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.