Dan Mishkin, Co-Creator of Blue Devil and Amethyst stops by and hangs out with Jeff to talk about his creations, writing, and so much more! This is part one so be sure to come back tonight for part two!
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Dan Mishkin Interview – Interview Part One
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners, a sport or country today on the show, we have the fantastic. Dan, Michigan. How are you? How’s it going, mr. Michigan?
Dan Mishkin: fantastic. I guess, cause you just probably fantastic. So I’m going to go with that.
Jeff: Well, Hey, you’ve created some fantastic characters. We’ll get you in a little while. So how are things going in your world right now?
Dan Mishkin: You know, like everybody’s world, it’s a little strange. although I should say David for a writer who just sits behind a computer it’s in a lot of ways, not so different from my regular life. eh, the thing, this is going to the grocery store, because that’s where I do my socializing. Usually I make people from the neighborhood.
In the produce section of the grocery store. Yeah. Shannon and I found out to find out the neighborhood gossip and all of that. So I missing that. and, and we have a two new grandchildren, one of them lives nearby. And, so we’re being. [00:01:00] Extra careful about our exposures and things so that we can see it.
Thank you. So we can see our 13 month old granddaughter regularly. where’s your parents are very happy to have happened because it means they get babysitters while they’re trying to work.
Jeff: That’s very good. So you’re basically experiencing a certain level of isolation. are you getting, assuming your groceries are being delivered then?
Dan Mishkin: usually we’re doing pickup now, you know, the kind of no contact pickup where you do everything over the, on an app on the phone, and then they, and then you just pop the trunk when they ascertain that you were the person who’s supposed to get the order. Yeah.
Jeff: And I wonder interacting, like you said, you went to randos, whatever. I get the feeling that right now, because we can’t literally do activities as it were. Our relationships with people are now so much more base on conversation, then the activity. And we might get you think that’s, wouldn’t be accurate.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s right. I mean, we, you [00:02:00] know, when with my children and the two grandchildren it’s video calls and being able to see what’s going on. I, you know, I live in my head a lot of the time anyway. I do ride my bike. I’m a, I’m an avid cyclist. So, So that’s something that I can do without curing that during exposure to the coronavirus or, or fearing that I’m going to be, you know, exposing other people in case I haven’t had don’t know it.
So that’s a good, that’s a great activity to have in my hip pocket when I need it.
Jeff: Are you working on anything right now?
Dan Mishkin: Yeah, I’m working on, on three, three different things. at various rates of speed. I am. I’m doing a web comic called Amazon Academy, which you can find it Amazon academy.net, where we have, I think 25 pages up it’s, it’s really good. It’s something that fans of amethyst will really enjoy.
I’m due at my artist, friend, Jersey and the hangup with that has been that he got a well paying job. and it made it harder for him to actually produce this work on the side. So, so we’ve sort of been on hiatus, but we’re [00:04:00] hoping to get back to Amazon Academy. I’m also working on a, on a prose novel for middle grade readers.
I mean, it’s really, I think my audience, where I normally gravitate to is the upper elementary and middle school reader. so. I, I’m I think I’m doing the fourth major revision now of this novel, because I’ve got an interested party, but despite what I just said to you about how I write for middle grades, you know, upper elementary, dear concerned that some of the stuff is coming off as too young adult.
And it’s like, Unfortunately, that includes stuff that happens in the climax, that act kind of has to be there. So I’m having to do this rewrite and figure out how I keep the integrity of what my story is and go with the understandable concern about meeting the audience. That’s kind of a, I was going to say it’s a pain, but it’s [00:05:00] not a pain.
it’s a challenge and challenges in writing are good. So I’m doing that. And then the third thing is I’m. Starting work on a graphic novel, both the prose novel and the new graphic novel well are Jewish themed or Jewish content, which is kind of interesting. And so I’m working with a, organization that is foundation backed and they put.
Jewish books in the hands of Jewish kids. and you know, they would help me along with my agent to find publisher for each of these things, which is wonderful. their imprimatur. It’s a big difference to publishers who are thinking about publishing a book, but I have to. I have to get to them.
So anyhow, my, my, my graphic novel is I think anybody can read it, but it’s, especially because the main character doesn’t care very much about his Jewish heritage at all. but he, he meets a, he meets a man. I teach computer scientist, [00:06:00] turned rabbi who, who is combining her interests in artificial intelligence and Jewish mysticism to create the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence.
