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Paul Kupperberg on January 31st, 2023

Direct Conversations: Talks with Fellow DC Comics Bronze Age Creators

Interviews conducted, transcribed, and edited by Paul Kupperberg
Introduction by Robert Greenberger
Illustrated by Adam Wallenta
Crazy 8 Press
234 Pages
ISBN-13: ‎ 979-8373651769


Signed & Personalized copies available $20/shipped US or $30/shipped Canada & Europe, payable to PayPal!

By the mid-1970s, the comic book industry was undergoing one of the most significant shifts in its 40-year history. An older readership was demanding more sophisticated art and storytelling even as the medium’s entire distribution model was pivoting from traditional newsstands and mom-and-pop retail shops to a growing network of comic book specialty shops appearing around the country.

Even the old-guard management at DC Comics recognized that the new generation of readers called for a new generation of creators, writers, and artists closer to the age and interests of these new fans than the 20-, 30-, or even 40-year veterans still responsible for most of the publisher’s output.

And the timing couldn’t have been better. The growth of the 1960s fandom movement had produced countless young wannabes anxious for the opportunity to “go pro.”

Brooklyn-born Paul Kupperberg made the jump from fan to professional writer in 1975. Now, nearly half a century later, he’s sat down to reminisce about the good- (and some not-so-good-) old days of their Bronze Age beginnings with ten friends and colleagues from the time: Howard Chaykin, Jack C. Harris, Tony Isabella, Paul Levitz, Steve Mitchell, Bob Rozakis, Joe Staton, Anthony Tollin, Bob Toomey, and Michael Uslan.

Illustration by ADAM WALLENTA

Paul Kupperberg is a prolific writer of comic books for DC Comics, Archie, Marvel, Bongo, and Charlton, as well as everything in between, from coloring and activity books and Mad Libs and more. He is also the author of numerous books and short stories of fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages, from Crazy 8 Press, Heliosphere, Titan Books, Stone Arch Books, Rosen Publishing, Citadel Press, Pocket Books, TwoMorrows, and others.

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Paul Kupperberg on December 8th, 2022

Another unrealized Archie Comics proposal (I got a million of ’em!), this one from 2014 for a Red Circle Line revival of the Golden Age MLJ hero, the Hangman.

The Hangman (Red Circle Series Proposal)


Robert Dickering was a thief and a scoundrel in Dutch New Amsterdam. Often accused but never proved guilty, he started to believe he led a charmed life, which emboldened him to commit more and more audacious crimes, eventually including murder. Like many of his time, Dickering, superstition was as much a part of his life as religion, and he believed he was protected by a charm given him by an old Indian shaman whose life he had once saved (but only because the guy threatening the old man was Dickering’s enemy and it was an excuse to kill him). But mostly he was a clever and charming scoundrel and knew he could always count on the testimony of the barmaids, lowlifes, and easily bribed officials he had wrapped around his finger to provide alibis. Of course, the problem with counting on the likes of those is that their loyalty goes only as far as their self-interest and Dickering is set up for a murder he did not commit by some of his erstwhile cronies looking to take over from him.

Dickering is tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang. The Old Indian he had saved comes to see him before the hanging, saying that Dickering saving his life showed the old man that he wasn’t all evil and offers the condemned man a chance at redemption. Not help in escaping, as Dickering first thinks, but a chance at a do-over in life. Dickering will still hang…but he will return to life exactly one year later–fully grown and with his memories intact–and be given another lifetime to live, over and over again, until he gets it right and lives in harmony with the natural laws of man. Dickering thinks the old man is nuts, saying that even if such a thing were possible, the only law he will ever live by is his own.

Two days later, Robert Dickering is hanged.

One year after that, he awakens in his shallow, unmarked grave in the pauper’s graveyard. He digs his way out and finds the old man waiting for him. The noose and length of rope with which he was hanged is still around Dickering’s neck. Let the noose bind him to his past sins and to this island (Manhattan) where those sins were committed so that he must carry it with him until he’s cleansed of evil. Only after he’s earned it will he be allowed to cut himself free of this world and find his rest.

Dickering doesn’t know what’s going on, just that he’s alive and happy for this second chance…to resume his old ways! And, as one supposedly “back from the dead,” he figures his reputation will be made and he can scare the hell out of his enemies. The “Hanged Man” quickly becomes a figure of fear in New Amsterdam as he takes revenge against the men who framed him and consolidates his power over the criminal element. But sooner or later, his life catches up with him and he’s assassinated by a rival and dumped into the harbor.

