Ed Summer

October 21, 2012


Our final recorded conversation was in a small Indian restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I saw Ed several times after that as well, but I didn't record our conversations, which evolved into less of an interview, and more of a friendship.

ES: [Are you recording?] I just like to know. Then I censor myself. Mark Twain wrote an autobiography that was sealed until a hundred years after he was dead, so now it's a hundred years later and all the stuff that he said that he didn't want published now finally came out. And one of the questions that it raises is whether it's possible for somebody to ever tell the complete truth about themselves.

He said a couple of people came close, but he says it's really impossible. You can never tell the truth about yourself, and I think he's right. You just end up censoring things. You want to always appear in a good light. Anyway. Just to finish the thought, it's nothing thrilling but for the, I guess it was some anniversary maybe of Ralph's (McQuarrie) birth or something, I don't know what the occasion was, but they went to everybody they could find who knew him. And asked them to write something so he brought me a note and I said "I don't know, and how long do you want it to be?" and he said "bah bah bah X words". And I had that photograph, I don't think that photo's ever been published before

MH: Yeah I haven't seen it before.

ES: And that's beautiful.

MH: Yeah, it's great. 

ES: So I was very tickled that they printed the whole thing. It was for some kind of  Star Wars Celebration in Florida.  I don't know.

MH: Oh, yeah, they have that Celebration thing that I think, they have it every year, and I think it was actually in Florida this year.

ES: So, I never got the printed book, and John (John David Scoleri of Dreams and Vision Press) said well they when they came back — he does something else, I think he's a computer wonk or something, I don't know what he does for a living — but he and a few other people did that. The Art of Ralph McQuarrie book is a labor of love and to raise money for him, because he had Parkinson's and I know about... My father had it, and actually one of my childhood friend's father had it too. So I got to see it up close, anddepending how it affects you...  Well Ralph couldn't draw anymore. That was pretty tragic. 

Anything that keeps people from doing what they're— Oh, thank you what they're— [to server] Oh, thank very much.

It was funny, I thought they laid it out really well, there were those four little thumbnail drawings and then what Bunny (Alsop?) said— because what I said in my little piece was how tiny a lot of the drawings were. You would really think that they would be these great big things. I have actually, I'm sure you know it, it's the painting of Threepio and Artoo walking away from the pod. when it crashes in the desert. It's basically a big sand dune, and they're walking down the hill. Well I have the original sketch for that and it's, oh I don't know, it's two inches wide and 3/4 of an inch tall in colored pencil. Yeah.

This is a digression but Frazetta, before he did those oil paintings, he would do a sketch of the painting in watercolor, and if you ask me those water colors are better than the oil paintings. They're incredible.  I used to work in watercolor when I get on the fight old house painter good and.

Watercolors's impossible. It's probably the most difficult medium that there is. Because if you make a mistake it's all over with. I'm not talking about temper.  I'm not talking about water-soluble paint. I'm talking about true watercolor, those little cakes, those little hard cakes and you put a little water on it and you paint in washes.

The most famous or infamous story is when Walt Disney made Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. All of the background paintings are in watercolor, and I actually met one of the guys who did them, and I bought an original background painting from Snow White? It's just gorgeous. It's just unbelievably beautiful. It's old world watercolor; it looks like, I don't know, it looks like fairy tale paintings from the 19th century Rackham, and Dulac, and all those people. That's what Disney wanted to do in the 1930s, it looked like he wanted the movie to look like. The fairy tale books of his childhood, which would have been, you know the turn of the century. They were all watercolors, those guys.

Even Maxwell Parrish (?) had a particular way of working, but Rackham was certainly watercolor. So there were teams, there were two preliminary painters, and then a master watercolorist. And they would have the preliminary guys do the paintings and the one that came out the best, the master water colorist would come in and finish that.

And all the color is transparent. So paintings, well the one I have is about that big, and they'd work on them for weeks and weeks, and if somebody made a mistake it was done. They had  to do it all over again because when you photograph it and you're going to blow it up on a 40-foot screen you can't have a mistake in it, and they never did it again. When they made Pinocchio it was done with gouache and tempera. Egg tempera because it's opaque, so if you make mistake you paint over it and you can move on, and they couldn't do that... I don't know what got me off on that tangent, but Frazetta was a master watercolorist. Like, just amazing.

As it happens— Well I had the original painting, watercolor, of Conan with the gorilla and the red cape. And it was about. It was maybe that big. And I have the original watercolor of the Deathdealer. And it's that big. And it has a little tiny pencil drawing where the horse is facing towards you. Right? It's facing towards you at a slight angle. So the Deathdealer is on top of the horse and you see him from the front, but he's holding the reins as it were, and then he decided to make it sideways, which is of course the way he did the painting, but this watercolor is just incredible. I mean it's just amazing.

So Ralph Ralph worked in, I don't know what he worked in. Isn't that interesting. Either in tempera or... because they're delicate paintings, they don't look like — not oil painting, latex — they don't look like that. I'll bet he worked in tempera. Isn't that interesting, I ought to find out. I wasn't paying much attention. I seem to remember a little...

When you work in tempera or water colors, sometimes you test the colors on the edges, and I remember he had the like little... I think you can see it in that photograph. You put it down to see what it looks like, because when you put it you mix it, but then when you see it on the paper it looks different, with the paper coming through.

MH: I have a couple — I have the books obviously — but I actually have a couple of high quality scans of... One of them is actually the Artoo and Threepio coming out of the desert, where I never noticed this before, but on the pod in the background there's a parachute on and there's these lines for the parachute coming off of it, it's like pencil on top of it, which I'd never seen before until I actually had like a scan that I could zoom into. Even on the printed in the book. It's kind of fun to see that little detail.

Apropos Frazetta, I bought at ComicCon — it was the only thing I bought at ComicCon, which is good, because I could easily walk away with everything — but there was a booth that was selling prints and one of them was about this size of Gulliver Jones, the precursor to John Carter, and so this is a lizard fighting another creature and then there's a guy in a blue jacket in front with a sabre. It's a cover for paperback book.

ES: It's a Frazetta drawing?

MH: Yeah.

ES:  (Referring to the check) Do not, should I give you some money?

MH: No. No don't worry about it. I think I have a picture of it.

ES: Since I last saw you, Renee gave me an iPod Touch. — I always thought that was John Carter.

MH: Yeah John Carter is the one on the left, and Gullivar...

