s basem*nt,

[00:08:14] Casey: [00:08:14] I should say. Right. That’s that’s massive. That’s beating some, some actual comics figures today.

[00:08:25] Paul: [00:08:25] Sad, but true. But you know, so I was deep into this whole thing and I, and I was, you know, very aware of, you know, as, as doing fanzines, you know, writing about this stuff and, and, and editing you know the fanzines, you know, so I, I knew what was coming along, you know, and I, and I knew these guys, you know, I just kinda, you know, hanging around the periphery there in fandom.

[00:08:48] And, and you know, the conventions, which were much less structured than, than they are today, you know, like Steve Engelhart and, and Roy Thomas and, and, and, and you know, Steve Gerber, we’re kind of like, you know, I could hang with them. You know you know, cause I had friends who came out of fandom who went into the business, you know Tony, Isabella and Carl Gafford and, and Tony Tollin and a bunch of other people.

[00:09:14] So, you know, my friends, these guys were moving into New York, living in Brooklyn for the most part around where we’re leveraged and I lived and then they were getting jobs at DC and Marvel. So, you know, I was, I was, I was more inside than I, and frankly, back in those days, you know, because of the, the, the fandom and you know, my, my connections there, I, you could go up to DC and hanging out there.

[00:09:40] You know, you didn’t really like, you know, if the receptionist knew your face, you could get inside, you know? So It was you know, so yeah. All very long winded way of saying yes, I was very aware of the change at the moment. Yes. I didn’t have the chops yet to be part of it that, that took a few years.

[00:09:58] You need to kind of grow into the experience and learn what I was doing and, and frankly, have something to say, you know, I was 20, I was 19 when I first when I sold my first stories. So you know, I was just. Kid who had gone to high school and college and, and, you know, hung around and smoked dope in Brooklyn.

[00:10:21] I didn’t have a wealth of experience. And they wouldn’t let me write stories about smoking dope in Brooklyn. So,

[00:10:29] Casey: [00:10:29] so when you, when you first started in, I guess like the The big two, you know, leaving your your indie roots. I guess you started at DC, correct?

[00:10:44] Paul: [00:10:44] Well, I actually started a Charlton comics. Really? Yeah. Yeah. I made my first sales there early in 1975. They were

[00:10:52] Casey: [00:10:52] on the way out, right?

[00:10:54] Paul: [00:10:54] No, no, no. They were still there.

[00:10:56] They still had a good 10 years to go. And this was just right after a very fertile period at Charlie where guys like Joe Stayton and John Byrne and Mike Zack. And you know, like that we’re coming in and you know, learning, learning the way around and then moving onto Marvel when and all that.

[00:11:16]So I came in at kind of the tail end of that. You know, that era at at Charlton and you know, did a lot of hard, well, not a lot. I did a bunch of horror stories for them, you know, those six and eight page, monster and ghost stories. And then, then I I got a call from somebody at DC. And I was assigned a, a 10 page story for Superman family.

[00:11:39] Casey: [00:11:39] Oh, that’s awesome. How, how was that going? Going into DC. Was there anyone there that kind of took you under their wing and showed you the ropes? How things work at the big two?

[00:11:54] Paul: [00:11:54] Well, there were a lot of the younger editors were there in the, you know, just coming in. You know, I didn’t, when I first started up there, I wasn’t working with Julie Schwartz or for more, or for Marie Bolton offer, you know, those guys, I was working for Jack Harris and Paul Levitz and you know, The the, the newer, the younger editors.

[00:12:13]But you know, it was cool. It was great. You know, I, I, nobody really took me under their wing. But you know, just doing this stuff on a, on a regular basis and starting to interact with professionals you know, who really do have the experience, you know, I could sit around and, and, and talk to Bob Canterbury, who though insane.

[00:12:34] Was, you know, this we’ve writer of decades, you know, he had done an, create an incredible body of work. And if you could get past his insanity, which I happen to enjoy You know, it was, it was, you could learn something, you know, there was, you know so, you know, it’s just a matter of picking it up by bits and pieces.

[00:12:55] And of course, you know, the main thing is I’d been already had 15 years of reading comic books behind me. And you know, we’re still reading, whatever was being published in those days, you know? Literally whatever was being published, you could buy everything off the sands and, and, you know, there were seven companies, whatever.

[00:13:14] So

[00:13:18] Casey: [00:13:18] do you think that your experience with et cetera kind of gave you an edge in that you already had? So the idea of how publishing happened.

[00:13:31] Paul: [00:13:31] Yeah. I mean, there was, you know, there’s something to be said for that hands-on experience, you know, it was all very nowadays it’s so, you know, it’s so crude and but you know, we were working with, we produced our fanzines on, on a typewriter and graph paper and glue sticks.

[00:13:51]There was this stuff called press type, which was a vinyl sheet with with kind of plastic vinyl letters on them. And when you burnished it, you know, you rubbed them off the page on, off the sheet, onto the page. It, you know, you had the letter in there So, you know, all the headlines and stuff were done like that.

[00:14:11] And then you, everything had to be cut apart with scissors and paste it up on, on, you know, with glue sticks on the boards and, and you know, the whole bit, it was all again, very, very low tech. And, but you know, you kinda, you get your hands dirty, you, you know how it’s done, you know, how the bits and pieces fit together back around.

[00:14:32] I guess it must’ve been around 2003 or four. I was in DC’s production department, which was by then called the prepress department. And you know, everybody’s on their, on their big screen computers and doing everything digitally. And I was. Down there to get some stuff scammed and I’m hanging out. And one of the, one of the kids in the on, in, in, you know, working on corrections or whatever he goes, you’ve been around her a long time.

[00:15:01] What’s that thing on the shelf there. And there was this old waxer on the, on the shelf. It was a machine that applied a thin coat of hot wax to the back of a piece of whatever you needed to be pasted up to the page and that replaced rubber cement. And, you know, you just run this through the machine, it would put the coat of wax on it and slap it on the page.

[00:15:24] And, you know, you had your pay stub done. It didn’t last long, but it lasted long enough to, you know, take the take the, the, the shop or whatever that you needed. So anyway, he says, what’s that? I said, it’s a waxer. And he looks at me blankly. I said it was used for paystub and he kind of gets that. And I go, yeah, it was what replaced rubber cement.

[00:15:45] Blank stare, you know, rubber cement was, and this is, you know, this was a 20 something. You know a smart guy. I mean, you know, I had worked with him, he knew his stuff. He did a good job, but you know, there was no need for him to know about T squares and Exacto knives and Rippetoe graphs, you know? So

[00:16:04] Casey: [00:16:04] that is wild and.

[00:16:07] To think that you you’ve also participated, you know, from, from the crudest skills in, in putting together a book

[00:16:17] Paul: [00:16:17] when I was in high school and doing fanzines mimeograph fanzines, You even. And did

[00:16:29] you even know what that is?

[00:16:30] Casey: [00:16:30] I’m trying to remember what a mimeograph is.

[00:16:34] Paul: [00:16:34] They’re both a, a, a liquid, a their, their stencils you type and draw on these stencils, and then you run them through machines that use a spirit based solution to transfer the image to paper.

