Professional artist Rick Stasi discusses his time working with DC Comics and shares personal anecdotes on his journey into the comic book industry.
Thomas Townley interviews Rick Stasi about his work and journey to becoming a professional artist.
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[0:00:00] (Thomas T): Multiverse. Tonight presents the Spinner Rack rick Stasi's life in comics. And now, here's your host.
[0:00:08] (Rick Stasi): I love it. That's great.
[0:00:10] (Thomas T): Hey, everyone.
[0:00:13] (Rick Stasi): Oil can.
[0:00:13] (Thomas T): Oil can. Hey, everyone. It's, of course, Thomas Townley here, and we're speaking with Rick Stasi again.
[0:00:21] (Rick Stasi): Hi.
[0:00:23] (Thomas T): Rick. What have you been doing since last we spoke?
[0:00:27] (Rick Stasi): Well, I almost brought it up to show you. Downstairs. I have my office upstairs here. Downstairs I have a bona fide big art studio. A really large workshop that has everything an artist needs. All the space and tables and materials and an old Sears Kenmore refrigerator stocked with Diet Pepsi. So I work away down there. What I'm doing now is and I'm really booked artistically until the end of August. So this is a very busy season.
[0:00:54] (Rick Stasi): I'm doing commissioned illustrations for some patrons that I do work for a lot. Quarterly, as a matter of fact. And these are eleven x 14, sometimes bigger twelve x 16 collages of the characters that they like. So this is not just a Superman or a Hulk or a Batman although those are later on in my list. These are different characters, primarily from DC. Some from a gold key that were B level. I guess if you look at the old dial H for Hero you may not remember that.
[0:01:33] (Rick Stasi): Okay. Robbie Reid would dial h. That's my little sound effect. Old time telephone. And the letter would come up and a hero would appear. So one of the gentlemen that really likes those books collects them and then wants a collage of three or four of the characters fighting somebody from a gold key comic or whatever. When we do another one of these, should you want to I'll bring them up now. Hold them up here because they are big, colorful explosions of action trying to catch that lightning in a jar. And I feel that I do do that. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot.
[0:02:18] (Rick Stasi): They're really come out great. And this friend of mine that likes this artwork really enjoys this. So off we go.
[0:02:26] (Thomas T): Great. I'd like to speaking of tooting our own horn, I'd like to thank the people listening last week's episode last episode was the biggest episode. I've had 122 downloads.
[0:02:39] (Rick Stasi): Wow, that's good.
[0:02:42] (Thomas T): If I can keep that up, maybe I can actually sell some commercials.
[0:02:46] (Rick Stasi): That's a great idea. I like it. I'll buy one. That's great. That's good. Good for you.
[0:02:52] (Thomas T): All right. Well, today our subject is DC Comics. And your time there.
[0:02:58] (Rick Stasi): Okay.
[0:02:59] (Thomas T): Now, you were there in the late 80s, weren't you?
[0:03:05] (Rick Stasi): Earlier than that. I initiated my relationship. Yeah. It takes a while to get in, so I initiated my relationship with DC when I graduated high school. I don't know if we touched on this last time. I don't recall.
[0:03:14] (Thomas T): I think we touched a little bit on it.
[0:03:16] (Rick Stasi): Right to DC. And then marvel too. That was 1970 as I taught my class at the kansas City Art Institute. Everything is relationship marketing, so let's use DC. And Dick Giordano. Met him in 70. He extended himself to me many times throughout the early parts of that summer. And finally he said, Go home and go to school. You're a diamond in the rough, but you got lots of work, lots of schooling, and not just comic book education.
[0:03:47] (Rick Stasi): Become a student of all things, and it'll make you a better artist. But then that's in 70. Then I started doing fanzine stuff after that, and it went on and on and on. I did the All Star Comics Review, which was with Craig Delich, and that was in either 76 or 77. So I'm doing day gigs and I'm going to school, and I get to get married and all that great stuff, too. But I did the Justice Society in this big reference book. So there's a DC for you there that I'm doing buyer's guide covers, et cetera, et cetera, mostly with DC or some I'll get rid of that pesky noise. There some Marvel characters, too, but this paves the way to working with DC. Now I'm doing conventions.
[0:04:37] (Rick Stasi): I'm doing them all the times they called us back then, fan artists, I guess, because if you were published professionally and paid, unless you were paid by Marvel or DC, you were a fan artist. But eventually it cracked through in 1983 or earlier, maybe earlier than that, by a wee bit. The way in the DC was to fail at Marvel. So if you want to hear the failure of Marvel story, I'll tell you that.
[0:05:10] (Thomas T): Sure, go ahead.
