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Saturday, February 3, 2024

5 Questions With Paul Kupperberg

Paul Kupperberg is one of the most accomplished comic book writers of all time, and you couldn't go a month in the 1980s without seeing Paul's name on a DC Comic. Paul is also a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction books, and his latest is an exciting Kickstarter called Direct Creativity: The Creators who Inspired the Creators. 

Direct Creativity is a collection of new one-on-one talks with 18 comic book creators about the people, comics, books, movies, and television that sparked and inspired them and drove them to create. The line-up of talent includes D.G. Chichester, Mike Collins, Gerry Conway, Mike DeCarlo, J.M. DeMatteis, Dan DiDio, Marc Guggenheim, Joe Illidge, Barbara Kaalberg, Tom King, Mark Millar, Mindy Newell, Mike Avon Oeming, Chuck Patton, Christopher J. Priest, Rick Stasi, Roy Thomas, and Mark Waid. You can find the link to the Kickstarter at RIGHT HERE or at 

Paul was kind enough to answer 5 questions for Mark Belkin of DC in the 80's about creativity and working at DC comics in the 1980's. On to the interview!

Multiverse Birthing Like What What <3.


Mark: Your new Kickstarter is a book asking 18 creators "Who, or what, inspired you most in your development as a comic book creator?" I would like to ask you, who, or what, inspired your work at DC in the 1980s? And did that change from the books you worked on in the beginning of the decade to the ones you worked on at the end?

Paul: My inspirations are baked in from childhood and they haven’t changed, although there have certainly been countless additions to them since. But early on I discovered the Mort Weisinger era Superman comics, The Adventures of Superman TV show, the Fleischer Popeye cartoons, the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs...really, if it was on TV or in the movies or on the newsstands, I was fair game. Jules Feiffer’s 1965 The Great Comic Book Heroes, which reprinted for the first time ever a bunch of Golden Age DC, Timely, and Quality stories was massively influential, and it was the book that made me aware that human beings could actually make comic books for a living. Mind blown!

For a lot of fans of my vintage, their holy trinity is Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, and while I liked their stuff too, mine was Julie Schwartz, Carmine Infantino, and Gil Kane. Those were my guys and I studied everything they did. And it was a reprint of “The Flash of Two Worlds” from The Flash #123 (June 1961) in a 1965 Flash Annual that made me not just a reader, but a fan for life because the newspaper the Barry Allen Flash picks up once he’s crossed the dimensional barrier and is in Keystone City is dated “June 14, 1961.” June 14 is my birthday. The Multiverse was born on my birthday!

A classic Doom Patrol continuation by Paul and the wonderful Joe Staton.


Mark: Who were some artists that you really enjoyed working with at DC in the 1980s? Any fun stories you'd like to share?

Paul: I got into comics in 1975, when the business was just 40 years old, so a lot of the people who created the comic book industry were not only still alive but still active...DC’s then president and production manager Sol Harrison had done color separations on Famous Funnies #1 and Action Comics #1! So I loved when my stories would be drawn by guys I grew up reading, like Irv Novick, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano, Steve Ditko, Jerry Grandenetti, Dick Ayers, Jose Delbo, or Don Heck, but it was also cool to be paired with the new guys, like Don Newton, Marshall Rogers, Romeo Tanghal, Alex Saviuk, Howard Chaykin, and, of course, my friend and collaborator in every decade since the 1970s, Joe Staton.


Mark: Were there any team ups you wish you could have written in DC Comics Presents? Who would have been the artists?

Paul: I can’t really think of any unrealized DCCP team-ups at the time. I was fortunate, I suppose. Schwartz bought all the stories I pitched him for the title and would also throw team-ups he wanted to do my way. He even bought a Superman/Vigilante crossover from me (DCCP #92), which was I think, the only time a character from a non-Code series ever appeared in the book.

 Darkseid is so much bigger than everyone. Seems like an unfair fight.


Mark:  What was it like writing the second Super Powers series? Working with Jack Kirby? And having to write for such a huge tie and cartoon tie in? Dealing with Kenner?

Paul: Writing the second Super Powers series was fun. I approached the story like a 1960s Justice League of America adventure by breaking the heroes up into teams and sending them off on their individual odysseys before reuniting at the end to confront the bad guy. JLA was a favorite title of mine growing up in the ‘60s, so I was paying homage to that. I wish I could say I actually worked WITH Jack Kirby on that one, but when I wrote the scripts, I didn’t know he would be drawing them. Of course, I was thrilled when I found out it would him, but we never had any contact during the project. I handed in the scripts and Jack drew them as I wrote them. 

I didn’t think of Super Powers as a licensing tie-in, like I did when I’d written the Masters of the Universe comics for DC a few years. These were the same DC characters I’d been writing for a decade and reading for 15 years before that. I never had to deal with Kenner. That’s what editors are for, but I don’t recall any problems or feedback from them on my stuff.


Mark: Writing complicated people is challenging. In the 1980s you wrote a few, such as Robotman, Peacemaker, Vigilante, Phantom Stranger, and Negative Woman. What mindset did you have during that era when writing someone like them?

Paul: The first decade of my work is all pretty much straight forward superhero pablum, a little less simplistic than the 1960s stuff but still pretty basic. In the 1980s, when I started working on comics about characters who were just regular people like Vigilante and the Checkmate cast, I realized that I’d been using superpowers as a crutch, to avoid writing about the characters themselves. 

Ambush Bug, A Hero's Beginnings


Mark: Please tell us about your experience in writing Ambush Bug's first story with the beloved Keith Giffen

Paul: Not much to tell. I went in to plot an issue of DC Comics Presents with editor Julie Schwartz and he’d invited Keith to sit in on the story conference. It was pretty unusual in my experience to have the artist in the room, but I didn’t have any problem with it. I said I wanted to do a Doom Patrol story and when we started talking about a villain, Keith said he had an idea, although the character wasn’t exactly a bad guy. He described Ambush Bug to us as “Bugs Bunny with a teleportation device” and I was sold on the spot.

Mark: Thank you Paul. Good luck on your Kickstarter!!