[00:16:51] Casey: [00:16:51] Yeah, I’m, I’m completely drawn a blank

[00:16:57] and I’m the, I’m not like a, I’m not a Zoomer or anything. I’m just so

[00:17:05] Paul: [00:17:05] you know, printed this, this purple. Kind of, you know, teachers use them in school, they would, they would, you know, do our tests on them, literally cranked it

[00:17:14] Casey: [00:17:14] out. There was this. Okay. Yes.

[00:17:17]Paul: [00:17:17] Whenever Kyle Gafford had had had a ditto machine and, you know, cut my, do my fanzines at home and, you know, do my stencils and then bring them over and run them off at Carl’s place.

[00:17:27]But Yeah. I mean, you know, so we were literally, you know, drawing these things with crayons that is wild and, and, you know, I was a member of what’s called an APA amateur press Alliance. So there would be like whatever, there was 30, 50 members and you produce a fanzine you’d run off the 30 or 50 copies, send it to a guy called a central mailer who would correlate.

[00:17:56] Contributions from everybody into one giant magazine pack, one package, and then everybody would, he would mail back to everybody, you know, that monthly mailing, which included a copy of everybody’s contribution. That was what we had instead of internet groups. Anyway, I’m starting to sound like old man sitting on the porch, telling you younguns about us catfish and back in the day using nothing, but, you know,

[00:18:25]Casey: [00:18:25] That’s so cool.

[00:18:28] I think I say this almost every. Almost every time I talked to somebody who’s been around since like the seventies in, in comics is I wish they had a madman type show in like at the big two during that time, because I’ve heard, I’ve heard stories. And I mean, it just sounds wild.

[00:18:53] Paul: [00:18:53] Well, you know, it, it was it was days, you know, there was no political correctness.

[00:18:58] There was no you know, there was no HR, you know, it was like, it was like what, the things that went on there, you know, I want to like, just out of respect for the dead you know, I, but the disgusting behavior that we, you know, some of the guys up there. You know, like when we were coming in, you know, the us, when us young ins were coming in you know, we would look at these guys and go what the F you know, how you can’t act like that.

[00:19:28]But you know, it was really old school. It was just No, it was just, it was fun as hell.

[00:19:37] Casey: [00:19:37] It was just wrong. Oh yeah. Yeah.

[00:19:42] There’s no light language restrictions on this show or something. So if God forbid you, you I’m from Brooklyn, the

[00:19:48] Paul: [00:19:48] odds of me saying,

[00:19:49] Casey: [00:19:49] f*ck it. Random. Hey man have at it. So I’m looking at the stuff that you’ve written and you’ve been all over the place. Like pretty much any book at DC that they have.

[00:20:05] You’ve had a hand in writing at least a few issues of,

[00:20:09] Paul: [00:20:09] I was a I was A utility player for, for a long time there I was fast and I guess just facile enough that, you know, when books were running late, they could throw it to me and say, we need 20 pages of dialogue overnight. And you know, or, or, you know, we need to fill in here or this.

[00:20:29] So, you know, I was there, I was around and and I, and I could do the job. So yeah, I got to, I got my fingers on a lot of different characters and it was a lot of fun, you know? I mean, I love these characters, you know, I, I, I grew up on them and, and you know, I was finally getting to play with them.

[00:20:46] Casey: [00:20:46] When you write, when you do a fill in for somebody’s book Do you, do you have to actively adopt that writer’s voice?

[00:20:58] Paul: [00:20:58] I mean, I don’t, I, I never did. I mean I don’t, I, I may, I, it depends on what I was doing. If I was just doing a dialogue job, you know, I was just writing the characters. And hopefully, you know, the way I wrote them agreed with the, with the writers of doing it.

[00:21:16] And if not, it’s the editor’s job to kind of bring them in the line. If I was doing a story, you know, just plotting and, and dialogue and the whole thing myself I was always conscious of keeping of doing stories that were out of the main. Line of, of the, you know, what was going on in the book so that I didn’t risk screwing up anything that was going on.

[00:21:43] And I didn’t have to worry about, you know, the continuity and, and, and, and that voice so much, you know, mine was different enough to you know, to, to. That I would say from the, you know, to go out on my own.

[00:22:01] Casey: [00:22:01] Was there ever any one character that you had the the opportunity to write that really resonated with you?

[00:22:09] Paul: [00:22:09] Ah yeah, it’s funny. The You know, I get so much superhero so many superhero stories that, and it’s hard, you know, like I have a feeling for these guys for, you know, for, for a lot of these characters and, and, you know, they, they mean a lot to me. But No, I just lost my train of thought. That’s weird.

[00:22:33] Casey: [00:22:33] Was there any character that really resonated with you?

[00:22:36] Paul: [00:22:36] Yeah. Those tend to come from where, you know it has been said, you know, like in every, everything you write. There’s there’s your character there’s is your avatar character, you know, it’s like Jack Kirby’s was, was the thing in the FF, you know you can always tell that was Jack, you know, that, that was, that, that was the character that represented him.

[00:22:59] And I seldom got the feeling that my car, you know, that the superheroes represented you know, the closest it came with with Arriann because that was a character I created. So, you know, I could interview him with whatever and it just so happened. There was, you know, a lot of me in the guy in the car character but you know, the, the heroes themselves, weren’t the, you know, yeah.

[00:23:28] I didn’t really like identify with the, with the heroes. When I later on when I was doing things like the Archie, the life with Archie stories I found that a lot easier. To, to identify with the Archie gang than I ever did with, you know, w with any superhero because, you know, I could be one of the Archie gang and you, you made it real well.

[00:23:50] That was the, that was the brief, you know, that was that was it. Let’s, let’s play these guys as if they were living in the real world, facing real world problems and issues. And, you know, So, yeah, that was great. You know, it’s superheroes and again, I love them, but there’s you know, th that, that the impossibility that they, that they overcome with practically everything they do makes it difficult for me to, you know, kind of.

[00:24:24] Get into them that, that deep, you know, the characters themselves, because, you know, I can’t do that. And, and, and I also know that in the real world, when you’re faced with an insurmountable problem, you don’t pull you know, the ultimate nullify or out of your ass and say you know, it doesn’t work that way.

[00:24:47]You know, but that’s what comic book superheroes are. There’s always a device, you know, there’s always a, there’s always Cisco coming up with a, with a thing in the laboratory so that the flash can screw things up yet more. No. So it just, I kind of, I guess I lost my, my suspension of disbelief as far as that goes with these guys, but, you know, after writing so many of them, it it, it gets tough to kind of hang in there.

[00:25:14]You know, it was easier with, with, even with a character like vigilante who was, you know, a total psycho even when he, even when you thought he was normal, Well, let’s face it. He put on a costume to go out and kill people. He’s a psycho, you know, like when I took over that book, it was like, remember, he’s the hero?