ES: Oh, this one is Gullivar Jones, oh I know that painting. Oh I have and incredible John Carter drawing. It's a pen and ink of him with these gorillas. Ah, it's just breathtaking.

MH: Yeah, some of those drawings...

ES: So you got a print of this.

MH: Yeah, so it's about this big and this one is...

ES: What did you pay for it? It was pretty cheap. This one I got for 10 bucks and this one twenty bucks.

MH: Oh, these are the old posters, that's what they. I remember these. These are pretty nice. Last ComicCon I actually bought — so I also bought a Frazettta print — it was 'Egyptian Queen'.

ES:  (to my paying) Thank you, that's very kind — OK ask me questions! 

MH: Oh, what am I going to ask?

ES: I don't even know what I told you anymore. Have you transcribed any of this?

MH: Some of it yeah, but it's takes so long. So my wife is actually, she was saying that she — because she wants to practice English more, her written English — so she's going to transcribe the rest of it for me when she gets here.

ES: See if you give it to me. I can edit it not give you I can— I'll know what the hell I said. (referring to iPhone recording) Is this is still going?

MH:  I think so. So yeah I don't know, I don't have any any questions on the top of my head. I mean, so you were in Spain for Conan when they were filming it?

ES: For a while, yeah.

MH: What were you doing there?

ES: Just checing up on it. You know I mean it was my movie, I wanted... It was a strange situation. I'm not sure I want to tell this whole story, but there are a lot of politics to making a movie and... But it was still, you know I worked on it for seven years, and I wanted to go see what they were doing. So I went and spent, I don't know, about a week I was there.

They were filming battle in the mounds mostly, that sequence.

MH: They filmed everything in Spain or?

ES: Yeah, I think. Well now, let me think, they shot in Madrid, and they shot in Almería, which is where I spent the time. Almería is where a lot of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed, because there's a beach with sand dunes there. The famous train wreck scene in Lawrence Arabia was shot there.

In fact they poured cement for the railroad tracks, and it's still there. It's probably covered up now, it's forty years later.

MH: It's also where Leone shot his Westerns.

ES: Uhuh. What I'm not remembering is... There's some studio stuff and I can't remember if any of it was shot in England. I just don't remember now. That's what happens.

The opening stuff with the village, with all the hordes galloping in on Conan's parents. That's all shot outside Madrid.  That was the first cinematographer, whose name escapes me at the moment, who didn't get along with John. They left under some form of mutual disagreement, and then he hired Duke Callahan who shot the rest of the movie and they had put up a lot of rocks and stuff out in the sand dunes. It's in different places the wolf woman's cave is in a different place, because it has all those strange mushroom shaped mounds. Those are real. In that little  video that's on YouTube, the guy found all these places that the sequence with the wolves is shot in a slightly different place.

Dino was really good at finding European locations, so...  And there were I'm sure tremendous tax and labor cost advantages to shooting Spain. I'm sure that's why. Dino was a very, very clever man. He sold services to his films from companies that he owned. He owned and independent — I'm making it up, but — he owned for example and independent costume company. So he bought the costumes from himself, at a profit. He was a clever guy.

I don't think it's known real well, but I always respected him a lot. I mean this is a man who produced La Strada for Fellini. And then went on to make some worst crap. But he knew how to make a living from it and  in the end the movie business is all about the business. It's like growing carrots: you can grow the best carrots in the world, but if you don't know how to sell them to people, they're just going to rot in a barm. So one works very hard on movie — I mean, I know you're more interested in Star Wars, but Twentieth Century Fox gave George and Gary such a hard time about the budget. They were sure the movie was not make any money. I'm mean this is common knowledge now, but I saw it go on, I was in conversations where they were desperate they had a cut like two million dollars out of the budget and they didn't know how they were going to do it. And they ended up doing it on paper to please Fox and then they spent the money out of their own pocket because they wanted the quality to be a certain way.  The difference was that Dino cut the quality.  He made that Flash Gordon movie, which is just dreadful. I mean I know there are people who like it, who don't know any better.

MH: Well it has a kitch quality, but it's not a good movie.

ES: No, it's not and Flash Gordon is a wonderful property.  Did you see John Carter?  Did you like it?

MH: I like bits of it. I don't think it quite comes together; it lacks personality for me. It's a little bit too distanced somehow.

ES: How did you see it? 

MH: In the theater... Is it a 3D film? I saw it on 2D.

ES: I went opening day to the IMAX 3D version, and I just loved it. It's wonderful. That poor film got shat on. There were people pronouncing its doom the day it opened, and you know it's in profit now. It's the top grossing film in the history of China. It just made a fortune overseas, where people didn't read all the snarky articles that were published in the American Trade papers.

But John Carter is what Flash Gordon should have been and they just did it again on the Syfy channel. And it's just unwatchable. I tried to watch it because I like the story so much, and they updated it and they made him like a college jock or something, I don't know, I can't even figure out what they did.

MH: The new TV series? Yeah I tried watching it and I just couldn't.


ES: I didn't even know who that was supposed to appeal to because if I was a kid I wouldn't like it. I have a very high tolerance for silly things. But of course it's relevant because George wanted to make Flash Gordon, and that's the famous story. It's true. They went to King Features, and I don't know if I told you this story already, but they went to King features and King Features said "no, we want somebody famous and great like Fellini to make Flash Gordon. Go Away". I'll bet they regretted it ever since.

MH: I kind of hope so, but on the other hand if Fellini liked Flash Gordon, it could have been an interesting...

ES: I guess it could have been, but at that point in his life Fellini was never going to make a movie like that. It wasn't what he was interested in and it was more of an influence on him. Fellini's genius was in a completely different place. At no time in Federico Fellini's life did he ever make  adventure movies. Not one. They're all  movies with incredible insights about the human condition and in a completely different sensibility.

I said this before it — it's funny — in all the years. I've known George I've never been jealous and because if you had put me down in a room with all the money I wanted I wouldn't have made Star Wars. It's not what I would have done. He did something completely original, but more important he did something that was meaningful to him. So Fellini did what was meaningful to him. That was just a silly idea.  I went through the same thing, do you know that Doctor Phibes movies? No, they're great. (spells it). OK, your homework — this is Halloween — there are two of them, the first one is called The Abominable Doctor Phibes and it stars Vincent Price, and it's directed by a guy named Robert Fuest (spells it). About whom I finally read an article, I'd never even seen a picture of him before. He's a cool looking guy, looks a little like Tom Baker in and Doctor Who. And the second one is  Dr. Phibes Rises Again. I think that's the name of it. They're swell. You can pick them up for 10 bucks, I mean they're not expensive or anything, you watch those

Well, I could tell you just enough so that the story I wanted to tell you makes sense, but after you watch it. I'll tell you the rest of it. It's about this doctor getting revenge for  the murder of his wife, that's all (illegible)... And they're some of the most stylish and original horror films ever made, they're really remarkable, they're very tongue in cheek. Nothing profound going on here mind you, these are just you know entertaining, but beautifully made little B movies, get it?