[0:05:11] (Rick Stasi): Okay. So DC is doing a talent hunt. I go to Chicago Con every year, 28 years in a row, starting off to go up there with my portfolio and get in line and have anybody look at my work and sift through the helpful stuff and abandon all the insults. A lot of people in those editorial positions are less than polite with their comments. Okay? In the talent search, I met Joe Orlando and made an appointment with him. Joe was a fantastic illustrator. He was an editor at DC Comics. He's one of the old guard.
[0:05:46] (Rick Stasi): So I arranged to meet him for breakfast at Chicago Comic Con, and I showed him JLA tryout pages, and I showed him Superboy tryout pages. And just to be kind of cocky, I tied both stories together so you could see how there was a storytelling continuity. And we sat at the Ramada O'Hare Restaurant the day of the convention, had breakfast. He looked at him, and he really was complimentary looking at my work.
[0:06:18] (Rick Stasi): And I was thrilled to be on, thrilled, because I was going to crack that glass ceiling. And after the conversation, just low from it. And he goes, how old are you? And I said, I'm 26. And he pushed back all the pages, pushed him back right past my coffee and my strawberries, pushed him right back. And I said, well, what's up? I've been in a corporate background, so I knew to be polite. And he said, I got to tell you, you're 26.
[0:06:46] (Rick Stasi): You peaked out a long time ago. You're not going to get any better. And I was flooded with a myriad of emotions, including frustration, and a little hacked off too, but you win more flies with honey than vinegar. And I said, okay, well, thank you for your input. This is something I've wanted to pursue. And he goes, you know, you're handling this quite well. I said, Well, I've been around the horn, I guess, when I walked out of the restaurant after parting ways in a very friendly manner with him, walked down the hall, and there's a stairwell that goes up to wherever as you enter the big giant convention dealers room and meeting rooms.
[0:07:29] (Rick Stasi): And standing there, because he stood so tall anyway, was Jim Shooter, who I think was like seven foot one, and sitting on the stairs talking up to him was one of his freelancers. And Jim said, because I saw Jim many times because I tried to score work with him, he goes, Rick, how to go? And I said, Well, Joe Orlando told me I related the story to him. He used an expletive that I'll spare you with right now, but he was very explanatory and how upset he was to hear that my age was a factor.
[0:08:02] (Rick Stasi): And there was a young artist sitting with him, and he said, Can I see your stuff? And I said, yeah. And I pulled out the superboy pages dumped through there in the JLA. And Jim said, this is really solid stuff. It's good storytelling and really nice drawings. And the young man that was sitting there with him made the same kind of comments. He said, oh, there's Jim Shooter. He said, this is really good, man.
[0:08:24] (Rick Stasi): Don't let him take you out. Don't let him knock the wind out of your sails. And I said, I know you're from somewhere. And he said, Well, I work for Marlin. And I said, you are. And he said, Frank Miller. So Miller gave me a bit of a boost, yeah. So I felt good. Shooter flashed me a business card, and he said, Nuts to them. Get a hold of me when we get back in town, this is either 82 or 83, and I'll send you a try out on something. Which I did.
[0:08:50] (Rick Stasi): And he sent me the Avengers, and it focused on the Vision. So cranking this out trying to do this. We've got a new baby. I'm working a day gig. I don't get home till 07:00, but you really have to want to do this. And I penciled out like twelve pages of Avengers for him as a sample. It's not my best work. And I sent it off to him, and I realized everybody's traveling. It's going to be a while before he gets back to me, and he just didn't for a long time.
[0:09:21] (Rick Stasi): Once I finally called and got a hold of the secretary there, she said, he's going to drop you a letter, so look for it in the mail. Sorry, we're just swamped right now. And I came home to find a letter from Marvel Comics. Marvel Comics. Little graphics on it and spidey. I thought score. This is great. I think my wife still has this tucked in a drawer someplace. And it says, Dear Rick, regarding your submission, you're not close.
[0:09:50] (Rick Stasi): You're not even in the ballpark. Let's just forget the whole thing. If I find that, I should scan it and send it to you. I was devastated. So I realized I had a Wichita show coming up. I still have those pencil pages. And that Wichita show coming up was probably the most impactful show of my life. I just crashed, went to the Wichita show, where I was a guest with Jan Stranad, who is from Wichita. Also Corbin, Richard Corbin.
[0:10:25] (Rick Stasi): Gil Kane came as a guest. And Dick Jordano and I've got the rest of the names because we had them on T shirts. It's like I'm never throwing that T shirt away. So I'm sitting at a table, and I'm drawing Greenland. I was selling commission sketches like I always have, and doing a Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, and I'm in my element. I'm having fun and talking to people and drawing GL and stuff. I see this looming shadow behind me, this tall, lanky, looming shadow, and I hear a voice say, very tall guy.
[0:11:02] (Rick Stasi): My boy. You draw Green Lantern. Lantern was such authority. I turned around and I looked up. It was Gil came. So I almost came apart like a $2 watch, okay? And I was mesmerized by his generous words. And he stood, and I sat in awe and talked a great deal about form and format and color and composition. And mostly he talked, and I listened. I sought this up like a biscuit and gravy at Cracker Barrel.
