Ah, they’re the happiest days of your life, we’re told. Give me the boy and I’ll show you the man, they say. But what were our much-admired comic-books pros like when they were running around the schoolyard and wiping their noses on their shirt-sleeves? What follows is a collection of report cards and run-ins with teachers from the pathetically dim leading lights of our industry at the moment and a glimpse of the nut that eventually became that fully-grown tree who writes or draws your favourite book every month.
KAARE ANDREWS, writer/artist
Mrs. S McLeod – Confederation Park School – Grade 3 (1983-4)
Language: “Sometimes Kaare gets carried away in his stories and begins making them rather silly.”
ROB LIEFELD writer/ artist and Image co-founder
Mr. Genberg – Art 3 teacher – Whittier Christian high school (1985)
“Needs to expand his interests outside of comic books, explore advertising and design work. Questionable future in comic illustration.”
RICH JOHNSTON, cartoonist/ gossip-bitch
“Richard has many clever ideas but lacks application. Must stress his original thinking but his work sometimes reads like advertising. Often gossips in class.”
PAUL KUPPERBERG, writer/ editor DC Comics
Mr. Campolo – creative writing teacher – Tilden High School, NY (1972)
“Paul has the potential to be a talented writer if only he could learn to curb his tendency towards being so flippant.” (and here I thought a good tendency towards the flippant was necessary for a writer…)
BRIAN AUGUSTYN, writer of the lovely Out There.
Sister Jerome Marie – St. Gall’s Grammar School (1967):
“Brian has his head constantly in the clouds and doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously. He needs to understand that dreams are fine, but they won’t take him very far in the real world.”
She was so right…
RON ZIMMERMAN, hetero writer of Rawhide Kid
I swear to god I have no memory of ever getting reviewed by a teacher but I quit school when I was 14 so maybe that awful, humiliating, horseshit came later or I blocked it out because I’m emotionally disturbed and on enough medication and booze to kill twenty high school seniors.
BRAD MELTZER, Green Arrow writer and real-world novelist
Ms. Morris – eighth grade English teacher – highland oaks junior high school, Florida (1983) to a young, fresh-from-New-York smart-assed know-it-all Brad Meltzer:
“What the hell are you talking about?” Brad asks.
“What’d you just say?” Ms. Morris shoots back.
“What the hell are you–” Brad begins.
“Did you just swear in my class?” she interrupts
Brad looks around, not realizing “hell” is a “swear.” (C’mon, in Brooklyn it wasn’t).
“What the hell–”
“What’d I tell you about swearing?”
Brad’s still dumbfounded. “What…the…[beat…beat…beat]… Is hell a swear?”
She despised my ass. And thus, a writer was born.
MIKE COTTON, writer and drunk on Wizard’s tab
Dr. Bailey Thompson, Associate Professor of Journalism, The University of Alabama (2000)
“I’d have hoped you’d pick a real internship like the rest of the student body. In my opinion an internship at DC Comics just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you should try to take my class again next term. This internship will open no doors for you in journalism.”
JIM McLAUCHLIN, the new top cow at Top Cow
Charles Birkholz, 3rd grade teacher:
“Jim shows remarkable intelligence and is capable of great grades, but he’s lazy.”
Scott Koch, American History, 10th grade teacher
“McLauchlin, your essay on Rutheford B. Hayes was not funny. This is exactly what I expect out of the Irish.”
ANDY DIGGLE, Lady Constantine writer
Mr P.H. Rule, biology teacher, Trinity school, Croydon (1988)
“He is well able to express himself on paper, providing he can remember what he is trying to express…”
BRIAN BENDIS, writer (everything)
My rabbi confiscated one of my text-books when he saw dozens of drawings of Namor- I was into Namor that year- that I had drawn into it.
Not knowing what Namor was and being pretty pissed off that I had ruined probably my fifteenth textbook, my rabbi publicly chastised me and then called my Mom to tell me that I clearly had homosexual tendencies because I was spending my day drawing naked wet men with wings on their feet.
I was really into dazzler too, does that make me BI?
GAIL SIMONE, Birds Of Prey writer
I don’t QUITE have a story like that, because I did very well in school, graduated at sixteen and such. So teachers didn’t write many nasty things. But I did go through a pretentious period in high school where I was only reading classic literature. The head of the English department asked me, “Do you read any crap?”
And I said, no, in that insufferable high school manner, no doubt.
And he said, “You need to read more crap.”
The point was to read more for entertainment and for fun. I neglected to tell him I had stacks of comics in my closet.
In a more ironic statement, I was once told at work that my laughing too much was costing me money. Heh.
BRYAN HITCH, window-gazer and excellent part-time artist
When Mr and Mrs Hitch went to St Cuthbert’s RC primary school for parent-teacher report night in the wind blown winter of 1979, Headmaster John “Paddy” Lett waved the three remaining fingers of his nicotine-stained right hand to dismiss their protestations of their son’s supposed intelligence. “Yes, he may indeed have the highest reading age in the school and be capable of straight A grades, but it is clear to me,” he waffled on undulating like a bin liner full of yoghurt “that Bryan will undoubtedly doodle his way into the dole queue.”
FRANK QUITELY, window-gazer
St. Columbkille’s primary and St bride’s high (every single year):
MARK MILLAR, frustrated artist
Mr Reilly – Maths Teacher – St Ambrose High School (1984):
“Millar has decided it would be a wise move to be an idiot this year and prefers to court popularity by playing to the gallery than actually doing anything useful or constructive”
Mr Corr – English Teacher – St Ambrose High School (1985):
“No matter what I say, no matter what I do and no matter which child I sit him next to, Mark will not stop talking and concentrate on his work. This is a shame because, if he would only learn to keep his mouth shut, this boy might be capable of excellence”
How much things change, eh?