The celebrated Mr. K’s latest in a recurring series of great stories about folks connected to the comics world…
Welcome to columnist Paul Kupperberg’s recurring feature A COMIC MOMENT WITH… Having worked 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. This time out, it’s the late, great LEN WEIN, whom I personally equate with summer comics reading. — Dan
By PAUL KUPPERBERG
Len Wein (June 12, 1948 – September 10, 2017) was at the leading edge of comic book fans turning comic book professionals at the end of the Sixties and the early Seventies. From writing Teen Titans at DC with his friend Marv Wolfman and co-creating Swamp Thing with Bernie Wrightson, Len went to writing, well, everything at Marvel (including co-creating the New X-Men with Dave Cockrum), before swinging back to DC where he wrote also, at one time or another, just about everything there, as well as editing the Batman line and other comics.
I made my first visit to DC Comics sometime in 1968, the days when the company offered fans a weekly, Thursday afternoon tour of the offices. It was open to anyone who showed up in the reception area by the appointed time.
When I arrived with my older brother, a veteran of these tours, there were already several fans there ahead of us. My brother greeted some of them by name, including two older, college-age guys who had made themselves comfortable, sprawled on a waiting room sofa. Finally, the inner door opened, and a man who introduced himself as Sol Harrison, DC’s production manager, led us inside.
I wish my memory of the offices themselves were better—it was all a bit overwhelming and breathtaking at the time—but I do recall Sol walking us through editorial, where we saw men like Julius Schwartz, Joe Orlando and Murray Boltinoff at work, and a small area he called the bullpen, where that afternoon Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson were bent over drawing boards, making some corrections to stories they had brought in.
Almost a decade later, at one of the regular Friday night poker games at Paul Levitz’s New York apartment in 1976 or 1977 (by which time I’d also turned professional, writing for Charlton and DC Comics), a little lightbulb suddenly went on in my brain. I forgot the topic of conversation that switched it on, but there it was, the memory of my first tour of DC Comics and those two college-age fans.
“Hey,” I said to Len, “I just realized. The first time I ever met you was in 1968, on the DC tour.”
Len thought about it and with a smile, said, “Oh yeah? What was that like? I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting me.”
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: A Comic Moment With… DICK GIORDANO. Click here.
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: A Comic Moment With… JOE ORLANDO. 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.