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From the Cyber Den
An online column by comics legend Denny O'Neil

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FROM THE CYBERDEN for 07/27/2005

Jim Aparo may not have known how good he was.

Jim was the most genuinely modest man I've ever known; he must have had an ego--we all do--but I never saw it manifested and it certainly never intruded into his profession. He did his job, on time and excellently, and accepted his payment and, expected nothing more.

But if anyone deserved more, Jim did. He deserved praise.

He was, first of all, a storyteller. His art had only one purpose, and that was to serve the story it was helping to tell. He never complained about the scripts he got. Whether they were good or bad, he just found ways to make them work, to get the story on paper and eventually into print. He did not want the reader to admire his technique, his cleverness, his adroitness. He seemed to be saying, Just enjoy the tale.

When I first edited him, Jim delivered almost the whole art chore: pencils, inks, even lettering. He did one page a day as regularly as the tides so an editor knew exactly when to expect the Aparo package. And when it arrived, there was really no need to do anything to its contents: the editor could, with clear conscience, simply forward it to the printer because it would be perfect, with nary a letter nor line out of place. But, of course, we editors did look at Jim's stuff because, beneath our office demeanors, we were fans and we wouldn't pass up the chance to admire good work, especially if we had the privilege of being the first to admire it.

I was aware of Jim for several years before I actually met him. When Jim and I were both freelancing for Charlton Comics, Jim was assigned to several of my scripts. I was so new at the comics writing game that I did not fully recognize what an ideal collaborator he was, not back then. I mean, all he did was render the action of the story with perfect precision and clarity, give vivid physical identities to all the characters, and establish a perfect visual tone for the kind of story it was. Sure, that was all. It wasn't until I had been in the comics business for years that I realized what favors Jim had done for me when we shared an assignment.

When I finally got to know Jim, I found him to be a friendly but, I think, somewhat shy man who was ready to share a laugh, a poker table or an afternoon at a convention. He was, in short, a good guy.

He was also something close to an old-fashioned American ideal. He kept his promises, he happily assumed the responsibilities that were his, he worked hard at a difficult craft, and he did it well. He was never unkind, never less than a gentleman. He was decent. You could depend on him. You could believe what he said.

Knowing him was an honor.


<< 06/22/2005 | 07/27/2005 | 10/21/2005 >>

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Recent Installments:
NEWESTThis Morning's New York Times (10/21/2005)
07/27/2005Jim Aparo may not have known how good he was.
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04/27/2005So Where the Hell Have I Been?
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