[0:11:35] (Rick Stasi): And throughout that time, Dick cheer, Dono, who I've known for years, and I saw him at all the conventions, walked by, and he was doing some sketches and stuff. That looks really good. What you been up to? And I said, Well, I've got some xeroxes of pages. I sent shooter. He goes, let's see them. Let's see them. Put them on the table. Dick's, looking at him, doesn't say a word. Thumbing through back and forth and stuff.
[0:12:00] (Rick Stasi): And because it was the vision, the vision was flying a lot with this big flowing cape. And while Dick was observing these pages and thumbing through them, I get my black felt tip marker. Sorry. The only prop I have now is red. And I drew little ears on the vision. And I scalloped I'm making a scallop motion here. I scalloped his cape, and I made him Batman. And Dick looked and looked and looked, and he said, that's great. What do you want to do for us?
[0:12:31] (Rick Stasi): So there that glass ceiling had broken open. I believe this was 1983. And I did inventory books, I did Batgirl, I did a bunch of stuff for them. And then finally he called up and said, do you want to step in and do an issue of Warlord? Mike Grill later became one of my closest friends. Got him on speed dial, and I love him like a brother. I've got some good friends in comics. There you go. There's warlord right there.
[0:13:01] (Rick Stasi): And I did that issue, and they were a little bit cautious. I won't say hesitant, because people that were working for DC were living in New York or surrounding areas where you take a train in and you meet on the story and a train home. You can always show up and be there and hand deliver your work. Even most people who got corrections got them done right there in the bullpen because there's always some kind of correction they wanted.
[0:13:26] (Rick Stasi): DC Comics trusted me to do the work and mail it to them and make the deadline. They also trusted that time a bit before me, Steve Lidl, who came in rocking it with his samples, his fanzines, and legion of superheroes. And so I felt like we're getting a chance. Steve, first tell me, don't blow the deadlines. There's no FedEx at that point that I knew of or what have you. I get the script for Warlord, and I give it 110% hyperbole, but you just eat, sleep, and bleed Warlord the whole time.
[0:14:06] (Rick Stasi): Got it all done, made final copies for myself and mailed it to New York. And I called Pat Bastian at New York, who is a talent coordinator, and said, you'll have it Tuesday. And she said, Great. Good job. That's well, realizing that again, we're just being trusted to mail this stuff in. She never received it Tuesday, she never received it Wednesday, she never received it Thursday. And I'm sweating bullets. I'm going to blow this for me, I'm going to blow it for everybody else.
[0:14:32] (Rick Stasi): So I worked at 23rd in Maine, and I walked down the street two blocks and walked into the post office, the main post office in Casey. And I said, I want to go through everything. I want to go through your back. Where is my package? And they were unable to give me, really any help at all. I called Patty and she said, well, wait till Monday. Let's see what happens Monday. So I called her Monday and she said, we're kind of sweating this out. You got Xeroxes you can mail in, and maybe somebody could lightbox them an income.
[0:14:59] (Rick Stasi): And I said, yeah, if we have to do that, and I'm losing sleep on this, hang up the phone. And my wife calls me. She said, hey, she was home that day. A name and a phone number of a guy that's got your artwork at LaGuardia. I said what happened? She said, well, he saw that it was to DC. He opened it up, this true story. He loves warlord. He read the story, and he's so mad that one of the characters got killed on the back page.
[0:15:30] (Rick Stasi): He's just furious. So he just walked away from it. Well, find out who this guy is, where a delivery area is. I'll put DC in touch with them, and they did, and they wrapped the package back up. Patty got it. And that's the story about I think it's Warlord 96.
[0:15:45] (Thomas T): Yeah.
[0:15:46] (Rick Stasi): So with that came opportunities to do all kinds of stuff that I did. Having the full time gig, which really is essential to have that working in comics, I found, is like being an actor on a soap opera. We need you for 13 weeks, and maybe we'll see you in a year or two. But that's kind of how that went for me. But I did everything I wanted to do, managed it with them and still had the day job and find that to be one of the most magical experiences of my life.
[0:16:17] (Rick Stasi): For the characters, I got to draw the artistic expression. I got to show the desire and the love for the genre, but really for the friends I made. I mean, dear, dear for Paul Kupperberg. I got an email from him. I'm working on another project with him now. Mike mike Gold, who's like a big brother to me. He was director of development and my editor on Shazam, Roy Thomas. Oh, the same show I'm telling you about in Wichita where Dick was there in Gil Kane.
[0:16:50] (Rick Stasi): Have a young man that comes up to my table and I'm buzzed. I'm just so happy that Gill's there and Dick's there. And things are starting to turn. I work for a building materials retailer in Kansas City as creative director. What city are you in?
