“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.
So there we all were, all of us comics people, in the New York area. I continued to live up in Connecticut, though soon enough I moved from Milford (2 hours out) to Stamford (43 minutes), and I spent many weekends crashed on some Manhattan couch. Now and again, there would be conventions, and some of us would get way out of town for the weekend, but conventions were still in their infancy. The now-Gargantuan San Diego convention took place in one hotel back then.
But the real high point of the year for some of us was the Rutland Halloween Parade.
A guy up in Vermont named Tom Fagan staged the parade in Rutland every year so the kids could show off their costumes; the Vermont countryside made it hard to see and be seen otherwise. Since Tom was a comics fan, he started using superheroes as a theme, and invited comics industry people. One year a few went and the word came back that it was a fun way to spend Halloween, so for the next several years, more and more people went.
After the parade for the town, Tom hosted a party at his place for his guests. Now, Halloween in Vermont is evocative enough, but Tom lived in an old mansion that backed up to a dam in a woods where all the trees were gnarled and bare, and (as I recall) the moon shining through the branches was always full, though that’s an astronomical impossibility… This was the first place I saw what is now commonplace at comics or fantasy conventions: lots of people in costumes. But this was not in a convention center; this was in a mansion in Vermont on Halloween, and Dracula, Batman, the Hulk, Wonder Woman… they were dancing right next to you. Till the dawn of All Saints Day on November 1.
After my first time in Rutland, I got together with two other attendees/writers, and we co-plotted the first inter-company crossover-story event. I had my first-born series, The Beast; they had Marvel’s Thor and DC’s Justice League of America. Our combined story involved us three and the JLA writer’s wife at the Halloween event, where our heroes and villains were also in attendance. Since this was not officially sanctioned by the two companies involved, we made sure the stories dovetailed neatly but could never refer to the other company’s books. We’d pass offstage in one book and move onstage in another, and so would the superheroics, so that each comic stood on its own and also told the larger story. In those days we Marvel writers had absolute creative freedom…
Steve Englehart is a novelist, comic book, film, television, and video game writer known for his work on high profile titles, including Marvel’s Captain America, The Hulk, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, DC’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and many more.