So. And it’s an adventure story.
Jeff: That sounds very cool. I’m someone who I’m also Jewish as well. And I always do find it interesting. Someone who also is a comic book fan that while it’s a lot of Jewish craters kind of started the general of comic books, it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of characters in comics that are openly Jewish
Dan Mishkin: it’s so interesting.
you know, I’m of course. All these people like in the forties were trying very hard to assimilate. They lived in an, in an era of pretty serious antisemitism sometimes. And so, so, you know, Jacob Kurtzberg becomes Jack Kirby and. Tries to be as all American as possible. Now you look at the [00:07:00] stuff and the Jewishness comes out.
if you’re paying close attention. my friend, Danny filler author, former Spiderman editor, and comic book writer, and has a great recent biography of Stan Lee. Danny wrote a book. Call describes this Clark Kent, which is about the Jewish origins of comics and about that assimilation process and how it’s really kind of, it’s kind of all there.
Anyway. I w I M. One of my favorite Superman stories of all time is Superman’s returned to Krypton, which was published, I think in 1960. So I was born, had been seven years old and Superman somehow. I don’t even remember how he goes back in time and goes through space and he’s back on Krypton and he meets his parents.
and his baby self and, and it’s full of this, [00:08:00] just kind of longing for a destroyed, never to be returned past. And I don’t think Jerry Siegel was writing that story and saying to himself, I’m creator. Cocreator Superman. Right? Write this story. And I don’t think he was saying to himself, you know, what this is really about is the last one world of Eastern European jewelry.
But if you read it that way, I think it’s pretty clear that the lost world of Krypton in this story is standing in for the, you know, the murder 6 million and the lives that they led. so it doesn’t show up on the surface, but it often shows up if you just take a little tiny peek beneath.
Jeff: Do you think it was, is you think there was a sub-conscience part of him that did want to tell that [00:09:00] after the store and that’s why it is there, or do you think it is something that we can just see?
Cause we’re looking for?
Dan Mishkin: No, I think my sense. I didn’t know the man, what can I say? As a and again, I was seven years old and I’m sorry, I’m looking at it now. I am, but I know my own writing. I know things that come out. But I only look at afterward and I say, Oh, I was drawing on this piece of my own experience without even realizing, I chose to have the sense that Siegel was.
the reason that he had this. This idea for not only for these are going to go back to Krypton, but to have it be really a wonderful but lost place. The reason that idea changed to him I think, is because of his awareness of the lost world of Eastern European Jewish life. so yeah, I wouldn’t have it wouldn’t have occurred.
[00:10:00] Do you know. Crusoe tool or somebody like that, you know, her, or, you know, what, whatever non Jewish name you want to come up with.
Jeff: Right, right, right.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah. It’s it’s I think the story came to Siegel because of his Jewish identity.
Jeff: and I think I heard somewhere and, I might just be, you know, pulling on strings a little bit, but, One of the ideas about this or the symbolism behind the secret identity kind of thing is a very Jewish idea.
As you were saying about Americanizing oneself or hiding oneself within to gain public acceptance.
Dan Mishkin: Right. Right. And I think that’s true. And by the way, if you have not read, genius hangs, Superman Smashers of the clan.
Jeff: I have not yet. Unfortunately
Dan Mishkin: I just read it. it talks a lot about that.
it involves a Chinese American family and it also involves Superman actually sharing [00:11:00] or realizing that he shares some of their experience and that he is hiding. Himself and it’s, boy, it’s right up there with, Superman’s returned to Krypton now as one of my favorite Superman stories ever.
but I’ll tell you my other, since we’re talking about that, I’ll tell you my other favorite Superman story, which is going to really sound like it’s totally out of left field. and it’s, I mean, there’s great Superman stories there’s but a lot of them are, You know, they’re limited series or there’s like Alan Moore’s, here’s how I would end the entire Superman story.
And that’s a little unfair to compare those like a Superman for all seasons. I love, the, Jeff, Logan, Tim sail, but it’s, you know, it’s. It’s meant to be this standalone thing that doesn’t have to worry about continuity and all of that. if you can write a story in continuity, that just appears this month, just because that’s what the writer came up with and what the artist drew.
and it’s great. [00:12:00] And that’s really impressive and. Jean’s story too. I mean, if it’s in the category of special case. Right. But, so my here’s my other favorite Superman story. my friend Dan Jurgens, did a Christmas story called metropolis mailbag, which was of course the name of the letter column.
in Superman way back when there were letter columns. and it’s the story of, how Superman, once a year answers all the letters responds to them, you know, and then goes to some people and helps them, stuff like that. And it’s, and it’s a great story. And I’m really, I mean, Dan did great work on Superman to the whole death of Superman and even more than that, the, The return of super the reign of the Superman storyline.
