The celebrated Mr. K tips his pen to the late Superman editor, who was born 108 years ago…
By PAUL KUPPERBERG
For me, the process of going from being a casual reader to an involved fan was like piecing together a then 30-years-in-the-making jigsaw puzzle. Remember, this was back in a time when there was virtually no readily available reference or database for comics or their creators. Even writer and artist credits, much less for colorists or letterers, were a rarity, and, until Stan Lee splashed his name across every Marvel, well, splash page, even the concept of “editor” was foreign, much less putting names to those who did the job for individual titles.
After learning to identify by sight artists with uniquely individualistic styles like Carmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky and Gil Kane, it took learning to read the fine print — i.e., comic book indicia — for the pieces of the jigsaw to finally fall into place. Reading in the mid-1960s, really getting deeply into comic books as the Batman TV show hit the airwaves in 1966, I saw that the comics I liked best from DC were the ones written and drawn by a select group of creators and most of those creators appeared to work almost exclusively for someone named “Julius Schwartz.”
But my favorite character, regardless of the quality of the stories, was Superman, and the adventures of Superman and all his best guy and gal pals, were edited by someone named Mort Weisinger (April 25, 1915-May 7, 1978). Again, I wasn’t sure what an editor did, but judging from the differences in the looks and tones of titles produced by the different offices (Schwartz and Weisinger, as well as Murray Boltinoff, George Kashdan, Jack Schiff and Robert Kanigher), I figured the editor was the boss. It was their choice of artists (almost exclusively from their individual stables) and the types of stories those artists created that branded a book as theirs. There was no mistaking a Weisinger book for one done by Boltinoff, or crediting Kashdan with editing one of Julie’s titles.
My indicia reading habit translated to inspecting movie and television credits as well. And much to my surprise, I soon saw that comic book editor Mort Weisinger’s name appeared almost daily on my television screen as story editor in the closing credits of The Adventures of Superman TV show starring George Reeves (then in perpetual after-school syndication throughout my childhood), as did another name from the DC indicia, Whitney Ellsworth.
Last year on this date I wrote about MY 13 FAVORITE MORT WEISINGER SUPERMAN FAMILY INNOVATIONS, but this time I want to focus on some of the most memorable examples (for me, at least) of Mort’s work: his Superman family title house ads. The 1950s and 1960s were a Golden Age for DC house ads and the Weisinger office didn’t disappoint. Slap readers in the face with bold graphics (including the exquisite display lettering of Ira Schnapp), grab them with a question or irresistible tease, stop them dead to absorb all the densely packed information… those ads were like everything he did with the Superman books, designed to grab his 8- to 13-year-old readers by the eyeballs and shake them up with excitement.
Here then, in chronological order, My 13 Favorite Mort Weisinger Superman Family House Ads:
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite MORT WEISINGER SUPERMAN FAMILY Innovations. Click here.
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite SUPERMAN Influences. Click here.
PAUL KUPPERBERG was a Silver Age fan who grew up to become a Bronze Age comic book creator, writer of Superman, the Doom Patrol, and Green Lantern, creator of Arion Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate, and Takion, and slayer of Aquababy, Archie, and Vigilante. He is the Harvey and Eisner Award nominated writer of Archie Comics’ Life with Archie, and his YA novel Kevin was nominated for a GLAAD media award and won a Scribe Award from the IAMTW. Now, as a Post-Modern Age gray eminence, Paul spends a lot of time looking back in his columns for 13th Dimension and in books such as Direct Conversations: Talks with Fellow DC Comics Bronze Age Creators and Direct Comments: Comic Book Creators in Their own Words, available, along with a whole bunch of other books he’s written, by clicking the links below.