Interview With Dick Giordano
Because of length, the following material didn't
appear in the Dick Giordano interview which appeared
in Last Kiss #2. Luckily, the web gives us a chance
to show you what you missed. Conducted by John Lustig
and transcribed by Christopher Irving, the interview
begins with a discussion of the story that Lustig and
Giordano created for Last Kiss #2.
"Widow Ms. Muffet"
I'm feeling a little guilty. I had intended to give
you a story with more romance. In "Widow Ms. Muffet"
(in Last Kiss #2) we've got a beautiful woman and she's
in two wedding scenes, but there's hardly any romance.
Did I throw you a curve with this story? Were you surprised
by what we ended up with or were you prepared for it
to be weird?
GIORDANO: Don't feel guilty. It wasn't
exactly what I [originally] thought it would be, but
I knew it [was going to be different] when you sent
me your plot ideas. What I thought it was going to be
was what you were already doing in Last Kiss: taking
a romance story and writing new dialogue to it. Instead,
this was people doing funny things, rather than people
doing standard romance things, but saying funny things.
LUSTIG: I had wanted it to be like that,
GIORDANO: That was fine! As soon as
I understood that was what you were trying to do, I
changed gears a little bit. My approach to drawing comics
is to tell the story at hand, not the story you'd like
to tell, or the story you wish this was, but the story
you have in front of you. It's not just for you, John.
I do this with every job that I get. That's what I consider
to be professional. If you want to talk about that,
talk to Denny O'Neil, Brian Augustyn, or any of the
others that I've worked with, who always thanked me
for following their story lines and telling their stories.
There are too many people in this business who decide
"This is not a good story. I'll draw my own."
(Laughs) I've never done that.
I don't think ["Muffet"] was weird at all.
Nor did you throw me a curveball. You went in a different
direction and I went with the flow... You might notice
that I did sneak in a few things that were more appropriate
to romance stories than humor stories.
LUSTIG: I've written a lot of Disney
scripts. And strange as it may sound--when I was writing
"Muffet" I started falling into a Disney mode.
I was writing funny visuals into the script. I suppose
it was because I was writing the story from scratch
instead of my usual Last Kiss approach of redialoguing
GIORDANO: There are only two ways to
go: you could either just write a regular romance story
with regular romance dialogue and I'd draw it. When
you'd get it back, you could redo the dialogue. That's
what you've been doing. The other way is to do more
like the early issues of MAD, where it's a take-off.
Just covering the elements in a romantic story, but
skewed a little bit. That's what you did in "Muffet"
and I don't have a problem with that.
Why Do Romance?
LUSTIG: When I talk to more mature artists--people
who didn't start out drawing superheroes--there's a
kind of regret that there's nothing but superheroes
to do these days.
GIORDANO: Most people from my generation had
to draw romance comic books in order to survive: John
Romita, Sr., Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, and so many other
people [like] Gene Colan... they all spent so much time
on romance work... Artists and writers who entered the
field after 1970 had very few genres other than superheroes
LUSTIG: People have discussed this before,
but do you think part of the comic book industry's current
problems is that we just have superheroes? It's such
a narrow subject. I just don't see the general public
being interested in comic books as long as it's just
GIORDANO: Yeah. Another thing, to give you
a further clue as to my doing this material for either
free or close to it: I was dying to do a Western, and
Roy Thomas hooked up with Cross Plains, a company that...had
the rights to use the Robert E. Howard stuff. [Editor's
Note: Howard is best known as the creator of Conan the
Barbarian, but also wrote fiction in other genres.]
They had a couple things that resembled Westerns.
I drew one of them: a 12 pager that will probably never
be published. It's penciled and inked, Roy wrote the
dialogue, and then the publisher disappeared. I did
that without any promise of money. It was going to be
paid for upon publication, and it was never published.
I did that for the same reason [as "Muffet.] It
gave me an opportunity to exercise another portion of
I'm Not a Writer!
LUSTIG: Have you ever written any of
the stories you've drawn?
GIORDANO: I think I've written two...and a
third one that was adopted for "The Life and Loves
of Sinclaire," which was a regular feature that
I had in Young Love. It had been written originally,
by me, as a newspaper strip. I turned it over to Jack
Miller at DC to write. He wrote the series for me, based
on the first couple of weeks of my comic strip. Then
(after those two weeks of material) he deviated a little
Another story I wrote was a stand-alone Sarge Steel
story in the last issue of Judomaster. I found out after
I'd finished (drawing) part one of a two-part Steel
story that the issue part one came out in was going
to be the last issue. I didn't think it was a good idea
to put out a two-part story that nobody could read a
conclusion to, so I wrote and drew a new story over
the weekend to get it in on time. If you can find the
last issue of Judomaster that had a Sarge Steel back-up
in it. That one was done by me.
