How a Chance SDCC Meet-Up Led to One Last Haney/Fradon Metamorpho Tale

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Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon got together for one last Metamorpho story after meeting at one of the first Comic Con International at San Diego.



1st Issue Special was one of the strangest comic book series of the 1970s and that's really saying something, considering DC released Prez (the teenage President of the United States who happened to be named Prez) during the 1970s.

The concept was that each issue would be a "first issue" starring a different character...

The problem with that concept is that traditionally, try-out books have multiple issues featuring the characters that they are trying out. That way you can tell if the character is selling before their tenure ends. This way, by the time that you tell if a character was successful, it would be months until you could actually do a follow-up (Warlord technically debuted in a Try-Out Special issue, but he was already set to have his own series before he appeared in that book).

So, instead, it basically just became a "throw whatever you can at the wall and see what sticks," including doing revivals of older characters. Thus, Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon were able to sneak in there with a Metamorpho revival!

Metamorpho was a new character introduced by writer Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon in late 1964 in Brave and the Bold #57...

The character was a hit and soon got his own series by Haney and Fradon (and yes, he had multiple try-out issues first before he got his own series)...

Haney recalled to Michael Catron at The Comics Journal about the early days of the character:

Ramona was brought in, and I had never met her. Very attractive, nice lady. All I did know about her was that she was kind of classy compared to most of the apes in that business. Her husband was a well-known New Yorker cartoonist. [Dana] Fradon. She took the first script. I was knocked over when she brought back her work. I thought, “Oh, wow. This is great.” I mean, she really made it better than my scripts, I thought. I got to know her a bit, casually. She’s been a very nice person. I was very happy that we were often running what looked like a very successful book for a while.

Fradon left the series relatively early on and that was the end of that until nearly a decade later, when both Fradon and Haney attended one of the earliest Comic Con International at San Diego.

They got to talking about how much they liked working on Metamorpho together, so since DC had this new series that had no clear purpose for existing, they said, "Hey, could we do another Metamorpho story together?" and DC said yes and so the third issue of 1st Issue Special starred Metamorpho!

Fradon later noted that it was never seriously intended as a tryout for a new feature (although obviously, if people had demanded it, they probably would have responded), but just a last bit of fun for a classic creative team.

I just love the idea of two old friends meeting and just saying, "Hey, let's do Metamorpho again!" and it actually working!

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