[0:17:05] (Thomas T): I'm in Kingman. It's right outside Wichita.
[0:17:08] (Rick Stasi): Okay. Do you remember a building materials specialty retailer named Payless Cashways Building Materials?
[0:17:16] (Thomas T): Yes, I do.
[0:17:17] (Rick Stasi): Okay. They went out of business six months before I quit. I was there 24 years, I think as a senior creative director in marketing and advertising and stuff. Good gig. Salary was good. Benefits were good. And guy comes up to my table and he goes, Mr. Stasi? And I said yes. And he says, Would you sign a piece of your artwork for me? And I said, yeah. And he pulls an ad out of the Sunday paper and it's a building materials ad.
[0:17:45] (Rick Stasi): And I thought, who is this guy? And he starts laughing, and he goes, I'm a big fan of comics. I just wanted to say hi. And I said, what is your name? And he said, Mark Wade. So Mark Wade and I were friends way before he got into comics. Mark was up here from Oklahoma, as I recall. And he was tempting in a legal office someplace that I remember I've taken the ball and I'm running with this. Is this what you wanted to hear, Thomas?
[0:18:14] (Thomas T): Is this about yeah.
[0:18:15] (Rick Stasi): Okay. So I did that. So boom, boom, boom. Wade wade wants to go to work for Dick. He wants to help them open up Piranha Press, which became their other brand title, which, of course, escapes me. Karen Burger opened it. It wasn't piranha. Hi, Mark. You look so nice. Anyway, I'm working back and forth and the Batman film at Shepherdon Studios is in production with Michael Keaton. Keaton. We're doing a show in town at the Kansas City Comic Book Convention Club. Mo, Cam, whatever they call themselves.
[0:18:52] (Rick Stasi): And the guest list included Dick Giordado, Pat Baschen from DC, who are returning from England because they had to inspect the sets or whatever. They just went over there because you work for DC and they saw the cool stuff going on. Dick Sprang, if you remember him, he's well worth your time. He's a saint. Kurt Swan, Mike Gold came. Paul Copperberg came to this bicker. I don't recall. Julie Schwartz was there. Although Julie came to many Kansas City shows. He might have been there, too.
[0:19:28] (Rick Stasi): And they all came to the pre convention party at my house. So we got all these little high V sandwiches. That's a retail grocery store in town here and beer and pop and stuff. And my mom and dad are watching the kids. And we have quite a spread for all these people including the brass of the Kansas City Comic Book Club. But the day before this all took place, we get a phone call. My wife was on the garage. I'm in the car vacuuming it. She goes, it's that Mark Wade fella.
[0:19:58] (Rick Stasi): I said okay. Hi, Mark. He says, hi, Rick. He said, I understand you're having a party tomorrow. I'm popping my piece. I'm sorry. Party tomorrow to christen off the carnival, or rather convention weekend. The carnival? It's like a carnival? I said yeah. And he goes, Can I come? And I said, sure. And so he came. He was still tempted for an agency, I guess, Oklahoma then and got to meet everybody. And the conversations are happening in the dining room with Dick and Patty and whatever.
[0:20:30] (Rick Stasi): And I see that as being the seeds being planted with DC to pick up on this guy who is a walking photographic memory of all things comic book, especially DC. I shared a room with him one night when we were doing the Superman's 50th anniversary in Cleveland and he said, Mark, don't talk anymore about Jimmy Olsen. What issue, what artist going to drive me nuts with this? But he is a great guy and a magnificent talent and knows comics like nobody's business.
[0:21:09] (Thomas T): That's awesome. Mark Wade is a great guy, great writer.
[0:21:15] (Rick Stasi): Yes. I read his Shazam last week. I thought it was excellent. Shazam number one. I'm just going to drink to the whole show. Here a little water and a little coffee.
[0:21:25] (Thomas T): Oh, that's fine.
[0:21:27] (Rick Stasi): Getting hydrated.
[0:21:30] (Thomas T): I have to ask, was Warlord the first time your name was on the COVID Or was it DC Comic? Yeah.
[0:21:40] (Rick Stasi): Yes, it was. Now, I've been on Fanzines. I used to do covers for the Comics Buyers Guide and Comics Journal and Comic Reader and any freelance thing I could do. Tons of stuff like that. What was considered fan art, kind of like second class citizens.
[0:22:00] (Thomas T): I'm betting that was a big ego boost when you saw that, right?
[0:22:05] (Rick Stasi): Yeah, it really, truly is. Dreams realized because wanting to draw comics, that was an inspiration that came at the death of George Reeves in 1959. I got to start drawing. I think we talked about that last time. But finally telling stories from my imagination with pencil in hand is what I really wanted to do. To work on Warlord, I thought, I want to do a superhero. You know what? That was superhero enough for me.
