|Edited by Roy Thomas||Alter Ego, the greatest 'zine of the '60s, is all-new, focusing on Golden and Silver Age comics and creators with articles, interviews and unseen art. Each issue includes an FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) section, Mr. Monster & more!|
New Light on The Green Lantern
The Ultimate (well, at least the Penultimate) Interview with Mart Nodell on the Emerald Gladiator and Other Things
by Roy Thomas
From Alter Ego Vol. 3 #5
NOTE: This interview has traveled a long and winding road. It had been scheduled for months by the time I saw Marty Nodell and his charming wife Carrie at the MegaCon in Orlando, Florida, and we arranged a date for me to talk to him by phone. Somehow, in the press of other work, I totally forgot that phone call till the next morning! Marty was understanding about it, but was about to leave for another convention and then a comics cruise, about which more below and wouldn't be back for another couple of weeks. That pressed our deadline, but everything worked out in the end.
Mart Nodell, of course, is the man who came up with the concept of The Green Lantern in 1940, and was the feature's first artist; in some ways, as this interview underscores, its first writer, as well, although Bill Finger became involved in that very first story. Marty has also done other work in comics and in the commercial art field. This interview was intended to cover his entire career, but in particular to delve, more deeply than previous ones have done, into the little matter of the creation of The Green Lantern. To that end, in advance of my phone call, I sent him questions about every angle of Green Lantern's creation I could possibly think of. Some conversational dead ends that led nowhere have been eliminated from the interview that follows. -R.T.
ROY THOMAS: First, Marty, let's hear what you'd been doing with your life before you walked into the All-American offices that fateful day in 1940.
MART NODELL: Well, I went to high school in Chicago, and had a little schooling at Chicago University, and a little more at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. I decided I was interested in art, and I was interested in the theatre. Actually, my interest in the theatre comes from members of my family, so I wanted to get on the stage. I did work for community theatre in Chicago, and some theatre work where I would do art - in other words, ads and I'd also do work on the staging and whatever else I could do.
I came to New York with letters - letters from the theatre people who liked what I did, letters from the art people who thought they liked what I did. When I came to New York, the theatre people thought I should go see the art people, and the art people thought I should go see the theatre people.
RT: So they were fighting over you, huh? [Laughs]
NODELL: Oh, they were fighting negatively. So I figured I should probably look in on art, which is what I did. Back in art school I had done work that would possibly lead me to comics, and I thought I could do that.
RT: A list of your pre-GL comics work includes "Larry Harrigan," "The Sands of Doom," "Buck Steele," "The Raven," all for Ace. And Jerry Bails' Who's Who says that for Fox Comics in 1940 you did a character called "Doctor Doom." Do you remember working for Victor Fox?
NODELL: No, I don't.
RT: When you went to the All-American offices there on Lafayette Street in New York, had you seen that name in a comic book, or did someone else tell you you should try that company?
NODELL: What I did was to check out the old Mom and Pop newsstands. It seemed to me that if there were these things called comic books, it might be advantageous for me to see some of them. There had been something called "Superman" for almost two years, and "Batman" was coming along for almost a year, so by 1939 I just looked up the address in the comics. There were a couple of different addresses, and the one I picked up was Lafayette Street.
RT: That was M.C. Gaines' outfit, downtown. It was affiliated with Harry Donenfeld's National/DC, which had offices further uptown. Most readers never knew they were two companies, because they had the same DC cover symbol, and used so many of the same artists and writers, and overlapped in so many different ways. So one day you just sort of showed up on AA's doorstep?
NODELL: Ah... not quite. I came up with a number of samples, and showed them to Sheldon Mayer. I didn't know who he was, or any of the editors or writers or people involved there at all, so I came into their offices, showed him what I had, and he said, "Well, I'll tell you - the only thing I can think of is, if you come up with a super-hero, we're looking for another super-hero; and if you were to have that, maybe we could talk about something. He was very vague.
On my way home, ideas were popping into my head. Now, my first idea was to come up with something that IÕd be familiar with, something I would know about, things I could put into some sort of storyline. I was interested in Chinese folklore...
RT: How did you get interested in that?