One year later, he pops to the surface, alive anew and again finds the old Indian waiting for him on the shore. And the cycle begins anew, beginning the legend of the “Hanged Man” persists through the decades and centuries to follow. Dickering’s dark soul is a stain that isn’t easily scrubbed of sin or from Manhattan’s psyche, even with the ancestors of the Old Indian following across the ages, always try to guide him to that time when Dickering can finally throw off the noose and find peace.


Robert Dickering awakens, digging himself out from a coal bin in an a tenement building, the current ancestor of the Old Indian waiting for him. During this last year long hiatus, the world has erupted in war, and the streets have been overrun by costumed adventurers and villains. It’s been early 300 years since Dickering was accursed but, while he’s mellowed somewhat with the times and isn’t as quick on the trigger as he once was, he hasn’t learned his lesson or grown tired of his seemingly endless life. But he has learned to adapt to whatever time he’s in, and he sees an angle he can play in this new heroic age, adapting the ID of the Hangman, a new costumed hero on the scene. In reality, he’s just using the Hangman persona to remove his rivals in crime from the scene, either sending them to prison or eliminating them altogether.

Dickering thinks it’s hilarious that Hangman is honored as a hero for committing the same acts plain old Robert Dickering had been pilloried for over the past centuries. If anything, it’s a step back on the road to redemption…until he falls in love, for the first time in his life. The woman is Lt. Leslie McBain, an Army Intelligence officer with whom the Hangman has worked to take down black marketers (so Dickering could step in and take over their rackets).

Dickering resists his feelings. The Hangman racket is the best thing he’s ever had and he’s not about to give it up for some dame, no matter how beautiful and smart she is. He intends to avoid another “death” as long as he can in this incarnation to milk his sure thing. But then along comes John Wilson, aka The Artist, a madman criminal with enchanted paints (his back story to come, but he was a renowned portrait artist until he came into possession of the enchanted paints which were the catalyst for his madness) that enables him to control those whose portraits he paints or to entirely “repaint reality” and draw his victims into his canvas with the addition of even a drop of their blood added to his paints. When Leslie is so painted into a Bosch-like hellish landscape of his, Dickering performs the first unselfish act of his 300-year existence and allows himself to be drawn into one of the paintings as well in the hopes of rescuing her.

And that’s the last anyone hears of the Hangman. Until…


The discovery of a stash of The Artist/John Wilson’s paintings in the attic of a condemned building in NYC brings about a renaissance of interest in the long-deceased artist’s life. The fact that he was also a criminal mastermind adds a certain cachet to his work (like with the paintings of John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, or George W. Bush), and his grandson, Norman, also an artist with a budding career in portraiture, takes advantage of the newfound popularity of the family name in artistic circles and mounts a show of paintings by his grandfather (stowed away and almost forgotten long ago by the family, ashamed of his criminal past) along with his own works.

Also stowed there is John Wilson’s paint box, untouched since his death; Norman is surprised to find the pigments are still viable after almost 70 years in storage. He decides to use them in homage to his grandfather…and finds that he has no control over the work produced using them. It’s as if the paints give the brush a mind of its own, and Norman is gradually consumed by the same madness that overtook his grandfather.

And, 70 years later, no one puts two and two together and links the crimes being committed by usually law-abiding citizens (all of whom had sat for Norman) to the Artist’s crime spree of the 1940s.

One of the visitors to the trendy Manhattan gallery where John and Norman Wilson’s paintings are on exhibit is a middle-aged Indian. He seems particularly taken with a hellish Bosch-like landscape which he buys, outbidding several other interested parties with an outlandish price. He takes the painting home and, with great ceremony in the ancient tongue of his people, sets fire to it.

The next day, the Hangman is back, prowling the streets, on the trail of the Artist…and the painting into which Leslie McBain was pulled all those decades ago, hoping that, like him, she was able to survive the surrealistic hell that had been his world all those years.

But the Artist has yet to paint the masterpiece that will give him power beyond anything his grandfather had ever dreamed…!

Paul Kupperberg on December 8th, 2022

From 2017, a never-realized proposal for an Archie Comics one-shot:


“Everybody Goes To Pop’s” (40 Pages) by Paul Kupperberg

Riverdale, today: Late one Friday night, the gang’s jammed into a couple of booths in the otherwise empty Pop’s, hanging out at the end of a long week to complain. Jughead looks over at Pop, who’s behind the counter reading the paper, saying now there’s a content man, with the perfect life. He answers to himself and owns his own restaurant, etc. Pop keeps reading but he heard what Jughead said, and his response is bittersweet, bringing back memories.