LUSTIG: Did you enjoy writing it at all?
GIORDANO: I've never particularly been interested
in writing my own material. What little writing I've
done has been confined to two or three stories (including
a hot rod story), and a lot of columns for DC, which
were basically just letters. I used to think--when I
wrote my letter columns--that I was writing a letter
to my mother, or a friend. That was to keep it loose.
I didn't get paid for any of those columns because I
didn't want to get paid for writing... That's why I've
never had the title editor-in-chief--because that would
imply that I was a word guy! And I'm really a picture
guy. (Laughter.) So I resisted that title. They were
trying to give that to me for quite a while. If you
go back and look at the DC books, you'll see I was executive
editor, editorial director, everything but editor-in-chief.
Superheroes? How boring!
LUSTIG: If you could draw comics in any genre
totally disregarding the current needs of the comic
book business what sorts of comics would you do?
GIORDANO: Given my druthers, I'd draw most
of the things I mentioned earlier--romance, Western,
mystery, and private eye. I love all those genres because
I grew up on them. To me, the superhero was a Johnny-come-lately.
I never did any artwork on superheroes before I moved
to DC in '67. I was in the business 16 years before
that. I did movie adaptations and the other things I
mentioned--all pretty straightforward stuff. Superheroes
were never my favorite thing to do and, frankly, I'm
bored out of my skull after all of these years of just
doing superheroes. You benefit a little bit, and the
publisher from England would have benefited if he'd
paid me for the Western story that I did. (Laughter)
LUSTIG: I could think of somebody who might
be interested in publishing that.
GIORDANO: Maybe somebody will come along.
Jon Cooke (editor of Comic Book Artist magazine) also
mentioned that his publisher (TwoMorrows) might be interesting
in [printing] the Dracula material that Roy and I did
for Marvel. It's nothing definite, but we're supposed
to talk about it when we meet again. I kept most of
the artwork and, as far as I can tell, there's nothing
that Marvel would have a hold on. It's Bram Stoker's
Dracula, and they don't own my pictures.
LUSTIG: The only person I can think of that
is publishing Westerns right now is Bill Black at AC
Comics and that's just reprints I believe.
GIORDANO: Vertigo is doing a Western and it's
a weird Western, and they did romance but it was a weird
romance. Vertigo doesn't do things straight. I've always
hinted, but nobody at DC listens to me: I'd rather work
for Vertigo than anybody else up there, because they're
brushing all the genres we discussed. They have a private
eye, sort of, with 100 Bullets, and science fiction
with Transmetropolitan, and the weird Western... all
of the things I've done in the past and am still equipped
to do, they're doing. Somehow, I've never managed to
get the work I've wanted to from them.
I penciled an issue of American Century for Vertigo.
That's the one Howard Chaykin is writing. It's sort
of an adventure story... although it's really more like
an extended movie script. It takes place in the '50's,
and it's fun for me to do. It's just people in regular
clothing, characters that are interesting, and people
without powers or weapons, really. Those are the things
I'd like to do.
Charlton Artists: The Men Behind
LUSTIG: Of the artists who did sign their
work, Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia are the ones
who show up the most in First Kiss. They apparently
worked together a lot. Is there anything you can tell
us about that team and how they worked?
GIORDANO: Nicholas and Alascia did work together
a lot for the simple reason that they sat next to one
another at Charlton's offices in Connecticut. (Laughter)
If you take a close look at Vince's inking style, you'll
find it bears a close resemblance to Alex Raymond's
style on Rip Kirby, that was very popular at that time.
He kept a couple strips in front of him because that
style was fast, and he did a lot... using the side of
the brush. Almost all of us used a brush then. Nobody
used a pen then because it would take too long for the
ink to dry. If you're inking four pages a day (which
is what I think Vince was doing, you start with a brush
in the morning and keep it hot.
They were both interesting people. Charlie had the
ability to smoke a cigarette without it ever leaving
his mouth. (Laughter) Down to the end, there would be
an ash as long as the original cigarette. I don't know
how he managed to do it, but when he talked, he'd talk
with the cigarette in his mouth, not moving the cigarette.
He'd talk out of the side of his mouth. It was funny.
Vince used to have these Rip Kirby strips in front
of him, looking at them while he was inking. But what
he was inking had nothing to do with the strip he was
looking at. I don't know what he got out of it except
Both are gone now. Nicholas died quite a while ago.
Vince Alascia was well into his eighties. Three years
ago, I bumped into him in a restaurant near Bridgeport,
and he said "Let's get together and talk about
the old days." I said, "Sure, give me your
number," and he did. Before I had a chance to call
him, he passed away.