Steve Ringgenberg: I'm speaking with Murphy Anderson. It is April 28th, 1994. Mr. Anderson, one question I had was, you're originally from North Carolina aren't you?
Murphy Anderson: That's correct.
SR: How did you wind up in New York City?
Anderson: Well, I just had a great interest in comics and I was around when the first comic books started appearing. And I sort of grew up with them, you might say. I guess the first book appeared, I was eight or nine years old.
SR: And did that have a big impact on you?
Anderson: Yeah, well, of course I was following the newspaper strips probably a little more carefully than the early comic books.
SR: Well, Buck Rogers. That was an obvious favorite, and there there was Tarzan, and Flash Gordon when he came along and whatever was available, Mandrake the Magician, the Phantom. I used to get an out of town edition of the New York General
American. And they had a Saturday paper at the time which carried Buck Rogers and the Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician, so I latched onto those very early.
SR: Okay, so it seems like you were always drawn to the
science fiction strips.
Anderson: Yeah, more or less. They aare actually fantasy to a degree,
and I mean Tarzan is a fantasy. So I love that kind of stuff. And then I found out
about the science fiction magazines. I could get the same type of
material then in those early pulps of the day.
SR: So you were reading the science pulps at the same
time you were looking at the comics.
Anderson: Well, yeah. A little later because I would say '38, '39
I'd started to read pulps.
SR: I've read that you didn't have much formal art
training. Were you drawing as a kid?
Anderson: Yeah, yeah. I just loved to draw, and my mother was an art school teacher who wasn't working at it. You know she was a
housewife. But I used to bother her so much it was sort of a
family joke, to read the comics to me, that she got tired of it,
the daily comic, and sat down and taught me to read by reading
SR: After your childhood, where did your life take you?
Anderson: Well, I started at the University of North Carolina,
and this was wartime, and I decided that I wanted to pursue a
career before I went into service if possible, and I talked my
father into giving me a hundred dollars. Well, that's all he
would give me. And he said, `When that's gone, you'll have to
come home'. So I made a stab at New York and actually got a job.
SR: Where was your first job?
Anderson: At Fiction House. You did a number of different strips
for them, didn't you?
Anderson: Well, basically, I did Star Pirate, but I did a couple
of other things. I did a Suicide Smith and then I did filler
material, some for "Wings" comics, and a lot of filler material for
"Planet". I did pulp illustrations for them also.
SR: Right, because Fiction House also did a line of
Anderson: Right. I illustrated some stuff in "Planet Stories", and
some of their sports magazines, I did a few illustrations.
SR: With your penchant for science fiction, that must
have been fun for you to do that stuff.
Anderson: Oh yeah. Well, of course, and I hit it off with the
editor right away and he was looking for art anyhow. And even
though mine wasn't up to the standards that I think they normally
wanted he felt my enthusiasm made up for some of it.
SR: Were you pencilling and inking?
Anderson: Yes. Both.
SR: You also did a small amount of writing for Fiction
House, didn't you?
Anderson: Right. I wrote, there was a filler...
SR: Were those the little two page text stories?
Anderson: Right. They were not text stories, they were "Life on
Other Worlds" was the title. And then I did a, I remember doing a
three page similar article for "Wings" comics on the possibility of
jets in the future. Jet planes were something that really came along after the war. The Germans had experimented
some and the English were experimenting but none of them
actually, I don't think, actually got into combat. And they
supplied me with some copies of the "London Illustrated News" I
think it was that had some information on jets and I developed an article for them on that, you know, a story.
SR: That's interesting. So, back to your stint at
Fiction House. You moved on to some other companies like Ziff¦ Davis, I believe.
Anderson: Well, yeah. I worked for Ziff Davis, freelancing. When
I lived in Chicago, basically. And I was stationed out there in
the Navy and I called on the editor, Ray Palmer at the time.
SR: So you were actually freelancing when you were still
in the service?
Anderson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, they didn't really care. I mean, the
particular situation I was in at that time I had like a regular
job with the Navy, you know, eight to four. That was the
situation, with a lunch hour, and I went over, only a two or
three block walk to the Ziff Davis offices and I talked to the
editor and he gave me an assignment. And Fiction House sent me
some work right along, when I had the opportunity. They did that
with a number of their artists.
SR: Would you mail your work in?
SR: Well, I also see here that you did a bit of work on
"Buck Rogers" in '49.