So I wrote a story for the third movie. I can't tell you now because you don't know what happens in the first two, and oh it's a wonderful idea. I was just going to..  I was thinking about this, I was going to write a letter to video watchdog and tell Tim Lucas the story. The rights had come to Richard — what was his last name — he's one of the guys that produced Freak Show, was if Freak Show, the Stephen King Anthology picture. Creepshow, it was called. And a couple other pictures. He was around New York and I knew him and I kept pitching Dr. Phibes 3 to him, I just really wanted to do this, and  they didn't even want to talk to me because, he told me "I want somebody like Scorsese or Joe Dante or somebody to do it". Well, they weren't interested in doing it, they didn't want to it, I wanted to do it. So you get in these places and listen George Lucas had just made American Graffiti. Right? Which was really top grossing picture and, you know, swell movie and he certainly was what they call bankable, more bankable than I ever was. And they wouldn't let him do Flash Gordon. So I thought, "well Doctor Phibes, you know, this is not a big budget movie". They wouldn't let me do it, of course it never got made. Nobody ever did it. So it seems a shame.

MH: Yeah.  When did they come out, the originals?

ES: In the 70s. Oh, we're going to go find them. We will go find them now. I'll show you The Halloween Tree (by Ray Bradbury, which we had talked about eariler because we were near Halloween) and we'll see if we can find Doctor Phibes, and if they have I'll buy it for you as a present. It's in that midnight movie series.

I have it at home, I even — Renee who doesn't like that kind of stuff, she liked it — so what else you want to know? Ask me some questions.

MH: I don't know

ES: Guide my drifting brain. You probably remember better what I talked already. 

MH: Well, we covered most of the things that I kind of initially, you know had questions about, so... I'm just kind of trying to figure out what else to ask about. I don't know what I don't know. That's the big problem. I don't, tell me more about the comic book store.

ES: I don't remember what we talked about.

MH: Well we talked a little bit about how the gallery kind of got started, I think.  But I don't think we talked about for how long you had to store and like how it was back then, I can terms of... Well, we talked a little bit about how people would come in, and everybody's kind of... anybody who liked comics would be there because it was kind of the only place, so how did that evolve? How did the comic book industry evolve in that period and how long did the comic store actually exist

ES: The industry? That's a good question. You know I need to, give me a minute. I'll be back, then I won't be fidgeting. (break)

Well. Maybe a good way to start— you just came from Comic-Con which is lunacy. How many people were there this year?

MH: I don't know

ES: 40,000?

MH: Probably, yeah.

ES: The one in San Diego, which a buddy of mine, Shel Dorf started years ago for, I don't know, you know fifty people, is now a quarter of a million people. It's just crazy. Did you ever go to that?

MH: No.

ES: It's just... I only went once. They invited me a few years ago, and I combined it with going to visit Bradbury in LA. Who I hadn't seen in a really long time. I was really glad to see him. But it just worked out well that I did. (concern about microphone noise) I am why don't we put this pick that up?  No, yeah, it'll just fine. It'll it's pretty good at this picking up my what's here? Yeah, okay most fun, so.

But this all... There was.  It doesn't even really start until the late 1960s. Oddly enough Buffalo, New York, which is where I grew up, was an important part of that evolution of comic collecting. There was a fellow there —  oh dear,  I'm completely blocking his name right now — but he was one of the earliest comic book "dealers" in the world, he sold comic books by mail.  

This is before your time, but stamp collecting was a big deal. Now I think little kids kind of do it, but  fifty years ago stamp collection was a big hobby.  And a lot of it was done by mail, and if you look in old comic books you see ads for stamps. And there were lots and lots and lots and lots of stamp dealers. Well a little bit at the time, comic books began to slide into this collecting thing.

I personally got interested because I had a buddy who had old EC comics, which is what I was really interested in.

So I used to wheel and deal with him, and it was mostly because of Mad Magazine, which I loved.  But many of the important comic books were printed in Buffalo, as were  the Sunday comic sections. They were shipped all over the country from Buffalo. There was a place called.  Greater Buffalo Press which existed until very recently actually. It was acquired by a company in the South someplace, and I think they closed the plant down in Buffalo. If you  look up early comic book, you'll find that history. You know who Will Eisner is, Spirit sections— all the Spirit sections were printed in Buffalo, so it was in the air I suppose, when I was Kid.

The person who gets no credit at all, who really should, is a fellow named David Kaler (spells it) . Who more recently went under what he called his nom de guerre,  Weex Chessman, and he was a — I haven't seen him in a long time, I assume he's still around some place — he was a gay man, who adopted this sort of funny name, but he was the first one in New York City to put on something like a comic book convention. It was at a hotel someplace, he described it to me once many years ago, because he worked for me for a time, he was a very very knowledgeable guy, very eccentric, but but really knew what he was talking about and loved comic books.

He had some kind of an event where there were I guess few dealers and a speaker or something, maybe he got some artist or writer to come. I no longer remember exactly what he did, it was an afternoon event, and a little bit at a time it started to catch on. There was a fellow named Phil Seuling (spells it) who is an important pivotal character in all of this on the East Coast. He started what was called Second Sunday.

This was, I don't know when it started around 1970 let's say.  Because I was back and forth to New York before then because I shot a lot of documentaries, that mountain climbing film I mentioned (red. High on the Wind Rivers, available on YouTube) Catron I worked on that in 1970-71 and somehow I went to one of these Comic Book Sundays.

It was in, maybe in what was called the McAlpin Hotel I could be wrong, but I think that's where it was. And it was a room with a bunch of tables in it and people would bring stuff, comic books, toys, bubble gum cards, because they had bubble gum in them in those days, now they don't have anything in them. And a really expensive comic book was five bucks, ten bucks. I thought it was fun. You know I was looking for, I don't know, MAD comic books I didn't have.