[00:25:36] No, no, he’s not a hero. He’s a crazy man who thinks he’s a hero, you know? And ultimately I knew that one day we were going to reach a point where it was going to be like, he’s not going to be able to keep fulling himself forever. Yeah. But hell, you know, who can identify with that? You know, even if we’re not going out at night and murdering people, we’re still fooling ourselves.

[00:26:01] You know, everybody is living some kind of lie and his, and his end is fooling themselves over something, you know? What was Jeff Goldblum’s line in, in the big chill. You know, rational everybody rationalizes, you know you can’t get through a day without a rationalization, you know, over something it’s like, you know, not like sex, you know, it’s like, you.

[00:26:23] You know, I’m, I’m screwing up the the analogy, but anyway,

[00:26:28] Casey: [00:26:28] we’re colleagues podcast, man. Not many people know that here. Well,

[00:26:33] Paul: [00:26:33] watch the big chill and, and you’ll say, but anyway you know, it’s just so yeah, I, I can, I can rationalize, I can deal with, with more down to earth characters, I’m more comfortable with them.

[00:26:43] I’d rather write them. Then, then guys find around and, you know, Fighting cosmic villains because you know, it just, it, it doesn’t hold the same reality for me.

[00:26:57] Casey: [00:26:57] So what has been the most fulfilling thing that you’ve written? Because you you’ve also done a lot of pro’s work as well.

[00:27:04] Paul: [00:27:04] Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of different things.

[00:27:06] I’ve written, you know, comic books and novels and short stories and kids’ books. I’ve written, I’ve written Madlibs and color and activity books and, and you know, history and all kinds of stuff. But I think, I think some of the things that I really, you know, I think are some of my best work are, are the Archie run and the vigilante run you know Charles comic books go I did a Phantom stranger miniseries in the S in the nineties.

[00:27:34] That was that turned out pretty well. I think you know, I I’m really, I, you know, I’m But, yeah, it’s easy. It’s these guys. I mean, you know, even in the costume, it’s still, you know, vigilante, wasn’t a superhero. So it worked for me. But yeah, I I’d much rather I’d much rather write about real people, even if they’re in ridic, you know, impossible situations you know, then, then guys who can fly.

[00:28:00] Casey: [00:28:00] I understand that completely. During your Archie run, you, you actually introduced I think it was one of the first gay characters into that

[00:28:10] Paul: [00:28:10] universe. Well, yeah, that was Kevin Keller. I didn’t introduce Kevin Keller. He was created by Dan parent in the teen Archie books, and we use him in the life with Archie.

[00:28:24] Okay.

[00:28:24] Casey: [00:28:24] Yeah. Yeah. You, you

[00:28:25] Paul: [00:28:25] married him, you, well, I’m not the personally, I mean, I liked him.

[00:28:32]Yes. We married them off in, in this area. We found them a nice doctor and and, and married them off. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:28:42] Casey: [00:28:42] At the time, there, there was a little bit of controversy about that. Did you have to deal with any backlash personally?

[00:28:49] Paul: [00:28:49] Me personally, no. You know, for, for what I could see, the fans were fully supportive of, of the of what was going on in the comic.

[00:28:56] The only, the main pushback we got was from a group called a million moms. Oh

[00:29:01] Casey: [00:29:01] God. Yeah. They’re awful.

[00:29:04] Paul: [00:29:04] So six moms in a fax machine. But they were boycotting for a boycott of toys R us, because they were selling the life of our team members 16, which was the marriage issue. And you know, why should our children have to see this shoved in their face when they walk from toys R us, because they live in the f*cking world lady.

[00:29:26] That’s why exactly, you know, but anyway, they, they put up a big stink and thanks to them. Life with Archie. Number 16 became the first Archie comic ever to sell out its print room.

[00:29:41] Casey: [00:29:41] So that’s a perfect middle finger to To those hassles

[00:29:45] Paul: [00:29:45] protest me anytime you want ladies,

[00:29:51] Casey: [00:29:51] how did you enjoy your time working at Archie?

[00:29:53] Paul: [00:29:53] Oh, I loved it. It was a great experience. It was I was working with Victor Gorelick who was you know, one of the sweetest guys ever, and a really good editor. You know, he’d been with Archie. Fascinating dude. Yeah. Yeah, it was great. I had known him for a while and, you know, finally got to got a chance to really work with him in those years.

[00:30:11] And it was, it was a great time, you know, I, they left me alone. They, you know, I’d come in every six months and we’d sit down and talk about the broad strokes of the of the six issue arc that was coming up and you know, but it would be along the lines of, you know you know, financial troubles Sheryl Wasson, breast cancer you know, I’m going to kill miss Grundy.

[00:30:29] Is that okay? And then go, yeah. Great. Oh, good, good. Keep going. Yeah, don’t more. They never said no, you know, no matter what it was, you know, gonna take on you know, the, the issue of, of, of gun control. Great. Do it gay marriage, no problem. You know, whatever I came up with, it was go for it. So,

[00:30:48] Casey: [00:30:48] you know, that’s amazing that you had that

[00:30:51] freedom.

[00:30:52] Paul: [00:30:52] Yeah, well, you know, fortunately they trusted me to to deliver and you know, I, I got very, I got. I received no pushback from them and, you know, their editing was, the editing was minimal. So I was very lucky. Either they, they liked what I was doing or I had them totally

[00:31:09] Casey: [00:31:09] fooled. Do you think that your work on the books kind of paved the way for them to eventually tackle some of the stuff that they’ve done?

[00:31:19] Like currently. Even the Riverdale show.

[00:31:25] Paul: [00:31:25] Oh, sure. They have said to me, you know, the publisher has said to me that, you know, what, what I did and what I did, you know, I, I do want to point out was based on the situation set up by Michael useless in the Archie, the married life, you know, mini series starting in Archie 600.

[00:31:43]But but yeah, no, it, it, you know, I have been told that yes, everything that’s been done since is because of the success of, of life with Archie. That’s

[00:31:55] Casey: [00:31:55] that’s awesome. And it’s, it’s amazing that that character is still going strong. I mean, he’s,

[00:32:04] Paul: [00:32:04] I don’t think it’s amazing. I think, you know, back when I was, you know, a heavy duty fan boy by and read everything on the newsstands that included Archie.

[00:32:17] I mean, I remember back around 1967 or eight, I traded some kid, you know, about 10 superhero comics or for 300. Archie’s. And I read them. Yeah, no, I, I, so I’ve been reading those characters all my life. You know, I didn’t stop even as an adult, you know, the comics, you know, especially your work in the industry, they, the, the, the, the comics just kinda come through the office and you, you pick them up and read them, you know?

[00:32:46] So, you know, never stopped reading when I sat down to first, right. The characters, which was in the just regular Umer teen, Archie stories. It’s like, yeah, no problem. I know these guys, you know, I know what makes them tick because I’ve been reading them for, for, you know, 45, 50 years or whatever.

[00:33:05]And, you know, I knew that Archie was the only reach a reason Archie was such a bumbler was because he was so anxious to, you know, please everybody that he was always tripping over his own feet to get, you know, to be the first, to be helpful. You know, Jughead. Actually the smartest guy in Riverdale.

