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Origins of Telling Stories: Creator Biographies and Further Reading

by on July 7, 2005

There are nine comic book creators interviewed in the Telling Stories DVD. As a aid to those who are not familiar with all nine of them, Toon Zone’s Comic Book Culture staff has assembled these brief biographies of all nine, along with recommendations for further reading and links to relevant websites.

Howard Chaykin
Howard Chaykin’s comic book career began in the 1950’s as an assistant to comic art legend Gil Kane. Chaykin also apprenticed with artists like Wally Wood, Gray Morrow, and Neal Adams. Odds are that his most widely read works are the first Star Wars comic books published by Marvel, but most critics and historians believe his American Flagg! series to have the most impact on the medium and future comic book artists. He left comics for a brief period to work in Hollywood, being an executive script consultant on The Flash TV show, writer for Earth: Final Conflict, and head writer for Mutant X.

Chaykin’s most recent works include DC Comics’ Solo #4, the four-issue Legend mini-series, and the six-issue City of Tomorrow mini-series. A collection of his American Flagg! work was scheduled for release from Image Comics last year, but seems to have run into some serious production delays.

Arnold Drake
The two comics that Arnold Drake is most often credited with are DC’s Doom Patrol and Deadman. However, those two delightfully offbeat titles only scratch the surface of this comic book veteran’s contributions to the field. Drake’s resume contains an incredibly diverse array of titles, including Little Lulu, Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis licensed comics, and Stanley and His Monster. In recognition of his contribution to the field of comic book writing, Drake was one of two winners of the first Finger Award, a lifetime achievement award for comic book writers. The other winner was Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman.

Drake’s work on Doom Patrol is currently being reprinted in the hardcover DC Archives series — two volumes are currently available.

Steve Englehart
Most comic book fans will identify Steve Englehart’s run on Batman in the 1970’s as one of the great iconic depictions of the classic superhero. Englehart has been writing for comics for over 30 years, with runs on Avengers, Captain America, Justice League of America, Doctor Strange, and Conan. He has left indelible stamps on all these characters and more, and has worked as a writer in prose, film, TV, and animation as well.

Englehart has reunited with Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin for Batman: Dark Detective, a 6-issue mini-series on stands now from DC Comics. Batman: Strange Apparitions collects the complete Englehart/Rogers/Austin run on Batman. There are also trade collections for Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality and Avengers: Celestial Madonna, to pick two works from his Marvel Comics output. Image Comics is currently soliciting a trade paperback collecting Coyote, his creator-owned mini-series with artwork by Marshall Rogers, for release in August 2005. Englehart’s official website is at steveenglehart.com.

Adam Hughes
Adam Hughes is one of the few comic artists who can make a living off his cover art alone. His big break into the comics business was with The Maze Agency in the late 1980’s with writer Mike W. Barr. Future stints on Star Trek licensed comics, Justice League, Legionairres, and Gen13 followed, solidifying his reputation as a “good girl” artist extraordinare, which often resulted in his superb comic book storytelling skills and expresive artwork getting short shrift.

A trade paperback collecting Hughes’ earliest work on The Maze Agency will be reprinted by IDW Publishing in late 2005. A trade paperback collection of his work on Gen13 is still in print as well. Hughes’ covers have also been featured in Wonder Woman and the Rose and Thorn mini-series; he is currently the cover artist for Catwoman.

Adam Hughes’ official website is at www.justsayah.com. Galleries of his artwork can be found at adamhughesart.com and at Comic Art Community.

Geoff Johns
Geoff Johns began his career as an assistant to director Richard Donner, of Superman: The Movie fame, an experience which prepared him well for his current job as one of DC’s most prolific comic book writers. Seen as the go-to guy for iconic yet still fresh takes on superheroes, Johns has had acclaimed runs on a number of popular titles. A master of comic book trivia and continuity, Johns has sucessfully blended the classic appeal of superheroes with modern sensibilities in his first solo work for DC, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., as well as The Flash, JSA, and The Avengers. He has also been responsible for some of the most popular and highly-regarded creative revamps in recent DC history, salvaging concepts many thought lost in Hawkman, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Teen Titans, and Green Lantern.

Recently, Johns assumed an even more important role within DC, entering into an editorial/consulting agreement with the publisher in the wake of his work on the best-selling Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot. He will also be penning this fall’s universe-changing crossover event, Infinite Crisis.

Trade paperbacks containing Johns’ work on JSA, Teen Titans, The Flash, The Avengers, and Hawkman are readily available, with a hardcover edition of Green Lantern: Rebirth due this September. Fans can also pick up current issues of JLA (#115-119), featuring a tale written by Johns and discussing the fallout from last year’s Identity Crisis. His official website can be found at geoffjohns.com

Jimmy Palmiotti
A 20th Century Renaissance man, Jimmy Palmiotti has been an active and influential figure in the world of comic books since the late 80’s. Palmiotti got his big break in comics as a penciler but he is widely known in the comic community for his achievements as an inker and a writer. Co-creator of some of today’s best literary gems in comics (i.e. Marvel Knights and Gatecrasher), Palmiotti has expanded his career from an artist for such comic book powerhouses like Marvel and DC to a one man empire, working as a co-founder, project manager and creative director for Black Bull Entertainment.