I was trying to make a living until I could sell a screenplay because it's hard. And a friend of mine with whom I went to film school, Alan Berger,  Alan and his wife wrote and produced a bunch of films, I don't know if they're still working, I haven't seen Alan for long time, but we were good friends. And his mom had just passed away, it was very sad. And  he had some old comic books and he asked me to sell some for him, so I took some to this thing sold a few of them. Fantastic Fours and MAD and stuff. I think I had found out about it because I wanted to buy some from him, and he had some idea, I don't know, he really needed more money than I wanted to offer him.

Comic books I suppose we're in the air around 1970. It was when Marvel Mania was really starting to build up steam. It started in the sixties with Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four, and Doctor Strange. College kids started reading comic books like they hadn't for many years the, last time comic books had had any kind of juice behind them at been in the fifties, and then they sort of went down to nothing and then they started coming back again.

And Marvel — Stan and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and  whoever was left from the Golden Age, Bill Everett was around, I met Bill, and he drew the sub-mariner, and I'd become friendly with Wally Wood when I was in college, before this all happened really. Because we used to go same yoga class together. So I used to hang out with him.  He was one of the EC artists.

So I started to go to these shows and I found a way to get wholesale old comic books from a guy in New Jersey, so I would bring them, and it was a way to make a little extra money. And I lived on the east side on East 83rd Street and a couple guys who had a tax service were looking to sublet part of their space when it wasn't tax season, so I made deal with them to use the space to sell comic books.

A fellow named Bob — oh dear, I can't think of his last name at the moment, I can see his face — he decided to do the history of all this and apparently the earliest all comic book store in the United States was somewhere in Northern California,  but  there were a couple sort of memorabilia stores that soolds, this and that and the other thing, and prints and toys and all kinds of stuff and had comic books as kind of sidelined, but I was only just interesting comic books.

Because I had this source, and then I started... I'm sorry I skipped ahead, but I made a deal with these two crooks that had this tax business, what a couple of rotten guys they were.  so I would have this place open in the afternoon. It was on 83rd Street just west of Second Avenue on the south side of the street.

And I started to a find ways to get new comic books too, because kids wanted the new comic books.

MH: You said Second Avenue, is that near here?

ES: It's on the east side right across town. So it you know it started? More and more people kept discovering it. It was you know just one of these things that just was organic if you will. I think what's important to me is that I, you know, I loved the stories and artists, and I  really— before it was—

Well, what started to happen was the French picked up on it — le bande dessinée and cloaked in bande dessinée and made it very pretentious and arty and they weren't wrong, but they were French. They made had a kind of, in the same way that  the new wave came out of Truffaut and Godard and Demy and all those guys who loved American movies.

Truffaut became famous for the Hitchcock book and what's so bizarre is that no American author had ever bothered to sit down interview Alfred Hitchcock. When you look back on it, you think what the hell was the matter with them? I mean he was one of the greater, certainly most commercial american. filmmakers. Nobody bothered to do it. Peter Bogdanovich was the first one to to bothered to talk to John Ford. When I was a kid I remember Peter Bogdanovich's books for the Museum of Modern Art.  Nobody else was doing that, there weren't books about movies. There were no books about comic books. Comic books were trash and the fact of the matter is that a lot of them are disposable. Let's just call them disposable, they're  just transient entertainment, the way that 95% of all television is. And these days most movies are transient entertainment.

I'm going to pontificate for a minute, butit will help you to understand what drew me to comic books. When you go out to the movies today in 2012  almost all the movies are are directed at teenagers and 20-somethings and there are these big, loud, exciting, fantasy adventures. The Avengers is what now, is it the top grossing film of all time? Yeah, so Avatar by comparison is a work of genius, and not that I didn't love The Avengers. I love The Avengers. I mean that movie was what I and a lot of my friends had always wanted to do, but it was impossible, you couldn't do it. If you look at Spider-Man as a movie character, there are lots of Spider-Man movies, dozens and dozens of them. There was a Spider-Man television show, but they were all very crude.

It was some kind of wrinkly costume running around swinging on ropes, you know, and I mean they were fun, but they... Have you ever seen the 1950s Superman television show with George Reeves? It's very good. They were smart, they were short, and they were pretty well written, and George Reeves was a charming man. He embodied Superman somehow. It's tragic, that he lost his life, however that happened, it's not clear, depending on what kind of conspiracy theorist you are. But those films... those TV shows are kind of magical. I grew up on them, and I remember we couldn't wait to see them every week, it was once a week. The Spider-Man TV shows were nowhere near that that good and by then they were making, you know Hanna-Barbera-style Marvel television animated series, which will really crappy. I mean you look at him now, and they're just really cruide.

But it was part of the aura of those comic books.  So all of this has evolved up to this odd place where the epitome of American filmmaking is a 250 million dollar budget comic book. I'm not trying to put them down. I'm trying to say that they're not La Strada, and they're not Grand Illusion, and they're not, I don't know, The Searchers or How Green Was My Valley. Those are all clearly films that had wonderful scripts and great performances beautiful cinematography.

I got friend of mine to watch High Noon — you've seen High Noon? — I've been telling him to watch it, I didn't say anything to him about it. So he calls me up and says "well I don't get it, what's the hidden meaning?" I said, "there's no hidden meaning, it's a film about a guy all of whose friends desert him, but it's just told so beautifully" and that's...  High Noon is the most suspenseful movie, it just never lets you go. It's just a beautifully made film.  Everything about it is so careful and it, and here's where I'm going, it has a certain beauty to it. We went to see Salm Sorre (sp?) yesterday, and the whole film was just exquisitely beautiful.

Avengers looks great, so does Ironman, you know, I mean I like those movies.  John Carter in a funny way had more Beauty to it than a lot of those films, the design of those those flying ships, they were just they were gorgeous. I don't know if you... They look like birds, you know, they were beautifully designed somebody spent a tremendous amount of time coming up with something, and Avatar has some of that. Avatar has, I mean it's a kind of clunky story I hate to say, but it's very engaging and the world that they created is very striking. I think there's been a loss of beauty in American films and that's a shame. I wish it would come back.

So, now having said all that if you look at comic books, the great comic books  have a combination of great storytelling and good art. Carl Barks who did Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck,  he was one of the most extraordinary American storytellers ever. You think his comic books have been reprinted in 24 languages. We figured out once that there were more copies of his comic books in print then than any other writer.  They printed so many copies of them, it's almost mind-boggling to think how many copies of Uncle Scrooge stories exist in the world. I think it would give up the Bible a run for its money. It used to be that Edgar Rice Burroughs outsold the Bible. Tarzan was one of the best-selling books ever. That's probably not true anymore. Carl Barks is certainly up there.  Stephen King is probably in that running by this point. I don't know, I don't track it anymore. I used to pay close attention to that sort of thing.

