Monday, June 8, 2009

Back Issue # 34: Dick Giordano Interview



I can't thank the host of the great 'Bottle City of Kanga' blog enough for pointing me to the current issue of Back Issue, specifically the Dick Giordano interview within. I appreciate the tips that you all post/send letting me know about new Supergirl stuff worth commenting on. Thanks again!

Here are links to that blog and a current thread about the interview on the DC Message boards.

http://bottlecityofkanga.blogspot.com/2009/06/supergirl-superman-with-boobs.html

http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000190466&tstart=0


The interview was meant to be a look backwards at Crisis on Infinite Earths with Giordano who was the VP/Executive Editor of DC at the time. Giordano also inked the first 3 issues of COIE as well as the 'death of Supergirl' pages in COIE #7.



He also pencilled and inked the Kara Christmas story "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot" starring Deadman in 1989's Christmas With The Super-Heroes. As a result, I always thought that Giordano was a Kara fan. Given the brief discussion of Supergirl in the interview, I guess I was wrong.


Here is the brief question from the interview that seems like a slap in the face to Supergirl fans.

Giordano apparently felt that Supergirl was little more than 'Superman with boobs', lobbied for her death in Crisis, and feels she never really added anything to the Superman mythos.

Sounds a bit harsh don't you think ... like a complete disregard for all of Supergirl's stories.

Now I don't think that Supergirl's role in the DCU was simply to add to Superman's mythos. Instead I think her responsibility was to build her own mythos. Sure as Kryptonians, their stories might overlap. But I have always thought Supergirl is a strong enough character to stand on her own.

As I have said before, the thing that I like most about Supergirl is that she is still becoming a hero. She is not already a polished and infallible figure like Superman. She is learning, striving, and in some ways struggling to be the best she can be. As a result, she is a more accessible to me as a reader. I can identify with her life a bit more than Superman.

Thinking back to that Supergirl, we had watched her grow and watched her stories become more mature as well. And she seemed to finally be stepping out from the shadow of her cousin and emerging as a hero in her own right. She went from teen orphan to grad student in front of our eyes and we grew with her. That was her legacy ... not adding tidbits to the Superman mythos.


The magazine also shows the notepad request by Giordano to then DC President Jenette Kahn for the green light to kill off Supergirl in Crisis.

Looks like a note passed in elementary school asking someone if they like you.




Outside of that one quote, the rest of the interview reads like a non-event. I was an adolescent when Crisis came out and I can remember eagerly awaiting each issue to come out. These were characters and worlds I had been reading about for years. Now, as an older reader, I was hoping this interview might give me some behind the scenes information. Unfortunately Giordano sort of gives denials or non-answers for a lot of questions. Here is me paraphrasing the Q&A:

Anyone you wish you kept alive? No.
Anyone you wish you killed? No.
Any problems with keeping things organized? Not that I recall.
Any problems keeping things on time? Not that I recall.
What was Crisis' greatest failure? It's greatest failure was its failings. (Huh? )
What was its greatest success? We sold more books.

Not that they cleaned up the DCU. No ... that they sold more books. And no problems, regrets, other things to comment on.

I show the question above because that would be a great thing to read about. How did the old guard of Superman feel about being shown the door? That would be something to read about! Instead, Giordano "doesn't remember" that meeting. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

Anyways, it was a little sad to read that one of the higher executives at DC thought so little of my favorite character.

But a Supergirl came back shortly after and things are looking brighter day by day.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I may return to this topic later, but the whole tenor of the above note is sodden with adolescent resentment...it's a slam-book entry straight out of middle school.
How they must've giggled when Kahn finally decided on killing off SG.
DC's logic has never impressed me, they preside over a universe that DEPENDS on legacy characters like Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy...Huntress...Batgirl...the whole Teen Titans/Birds of Prey line up is nothing but legacy derivations.
And yet somehow in all that, still Supergirl Must Die!
Over the years I've been lead to the conclusion Giordano, Kahn and Marv Wolfman all hated Supergirl, easy as that. I mean why spare Batgirl, Kid Flash and Speedy if you are "cleaning barnacles off the hulk" so to speak?

Someone wanna tell me otherwise I'd be interested in their perspective.

John Feer

TalOs said...

*Shakes head in absolute disgust* Man all I can say is that Dick Giordano truly lives up to his given name (and it ain't Richard either!)

what a complete and utter ignorant twat! UGH!!! >:(

Gene said...

As a historian myself I can see how this is a disapointing interview. Having Giordano going blank on that important meeting where the whole Superman team cashiered is like Eisenhower forgetting what he said to his staff when he gave the go-ahead for D-Day. Some things you just don't forget. What Eury could have done was ask Maggin and any other survivor about that meeting, and bring that up to help jog Giordano's memory. His vague answers to the other questions does not help his case.

