Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dick Giordano: July 20, 1932 – March 27, 2010

Far more will be written about the career and talent of legendary comics editor and artist Dick Giordano - who passed away yesterday morning at the age of 77 - than I could ever hope to squeeze into a mere note here. That's appropriate for a person who's career was so vast and exemplary. After reading some remembrances of the man, I thought of my own exchange with him more than twenty years ago, and thought I would share it with you.

It should quickly be noted that I've always wanted to be a comic-book creator. ALWAYS. From the time I could start reading, I absorbed as much knowledge about the medium as I could. Most helpful toward this end were the "Meanwhile..." columns written by Giordano during his tenure as Executive Editorial Director at DC COMICS. He wrote of his background in editing, his opinions of the works being published by his company and others at the time, and gave instructions to those desiring to break into the business.

The header to Giordano's "MEANWHILE..." column.

The latter was important to me, and Giordano received more than his fair share of my submissions (which must have been very crude, considering my age when I began submitting), and responded to several with quick personal notes. Apparently, I'm not the only artist he did this with; Jim Lee says he too received a note of encouragement from Giordano, which did just that, eventually leading to a noteworthy career of his own.
His career as an inker (working most notably with Neal Adams, George Perez and John Byrne) was also written about in depth. His favorite character was Batman, and he mused how that came to be. He discussed his work habits, and I'll always remember his description of angering his father by being able to roll out of bed and fully awaken when his feet touched the floor. For years afterwards, he professed to inking "a page or two" of artwork every morning before going to work at DC and guiding the entire fleet of comics to new horizons.

That last part isn't an exaggeration. Giordano stewarded DC in 1986, possibly the best year in comics history. His own company was responsible for publishing no less than WATCHMEN, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and a book close to my heart, John Byrne's THE MAN OF STEEL.

In 1986, I was a fairly introverted 15 year old learning that John Byrne was about to completely re-vamp my favorite superhero. In my mind, I was about to lose everything I held dear about Superman, everything I knew about him my entire life. And that didn't sit well with me...so I fired off angry letters to Mr. Giordano.

And he wrote back.


The second letter was the best. It began with him stating how with all of his other responsibilities, he really didn't have time to start trading letters about this matter...however, he was going to anyway, because I was so impassioned about this perceived slight. And he explained the economic realities of publishing the SUPERMAN books at that time.

They just weren't selling well, far less than a world-renowned character of that sort should have been. And he said it came down to publishing a "new Superman, or no Superman at all." Giordano's honesty and bluntness served as a wake-up call for me, and I looked at the industry from that point on with less innocent but more realistic eyes.

Dick Giordano is someone I've never heard anyone in the comics field - creators, editors, fans, friends - say a bad thing about. And that's a rare accomplishment. He was talented, opinionated, and respected others with strong opinions. And he had an unabashed love for comics, which was contagious. I'm sad that he's gone, but in those halcyon days of letters and stamps, I feel like he gave me a small stamp of approval.

Thank you Dick, and Good Afternoon.

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