[00:33:25] Yes. Oh, absolutely. Jughead. If you look at what he does in a lot of stories, he’s always playing people in. They’re always falling for it. You know, he’s always manipulating them. He’s always kind of playing little mind games with him. My first story focused around him was a The gangs are at his house and they’re going through the attic looking for something and they find that old treasure map.

[00:33:48] That’s supposedly a we’re Dylan’s, you’re buried some bank back in the thirties, in his back backyard. And a had just poo-poos going down. That’s just, grandpa’s junk. You know, he was always goofing around and, and a gang is sure that they’d got Delinges looped in the backyard. So they start digging up the backyard, according to the map.

[00:34:06] And at the end of the story, you find out it was planted there by Jughead. Cause you know, they had to replace the septic system. So So, you know, that was my take on Jughead.

[00:34:18] Casey: [00:34:18] So you had him pull, the Tom saw you’re basically. Yeah, that is awesome. So you, you did a ton of stuff for DC. You didn’t really do a whole lot of stuff for Marvel, is it? I,

[00:34:33]Paul: [00:34:33] No, I I was a DC guy. I liked the characters my brother worked at Marvel, so that was a good incentive to stay away.

[00:34:43] So, you know yeah, it just never really, really happened. I, I wrote for crazy magazine in the late seventies and early eighties, I was doing a movie parodies and some TV parodies and stuff. And what else did I do? Oh, I did the two. When that wasn’t for Marvel. That was for pocket books. I wrote two novels.

[00:35:02] I’m a Spider-Man and Spider-Man and hope novel for a series that they pocket books published in, in 79 and 80 that Len Wein and Mark Wolfman were editing. But other than that, no, never, it never did anything. I think I did a filament of captain America fill-in in the 70 sometime. And then I wrote one issue of Savage short of Conan in the nineties.

[00:35:29] I would have liked to have done more cone in. That was fun.

[00:35:32] Casey: [00:35:32] Yeah. And the marbles got that license back and

[00:35:36] Paul: [00:35:36] yeah, they won’t even take my call. Sorry.

[00:35:44] Casey: [00:35:44] So, so how was it having your brother in the industry? Well, was that was, was that did that help you out at all to, to help kind of

[00:35:55] Paul: [00:35:55] here’s what Saul Harrison, the vice president of DC comics. My brother had worked in DCS production department in the early 1970s, right out of high school and and was fired eventually. And South Harrison when I was on staff in 1977 just before the DC implosion. So a King to, you know, something you overheard me say, which was probably, you know, Nothing very polite or something.

[00:36:25]I did, but so just gave me a look and he said, you know, I didn’t much care. I didn’t like your brother and I’m not crazy about you either.

[00:36:33] Casey: [00:36:33] Oh,

[00:36:36] Paul: [00:36:36] it sounds dead. And I’m not So it was my brother come to think of it. But anyway no, he was not, he was a hindrance. He was, you know, people, people literally heard my name and turned their back on me.

[00:36:49] Oh, he was a much beloved character.

[00:36:54] Casey: [00:36:54] So you worked at DC under, under conned and you Jeanette. Yeah.

[00:36:59] Paul: [00:36:59] I remember the day she showed up. Yeah.

[00:37:01] Casey: [00:37:01] How was that? Because she fascinates me.

[00:37:05] Paul: [00:37:05] She’s she’s she’s an incredibly smart and perceptive person. I liked her the first time I met her, she was just like we had had this, we had had these, these, you know, dusty, old men.

[00:37:17] Running comic books forever. And, you know, South Harrison, I mean, so, you know, sound Lewis stuff, but he was old school and, you know, and Carmen was just a, you know, he was an asshole who held lots of grudges and, you know, the reason he stopped being publisher was because he was an asshole and they got rid of him.

[00:37:39] So you know, so Jeanette walks in the door and first of all, You know, I mean, what am I am? I’m 22 at the time and Jeannette’s 27, 28.

[00:37:51] Casey: [00:37:51] Oh, wow. I didn’t know. She was that young. When she

[00:37:52] Paul: [00:37:52] came here, she was a kid. I mean, you know, she had been published, he had published a couple of magazines for I forgot Sony, I think was one of them.

[00:38:00]I had published them, but was the, these kids magazines dynamite and, and, and one other, I think. But and she knew her stuff. You know, you like, you, you mentioned an obscure character and she knew who that was. You know, and she was, she immediately came in and, you know, it was making changes and, and, you know, kinda like she was like coming into the old mansion.

[00:38:23] And pulling the dusty old sheets off the furniture and opening the, the, the, the, the, the, the drapes and letting the sun in. So yeah, no, that was great. And, you know, over the years, the more I got to know her and, and, and work with her you know, never, never had anything, but admiration

[00:38:42] Casey: [00:38:42] was that a a learning curve for some of the older older guys that were there.

[00:38:48] Paul: [00:38:48] Oh my God. Yes. I mean, everybody was respectful. But you know, they, they, they kind of saw them, you know, that had to be writing on the wall for them, you know, not only were w was that a major change, but you know, there were guys like me coming along. Know, so Bob in the business since the mid forties and Bob Haney who had been in since the fifties and, or, I mean, you know, you know, 1975, the comic book industry is 40 years old.

[00:39:24] Okay. Right. And the guys who created the comic book industry are still alive. They’re still working they’re in their seventies or maybe seventies, you know? So, you know, and, and now this new generation is coming in and, you know, there’ve been a trickle before that, you know, in, in the sixties. I had a few people come and stay Franco and Neil Adams and, and you know Jerry and Denny Roy Thomas and Danny O’Neill.

[00:39:52] And later on a little later, Jerry Conway, you know, so we were kind of trickling in, but in the seventies it was, you know, it just, you know, we were all creeping out of the woodwork and, and starting to, starting to come in. So, you know, the, the, the older creators were not. We’re not happy. And and the editors were kind of like, you know, being very careful because, you know, there’s only been a handful, not even a handful of women editors at DC over the years, you know, there had been Barbara Friedlaender who and Dorothy Woolfolk.

[00:40:30]Both of whom have worked on on the romance books at various times, although in the forties, Dorothy had been, I think on the superhero side because romance comics didn’t exist, did they? But Dorothy, Ruby chick, and then she married Woolfolk the writer but you know, so. D D there was still this, you know, she’s down in the corner and you know, sweetie attitude amongst the old the older guys.

[00:40:57] And, you know, my generation might, you know, guys my age and a little older, you know, it’s like, cool, okay. Here’s a talented woman. Great. Let’s go. You know? So it was a, it was a very interesting time. And then of course, you know, we had, she came in and shortly after we had the whole DC implosion are you

[00:41:17] Casey: [00:41:17] familiar with that slightly, slightly.

[00:41:22] Paul: [00:41:22] Well, it was, it was just the, the winter of 77, 78, terrible. And a half the country was closed because of ice storms. And trucking was worked to a virtual standstill, which meant comic books didn’t get distributed. Which meant distributors didn’t get paid, which meant the distributors didn’t pay publishers.