NODELL: Oh, I had been interested in it, off and on, for a number of years. I was also interested in Greek mythology. Also, I had friends who liked opera, and this is New York, so they played a lot of various operas, and I thought, "Well, if this is interesting to them, I might come up with some idea."
One of the first things I thought of was the Wagnerian Ring Cycle [of four operas]. I thought it would be something that could be used, one way or another. So, when I got to the subway station, which was four or five blocks away...
RT: Where were you heading?
NODELL: I was going home to Brooklyn, and I tried working out some ideas as I got to the station. I was writing down everything I could possibly think of. I thought, "Gee, I've got to do this real quick, because if I think of something, other people will, too. It might have some meaning to them, too."
As I entered the subway, there were a number of people standing around, and there was a train man in the subway station, in the trough of the tracks, and he was waving a red lantern, which meant, "Hold the train, don't come in." When he checked the tracks, he waved a green lantern. The green lantern meant, ÒCome in.Ó As the train would come in, he would get out of the way, get behind a pole and stay there, and that was the end of his part in "Green Lantern."
But when that green lantern meant something to me, I just wrote it down: "The Green Lantern."
RT: Since "green lantern" meant "okay, everything's all clear," but "red lantern" meant "danger," which of course one would associate with adventure stories, I wonder how come we got a Green Lantern instead of a Red Lantern.
NODELL: Well, just simply that the green lantern appeared to me as being important.
RT: Well, it obviously worked, right? Sixty years later, people still know that name. It's oddly popular. For instance, on the old Route 66 in Missouri, there was a Green Lantern restaurant in the early 1960s. There was also a bookstore called The Green Lantern in the early-'40s movie serial The Secret Code. But both are long after your character. I always wondered, "What's with this fascination with green lanterns?" [Laughs]
NODELL: To me, it was just a matter of how I put everything together. The possibilities, to me, were a characterization, or pictures, of a meteor falling into a small Chinese town, and that became the method wherein a green lantern was built in.
RT: Do you think the kind of lantern that train man used in the subway station was pretty close to the kind you drew on your hero?
NODELL: Quite close. That was the only important lantern to me, and I didn't think of any other kind of lantern at all. And then, thinking of Greek mythology, I designed a costume, and that costume seemed to me to be very important to the eye.
RT: When you went in to see Shelly Mayer the second time, you'd already designed the basic costume?
NODELL: Yes. A costume with a cape.
RT: How close do you think it was to what you ended up with?
NODELL: It was the costume. The movies had a lot of heroes - swordsmen and the like - and that helped me to create the costume the way it was, with billowy sleeves.
RT: You'd seen Superman and Batman, with their skin-tight shirts. I'm curious why you went for the billowy effect, which worked very well - although, by the time I was reading "Green Lantern" in the mid-to-late 1940s, they'd gotten away from that.
NODELL: It was a matter of a costume that would be like Douglas Fairbanks as a pirate, that sort of thing.
RT: Most super-heroes had capes, but you gave Green Lantern's cape the extra touch of a cowl which frames his head and makes up for the fact that he's only wearing a small mask.
NODELL: The cowl was Shelly Mayer's idea. I felt the cape I gave him was theatrical. It seemed to have the flow of the theatre. The theatre meant so much to me in the past. I'd seen any number of plays, and that seemed to help me. As I saw it, the mask I gave him would allow him to be a hero, and would still show his features. I thought of him as being blond, and a healthy type, and all that. Oh - and the cape, from the bottom down, I felt, would flow interestingly. Eventually, I made it even more flowing.
RT: Most Golden Age artists I've talked to said they had nothing to do with the color schemes of their characters. Did you color your art samples of Green Lantern, or did you just tell them later what colors you had in mind, if any?
NODELL: I colored the samples, and that was it! That's why the colorist followed them. I did about three or four different sketches, and I drew the head, I drew the costume. The green pants, those tight, green slacks... green tights, you might say. Very theatrical. And the shoes - I had the slippers and whatever with the Greek costume. That's what I felt was appropriate for me, so he laced them crosswise.
RT: Later, those became just stripes, but in those early days they were obviously lacings. So you took all those colored drawings in to Mayer? Did you design more than one costume?
NODELL: No, just one. I didn't have time to do much else. I did four pages, four initial pages.
RT: The origin, with the Chinese meteor and everything?
