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Blue Devil was created specifically to appeal to Steve Ditko, who wanted to do a new series for DC Comics at the time.
By the early 1980s, the writing was on the proverbial wall when it came to Charlton Comics. The company was probably not going to last much longer and since they were the primarily employer of Steve Ditko since he left Marvel in 1966, Ditko needed to expand his horizons a bit. He had already worked for both DC Comics for two different stints in the late 1960s and then the mid-to-late 1970s and he had recently returned to Marvel Comics for the first time since leaving. However, he was always looking for more work.
This led to the creation of a cool DC Comics character, who was specifically designed for Steve Ditko, but Ditko, even though he wanted work, was more than happy to turn down projects that he didn't feel like doing (Rom the Spaceknight was the main series he did at Marvel and part of the appeal was that Rom was a fairly straighttforward hero and that's what Ditko liked for the most part).
In TwoMorrow Publishing's Back Issue #21, Dan Johnson conducted a "pro to pro" interview with Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, the creators of Blue Devil.
They explained the creation of the character...
"Our editor for a number of things we were doing was a guy named Dave Manak. At this point, Dan [Mishkin] was living in Michigan and I was in New York. I was the point guy who went to the DC office once a week and schmoozed the editors. One day Manak says, "Ditko’s been hanging around the office and he really wants something to do. Do you think you and Dan can come up for something for him?" I went home and I called Dan and told him about this, and we were both very excited. Ditko was the guy who created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, and we were gaga for Ditko! ... We decided to do something that takes something from every Marvel character we ever loved. Let’s take Iron Man, the guy in the costume; the Thing, the tragedy of the guy stuck in a shape he didn’t want; and a light-hearted, bouncy approach and a character who was going to move like Spider-Man. ... And we wanted something like the Green Goblin."
" How about Blue Devil? We called him that because Dan’s wife is from North Carolina and he was a Blue Devils fan. Then we started creating Blue Devil and thinking, "Ditko is going to love this!" We created this great proposal, and it was everything that we knew was going to set Ditko’s light on high beam. We took it in to Manak and he gave it to Ditko. Ditko looked at it and said, "I’ll do it if I have to, but this is really not my kind of stuff at all."
So instead, the project was passed on to a young artist named Paris Cullins. Cohn had mostly already developed the look for Blue Devil, but Cullins added some aspects and so Blue Devil was born!
It was an excellent series, definitely one of those cult classics where everyone even could tell at the time that this was going to be a cult classic...
Blue Devil had a respectable run of 31 issues and an annual.
Thanks to Dan Johnson, Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn for the information!
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