"Anderson: Yeah, well that was actually I started with them in
'47, they hired me on retainer.
SR: Oh, that's right.
Anderson: I would come in and work in the offices there. And I
did work on designing things for Buck, you know, in preparation
for taking over, and I actually worked on the strip at that time
for a little over two years I think.
SR: So were you handling pencils and inks on the strip?
SR: Were you doing the daily and the Sunday, or just the
Anderson: No, just the dailies.
SR: Just the dailies?
SR: Was Rick Yager still doing the Sundays?
Anderson: Yeah, he was doing the Sundays. He was writing and
drawing the Sunday page.
SR: Would he write the continuity for the daily page
Anderson: No, there was a writer, Bob Williams, who used the pen
name Bob Barton on that.
SR: How did you feel about doing your old hero, "Buck
Anderson: Oh, that was just, you know, a dream come true you
SR: Why did you only do it for a couple of years?
Anderson: Well, I'd rather not get into that. That was a
personality conflict you might say over some promises that were
made and I felt weren't being kept.
SR: I see. Okay. So, back to "Buck Rogers". You went on to
do a little work for the Pines publisher, some science fiction
Anderson: Well, no. When I moved back to New York, I started to
work for, I came back basically to work for Ziff Davis. They had,
they were moving their offices to New York, and they had
appointed Jerry Siegel as a director, editorial director of a
comic book line that they were proposing, planning. They
contacted me from Chicago. I had moved back to North Carolina at
the time to work with my father. That's after "Buck Rogers". And
they made it interesting enough and they wanted me enough that I
moved to New York to work for Ziff Davis basically. The Fiction
House thing was already pretty much a dead issue. They were
having a lot of troubles, and they ultimately, a year or so
SR: Well, a lot of the science fiction pulps went under
i n the fifties, didn't they?
Anderson: Right, right. And their comic book line wasn't doing
SR: Well, how did it come about that you worked for
Anderson: Well, that's sort of an involved story. Do you want to
Anderson: Well, all right. As I say I came back to New York
basically, you know, newly married. My wife and I married in '48
and I came to New York about 1950, I think it was. And we took on
an apartment and all the things that go with it, set up, you
know, housekeeping in Bayside, New York. And I brought a job into
Jerry Siegel one day and he said, `Murph, I'm sorry. There are no
more scripts. The writers haven't brought the work in. And it
might be as much as a week before I get a script for you.' Well,
I panicked because I was counting on steady work, so I went home
and got my portfolio and called on several publishers. And one of
those that I called on was DC and they asked me to come back the
next day. Murray Boltinoff interviewed me and he said Julie
Schwartz is not in today but I'm sure he'd like to talk to you.
And so that's how I got started with DC. The next day I did see
Julie and he gave me work. Ironically, the same day Jerry called
me and the work had come in from his writer, so I was suddenly
swamped with work.
SR: What was your first job for DC?
Anderson: It was a story, I believe, for, Gee, I'm not sure if it
was "Mystery in Spaceù, I believe. "Mystery in Spaceù was new then
and I started to work in either the first or second issue. And
"Strange Adventuresù had already been running for a few issues, so
I got into that around issue six, something like that.
SR: You did a fair amount of work for those anthologies,
Anderson: I'm not sure I follow.
SR: "Strange Adventuresù and "Mystery in Spaceù, they were
Anderson: Oh yeah, well several stories in an issue, you mean,
SR: Yeah. And I have seen a lot of reprints of that
Anderson: Yeah. I became part of Julie's team of artists, you
might say. I mean he basically had four or five artists and kept
them busy. He had them categorized, even at that time, into
pencillers and inkers and I was sort of a little different in
that I pencilled "andù inked. And even then, when the deadline
would be a little closer, he needed me for something else, he
would have me just pencil and then someone else would ink the
work, or in some cases because I wanted to ink the stuff, he
would let me work with another inker and we would alternate
pages, that kind of thing.
j______ÜSR: At the time what did you prefer doing, pencilling or
Anderson: Well, I preferred doing both. I still do.
SR: After handling those noncseries stories you went on
to do Adam Strange for DC.
Anderson: Well, that's much later. But during those early days I
did Captain Comet.
SR: Right. That's a character you don't hear much about
Anderson: No. Well, he wasccJulie likes to think of him as
actually the first of the moderncday superheroes. He had these
mental powers and so forth. He was the first mutant in a way.
