13 April 2010

A Sudden Turn in The Flash Companion

At last weekend’s Boston Comic-Con, I found myself chatting with Keith Dallas, compiler of The Flash Companion. I’m not a Flash fan, but I knew from the same publisher’s Titans Companions volumes that this series offers lots of behind-the-scenes stories of comic-book publishing. I’m intrigued by that process, especially its collaborative and corporate qualities, and this book had plenty to keep me interested despite not knowing one Rogue (Flash villain) from another.

Like other books in the series, The Flash Companion assembles many detailed interviews with the major writers, artists, and occasionally editors involved in the series. Most of the questions address fans’ interests, narrow as those might be, as in:

  • What Flash story are you most proud of? [81]
  • Were there other Rogues you had wanted to re-design? [178]
  • On your website you offer a theory on how Barry Allen could have been “resurrected” despite the seeming finality of his Crisis on Infinite Earths death. Can you describe this theory? [111]
But Dallas suddenly got a lot deeper in an interview with Mike Baron, the writer chosen to restart the Flash series in 1987.
KD: The late 1980s were a particular heyday for you. At the time you started writing Flash in 1987, you were also writing Nexus, Badger, Robotech Masters, and Marvel had you on The Punisher.

MB: I was a busy boy.

D: [chuckles] Can you describe your career at that point? What was it like writing all those titles?

B: Well, there was a lot of confusion.

D: How so?

B: [pauses] Keith, at the time I was making a lot of money, and I was doing a lot of cocaine.

D: Really?
Dallas told me that his interview tape at that moment preserves the sound of him dropping his pen. Because we comic-book fans don’t usually expect to be invited to those sorts of parties.

Yet comics writers and fans are as susceptible to addiction as other people. Dallas’s friendly curiosity and Baron’s willingness to talk about his recovery add a valuable note to the book. Not that there’s anything wrong with analyzing all the ways that DC Comics and its creators have reimagined the Scarlet Speedster, but there are some problems one can’t run away from.

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