[0:22:37] (Rick Stasi): And my editor at that point with that book was Ross Andrew. If you recall, Ross Andrew was the artist that worked with Mike Esposito on Wonder Woman. The metal men. He took over Spidey, I think, in the late 70s or something like that at Marvel. But he was quite a mentor to me, even though it was just one book that we worked on. So you get a chance to touch the hymns of the garments of greatness.
[0:23:09] (Thomas T): Now, of course, collect my thought here. Of course. Speaking of DC, Superman big part of that, and we're going to Smallville next month.
[0:23:26] (Rick Stasi): Yes, I will see you there.
[0:23:32] (Thomas T): What are your thoughts on Superman, by the way?
[0:23:36] (Rick Stasi): I have many thoughts about Superman because I think he epitomizes the entire genre. He also epitomizes to me truth, justice, and the American way. And that's where people get wrapped around the axle. What is the American way? We're trying to find that out every day. The American way, I believe, is pursuing goodness in resolving conflict, doing something selfless and uplifting. So when people say the American way, I get it. I know they're having issues in many cases with turbulence in the country.
[0:24:13] (Rick Stasi): But I wouldn't condemn the American way because everybody, everybody's an American. So let's pursue this all together in resolution and peace. Therein lies the heroism, therein lies the struggle, but you got to struggle.
[0:24:30] (Thomas T): What's your favorite DC character of the draw, by the way? Is it superman?
[0:24:34] (Rick Stasi): On any given day, if I'm in a happy mood, in a good mood, and I think things are kind of uplifting and it's a grand day out there, it's Superman. If I'm a little sullen and morose, it would be Batman. On occasion, Green Lantern sneaks in because I just loved the character. And the way that Gil depicted Green Lantern, to me, is just almost poetry because of his skill sets. So those are really my favorite DC characters. A lot of people talk to me about the JLA. I love Mike Sakowski's JLA.
[0:25:14] (Rick Stasi): And I enjoyed Martian Manhunter. And I've had a place in my heart for Wonder Woman. And I'm talking Andrew Esposito Wonder Woman. I never read the book, but I'd see it because that was a superhero for girls, I thought. I liked that. I loved when Denny took over the book denny O'Neill.
[0:25:34] (Thomas T): Oh, yeah.
[0:25:35] (Rick Stasi): And made her Diana Rigg. And Sakowski was drawn it that was just too cool. And I think over years and years till George Perez got it, wonder Woman struggled to find her place, but I find her to be essential to this. I don't believe that there is this trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. I think it's a marketing ploy stuff. But you asked about my favorite characters, and I'll shift just for a second.
[0:26:00] (Rick Stasi): If I'm reliving my youth, which at my advanced age, I'd like to do. When I'm drawing downstairs, I'm listening to the greatest hits of 1965 to 1980, and I'm really energized and enthused by it. But if I'm feeling my high school oats, I'm drawing Spider Man. Because when the book came out, Peter was in high school and I think I was in 7th or 8th grade. I always thought, like, he was an upper classman kind of like a Big Brother figure. So when I'm feeling kind of wild and funky and cocky, I'm drawn Spidey.
[0:26:36] (Thomas T): Well, that's great. DC Comics the first comic I ever bought was Star Trek Annual Number Three back in I think it was 87, 88, something like that. Scotty's lost love. I lived in Anthony, which is a town south of here, and we just happened to go to the grocery store. And they're on the first comic that was on the that was on the magazine rack just happened to be Star Trek. And I got in the Star Trek right before that. And so I just, mom, can have the and so that kind of started my interest in comics. Oh, yeah.
[0:27:25] (Rick Stasi): Do you recall who wrote or drew that first book?
[0:27:28] (Thomas T): I want to say let's see. Here it is. Yeah, it was Pierre David. It was Pierre David, Kurt Swan and Ricardo Villegren.
[0:27:41] (Rick Stasi): Kurt was doing Star Trek then. Yeah. What a great talent.
[0:27:46] (Thomas T): Yeah. And that's sort of my love of Peter David and his writing.
[0:27:53] (Rick Stasi): He's fantastic. He's a brilliant writer. I used to see him every year in Chicago. What a sense of community to have to go to these shows. I never went to San Diego because I was intimidated by that size of a crowd. Chicago con beat the living poo out of me because of all the folks that are there. But to be at your table in Artist Alley and to see the stars. Mr. T come by. Mr. T from the A Team. And he had his own comic book for a while.
[0:28:24] (Rick Stasi): Jenny McCarthy came by. It is alleged that Aerosmith was there buying books, but just great to see how many crossovers of talented people want to go to Comic Con.
[0:28:35] (Thomas T): Oh, yeah. You have met a lot of famous people and Superman people, haven't you?