Dan of course, would not working alone on those. There are four books coming out, but he did wonderful work, but this one that really stands out for me is that metropolis, Malbec story. It was just full of heart, you know? [00:13:00] and I go for that.
Jeff: Well, we had on, I think it was maybe three months ago we had on Jerry Ordway.
talks to talk Superman, and I’m trying to remember, I’ve been trying to, as you’re talking, I’m trying to remember the issue number, but there was an issue where Superman goes back in time and helps the Jews, on a train on the way to, I think it was Auschwitz.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah. I sort of remember that. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. and I just found, and I’ve read that story. I just found it was such an important story. Not be cutting only because we know Superman’s real art as being, you know, as from the craters. But once again, from a view of history, I just thought it was extremely important story for, to be in a comic book.
Dan Mishkin: Oh, I think that’s true. I mean, it’s, it’s interesting, right. Mean, Jerry, as far as I know is not true. Is Jerry Jewish? I don’t think he is.
Jeff: I. Can’t recall. I can’t remember to be honest with you if he was or not. I might have asked him,
Dan Mishkin: but it’s like, you know, you’re more likely to see Jewish stuff from Nigeria as creators.
it’s a funny thing. I think, although I think that the, [00:14:00] you know, more, as we say in where I think it’s an odd phrasing, openly Jewish, the way people say openly gay, it’s like you’re revealing something unsavory, but, that. it took people, it took like, African American and Asian American, and, other, Minorities aren’t Jews are a minority too, but we’ve assimilated because of, you know, the privilege of whiteness and all of that.
Yeah. For the most part. All right. Right. the, a took like people like my late friend, Dwayne McDuffie, you know, doing something like static, and the whole milestone line and saying, and saying, you know, I love these comics. I also want to see characters who look like me. And I think that my kids want to see characters who look like them.
It wasn’t until, people were doing, doing that [00:15:00] whole. you know, in the, New York publishing world, you might be called that’s one of the trade publishing world. there’s, there’s the hashtag own voices, like speaking in your own voice. and so it’s a big, especially in kids lit. Now there’s a lot of own voices staff and this was happening in comics, you know, Now 30 years ago, and it was great and it wasn’t until, you know, you know, black and Asian and Latino, creators were speaking in their own voices and creating characters that looked like them.
And I think. Jewish creators started to feel more comfortable doing it, which is, I dunno, kind of, kind of interests when I got into, when I got into the business. Yeah. So my first story in 1979, I mean, pretty much everybody, not everybody, I mean, people like Danny [00:16:00] O’Neil and Jerry Conway and like that, but.
Pretty close to everybody was Jews and Italians, you know, still, you know, you know, this is now 40 years after the birth of the comic book industry. that’s who it was, but they were not writing about Jews and Italians that’s for damn sure.
Jeff: And I must’ve been, I think the first story I’ve ever read that I recognize as being, as you said, openly Jewish was mouse.
I made the first one, I literally, where I felt it was an active attempt to dis to recognize being Jewish and was, again, since that point, I don’t usually don’t see that in comics. And as we’re talking about Superman as well, I find Superman’s imagery tends to be more of Jesus and Christian, even though he has deeply Jewish roots, which I find it interesting.
Dan Mishkin: Right. I mean, there’s that, there’s this, there’s a very specific, Jesus. Iconography in, the movie Superman [00:17:00] returns, the one that Brandon Ruth was where he, you know, and it’s like, Oh, that’s interesting that people, I think be about that movie. A little too much. I mean, first of all, I’m a sucker for Superman’s.
I’m willing to bear a lot. I, I have our downstairs bathroom is entirely done in Superman. We had to buy three times, three times the boxes of floor tiles that we really needed. We could have red, yellow, blue. That’s awesome. and there’s, you know, figurines and art on the walls and all of that stuff, but.
But, but, the other Jesus, he thing that I, in Superman returns that I really liked was, I think Lois is, kind of getting on him for having a savior complex or something. and he says, I hear thousands of people every day, calling out to be saved. You know, that, I mean, like with his superhero, right.