As for the "boobs" comment, that is a sure sign of contempt for Supergirl. In the short Smallville documentary they respectively use the phrase "Superman in a skirt" instead.

As for adding to the Superman mythos, the writers at DC had 25 years to do that. If they didn't like how Supergirl turned out before she died in COIE, they have themselves to thank. In another interview Marv Wolfman stated that Supergirl not showing any stress or expressing any serious grief over Argo City's demise was a missed opportunity. If they truly cared and loved Supergirl, they would have tried harder to make her a stronger character. Nevertheless, Silver Age Kara has garnered and maintained a strong fan base that is prevalent to this day.

Anonymous said...

By my calculations, Marv Wolfman wrote three Supergirl stories in the Bronze Age, one during the Adventure Comics run and two in the Superman Family Dollar book. He had plenty of opportunities to do right by Kara Zor El (more than any of us will ever get) and he still turned in unmemorable material.
And as soon as he cashed his check he went back to dreaming of a "kewl revision of the Teen Titans" with intense up-to-date characters like Wonder Girl, Speedy, Aqualad, Kid Flash etc etc etc....and the hell with cousin Kara.

John Feer

Nikki said...

Out of the old guard I don't trust any of them with the character besides Paul Levitz. He had ideas, he respected the character and was willing to take her on in his Legion book but DC said no. Not only did this screw up legion royally it ruined the Supergirl legacy. I think its hardly surprising that when she did come back he was boss. The Supergirl featurette on the Smallville season 7 DVD is amazing. Not only is Didio, Levitz and Kelly on there so is Gail Simone and a few others I probably can't remember. They talk for a good while about how Supergirl is not Superman even before the crisis.

This isn't actually a world away from what Grant Morisson said actually. He said characters like supergirl were an exploration of what makes Superman tick by deconstructing him and changing him up. In supergirl's case but making him a young woman. While creators have that perspective they can never do the character justice.

TalOs said...

HEAR, HEAR! All so very well said, Nikki! :)

Anj said...

And yet somehow in all that, still Supergirl Must Die!
Over the years I've been lead to the conclusion Giordano, Kahn and Marv Wolfman all hated Supergirl, easy as that. I mean why spare Batgirl, Kid Flash and Speedy if you are "cleaning barnacles off the hulk" so to speak?
.

I don't know if there was outright hatred of Supergirl as much as a lack of appreciation. And they also wanted to make a big splash in Crisis.

The death of Supergirl obviosuly is more powerful than offing Speedy.

But I hate it when I read that the powers that be felt Supergirl was expendable because the decades of her stories were silly or awful or unimportant. It is so dismissive of the works of those creators.

Anj said...

As a historian myself I can see how this is a disapointing interview. Having Giordano going blank on that important meeting where the whole Superman team cashiered is like Eisenhower forgetting what he said to his staff when he gave the go-ahead for D-Day. Some things you just don't forget..

I know. Even outside of the Superman meeting, he really doesn't talk much about how monumental a task Crisis must have been. He makes it sound effortless which I think is probably not true.

If they truly cared and loved Supergirl, they would have tried harder to make her a stronger character. Nevertheless, Silver Age Kara has garnered and maintained a strong fan base that is prevalent to this day..

Again, I think that they simply were dismissive of her potential or the merit of her existing stories.

But you are right that Supergirl turned out to be a stronger character with a more loyal fan base than they must have anticipated. Hurray for us!

Anj said...

Out of the old guard I don't trust any of them with the character besides Paul Levitz. He had ideas, he respected the character and was willing to take her on in his Legion book but DC said no. Not only did this screw up legion royally it ruined the Supergirl legacy. I think its hardly surprising that when she did come back he was boss. The Supergirl featurette on the Smallville season 7 DVD is amazing..

I agree that Levitz clearly loved Kara given how well she was portrayed when guest starring in his Legion issues. And of course the whole 'Sensor Girl' story and the rumors he wanted her to be a time-displaced Kara.

As for the Smallville documentary, it is on YouTube if folks don't want to pony up the money for the Smallville set. It is great and also includes comments from comic historian Diana Schutz. She wrote the great Supergirl story in the Tim Sale Solo issue (which I reviewed long ago).

Thanks everyone for posting about this!

Mart said...

It's weird Marv Wolfman not seeing any worth in Kara, when his best bud Lein Wein had recently written one of the best portrayals ever, showing just how she had a different perspective to her cousin: http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=34885&zoom=2

Anj said...

It's weird Marv Wolfman not seeing any worth in Kara, when his best bud Lein Wein had recently written one of the best portrayals ever, showing just how she had a different perspective to her cousin: http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=34885&zoom=2.

Thanks for the post.

That is a great 3 part story, the first appearance of Mongul. If I recall, the Starlin art is solid.

In fact, Superman has to literally fly to Heaven to save Supergirl in the final part.

Hmmm ... might be worth reviewing at some point.