So Carl Barks—  he didn't just draw cartoony Ducks, they have personalities and he was a fine artist even though he was drawing cartoony  characters. You look at the work, I mean I sat in his houe and watched him draw, he was really good. He's good.  And then there were the EC comic books and that was Frazetta, and Al Williamson, and Jack Davis, and these guys they were really terrific artists.

That's where Frank Frazetta comes from, and the EC comic books are just gorgeous. I mean they're gorgeous. You're familiar with them? The Weird Science Fantasy comics, they're amazing. It's some of the best comic book stuff. We're talkin now about pen and ink line drawing style, the modern style comic books are these painted comics.

I don't remember the name of the fellow that became famous for doing the Superman comics in that painted style.

MH: Alex Ross.

ES: Yeah, Alex Ross. Those are pretty nice.  There are precursors to that. Rich Corbin did a kind of very stylized early version of that, so there's an evolution of all this stuff.

That's what interested me, were these cutting-edge people who were as much innovators in storytelling as, oh I don't know, Goya and you know,  people who were were  editorial cartoonists, or you know important illustrators, Rackham, Duloc, we were talking about him earlier, Norman Rockwell.

There's a tradition of American illustration and mainstream art criticism looks down their nose at it. I've always found it ironic that Andy Warhol and Liechtenstein are revered and kow towed and have their asses kissed when all they did was copy comic books. It's somehow, the fact that Roy Lichtenstein took a little comic book panel and blew it up fifteen feet high six feet wide made it into art. Whereas the guy Gil Kane who drew that stuff originally, you know nobody knows who he is, and he never got as rich as Roy Liechtenstein did. There's a great irony in that.

So there I am back in 1970 ish thinking about comic books as being... I used to say to people I just picked it up as sort of like common talk now. The two  authentic, original American art forms are Jazz and comic books? They were invented here.  There are precursors, right? Jazz has African roots and comic books have roots in, you know, 16th century political drawings, but the comic book, the true comic book happens in the United States and in the 1930s Famous Funnies, you know, that cheap paper and garish cover and Buck Rogers, you know, all that stuff. That's very American.

So that resonated for me.  One of the great disappointments to me in all those years that I owned that business, and thousands and thousands of people came there, but you could count on one hand the people that appreciated it on the same terms that I did. I don't mean that to sound wrong. It's just, it's idiosyncratic, that's what I responded to. It's taste, right?

I prefer Salvador Dali over Roy Lichtenstein. One of the major reasons being that Salvador Dali was a brilliant painter. He was a great craftsman, he really knew how to paint. I don't know enough about Mister Lichtenstein to know what his background was, it took me, to be perfectly honest— I was not much of a Picasso fan until I went to an exhibit and realized that when Picasso was 14 years old he could paint like Rembrandt. He was a brilliant painter. He could paint as well as any artist in recorded history and at a certain point in his life he said "I'm done with this, I'm going to do something different," and he went off and invented whatever he did. 

Picasso did it, and his output is just staggering, I mean there were no other artists of the 20th century that ever did what he did, and I also found the guy had great sense of humor. I just thought, I'm being honest, I just thought he was a crappy painter with no skill. But there was a difference between having the skills, and deciding to do something different. And not having any skill at all and trying to pass that off as craftsmanship and art. And I, from my perception, I just see a lot of the latter. The Museum of Modern Art is filled with stuff like that. Just people... Well there's that famous book The Painted Word — Tom...  I'm not thinking his name — it's about how art became the description of what you're looking at became integral to the work of art, and in many cases it's more important if you could convince people the three little black and brown squiggles on a big yellow canvas indicated the dysfunction of the neural networks in the brain of a child listening to Mozart, people go "ooh, aah," but I just see, you know it's like the emperor has no clothes. It's just three brown squiggles on a yellow background.  But the book The Painted Word points out that this has becoming what modern artist is about and you have to be good salesman for your stuff.

So here's comic books, right? Comic books were a way for parents to give the kids something to shut them up. But between 1935 and1952 it became a major commercial publication phenomena. It really hit its peak during World War Two and declined a little bit until Captain Marvel came along. Captain Marvel was the best-selling comic ever. It's why Superman sued them, it's because they taken so much of the market. Captain Marvel was so popular they were starting to publish it a once a week. There had never been an American comic book that sold that well.  It's still my favorite, Captain Marvel. Mike Uslan has the rights to do the movie now. He'll do a good job. I'm sure. We were talkin about it. I wanted to do in period but he wants to do it in modern— he has some idea, I don't know what he wants to do, he won't tell me, I understand.

Captain Marvel, the drawing is very simple, or was in the 1950s, but it was immensely appealing. But then you have guys like Will Eisner and the EC Comics guys, and they were extremely skillful people. And that's what interested me and a handful of other people. I don't know what you like, you obviously like Frazetta, so...

Frank was one of the great illustrators in history, so you have good taste, but it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with those other things.  Why is Uncle Scrooge a great comic book? Because the stories are beautifully written? There is good as Robert Louis Stevenson, and they're moral tales like Hans Christian Andersen, it's great writing.

People didn't see it. It's why we did that Uncle Scrooge book. You know about that? I mean that was $150 book and nothing had ever been done like that before, nobody ever took it that seriously, but we had them colored. You know we found them,we shot the book from the original artwork. I mean we did a lot of stuff, and you know it's Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge — I could tell you that whole story if you ask me that question — but nobody wanted to do it, the publisher didn't want to do it, Disney didn't want to do it. They just thought that Gary and I were crazy, they really did. I mean there's a whole story?

MH: I'd love to hear that actually.

ES: But let me finish the thought and then if you want to ask me that as a question I'd be happy to do it, but you were asking about the store, so. I hope this isn't long-winded, but I'm trying to evoke what was going on at the time.

There are now courses at universities in the history of comics. Some of them approach comic books as what they like to call pop art and some of them approach them more seriously. In the United States there's a big divide between popular culture and high art. I personally see it as a kind of snobbery, but that's just my opinion.

It is clear however that DaVinci and Rembrandt and Dali are great craftsman and Bob Kane wasn't, he was just an opportunist, but look how durable Batman is as character, and how few kids have ever heard of Modigliani. They don't know who that is, but they know who Bruce Wayne is.  So that's one of those unfathomable questions of life and history. What really constitutes what's important to people? I don't have an answer for that. 

