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Denny O’Neil – RIP

Comic book writer Denny O’Neil has passed away.


Dennis Joseph (Denny) O’Neil
May 3, 1939 – June 11, 2020

I don’t mark a lot of comic book creators here,
but Denny was making highly readable comic books during my prime comic book reading years.
He will be remembered better by those who knew him, I will say a few words later.

From Paul Levitz on Facebook:

Denny’s gone, brought social conscience to comics. He was a journalist at heart, and knew his obit would have Batman in the lede, but I think he’d have been prouder of this way of looking at his life. Not that he was the first, much less the only one, but damn it he was the loudest. Not personally, he wasn’t a shouter. But the stories he told and edited screamed for justice for the causes that mattered to him. From GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW to SEDUCTION OF THE GUN, and in subtle moments as well as the loud ones, he set the standard for giving a damn.

As Paul notes Denny will be forever linked to his excellent take on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and his Batman. Mark Evanier, in remembering his friend, notes Denny’s beginning in comic books:

Denny had been a reporter writing about comic books in the sixties and then he moved on to become a writer of comic books in the sixties. He always said he owed his new career to two people — Roy Thomas, who suggested Denny try out for a writing job at Marvel (which he got) and Dick Giordano, who was then the editor at Charlton. When the work for Marvel dried out, Dick kept Denny busy writing for Charlton — sometimes under the name Sergius O’Shaugnessy — and then when Dick moved over to DC, he took Denny with him. Before long, Denny was the main writer of Batman and a little later, of Superman. He wrote most of DC’s main books at one time or another and often worked as an editor there.

His scripts for Charlton had been way better than Charlton deserved for the low rates they paid. His scripts for DC were way better than the higher rates DC paid.

Mark also reveals Denny’s first superhero writing:


above from the ‘Tain’t The Meat site

While Denny’s GL/GA and Batman stories are undeniably what others would be measured against, it is different work by Denny that sticks in my mind. Batlash and The Shadow come immediately to mind.

Later I remember his version of The Question and Doc Savage.

 

Early in his career Denny hit a grand slam with “Children of Doom,” a post-apocalyptic story he wrote in 1967. Craig Yoe writes, in the introduction to The Unknown Anti-War Comics:

Having a recognized classic and fan-favorite under his belt so early didn’t faze Denny;
he just kept hitting them out of the park during the course of his career.

Here’s a great 2007 interview with Denny expounding on his comics and writing.

Below: Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams from 1970.

Rest in peace Denny.

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