NODELL: Yeah, and I also added a ring. In the Wagnerian operas, the ring went from the prince to other people, and so on, and back to the prince again. It was very valuable to him, and very meaningful, and so I thought I'd use that. So that's how I devised the ring itself.
It was also very important to the whole idea, the whole scheme of things, that the ring be regenerated every 24 hours. So every 24 hours it would be getting a very valuable start again. I presented four of what I called black-and-white finished pages.
RT: So you drew those out totally, in addition to the color sketches?
NODELL: Absolutely. I also did a concept of what the whole strip would be about, for whatever The Green Lantern's thoughts were, ideas, the concept of where he'd be going, the feeling of his doing good for people. I never included anything like guns. I designed him to be helpful to people.
Now, I finished my samples in about four days, and I put the whole thing together, and I called Mayer and asked if I could show it to him. He said, "Okay, come on in, and we'll look at it."
I showed it to him, and he said, "That might be okay, we'll see." Very much like that. He didn't say very much more than that.
So another week, or almost a week, passed by, and I thought it might be a good idea to call him again. So I did, and he said, "Well, we're still looking."
Being a young fella, I didn't know for sure just what would be the right thing to do. But a day or two later he called me and said for me to come in and talk to the boss, M.C. Gaines. I came in. Gaines had my papers and the art on his desk, and he was flipping through it, and he asked Mayer to leave.
He flipped through the art and put it down. A few minutes passed by, and he said, "Well... let's see." Nothing more was said for a little while. [Laughs] He was quiet! I thought, "Well, what's going on here?" From what I had heard of him, he seemed to be a very nice fellow, and he might tell me, "There is very little probably that I can tell you about this, but you have something here; do something with this."
He looked at it again, and he said, "This looks good to me. Get to work." [Laughs]
RT: Do you think Gaines had made the decision before you came in, or did he make it while you were there?
NODELL: He decided on what he wanted to do with it prior to my coming in. I guess he thought it'd be a good idea to just keep me in there a while.
RT: At this stage, you had your handful of color drawings, and you had several pages... you'd written and drawn some pages. Now, when you wrote out that origin story with the meteor landing in China, did you write it in longhand, or on a typewriter?
NODELL: I lettered everything on the art, and then I had a few further thoughts on it, and I lettered that out. I also lettered out an incantation. That incantation meant a great deal to me as being what the Chinese would do many, many years ago. They had this way of saying something, and being objective about it, and liking what they did. So I went ahead with that.
RT: When you say 'incantation,' are you talking about Green Lantern's oath, or the words that came out of the meteor?
NODELL: What I had in mind was, first of all, having The Green Lantern's incantation as an oath. Now, I had to give the character a name, so I looked through the New York telephone books, and got through "Alan," which I held onto, and then I came onto "Scott." So it was Alan Scott, that's the name I gave him.
RT: You don't remember another possible name, "Alan Ladd," as various versions of the story relate?
NODELL: No, I didn't know anything about it. I came up with Alan Scott, and I kept that. The storyline would be about an engineer. He was a graduate of college. I didn't know what kind of engineering it would be, but he was an engineer in that he helped build bridges and all.
RT: You didn't make him the type of "railroad engineer" who drives the train, but you made him an engineer for the railroad. Do you feel the train thing came out of the fact that you made up the idea on the subway?
NODELL: It might well have been.
RT: It's always been a matter of semantics, but you basically created the concept, the look, and most everything else of The Green Lantern there at the beginning. So how did Bill Finger come in? Whether he is counted as the co-creator or not is a matter of interpretation - but, important as he may well have been, he seems to have come along later. How did he get involved with it? Did you want to write the feature?
NODELL: They had asked me if I wanted to write it. I really remember this quite well - that if I wanted to write the rest of the story, and more after it, they thought it would be appropriate that I do so. But, when I gave them the synopsis of the remaining part of the story, they said, "Well, you're going to have an awful lot of work on "Green Lantern." They thought it would be better that I continue doing the drawing. They had a lot of ideas in mind for Green Lantern.
I didn't know anything about Bill Finger at all. I knew nothing about any of the other comics, nothing about the other people involved in other comics, so I figured, they're bringing in someone else to help out in this area.