[0:28:43] (Rick Stasi): Yeah. I'm going back to a visual. I might have sent you a screen grab of a picture at Superman's 50th anniversary in Cleveland, and I thought, you're going to mention Star Trek and Superman and all that. That's a large group of people from DC and Marvel and Star Trek. I was invited by Tony Isabelle to come up and be a guest for that show. That was Tony Isabella's show, as a matter of fact, and got up there, checked into my room.
[0:29:16] (Rick Stasi): Mark Wade checked in across the hall. What are you doing? You want to get a drink? Going to get beer or something like that? Sure. So we went downstairs to the bar, and May Jill Barrett walked in, and of course, that's Gene Roddenberry's wife. And was she like she was nurse one or something in Star Trek. And he says hi. I said hi to I didn't know her that well. And she sat with us, and we had a cocktail, and then she said, Boys, I've got to go. I've got to get something to eat. I shouldn't be drinking on an empty stomach. It's like oh, stay here. And she said, okay, and she had another one, and it's like, Boys, I've got to go. No, stay here, too.
[0:29:55] (Rick Stasi): And of course, she had a nice evening visiting with Wade and myself and going out for dinner with someone. But we teased back then about wanting to get major drunk and what a wild story that would have made. So Scotty was there. Gosh, there's the picture right there, as a matter of fact. Yeah. You can see me and Wade at the bottom. I'm in the blue perma press pants, and Wade's next to me in the white jacket.
[0:30:21] (Rick Stasi): To the right of that, I believe, is Roger Stern. Behind. Roger is spidey. Behind Spidey is Stan and Joni to your right, far right, cut off, is Marv Wolfman. Today is his birthday. My far right. I'm sorry. Behind the Care barrel, behind Stan, the guy with the hair and the beard, is George Perez. Magell Barrett's there in the blue jacket. That's right. There Scotty's behind her. Orgway is next to her. And then there's Kirk Allen, who is Superman, and two of the serials who's also blackhawk, and a whole bunch of old Gray View movies back then. That is Mike Carlin. The Great Carlini.
[0:31:09] (Rick Stasi): In front of him is Schwartz, Julia Schwartz. Don't call me here. I'm busy. Next to him is Harlan Ellison. Behind him is Don Rosa Keno. Don Rosa. And I'm kind of squinting here. Down in front is next to Harlan Ellison is his girlfriend. And boy, did Julie Schwartz take a lot of attention towards her. He liked her a lot. Down on one knee, right there. Is to the left of that woman whose name escapes me is Kurt Swan.
[0:31:42] (Rick Stasi): Kurt's in the white shirt next to Kurt is Maggie Thompson. I believe it's Don Thompson, her husband, who passed away, like, just a year or two after that. And it was devastating for her. The gentleman that played Shazam, Captain Marvel was a local performance artist whose name escapes me because there's so many people coming in and out of these. The woman in the blue jacket there's, Peggy May. And she ended up marrying Jerry Ordway. She was public relations for DC Comics.
[0:32:13] (Rick Stasi): I'm trying to think. Okay. Behind Wade is Roger Stern. And to right of him is Carrie Gammel. I made a mistake there. And can you find right behind Wade, the guy with red hair, bill Mumi from Lost in Space. Do you see him there? Right there? That's his wife behind him. I feel like I'm doing a vision test. My doctor en L-L-A.
[0:32:45] (Thomas T): Folks. You can see this picture over at my website, multiversenite.com. I have, of course oh, my gosh, rick's photo album here.
[0:32:56] (Rick Stasi): Yes. The great Noel Neal, who I adore. I loved Noel Neal. Noel was not getting any work after the Superman series. She had plenty of work beforehand because she was in all those Grade B Westerns and some detective stuff too. They alleged that she just wasn't and I'll say this appropriately sexy enough or attractive enough to get work. And she worked at United Artists as a secretary and did other stuff too.
[0:33:27] (Rick Stasi): I knew she was touring the college circuit. I look very young there. As a matter of fact, I knew she was touring the college circuit and we were having a show in Wichita and I wanted to help with the talent as I did because I had some connections. So I got a hold of Noelle and I sent her a letter and I said, would you be a guest at a Comic Con? She'd never been to a Comic Con. I believe this is 1980.
[0:33:50] (Rick Stasi): And she said, yes. And the Con folks set it up. I had her do a radio remote from Kansas City. Interview on KMBZ radio. She made it to the downtown Wichita Hotel. My wife and I met her. We had dinner. I was thrilled because come on, man. Lois Lane. And we spent the evening talking about what a rat Bing Crosby was the man that discovered her and what a lech he was here. Married man with a wife that was sick and coming on to her that way.
[0:34:22] (Rick Stasi): But Noel was wonderful. And I tell the story about she asked me to save her one time, like Superman. And people say, what does that mean? She had the room adjoining ours in the hotel. And she called me. It's like, 145 in the morning. And I pulled it up and I thought, somebody watching my kid or baby here in Kansas City. There's a problem. There's no caller ID. Back then, we were lucky to have a telephone.