SR: So, you did Captain Comet.
Anderson: And there was another series that Edmond Hamilton
wrote. I did two or three of those for "Strange Adventuresù, I
believe it was, called "Chris KcL 99(sp?).
SR: That's one I've not seen.
Anderson: You'd have to go back and look at the early "Strange
Adventuresù. I think it was " Strange Adventuresù.
SR: A couple of the old pulp writers wound up working
Anderson: Oh, yeah. Julie had mostly pulp writers. Gardner Fox
even was a pulp writer.
SR: You worked with Gardner Fox quite a bit, I
Anderson: Yeah, well not with him, but I mean knew Gardner very
well because we'd often go to lunch with Julie you know when
Gardner would come in, and I'd be in, and we'd go to lunch. And
the same for John Broome. John was another pulp writer and most
of Julie's writers were pulp writers.
SR: Right, and you wound up working on a fair number of
stories that those gentlemen scripted.
Anderson: Oh, yes.
SR: "Hawkmanù, "The Flashù.
Anderson: Right. Well, Gardner did the Hawkman. He did the very
first Hawkman, I think. It was a natural for him to continue on
when they revived the character.j______Ü
SR: Right, he was doing it in the forties, and then in
the early sixties, I believe. Now you were working on the early
"Flashù stories for "Showcaseù weren't you?
Anderson: Well, I had gone back to "Buck Rogersù for a time.
SR: Yeah, about '58 or so?
Anderson: Yeah. And I had been slated, I think, to work on "Adam
Strangeù but of course when I took the "Buck Rogersù assignment I
couldn't. As a matter of fact I worked on the first cover for, I
guess it was "Showcaseù. No, it was in "Mystery in Spaceù, wasn't it?
I get confused a little bit. Anyhow, I had worked on the first
cover and Julie, I came up from North Carolina maybe two or three
times a year to work on covers. And I had worked up a design for
a cover that we couldn't quite, Julie couldn't quite approve. And
I said, well I think I know what you want. I'll go home and I'll
do the cover. I'll send it in to you. If you can't use, then you
don't use it. Well, I did it, and he still wasn't happy with it,
so he had Gil Kane redaw the cover. The same idea, that was the
Pit and the Pendulum, the first appearance of Adam Strange. And
basically the costume is like I designed it for Adam Strange.
SR: And was the character supposed to be intended as
kind of a Buck Rogerscc?
Anderson: Yeah, right, exactly.
SR: There was also a little bit of John Carter of Mars
in that character in the way that he kept going back and forth
between the planets.
Anderson: Yeah, well I mean that's true. I mean he was a modern¦day man but was a, you know, I mean, what was he? An archeologist
I believe with a museum. Sort of, what do you call it? You have
to wonder if perhaps they didn't base, oh, gee, words are failing
me now, the, you know, the pulps, the movie that they brought
out. You caught me at a time when I'm sitting here half asleep.
Anyhow, I think what a lot of the movies were based on comic
books. That's coming out more and more that a lot of today's big
producers, were, directors and producers were comic books fans.
SR: Oh sure. I know George Lucas was a big "Flash Gordonù
RINGGENNBERG: Yeah, a lot of that stuff.
Anderson: Yeah. Can you hold just one second?
SR: Certainly. (Tape pauses until Anderson's return) You
actually designed Adam Strange's costume?j______Ü
Anderson: Well, I can't say that Gil did it exactly like I'd draw
it. But I know I worked on that cover and I don't have it
anymore. The only thing that survives is a letter that I wrote to
Julie at the time to accompany it. But as I recall the belt and
the helmet, the headgear were basically as I drew them.
SR: I always thought that he had one of the most
attractive costumes of any DC character. It was very clean.
Anderson: Well, it was based more on you know, my concept of Buck
Rogers or Flash Gordon type material.
SR: Was the jet pack your idea?
Anderson: Yeah, well no, it was Julie's, and he didn't go for
having the Buck Rogersctype jet pack or flying belt. He wanted
it, you know, closer to the back, even though I used to kid about
it, he's going to have a hot rear end, you know? But that was
just overlooked, of course. I mean the reality, I don't think
you'd ever wear a jet pack that close to your body, but anyhow,
that was, that was not quite the way I would have done it, but
that was the way he wanted it, so...
SR: Let's talk a little bit about working on "The Flashù.
SR: Now, when that character was revived, were excited
about working on superheroes, or was it just another job?