He’s [00:18:00] someone’s like, and that was, you know, that was a nice counterpoint. and if it gets Jesus eat that’s okay. You know, I’m, I had an English teacher in high school who once referred to Catholics and non-religious people. so you knew where
Jeff: exactly, but I will say I agree a complete with you on a Superman returns.
I think Superman returns has some fantastic moments. It
Dan Mishkin: only suffers from
Jeff: comparing it so closely to Christopher Reeves
Dan Mishkin: Superman. Yeah. Right. It did. It’s hard. It’s hard to do though. If you compare it to the later, Christopher is super bad. It’s a lot better.
Jeff: Sure. Good point. Good point.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. And I will say, did you see ever see I’m a man of steel?
Dan Mishkin: Yeah, I, so I liked man of steel. I didn’t love it, but my feeling about it was that. If it’s not the final version of [00:19:00] Superman. It is a version for that particular moment in time. And as a Superman for that moment, I think it worked pretty well as, you know, Jonathan Kent wants to, you know, keep this secret.
He’s, you know, man, I. I practically come to tears in the first Christopher Reeve movie. when Glenn Ford says you’re here for a reason. And you know, I don’t know whose reason, I don’t know what the reason is, but it’s not to win football games or not to score touchdowns or whatever it is, success.
but this is a different podcast. And. He’s living in a different world. And I think that it’s, I think that it works and I look, I cry every time pocket gets killed, no matter which pocket and no matter what circumstance and [00:20:00] I was heartbroken when the Kevin Costner, Jonathan Kent was killed as well, you know?
I also, now, no, I’m sorry. I’m thinking of bad members super answer for forget that the, the other thing about man of steel is that people really come down on the fact that he chills. Yeah. and I, I was kind of. Okay. When I was more bothered by the kind of the disaster porn element of it, you know, the a right.
but the fact that he kills, I mean, this is not the Superman I’ve been reading for the, take a deeper, I’ll take a deep breath here. Okay. Not just for me that I’ve been reading for, for. 62 years. Oh my God. But, it’s the, it’s a Superman. Who’s just figuring it out. If they had know, I was really, I was sorry that they went to do Batman [00:21:00] versus Superman.
For a number of reasons, but one, so we’ve never gotten a Superman movie from this creative group yet really man of steel was sort of the intro, the origin, this and that. I was really looking forward to for the killing of Zod and. Really the impetus for whatever’s going to happen in the next, just Superman movie, where as a result of that, he realizes that’s something he can never do.
Jeff: I agree with you. I agree with you completely. I think. They lost a story beat there by not investigating what that would be like.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I was really looking forward to a daily planet and Superman and repo in metropolis story, a movie where, he’s got it figured out, right.
and it’s OK to, you know, to, to have it, to take awhile to [00:22:00] figure it out. If the, if you can make the, if you can make the story work, I mean, there’s a fair say, I’m my prime example of a movie, a superhero movie where. Where it’s about him figuring it out, but it doesn’t work is the, is the Daredevil movie that starred, Ben Aflac.
Okay. he’s like he really only becomes Daredevil at the end of the movie. He only figures out who Daredevil is supposed to be. There’s some wonderful moments in the movie, but he’s kind of a jerk. I mean, not athletic. I mean, Matt Murdock.
Jeff: Right, right, right.
Dan Mishkin: he’s and it goes on too long, in, in man of steel, you see that.
That he’s building the character. You’re not surprised by the fact at the end of the movie, you know? and that’s, that’s a big difference. [00:23:00] yeah, that’s probably the, he goes on the, is he looking at it?
Jeff: Yeah. yeah, I can’t remember the name of the type of boat, but yeah. and. And I was going to say, and I think what you mentioned earlier about the destruction porn that they have in metropolis, I was surprised that they didn’t do a simple fish fix to that, which would have been it’s your man trying to get zoned away and Zod.
Understandably not wanting to leave where he has the most power, which is the threat of this war in the city. I figured in a moment you can have that shot and then you would have just accepted that the destruction has to happen.
Dan Mishkin: Yeah, I think you could, I think you could do that, but I’ve still, I’ve grown.
I’ve grown somewhat sour in all of this. It is in my opinion, the wonder woman movie, which I loved, is really marred by the final battle with areas. it’s way too much and it comes pretty soon after. So as I remember anyway, the battle, for no man’s land, and that one is so.