[0:34:47] (Rick Stasi): And she said, Rick Snowel. And I said hi. What's up? And she said, Well, I don't want to alarm you, but I have a mouse in my room and I'm terrified of them. That's okay. I can get get right over there and help you with that. She goes, Well, I don't want to bother you. Should I call the front desk? And I said, sure, or they'll switch rooms or whatever I can do. And she goes, well, thank you, because I'm terrified of mice. And I said, anytime you could wake me up in the middle of the night to save Lois Lane, I'm glad to do that.
[0:35:17] (Rick Stasi): We became good friends with her. We did many, many shows over the years. And Noel never failed till the year she died to send us and many folks Christmas cards.
[0:35:30] (Thomas T): That's awesome. Well, I do have a fire. So getting back to DC Comics and so how many times did you work for DC over the years?
[0:35:48] (Rick Stasi): I don't know enough. I've always wanted to do more, but I don't know many, many times. I did, to the best of my recollection, I did a Batgirl inventory. I did Warlord. I know I'm going to forget stuff, too. I did legion of Superheroes, Secret Origins. I did tons of who's who stuff. I was the COVID artist for Crimson Avenger. Three out of four copies of that miniseries, or issues, I should say, of that miniseries.
[0:36:21] (Rick Stasi): I've got Doom patrol. I'm looking at my bookcase over Doom Patrol. I don't know, but enough to keep busy all the time. Did Shazam always had work in there? And the moment it lapsed, I got snapped up at Marvel to do some stuff, which is good, too.
[0:36:41] (Thomas T): Speaking of Shazam? Yes. Which used to be called Captain Marvel, right. What was your thought when they changed it to Shazam?
[0:36:51] (Rick Stasi): Hated it. I understood. I mean, when that name transition took place, I was in college, I think, so I knew that there were trademarks and legal issues and what have you. I think that I wished Marvel would have allowed more flexibility to DC to just run a comic called the original Captain Marvel. And I don't know the machinations of what took place with that, but when Stan did his first quotes, air quotes, science fiction comic Captain Marvel, and that was Marvel, and Stan wrote it, Gene Colon drew it. I thought that was great because I knew that Captain Marvel, shazam was an old, old time character.
[0:37:33] (Rick Stasi): But when you bring them both into the universe now, the multiverse, I thought it was goofy that DC didn't handle it any better.
[0:37:40] (Thomas T): Thinking logically here.
[0:37:42] (Rick Stasi): Thinking logically. Good luck with that. I have yet to accomplish that.
[0:37:47] (Thomas T): Is there a character that you never get asked to draw? One that you wish someone would ask you to draw but you never get requested?
[0:38:00] (Rick Stasi): I'm doing years worth of research up here in my Rolodex, going back to even conventions or comic books or whatever, and I have to tell you, no, let me say this. I wish I could have done an issue of Archie for Archie Comics, but I never was there when there was an opportunity or vice versa, what have you, that didn't happen. I love Popeye. I would have loved to have done an eight pages of Popeye if there was a need for eight pages of Popeye, but that never raised its head. So especially doing the who su characters for DC.
[0:38:36] (Rick Stasi): I can't tell you how many weird characters I never heard of, I had to do research on. So I could do Mary M-E-R-R-Y Girl of 1000 Gimmicks, which sounds like a cult film. That's from 1979. Okay. But the tons of aliens and characters and things. One thing I really wanted to do, and I find the Xeroxes downstairs in my file, I wanted to do the quintessential Superman story that I wanted to do my way, and I wanted to make it a series of issues that would print as a trade paperback about yay thick, not overwhelmingly thick.
[0:39:20] (Rick Stasi): And I wrote the premise for it and I drew the sample for six pages, and it is flesher style, and I wanted either Kupperberg or Roy Thomas to dialogue it and edit it, make sure I'm reigned in okay. And I want a Terry Beatty to ink it. And it starts with the mad Scientist, and it ends up with Pearl Harbor that takes bits and pieces of all those cartoons and really plays out some story that you never thought of, gives us a continuity. So you have one continuous storybook.
[0:40:04] (Rick Stasi): And I wanted it storybook style. I didn't necessarily want word balloons and stuff. Kind of like what Paul Deeney did with Alex Ross on all the big tabloid treasuries of Shazam and Superman and stuff. This is before he did that, and I really wanted to do that. And it sat at DC and went through many meetings and stuff, and Mike Carvin said, Nice try, but we're not looking to reinvent the past. We don't want any nostalgia. We want new things.
[0:40:32] (Rick Stasi): So it went away. Well, of course, DC has built itself on rebooting and nostalgia and stuff, so it was the right place at the wrong time. But that was something I really thought would be great for me to do and great for the fans.