Palmiotti’s other comic book related works include his accomplishments on the critically acclaimed titles Ash, Beautiful Killer, and 21 Down. Along with his colleagues, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner, Palmiotti founded Paper Films, a multimedia entertainment studio that engages in screenwriting, art production and film and television development. Paper Films has several films projects in the works such as the upcoming SCI FI Channel movie Painkiller Jane and the Universal Pictures film adaptation of the espionage thriller Beautiful Killer.

Palmiotti’s latest venture New West is out now while the forthcoming DC Comics title Jonah Hex will make its debut in September.

Visit the Paper Films website!

Trina Robbins
Trina Robbins may be able to lay claim to the title of the first female underground comic book artist, with a career beginning in the 1960’s in the New York and San Francisco underground comix scene. In addition to her It Ain’t Me, Babe Comics and Wimmen’s Comix anthologies, she has also done a brief stint on DC’s Wonder Woman, making her one of the few female writers for DC’s iconic superheroine.

Robbins is the writer for GoGirl! from Dark Horse Comics. Working with artist Anne Timmons, GoGirl! follows the adventures of a young teenaged superheroine who inherited her powers and costume from her 1960’s superhero mother Go-Go Girl. Two trade paperbacks are available. Her Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story prestige format comic book (with artwork by Colleen Doran and Jackson “Butch” Guice) may still be available on comic book shop stands. Robbins also has several non-fiction books under her belt, including From Girls to Grrlz, The Great Women Superheroes, and The Great Women Cartoonists. Lately, she has also shown a tendency to be greviously misquoted by the mainstream media.

Trina Robbins’ official website is trinarobbins.com, and her weblog is at trinarobbins.blogspot.com.

Greg Rucka
Acclaimed as both a novelist and comic book writer, Greg Rucka is one of the few contemporary comics personalities to successfully straddle both the mainstream and the underground. A strong mystery writer with an excellent grasp of suspense, Rucka was an ideal Batman writer, prompting DC to reward him with a significant run on Detective Comics. Rucka would serve as one of the chief architects of no less than three major Batman crossovers: “No Man’s Land”, “Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive”, and “Officer Down”. Putting a special emphasis on Gotham City’s police, Rucka would later share writing duties with Ed Brubaker on the critically-acclaimed Gotham Central ongoing series, which follows Gotham’s Major Crimes Unit. Rucka would also pen a celebrated Wonder Woman graphic novel, Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, as well as a lengthy and highly-regarded run on Wonder Woman itself. Though minimal in comparison to his DC work, Rucka has considerable experience with Marvel Comics, where he reimagined Elektra and Daredevil in Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra, and revitalized the solo Wolverine title.

Never content to rest on his laurels, Rucka has also done a considerable amount of work less well-known to the casual comic book fan, particularly with Oni Press. He won an Eisner in 1999 for the second book of his creation Whiteout, a limited series which follows an Alaskan Federal Deputy Marshall. His ongoing series Queen & Country, an espionage drama set in the fictional British Secret Intelligence Service, continues to be published by Oni Press today and stands as one of the finest comics currently available. Rucka will be teaming with celebrated cartoonist Scott Morse later this year for Everest, a 12-issue maxiseries which follow a team of climbers attempting to climb the famous summit.

Rucka’s material on Batman, including all five volumes of “No Man’s Land”, all three volumes of “Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive”, and “Officer Down”, is widely available. Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia is available in both hard and softcover, and two trade paperbacks of Rucka’s work on the ongoing Wonder Woman series have also been released. Both Whiteout limited series are available in trade, as are several volumes of Queen & Country. Two Gotham Central trades have been released, the second of which (“Half A Life”) won an Eisner Award in 2002. Rucka fans can also look into The Omac Project, a 6-issue miniseries currently being published by DC, as well as his several novels, including A Fistful of Rain, Queen & Country: A Gentleman’s Game, and the Atticus Kodiak series. You can visit Greg Rucka’s official site, the Bear Cave, at www.gregrucka.com

Bruce Timm
As a child, Bruce Timm dreamed of drawing comic books for a living but fate took an ingenious turn and dropped him in the world of animation instead. It could be argued that Timm is the godfather of modern DC animation; his work on the classic Batman: The Animated Series paved the way for future DC related toons such as popular programs The Batman and Teen Titans. Bruce Timm’s career began as an animator for Filmation. After having little success at stardom with Marvel and DC Comics, Timm landed a job at Warner Bros. where he worked on Tiny Toon Adventures for a couple of years before hitting it big with a certain Dark Knight.

Timm became a producer and designer of Batman: The Animated Series which spawned two direct-to-video releases and an expansion to the DC Animated Universe. After BTAS ended, Timm started development on both The New Batman Adventures and Superman: The Animated Series. Both programs gained critical acclaim and became Emmy award winning contenders.

Also under the creator’s belt are the smash animated series Batman Beyond and Justice League, which spawned Justice League Unlimited, which he acts as both producer and creator for. Timm finally got the chance to work on his first love, comic books, when he was offered a chance by DC Comics to illustrate and write several Animated Batman-related comics. His most notable work from DC is the award-winning Mad Love.

His other comic book achievements include covers and pinups for Marvel Comics, Dark Horse, Oni Press and Harris Comics. He was the subject of a Modern Masters trade paperback published by TwoMorrows Press in 2004.

Visit Bruce Timm’s gallery!

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