Riverdale, in early-1960s. Things haven’t changed in town much since then, mostly the cars and fashions. Pops was, as it had been for decades, the gathering place for all the kids from RHS, in this case, the teenaged grandparents of the current crop (we’ll see the Gang and their parents at various ages throughout the story). And very young Terry Tate, known to everybody in town as “Junior,” because he’s Pop’s son. Even at eight, nine years old, his whole life centered around the Chocklit Shoppe; Terry’s the baby of the family by almost two decades, a late-in-life baby, and his mother dying shortly after his birth. His older siblings grew up and got out of town and away from the Shoppe, but Terry is stuck. He’s here before dawn to open before being sent off to school, and he comes back here after school to do his homework, then help out by busing tables and washing dishes, not getting home to bed until closing. Terry’s stuck in the Shoppe, watching his friends have lives, suffering a long, unrequited crush on a girl, Heather, as childhood passes him by.

Riverdale, 1972. Nothing has changed for Terry, except that the older he got, the more responsibility he took on, especially as Pop’s age starts catching up with him. The old man won’t slow down. He’s dedicated whole life to the Shoppe, just like his father taught him and he tries to teach Terry. But Terry hates it more than ever. He doesn’t even have friends anymore, not really, just classmates and customers. And he’s still got a crush on Heather. No time to date either, not that anyone wanted to go out with him anyway…he always smelled like French fries. But graduation is approaching and, without telling Pop, he’s applied to and been accepted at several colleges, winning scholarships. To soften the blow when he tells Pops, Terry even arranges for all the help the old man will need to run the store, but that makes it even worse for Pops. The Shoppe is for the family, not these strangers. Pop and Terry have a big argument anyway: Pop won’t let him go! Terry says you can’t stop me and goes…but he’s turned back by the college; Pop had called ahead and informed them that Terry had forged his name on the scholarship papers. Terry returns home, defeated. Pops insists it’s for Terry’s own good. He can take some classes at the community college if he wants to.

Fort Dix, New Jersey, 1973. Terry’s escaped…but only because he’s been drafted. But he doesn’t care! He’s free, he’s out of Riverdale, out of the Chocklit Shoppe, out on his own! He can even laugh at the irony of being assigned to the base kitchen because of his restaurant background. He’s making friends, he’s meeting girls, and even with the threat of Vietnam, which was winding down then, he’s happy. Until he’s called to the base commander’s office, where the Colonel and the Chaplain have some bad news for him. It’s his father…!

Riverdale, 1976. Terry celebrates the Bicentennial as usual: at the grill, cooking burgers and dogs for the town picnic. Pop had suffered a stroke while Terry was in the army and Terry eventually had to request a compassionate discharge to return home to take care of Pop and the Shoppe; his older siblings are all far away, with families of their own. The thought of getting back to work was the only thing that kept the old man going, and he made it, but Terry was stuck again. But his old crush Heather comes over and starts talking to him, after all these years asking why he never talked to her despite his obvious crush. He says because of this, the Shoppe. Is that all? she asks and grabs up an apron to join him at the grill. I love to cook; she says picking up a spatula. Pop looks on, at first, it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking, but then he breaks out in a big smile.

Riverdale, 1985. Pop is still going strong, opening the Shoppe with Terry every morning, and later in the morning, after dropping the kids off at school, Heather comes in and works until it’s time to pick them up again. It’s become a family business, the little ones running around after school, his peers coming in with their kids, every day so full, so busy, he doesn’t have time to think about anything but what’s next on his to-do list. An army buddy passes through town; the guy’s made it big in business, travels the world, but lives a great life and loves it. His stories make Terry wistful, starting him to thinking about his life again. He loves his wife and kids, but this place…he was a young man–he can’t imagine having to being trapped and having to look at these same four walls for the next thirty or forty years! He digs up a few-years-old community college catalog in the back; he’d taken a few courses when he first came home, but that sort of petered out. Maybe it’s time to get back to that!

Riverdale, 1995. Pop is getting older and slowing up. The kids are growing up and away from him, leaving Terry to become a bitter middle-aged man, his marriage neither happy or unhappy. Just…there. The townies get a chuckle out of “Junior’s” sourpuss routine and sharp tongue. Terry starts drinking.