[00:41:41]DC was hit hard. And we had just announced what was called the DC explosion, which was, I think adding something like 18 titles. You know new formats, new titles, a lot of them were reprints, but yeah, it was a, it was a blatant attempt to, to you know, bomb the, the, the new stands and keep Marvel Bay because Marvel was, was expanding.

[00:42:03] And so at the last minute, you know, just as soon as this stuff is, is supposed to hit. Comics stop selling for a few months. And so DC immediately went, went in and, and, you know, within a month or two, just canceled all this stuff and also go into that lead, laid off a bunch of staff, myself, myself included.

[00:42:24]I was assistant PR guy at the time.

[00:42:28] Casey: [00:42:28] So, what did you do after you got laid off with what DC? I mean, eventually you came back, but,

[00:42:34]Paul: [00:42:34] Yeah, I, I collected unemployment and yeah. Freelance.

[00:42:38] Casey: [00:42:38] Okay. Yeah. I see here that you, you worked with Jack Kirby.

[00:42:44] Paul: [00:42:44] Oh, I worked at Jason and Jack Kerr. You know, again, back then, this was 1985 or six of the super powers miniseries based on the the the Taurus, you know, the super, super, super polished figures and I was assigned to write the second superpowers mini series.

[00:43:08] The first one I think, had been written by Joey capillary and Jack had had penciled it. But I didn’t know who was going to pencil my mini series. I was just, you know so anyway, yes. So I wrote a full script and I turned it in and the next thing I know it’s like it’s being drawn by Jack Kirby, never exchanged a word with him.

[00:43:30]He drew my scripts the way I wrote them, you know? But even though, you know, so I, and that was the way it worked most of the time in those days, you know, you wrote your script, you turned it into the editor. I can like when I was doing the Superman books for Julie Schwartz, I seldom knew exactly who’s going to draw a story.

[00:43:51] When I handed it in, it could be Curt Swan. It could be Shafiq Berger. It could be Amik savvier. It might be a, you know, water Barreto who the hell knows. So you kind of. For a specific artist. But you know, in this case it was just like, well, okay, I’ll take it. You know? And yeah, it was a thrill just to, just to, you know, be in the same credit box

[00:44:16] Casey: [00:44:16] that, yeah.

[00:44:17] Yeah. That’s, that’s amazing how many people can say that.

[00:44:21] Paul: [00:44:21] Excuse me.

[00:44:27] Hello. Hey, I am on a a zoom thing at the moment. Can I call you back when I’m done? No, not at all. All right, thanks. Bye. Okay.

[00:44:49] Casey: [00:44:49] Yeah. Yeah. You w you got to work with Kirby and, and that’s, that’s amazing.

[00:44:54] Paul: [00:44:54] Well, you know, again, like I said earlier, that all these, all these great, you know, classic guys were still working when I was, when I got into the business. So I was, you know, having an amazing, you know, Run of people drawing story is that I wrote, you know I turned into an issue of DC comics presents and then, you know, the next time I see it Julie had a great Morrow joy, you know?

[00:45:22] Yeah. So I worked with a lot of, a lot of these guys, you know, just in passing, you know, I once I, I did a weird war story for Paul Levitz. In the seventies and, and it got drawn by by George Evans who was, you know, an ISI comics artist. Yeah. Yeah. During these brilliant war, you know, war stories. As I years later, I said, Jesus, how do you know now that I think of it?

[00:45:49] How the hell does George friggin Evans wind up drawing my stupid little. I think we’ll see that it was just luck of the draw. You know, these guys would, would call up and say, Hey I, you know, I’m between jobs, you got a little short thing I can do to, you know, to fill a few days. And Paul, just like what it was on top of the of the script pile go.

[00:46:11] Yeah. Here’s here’s a weird war tale story.

[00:46:15] Casey: [00:46:15] Draftsman. Like, they seems like very blue collar in how they approach their craft and just nose to the grindstone and just did the work day in, day out. Right.

[00:46:27] Paul: [00:46:27] And, you know, they had also had, you know, again, George had done you know, ISI comics and, and, you know, secret agent Corrigan and the newspapers, which was a beautiful, beautiful pieces of art.

[00:46:37] He was just, yeah, he was a craftsman. You know, these guys couldn’t draw bad. You know, I sometimes think some of them just like, no matter how hard they tried, you know, Alex chose could not come up with a bad drawing. It just can’t go. You know, he was Alex frigging dove. So. It’s yeah, it, it was just, it was, I was very lucky.

[00:46:59] I got to you know, Rosa, Andrew drew something, a vigilante annual I wrote you know, w whatever it was just, yeah, it was, it was a great time. There was a lot of, out of amazing talent, still, still working there

[00:47:11] Casey: [00:47:11] while you were there. You also did a ton of editing

[00:47:16] Paul: [00:47:16] later on. Yeah.

[00:47:17] Casey: [00:47:17] Was that. Was that enjoyable to you to, to do that.

[00:47:22] And was it was it hard to navigate the different personalities that you would encounter while you were doing your job?

[00:47:29]Paul: [00:47:29] I actually enjoy editing it. I call it the fun part of writing you know, it’s the, it’s the plotting and the, the problem solving without the actual aggravation of having to write the thing.

[00:47:43] But it just, it’s a challenge. I mean, I didn’t have, I think I adapted to it fairly well. You know, I knew most of the personalities I worked with you know, I. Again, after having been in the business for however long, it had been at the time, you know, I knew a lot of people and, and, you know, so most of the people I was, I would have to work with were, were known to me, or if I was making the assignments, it would be like, I’m going to call people.

[00:48:14] I know because you know, you want to share the wealth with your friends. So no, I enjoyed it. I thought it was, I thought it was fun. I did it for a long time. The only thing that, you know, that moves me out of the editorial department was just, you know, some of the people that I was working with they were just not they were sucking the life out of the suck the fun out of the job and the life out of me.

[00:48:37] So I moved, I moved out of editorial, but Yeah, but the work itself is great. I mean, you

[00:48:43] Casey: [00:48:43] know, was that a hard decision for you to make

[00:48:46] Paul: [00:48:46] well, no, not once it, you know, when it became a choice of my peace of mind or, you know, whatever I chose my peace of mind. I mean, there were just some less than stellar managers working in the DCU.

[00:49:02]At the time I was there and You know, they were, I mean, you you’ve read you you’ve read about a bunch of them in recent years. You know, they have made, they have made the news for, for some of their abuses. So you know, that was, that was who I was working with. And, and and some of them who didn’t make the news were just, you know, untalented and, and obnoxious and you know, Just if, if you have to answer to a D well, I can even use the name, but yeah, I, I could not continue answering to these morons.

[00:49:44] Casey: [00:49:44] So now’s the time of the show where we named names. Now I’m joking, but you ended up at

[00:49:52] Paul: [00:49:52] cause you know what? I’ve got to lose.

[00:49:55] Casey: [00:49:55] Nothing.