These comic book conventions kept growing. Can't  Phil Seuling in New York City and Shel Dorf in San Diego were the two guys that kind of pioneered this. And it just kept growing and growing more and more people came. It was the right thing at the right time. In New York City it had almost died. There weren't any really significant comic book conventions except the Big Apple conventions, which were pretty small. My friend Mikey Carbonara ran those for many years. Did you ever go to one of those?

MH: No.

ES:  ComiCon, when it first started, I mean in New York what they call the New York ComicCon was not successfully the first year or so. It was very— well it wasn't a failure, but it wasn't like what you just went to.

I mean, it's all sold out, I would have happy to come and you know walk around with you, introduce everybody. But I had it wrong in my head. I thought it was a week before and I didn't think I was going to be here, and it was sold out. I wrote a letter to the promoter Lance Fensterman and said "listen, you know, I screwed up, I didn't apply for a pro pass. Could you get me in?" I wanted to go on Thursday night because that's the night. Did you go Thursday?

MH: No, we went on Sunday.

ES: Well Thursday night is like, you know, the closed night. It's for pros and VIPs. Everybody sets up, and I used to go every year on Thursday night, just when I was here, because all my friends would come in and there weren't a million kids foaming all over the place and you could talk to people and we're all getting old.  So, well next year if you're here, and I'm here we'll see, I'd be happy to do it. It's just old phone week for me if you know the expression


A shoe store became vacant on Second Avenue just south of 84th street. The owner had died and his son or nephew or somebody had the lease and conned me into buying the lease from him. I didn't know much about this stuff, so we moved into this store, which was very small, badly heated, painted in very bright colors, and had a lot of shelves and crap in it.

So I just moved in there, and the day we opened up this fellow walked by and just thought it was really cool, and came in and talked to me and wrote an article in the New York Times about it. It was a six column inch article, like a big article in the metro section for the New York Times. His partner was a fellow named Ed Goodgold, who I had forgotten about until right this minute. But Ed had written some kind of history of Pop Culture or movies or something. I can't remember, he wrote several kind pictorial history books. Nice fellow, I have no idea what's happened to him.

But they had their fingers on the pulse of that and that launched it.  And it just became a phenomenon. I found a way to get new comic books very early. And the height of it was when I one day I managed to get the entire supply for comic books for New York City. I got them all. From the distributor, from the Manhattan distributor. I bought them all and I sold them all in like two or three days. In point of fact they didn't have to distribute them. They could have just given them to Supersnipe and we would have sold them all. I mean, that's how, I don't know what the right word is, successful it was as an enterprise. It was through combination of the store and by then there had been a large comic book convention that had evolved and between the two of those things we could move tens of thousands of comic books.

Steven Spielberg used to call me the comic book King, it was funny. He could never remember my name, he'd go "Oh, oh, you're George's friend who's the comic book King"

When I think I'm at great pains to point out here, is that my interest then and now in comic books is really kind of completely different than what the average person likes. There are certain things I certainly read for the stories, I was big Doctor Strange fan, I liked that Doctor Strange, don't ask me why I just liked it, it appealed to me. Do I think it was high art? No, I don't. But I became good friends with— there was an author named Frank Laureate who wrote A series called Doctor Orient, it was a series of three, four or five books that were kind of a literary version of Doctor Strange, it was very influenced by that. I like that stuff, but my interest was really in the fine art aspect of it, and the genuine literary quality of some of them.

If you look at people like Roy Thomas, who was and English teacher. So he was a relatively literate man and Roy always overwrote everything because that was his penchant, you know, he related to it from that point of view, and it absolutely improved comic writing, there's no question about it.  And then on the other side there were these guys who were artists who fought all that writing, Barry Smith and Michael Kaluta, all those guys were visual storytellers, and not the best writers.

I don't read comic books anymore, so I can't tell you who the good writers are other than my old friends who are still writing, but you know Roy Thomas and Danny O'Neil, they were really good writers. They were like the great pulp writers, Robert E. Howard would have been a great comic book writer. Alfred Bester, you know who he is? He wrote The Stars Are My Destination and The Demolished Man, have you ever read that book? Do you like science fiction? Oh you need to read that book, okay? I don't know what— when you read it, I'd be interested to know what you think. It's absolutely one of the great science fiction novels, I and several other people have always wanted to make it into a movie. It's possible to do now. It went through— I was involved with two separate productions of the film, neither of which happened.

After Star Wars we all thought we could make it happen. It's just one of the great traditional science fiction stories, it has all the elements that make for a great space opera. The author was a very smart, good writer, Bester, he had written for Paul Spitton, but then he did everything, he wrote comic books and wrote radio shows. I discovered he wrote the first episode of the Sam Spade radio show, I found that out by accident. I didn't know until the end that he'd written it and I was thinking "wow, this is a really well-written show", it was very densely written for a radio program, it had a lot of words, it was clever and sharp and it turned out Bester wrote it.

I knew him a little bit, got to meet him. His wife used to come into Supersnipe and buy comic books for Al, because he was an older guy and they lived upstate so he didn't come into the city, but she'd come. He'd send her down there to get to stuff for him. I hope this isn't getting disjointed.

So there's this parallel.  The Second Sunday events which were once a month then became a yearly comic book convention, in the summertime usually. They got bigger and bigger and bigger every year, Phil Seuling ran all these. It reached the point where I ran all those Second Sunday events for him, and he gave me free space near the door to sell stuff, so I made a little more money, and then he'd give me really good location in the big show. And it's how I made a little extra money. It was never the focus of my life. As I keep saying I had imagined that I would meet all these like-minded people and we'd sit around and talk about— I mean I was an artist and a painter so I was interested in you know Al Williamson's technique or fractures of his technique or why Carl barks was a great writer. I ended up with a National Endowment for the Arts grant to make a film about all that. I told you about this, right? This just came up because I realized I have this long interview with George that's never been published. I have it transcribed someplace. I got to dig it out and give it to Star Wars Insider because it's never been published, and I bet it has interesting stuff in it.

MH: How old is it?

ES: 1974.

MH: Yeah, that'd be a real gem.

ES: Before Star Wars came out. The film... some of it was filmed, the film was lost. Too bad.

George and I actually became friends because of Flash Gordon. We have a mutual friend who introduced us, because by that point you know as Steven kept saying, I was the comic book King. Never what I aspired to be, believe you me. And I just knew all these people, I mean they were just — I've said this to you before — they were just my friends that I hung out with, and we'd go to the movies. You know. It was just fun.

