Here's a thread to discuss the new Howard Chaykin comic, Hey Kids! Comics!, and the stories behind the stories...

Probably something we might benefit from are a list characters, and who they might correspond to in real life. I don't think Chaykin's going entirely for a one-to-one correspondence with his three main characters -- I suspect they'll be involved in incidents that happened to a variety of people throughout the industry. But the bosses, and the supporting characters, might all suggest one person or another in particular. So I'll try to keep a tally here on the front page, and see if that informs our reading. 

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I think we might need to re-evaluate Jess Mayberg as Wally Wood,  The second to last page of issue 2 is a 1-page strip where freelancers get their editor's Christmas list in the mail. Denny O'Neil mentioned an editor who would do that in his most recent Word Balloon interview. He didn't name names, and I should listen to it again to be sure, but I get the feeling it was Mort Weisinger. (It wasn't Jim Shooter, another editor he clashed with, but who he said was generous with Christmas gifts to freelancers.)

(But again, these correspondences aren't one-to-one, and the guessing game can only go so far. If you've got a character that you're largely basing on person X, there's no reason why you can't graft person Y's story onto him.)

There's an interview with Howard Chaykin about Hey, Kids! Comics! on the Wordballoon podcast -- and on it, he and John mention someone we hadn't considered as part of the inspiration for Benita -- Dorothy Woolfolk.

Let me be the first to say: "I hang my head in shame."

I encountered the story about the editor requesting Christmas gifts from freelancers (i.e., a shakedown by the guy who provided them their assignments) in an interview with Mike Esposito.  The editor in his story was Robert Kanigher.  

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I think we might need to re-evaluate Jess Mayberg as Wally Wood,  The second to last page of issue 2 is a 1-page strip where freelancers get their editor's Christmas list in the mail. Denny O'Neil mentioned an editor who would do that in his most recent Word Balloon interview. He didn't name names, and I should listen to it again to be sure, but I get the feeling it was Mort Weisinger. (It wasn't Jim Shooter, another editor he clashed with, but who he said was generous with Christmas gifts to freelancers.)

(But again, these correspondences aren't one-to-one, and the guessing game can only go so far. If you've got a character that you're largely basing on person X, there's no reason why you can't graft person Y's story onto him.)

Thanks, Yossarian! It's great to get a name to the story. I was making an educated guess, but apparently not educated enought!

Three comic-strip people testified, according to the official transcript.

Walt Kelly, creator of "Pogo" and president of the National Cartoonists Association

Milt Caniff, creator of "Steve Canyon" and "Terry and the Pirates"

Joseph Musial, educational director of the National Cartoonists Society

VOLUME II, ISSUE #1:

Wow, has it really been two and a half years since volume one? On the one hand it seems like forever, but on the other, reading V2 #1 is like slipping on a pair of comfortable old shoes. It seems the discussion kind of dired up last time after the identification of the roman a clef elements. I don't see that as important this time. V2 introduces a number of new characters (most of them will be fairly obvious), but I must admit I did refer to the discussion above for reference to refresh my memory. The first issue of this new series deals with the rise and fall of EC (that is, "GW") comics. In addition to Bill Gaines (Paul Gerts), Frederick Wertham (Martin Westagte) and Seduction of the Innocent (The Betrayal of Childhood), there are dozens of comic book titles (and their creators) to identify.

Here is a breakdown of the main characters in this series:

THE PUBLISHERS:

Verve (Marvel) - Morris Adelstrin

GW (EC) - Paul Gertz

Percy (Archie) - Bill rosenmayer

YC (DC) - Meyer Hershenson & Lou Berkowitz ("because screwing talent is a job for two")

GW PUBLICATIONS:

Arnold Grossberg

Dick altman

Joel Pitkin

Jeff Thomas

Peter Vance

THE CANNON FODDER:

Ray Clarke

Ken d'Andrea

Marty Fabrizzi

Benita Heindel

Al Mendel

Sid Mitchell

Art Podwil

Ted Whitman

THE LYNCH MOB:

Senator Eutis Cleghorne

Dr. Martin Westgate, MD

Yossel Tobackin

I read it this afternoon, and am so glad to be getting back into this world. I should go back and re-read the first series before the next issue comes out.