[00:49:59] I don’t want to, I don’t want you to run into these guys later and have to deal with any BS, man. How did you end up at weekly world news? Oh,

[00:50:08] Paul: [00:50:08] just lucky, I guess. That was it was being edited by Michael Roven who is not Michael Rogan. Jeff Rovin who I’ve known since the early seventies, back from his days, working at DC comics, he was Joe cubits assistant you know anyway, so I’ve known him forever.

[00:50:29]He was working at he. Took over became editor of weekly world news. We were in touch. She, you know, I started writing for the paper I wrote for the paper for a year or two. And then he was he wanted to change up the staff. He was in New York most of week. The world news staff was in Florida.

[00:50:51] And they were all, you know, the, the people doing it for they, they were loyal to the editor who came beforehand. So he wanted me to switch it up and move everything to New York. So I was the first one that he hired me to be executive editor. And you know, kind of anchor anchor the New York office at working out of media right down the hall from know national.

[00:51:17]And and then a few other people came on, Bob Greenberger came on to be managing editor and I hired Maddie Blaustein from DC to do our photo you know, Photoshopping and And

[00:51:32] Casey: [00:51:32] you’re not trying to tell me that bad boy is a Photoshop. No, not that boy. Okay. Okay, good. Thank God.

[00:51:42] Paul: [00:51:42] It says right on the cover of the world’s only reliable newspaper and we weren’t, you could rely on everything in there to be. False, but no, it was a great gig. I loved, I mean, writing for, it was just, you know, a pisser, it’s just, you know, it’s, it’s satire at its most basic level, you know what the onion does now.

[00:52:04] We were doing them. Yeah.

[00:52:05] Casey: [00:52:05] You, you trailblaze still a lot of satirical media.

[00:52:10] Paul: [00:52:10] Oh yeah. The, the weekly world news was started out as a weird. Combination of kind of fake news and, and truly bizarre news, you know, like how, you know, People would, you know, neck rings that make their neck four feet long and sh*t like that, you know?

[00:52:29]But yeah, but then it turns completely to satire and just, it was just hysterical, you know, whatever. My favorite, one of the favorite pieces of mine I wrote was about a fight that broke up at a dyslexics convention because everybody in the audience thought they had the winning raffle ticket.

[00:52:50] Yeah, where else can you do Yuma like that? But yeah, it was great. And yeah, it was fun while it lasted. But the, the, the paper went under the management of the national Enquirer, not as smart as you think they would be, you know, a ham But yeah, I mean, I w I was trying to be I, I had a deal to get the paper into comic shops through diamond.

[00:53:15] We were working on a deal for action figures, you know, bad boy action figures and things like that. Had a book deal with random house. Yeah, whole bunch of stuff going on. When the paper went under the old, all the deals celebrate,

[00:53:29] Casey: [00:53:29] that’s a bummer because you know, people would have, would have rocked it up bad boy t-shirt or Oh sure.

[00:53:35] And action figures.

[00:53:37] Paul: [00:53:37] They actually and made it, I worked out a deal with diamond. They were going to take 2000 copies a week. W you know, non-returnable, which was, you know, these tabloids are very ex are more expensive to, to, to get on the new stand than they are to produce or distribute.

[00:53:56] Casey: [00:53:56] Yeah. You’re probably spending more, more in gas money than,

[00:53:59] Paul: [00:53:59] yeah.

[00:54:00] I mean, every pocket, you know, every, every magazine like Walmart, you pay rental for that space, whether that copy sells or not, you’re paying. They’re taking money off of it. So even if they return that issue, they’re still taken 50 cents rental for having it in their pocket, in, in the store. So anyway, their distributor nixed my deal with, with diamond which was weird to me because the distributor was owned by American media, the same company that owned, we do world news.

[00:54:34] So yeah. Never quite sure how, what, what went on there, but, okay.

[00:54:42] Casey: [00:54:42] That’s a bummer. Yeah. So tell me about tell me about this book. You have, I never write for money.

[00:54:49] Paul: [00:54:49] Okay. Yeah, it’s called I never write for the money, but I always turned in the manuscript for a check. It’s just a bunch of columns and essays and stuff I’ve written over the last, you know, 10 years or so that have to do with writing and, and the comic book business, the publishing business, my own kind of like, you know, the subtitle of the book is you know, essays, essays on writing and, and, and the aftermath you know, cause you reach a certain point in your career where.

[00:55:18]You’re no longer in demand and you know, things get things, get weird. So yeah, it’s just more of a, kind of a, a loose look back at that at, at, at my life and career.

[00:55:32] Casey: [00:55:32] That’s awesome. What’s what’s the number one thing that people ask you in regards to comics and writing comics specifically? Well,

[00:55:45] Paul: [00:55:45] The, the number one thing is usually about the format of your script.

[00:55:51] Go figure my script in and to which I reply script format. What, what exactly? I, it doesn’t matter. Is it legible? Is it readable? Can you, you

[00:56:02] Casey: [00:56:02] know, can the artists tell what you’re trying to say?

[00:56:06] Paul: [00:56:06] Tell what you’re trying to say to the editor told, you know, can you tell the difference between the, the, the description and the copy and the dialogue and the, and the cat, you know, just make a clear form.

[00:56:16] It doesn’t matter. Nobody cares, but you know, there seems to be this kind of like, what software do you use now? Yang chisel it into a rock. It doesn’t I use Microsoft word because. It does everything. You know, it’s just yeah, there’s this kind of, this, this curiosity about the, about the technical you know, those technical aspects over You know, over the creative aspects.

[00:56:44] I mean I also have another book called folk up a Burke’s illustrated guide to writing comics, which is available even as we speak on Yeah. Yeah. And the, I started off with an anecdote. I was at a, at a signing and this guy was talking to me and telling me about. This, this comic story was writing and well, this guy is, you know, discoveries and futile district government agency ended up and he said, and he just tells me, I mean, the, the, you know, step-by-step PLA you know, plot, which is kind of, you know, boy meets girl, boy loses, girl, boy gets girl, you know?

[00:57:23] Right. So when he’s done, I said, well, okay, that’s your pot what’s story. And he just repeats the plot. And I was like, you know, that there’s a difference, you know, plot is what happens. Story is why. And that’s kind of the first, I think the first thing you’ve got to be very aware of, you know, when you’re writing a story, people leave out the, the, the.

[00:57:47] You know, it’s, it’s just, it becomes a kind of a chase without a w without any meaning behind it, you know, there’s what are they after, you know, the best description I heard of, of, you know, plotting finally, the story is you got to ask, what does the character want? You know, it’s really as simple as that, what is your character want?

[00:58:10] But people don’t think that far. They just think about the, the actions, not the reason behind the actions.

[00:58:17] Casey: [00:58:17] Well, what’s a good way to, to, what do you do to think about how the character would think?

[00:58:28]Paul: [00:58:28] I try not to have to think. I, hopefully once I get into the story I’ll just I’ll react. Like, you know, I’ll react for the character in the writing.

[00:58:42]You know, I, I’ve got, like, for instance, I’m writing a a pro story now co-chair Kolchak the night stalker. And yeah, and you know, I’ve written him once before in a, in a comic book story from moonstone and. You know, I, I watched the show. I mean, I’m, you know, I, I actually had, you know, I hadn’t seen it in 30 years or whatever.