[0:40:47] (Thomas T): Yeah, that sounds great. I think I'd love to see that.
[0:40:51] (Rick Stasi): Personally, if I find any of those pages downstairs, I'll bring them up and scan them or whatever and send them to you. And just for grins, you can take a look at it because Superman is not introduced to like, the third or fourth page. It is the mad scientist fighting off a government agent, and he's fighting from the lighthouse from that first cartoon and the bird from the first Superman cartoon. If you recall, that very first flesh cartoon attacks the government agent who falls seemingly to his death in the waters at the base of that lighthouse.
[0:41:25] (Rick Stasi): Dropping is at a Shay case which opens up and all these secret blueprints start flying around in the air. And they're titles of the other titles of the cartoons like Volcano or Japiturs or whatever.
[0:41:41] (Thomas T): That sounds excellent.
[0:41:43] (Rick Stasi): It was cool.
[0:41:45] (Thomas T): So I think we're about ready to wrap it up for today. But I have one, of course, interesting question from my deck of questions here.
[0:41:56] (Rick Stasi): Okay.
[0:41:57] (Thomas T): What is your most unusual talent?
[0:41:59] (Rick Stasi): Oh, Maya. I do impressions and I do impressions of probably famous Hollywood dead people. And I do that not because I'm a great impressionalist. I'm a great mimic. I'm like a parrot. I hear something and I can make that sound like that. I don't know if you remember the golden days of TV or Hollywood dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Remember them at all. I can do both of them talking to each other. And I'm a hit at a party for old people do that.
[0:42:32] (Rick Stasi): I was in a band, rock and roll band. I played keyboard, so I was frontman and did a lot of the singing. Not because I'm a good singer. I'm not necessarily a good singer but I'm a good enough mimic to pull off some beatle stuff. That sounds like a good cover song, I will say. I found this DVD about a month ago. We were on a Carnival Cruise ship in the early 2000s in Italy and my daughter was with us and we did some karaoke. And you laugh it off. It's just kind of fun.
[0:43:01] (Rick Stasi): And the Carnival Cruise people asked me if I would be willing to dress at a tuxedo and a hat with a raincoat like Frank Sinatra used to do. Come on. With a live orchestra at the end of one of their shows and sing my way in front of hundreds, not 300 tons of people. And I had to rehearse and stuff like that. But I did it. And for me, that was a life achievement to do that and then finding the video and some of the stills about two or three weeks ago I thought that was something that's an oddity but that might be one of my oddest talents that I have.
[0:43:40] (Thomas T): That's an excellent talent to have.
[0:43:42] (Rick Stasi): Of course, I was Sinatra for one song, one time with showgirls and the whole thing. If I find one of those pictures just for grins and they're a little fuzzy because I shot them with my phone on my TV I'll send them to you and they're a bit of a giggle.
[0:43:59] (Thomas T): Well, that's great. Well, as I said, I think we've done enough damage for today.
[0:44:06] (Rick Stasi): This is damage control. Yeah.
[0:44:10] (Thomas T): All right. Next time I say we cover Marvel Comics.
[0:44:13] (Rick Stasi): Great. Sounds good. We could talk about Stan.
[0:44:17] (Thomas T): Yeah.
[0:44:18] (Rick Stasi): I love the man oh, yeah.
[0:44:22] (Thomas T): He was an excellent he's the only autograph I have that's in my living room.
[0:44:28] (Rick Stasi): Okay.
[0:44:29] (Thomas T): I have the picture from the convention a few years ago of him and my wife and myself. And so I had him autograph that and I put that in our living room. So he's got place of honor in there.
[0:44:42] (Rick Stasi): There you go. I think I sent you pictures from 1975, my second convention. Did you get a chance to look at Stan?
[0:44:48] (Thomas T): Yeah.
[0:44:49] (Rick Stasi): Big, tall, handsome, lanky guy. He looked like Burt Reynolds. Look what time does to us though, okay?
[0:44:58] (Thomas T): And of course, once again, got plug smallville next.
[0:45:05] (Rick Stasi): Yeah, we'll be having fun. Yes. Working on new art for that, so that'll be fun.
[0:45:13] (Thomas T): That's a blast for me. I have my table. You have your table?
[0:45:18] (Rick Stasi): Yes.
[0:45:21] (Thomas T): If you're in Hutchinson that weekend, come by, say hi and with that, we'll bid farewell and see you later.
[0:45:32] (Rick Stasi): It's always a pleasure. Thanks so much. Take care.
[0:45:37] (Thomas T): Now.
[0:45:40] (Rick Stasi): The spinner rack from the Phantom Zone. You it. I love your theme song. I love that. That's good.
[0:46:03] (Thomas T): Copyright multiverse tonight 2023. All rights reserved.
[0:46:09] (Rick Stasi): Easy for you to say. It was fun.