[00:24:00] Powerful and heart filling and all of that to have to then have a battle. That’s just bam. Wham bang is like really undercuts what, you know, what you got earlier. I mean, I know that it’s, that area’s is trying to convince, convinced Diana that. That the, you know, the world of more of mortals is not one that you should be defending.
Right. Fine. But you know what I would have rather that they had that discussion over a game of chess. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. I agree. I mean, I do feel that what we see, especially in the DC movies is more of a modern cynicism that doesn’t exist in the Marvel movies, but it’s, there’s a certain sense of cynicism there. And I think you’re also getting that cynicism. Beginning to create, or has been creeping into [00:25:00] comic books for maybe the last 20 years or so as well.
Dan Mishkin: I know it’s look when we did blue devil, the tagline that DC came up with this is 1983, once we’ve made comics fun again. So it’s not like. That issue has not been there for a long time of the darkness and the disturbing stuff. It’s you know, it’s one of the reasons, one of the reasons I sort of, I was not sort of called upon to do.
Two comics at DC. I wasn’t a go to guy anymore was that I still wanted to write what I wrote, which was a comic that a 10 or 12 year old would happily read, not cynically. I, it really bothered me that the answer to the question. That I think is a legitimate question to pose to a superhero or to a superhero comics in general [00:26:00] is, yeah, this isn’t the world much rougher and don’t, you have to be harder and meaner to deal with it.
I wished that the answer wasn’t always, yes, I would like. To have seen that question posed and have the answer be now to some extent, Superman during the year that Dan and Jerry, Paul Kiesel, Oh, I feel wheezy, Simons, and, and also, Roger stern. That’s his narrows when during that era.
When my Carlin was editing the book, it was, it did acknowledge more of the hard and tough in the world, but he was always super, you know, she was always Superman clinging to those values and not even cleaning, just living those values, [00:27:00] you know, It’s yeah, I’m not I’m not so much a let’s do superhero stories.
That challenge the notion of being a superior.
Jeff: Yeah. And I think there was an issue of action comics, number seven 75 when it was Superman versus the elite. Can’t remember who wrote it, but it was a brilliant issue. Where’s your man is where they make that argument between the idea of the classic Superman, you know, and kind of the more idealistic Superman versus the hardcore modern type of superhero.
And I thought it was look at it. And I think to myself, when I look at, when I was reading, look at blue devil, which was a great comic. I don’t see why those books don’t have a home anymore. You need that audience as well. There’s no, nothing wrong with, I don’t see why you can’t fit the universe of blue devil and that style with the other combo and their style and have them exist in the same universe and have it work for all audiences.
Dan Mishkin: Well, I think the reason is entirely a business and economic one. there’s. [00:28:00] The monthly comic book was an invention of the 1930s that nobody would’ve come up with today. and, and. That business shrank it’s Frank precipitously in the 1970s. I was there. I can attest to it. Some great comics were for me, but it was, but you had new in the last days of newsstand sales, you had.
The rat jobbers, the people who put magazines, you know, out on newsstands, or whether it was candy stores or, you know, Kmarts or whatever. they often didn’t even put the comics out because they were not, they were fully returnable right. For full credit and they were not going to make as much money.
You know, if it takes a comic book, takes up the same amount of space as time [00:29:00] magazine, but costs half as much. It’s all going to make money. Right? So who’s reading comics, the people like me who were getting older and the people not quite like me, but still my peers who wanted more grit and grim and gritty.
You know, they, they latched onto, I mean, man, but by the time that, and this has been true in comics for so long, I mean, early Marvel, you know, Jack Kirby became the style that everybody was supposed to imitate. when I’m writing comics by the time, dark night return comes out. You know, the expectation is you gotta be like Frank Miller.
and even if it’s not spoken, it’s it’s there. And it’s like what? they never got them. I’m deviating somewhat from your question. I’ll get [00:30:00] back to that. but with the people in general, George never got it. He wanted people get it now. What they never got as that Frank was successful because he was doing something.
He really believed it. not because it was grim and gritty. You know, any answer to Frank success was not, or Alan Ward’s success was not being like Frank be like Allen. It was be as committed to your story as they are to their stories. But nobody ever said that. So anyhow, back to the business thing. So comics are comics distributed, a newsstand are dying and the direct market comes along.
