Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part Four (of Five)

Posted by on January 10th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Previously: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

This sequence is from My Greatest Adventure #80, with art by Bruno Premiani. [©1963 DC Comics] Click to view larger image.

Arnold Drake and The Doom Patrol

MICHAEL CATRON: Let’s talk about this period of innovation.

BOB HANEY: The ’60s.

CATRON: Yeah.

HANEY: The ’60s were the real —

CATRON: Let’s go back to the characters you’re credited with originating. It started with Eclipso and the Doom Patrol —

HANEY: The Doom Patrol. Arnold [Drake] and I — I guess Murray [Boltinoff] was our editor. Was he? Or was it George [Kashdan]? No, Murray, I guess, was our editor on Doom Patrol. [My Greatest Adventure #80, June, 1963, featuring the debut of The Doom Patrol, was edited by Murray Boltinoff.] They were still doing that — where they said to the writer, “Come up with a new title. You’ll be the writer.” That was the way of getting an extra assignment, right? You got no extra money for creating — no ownership. You’re giving the company the property, right? With no legal rights whatsoever. Still, it meant an extra book. Therefore an extra check. Right? You know, we’re all hacking away, trying to make a living. All we were making was an ordinary living.

Arnold did other work. Arnold wrote all sorts of stuff, you know. I was writing some stuff in industrial films and PR and I was starting to build houses. Anyway, the point is that Arnold and I went to his little office on 57th Street. He was in the same building with the famous violin fixer. We sat in his little narrow office, about as big as a bathroom, and over one or two afternoons — I’m trying to think, was it over a weekend? Well, that’s not important — we did Doom Patrol. We sat there and plotted the whole concept from nothing.

CATRON: Now I’ll tell you what he told me.

HANEY: I know. He lied. [Laughter.]

CATRON: He said that he got the assignment on a Friday and it was due on a Monday.

HANEY: That’s true. Yeah.

CATRON: And that he had it more or less in his head, but realized he couldn’t get it done by Monday. So he asked you to help him out. And that you two, I guess, went to this place that you just described and then did it over the course of the weekend.

HANEY: Yeah. That’s why I remember the weekend. I was right about the weekend thing. I was a little fuzzy about it. But that’s quite right. The assignment originated with him and then he asked me to join him. That’s true. But it’s a half-truth in terms of the creativity of it. He did not have any big idea in his head, as I recall. We sat down and — Arnold and I were very close friends and good collaborators. I never tried to one-up him and he never tried to one-up me, except about this property. I don’t know what it is. Anyway, the point is, we spent the weekend in his office there. There’s no way to measure each person’s contribution, you know. That’s insane. We kicked it around. We were good at bouncing it off of each other. Both articulate guys. We worked on each character — the Elasti-Girl, and we worked on the Robotman, and we worked on the Chief and — blah, blah, blah.

CATRON: And Negative Man.

HANEY: And Negative — whatever the fuck he was. Negative Man. And where they worked and lived and the background. And the Chief in a wheelchair, which was really a swipe from — what was the guy on television, the fat guy?

Anyway, so we came up with this, the Doom Patrol. It was very much a joint effort. To measure out who did this, that would be impossible almost. We wrote the first script together. I remember sitting there typing the sonofabitch out. Yeah, we had to get it in by Monday or Tuesday or whatever.

It turned out nicely, I thought. We wrote the second script together and I dropped out. I think I dropped out while we were writing the second script, if my memory serves me. And the only thing it does — it’s not important, really. Except I was shocked, years later, to see Arnold, when he was interviewed about it — I was, like, never mentioned.

Now he may have mentioned me to you — the interview you did with him. But he didn’t in some other interviews. It was like I had never been involved. I just wondered about that, because he wasn’t that kind of a guy. Arnold’s a very fair man that I admire. I often wondered why I was like [laughs] — you know. Because then he ran with the ball. He took the series and was the writer for its first incarnation for many, many issues. Did a fine job. Bruno Premiani was the artist.

CATRON: Oh, yeah. I remember that strip quite well. It’s one of my favorites from that period.

HANEY: Well, a lot of people liked it.

CATRON: I have every issue, Bob. [Laughs.]

HANEY: Wonderful. But I just — I thought that I had made a significant contribution to the whole package of it, the whole creation of it. For what it was worth. I only worked on the first two issues, that’s all, and never claimed anything otherwise. As I say, it’s not an important thing. [Laughs.]

One time, somebody interviewed Murray and he said [laughs] — and of course, poor Murray, I think was getting senile at that point — that he had created Metamorpho! Well, I read it about five times and I kept rubbing my eyes. But he had absolutely nothing to do with Metamorpho. Whatsoever. It’s one thing for Arnold to just drop me out. That’s one thing. But for a guy like Murray to say he created — well, that’s what happens to people.

This sequence is from My Greatest Adventure #81, with art by Bruno Premiani. Click to view larger image.

Eclipso, Hero and Villain in One Man

From “Eclipso Must Die!” in House of Secrets #75, with art by Jack Sparling. [©1965 DC Comics]

CATRON: I’m not sure how this follows chronologically, but the next thing that I’m associating with you in that period is Eclipso.

HANEY: Well, I think — I never really liked him. I thought I did a mediocre job with that one, Mike. I wouldn’t — I don’t know. Somehow, it didn’t — I had a concept in my head. Do you want to hear about my failures? Like B’wana Beast, I think, “God —” [Laughter.]

CATRON: Well, we’ll get to B’wana Beast, too.

HANEY: But I had a concept. Is it Hamlet that says “From the thought to the execution is such a gap, such a jump”? Sometimes I had an idea. I had an idea about Eclipso that might have been a much better character. Which I think was done much better years later when they revived it than I did it, to be perfectly honest. But I guess that was another case of ‘come up with a character.’ As I recall, we put that first in House of Secrets, didn’t we?

CATRON: Right.

HANEY: Yeah. I guess I did that for Jack. For Schiff, right? See, I plotted with Jack but I plotted with George mainly. Or then Murray, after George was fired. But I think I did it for Jack.

CATRON: “Editor, Murray Boltinoff.” That’s what it says here. [House of Secrets #61, July-August 1963, the debut of Eclipso.]

HANEY: Well, that isn’t always accurate. Sometimes in that shop, with the three of them, they’d put the editor on who took the art finally to the — no, I did work with Murray on it. That’s true, too. I remember working with Jack on it because who’s the hero? Bruce —?

CATRON: Bruce Gordon.

HANEY: I did that as a joke. Jack got very outraged by that. I remember him looking at one of the early scripts, so he did some editing on it. Because he was like the senior guy, you see. He would get involved. And he said, “Bruce Gordon? That’s Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon.” I said, “Yes, so what? It’s a joke. It’s an inside joke.”

[Catron laughs.]

But that kind of thing irritated him. It didn’t mean anything. But that makes me remember that Jack did have involvement. But Murray’s name got on it as editor. What a business.

CATRON: Well, those are the only clues we have, Bob. Unless you’re going to tell us otherwise, how are we ever going to know?

HANEY: How are we going to know? Then Teen Titans came along and that, of course, I did in Brave and Bold.

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