[00:59:04] I went and found, found an episode or two on YouTube and watch them just to kind of refresh myself on the, on the on a speech pattern and stuff. But. Once I, once I get going, you know, well, I’m into it, I’m into the guy. I know, you know, hopefully I’ll be able to, to think for, you know, I’ll be his brain.

[00:59:22] I will be thinking what, how he would think. And you know, hopefully, and most of the time it’s true when I. When I hit a false note I’ll kind of know it because it won’t work. You know, it just it’ll feel wrong or it just won’t work in the story. Going back to the life with Archie. I went into that expecting to have a lot of fun with Reggie.

[00:59:48] I thought I was going to take this blow hard and just, you know, Smear him, Reggie Reggie was a bully. You know, it was written like a bully a lot of the times and man, I just f*cking hate bullies, you know? I just did because you know, nothing, nothing gets to me more. But once I got into writing him in life with Archie, I realized every time I try to, to disrespect him, It didn’t work.

[01:00:21] The character didn’t re wouldn’t react to that. The the situation just didn’t work because Reggie’s not really not that guy, you know Richie Richie was this, you know, I finally figured out he was the, he was the high school jock who’s, you know, biggest moments are behind him or so he thinks you know, now he’s growing up and he’s got to deal with life and, and there’s no, you know, nobody cheering them on anymore.

[01:00:47]And you know, I started to feel sorry for the guy and got a lot of respect for him and, you know, wound up ultimately I hope doing right by him. But I just, I just couldn’t make the character do what felt false to me

[01:01:02] Casey: [01:01:02] that what was it hard for you to, to let the character do what he needed to do?

[01:01:10] No, it’s easy. Really, even though you had that outside perception at first of, of

[01:01:17] Paul: [01:01:17] bullying, it was just not working for me. I wasn’t I, I, I, I just couldn’t, you know, make it fit and work realistically. So once I let go of that perception and just wrote the way I, I was obviously feeling it went a lot smoother.

[01:01:37] Casey: [01:01:37] That’s that’s awesome. And it’s, it’s fascinating to me just being able to let go and just let it happen. Cause I, I. I write, I try to write I’m not at all a professional. I have a comic that I’m working on. Hopefully it’ll go to Kickstarter eventually, but I mean I do this on the weekends and when my kids are asleep, man, and

[01:02:04] occasionally I’ll be like, you’re forcing this. You’re you’re trying to force, you know, a square peg into a round hole. It’s just, it’s just not happening.

[01:02:13] Paul: [01:02:13] Yeah. I mean, you know, the William Faulkner in his Pulitzer prize, acceptance speech said that the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about.

[01:02:25]And it’s true, you know, again, what I said before about what is the character want. You know, you have to let the character follow. It’s hard. You have to let it go. Where, where he, or she are going to go. You can’t make them if you force them. You you’ll, you’ll lose belief in what you’re doing and the reader will see that.

[01:02:49] I mean, you know, you, how many times have you read something and just thought, man, this is off, you know, this, this is isn’t right. And it’s not. You know, you just know that there’s something going on. I mean, sh*t, you know, I can, I can look back at some stories. I’ve written where an editor went, no, do it this way.

[01:03:08] And it’s just like, no, I’ll do it. Cause you know, you’re the boss, but you know, man, that just is painfully painfully obviously does not work, but you know, you’re the one signing off on my checks. So

[01:03:24] Casey: [01:03:24] yeah, that’s still gotta be pretty grading when, when. Somebody is telling you how to do your job.

[01:03:31] Paul: [01:03:31] Well, you know, I mean, it’s weird because you know, the, the editor’s job is to tell me the craters, how to do well.

[01:03:37] Maybe not, you know, my philosophy was hire the best person for the job and then get out of their way. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I didn’t hire John burn to do wonder woman, so I could tell John how to do wonder woman. John doesn’t need me to tell him how to do wonder woman. No. He’s just, he’s going to do it. You know, he knows what he’s doing where if he runs into a problem, if he’s having a, you know, applauding issue or, or, you know, needs to, you know, if he can use this character or that character, you know, and I’ll run interference for him now, if, if, if there’s some problem, but you know, I, I’m not there to tell him what to do.

[01:04:17] I’m there to facilitate him doing his best work because his best work is going to be what’s best for the book.

[01:04:25] Casey: [01:04:25] So I’m getting kind of into things that you have worked on that are kind of in the Zeit Geist right now in, in larger popular media. Yeah. Doom patrol. Yeah. Have you been, have you been watching that show at all?

[01:04:48] Paul: [01:04:48] I I saw most of the first season

[01:04:50] Casey: [01:04:50] just got into it and I, I did not, I did not know what to expect. I haven’t been a huge fan of the stuff on CW. Like, to be honest, I saw a few episodes of the CW shows and just kind of checked out well, you know why it

[01:05:09] Paul: [01:05:09] doesn’t work for you?

[01:05:10] Casey: [01:05:10] Cause it’s not for me the way I see it.

[01:05:14] 13 year old girl. Exactly, exactly. Doom patrol though. Oh my goodness. That show is bonkers and I’ve really enjoyed it.

[01:05:25] Paul: [01:05:25] Yes. I, I thought it was, it was excellent. We done, I thought it was one of the better you know, one of the better TV kind of Upwork shows and you know, my involvement with the characters, not withstanding.

[01:05:38]Because yeah, it’s mostly grants grant Morrison’s doing patrol. Although my characters do make appearances, which is nice and. No involves royalties, which is even nicer,

[01:05:53] but yeah, no, it’s great. You know, and I want, you know, it’s, so it’s like, I want to like this stuff, you know, look, I grew up when I grew up in the 1960s. So, you know, th the Nadir of superhero TV shows was Batman 1966. Okay. That was like, you know, we had adventures of Superman, which. Was, you know, my 104 episode Bible for life.

[01:06:18]And then we had that man, you know, with Adam West. So the thought of living in this cornucopia of, you know, a superhero live action, you know, back then would have just, you know, made my head explode. But by the time it finally showed up I’m way past the audience, you know, it’s like, I can’t, I can’t watch flash very long without going

[01:06:49] or, or, you know, my, my complaint about all of these shows is. Human beings don’t speak that way.

[01:06:59] But you know, it’s just you know, I’m, it’s not for me, you know, it looks great. And I gotta admit, you know, like in, when the flash was first on, There was that th they did the flash of two worlds. You know what, Jay Garrick’s come skidding out of the, the, the we work onto the floor and like, you know, and I squealed like a little girl because, Oh, well, the flash of two worlds is, is a Seminole story for me because it flashes a one 23 July, no, September 1961.

[01:07:35]And in it, it’s the first time the new flash, the Barry Allen flash acknowledges the existence of the golden age flash beyond comic book character. So flash goes across the bridge to Keystone city and he stops at the new stand and he picks up the newspaper to look. To find out the date and where he is.

