Sunday, June 15, 2014


I recently had a wonderful, and lengthy, conversation with the fine folks at the Comics Therapy podcast.  You can hear it on their site or via the embedded player below.  Enjoy!  Big thanks to Andrea Shockling and Aaron Meyers for a stimulating, thoughtful talk. 


  1. Great interview! I had a friend just yesterday tell me about how much both he and his young sons had been enjoying Batman: Brave and the Bold. I of course had to tell him all about you and your involvement! I love that show because adults can watch it with their young kids and everyone in the family can enjoy it. My daughter is 2 and gets very excited about superheroes (based mostly on a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode where they all become superheroes), but it is always tricky to find good new content to introduce her to the heroes I grew up with. I'm thankful for shows like Brave and the Bold that allow me to do that. I know it won't be long before I'm searching out comics that can hopefully interest her as well. They just aren't as easy to come across as when I was a kid.

    1. No, Drew, they're not and that's a shame. As I note in the interview, one of the reasons I wrote ABADAZAD was because I wanted a comic book to share with my daughter.

      BRAVE AND THE BOLD was a joy to work on, from beginning to end. I still miss it.

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast. Thanks for checking in!

  2. I read your most recent PS story in issue 21, the last issue. It looks like the beginning of a terrific story arc. But, it's the last issue.

    Is this going to be continued somewhere?

    1. PS #21 isn't the last issue. The current story will conclude next month in PS #22. After that is a special FUTURE'S END: PHANTOM STRANGER one-shot and after that? All I can say is that, despite the cancellation of his monthly, the Stranger will still be around in the DCU. Announcement coming soon!

    2. Great news. Thanks.

    3. You're welcome...whoever you may be!

    4. Oops. Rick.

      I expect that the new book will be some sort of team-up, with the betting being a Trinity of Sin spin-off (particularly since Pandora was just cancelled, too). Personally, I think that's going to have problems attracting sales. So, here are some suggestions:

      1. Batman and the Trinity of Sin.
      2. Batman, another Batman, and Trinity of Sin.
      3. In the opening sequence, PS materializes from a mirror in Wayne Manor. He walks over to the person sitting in the chair and says: "Bruce, I am your father."
      4. Crisis on Infinite Crises, plus Batman and the Phantom Stranger.
      5. Superman, Wonder Woman and PS as you've never seen them! In the new book called "Menage a Trois" (guest starring Harley Quinn and Batman).
      6. Called by his Master, PS is given a black surfboard and asked to find new worlds to feed his Master's need for ... oh wait, that would probably have lousy sales.

      Feel free to use them as you see fit.

    5. Your list really brought a smile to my face, Rick. Very funny.

      As for the future of the Stranger: there's going to be an announcement, TODAY, about that. And I will say that, somewhere in your post, you hit the nail right on the head (Although now I really want to do the one with the black surfboard!)

      Once it's announced, I can discuss it here.

    6. Still me.

      On a slightly more serious note, I actually am concerned about future sales (I would hate to see another great effort down the drain). First, I didn't think supernatural superheroes were doing too well in the sales department (e.g., Dr. Strange). Second, these characters, as a group, remind me a bit of the original Defenders in the sense that they were a highly powered non-team. If memory serves me, sales (by those days' standards) weren't so hot when it was initially formed (necessitating lots of changed characters). And at least the Defenders involved popular characters at the time. Look at Birds of Prey.

      So, I guess my more serious question is about whether a writer incorporates sales considerations into artistic product, and how is it done so as to maintain its artistic value?

      By the way, count me in on multiple copies again.

    7. And I thank you again, Rick!

      Honestly, I rarely, if ever, take sales into consideration when I'm writing: I just try to tell the best, most engaging tale I can. An editor might sometimes say, "Let's use such and such a character, it'll boost sales" or "time for a crossover to pump up the sales" and I'm certainly open to that—it's the reality of the business—but it's never my primary consideration. Or even a secondary one. I leave that to the folks who are paid to worry about those things and just concentrate on the story at hand.

    8. Rick again,

      You're right, of course. I do, however, hope you will let me expound a little on why I think PS was cancelled (apart from the obvious lack of sales). None of it is your fault, but it has been bothering me.

      1. The massive cross-overs involving Blight and Trinity of Sin were so expensive that too many readers simply decided not to invest in any of the series (beyond their "do or die" favorites) instead of the whole series. Throughout their runs, quite a few series saw a drop in circulation. Guest stars or short 2 issue cross-overs are one thing. The original Crisis was long, but it was special; the new stuff, not so much.

      2. I read a lot of viewer threads on this series, and one big, early complaint was the idea that PS was Judas. Many people did not like the idea of using Judas. A lot of others did not like the loss of mystery because that is what made PS so cool. I hope this all gets "fixed" and some of that mystery is returned. I really don't like it, either.

      3. In the early issues, PS was too much of dick. I know it was a plot device, but who wants to read about a mysterious hero who previously had been someone people could trust, when in reality went around betraying people? First impressions linger. This killed it for a lot of people.

      Anyway, I'll go to your newer thread for newer comments. So far, the bulletin boards on the new book are good (lots of dialog on the Question, incidentally)

  3. Interesting thoughts, Rick, as always. Only comment I'll make is that, when the BLIGHT crossover launched, sales on some of the participating books actually doubled...then, over time, they fell off; so I think the main problem there was that it just went on too long. I (with no objectivity) thought it was an excellent story, maybe the best crossover I've ever been involved in, but 18 parts is a lot for anyone to swallow.

    But the truth is, without the crossover, those books would have been cancelled even sooner.

    1. I'm not at liberty to get into behind-the-scenes issues, Rick. Let's just say that the crossover extended our life. Also, re: cancellation sales. Sometimes a book is dying on the vine but the powers-that-be have a fondness for that character, or believe it has untapped potential, and thus grant it a longer life.

      And, really, that's as far as I can take this.

    2. Understood. Thanks.