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Just over a week ago, Dick Giordano passed away. I've been meaning to write this ever since but haven't felt equal to the task. But it's time...
Dick was one of the all time great comic book inkers, but he was also the single individual most responsible for bringing me into the comic book business, which directly lead to me working in animation.
It's a story I've told many times, so feel free to skip down if you've heard it.
I was a nineteen-year-old college sophomore when Marvel Comics announced a New Talent Search. I was excited, but reasoned (correctly) that Marvel would be inundated with submissions. I also reasoned (rather cleverly) that if Marvel began a New Talent Search, DC Comics would too. So instead of preparing submissions based on Marvel characters, I immediately set to work, prepping stuff based on DC characters. Sure enough, DC announced it's search, and I immediately sent in my stuff. YEARS LATER, I saw the logbook that was used to log in each submission as it arrived. Mine was literally the second submission received.
It was duly logged in -- and then lost. (Likewise, years later, I found it in the DC offices in the back of a file cabinet.) DC still had my address in the log book. But not the submission itself. Because 70% of all submissions were artist submissions and only 30% were writer submissions, the person in charge of the talent search at the time took a chance and sent me a packet for new ARTISTS. I was OUTRAGED!!! Outraged, of course, in the way only a 19-year-old know-nothing can get outraged. So I sent a LETTER to DC Comics expressing my outrage. I said (lying) that I was a professional, and if they lost my submission, a simple admission of this fact would have resulted in me sending copies. There was no need to GUESS (incorrectly) that I was an artist and hope for the best. I stated that this was no way to run a business.
Somehow this letter found it's way to Dick Giordano's desk. Dick was at the time the EXECUTIVE EDITOR and head creative muckymuck at DC. Most guys in that position would have found a nice round file for my letter, but Dick was amused by it... and maybe a little impressed with (not the content) but the writing of it itself.
So sometime later, the phone in my dormroom rings. My roommate answers and says it's for me. "Who is it?" "Some guy named Dick Giordano." Now, I knew EXACTLY who Dick Giordano was and figured there was no way I was getting a call from him. So I got on the phone assuming it was one of my geek friends playing a prank. Nope. It was Dick. He wanted to meet me and asked if I had any plans to be in New York City. I (lied again and) told him that coincidentally, I was planning to be there over spring break. He invited me up to the DC Comics offices, and we set a date and time.
So I scraped the money together to buy a plane ticket, crashed at my cousin's apartment, put on a SUIT (what did I know, it was a job interview, right?) and headed out during a torrential Manhattan rainstorm to FIND A CAB to take me to DC. (Somewhere out there New Yorkers are laughing at the thought of me trying to find a cab in the rain.)
Ultimately, I found one, but not before I was (despite an umbrella) soaked to the bone in my stupid suit. I arrive at DC looking more like a drowned rat than a professional writer (which, of course, I was not), and met with Dick. And we hit it off. He was great. From Day One, he believed in me and tried to get me freelance work. He eventually gave me a job as an Editorial Assistant (read Xerox boy) and quickly promoted me twice over twenty-one months to Assistant Editor and then Associate Editor.
I was impatient, of course. I couldn't stick it out, and moved back to Los Angeles to go to grad school and eventually start a career in animation. I remember how disappointed Dick was. How he tried to get me to reconsider, but how he also supported my decision, when I made it clear it was final.
After that, every time Dick and his right-hand woman and good friend Pat Bastienne came to Los Angeles, they would take time out to meet with me. They met my fiancee Beth long before she became my wife. They were both always cheering me on. Eventually, Dick retired from DC and moved to Florida, and we lost touch. Which is on me. And I regret it.
When I heard/saw that he had passed at age 77 from complications from Leukemia (over the same weekend when my Grandmother turned 100), it was a real blow.
Dick was a terrific and extremely talented guy, and I owe him just... TONS.
Thank you, Dick. You will be missed.