Riverdale, 2005. Terry is pretty much left to run the Shoppe on his own. Pop is mid-80s and spends his days on a stool behind the counter, schmoozing with customers. The kids have grown up, neither wanting anything to do with the Shoppe. Terry won’t do to his kids what Pop did to him and lets them go. He’s a 50-year-old man everybody still calls Junior. He and Heather live practically separate lives. He’s an alcoholic. And, because he’s drunk, he doesn’t go with Heather and Pop to pick up the kids at the airport when they come home to visit for his 50th birthday. And that’s why he doesn’t die with them all in a highway crash.

Riverdale, 2005; one month later. Terry and his siblings gather for the reading of Pop’s will. Before they go into the lawyers, his older brother tells him Hiram Lodge have made a very generous offer for the Main Street property is on, plans to build a mall, modernize Riverdale. Terry is still in numbed shock, keeping himself in that state with alcohol. He shrugs. Nothing matters. The will leaves the Shoppe to Terry because as Pop wrote, he deserves it, having dedicated his life to the store; Pop knew Terry hated it, but he stayed anyway because he valued family and tradition and knew he would something to pass on his own children…! The will leaves the property the Shoppe’s on to the three siblings, with the stipulation that it can’t be sold as long as Terry keeps its doors open. Through his tears, Terry starts to laugh.

Later, Terry goes back to the Shoppe, the first time he’s been back since the accident. He goes inside, pulls out one of his hidden bottles, and sits down on his father’s stool behind the counter. He’s finally rid of this place. All it cost him was his entire life. He pours a drink, but before he can get it down, the door inches open and Little Jughead and Archie peek in, making awkward hellos. Terry ditches the drink and dries his eyes, fumbling his own hello. They come shyly in, offering their little kid’s condolences, how much they’re going to miss Pop, etc. Jughead hops up on a stool, saying after Pops and Mrs. Tate, he was gonna miss Pop’s burgers the most! Er…did Pops by any chance ever teach him how to make those burgers? As they talk, more kids drift in, then a few adults. Terry is taken aback; he tries to tell them he’s not open, that there’s nothing to eat or drink in the place, but more and more people are coming in, delighted to see him back, everyone hoping he’d open again, and it quickly turns into a communal memorial service for Pop and Heather and the kids…and a tribute to Terry, “Junior,” the new heart of Riverdale. In all the time he’d been here, he never realized that all these wonderful people had cared for him all along. He’d been so blinded by his own misery, he never stopped to look at what he had to be happy for. But now that he’s lost so much, can he ever hope to find his way to happiness? But before Terry can say anything, Jughead and Archie come over to hug him, Jughead the first one to call Terry “Pops” …as the whole town roars its approval and he breaks down, for the first time in his life wondering how he could have ever wanted to run away from this?!

Riverdale, today: Pop brings Jughead his new order of burgers, Jughead expressing his appreciation of Pop’s culinary technique, saying his burgers are even better than Pop’s fathers were. Pop smiles. Nobody makes a burger like my old man, Pop says, not even me. Jughead and the others say they’re still glad he’s the one making burgers for them. Riverdale wouldn’t be Riverdale without him. Pop smiles and says, Believe me, kids, it’s the other way around; I wouldn’t be me without Riverdale…and all of you. He winks and says tonight’s chow is on the house and walks away, Jughead shouting after him to ask if there’s time to get in one more order on that…!

All my life, I was told I was lazy.

Too lazy to be bothered studying for school.

Too lazy to help with chores.

Too lazy to join in with activities and events.

Too lazy.

The incident my family could point to to prove my laziness occurred in the summer of 1966, when I was 11. We lived in Brooklyn, New York, in a two-bedroom apartment in which I shared a room with my two brothers. My mother’s sister Maura lived in Cleveland, Ohio, in a nice two-story private home in Shaker Heights with her husband and their three sons, each of whom had a bedroom of their own. Once every year or so, we would pile into the car and make the 8- or 9-hour drive from NY to OH for a family visit (mom was born in Cleveland and had a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins who still lived there).

On this particular visit, Uncle Ernie was in the process of having a family room put on the house (or maybe just a down-to-the-studs remodel) and announced that his visiting nephews were being recruited to help install fiberglass insulation before the arrival the next day of the sheet-rockers. I followed my uncle, brothers, and cousins into the room. Ernie quickly ran through the process—shove the bare face of fiberglass batt into the stud bay, trim, repeat—and set us to work. That old school pink Owens-Corning insulation was miserable stuff. There was no way to avoid fingers being lacerated by the glass fibers and, within minutes, we were all scratching at our hands and arms and sweating like pigs in the July heat in the non-air-conditioned space.

I asked my uncle for gloves but was told there weren’t enough for everyone, so none of us could have a pair.

