Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Gerry Conway talks about his penciling partners, Don Newton, Killer Croc (exclusive inteview - flashback part 2)

Welcome back to this interview I did with legendary writer Gerry Conway about seven years ago.

Gerry Conway
Fans might not recognize Gerry Conway's name right off — but they sure would recognize his work. He holds the distinction of killing off Gwen Stacy and he co-created the Punisher, Killer Croc (to be seen in the "Suicide Squad" film (out Aug. 5) and Firestorm, as seen in the CW live-action series "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

In the previous installment of this exclusive interview with Cary's Comics Craze, Conway talked about working with Marvel Comics editor Roy Thomas and what the man himself, Stan Lee, thought about his writing abilities.

Here, Conway shares his thoughts on some of the artists with whom he's worked (Gene Colan, Ross Andru, George Perez and Don Newton!) and Conway's addition to Batman's vast Rogues Gallery of Villains, Killer Croc, who made his first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 523.

When Gerry Conway wrote the DAREDEVIL series,
he moved Matt Murdock from New York to San Francisco.
Conway handled DD's adventures from issue 72 through 98
(1971 through '75).
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE: You have worked with a lot of people in the comic book industry. But if you could collaborate with anyone in the industry— past or present — who would that be and why? 

Conway said he couldn’t come up with “any one person” on his wish list, but gladly talked about some of the artists with whom he worked:

• “I really enjoyed working with Gene Colan on DAREDEVIL and BATMAN. He had a very cinematic style. … It felt like a real world environment.”

• Ross Andru: “He was a consumate storytelller,” Conway said, but wasn’t realistic as Colan. Conway noted Andru had a “great sense of layout and design.”

George Perez “had both of those skills,” he said.

Don Newton's self portrait

On the late Don Newton (who definitely is in this blogger’s top-five artists of all time) 

CCC: I have many issues of your BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS runs. The artist in those issues is one of my favorites, the late Don Newton, who seems to have been overlooked and underappreciated. Why is that? 

CONWAY: “He wasn’t a splashy artist.”

He praised Newton’s “good sense of mood” and “realistic approach.” While he didn’t say so specifically (that I remember), Conway inferred Newton was a great artist who did a fine job with every character he drew.

This memorable cover for DETECTIVE COMICS No. 514
is one of many intriguing covers Don Newton did.
Many artists are strongly associated with one or two characters “that they make their own,” Conway said, like Neal Adams did with Batman or Green Arrow.

(Want to hear Conway dish on Adams' tendency to be, well, let’s say, “tardy”? Duh — of course you do! Go to this CCC link for my late August 2009 feature about comic book shipping delays.) 

“Don was not associated with any character he created,” Conway said, which led to him discussing he and Colan co-creating …

Killer Croc 

“It’s a big surprise to me,” he said about Croc becoming more prominent in Batman’s Rogues Gallery of Villains since his first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 523 (dated Feb. 1983).

“It was a surprise to everybody,” he added.

Conway considers Croc “a good foil for Batman,” because Batman is intelligent while “Killer Croc is (all about) brutality and straightforward violence.”

Artist Gene Colan co-created Killer Croc with writer Gerry Conway, but for this fan's money,
Don Newton's depiction is superior. Check out how Croc takes no crap — even from the Joker  —
in this page from DETECTIVE COMICS No. 526.
Panel courtesy of Monitor Duty
“A lot of Batman’s Rogues Gallery is clever. He’s not clever,” he said. “It gave them (the “Batman: The Animated Series” creative team) a neat way to get into the underground.”

Check back here for more from the chatty and informative Gerry Conway. 

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