A week ago CBR hosted a chat with writer Elliot S! Maggin, known for his years writing Superman stories at DC Comics as well as the novelization of the “Kingdom Come” graphic novel. The chat was moderated by Brian Cronin.
Brian Cronin: Welcome, folks, to the Elliot S! Maggin chat!
Elliot S! Maggin: I hear I’m late. I got lost.
Elliot S! Maggin: Got screwed up in Yahoo maps.
Elliot S! Maggin: So….
Elliot S! Maggin: What are you all working on these days?
Elliot S! Maggin: And where do you get those crazy ideas?
Super Monkey: I help mod Superman Through the Ages! You should visit.
Elliot S! Maggin: I loved Super-Monkey; always wanted to do something with him but it never happened.
SuperManny: Elliot, just wanted to say (because I have to leave for a bit) that I’ve been reading comic books for 10 years; I love your “Kingdom Come” novel, but have yet to read the classic Superman stuff that you’ve written. I like your novel, and hope to get to read those books soon!
Elliot S! Maggin: Thanks.
Cayman: Any involvement in the latest Superman movie?
Elliot S! Maggin: Nope. Not that I know of.
Elliot S! Maggin: They don’t call … they don’t write …
bugmenot: C.W. Saturn is an anagram for Curt Swan: Delightful Coincidence or Demonic Conspiracy?
Elliot S! Maggin: Y’know, I bet that’s what I had in mind.
Elliot S! Maggin: I was a victim of unrequited love with Curt for most of the time we worked together.
ragnarok_2012: One of my best friends is an Australian who, due to the vagaries of time zones is right now at work. He is also a huge fan of yours, Mr. Maggin. I was wondering if you could say something really really nice about Australia for him. 🙂
Elliot S! Maggin: I’ve never been to Australia, but one of my best childhood friends lived there for a long time, met his wife there, and my Dad, who’s been everywhere, says Melbourne is his favorite city in the world.
bugmenot: Who has been your favorite artist to work with, then?
Elliot S! Maggin: My favorite artist to work with is probably Alex Toth. Just did one story with him.
Super Monkey: Here is a question: What have you been up to these days?
Elliot S! Maggin: Selling screenplays that sit in people’s drawers for years at a time. Elliot S! Maggin: Doing a lot of online work.
SuperManny: Any plans for any DC work?
Elliot S! Maggin: Not likely to be writing any comics anytime soon — except for a graphic novel I’d like to do based on a screenplay I wrote with Ken Penders.
ragnarok_2012: Do you attend any conventions? Any chance of you attending, say, Dragon Con?
Elliot S! Maggin: I think I was last at Dragon Con in 1989. I put in an expense voucher for it and DC wouldn’t pick up the tab. Is it still in Atlanta? I love Atlanta.
ragnarok_2012: It’s still in Atlanta. It’s Labor Day weekend now.
ragnarok_2012: That’s a shame. I dearly love Dragon Con, and for all the money that they charge people they really should be able to pick up your tab.
Elliot S! Maggin: You’d think.
Cayman: If a screenplay isn’t produced, do the rights eventually revert back to you?
Elliot S! Maggin: Depends on the deal. Usually.
Elliot S! Maggin: I’ve got something I wrote this past year that I haven’t shown to anyone in the movie biz until last week. Got this idea I can produce it myself.
Calamas: Are you still in contact with Cary Bates?
Elliot S! Maggin: I see Cary once in six or eight blue moons. Talk to him quite a bit, though.
SuperManny: Have you written any Marvel superheroes?
Elliot S! Maggin: I did the 7th or 8th issue of “Peter Parker,” a few “Spidey Super-Stories” for Electric Company, Hulk and Iron Man. Also did some X-Men animation.
ragnarok_2012: Ooooh, the Electric Company. Now that’s old school.
Elliot S! Maggin: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the show all the way through, but my friend was a producer back in the ’70s.
Cayman: it did give us Morgan Freeman.
Elliot S! Maggin: Is that where Morgan Freeman came from?
Elliot S! Maggin: I’ve got this friend who’s this big Hollywood movie star who sneered at me when I said Morgan Freeman was terrific.
bugmenot: We can thank Christopher Reeve for really getting Morgan Freeman exposed. He only did “Superman IV” to get “Street Smart” produced, and that was Freeman’s debut.
Elliot S! Maggin: Morgan Freeman is very subtle. But if you figure out that he wants to be Spencer Tracy when he grows up he gets easier to understand.
Cayman: Would you say you’re more fond of the DC characters?
Elliot S! Maggin: DC characters. Yeah, I guess. They seemed all to be in place when I was a kid so they always seemed kind of more mythic.
easymouse88: Do you have more things planned with Kristen Wells?