A moment later, when Ernie’s back was turned, I walked out of the room, grabbed my notebook and pencils, and sat down in an easy chair in a corner not 6-feet from where the work went on, and lost myself for the next several hours, drawing a comic book story. Ernie and others passed by where I was sitting all day, but no one gave me a second look.

Finally, the job done, everyone went to clean up and, all of a sudden, Ernie was towering over my chair, his hands literally on his hips and angrily glaring at me.

“Where the hell you been? We’ve been looking all over for you.”

“I’ve been right here the whole time.”

Ernie went off on me. Years (decades) later he would be diagnosed as bi-polar and start taking meds, but at that moment, he was just a red-faced, spittle-spewing adult screaming at me for some crime that I had committed in his head.

“I can’t understand why you’d treat me like this! You’re a guest in my house!” he thundered.

Uncle Ernie was a bully. To his wife. To his children. Probably to a lot of others. And I hate bullies. My older brother bullied and tormented me from birth until the day, as a 40-something, I stood up to him and promised, with every intention of following through on it, that I would beat him to a bloody pulp if he ever raised his hand or voice to me again. He believed me. When I was 8-years old, I used the jump rope the bully on our block was forcing me to twirl for him late into a winter afternoon to trip him up, giving him a concussion. He avoided me after that.

“Hey! Leave him alone,” my father said. “The job got done, with or without him. It’s over!”

“No thanks to his laziness,” Ernie sneered.

But it was official. I was lazy.

Not, I wasn’t interested in or just didn’t want to be pressed into being used as free labor to build his house. I couldn’t possibly have an opinion, ergo it had to be laziness. And as a neurotic, overweight insecure kid, I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Look at my grades, all Cs and Ds (except for the straight-As I received in almost every English, creative writing, or lit class I took). And how about the two and a half years of monthly fanzines Paul Levitz and I put out simultaneous with our high school years? Or the dozens of APA zines and stories and comic books I wrote and drew on my own?

By 19, I was a professional writer. By 25, I was writing Superman for DC Comics and had published 2 novels. Throughout the late-70s and the 80s, I was one of DC’s most prolific writers.

But the fucked-up thing is, I continued to believe I was lazy. I would chide myself for every minute I wasn’t at the keyboard. I had an inordinate fear of missing deadlines, afraid it would reveal my laziness to my editor and get me fired. During my own editorial career at DC, my fear of being found out grew even worse, especially since most of my time operating in the DCU was under a group editor whose default management style was to shout and bully, making no distinction between dangerously late books and usually on-schedule books only a few days late. At one meeting, I responded to his dressing down over an issue of John Byrne’s Wonder Woman that would end up being 3 days late (as John warned me it would be, a fact already I’d already reported to him), “Even if the book was delivered right now, it would get stuck in the production department queue behind all the really late books like (I named some titles, including two of his, both over 3 weeks late), so I think we can give John, who by the way never misses deadlines, the benefit of the doubt.”

He didn’t agree. “That’s not the point! The deadline is the deadline. Stop being so god damn lazy and fix it!”

He couldn’t possibly be overreacting (or as was actually the case, be totally unqualified for his job). No. I was lazy.

The other day, 56 years after my “diagnosis” as being lazy, I was looking for an old story on my “brag shelf”—the space in a writer’s bookcase where they shelf their own work—and realized mine took up 9 and one-half 26”-inch long shelves, or about 20 feet of comics, books, graphic novels, magazines, fanzines, tabloid newspapers, custom comics, and other formats. And that doesn’t include the 4 short boxes crammed in the storage closet with my editorial output.

I’m turning 67 years old next month. I consider myself semi-retired, happily receiving SSI and my Warners pension. Yet, I just finished my second screenplay (for hire), and the active projects on my desk today include: a novel, a book of interviews with my Bronze Age peers, at least 4 short stories for various anthologies, as well as the several columns a month I write for a comics website. Later this coming week I have a Zoom meeting scheduled about possibly writing a new 4-issue webcomic series. On the editorial side, I’m project managing and editing/rewriting a 96-page graphic novel.

Lazy? No. Just stubborn. I never wanted to do what I didn’t want to do. But the stuff I do want to do? Try and get in my way!

And fuck you, Uncle Ernie.

Paul Kupperberg on February 8th, 2022
Cover by Rick Stasi
Crazy 8 Press
Paperback & eBook
Nonfiction / Supernatural Humor
206 pages
$16.00 / $6.99 eBook

Signed and personalized copies $20.00 (US shipped)
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CLICK HERE to buy the paperback on
or the eBook edition.

