In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out why Gerry Conway’s first story he sold to DC went unpublished for seven years!
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and fiftieth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first caption of this episode.
Gerry Conway sold his first comic book story to DC when he was 15, but it wouldn’t be published for seven years!
As I wrote in the first caption of this all-Gerry Conway episode of Comic Book Legends Revealed, the late 1960s were a fascinating time for new comic book writers. As I specifically wrote (it’s just easier to copy and paste):
There are a number of comic book industry practices in the 1960s that we won’t be seeing again anytime soon, but one of the most unusual is how comic book companies were more than willing to entrust some of his finest important titles for literal teens. My very first Comic Book Legends Revealed (over seventeen years ago… woah) was about hiring Jim Shooter to write for DC Comics when he was just 13, and he wasn’t the only teenager to write comics in the 1960s. Gerry Conway is famous for taking over writing duties on Amazing Spider-Man when he was just 19 and this came after he wrote comics. comics for DC since he was about 16! I guess, but even then it was a bit unusual, and it also had to do with the particular circumstances of the time. As I’ve written many times, starting in the mid-1960s, the second generation of comic book writers started working at Marvel Comics, and then at DC as well. They are the first fans who grew up reading comics. So they had a whole different perspective than the first generation of guys who were writing comics at that time and who themselves had grown up with pulp fiction and comic books as their main source of entertainment. The previous generation just didn’t consider comics to be that important. In the 1960s, however, with the generation of Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Gerry Conway, there was a group that saw comics that way.
In Conway’s case, however, he actually got ahead of the rest, as he sold his first comic book story when he wasn’t even 16 yet! It just wasn’t the time he really started writing for DC, because that first script wouldn’t be released for SEVEN YEARS, and its eventual release was probably more of a joke than anything.
In TwoMorrows’ Write Now! #10, Bob Brodsky interviewed Conway about his first sold story and Conway explained the unusual story of how Murray Boltinoff, who didn’t like to hire new writers, bought him a story before he even had 16 years old :
I think it was under the misconception that I had already become a selling writer. What happened, in the mid to late 60s, or maybe early 60s – I can’t speak for that time – DC had a summer program in which they did a tour of the offices from DC once a week. I found out about this tour through a friend, and started going, I think, the summer I was 14. I went there every week, with Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, a guy named Mark Hanerfield and Steve Mitchell. We all came quite regularly that summer. And what we were doing was as the tour progressed, we were breaking up and haranguing and harassing the various editors. I’ve made friends with a number of publishers, to talk to, to say hello to, over this summer.
Conway then noted that he started hanging out with Dick Giordano, who helped Conway hone his songwriting skills by having Conway write stuff that Giordano would then give him notes on every week.
This, of course, looked like Conway handing scripts to Giordano from an outside observer! As Conway continues:
Murray would see me coming in every week, dropping off scripts with Dick, and one day he asked me if I’d be interested in writing a story for him. He assumed that I had sold scripts to Dick! Well, I ended up spending the whole summer, I guess, of 1968 working on a three-page story for Murray. He would give me notes, and I would go and type them, and he would give me more notes, and I would go. Eventually, after about six or eight weeks of that, I guess he got tired. So he said, ‘Well, I guess that’s fine. What is your page rate?’ I looked at it and said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t have one.’ The color faded from her face. I thought the man was going to faint, because he realized he had just taken my cherry. Professionally speaking. I think that was the last story I wrote for Murray for about six years, seven years.
Now that he had sold a story, Conway began to get work from Giordano and others. The story in question, however, was never published by Boltinoff. Paul Levitz then removed it from the files to use it for a giant number of Tales of the unexpected in 1975.
Here is the story…
As you might notice, Conway wasn’t even credited in the story!
But it was a nice and beautiful little story, especially for a 15 year old kid!
Thanks to Bob Brodsky and Gerry Conway for the information!
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PART THREE COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!