This evening my wife, author Shannon Muir, and I will be attending the 2017 Animation Writers Caucus Annual Meeting and Award Presentation at the offices of the Writers Guild of America in Los Angeles. Events like these have always been special to us because at first it was a chance to meet our creative and literary heroes we have looked up to, then becoming fellow animation writers, and in some special cases becoming close friends.
At these annual meetings we honor a writer who has truly added to the animation industry as a writer and creator. This year our presentation must also be a memorial as the award is being given posthumously to writer extraordinaire and friend Len Wein.The outside world knows him best as the creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing, but he is so much more especially to a little boy who had to sit for hours in a hospital lobby while his grandparents were being taken care of upstairs.
The hospital chaplain took pity on the little boy who had nothing to do on those old vinyl couches than his homework and so gave me two comic books, Superman and The Flash. They were great, and that gift meant a lot to me, but it wasn’t until I wandered into the hospital gift shop that my life was changed forever.
Along side the magazines the small shop had a few very small comic books for sell. One of which, with the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA logo on the top and text at the bottom that read “33 Super-Stars in One Epic Adventure!” with dozens of those heroes jumping of the front and back cover, had my full attention. I convinced my mother to give me the 95 cents to purchase this copy of DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #11.
Opening those four-color pages I found myself tumbling into a wonderful world of super heroes. Yes, I knew of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from television and cartoons, but there were so many many more. Here I learned not only about the Justice League but also the Justice Society of America, and that there was an Infinite number of parallel earths where more heroes resided.
I was definitely hooked and the DC Universe was my playground from then on.
This digest turned out to be a reprint of JUSTICE LEAGE OF AMERICA #100, 101, and 102, about our heroes on a quest to find seven more heroes lost to the ages.
This great story, that put a boy on a quest to discover all the heroes of the golden age of comics, was written by the great comic book author Len Wein. I would soon be reading many more.
(An interested side note is that Len also edited the Blue Ribbon Digest that it was reprinted in.)
I was not the only one influenced by this comic; fellow comic book writer Gail Simone also marks this story as what began her path into comics.
I learned just the other day that Len himself fell in love with comics as a child while he was in the hospital as well. Though for him it was for medical treatment, but he has stated that those comics and super heroes got him through it.
Now that little boy who sat quietly in the hospital lobby wants to pay his respect to the man who sent towards a career as a comic book and animation writer. I honor you Len for all the stories you have brought to the world, and for being a friend.
Kevin Paul Shaw BrodenFour Names of Professional Creativity