RT: Did they give you the idea from the beginning that this was something they were going to use as the cover feature?
NODELL: Apparently they did, so I did the little circle on top of the Lantern logo.
RT: We're jumping ahead a bit, because the Green Lantern logo came along a bit later, but I'm curious about how it evolved. Superman and Batman soon developed regular logos, but some characters - like Hawkman - never did.
NODELL: For the first story [in All-American Comics #16, cover date July 1940] I developed a logo that I thought might work out well. But after the first issue I worked out another logo. I think I must've worked out four or five. I didn't appreciate having to do a different logo each time. I thought there should be one singular logo. I finally did the main one for Green Lantern #1.
RT: The logo with which that eventual GL logo has the most in common is that of Batman, with Batman's head in the middle of bat-wings, and your GL head in the middle of the flaming words "Green Lantern." I believe Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern probably had as good logos as any characters in comics ever had.
NODELL: Thank you. Green Lantern had other properties, too. He could do things, whatever he wanted to, like fly through space, if necessary. He was immune to bullets, all that sort of thing.
RT: Initially, the ring's basic power was over metals. In the early days he flies with it, and he walks through walls, and bullets won't hurt him, and so forth. But over a couple of years, in stories you, Bill Finger, and others did, he metamorphosed into using the ring mainly in two ways: (1) to form objects he thinks of - which he didn't do in the early days, and (2) from having power only over metals, it gradually ended up that - because he was being hit with wood so often, I guess, that being a convenient non-metal - he wound up having not just power over metals, but over everything but wood. Do you know how that evolved?
NODELL: Some of the things you said made me think of my phone calls with Bill Finger, who did most of the writing. I suggested some ideas to him, and he found them quite acceptable in working on what he did. And his ideas were appropriate with me; I found I was able to work with him easily.
RT: How were you first introduced to him?
NODELL: They brought him in, and said he was going to be my writer.
RT: By then you had the first four pages, and the general plot for the rest?
NODELL: Yeah. He liked it, and he liked to do the writing with me. There was no problem at all. He enjoyed it, and, as far as I was concerned, we worked easily together.
RT: From the very beginning you both had your names on the strip. Of course, yours came first, which made sense under the circumstances. But you didn't use your real name. You used "Mart Dellon," which is your last name spelled sideways. [Laughs]
NODELL: "Mart Dellon," to me, was a pseudonym for doing comics. Mayer told me, "You can have your name on it; I think that'll be fine." And he added Bill Finger's name, which was good. But I didn't know whether I would work in comics for any length of time - I thought maybe one year, maybe a little more. But in those days there were various people who were against comics, completely against children reading comics.
RT: Right. It didn't all start with Fredric Wertham in the late '40s and early '50s.
NODELL: Let's put it this way: If I were to work on comics at all, I would never have a chance to get into advertising.
RT: You felt there'd be a prejudice against you because you'd worked in comics?
NODELL: Yeah, and my main effort was to get into advertising. At first, in comics, I was getting $10 a page....
RT: And all the comics you could eat!
NODELL: Eventually I got $15, after about six months, and later I got $18 to $20. At the time the average person was earning about $35 a week, whether he was a tailor or whoever! But, in my particular case, I was turning out five to seven pages a week, and then along came Green Lantern #1, and I was doing four stories, and that added to the whole mountain of work!
RT: That was the point where Mayer first had E.E. Hibbard draw a GL story, then had Irwin Hasen do a number of stories for All-American, because you really couldn't handle everything at that stage. Was this something you were happy about, or did Mayer just decide this and tell you you weren't going to do all the "Green Lantern" work any more?
NODELL: I didn't mind. I think it was about six months after the outset of "Green Lantern" when I was asked to do Green Lantern #1. They wanted me to do a double-page spread, one for Finger and one for me, and they wrote about me, and they wrote about Finger. My face was going to be shown, so I agreed to start using my own name.
RT: So that's when "Dellon" gave way to "Nodell." How did you feel about the fact that AA had Shelly Moldoff and later Howard Purcell draw the Green Lantern covers on books on which you did the interior art?
NODELL: It didn't make any difference to me, because there was so much work for me to do that I just continued doing the work I could. Thirteen pages per story, every quarter.