Not without. Some hiccups along the way I, there was, so I live in East Lansing, Michigan, where I went to, college as an undergraduate, we ended up back here. there [00:31:00] was a store, that was a branch of a store from grand Rapids. And they were able to get their comics from their grand Rapids distributor earlier and put it out on the store.
If you could take her to the local time of fans earlier than the larger bookstore served by the Lansing area comics, distributor, was. A was a, was getting theirs out on the stance. So as I hear the story, cause I don’t want to be defamed and I’m not naming names. Okay. No, fair enough. I don’t want it.
You know, I don’t want to be in a deprivation suit, but it’s understandable. the story I heard is that. One of their trucks, the grand Rapids people got run off the road, when they were delivering the shipment of stuff that could have primarily for comic book fans like me and East Lansing. so there was that stuff going on.
There was a guide then a guy in my senior year in college who [00:32:00] managed to make an arrangement. He lived in my apartment complex and he, had an arrangement with a distributor. So he. He got the comics, and he knew what people wanted. Cause you know, people who are just putting things out on the rats, they don’t know which comments fans.
Care about this guy, would he bought some racks? He’d put them out every whatever day of the week it was. And you know, we’d come out and we borrow comics from Frank and he made enough money for his own comics and a little bit on the side. but then the direct market comes along and it saves.
Comics. There’s no question about it because the new standard distribution was untenable, but in my opinion, you might argue with me, I’m sure they will, in my opinion, the direct market saved comics. And then bit by bit strangled. The industry, [00:33:00] because it was, cause I can’t remember who this was some small publisher, but a reputable, you know, a writer turned editor in chief of a small publisher, who wrote in his text column that.
That he wanted to hear from fans, what they really wanted, you know, which of the books they re, you know, not just based on sales, we really wanted to get their opinions. And it’s like, so you’re taking this narrow self-selected group and you’re telling them that you’re going to make your business decisions based on even further narrowing that they’re going to feed you.
which seemed nuts to me and maybe it was necessarily okay, but it seemed nuts. And so there’ve been moments there have been, you know, the, you know, the multiple cover crazes and things like that. and the ridiculous [00:34:00] numbers that the death of Superman issue. In the black bag. So, you know, and, it’s.
Yeah, it’s just crazy. So, so there’ve been spikes, but you know, when I was actively writing comics, there was, I think there was never a year when the sales that would’ve gotten you canceled five years earlier. Worked great numbers now. Yeah. You know? Right. So exactly. I mean, blue devil was canceled it, I don’t know, 75,000 a month.
and it’s like, so it just, you know, sunk and song consent. Now just by the way, the comic book world is. Healthy and vibrant. It’s just not the comic book world that maybe the listeners to your podcast think of as the comic before what they might call mainstream comments.
Superhero comics are not mainstream comics. I [00:35:00] love superior graphics. Okay. But the, that are selling are the ones that are originally published in book form. Better sold in bookstores and in comic shops that have owners that understand which way the wind is blowing. I talked to people about, Raina Telgemeier.
Do you know rain is work?
Jeff: honestly I do not.
Dan Mishkin: You do not. Okay. Raina has, has. Currently, I don’t know, five, six of the top 10 books on the New York times graphic novel bestseller list. She’s sold millions and millions of copies. she’s, her, you’ve never heard of her, but I guarantee you that.
Most [00:36:00] 12 year old girls in America that you would run into. If you ask them would know who she is. and. That comic book industry, the one where, you know, where a Scholastic, where Raina is published, is working where first second, the Macmillan, division, where Abram’s comic arts, sells.
I mean, that industry is doing really quite well. that’s mainstream comments. I mean, also I think actually free web comics are also mainstream comics, but the, and, but, you know, Raina started her first really famous book smile. I think she did it as a web comic first and she got feedback from fans and then she’d already been doing some stuff for Scholastic.
She’d been adapting the babysitter point books. and she took what she’d done. And the feedback actually had as you worked with her editor [00:37:00] at Scholastic entry, turned out a book called smile, which is, was a mega. and you were mentioning mouse before, like mouse it’s memoir. Memoir is a huge category in comics now.
and so much interesting stuff being done. and that’s where the action. Yeah. You know, if you’re talking about volume, right. If you told me about number of readers, we’re talking about eyeballs. I won that’s I wear is as a cofounder of the Anarbor comic arts festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
and we put on a two day event actually three day on Friday, we do a thing. we do a conference for. Teachers and librarians and cartoonists. And then Saturday and Sunday, we’d have artists dally. It’s free. It’s at the NRB, just required berries, main branch. And it’s, it’s big and it’s fun. And [00:38:00] Raina, has scrubbed too many times.
people like, books. You probably don’t know like baby mouse by Jenny and Matt home. You probably. Never heard of baby maths, right?