Doug and Debbie Munch were my neighbors I used to have dinner with them every friday night and play with their cats because I like cats so much. AndRoy Thomas lived around the corner and we'd have lunch three times a week because... I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I like people who are interesting, who have good stories to tell, and who understand what I'm trying to say.  Because I'm sure you've encountered this in your life. Because the things that you and I talked about, we can't talk about these with everybody.

It's a combination of a couple things. A lot of people would have no idea what the hell we talking about and other people would just think it's the most boring thing in the world. They could understand it and think "why are you interested in that?" 

So to find people who get it and enjoy it. That's hard. It's why I hung out with Roy. I didn't particularly have any ambition to write comic books, although I did, I wrote some. A friend of mine whom I went to college, NYU, Danny — what was Danny's last name? — he became an editor at Gold Key Comics. So I wrote a bunch of stories for Gold Key, because they published a science fiction comic book called Star Stream, and I wrote actually some pretty good— they were adaptations of famous stories, and I really like them. I could do what I wanted to do, and I actually designed them, and I actually drew the layouts and they sent them, I don't know, to the Philippines or to Spain, I can't remember where the artists were from. And they actually followed my designs, and I tickled pink. So I did a little bit, and then Gold Key stopped publishing so that ended. And I was kind of content to just hang out with my friends at Marvel.  I wasn't aggressively looking to get hired. I just used to sit in the office at lot of the time.

We shot a little documentary with Stan, that's how I met him. A friend wanted to do a documentary about comics. So I called Stan up and we went down there and interviewed him in his office. I don't know where that film went. And his secretary, Carla, later Carla Conway, she married Gerry Conway, ended up living down at the end of my street. So it was a small world.

And George would come around and we just talk about comic books, and they were trying to put Star Wars together. They didn't know what it was going to look like. He had just kind of barely hired Ralph to do early stuff. He's looking for people and ideas and trying to figure out the look of the film. So that  was fun. We always had a lot to talk about.

And I went to film school, as you know, so that's my frame of reference. I look at stuff and think, "Oh well how can you film that," it's how I think. It was very popular at the time, there were several books trying to show the similarity between comic books and movies. And they're not really the same, but simplistically they look somewhere— so that was in the air.

It's all sort of come around finally with The Avengers movies, but if you look at the movies, the style and the structure of the movies, the movie stories are not the same as the comic book stories at all. And the characters have been altered. The Iron Man character in the movie is heavily informed by Robert Downey, Jr. Which is good, it gives it a kind of wonderful tongue-in-cheek edge without being silly. It has kind of wit to it If you will. I don't want to make more out of that than there is, but he does a good job. That's not the comic books. That's completely an on-screen creation.

I need a rest for a minute. 

MH: We can head out if you want to.

ES: In the wake of this New York Times article I started getting getting invitations from television shows, and I especially remember Robert Klein the comedian had a morning show in Manhattan. I thought it was Good Morning America, but Robert told me, I ran into him a few months ago and I mentioned it to him because I hadn't seen him in a while, and he told me would AM... I don't know what it was called. But they have me on about comic books with Jimmy Breslin, and it was like I was an avis guest, you understand? And I'd get these phone calls, and for a while was like the go-to guy if people had questions about this, not that I knew as much as some of my more academic friends.

Again, it was in the air. And then people started copycat businesses. People were imagining that I was getting fabulously rich from doing this, the reason for that was that it was a tiny little store. The whole store was just about the width of this restaurant where you are and it ended about here.

It was tiny. The front of the store had a bathroom and the back of the store had a bathroom and a storage area, and the front of the store was barely bigger— see that little wall that juts out? From there to the window. That's how small it was. And there were shelves with bins and shelves and racks and stuff in there, so we could never get more than maybe 10 people in the store at a time.

So after school was when the kids came, and there would be lines down the block. Could be a hundred kids on the line. So it was sort of self-promoting. People would come and they'd get in line, and we'd let them into the store eight or nine kids at a time and would have to hustle them in and out. It was kind of funny, but if it had been a bigger store it probably wouldn't have been like that, but it was a function of space rather than anything else.  So it made it kind of fun, and also the funniest thing was I realized after a while that for whatever strange reason it was, parents trusted us. They would dump off their seven-year-olds at our store and leave them, and come back and pick them up. And now, this is New York City, parents don't leave seven-year-olds alone with strangers in a store, they don't do that. It's worse now, because you know all this child "stuff" that goes on. People are really nervous about their children. It was true then, you know this is the 1970s. People didn't leave their children— but they left them with us

It was very flattering on one hand, but a pain in the neck on the other because you're watching people's kids for them. There were kids that came and had incredible amounts of money. And there were kids that had no money at all. We always had comic books that were two for a penny, because there were little kids who had no money. They'd come in and buy the two for a penny comics. My agenda was, I wanted kids to read. That was in the end— I thought anything that gets children to read, that's a good thing. Because I had discovered that the number of people that appreciated Will Eisner and Al Williamson and Carl Barks were a minuscule number people compared to the number of illiterate children there were, so that seemed like a more practical goal, to encourage literacy. Encouraging taste is a whole different, more difficult problem.

So people would come to visit and they'd see these lines on Saturday. It  Was crazy from whenever we open until whenever we close. And it's in the summertime, it as just crazy. You couldn't go out for lunch. And kids all want to steal, so we had to take their coats and bags and shoes and socks away from them, so they couldn't hide the comic books any places. They still found ways to steal stuff.

So other people thought that we had a money machine. Never did. The rent was expensive and the profit margins on the comic books were tiny and I had to pay wages. I managed to pay my rent and eat and go to the movies. I never made very much money at all from it. Not ever.

But they thought we were, so they opened up all these copycat stores, and you can't please all the people all the time. People didn't like me and they wanted to put us out of business. I went through nightmare things with people who were  just obsessed with the idea that somehow I was a secret millionaire, and they were going to  move us out of the market, and they were going to take it over, and they were going to become rich.  

There was this one guy, I'll never forget this story. It's a little intricate, but I'll tell you anyway. You know what Creepy and Eerie magazines were? Famous Monsters of Filmland? Vampirella? Warren Publishing. Jim Warren published basically four magazines: Famous Monsters, Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella

MH: They're two different magazines, Creepy and Eerie?

ES: Yeah.

MH: Then I think I know them.