I'll be interested in who those 70s kids grow up to be, as well as those 50s kids (though one of them pretty much has to be based on Roy Thomas).

V2, #2: In this issue, "The Cannon fodder" are rebranded "The Help." In addition to Roy Thomas, I think the other two fans are Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff. Is Lyle Kenmore Hugh Hefner? Who is Charles Talbot supposed to be? Much of this series so far seems to be the kind of mock-up cover tributes occasionally seen in Funky Winkerbean Sundays.

Re your questions, I've not seen the comic, but as regards what was happening, the Code was instituted at the start of 1955. Several publishers still publishing at that point didn't make it through the next couple of years. The survivors included Dell, DC, Marvel, Charlton, Harvey, Archie, ACG, Standard, Prize, Gilberton and I. W. Publishing.

Prior to its 1957 distribution disaster Marvel was one of the biggest publishers in terms of output, with Dell and DC. (Archie's line at that point wasn't that large, but the size of a line doesn't always indicate how well the comics were selling: Bill Gaines was still publishing MAD, and it was a giant.)

Standard (Pines) gave up publishing comics in 1959.

Joe Simon packaged a revival of Black Magic for Prize (Crestwood) after he split up with Kirby. Prize sold its romance titles to DC in 1963 and (Wikipedia tells me) Sick to another party in 1968. Simon also packaged comics for Archie and Harvey in the era.

Gilberton stopped producing new material for the US market, but continued reprinting Classics Illustrateds. New material was subsequently produced for overseas publishers.

At the start of the Silver Age Dell's line was produced by Western, which held the licenses. They split in 1962. Western established its Gold Key line. Dell produced its subsequent material itself, into the 1970s.

ACG continued publishing until 1967. Its line was distributed by DC's Independent News, like Marvel's from 1957 until 1969.

James Warren was the publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland before he began publishing B&W comics in 1965. He wasn't the first publisher to do B&W horror comics, but he was the first to do it successfully. Others publishers followed in the later 1960s/1970s.

Harvey Kurtzman edited Trump for Hefner, a creator-owned title called Humbug, and Help! for Warren, before he began his long-running Playboy strip.

Jerry Bails was another significant fandom founder.

Meyer Hershenson and Lou Berkowitz are obviously intended for Harry Donenfeld and Jack Leibowitz. Irwin Donenfeld ran DC for much of the 1960s. Then the company was sold and Carmine Infantino became publisher.

Jerry Bails, yes; that's who I was thinking off when I said Dick Lupoff.

Thanks for the backdrop.

Stuff I forgot (most of which isn't likely to come up):

Cracked started in 1958.

In the mid-60s some new companies entered the field. Tower Comics published from 1965-69. King Features published a line, featuring its syndicated characters, in 1966-67. Lightning Comics was briefly active in 1967. The Tower and Lightning lines both used a giant format. 

In 1968 a number of writers, Gardner Fox, were dropped by DC. It's often said this was a result of a writers' revolt, but that was the period of change for the company in other ways, so I don't know that's the entire explanation. I've seen Arnold Drake listed as one of the guys bounced for this reason, but he also clashed with incoming editor Joe Orlando, and left to go to Marvel.

As regards the later histories of famous creators:

Jack Cole did cartoons for Playboy in its early years, until his death in 1958.

Otto Binder's later years were tragic. His finances were damaged by the failure of a magazine he'd invested in and edited, and his daughter was killed in a car accident.

Bill Finger was dropped from "Batman" when Julie Schwartz took over, or just after. This has been interpreted as a response to airing of his role in creating Batman. (I originally wrote he hadn't been one of Schwartz's stable of writers, but I just remembered a story he wrote for one of the SF titles.)

At some point after the new look DC renegotiated its arrangement with Bob Kane, and he became wholly uninvolved in the production of the feature. Before that he'd still been delivering art, although it had all been ghosted.

Wally Wood worked all over the place in the 1960s, and eventually tried self-publishing. He often used assistants. Dan Adkins, Larry Hama, and Steve Ditko all worked with him.

Jerry Siegel wrote for British comics and Italian Disney comics before taking a government job in the 1970s.

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