Anderson: No, that was revived when I was not in New York and I
had very little to do with it other than when I did move back to
New York, that was in the late fifties, I became involved in
inking a lot for Julie. That was the only work that they had
available at the time. So he put me on "The Flashù almost
immediately. But I came in after two or three issues had already
SR: And how did you like working on Infantino's pencils
at the time?
Anderson: Well, it was a challenge. He was the first, he and Gil
Kane were the first artists I had ever inked. You know, I had
never inked anyone before, so it was quite an experience for me.
Gil's stuff was a little more like my own work, so it wasn't as
difficult, but Carmine is more of a designer, and I had to, in a
lot of cases, do things that I didn't quite agree with, you know
like abstract blacks and that sort of thing. But I found that if
I didn't follow his pencils that the whole thing would start to
fall apart. So, basically I followed what he put down, and if I
didn't quite agree with some of the anatomy or construction of
buildings and things like that I would, you know, just
automatically, not automatically, but straighten them out withoutj______Ü
SR: In the inking process?
Anderson: Yeah, right. Well, I think it was a little bit more of
a collaboration than I guess most inkers are collaborators rather
than followers. You know?
SR: So you'd say that was the case with Infantino but
not with Kane?
Anderson: Yeah, I would say so. Some other artists that I've
inked I've really just inked what they put down, you know?
SR: Was Infantino's work fairly tight?
Anderson: Yeah, yeah, it was tight. That wasn't the thing. But he
was, as I say, a designer, and he would bend reality, very often
just to get an effect, which was against my nature. I was never
in the Jack Kirby school, and Carmine was somewhere in between
strict realism and the Kirby approach.
SR: Yeah, some of the things he did to show the Flash's
speed, I thought, were very creative.
Anderson: Oh yes. Oh yes. Carmine is a genius at storytelling.
There's no question about it. His layouts, especially on covers
and all, he puts an idea across very simply and directly and you
SR: You wound up working with him quite a bit, didn't
you, once you guys went on to "Batmanù?
Anderson: Yeah, well I only did covers on the "Batmanù stuff over
stuff. People seem to think that I did a lot of work on Batman
but really it was mostly covers.
SR: I think what it was is that some of the covers you
did were so striking.
Anderson: Well, perhaps.
SR: They really were interesting and very different than
anything else that was being done at the time.
Anderson: Well, that's very nice of you to say.
SR: I remember a particular one that was a closeup of
Robin's face crying and he had a crushed newspaper with a
headline about Batman being dead.
Anderson: Yeah, I vaguely remember that one.
SR: Let's talk a little bit about working with Gil Kane
on "Green Lanternù. That was really beautiful work.j______Ü
Anderson: Well, thank you. You have to understand that Julie had
a series of books to do and a stable of artists and he'd push you
in and use you where he needed you at the moment. I mean it was
more or less secondary that you showed an aptitude or a liking
for a particular character. He took that into consideration, of
course, and, but the main thing was to get his books out, and out
SR: It seems like during your career at DC you were
working mostly with Schwartz.
Anderson: Right. Right. I mean each editor had his own crew of
SR: Would they ever share people?
Anderson: Yeah, occasionally, occasionally. I mean the company's
interests were in there, too but basically they had the freedom
to hire their own artists and most of the time each editor tried
to keep his artists busy.
SR: It seemed like you were very busy in the early
sixties. Running down the list of strips you worked on, there's
"Green Lanternù, you worked on "The Atomic Knightsù.
Anderson: "The Atomic Knightsù was formed basically because I
bellyached so much about not being able to pencil and Julie
finally came up with that. He may have had the idea in the back
of his mind but that was a story that appeared only in every
third issue of "Strange Adventuresù.
SR: Did you have anything to do with conceiving the
strip or did you just draw it?
Anderson: No, I had very little to do with the conception of that
because he had that in the works, gee, maybe I'm wrong in what
I'm thinking about him doing it as a sop for me, but he just
asked me if I'd be interested in doing a strip like that and of
course that sounded great to me. It was a very difficult strip to
do because of all the suits of armor and so many characters
SR: Did you do much research on different kinds of
Anderson: Yeah, yeah. I tried to make the armor as realistic as
possible, although it's not at all like the armor they wore in
the middle, in the dark ages, or right after, you know. In the
days of well, Robin Hood and King Arthur, are identified with it
but armor actually wasn't in use during those periods, not like
it was a little later.