[01:08:00] And he goes, Oh my God, I’m in Keystone city, but that disappeared, you know, 10 years ago. But the date on the newspaper is June 14th, 1961. And June 14th is my birthday. So when I first read that story in our, in a reprint and an annual, I guess 1965, it was like, Oh my God, That’s my birthday

[01:08:24] happened in my bar on my birthday. And then as the sixties progressed and the whole, you know, earth one or a two thing, you know, cause you know, now you’re looking back at the earth, one nurse to his history, but you know, that was just evolving when I was reading comic books, you know, that that whole justice league, you know, 21 and 22, the, the crossover crisis on infinite in on earth, one North to you know, that was a brand new story from me.

[01:08:49] So all this stuff was, was just like amazing and eye opening and and you know, it all started on my birthday. So I love that, you know, I love that that, that, that moment. And and you know, I also got to meet to meet Wesley ship. Oh, cool. Yeah. At a convention and, you know, and, and he’s cool.

[01:09:13] He’s a nice guy and, and, you know, he’s really into it. And he, and he’s been into the character for years and, and I told him that story and he was just like, there was almost tears in his eyes, you know, it was just like so great. I grew up and I got to be the editor of the flag. Gotcha.

[01:09:33] Casey: [01:09:33] So you, you write a ton, you have a ton of stuff going on creatively.

[01:09:39] You’re all over the place. What do you do to recharge? I’m knocking sh*t down. Sorry. What do you do to recharge? To kind of get back to where you can create because you can’t, you, you can’t. Not take a break and

[01:09:59] Paul: [01:09:59] take a break. You know, I do what everybody else does. I watch TV. I read you know, not a lot of places to go these days, but yeah, I get out I, I take a drive or, you know I just like to get in the car and, you know, listen to music or podcasts or something and not think too much for a few hours a day, if I can, or, or, or but yeah, I mean, you know, it’s kind of the.

[01:10:26] There’s almost like a non-stop, you know, voice in my head that I’m always writing something, you know, even when I’m not thinking about it, there’s, you know, a little voice babbling in the back of my head and going, yeah, this story is gone, you’ve got to do this and you got to write this. So you know, I’m on medication for it and I hope to feel better soon.

[01:10:46] It’s just, you know, it’s just, I really do have this narrative voice that constantly runs in my head. And you know, so. Kind of not writing, you know, or even like, I haven’t been very productive in the last last week or so the whole election thing, I don’t know

[01:11:04] Casey: [01:11:04] if anybody,

[01:11:06] Paul: [01:11:06] but, you know, but part of me is just like I’m sitting there and I’ll stare at the screen and I’ll get a few sentences out there on the page just because, you know, just, you know, shut them up for a few minutes and get something on paper.

[01:11:18]So, you know, it’s just, it’s what I do. It’s, it’s what I’ve been doing, you know, all my life, you know, I started writing and drawing my own comics when I’m, you know, seven, eight years old and yeah, I’ve had a, a pencil or a pen or a typewriter or a, you know, a word processor under my fingers ever since.

[01:11:41] Casey: [01:11:41] That’s that’s amazing. I not many people. I’m sorry. It’s exhausting. So where where will people be able to get your the I, I don’t write for money.

[01:11:57] Paul: [01:11:57] Oh, well that we just finished the Kickstarter and that will be in print in, in, in the next month or so. So that’ll be available on on Amazon as well.

[01:12:07] And again, there’s also a poke up of Burke’s illustrated guide to writing comics and we’ll

[01:12:13] Casey: [01:12:13] put links to that in the show notes, and hopefully we’ll be able to put the link to the I never write for money if, if that’s on Amazon by then.

[01:12:21] Paul: [01:12:21] And there’s also my novel or the same old story, which is also available on, on Amazon it’s detective a murder mystery set in the 1950s in the comic book industry.

[01:12:31]And in fact, the the murder victim is, is a, is a thinly disguised Bob Canada. So

[01:12:38] Casey: [01:12:38] what, what, what made you decide to set it set it in, in that time?

[01:12:43]Paul: [01:12:43] Well, I had the idea for this, a writer who, who wrote these pulp stories about his old man who had been a homicide detective and you know, so I needed it to be kind of right around the time of the, at the end of the pulp era.

[01:12:58] So we had a reason to cross from writing pulps, into writing comic books. And just, you know, again, I thought it was a fascinating. Error of the hiss of the business. And in fact Julie Schwartz, who I originally wrote as a CA you know, cameo scene for, he kind of wound up returning a few times and you know, becoming almost a Watson to my characters homes, you know, cause Schwartz, you know, would tend to take over and, you know, tell you how to plot your story.

[01:13:29] Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was just, you know, it was a great time, interesting time. The business was going through a lot of changes and you know, the story just seemed to work there, plus, you know, I thought writing a murder mystery in an error, you know, in modern day when there’s like cell phones and stuff much more, much too complicated.

[01:13:48] Oh

[01:13:48] Casey: [01:13:48] yeah. Yeah. Th there’s actually a podcast devoted to. Basically inserting the idea that this movie right here, the entire plot to this movie would be nothing because cell phones exist. And instead of having to have a whole to do about something, you just call that person and say, Hey, and then it’s done.

[01:14:21] Paul: [01:14:21] And then I’ve got coming up. It’s it’s with the book designer now and will be available on Amazon, probably in within the month or so. The novel JSA, Ragnarok. Oh cool. Which was a justice society of America novel. I wrote about 15 years ago, which one never been published to, to all kinds of legal and stuff.

[01:14:44] You know, the bankruptcy on on the part of the publisher and then the book being tied up in all kinds of stuff. But anyway, it’s finally a I’m finally self publishing it. Through crazy eight press, which is a a little publishing hub I’m involved with, with Peter David and Bob Greenberger and Michael Jan Friedman, a bunch of other writers.

[01:15:03]And yeah, that’ll also be available on on, on, on Amazon.

[01:15:08] Casey: [01:15:08] That’s awesome. We’ll we’ll try to put some Some of those links in the show notes when this goes up and man, thank you so much for coming on and talking to us. I had a blast talking to you and if you ever have anything else you want to come on and talk about by all means, man, give us, give us a shout out.

[01:15:23] And also by the way, my wife just messaged me. Georgia is tied. Yes, I know. So Yeah. Yeah. We’ve, she’s been watching it like a Hawk and like all day at work today. I I weld for a living, so I can’t I do laser Miko welds. So I’m looking through a microscope. I can’t really get to my phone. Yeah, you’re better off.

[01:15:51] Yeah. Yeah. Otherwise I was at something in, in fry some some electronics and then that’s, you know, $40,000 worth of equipment. But anyway, I was trying to very carefully keep my eye on what’s going on today. It was just like, Holy sh*t. This is rollercoaster. So

[01:16:13] anyway, Paul Kupferberg thank you so much for coming on. It’s been a blast talking to you.

[01:16:18] Paul: [01:16:18] It’s been fun. Thanks a lot. All right.

[01:16:21] Casey: [01:16:21] Have a good evening. All right. Goodbye.

Paul Kupperberg talks writing essentials and his career! (2024)


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