RT: Also, in 1940, you did the GL stories in the first four issues of All-Star Comics. Did you get to know people like Hibbard or Hasen?
NODELL: No. The only time I met Hibbard was years after the first issue. Unless I'm very wrong, he took over part of Mayer's work... not just art, but editing. I did meet Hasen; we got together on a few stories, when he inked my pencils.
RT: Did you and Bill Finger, after the first few stories, ever work together on stories, or did he just work with Mayer and give you the finished scripts? Did you maintain a story input after those first few stories?
NODELL: I had a lot of input with Bill Finger. I think he was very good to work with. I gave him ideas, he gave me some ideas; we worked on things together.
RT: I noticed Finger got top credit billing on stories when you weren't actually the artist, even though your name (or "Mart Dellon's") would be on those stories. Hibbard and Hasen were essentially your "ghosts," as far as AA was concerned.
Were you ever in danger of getting drafted? Everybody must have been at that time, during World War Two.
NODELL: I don't think they were interested in me, not really. I had a couple of children, so they left me alone.
RT: I should have asked you before - were you married at the time you started "Green Lantern"?
NODELL: I was married a little while after. As a matter of fact, a little bit after the first issue [i.e., the GL story in All-American #16]. I met Carrie just about a month or so after.
RT: So that was a good year for you. When did you get married?
NODELL: In January of 1942. I was earning a little bit, and so on. Into more solid citizenry, that sort of thing.
RT: In the second "Green Lantern" story you and Bill Finger introduced Irene Miller, who was "the girlfriend" in those early stories. She was there for maybe a year, she was even in one of the All-Star "Green Lantern" chapters, and then she dropped out. Do you remember anything about her?
NODELL: No, I don't think I recall anything about her... except I thought Green Lantern would have a girlfriend for a while, and then they'd make changes, so we didn't think she would be necessary. We'd go on, and if the writer wanted to put her into the story, okay; if he didn't, we'd leave her out.
RT: And eventually she vanished without a trace, unlike Lois Lane. How did it come about that Alan Scott started out as an engineer, and then quickly became a radio announcer, which is not exactly a natural jump in vocations?
NODELL: No, it isn't! In doing that, apparently, they must have felt a change was necessary. I don't recall that.
RT: Now, back to GL's oath. You said you developed the version of the oath in the first story, right?
NODELL: Yes. It was an incantation, I felt. They changed that very quickly. I think [later writer Alfred] Bester had written a change in the oath, and his seemed to hold up. But I don't know much about it, because I didn't really work closely with him, or with [later GL writer John] Broome.
RT: Did you ever do any work for the DC part of the company uptown, as opposed to Gaines' All-American line?
NODELL: I did some work there... not too much. I did have to go up there to deliver some of these stories that I did. Although, mainly, Carrie was the one who did the delivering up there. I'd be kind of bleary-eyed, and Carrie wouldn't let me get on the subway. [Laughs]
RT: Hey, you had some of your best ideas on subways! She should've been happy to let you go on them!
NODELL: That may be, but she wouldn't. Carrie also wanted to deliver so she could pick up some comics. She picked up a couple of copies of each issue I drew.
RT: So you saved them all and sold them later and got rich, right?
NODELL: You tell funny stories! [Laughs] The reason we eventually tossed all those comics out was that we were getting into advertising. By 1961 we heard a lot of reasons why we should've kept them, but we didn't.
RT: How did you meet Carrie? Was she a New Yorker?
NODELL: Yes. I met her in New York. I was born in Philadelphia, and my family moved around a good bit, and we moved from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, to Newark, and to a few other cities, and then into Chicago, where I had most of my schooling... and from there to New York, where I stayed for about seventeen years. Then, in advertising, I had the opportunity to go back to a huge ad agency in Chicago, and at that point I was an art director for Pillsbury, for Kellogg's, for B&G...
RT: That was when you worked on the Pillsbury Dough Boy?
NODELL: You're right. That's another episode, and it lasted for years and years.
RT: The advertising you got into - was that after you left comics around '46 or '47?
NODELL: Well, I have to jump to 1948. I went to work for Stan Lee, on staff at Timely Comics. They had quite a staff there, in the Empire State Building - on the 13th floor, I think it was.
RT: Who was there that you remember?