SR: During your whole career how much influence didj______Ü
research play on your work?
Anderson: Well, I tried to research everything, and when I'd draw
a specific thing try to make it as accurate as possible.
SR: Would you work from photo reference?
Anderson: Yeah, partly, and mostly for...(SIDE ONE ENDS HERE)
A_*_Ã(SIDE TWO COMMENCES ON 5/2/94)
SR: It is May 2, 1994. We're doing Part Two of the
interview with Murphy Anderson. I think last time we concluded we
were talking about some of your work in the sixties.
Anderson: I think so, yes.
SR: One thing I noticed from looking at some of your old
work from "Planetù Comics, and the work in the sixties, is that it
really changed, the way it looked. Was that due to just learning
more techniques, or did your approach to the art change?
Anderson: Well, it wasn't a conscious change. To me it was just
an evolutionary thing as I sharpened my skills I think I, you
know, became a better draftsman and so forth, that was reflected
in the artwork.
SR: It seemed like you were employing a finer line as
you went on into the sixties, seventies and eighties.
Anderson: Oh, gee, I don't really think so, but I can't be that
objective about my own work. There was no conscious effort on my
part other than to just sharpen my skills as a storyteller and as
SR: On the early work were you, say, employing more
brush in your inking?
Anderson: Yeah, well, now that may be what you're picking up on.
SR: I think maybe that's what I was thinking of.
Anderson: Well, initially, I worked with a brush almost
exclusively, you know, did penwork of course just to crosshatch
and special effects, you know. And then, in the sixties I was
having difficulty getting my work out and I evolved a method that
saved me some time, and that was to pencil with a darker pencil
on plate finish. Now the plate finish you could erase the pencil
line off withoutccI mean the pencil line didn't penetrate the
paper so much as when you worked with a soft pencil, but that
meant that brush lines would come off very easily, off the plate
finish. So I started working with a pen. And I did most of the
work, I used a very fine point pen and then I was able to erase
and just put the big, solid areas of black in with a brush. Once
in a while, just to prove to myself I could, that I hadn't lostj______Ü
my brush feeling I would take a job and ink the entire thing,
like I remember doing one of Gil Kane's Atoms. I took a brush
only and did the entire job, even ruled the lines in with a
SR: Sort of as a challenge to yourself?
Anderson: Yeah. Just I didn't want to lose that ability. And then
when I started to work for Will Eisner, oh in the midctocthe¦latter part of the sixties I had to go back to brush because
everything that he did was inked on velum.
SR: Now what were you doing for Eisner?
Anderson: I worked on P.S. magazine.
SR: Doing technical illustrations?
Anderson: I was a staff artist. No, not doing technical things as
much as just doing illustrations. The articles involved animating
equipment and doing serious illustrations as well as humorous
SR: Was it all illustration for Eisner, or did you do
any little comic strips as well?
Anderson: Yeah, well that's what I'm saying. I worked on the
continuity some, I inked over a lot of his continuities.
SR: And you were doing this at the same time you were
still working for DC?
Anderson: Yeah, well I had cut back on my work at DC. I held a
staff position with Will.
SR: And how long did the position with Eisner last?
Anderson: I'd say approximately two and a half years.
SR: When you were inking "Supermanù over Curt Swan that
seemed like that was a pretty steady assignment. Were you doing
any other work besides that?
Anderson: Oh, yes, yes. I was inking stuff until it was coming
out of my ears. They wanted more and more inking out of me so
they would find background people for me. I didn't have to even
look for them. They would line up people that they thought had
the neccessary ability and if I agreed then I would use that
person as a background artist. And as a result I had, oh many, I
guess maybe, if you counted it all up, somewhere on the order of
eight to ten different background artists working with me over
SR: Do you remember any of their names?j______Ü
Anderson: Oh, sure. There's, let's go back and start at the
beginning I think. And I guess Jack Abel was one of the first.
And Vinnie Colleta did some. Vinnie Colleta did some of the
backgrounds on the very first Superman stuff I did, the new
Superman, when they were trying to update the character. Vinnie,
and John Cellardo did some, Alan Milgrom did a lot, and Dave
Cockrum did a lot for me.
SR: Would they just get the pages from you or were you
working in kind of a studio setcup?
Anderson: No, no. They would get the pages from me and take them
home and do them, usually, although Dave Cockrum worked with me
some in a little studio I had.
