PAUL KUPPERBERG: A Comic Moment With… DAVID V. REED

The celebrated Mr. K kicks off a ginchy new series of great stories about storied storytellers…

Our go-to birthday celebrations generally involve 13 COVERS, or 13 SPLASH PAGES, or whatever’s relevant that can be counted in increments of 13. It’s what we do.

But not always!

Starting here, we’re kicking off a new, recurring feature with columnist Paul Kupperberg, called A Comic Moment With…

With decades in the biz, Paul has so many great, humorous stories to tell, this seemed like a really groovy way to share some of them – and we kick things off with late writer David V. Reed.

Dig it. — Dan

Reed’s Batman #303, 1978. Cover by Jim Aparo.

David V. Reed (Dec. 13, 1914–Aug. 11, 1994) was a science fiction, television, magazine, and comic book writer best known for his stint scripting Batman for editor Julie Schwartz.

In 1978, I was on staff at DC Comics as assistant to the public relations director. My space in the offices at 75 Rockefeller Center was a cubicle running down the center corridor. With its chest-high gray partition walls, it was situated midway between Julie Schwartz’s and another editor’s offices and I was visible to all who passed by.

While the lack of privacy could be annoying, I would often find myself engaging with the creators who loitered in the hall waiting for their editors to return, or finish with their current appointments.

One frequent visitor to my cubicle was David V. Reed, there to deliver a script to the venerable Mr. Schwartz. Reed, who sometimes wrote as David Vern, fascinated me, not only because of his early SF pulp magazine and comics career, but because his name was mentioned in the liner notes of one of Allan Sherman’s groundbreaking albums of song parodies. Sherman was a comedy god in my house; I had the lyrics of his first two albums memorized by the time I was nine years old.

Reed’s Batman #304. Cover by Aparo.

In Mark Cohen’s Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman (Brandeis University Press, 2013), Vern, when he first crosses paths with Sherman in the 1950s, is introduced as “an alcoholic… famed for his wit and talent for self-destruction.” Sherman’s wife called him “a very bad person.” Julie later told me the story of the time he asked Vern for a cigarette and Vern gave him instead a “marijuana cigarette” without telling him. Mr. Reed, on the other hand, was never anything but nice to me.

While we talked, Reed was balancing a large, bulky Manila envelope on the top of the cubicle wall. I had no idea what was in it, but it seemed to be somewhat awkward to hang on to. I offered that he could put it on my desk while he waited but he didn’t seem to be inclined to let it loose.

After a few more minutes of watching him fidget, I repeated my offer to put it down, but again he demurred.

I laughed. “What’ve you got in there? A pound of grass?”

He broke out in a big grin and, with a Groucho toss of the eyebrows, peeled back a corner of the envelope, revealing a mass of heavily Saran Wrapped marijuana buds.

“Close,” he chuckled. “It’s half a kilo.”

MORE

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite Books on MAKING COMICS. Click here.

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite COMIC BOOK NOVELS. Click here.

Sure, you know Paul Kupperberg as the prolific writer of over a thousand comic books for such characters and series as Superman, Aquaman, Doom Patrol, Vigilante, Life with Archie, Bart Simpson, Scooby-Doo, and dozens more for DC Comics, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics, and others, and that he is also the creator of the series Arion, Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate and Takion, and is a former editor for DC, Weekly World News, and WWE Kids Magazine. But Paul is also the author of numerous books, including the superhero novel JSA: Ragnarok and the comics industry-based murder mystery, The Same Old Story, not to mention (but we will anyway) Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics, I Never Write for the Money, But I Always Turn in the Manuscript for a Check, Direct Comments: Comic Book Creators in their Own Words, The Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg and Son of the Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg. You can follow Paul at PaulKupperberg.com and at Crazy8Press.com.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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6 Comments

  1. Ok, I didn’t see THAT ending coming! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been re-reading my old Batman/Detective/B&B issues and am currently in March 1979 so I think I’ve passed Reed’s last 70s Bat-story. A lot of his stories were fun and interesting–definitely fun to revisit.

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  2. Loved this! I recently picked (back) up, “Man of Two Worlds” – Julie’s bit of bio, revisiting his memories on Mr. Reed. This story is a gas. Or a smoke. And I love all things Allan Sherman. Kudos, Mr. K!

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  3. There should be a Tales of the Batman by David V. Reed on my shelf. Publish it already, DC.

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  4. Love seeing the cover to BATMAN #304.
    Another Spook story. This great villain was hot in the 70’s. Sadly forgotten for the past 40 years.

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  5. That caught me by surprise! Reed’s Batman work was very analytical, very detective-based, and I would never have guessed he was a Sherman writer let alone a degenerate! That’s OK; some of my best friends are degenerates.

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  6. David V Reed was my favorite Batman writer the last 3 years of my adolescence. He definitely helped Julius Schwartz end his, Schwartz’, Batman run strongly. He portrayed a Batman realistic in a way other writers could not. My favorite Reed scripted Batman tale, in my top 10 favorite all time comic book stories, was the imaginary near future disposition of the Batman in Batman 300. I envy any smart inquisitive & adventurous young reader yet to enjoy the cleverly plotted & briskly dialoged tales of David V Reed.

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