Meet Leo Persky

“The first thing you’ve got to know is that while I write like a Terrance Strange, I look like a Leo Persky. Which makes sense since I am Leo Persky. Strange is my penname, as well as a bit of a family legacy. I’m an investigative reporter for World Weekly News, which also makes “strange” my profession. Just like my granddaddy before me (my daddy, between us, was an appliance salesman for Sears). Granddaddy was the first Persky to go, for professional reasons, by Terrance Strange.

“I’m everything you think a Leo Persky would be. A solid 5’ 7”, 142 pounds of average, complete with glasses, too much nose, not enough chin, and a spreading bald spot that I swear isn’t the reason I always wear a hat. Just so you know how cruel genetics can be, Grandpa Jacob, the Terrance Strange I might have been, was ten inches taller and eighty pounds heavier than me, movie star handsome, and a world renown traveler and adventurer. I’m also a traveler and adventurer, but since I’m short, scrawny, and funny looking, nobody knows who the hell I am.

“Even the photo that I use at the top of my column is a 1943 Hollywood publicity shot of my grandfather. It was my editor’s idea to replace my face with someone else’s as he felt my real one ‘would probably repulse even our readers.’”

Leo Persky has survived werewolf squirrels, intoxicated djinnis, seven years of bad luck for breaking a magical Atlantean mirror, giant Peruvian Devil-snakes, and an alien reality TV star and his human baby momma…not to mention his mother’s nagging after the retired septuagenarian monster hunter has to take care of the vampire stalking her at her local Brooklyn supermarket while waiting for her celebrated son to return her calls.

Plus, in the all-new novella “The Devil and Leo Persky,” the intrepid investigator into the unknown learns that a decades’ old deal between Beelzebub and his grandfather has begun to unravel and the tangled threads are threatening to trip him up and land Leo in Hell!

(Paul Kupperberg is the author of more than three dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Same Old Story, JSA: Ragnarok, Direct Comments: Comics Creators in Their Own Words, and Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics, as well as of more than 1,000 short stories and comic book stories. He has also been an editor at DC Comics, WWE Kids’ Magazine, and, of course, Weekly World News.)

Read an excerpt from THE DEVIL AND LEO PERSKY

I guess once a monster hunter, always a monster hunter, because my mother instantly sized up the situation and assumed a defensive posture.

“He’s possessed, Leo!” she shouted.

“No kidding? Why do you think I wanted us to run, crazy lady?” I snapped.

“Twice have ye been summoned, twice has my lord been ignored!” Wallace growled in a voice that belonged to something that had never been human.

I plucked at my mother’s sleeve.

“Let’s go, Mom,” I croaked.

“Shh, Leo,” she hissed.

“You don’t get it. If you don’t run, I can’t either.”

“He’ll only follow us. You can’t run away from a dybbuk. You’ve got to face it head on.”

I started to offer a counterargument, but Mom was already off, launching herself feet first with a savage yell at the charging Wallace like a little old Jewish Bruce Lee in a pant suit.

I think I stood there blinking like an idiot at the sight of Barbara Persky delivering a pretty damn good flying kick to Wallace’s midsection. Possessed by a demon or not, a man has got to breathe, which isn’t helped by taking a good shot to the solar plexus.

Wallace grunted, then grunted again as my mother landed nimbly and executed a neat pirouette, leaning away from him and driving the heel of her left foot into his chin.

“Mom, Jesus!” I shouted. I ran toward her, but she held up a hand to stop me dead in my tracks.

Wallace swayed back and forth a couple of times, then his eyes rolled back in his head and the big man crumbled to the floor, out for the count.

I looked back and forth a few times between my mother, straightening her blouse after the brief tussle, and Wallace, the big demon possessed ex-cop, unconscious on the floor of the Brooklyn Museum’s Middle Eastern wing. I had to keep reminding myself that this was no helpless old lady – hell, I think we’d just proved who the helpless old lady here was – but a trained ex-professional who kept herself in fighting shape.

Mom saw me looking at her in disbelief and laughed. “It’s not quite as impressive as it seems, sweetheart. Wallace once told me he tried boxing when he was a young man but had to give it up because he had a glass jaw.” She looked down at him and frowned. “I hope I didn’t hurt him too much. It’s not his fault he got possessed.”

“Hear me,” Wallace said in the demon’s voice, and I jumped. He was still prone on the floor, out like a light and unmoving except for his lips.