SR: It sounds like you had good people working with you.
Anderson: Oh, yeah, well they trying to break into the field,
some of them, and some of them were older pros that were having
difficulty finding work at the moment.
SR: I remember seeing Celardo's "Tarzanù, God, ages ago.
Anderson: Yeah, well this after he gave up the "Tarzanù strip, I
SR: Yeah, and Jack Abel's been around the business for
Anderson: Oh, yeah. Well, Jack had been doing "Supermanù, you know,
inking the entire job over Curt, but they were trying to change
the direction of the character, the whole look. And Carmine was
actually behind a lot of that because he was, I guess, the
editorial director, maybe already president of the company by
that time, I'm not sure.
SR: And what year was it that you took over inking
"Supermanù? I was thinking about 1970, is that correct?
Anderson: Yeah, that's approximately right. That's when they
updated Superman, made him a television reporter rather than a
newspaper reporter, introduced a lot of new characters at that
point. Denny O'Neill took over writing.
SR: You know the Superman that you and Swan did for so
many years has been called the definitive Superman. How do you
feel about that characterization?
Anderson: Well, that's, that's sort of in the eyes of the
beholder. I think Curt's had many good inkers over the years. And
I personally liked a lot of the stuff that George Klein and Stan
Kaye, well there were a couple of others. I think Shelly Moldoff
even inked some of the, Curt's pencils. So, he never really hadj______Ü
bad inking. I think he always had good, and it depended on the
tastes of the individual looking at the stuff.
SR: Yeah. After you had worked on it I know they brought
Al Williamson in for a couple of years. How did you like Al's
Anderson: Oh, I liked Al's very much. He's one of my favorite
artists, you know. He's a very good friend and also a favorite
SR: You did "Supermanù with Swan until, what, was it the
early eighties, or longer?
Anderson: No. Off and on I would, I worked on Curt up until I
took over the "P.S. Magazineù contract, which was in 1973, and at
that point I was doing a lot of the "Supermanù inks, and I was also
inking a lot of Bob Brown on "Superboyù and doing some work on
inking "Batmanù over Irv Novick and Bob Brown and so forth. I only
inked one Batman story over Carmine and that was a commercial
story. It appears in one of the anthologies, or collections of
"Batmanù. "Batmanù, I guess with the Joker, Batman/Joker stories. And
it was picked up and ran like it had been in a comic book, but it
never had been.
SR: Was that like in a giveaway comic or something?
Anderson: Yeah, something like that.
SR: Yeah, and I remember seeing some pinups that you did
over Infantino pencils of the "Batmanù villains.
Anderson: Oh, yeah. We did those and that was something, a
project that was a very good idea, but it was ahead of its time.
And they couldn't sell those. They wound up having contests,
giving them away and they ran special ads and selling them at a
discounted price and so forth. It was a very elaborate project
and I thought they were quite successful artistically.
SR: I agree, and I know that somebody must have liked
them because they've been reprinted so often.
Anderson: Yeah, well they were used a lot. As a matter of fact,
the one is sort of a classic, of Batman and Robin on a rooftop.
And it served as a, line art from it served as a wall decoration
in the lobby of 909 Third Avenue. You get off the elevator in
there and that thing blown up to eight or nine foot height was
staring you in the face.
SR: That must have been kind of gratifying to see your
work blown up like that.
Anderson: Yeah, yeah. I mean you always appreciate anyone that
you know indicates positive feelings for your work.j______Ü
SR: What are you currently working on, Mr. Anderson?
Anderson: Well, currently I'm just running a business. And I'm
also doing a little bit of work on the side, but not too much.
I'm working on a project right now for a movie outfit called, oh,
Full Moon. Are you familiar with the firm?
SR: No, I can't say I am.
Anderson: Well, Deni Loubert is working with them and they're
producing a special comic book, well it's not really a comic
book. It'll be a coffee table, a large size book. I think the
size will be something on the order of eleven by seventeen, in
that range. And I'm doing one story in it and there are several
other artists that I've helped Deni find and she also found a
couple on her own. Howard Chaykin is writing the series. And what
it is is there's a series of six, for video stores only, movies
being made and this will be part of a promotional thing. There'll
be a hardcbound coffee table type book that will be given to
video shop owners as part of a promotional thing.
SR: And are you pencilling and inking?
SR: From what you're saying, are you still doing any
work at DC?