ES: Frazetta did covers for both of them. So in order to copyright and trademark the Eerie logo, Jim published what has now come to be called, what's the name of it... These little tiny things, they sell for a lot of money now,  the word is escaping me.

Well, it was a little black-and-white booklet, really. He took some story that had been previously published. He printed them up in black-and-white and stapled them together, and he put them on sale someplace for 10 minutes so you could say that it was a product and he owned the trademark. Because you have to have products in order to have a trademark.

So it's not a, I want to say a broadside, but that's not what it is. It'll come to me eventually. There was one done for Marvel Mystery very famous, very valuable. There were only two or three copies of it ever found, and oddly enough they were printed in Buffalo. It was a little tiny thing, not like a full comic book, it was just in black and white, and the publisher did it to protect themselves.

So Archie Goodwin had one because he was working for Jim at the time and he came up to me one day and said "is this worth anything?" and [illegible name, Ed Sheinben?] that "wow, you know those are really rare", I said "yeah, but" I said "there's no..." This was true, this is the odd thing, when I first opened this business there were comic books from the 1930s that were extremely rare.

In my whole life I've only seen a handful of copies of something like new comics.  Some guy walked in with copies of New Comics. Well, they had no superheroes in them, and they only were published for a year or two, so they had no cachet. And the problem was there was no market for them. I'd say to people, I said "you know that's incredibly rare, I've never seen those ever before", but I said "I can't pay anything for them because you know nobody will buy them", if it was Batman #1, you knew there were people who wanted that and they'd pay you 50 bucks for it. We sold a copy of Captain Marvel Adventures #1 for $100.

MH: And how much is worth today?

ES: Oh, I don't know. Five figures. And I remember this kid that bought it. Oh he wanted to sell it back to us. He bought it just before the new price guide came out, and he was sure the price was going to go through the ceiling in a year.  And it's not how it worked. It's a funny story.

Anyway, Archie came to me Archie, Goodwin came to me with this thing. It was the same deal. I said this is incredibly rare, but there's no market for this. I don't know who'd to buy it from me. So he gave it to me as a present. I still have it someplace. This is an actual real Eerie #1, a little black-and-white thing about this big. It was 8.5 x 11, well it was smaller than a 8.5 x 11 folded in  half. Very small

And one day some guy came in and said he had a box full, and he had been a writer at Warrens, and he said that he had saved them from then, and I didn't want to buy them, but I took them on consignment and sold some.  Well there was a difference between the one that Archie Goodwin gave me and these other ones, they were different. There was a difference in the staples, the printing was a little different, and but the provenance was good.

This guy actually worked for Warren, and he showed me the box that they were in, it was from Warren's office. You know, maybe they printed up couple batches, I didn't know and I never had— Jim Warren was very reclusive, so there was no way to find him and ask him. So this guy bought one and then came back a week later and accused me of selling him counterfeits. And it's not, but I said "if you think so I'll give you your money back" and he just created this incredible fuss and sued me, took me to court! And the judge thought it was all pretty funny. I said to the judge, I said I offered the guy his money back, I told him the story, and it's just one of those things. So if you look in the price guide now there are maybe three different versions of the same thing and I don't think it's ever been absolutely clarified, which ones are real and which ones— because it was an easy thing to counterfeit if you wanted to do it, its black and white. Who knows. But that guy ended up going into business across the street, because he want to get even with me for this.

I always thought it was amusing except that when you're not making much money to begin with and somebody cuts down your profit margin, eventually I just had to give it up. I just wasn't making any money and it was aggravating. I could have expanded it, but I didn't want to, it wasn't something I wanted to do.  And of course George, and I had started the art gallery which was a separate business, a completely separate business, two different locations. And I liked that a little better because I was dealing with the art, and I love that more, and the people who came into an art gallery were a lot more interesting, tended to be a little more — I don't know what the right word is, but — a little more literate if you will.

Want to ask me another question?

MH: Well let's go back to the Carl Barks story because I was actually looking on eBay, and this was a little while ago, and it's pretty hard to get a hold of now.

ES: Even the reprints are hard to get.

MH: Which bothers me because I'd really like a good Carl Barks collection, and I don't know which one...

ES: Are you rich?

MH: Hah, no.

ES: I have a couple of sealed copies. Have you seen it?

MH: No.

ES: Next time you remind me. You have to remind me and I 'll bring it to show you. But I have the first— I have a couple of first editions still sealed. But they're expensive. Much as I love you, I can't give it to you.

MH: Haha, no no.

ES: Well, that's a whole story. That's a long story.

MH: We can take it next time. 

ES: I'll give you the beginning of it, enough so that you can ask next time, but  Gary Kurtz loved Carl Barks, and— all of this I mean growing up at different times, in different cities,  we all loved those comic books and all of us wanted to make the Barks comic books into movies. The one that I wanted to make was, I don't know how are you know those stories. Do you know the one where they go to Atlantis?  

MH: I don't remember. I should say that in Denmark Donald Duck and Scrooge and all of this is very big. Certainly back when I was a kid. So I read a lot of it.

ES: Well. There is a story where Scrooge decides that he wants to have the rarest coin in the world, so he buys up all the 1924 quarters and keeps one and has all the rest of them dumped in the ocean. So he now has the rarest coin in the world, and he wants to go sell it, and people go "that's the rarest coin in the world, the only person in the whole world that has enough money to buy that is Scrooge McDuck!," so he's sort of shot himself in the foot by doing this.

And so one day he drops it on the street and a steamroller goes over it and flattens it and so he needs to get another one and they have to go down to bottom of the ocean to try to find another one of these quarters. And they discover Lost Atlantis. If you haven't read this I won't tell you what happens. And I thought, oh boy this would make a great movie, and I can't remember which story George liked so much. But Gary liked The Sheriff of Bullet Valley, I think was his favorite, or maybe In Old California. He just thought it would make a wonderful movie, and I got this National Endowment Grant and I was working out of Georg and Gary's office at Universal and staying at George's house, and Gary showed up the day I was going to drive down and visit Carl, because I never met him before and both he and George brought in their comic books for me to take down and have them signed for them.

You know, we were all big kids. It was like that. Gary gave me very careful instructions about where he wanted it signed, just in the margin so it didn't spoil the story, I kind of remember that.

So one thing led to another and that's where this book came from and ask me again and I'll tell you you the story; good story. And you know, it involves George because ultimately George writes the introduction for the book. So you know, it's interesting how it... I'm kind of happy you're asking me some of this stuff, 

MH: because it all sort of weaves together. 

I'm done.

MH: Alright.