Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"When Worlds Collided: Behind The Scenes of Crisis On Infinite Earths" by Michael Eury

Photo by Michael K. Pate. Click To Expand to Full View.

In the magazine Back Issue Volume 1, Number 34 (June 2009) Michael Eury conducted a "PRO2PRO" interview with Dick Giordano and Pat Bastienne regarding the pivotal 1985 DC Comics maxi-series. At the time, Bastienne was DC's editorial coordinator, while Giordano was vice president/ executive editor, plus he helped ink and shape aspects of the series.

Generally speaking, the trains ran on time during Crisis on Infinite Earths, with the quality and continuity of tie-ins left largely to the individual books' editors and creative teams. It was Bastienne who essentially fired the over-committed Giordano as primary inker on the book, flying out to Milwaukee to solicit Jerry Ordway as his replacement. Giordano pointed out that Roy Thomas was the editor who went the furthest beyond the call of duty in helping the project, especially seeing as the changes wrought by the Crisis retroactively destroyed Earth-Two and pretty much ruined both titles he was writing at the time, All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc.

In the interview, Giordano acknowledged his "hands off" editorial approach to the project, leaving most of the creative decisions to Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Giordano worked with DC president Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz to facilitate the project, negotiating with the company's editors and amongst one another for approvals on creative decisions. Giordano himself expressed no regrets about anything related to the experience, aside from the inability to truly restart the entire line from scratch, as was Wolfman's initial proposal. "I declined to even try as I firmly believed that we could not marshal the forces to do it justice." He restated once again his feeling that Supergirl to that point contributed nothing of value to the Superman mythos, and had no reservations about killing her off. Giordano was unconcerned about the lasting impact of the Crisis, feeling continuity was only important within a given story, and that nothing is ever etched in stone. Thanks to the success of the book, "DC became a major player in the direct market and placed us very near our major competitor in market share. We were finally being taken seriously!"

I grew up reading Dick Giordano's "Meanwhile..." columns in the 1980s, very much in tone and congeniality DC's answer to the good ol' "Stan's Soapbox" at Marvel. While Giordano is of course an excellent artist, and I've always found him to be amiable enough, there's also a certain cavalier air about him, and a memory near as suspect as Stan Lee's that troubles me. For instance, Giordano was responsible for terminating the entire long-tenured creative team of the Superman titles, going so far as to replace them with himself as John Byrne's inker on Action Comics, and yet he hasn't any recollection of the actual meeting whatsoever. There's another interview in the magazine with former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, the much-maligned industry pariah who nonetheless was behind some of the greatest comics the medium has produced. A lengthy moratorium in DC/Marvel crossover books resulted from a war of words between Shooter and Giordano over the proposed 1983 special
Justice League of America / The Avengers, which itself fell apart as a result. Given the attitudes expressed here, I have to wonder if Shooter wasn't in the right on that matter, if only that one time. I also found the interview frustrating because Eury asked some well considered questions, which Giordano often dismissed or failed to sufficiently elaborate upon. If you'd like to see for yourself, check out Back Issue #34

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