Anderson: A little bit, I inked a six page Curt Swan Superman
contribution that's part of the issue seven hundred is it, that's
coming out. The six pages are interspersed throughout the entire
book. There wasn't a story exactly. It's a part of the overall
SR: But now it seems like you're concentrating on doing
work for your own firm?
Anderson: Right, and we have some things that we're working on
SR: Are you mostly doing commercial art, like
Anderson: No, we've been doing color separations for the last ten
years. See, I held the "P.S. Magazineù contract for some ten years,
and up until 1983, and since then we've been doing basically
separations for comic books. And I do an occasional art job.
SR: If you've been doing it for ten years it must be
going over pretty well.
Anderson: Well, it has been, yeah, but the technology is changing
so much, you know, things are going more and more to computersj______Ü
and they're, and more and more colorists are actually doing the
separations as a color on a computer. So, that's changing the
complexion of what we do.
SR: Do you think you'll go into the new technology?
Anderson: Well, we're working on it, yes. That's one of the
things we're working on. We have done some computer separations,
and we're doing more, but it's a totally different beast than it
SR: It seems like many aspects of the business are
changing now, you know, with the new printing technologies. I
know that they're starting to do some of the lettering on
SR: And it seems like every aspect is changing.
ANMDERSON: Oh yeah, well, it's affecting everything from inserts,
you know, advertising inserts like the supermarkets and so forth
do, or the Sears and Bradley's and so forth, all that's being
done on computers now. It's already been typset, all that sort of
SR: What do you think of the new comic books that have
Anderson: Well, I don't know. Imean it depends on which one
you're talking about. Some of them are quite ambitious and some
kind of leave me cold. But for special stories they work fine.
SR: Did you see the "Batman: Digital Justiceù book?
Anderson: Well, I think I know the one you're talking about, by
SR: Yeah, that was computercgenerated.
Anderson: Yeah, yeah. We've worked with that film here a great
deal, you know. One of the things we've done for DC over the
years is regenerate a lot of film for their foreign sales. And
that film has been in here a number of times for us to different
things with, and so I'm familiar with it. It shows one of the
problems with that kind of material because if you want to change
balloons and so forth, where there's color in the balloons you
right away get into trouble. So, sound effects can't be changed
easily, and you know, that sort of thing. Where if it's line art,
done the conventional way, you could go into it and in the dark
room do some things to it, delete and add and so forth. But when
it's computercgenerated, it's very difficult to do anything.
SR: You know, that's an interesting take on that. That'sj______Ü
something I've never even considered.
Anderson: Well, yeah, now, of course if they keep all the
electronic data they can go back and put it back on the screen
and work on it from that end and then generate new film, which is
what will have to be done, but in the beginningj when they
started using computercbased stuff, no one was saving that
material and a lot of it couldn't be saved. So, I think as time
passes they're going to start archiving a lot of the books that
way and they'll be able to pull them out and make changes on them
if they need to. It's just another way things are changing.
SR: Yes. An electronic library instead of a paper one.
Anderson: Yeah, well it makes a lot of sense if you stop to think
about it. And of course a lot of the artwork is probably not, if
they do it the most economical way, they'll probably make a lot
of changes in artwork and so forth and put it together on a
computer and there may not be any original art as such at that
SR: Do you think the business will ever reach a point
where rather than an artist, you'll have a technician at a
console or do you think the comic book business will always need
Anderson: Well, when you say artist, if you're talking about
creative people, you'll always have to have creative people. As
to where it's going ultimately, who knows? They're already able
to take stuff and change it, twist it, and so forth. A lot of art
is prepared and given to people and they put it on the computer
and make it change it around and so forth. Some of the computers
we've been looking at over the years, I mean as much as five or,
five years or more back, I've seen photographs taken then on the
computer and they can actually alter a face. I remember seeing a
technician take a portrait of a girl who had a Mona Lisa kind of
smile and he actually opened up her mouth, gave her teeth, gave
her dimples, everything, you know, right on the computer. And you
couldn't tell it.
SR: I saw one in "Scientific Americanù that was a picture
of Marilyn Monroe holding hands with Abe Lincoln.