Elliot S! Maggin: I want to live long enough to have a mad torrid affair with Kristin Wells.
bugmenot: Is Kristin Wells named after someone from Brandeis?
Elliot S! Maggin: She’s named after the daughter of an old girlfriend.
Scott Shaw!: Howdy, Elliot! Just wanted to say welcome to CBR and talk with one of the few other pros in the biz with an exclamation point in their name!
Elliot S! Maggin: Scott!!!! Hi !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scott Shaw!: I’ve always dug your stuff — including “Miracle Monday!” Elliot S! Maggin: Really? Me too. What’re you doing these days?
Scott Shaw!: I’m doing boards on “Krypto” for WB, toy designs for McFarlane, a new Captain Carrot story with Geoff Johns…lotsa fun stuff!
Elliot S! Maggin: How is that “Krypto” series to work with? Anything left unspoken-for?
Scott Shaw!: “Krypto’s” second season is nearly finished…a third is likely eventually and the story editor is “Batman’s” Alan Burnett.
Elliot S! Maggin: Should I call Burnett? Or is it a pretty closed shop. It was that way on the Superman series.
Scott Shaw!: Nothing’s happening on “Krypto,” storywise…all scripts are done for 2nd season, unfortunately…but considering the show’s new Fisher-Price toy line, I’ll bet there will be a third season….
Stony: Do you guys have a secret club? Like the Exclusive Entourage of the Exclamation point Enthusiasts?
Scott Shaw!: Others would include gag cartoonist Bruce Cochran! and Mike “Ringo!” Weiringo…
Brandon Hanvey: Adam Hughes signs his art with AH!
Super Monkey: So what was your favorite Superman story that you wrote?
Elliot S! Maggin: The series of stories on the future historic attitudes toward Superman that I did for “Superman” #300. Or was it 400?
Super Monkey: “Superman” #400
Elliot S! Maggin: Right. I also really liked a story called “The Man Who Created Superman.”
Calamas: You’re known as a Superman writer, but I always thought of you as a Julie Schwartz writer. Is that accurate? At least in terms of comics.
Elliot S! Maggin: I’m not sure what a Julie Schwartz writer is. I did as much work with Julie as I could, and he used to like to make me rewrite scripts when he had nothing to give me so I wouldn’t go writing for other guys.
Calamas: Including writing Julie Schwartz, Cary Bates and yourself into that “Justice League” story. Was it as fun as it looked? Where’d the idea come from?
Elliot S! Maggin: Right. I did that one with Cary.
Brandon Hanvey: Mr. Schwartz was one of the nicest guys in comics.
Scott Shaw!: So, Eliot…I think that Julie Schwartz is the greatest editor of all time…what are some of your favorite memories of him?
Elliot S! Maggin: Passover at my brother’s house right after Jeanie died.
Scott Shaw!: Of course, I never worked for Julie…just stood by in awe…
Cayman: Who is your favorite Superman foe?
Elliot S! Maggin: Fave foe was always Luthor. Still is. And damn! I wish someone somewhere would give me credit for creating Lexcorp!
ragnarok_2012: You created Lexcorp?
Elliot S! Maggin: See?
Bunnyman: Did you pitch for the last – pre Byrne – Superman story?
Elliot S! Maggin: I didn’t. I wanted to see what Alan would do. And I think Julie was actually a little afraid of him.
ragnarok_2012: Why was Schwartz afraid of Alan Moore?
Elliot S! Maggin: He was big and had a huge beard and long hair and English and Julie had never thought of Englishmen as being people like that. Alan isn’t your basic dab-the-napkin-on-the-corner-of-his-lips kind of guy.
Bunnyman: what did you think of the outcome?
Elliot S! Maggin: The outcome. Of Alan’s two-parter?
Elliot S! Maggin: I thought it was apt. The way it should have been. Sort of like the way I think of The Rock as the way James Bond is when he gets old.
bugmenot: How much direct input did Waid and Ross (Alex and/or Clark) have in the “Kingdom Come” novel?
Elliot S! Maggin: Clark had no input, unless he fed it through Alex. Alex objected a lot, and the editor was afraid to get him pissed over anything, so the process of getting the book out the door once it was done and in was pretty hairy. Mark got what I was trying to do, I think, and seemed disappointed once in awhile when I didn’t use his jokes (I thought I should make up new ones), but I generally incorporated his suggestions when he made them.
Elliot S! Maggin: What else? This has gone about as long as a Presidential news conference.
Bunnyman: Are you still in contact with Neal Adams? You did some work for continuity a while back, no?
Elliot S! Maggin: Haven’t seen Neal in awhile.
Calamas: How did you manage the Super-human feat of not getting sick of Steve Lombard?
