December 22, 2011
Celebrating Great Creators by Mark Heike
Time passes and the old order changeth. Such is the nature of life. Things and people we had come to know grow, change and pass on. We’ve had a number of spirits in the creative world move on in recent weeks. In our world, the field of comic books; we are lucky that a piece of every creator’s heart and soul stays with us forever- their body of work. So, at times like this, we at AC Comics are reminded that their is something important about what we do in terms of preserving the work of those creators now gone. In that way, we celebrate those PEOPLE that produced the stories and artwork forever. And we remember how those PEOPLE touched us personally. The first contact I ever had with the great Jerry Robinson was as an angry voice on the end of the phone, sometime in the late 1990’s. “Who gave you people permission to use MY artwork?”, he begain with, having seen one of our Golden Age anthologies including a Black Terror tale he and Mort Meskin drew from the late 1940’s. Having been a strong and active champion of creator’s rights (in fact personally a big part of the pressure that led to DC Comics settling with Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), we weren’t too surprised by Jerry’s initial bluster. Once we had a chance to explain that our main goal was to preserve & promote the great comics and creators of the past, he turned around completely. He soon partcipated in an extensive interview for our Golden Age Greats Volume 13, and became a big supporter of our efforts. We eventually provided him with quantities of copies of the AC books that his vintage work appeared in for various international trade shows, and consulted with him when he was involved in an independent comic book project around 2000. We hadn’t talked to Jerry in awhile, but we certainly considered him a friend.
I never had a chance to speak with the legendary Joe Simon myself, as Bill Black, our publisher & head honcho handled all direct communications with Joe and his son Jim. Bill had the joy of doing an interview with Joe that we ran in Men of Mystery #15, and also kibbitzed with the Simons when THEY were considering licensing out a new character for the indy comic book market. When Bill asked Joe what WE might offer to him in return for his participation in the interview and permission to use some of his artwork, Joe mentioned a certain brand of very exotic, very rare South American cigars he was partial to. He had done his research on them, and learned that a tobacco store not 2 miles from the AC offices HAD them!! As you’d guess, Bill went right over there and bought Joe a box to ship to him. There are few bigger figures in the history of comic books than Joe Simon.
All of us at the AC offices we BIG fans of the comic book art of Eduardo Barretto, prolific on features like The New Teen Titans, The Shadow Strikes, Marvel Knights, and MY favorite, the Red Circle run of Steel Sterling. It was quite a thrill just to GET an email from him, which we did for the first time about this time last year. Eduardo was (at that time) coming out of some lengthy health problems, and casting about for some additional art assignments to get back into the swing of things. While we were flattered that he’d consider us, we assumed that their would be no way we could actually get him to do any work on the AC budget. Imagine our surprise when he said that he’d forgoe his usual rates for a chance to work with “The lovely ladies of your FEMFORCE”; in Eduardo’s own words. The two cover designs that he did (one of which will be inked by yours trully) will be coming up on issues of FF to be released in 2012. As creators, we are all only mortal. But the things we create can live on forever, as long as there are others to read, enjoy- and remember.