“Twice have ye been called. I am the third and last summons. Respond or face the consequences of Nilshalzratoth’s displeasure.”

Then Wallace shuddered from head to foot, said, “Pluff!” and settled into peaceful unconsciousness.

“Poor Wallace,” Mom said, then in a worried-mom tone, “How badly do they want you, Leo?”

“Pretty bad, I guess. What the hell was Gramps up to that they’re so desperate to have him or a blood heir under their thumb?”

“I hope that’s a rhetorical question because I have no idea.” Mom knelt next to Wallace, checked his pulse, then lifted his eyelids to check his eyes. Satisfied with what she saw, she lightly tapped at his cheek with her fingertips and softly called his name.

“What the hell is so all-of-a-sudden urgent about getting me down there?” I said.

Wallace groaned softly in his own voice.

“Wallace?” Mom said.

His eyes fluttered open, and the ex-cop looked around in confusion.

“What? Oh. Ms. Persky. Where…? How did I get here? I’m supposed to be at the door.”

Mom shot me a glance, then smiled at Wallace as she helped him get unsteadily to his feet. He was confused and got only more so when he touched his jaw where Mom had tagged him and winced.

“You came looking for me, but you slipped and fell before you could say why. You probably hit your chin when you went down.”

“I did?” He looked at the floor around him, as if searching for the leg that had tripped him up.

“You okay, pal?” I asked. “You should probably get some ice on that jaw before it starts to swell up.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he agreed, and waving off my offer to walk him to the nurse’s office, he left us in the empty Egyptian exhibition hall.

“I feel terrible,” Mom tsked at herself. “He’s such a nice man.”

“Don’t think of it as kicking Wallace,” I said. “Think of it as kicking the demon possessing him.”

“A dybbuk, darling, a malicious possessing spirit.”

“I know what a dybbuk is, Mom,” I said, sounding like a whining fourteen-year-old.

“Then use the terms correctly. You’re a professional,” she said, sounding like a mother speaking patiently to her whining fourteen-year-old. “Anyway, not all demons possess, and, not for nothing, but we are dealing with Jewish spirits here.”

“We are?”

“Follow me,” Mom said.

I followed her. She talked.

“Jacob made his first trip to the Middle East in 1915, a few months after the start of the first World War, on assignment from newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to lead an expedition to find the lost Mesopotamian temple of the war goddess Ashurina, in what’s now northern Syria.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Because it doesn’t exist. Jacob made the whole thing up, to get Hearst to bankroll his real mission. He figured Hearst was going to end up with a doozy of a story anyway when he found what he was really looking for, so he convinced himself it wasn’t like he was actually cheating the man.”

I chuckled. “A real rascal, that Jacob,” I said.

“And he found what he was looking for and excavated the site, but just as they were preparing to decamp, they got caught between warring Allied and Ottoman Empire forces, and the ancient compound they’d dug up, and most of the artifacts it held, were destroyed in the fighting.”

“Most of the artifacts?”

Mom stopped in front of one of the well-lit, enclosed glass display stands that held a sampling of what looked like ancient earthen pottery and cookware, each piece paired with an explanatory label. I must have skipped past this case a couple of hundred times growing up, but I had never stopped and actually looked at what it held, much less read the labels.

“This is what survived, what Jacob was able to get out of the country.”

“No kidding? Hearst must have been pissed when all he got in return for his investment was a bunch of ancient salad bowls.”


I read. They were, as I already knew, not ancient salad bowls but ancient Jewish prayer bowls, a protective magic found mostly in Mesopotamia and Syria from the sixth to eighth centuries. Also known as incantation, demon, or devil-trap bowls, they were inscribed with rabbinical quotes and scripture from the Babylonian Talmud, usually in a spiral from the rim of the bowl into the center and were buried upside down to trap whatever the user wished to be protected from, whether it was a particular curse or evil in general. Some were known to have been created to trap specific evil spirits.

“Your grandfather had crated the bowls for shipping back to America still embedded upside down in the soil they were buried in, to avoid unleashing whatever might have been trapped beneath them. But the commander of the German unit that captured the dig smashed the crates, looking for… well, who knows what he was looking for, but he got a lot more than he bargained for.”

“I’ll bet. What did he let loose?”

“Jacob once described it as a roadshow version of Hell, and while those unleashed spirits and demons took care of the Germans, he and most of his expedition escaped.”

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Paul Kupperberg on October 15th, 2021

Be warned:
This is a HORROR story. It contains animal cruelty, blood, and violence (but no smoking!), but no real animals, children, or abusive rednecks were harmed in the making of this story.

