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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
Giving a glimpse into the formative years of comics and beyond.

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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 06/25/2001
Volume 2, Number 10

A new book usually means lots of interviews, lots of phone calls, lots of emails. Time gets eaten into so much that any new work in progress slows almost to a halt. Not that I'm complaining. At my age, especially, it's kind of fun. Being healthy enough not to have to think about health like so many of my contemporaries, I can enjoy the excitement. But yesterday was a double whammy for me.

A reporter from one of the larger local presses here in the Ottawa Valley had come to my home for an extended interview about my new book, The Blowtop. We were already into the second hour and it was amazing the things we found to talk about, a reflection mostly of the experience of a long life. Simply put, the longer you live, the more things you've done and the more you have to talk about. The recent story in the Ottawa Citizen, reproduced here last week, described me as having a "tour de force memory." I'm not sure I know exactly what that means, except that I think it's an overstatement. Especially in the area of science, I'm struggling to understand more about both organic and inorganic life in terms of what we call consciousness, or what I tend more and more to see as an energy-consciousness complex, so I get into things like quantum physics and complexity theory and process, and when I try to recall stuff, I usually find most of it too much and have to chase back to the books and look it up all over again. After I track myself down about twenty or so times, the stuff finally begins to stick a little. And a lot of it was worming its way into my conversation with this young reporter who, to my surprise, was far more literate than anyone of the dozens I've had interviews with over the past few years.

Now comes the piece de resistance. The doorbell rings. I excuse myself, get up and find a FEDEX man waiting for me with a big package. Some books I ordered recently? But why FEDEX? I pay enough for the books, I couldn't have ordered such deluxe delivery as well.

So I take the package into the living room where the reporter is waiting for me, open it up, and out comes a big hardcover book from DC with the title, BIZARRO!

"Surprise, surprise, Mr Reporter. I forgot to mention that I recently did my first comic in over forty years." We sat and looked through the book together. Strange stuff. Everything in comics seemed to be getting roasted, Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and there, somewhere in the middle is my own Bizarro story. Having written it, I found it simple to read. I won't comment on the other stuff in the book except for the wonderfully loosened up artwork, the nice free-form feel of everything and the superb way that Roger Langridge's art work managed to give such clear and dynamic expression to every minute detail of the story I'd written.

In the meantime, the reporter, who admitted to being kind of a comics buff himself , (he was probably in his late twenties), "but not DC. Not when I was reading lots of them. DC was considered, yucky. We were mostly into Marvel. But this, hey, this looks interesting. I mean, well, stylistically, it's quite a departure from the old DC. Glad to see it."

Because of the arrival of the Bizarro book, the interview took an extra hour, and I was able to show him some earlier not-so-yucky Superman and Batman stuff from the Golden Age, a lot of it from the newspaper strip, of course. And he was really surprised. Why had things changed so much, gotten watered down into such meaningless meandering complexities instead of stories? Stuff like that. And remember, I wasn't the one who said it. I didn't even suggest it. I was only standing up for DC by showing him the only stuff I had around, Golden Age stuff. But it proved a point I've been trying to make in this column over and over again. Write adult comics, and the kids won't think they're yucky.

In this connection, I got a bit of information from my literary agent yesterday. He said in an email that DC is planning to do a major overhaul using Stan Lee on both Superman and Wonder Woman, as Stan Lee sees them. How big a change is this? It sounds revolutionary.

But I wasn't able to find out anything more. I contacted my old friend and DC Golden Ager, Arnold Drake. He didn't seem to know anything about it either. I intend to check with my agent but he won't be available till late next week.

Is there anyone out there who does know? I want to hear more.

-Alvin

<< 06/18/2001 | 06/25/2001 | 07/02/2001 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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