Mel’s Muses: STGCC Special 2011: Spotlight on Paul Levitz
It’s about a week till the Singapore Toy Game & Comic Convention and in case you haven’t heard, former President and Publisher of DC Comics Paul Levitz is going to be here.
Man, I know I’m probably showing my age here but I grew up reading his stuff. As an editor and writer at DC Comics for over 30 years, Levitz’s achievements are numerous. Cumulatively, Levitz has written over 300 stories with sales of over 25 million copies, and translations into over 20 languages. Last month he picked up the Eisner award for his masterpiece ‘75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking’.
Back in the 1980s, he was responsible for hiring writers Marv Wolfman and Alan Moore, and artists like George Perez and Keith Giffen. In other words, all the talented folks behind the books that I pretty much grew up reading. I seriously doubt if my childhood would had been as awesome as it was if Levitz hadn’t hired them to craft all those wonderful, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, eye-popping stories. I owe him a ton! So instead of a straight bio piece on the man, I’m going to be a bit more personal here and just do a little piece on growing up with all that cool DC stuff.
To his fans he’s most well known for his work as the writer on the Legion of Super-heroes titles during the late 1970s and 1980s. I enjoyed the Legion but I never thought of myself as a huge fan. As a little kid, I guess it was a wee bit too sci-fi for me.
Thankfully I was older when that landmark LSH storyline ‘The Great Darkness Saga’ hit the newsstands in 1982 (Yup, there were still no comic book specialty shops in Singapore back then) and that completely blew me away and made me a lifelong fan for good. I think part of what made that storyline one of the 20 best stories of the last century (as voted by The Buyers’ Guide), has to be the totally unexpected big reveal that Darkseid’s the main baddie. Before today’s Internet and all its spoilers, the impact of something like that back then must have been almost unprecedented and groundbreaking. Can you imagine what it would be like now if you read over the Internet that Darkseid’s the one behind it all, before shipment day? Believe it or not, I actually have that original issue somewhere but can’t find it now! Arrgghh!!!
Now the other Paul Levitz story that put a smile on this little boy’s face was Showcase #100, which he co-wrote with Paul Kupperberg, back in 1978. So what’s so special about this issue? Everything! Every DC hero that starred in Showcase #1 to Showcase #99 were on board here in one gigantic extra-length story, all up against a common foe. You got Green Lantern, Flash, Rip Hunter, Challengers of the Unknown, Phantom Stranger, Sgt. Rock, Bat Lash, Lois Lane, Tommy Tomorrow and a whole bunch of other DC characters from different timelines. In other words, it was the original Crisis on Infinite Earths years before the Wolfman and Perez classic! It was a fun, action-packed story and it became my gateway drug to the entire DC Universe.
Before I got my little paws on Showcase #100, I only knew the members of the Justice League and maybe Sgt. Rock. Showcase #100 introduced me to a whole new cast, I may not know who Tommy Tomorrow was but I thought he had
the coolest name around. It just made me want to find out who they were and months later I would read the issue one more time and it’s like a new comic book experience all over again.
Plus artist Joe Station knocked it out of the park with Showcase #100 too. There was so much action and stuff happening, all jam-packed into every panel and every page. When you are as young as I was, reading a story that exhilarating and looking at art that vibrant, man, that sealed the deal for me. I bought my one-way ticket to comic book geekdom that day and never left since. Thank you Mr. Levitz.