Jeff: I have not.
Dan Mishkin: Okay. So that’s okay. That’s okay. So, and that’s for quite, that’s like early readers, but so ma Jenny matter, our sister and brother and Matt came out for one of our shows, Fenn hacky, who does Z to the space girl and mighty Jack, which you might also not have heard of, but are really doing well.
comes out to our show. This is, you know, we actually have very little sometimes to my regret, very little in the way of superhero people come out because it’s, it’s sort of not the brand that we’ve developed, but the people who do superhero stuff that’s Mmm, that’s exciting. Possible, too.
To any reader that [00:39:00] doesn’t need a, does it need a warning on the cover or a sign on the table that says, talk to me before you open this book. you know, those people are welcome. We’ve had some, we’ve had some of that, but it’s, It’s like Steve Lieber came out one time. Steve used to live in Ann Arbor.
He’s in Portland now, but you know, we said, Steve, come out, you’re doing whatever that Spiderman book was that he was, I can’t even remember. And
Jeff: was it, I was thinking that, you know, and as we’re talking about the idea of what’s going on with comic books throughout the years, and I was thinking about, what’s going to come, you mentioned blue devil.
I found blue devil. What happened to that character and a great representation of the industry. Your character started off as a very fun character as a stunt man, he got stuck in like in a busy and a devil suit and kind of became a hero from that point. And later on in the [00:40:00] mid nineties, He, the character makes a deal with the demon neuron to become an actual demon.
You lose that lightness when it becomes, when he transitions over to being a true demon. At that point, I found that kind of, that’s almost represent representative of the industry as well. When you took something that was really light and fun, and we had B. So kind of had to twist it and to make it darker, edgier and far more serious.
Dan Mishkin: And you know, some of the people who have written these blue devil stories who are not me and Gary are friends of mine. Okay. And I know that they love the character. but, I, they don’t. Either they’re there they’re operating or could want now, which I think is always a bad idea. you know, I’m, I, am I egotistical enough to say that the readers don’t know what they want until I tell them what they want?
Jeff: It’s probably true.
Dan Mishkin: Well, you know, I think that’s it. So there’s a lot of truth in that, in the cold, in all sorts of creative endeavors, but [00:41:00] the. The, the people who did that, you know, we’re trying to make it work in a different way. the person who I think can closest to making, a blue devil work was, Bill willing when he in shadow packed, he, he really had a good feeling for the guardian, was doing a different kind of story.
And he had to accept some of the baggage that had been placed on the character already, but he really is, seem to get him. and actually I. when shatter pack was first coming out, I was at San Diego at the con and there’s bill and I walk up behind her and said, bill, Hey, how are you doing?
And he says, Dan, just the person I’ve been hoping and dreading I’d run into it. Yeah. and, but it was, I know, I tell them it was fine. I thought that he was really, he [00:42:00] really had a feel for the character. So I made the times shadow packed red. Like it was, you know, blue devil with a different supporting cast
Jeff: and it was a great series.
I remember, I barely remember it. Well,
Dan Mishkin: Yeah, it was good. So yeah, you know, it’s the idea, you know, people who didn’t quite get that Russ, the, the demon that inadvertently give melds blue devil in Dan Cassidy and his blue devil suit, people. People have treated him like a demon who makes bargains for souls and stuff like that.
And he’s not, he’s a monster that eats people. I mean, he’s and he’s, as Gary said, I think very, very pivotally is that he’s a. Navy Rose is stupid as only the enormously powerful could be stupid. That’s a great phrase. Yeah. You know, it’s some might apply it to our current [00:43:00] president, but I don’t know.
Jeff: I agree with you there.
Dan Mishkin: The, yeah, I mean, no, I mean, never Rose never knew that, that. We’re never grasped that blue devil was a guy in a devil suit. He just, he never got it. You know, he always refers to Chassidy his whole little brother let’s go, you know, whatever he’s going to do. But he thinks of him as another demon, which it’s a smaller, you know, different demon.
He just doesn’t, he just doesn’t get stuff. Cause he doesn’t have to. Yeah, because he’s so damn powerful. Yeah.
