Saturday, July 10, 2010

Volume Four, Number Eleven

Each time I am interviewed about my comics career the one question I can always count on being asked is "Who are my main influences as a comics writer?". While Roy Thomas has admittedly had a big influence when it comes to my interests in golden age comics as a writer specifically my reply without hesitation is Steve Skeates.

For those of you who don't know who Steve is he has worked in the comics industry since the mid-1960s and has written for DC, Marvel, Charlton, Gold Key, Warren and just about everyone else. His credits are legion and include Lightning (TOWER COMICS), Aquaman, The Teen Titans, Plastic Man, Hawk & Dove, Supergirl and Challengers of The Unknown (DC). And if you think he is just limited to super-heroes think again. He has also written westerns, mystery tales and funny animals including Underdog for Charlton where he added the Mutt of Wonder's Shack of Solitude to his series.

The reason Steve is such an influence on me creatively is because of his unique writing style. He is not what I would call a "pretty writer" but rather takes a subject and puts a unique twist on it that no one else had even considered. He can make the old look new again which is a rare talent in our business.

I actually know Steve on a personal level. We first met at Torcon 2, a comic book convention held at York University in Toronto in 1974. Also in attendance was Bill Gaines and Will Eisner; both of whom I also met. For a short while after the convention Steve and I kept in touch-maybe two letters-but as often happens life got in the way and we lost contact until the late 1990s when my buddy The Groovy Agent reconnected us at Blue Moon Comics Group. Since then we have kept contact on a regular basis and have even worked together on a project or two including a short story called "Tepeth-Tet" (with pencils by another comics legend, Dick Ayers) that is supposed to be published by CE Publishing Group later this year ( ).And if all goes according to plan I will be publishing Steve's Stateside Mouse at the end of this year under my Red Lion Publications imprint ( ).

If I were asked what of Steve's work I liked best I would be pretty hard-pressed to pick any one thing. His work on Aquaman in the late 60s and early 70s is still one of the best examples of quality comics writing going and his Supergirl stories in DC's Adventure Comics actually made The Maid of Steel an interesting character.

But if I had to chose one body of work I would have to say that it was his run on DC's Blackhawk series (#244-250) that appeared Jan-Feb. 1976 to Jan-Feb. 1977. Even though the revival of this legendary title was for one year Steve did his best to put new energy and excitement into a concept that had been suffering during the last days of its earlier run.

As I said though I would be pretty hard pressed to pick any one body of work. Steve Skeates is one of the few comics writers that I have read over the decades who have never let me down. He does good stuff.

Jonathan "A" Gilbert is a comics writer, columnist, comics reviewer, comics editor, comics publisher and t-shirt designer. He can be contacted at .

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