Old Timers’ Day

As I wrote over at ComicMix, Dick Giordano was a terrific teacher, mentor, and boss.

Clearly, I was not alone in these sentiments and people have been filling the web with accolades and anecdotes.

Today, many of those who worked with him gathered for a Memorial. DC Comics has always hosted lovely memorials for recently departed staff, beginning, I believe when the underrated E. Nelson Bridwell died. It’s a nice reputation to have even if it is a little on the morbid side.

Still, as Mike Carlin quipped, today was Old Timers’ Day. The conference center at the Time-Life Building filled with people who entered the field in the 1970s and 1980s with 40 year old Glenn Hauman being the youngest person in attendance to have worked at DC while Dick was still on staff.Joe Giella, the oldest person in the room to have worked with Dick told me how happy he was to be in attendance. Joe Giella, the oldest person in the room to have worked with Dick told me how happy he was to be in attendance.

We milled about hugging and kissing and glad-handing before things began. Suddenly, there was a reunion of the Blue Devil team of Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Paris Cullins. In a different area stood the Doctor Fate team of Martin Pasko and Walt Simonson. A gaggle of former Dick assistants stood in unison: Josef Rubinstein, Bob Wiacek, Terry Austin, and Klaus Janson. Howard Chaykin flew the furthest to be in attendance.

In a generous touch, Marvel staffers were invited and only a few managed to attend including Mark Beasley who was the editor who saw to it Dick and Roy Thomas completed the adaptation of Dracula started in the 1970s.

Around 3, we were asked to take our seats and we had humorous opening remarks from Mike Carlin and Karen Berger, the most senior staffers who had worked with Dick. After their remarks, Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz took their turns.

For the next 90 minutes we were reminded of Dick’s foibles such as never leaving a tie unstained during a meal; and his habits: a sweet rob roy straight up (which Karen described as a vile drink). We were reminded of his generous nature to one and all, how he made you feel like a peer and treated everyone the same way. He led by example and would make you a better editor, writer or artist with simple comments and observations.

Denny O’Neil read a poem and explained how Dick was similar to Buddha while Walt Simonson reminisced over one job he had with Dick. Alisa Kwitney, Stuart Moore, Patty Jeres, Richard Bruning, Mishkin, and Charlie Boatner also contributed observations.

Much of his family was there with daughter Dawn acknowledging that everything we knew about Dick, was true on the homefront as well. Dick was a doting, beloved father who showed his children the way.

I can’t tell who had the better story: Neal Adams with an anecdote from the days when he and Dick partnered at Continuity Associates or the tale from Terry Austin that involved knowing observations of former publisher Carmine Infantino and then-production manager Sol Harrison. During the latter tale, it was amusing to see Paul and Jenette nod their heads in knowing amusement.

At its end, there was additional milling about as latecomers were greeted. Andy Helfer showed off baby pictures (who’d have thunk it that he’d ever be a dad?). Nick Barrucci and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez offered their own private observations of Dick.

Once all was said and done, Paul Kupperberg, Martin Pasko, Paul Levitz, and I went out for a quiet dinner as we told more Dick stories and caught up with one another. We picked up where we left off when we all used to be on staff and it was a delightful way to cap off a day.

Dick’s legacy lives on in all the lives he touched, all the careers he helped shape and guide. So many of us saw him as the ideal boss, the terrific executive who wore a suit but was really one of us on in the inside. He loved comics and was proud of his profession, sharing that enthusiasm with one and all. With luck, we will all have the chance to pass on those skills to those who have followed in his wake.

12 thoughts on “Old Timers’ Day

  • June 22, 2010 at 10:02 am
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    Wow, great recap for those of us who never actually worked for DC, but followed the exploits of the Woodchucks through the AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, Meanwhile columns, etc.

    DC was so much better when you were there as continuity cop.

    Reply
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  • June 22, 2010 at 11:24 am
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    Thank you so much for this. I never met Dick Giordano, but I did read DC comics from 1980 to about 1987, in my teens.

    So because of all his art, his editorial direction and his Meanwhile columns, I feel like I *did* know him, like he was the friendliest uncle I ever had.

    God bless you, Mr. Giordano, you made comics a better place.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2010 at 12:37 am
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    Thanks for letting us be there through you, Bob. I feel like family after smiling while reading the names of everyone you mentioned. I got to see Dick at the ’85 Chicago Comicon when I was 13 and he was great, simply a wonderful guy. I miss the old DC like crazy.

    Reply
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  • June 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm
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    But was Joe Giella, the oldest person in the room to have worked with Dick, happy to be in attendance?

    Reply
  • June 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm
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    Wonderful

    I never met Dick but he wrote to me once explaining why I could no longer get New Teen Titans at the news stand after it went to direct sales. He had taken time out to hand write a letter on his colorful DC logo stationary to tell a kid why he wasnt getting his books the way he always did before.

    His letter projected warmth and a quiet strength that came across like a beloved Uncle writing to me his nephew, i would never forget that.

    I get sad when my favourite creators pass on now, Dick was the only one that made me cry.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2010 at 9:33 am
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    It was a great afternoon and Dick would have loved it all (well, the parts he could hear anyway). The gathering and the stories made me realize that, like Mr Tages said, I miss the old DC like crazy!

    Reply
  • June 25, 2010 at 11:36 am
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    Thanks for writing this, Bob. Sadly, I couldn’t be there and this is the only detailed recap I have seen anywhere. Dick was, hands down, the best boss I ever had, if one considers a former boss’ greatness the wisdom he was able to impart and the example that he set. I have worked in comics and other industries, but I can tell you that the standard of integrity that Dick imparted to me is one that I have carried with me to ever job I have ever had. Many, many people could learn from him. Sadly, I think most leaders in most industries today–in our multi-tasking, always on the edge world– would consider Dick’s ideas old fashioned. And that’s to their detriment. I’ve rarely met someone who was more forward thinking.

    Reply
  • June 27, 2010 at 10:37 am
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    Actually, Bob, Joe Orlando started the tradition with a memorial for Woody–he was so upset at not being at his mentor’s funeral after Woody’s suicide, that he pulled the DC gang together (and a few EC folks) for a NY memorial. I think Nelson may have been the second one.

    Good to see you all, too.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm
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    Hey, Bob,

    I apologize for contacting you via messageboard but I can’t find your e-mail contact. (You can erase this post after you read it….)

    I’m a contributing writer to BACK ISSUE magazine and I’d like to interview you about DC CHALLENGE, which you took over as editor from Mr. Giordano.

    If you’re interested, could you contact me at aushenker@aol.com and I can email you my questions?

    Thanks, Bob,

    Michael

    PS – Happy birthday next week!

    I’m up for talking on the phone but if you rather respond to this email, that’s fine, too.

    Reply

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