Jeff: Did it bother you when you found out that blue devil was being made into an actual demon or did, or once you let go of your baby, as it were, do you kind of just kind of relax about what happens or decide to walk away from what happens to that character?
Dan Mishkin: I think the answer is complicated. so let me start with this. When we signed the contracts for amethyst and blue devil, [00:44:00] which were at the time really generous. I mean, Paul Levitz, a DC were trying to put something together that would really encourage people to create new, new characters and potentially valuable intellectual property for the company.
and. The deal was you get 12 issues guaranteed. and you don’t own the character, but you do get the creators jointly, get 20% of any licensing money to come see. it seemed like a good deal. So here’s what at 29 years old, I. Did not see is that not creatively controlling my own character was going to be heartbreaking.
[00:45:00] It’s you know, it’s now sometimes peak to good stuff. Amy reader’s current amethyst series is lovely. I’m really enjoying it. but Abbott, this has not always been treated like that. I mean, at one point they basically decided that the best I can piece it together, they said, do we have a character that we can turn into kind of a hunger game story?
And they aged up amethyst and did that. You know, I didn’t really read it. I kind of looked at the first issue and it was like, no, not interested. and I did, I was able to kind of put it out of my mind and, the artwork on that series was beautiful. but, it’s still, it’s still a suddenly, I didn’t want to go here.
So mostly I. Don’t go near the stuff more in the case of amethyst, if it’s bad amethyst, I find it bothers me more than bad blue devil.
Jeff: Why is
Dan Mishkin: that? I really don’t know [00:46:00] what the, what the reason is. And it may only be because amethysts, it’s really 13 years old and blue devils all grown up and he can take care of himself, but, but it’s, In the case of blue devil, he’s treated as a superhero.
I mean, he never wanted to be a superhero. He keeps telling people he’s not a superhero, but in form, his stories are super hero stories and superhero stories are. They’re kind of ephemeral, they’re one issue to the next there. One writer to the next, whatever. When amethyst has been remade, she’s really been remade.
You know, it’s been like, it wasn’t like she, I guess she has popped up now and then, but I haven’t even looked at those, when there’s a new amethyst series, right. It’s like, okay, we’re going to, we’re going to think. we’re going to think about what this [00:47:00] character should be when pretty clear what that character should be from the original Maxis here.
Cause you know, now Amy’s idea, which was to have her be three years older. Now she’s 16 and she has not been back to the gym world. That’s a good setup for going forward with amethyst. And she also, she was given freedom to pick and choose what you wanted to keep from our stuff and what you didn’t and that’s really fine.
Jeff: Didn’t she asked you did this dish, did she ask you or ask for your permission?
Dan Mishkin: Oh no. Nobody is. Okay. Look, I wouldn’t have asked for permission. I’m not because I don’t want to bad mouth anybody. You know, I was, I am sure that I treated other people’s characters, pretty cavalry. you know, God, I just.
Did what I thought was good for the boat. and in Amy’s case, what she’s done is thoughtful. I never hear [00:48:00] for, I don’t hear from people who write my characters. I don’t hear from DC. If there’s going to be a reprint, it comes out, with my stuff in it. I find out either from a fan or because a package arrives on my doorstep.
You know, I don’t hear if there’s going to be, I didn’t hear from DC that there’s going to be, an amethyst series, a new amethyst series. it just, I heard it through the grapevine, you know? Yeah. that’s just not the way they. they operate, I heard that blue devils gonna appearance one thing because somebody Toby, I, by the way, I really liked, there’s very little blue devil in swampland, but there’s a lot of Dan Cassidy.
And I thought that I am Ziering the actor who played him was really good. he was older than our Cassidy, but he really got him down. You know, he’s, I really liked, but you know, and again, this was something that was done by. Miss. One thing, she read by people who knew our character and loved her [00:49:00] character, but that, and in this case they did good stuff, but that’s no guarantee, you know, knowing the character, loving the character is no guarantee.
So it’s like, hi, what’s going to happen next. Right? What I tell people about how much I hear from DC, the one that I’ve come up with in the last year has been, So the next one movies is wonder woman in 1984. I was the only person writing one, a woman in 1984. and, what I tell people is I’ll find out if they’re using any of my stuff.
If they invite me to the premiere.
Okay. That’s the first that’s the first I’m going to know about it. So. Yeah,