Anderson: Yeah, well that's the kind of thing. And put in the
hands of a creative technician, although there again, you have to
have someone that's an artist and creator, but not in the sense
that he could sit down and draw a comic book page. That's a
different discipline. And, so I don't know. Who knows where it's
going, and you see all these animated features now that would
have been impossible before the computers. You couldn't have
hired enough people to do them. Now, this stuff, I don't know
exactly how they do all that, but I can see, you know, from the
computer stuff we study here, the possibilities of doing all this
stuff on a computer. You know, doing the animation starting with
a basic figure and just changing it a little as you go along,j______Ü
changing backgrounds and all that sort of thing right on the
computer, so it's made possible all this fantastic amount of
material that's coming out now. In the old days, you know, it
took Disney three or four years to produce a feature film, you
know, "Snow Whiteù, or what have you. Those were projects that were
in the works for sometimes eight or ten years. "Fantasiaù and all
that sort of thing took a tremendous amount of effort and
planning. Now, it seems to be duck soup for a computer.
SR: Mr. Anderson, just in closing, I was wondering, just
in closing, who have been some of your favorite writers who've
scripts you've worked on in the pastj and maybe give me a reason
why you liked that person's work.
Anderson: Well, I must say I've always been blessed with good
writers, going back I would say, I'll go back to a story, with DC
days, with when I started in 1950. I worked with Edmond Hamilton,
Manly Wade Wellman, John Broome, Gardner Fox, of course. John
Broome was quite a good writer and he wrote a lot of stuff for
Julie, but he was never able to match Gardner in production. His
stuff showed a lot more contemplation and he worked very hard to
edit copy down to small balloon size and so forth. I mean to edit
it down to where you didn't have so much verbiage, and still say
what you wanted it to say and a lot of writers I think just write
what pops into their heads, you know. That doesn't mean it's not
good, but it's sort of like writing poetry if you're just going
to edit it down to its just bare essentials and still
(indechipherable), I'm sorry am I..?
SR: Oh, no, I'm sorry.
Anderson: Am I overrunning your time here?
SR: No, no, I accidentally touched a button on my tape.
Sorry. So, you liked Broome's work?
Anderson: Oh, yeah, very much. And Denny O'Neill was another
SR: What about other artists you worked with? Were there
any pencillers you liked more than others?
Anderson: Well, I guess Curt Swan was a perhaps, the easiest all
around one I was in tune with.
SR: What did you like best about Curt's work?
Anderson: Well it's just that he puts everything in, you know, he
doesn't get hurried or anything. Everything's done at a certain
pace and it's very conscientiously done. And that seems to be the
way that I like to work, too. Other artists are more stylized and
sometimes I'm not as in tune with them as I am with someone that
draws very realistically like, I think, Curt does.
j______ÜSR: How did you like inking Gil Kane's work?
Anderson: Well, that was very easy because Gil was basically a
realistic artist and only in recent years he's gone, you know, a
little more for the Kirby kind of thing, but he's still basically
SR: Looking back on your whole career, were there any
jobs or characters that you had a particular fondness for?
Anderson: Well, my favorite character in all the comics that I've
worked on are read over the years, would have to be "Buck Rogersù.
That's partly because I grew up on Buck, maybe when I was eight
or nine years old I became aware of the strip and it was a dream
come true when I worked on the feature.
SR: And you were lucky enough to work on it twice.
Anderson: Yeah. Right.
SR: I guess that will do it for me unless you have
anything you want to add.
Anderson: No, I don't know. I mean, if you would get into this
and you have some other questions, things you want clarified, I
would be happy to talk to you and I would like to see a draft of
anything you're going to do.
SR: I don't see a problem with that. Let me check with
my editor and I'll get back to you.
Anderson: Well, when I talked to him, and he set this up, I
assume that's who you're talking about. Darnall?
SR: Steve Darnall? Right.
SR: Well, if it's okay with Steve, certainly, Mr.
Anderson: Well, yes, that was one of the ground rules, that I
would like to see it and just check for accuracy, I'm not going
to try to check, unless my grammar's particularly bad, I'm not
going to change that, but I'd just like to make sure you have
spellings and dates and things right.
SR: Yeah, if you could mostly check the spelling of
names and stuff.
Anderson: Yeah, because that's always a problem, especially names
you may never have heard. I'll throw the name Dille out to you.
Anderson: I'll throw the name Dille?
SR: Oh, John F. Dille?
Anderson: Oh, of course, you're on to how to spell that, I guess,
but a lot of people are thrown by that name.
SR: Yeah, it doesn't look like it would be pronounced
Anderson: No, not at all, and it's a Scotch name on top of it.