From The Charlton Arrow #5, it’s “Skin in the Game,” written by me, drawn by Sandy Carruthers, and lettered and colored by Mort Todd.


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Paul Kupperberg on September 12th, 2021
COMICS FEATURE #10 (July 1981)

E. Nelson Bridwell (September 22, 1931 – January 23, 1987) is a name that should be familiar to every fan of DC Comics’ Silver Age. Starting at DC in 1965 as assistant to Superman editor Mort Weisinger, Nelson would spend the next thirty years helping shape the adventures of the Superman family of characters as both an editor and a writer. Nelson had an encyclopedic mind and was an expert on not only DC’s history and continuity, but the Bible and the works of Shakespeares as well, but we knew him mainly as the company’s Chief Continuity Cop.

Nelson was one of the first professionals I ever met, in 1971 when Paul Levitz and I went up to DC to gather news for our fanzine Etcetera (later The Comic Reader). Later, he would serve as my collaborator or editor on two of my early high profile assignments, 1979’s World of Krypton (comics’ first deliberate miniseries) and 1981’s Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes. As a writer on his own, Nelson wrote for Mad Magazine (1956 – 1975), created the original Secret Six (1968), and the humor series Inferior 5 (1966) and the Maniaks (1967), as well as writing the Batman syndicated newspaper strip and Shazam! The Original Captain Marvel (1974 – 1978, 1982 – 1983), the Legion of Super-Heroes, Supergirl, and countless other stories.

For all his contributions, Nelson Bridwell kept himself mostly to the background. He was naturally shy and soft-spoken, a man who I sometimes felt wasn’t ever quite comfortable in his own skin (but who was also a practicing nudist), overwhelmed by his brasher and more bombastic bosses, first Weisinger, then Julius Schwartz, neither of whom, I’m sorry to say, treated him with the respect he deserved not only as a person and employee, but for his contributions to the DC mythos.

I don’t know how many hours I spent in Nelson’s office, either on business or just talking comics. He seldom discussed his personal life beyond the occasional mention of his family back in Oklahoma. I don’t remember many fanzine interviews with him over the years, but recently came across this one in the pages of New Media Publishing’s Comics Feature #10 (July 1981), the same issue in which my and Carl Gafford’s 1973 interview with artist Murphy Anderson first saw print (and which is reprinted in my book Direct Comments: Comics Creators in Their Own Words). The ENB interview was conducted by and is © Margaret O’Connell, transcribed by Paul Dini (pre-Harley Quinn, of course).

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Paul Kupperberg on June 11th, 2021


Direct Comments: Comic Book Creators in Their Own Words
The DC Direct Currents Interview Transcripts (1989 – 1991)
Conducted, Transcribed, and Annotated by Paul Kupperberg

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Buffalo Avenue Books
Paperback & eBook
Nonfiction / Comic Book History
192 pages
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Comic Book Creators in their Own Words!

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$30.00 (Canada shipped)

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From 1988 to 1995, Paul Kupperberg wrote DC Direct Currents, the company’s monthly promotional newsletter. Like several predecessor publications (DC Coming Attractions, DC Coming Comics, DC Releases), Direct Currents was distributed free through comic shops to promote upcoming events, specials, and title launches.

Writing Direct Currents could be a chore; endless capsule descriptions of tortured plot twists…and often, the editors had no plot specifics to share, leaving the writer the even more tortuous task of trying to make nothing sound interesting. But conducting the interviews for the Direct Currents “People at Work” feature, profiles showcasing the writers and artists behind the comics, was always more like playtime. It was an excuse to call and chat with a wide array of creators, running the gamut from Golden Age pioneers to contemporaries, including admired creators on whose work he had grown up. One month, he even interviewed himself.

But only excerpts of those interviews were used in the published profiles, and the unedited transcripts of only twenty-two of the more then ninety interviews survived. Now, newly edited and annotated by the editor, you can read the Direct Comments (along with some rarely seen interviews from the 1970s) from some of the greatest creators of the first half-century of the comic book business, including:

Murphy Anderson
Jim Aparo
Kyle Baker
Brian Bolland
John Byrne
John Costanza
Chuck Dixon
Keith Giffen
Dick Giordano
Mike Grell
Ed Hannigan
Adam Hughes
Carmine Infantino
Klaus Janson
Paul Kupperberg
Lee Marrs
Pepe Moreno
Denny O’Neil
Jerry Ordway
Jerry Robinson
Kurt Schaffenberger
Julie Schwartz
Walter Simonson
Jim Warren

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