Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Writer Gerry Conway talks about the difference in working for DC and Marvel, creating the Punisher — and having Green Lantern envy?! (exclusive interview - flashback)

Gerry Conway
Submitted to the NORWALK REFLECTOR
by Gerry Conway
Did you know the Punisher was supposed to be a one-and-done character? So says his co-creator, Gerry Conway! Keep reading and find out of all the many, many comic book characters he's written, which superhero he wanted to cover.

NORWALK, Ohio (July 24, 2009) — The fanboy (and fangirl!) world seems to be abuzz about Green Lantern.

That’s no surprise, what with the “Green Lantern: First Flight” animated DVD being released next Tuesday and the June 17, 2011 film starring Ryan Reynolds. (Can you believe I saw that flick twice in the theaters?! After the second time, I posted another review — this one in bullet points.)
Comic book writer Gerry Conway basically has Green Lantern envy.

During our June 22, (2009) phone interview, he told me GL is the one character he always wanted to write, but never had the chance.

“He’s the most fascinating of the comic book characters because he has this wish-fulfillment ring,” he said.

“Most comics are wish-fulfillment fantasies,” Conway continued. “Like Batman. He’s an equalizer. … He’s the avenger. He can do things that we can’t do.”

Conway believes comics are attractive to young adults because they are “beset with uncertainty.” He also said it’s comforting to see a decisive person in comics act accordingly when those same readers are questioning many things.

On working for Marvel vs. DC

Conway worked for Marvel Comics from 1970 through 1975 and again for a couple years starting in 1989.

The general approach, he said, was having the editors “point you in the right direction.” Conway remembered writers and editors worked together to come up with the creative direction.

“On DC, the editors are more hands-on,” he said, calling them “more involved” than Marvel’s editors. 

Conway believes there was no “editorial system” at Marvel until “Jim Shooter came along,” referring to the assistant editor who became the ninth editor-in-chief in 1978.

“The writers became their own editors,” Conway said, and assistant editors were proof-readers at one point.

Creating The Punisher 

During his lengthy AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run, Conway wrote an extended storyline with the Jackal as the criminal mastermind.

In order to build up the villain, the writer decided the Jackal needed underlings, so Conway created the Punisher as a vigilante who thinks Spidey is a bad guy. He said the inspiration came from films of the time such as “Death Wish” and “Dirty Harry.”

Conway brought a character sketch to John Romita Sr., who came up with the iconic costume fans have seen ever since his first appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN No. 129 (February 1974).

“Stan Lee actually came up with the name. I called him Assassin,” Conway said. “Punisher was supposed to be a one-shot character.”

Find out more from my lengthy 2009 phone interview I did with Gerry Conway. In part 1, he talks about working for Marvel Comics legends Stan Lee and Roy Thomas.

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