Elliot S! Maggin: Doesn’t Steve Lombard kind of remind you of Dean Cain?
Super Monkey: If the powers that be at DC asked you to return and write “All-Star Superman,” would you?
Elliot S! Maggin: Sure, if I can rewrite the contract just a teensy bit.
ragnarok_2012: Superman’s cast of characters (Morgan Edge, Lois, Jimmy, Perry, Pete Ross, etc). Did you have a favorite character?
Elliot S! Maggin: My favorite supporting character was always Luthor, closely followed by Perry White. I always thought Perry was kind of a Methodist version of Julie.
easymouse88: Ao you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Elliot S! Maggin: Aspiring writers: If you can muster the self-discipline to write for a living, then get a day job and write with an obsession. You’ve got to live in the world.
Calamas: You had a great handle on Green Arrow and Black Canary, in just a handful of stories. Are they favorites of yours too?
Elliot S! Maggin: My first story was of Green Arrow, and Black Canary was the girl I was going out with senior year in college (yes, Neal did meet her; he was impressed). I always thought I’d have done better with Green Lantern, though, and never got the chance.
ragnarok_2012: Follow up on GA. What, in your opinion, makes Green Arrow tick as a character?
Elliot S! Maggin: I would have liked to see his fortune restored. He’s kind of a revolutionary — a Robert Kennedy type. RFK said if he hadn’t been born a Kennedy he probably would have been a revolutionary; GA was the guy Bobby would have wanted to be. With about a billion in resources behind him, it would have been fun to see what he did. Denny didn’t relate, though, and had strong ideas on the character’s vow of poverty.
Super Monkey: You did write the best Lex Luthor, IMHO. You gave him great depth and a real reason to hate Superman
bugmenot: What’s your opinion on post-Crisis Luthor?
Elliot S! Maggin: I think the best take on Luthor I’ve seen is the one on “Smallville.”
bugmenot: Have you submitted any scripts to “Smallville?”
Elliot S! Maggin: Once in awhile my agent calls “Smallville” and asks if they’d like to see a sample script from me and they say hey — Elliot — yeah, he’s great; we know his work well enough; we’ll call you, and then they don’t. I should probably hit on my friends on the staff about it, but I’d rather go through the front door.
Brian Cronin: You did the Einstein story with Luthor, right? That was amazing.
Elliot S! Maggin: Einstein story? Another one I liked. Geez, that was 20 years ago!
Scott Shaw!: Elliot, what would you consider to be your most Oddball comic book story? It’d be cool to feature it in my Oddball Comics column here on CBR…
Elliot S! Maggin: Oddball: the story I did with Alex Toth. It had Superman, Batman and Luthor in it and I can’t remember the title. It was a full-lengther, though — sometime around 1984, I think.
Scott Shaw!: Elliot, was that story in “DC Comics Presents” perhaps? I’ll try to find it; I’ve probably got a copy in my collection…
Super Monkey: Villain! Villain! Who’s Got the Villain?
Super Monkey: “Superman Annual” #9, that was the Alex Toth tale.
Elliot S! Maggin: It was pretty oddball.
Bunnyman: I’ll vote for the Julie Schwartz story
Elliot S! Maggin: The Julie story. Sure. There you go. Also “I Flew With Superman” where Curt was the supporting character.
Scott Shaw!: The special birthday issue? I’ve already featured that one!
Elliot S! Maggin: Want to hear what I thought was the worst story I ever did?
Elliot S! Maggin: I did this two-part JLA/JSA story with Cary where the two of us were supporting characters. We had gotten sick and tired of self-involved writers involving themselves in their stories and we thought we’d go way over the top so no one else would ever do anything like that again. And then Grant Morrison makes himself the star of “Animal Man.” Go figure. Meanwhile, the JLA story got me more letters and more propositions, I think, than anything else I’ve ever done.
bugmenot: Was there a particular inspiration for King Kosmos? Ever any plans for him beyond being a Superwoman villain?
Elliot S! Maggin: I was never much impressed with King Kosmos. He was kind of half an idea. Sort of like the requisite villain to give the story some conflict.
bugmenot: How do you feel about Captain Marvel? You wrote a bunch of shorts for Shazam! in the mid-1970s.
Elliot S! Maggin: Loved Captain Marvel — should have kept him in his own universe. I don’t think he works as a conventional DC superhero. Not even in “Kingdom Come,” though we gave it a good shot.
Elliot S! Maggin: I have to go now! I am actually working on something that shows signs of eventually seeing the light of day!
easymouse88: thanks for talking with us.
Super Monkey: Thank you for the chat!
Elliot S! Maggin: Which way is out?
Elliot S! Maggin: I think I just stepped into the closet.
Brian Cronin: Well, thanks for coming out, Elliot! This was fun!