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A classic Bullpen Bulletins page

by beau Smith

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960’s reading much more than my share of marvel Comics, I always imagined the marvel offices just as Stan Lee used to describe them in his Bullpen Bulletin pages , Stan’s Soapbox and the letter columns.  I thought that all the writers and artists came into the offices every morning and spent the whole day talking, writing, drawing and coming up with the wonderful adventures that I spent my very hard-earned money on.  To me, it had to be the most fantastic job in the entire world next to playing flanker back for the Chicago Bears.

Never in my wildest West Virginia daydreams did I ever think that one day I would be one of those writers that was spinning the tales of my favorite childhood superheroes.  Well, it did happen and continues to happen here in the year 2009.  how lucky can one stump-jumping hick get?

During my 22 years of writing comics and as a marketing executive, I found out that not all my childhood visions of what went on day to day in comics was exactly as it was in my daydreams or Stan’s Bullpen page.  I found out that not all the artists and writers came into the office and hung out.  In fact, other than to hand in their art or to pick up a check, they rarely came into the office at all.  That was a bit of a let down, but once I broke into comics and got the lay of the land, I concerned understand the true logistics of what it was like to publish monthly comic books. It wasn’t a daily party.  If that would’ve been true then comic books would never come out monthly. Heck, they wouldn’t even come out quarterly.

From 1988 – L to R Back row: Tom Lyle-Tim Truman-Beau Smith-John K. Snyder III L to R Sitting: Gary Kwapisz-Tim Harkins-Chuck Dixon

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very fun creative get togethers, summits, and retreats. I’ve been in my share of them through the years. When they do happen they are typically a blast. early in my career, these creative campfires would typically happen at a convention when we were all together. during my times with Eclipse Comics (1987-1994) there were times when eight of us would share a hotel room. We would run on a couple of hours sleep and late nights talking about comics and stories that we were working on or preparing to work on. The typical suspects in these all-nighters consisted of myself, Tim Truman, Chuck Dixon, Flint Henry, Tom Lyle, Gary Kwapisz, John K. Snyder III, Ted Adams, Tim Harkins, and Graham Nolan. many of the time these campfire meetings would take over hotel bars and poolside areas where we would be joined by the likes of mark McKenna, Tim Bradstreet, Todd Fox, Dean Mullaney, John Ostrander, Steve Rude, Mike Baron, mark Nelson, and other assorted hooligans who worked in comics.

We all ran together in those days, didn’t matter if you worked for Marvel, DC Comics, Eclipse, first Comics, or a very small publisher no one had ever heard of, we were all brothers in arms. Those creative summits were just like my childhood daydreams because we all shared those same dreams as kids even though we all grew up hundreds of miles apart as kids. numerous of the concepts and story lines that we came up with in those days are still concerning fruition twenty-two years later. We sparked one new idea after another from each other and in numerous cases joined together to make these stories come true in the printed pages of comic books.

Eddie Berganza & beau Smith

Meetings with editors were much more one on one and done on the phone. I found that a good editor made for a terrific sounding board, idea wrangler, and truant officer. during my two year run at DC Comics on man Gardner: Warrior, Eddie Berganza really came through as an optimal editor. He was able to let me do what he hired me to do and at the same time keep me from straying too far out of the corral. He was the ideal go-between for a developer and the publisher. He would fight for you when you were best and keep you from jumping out of the window when you were wrong. the best part was that he was always honest, as a writer I have always found that honesty from my editor is what I need the most. In return I feel it’s my responsibility as a hired developer to give that same honesty back. Chris Ryall at IDW publishing is another editor/publisher who carries these traits on into this modern world of comic book publishing. That’s easy to figure out in Chris’s case because he worked for Stan Lee. He learned from the master’s hand. You can’t have enough of these types of understanding editors in today’s world. If you have one who’s too easy or too much of a dictator, then everyone and the book suffers greatly.

In my next installment of Beauology 101,I’m gonna relay what went on behind closed doors at some of these creative campfires. I think you’ll find some of these stories amusing, horrifying, and filled with helpful information.

The classroom door is open, come on in…..

Don’t be late.

Professor beau Smith
Beauology 101

The flying Fist Ranch

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