Looking Back at the DC Offices Part 4

In Atlanta: Top row: Archie Goodwin, Me, Laurie Sutton, Bill Sienkiewicz; Bottom row: Jo Duffy, Chris Claremeont

In Atlanta: Top row: Archie Goodwin, Me, Laurie Sutton, Bill Sienkiewicz; Bottom row: Jo Duffy, Chris Claremeont

The summer of 1986 also saw me doing some Marketing work for DC. As the schedule had it, San Diego and Chicago shared the same weekend as the Atlanta Fantasy Fair and Dallas Comic Con. With the company’s resources dedicated to the bigger shows, I was asked to take a smaller version of the booth and go solo to Atlanta and Dallas. It was in Texas where I briefly met Bob Wayne for the first time, shaking his hand just before he too headed for the bigger show. I was, though, placed next to the author Roger Zelazny and we spent most of the weekend chatting it up. As a fan of his Amber books, I was thrilled beyond belief.

Atlanta was more fun as I was situated near First Comics and got to really know Ostrander, Rick Obadiah, and others. Deb joined me for both trips and one evening we were a team against Howard and Leslie Chaykin and Mike Gold and Rick Obadiah in Trivial Pursuit. The Chaykins handily won, loudly lording it over us.

Watchmen BobA year later, DC was saying farewell to Marketing guru Mike Flynn and welcoming in Peggy May. The changeover was happening just as convention season was upon us so Marketing asked permission to have me largely take over the running of the company’s appearances at the four major cons. That was a rush of a summer going from San Diego to Chicago to Atlanta, assembling signing schedules, panel appearances, and keeping everyone happy. At the Dead Dog party in the Gaslamp district in San Diego, I was presented with a lovely reward: Peggy had commissioned Dave Gibbons to create a Watchmen-style piece of art that all the staff and freelancers could sign. Once back in New York, DC had it framed and it proudly hangs in the home office.

A 1991 convention: Bruce Bristow, Mike Carlin, Jonathan Peterson, Me

A 1991 convention: Bruce Bristow, Mike Carlin, Jonathan Peterson, Me

The last time I had a major hand in marketing was in August 1995 when DC exclusively signed with Diamond Comic Distribution. Five teams of execs from both companies were being sent on the road to speak with retailers and do the dog and pony show. When they lacked a DC staffer with the editorial knowledge requisite for such visits, I was asked to accompany Pat Caldon from DC along with Diamond’s financial wizard (whose name is escaping me). We headed south and hit Charlotte, Atlanta and a few other spots. A highlight was a free Saturday night spent watching the Braves play.

DC knew how to play and treat one another with respect. In 1987, we lost Nelson Bridwell and DC’s staff gathered to memorialize him, the first in a series of such events. When Marvel was suffering their bankruptcy woes, they tragically lost Carol Kalish and DC helped organize events. They became larger as freelancers and others from our field were invited to attend but they were also fitting farewells to legends in the field. Julie even went so far as to organize the music for his memorial long before he left us. Rich Markow, a fellow Jazz fan, held the playlist and organized the music when the time finally came, making CDs for those of us wanting one last thing to remember Julie by.

San Diego Comic-Con 1989: Three Bobs (Rozakis, Wayne, me), no waiting.

San Diego Comic-Con 1989: Three Bobs (Rozakis, Wayne, me), no waiting.

In addition to the company’s legendary softball team, there were other events. Bob Rozakis became the official unofficial moral officer, partnered with either Marketing’s Robyn McBride or Barbara Kesel. We had Easter Egg hunts (including being kicked out of the 666 offices so the eggs could be hidden), loud shirt days, and other activities. But none were loved more than Thanksgiving. In the late 1980s, we began having a potluck meal the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and as the staff grew, so did the meal. Early on, I recall sitting next to a visiting Jack Larson, not talking about his portrayal of Jimmy Olsen as much as his opera librettos and life in Manhattan. The event continued to grow with Paul providing gallons of ice cream and Jenette springing for the turkeys. Archie Goodwin could always be counted on for bags of White Castle burgers while Mike Carlin brought a wide variety of Pop Tarts each year. Some years there were trivia contests and other years talent shows. Jenette and Paul always made it a point to thank one and all for their efforts. Although the corporate masters recognized only management’s contributions, these two knew that from the lowest salaried staffer to the highest paid employee all contributed to the company’s successes and failures.

Next: Retirement

Leave a Reply