NODELL: Syd Shores was one... Don Rico... it's hard to remember off-hand. Carrie knows some of the other names....
NOTE: At this point Carrie Nodell enters the conversation. To differentiate her from Marty, her first name will be used with her comments. -R.T.
CARRIE: John Buscema, Danny DeCarlo... Sal didn't work, but John used to come over to our house, Johnny Buscema with Sal.
RT: You mean his brother Sal?
NODELL: Who developed The Human Torch?
RT: You mean Carl Burgos?
NODELL: He was on staff, too.
RT: What was it like working at Timely in the late '40s, as opposed to DC?
NODELL: The difference was that, before, I had worked my own hours and I could work any way I liked and I could work into the night - which I usually did. The story was entirely different at Timely. We'd come in around the usual nine o'clock, check in, and everyone had a ball; I enjoyed it very much. Everyone was very nice about the business. But I wish I'd remember more names.
RT: How did the break come with DC? You still had work coming out with 1947 copyright dates.
NODELL: Well, it was around 1947 and I just wanted to get into advertising. I was getting a little bit of advertising work. I went from about '45, getting a little bit of advertising from studios, and I did some cartooning for them, and then into '46, '47, I found that I was getting along okay but I wanted more work of that kind. So when I got into storyboards, I really became more involved in advertising. By '50 I'd really gotten out of comics, and Stan was beginning to have to get rid of some of his staff, because his uncle Martin said it had to be.
Years later, Martin Goodman was in a rest home in our area here, before he died. I didn't know to see him there.
RT: Backing up to Timely, since you mentioned Martin Goodman - did you ever have any personal dealings with him while you were there, or with Stan, or was everything handled through other people?
NODELL: I dealt with Stan all along, continually. Stan was very nice about everything, as far as I was concerned.
Martin Goodman and his brother-in-law would come into the office, both very well-dressed. The two of them would come in, and look around, look the thing over, the offices, the people, and so on, and he'd just take off after a few minutes. Either he was satisfied, or he was dissatisfied. [Laughs]
As far as the offices were concerned, we were in a very large room. That was the bullpen, and when Stan would want to get certain things done - maybe Goodman wanted certain things to be sped up, because they had early deadlines or whatever - then he would come in and we'd have to hurry. We'd have a seven- or eight-page story, and three pages would go to one person, three or four pages to another person, and the rest of it would go to another person.
RT: That's probably why Timely Comics didn't have much of an artistic identity back in those days. You can look at their stories now, and can't tell who did them - because everybody did them. [Laughs]
NODELL: And also, three or four inkers would work on those stories in one day. After the inkers finished the job, no one could tell who did what.
RT: What kind of material did you work on at Timely in the last half of the '40s?
NODELL: "Captain America"... "Sub-Mariner"....
RT: How long did you work for Timely?
NODELL: Roughly two years.
RT: How did you get started going to all these comics conventions? You've become a real fixture on the convention route now, and everybody's happy to see you.
NODELL: You know, Carrie is the one who can tell it a lot better.
CARRIE: A few years ago, Marty worked on the local newspaper in the northern suburbs of Chicago doing special covers, and a young man by the name of Gary Calabuono worked for the same newspaper in the western suburbs. The newspaper put out a weekly paper for the employees, called Ink Spot. In it, I read, "Gary Calabuono, Comic Book Buff." Later, Gary had all the Moondog comic book stores in Chicago, but at this time he was a space salesman for the newspaper.
We were getting ready to move the day after I saw this piece in Ink Spot, so I said to Marty, "You're out of advertising, we're moving to Florida, why not call Gary up?" He calls him up. Gary had him come over to the paper, and he taped Marty for four hours!
RT: That makes this interview look short!
CARRIE: He said to Marty, "My gosh, everybody thought you were dead!" Well, for fifteen years we were in Chicago, and nobody knew about Marty Nodell except for Leo Burnett, the advertising agency Marty worked for. Gary said, "You've got to start going to shows. Come to the Chicago show and sit at the end of my table and see the reaction."
We did, and, of course, since Marty's name was on all those old "Green Lantern" stories, the reaction was tremendous. So Gary said, "Why don't you try something local in Florida?" We tried a show in Florida, we had a terrific response, and that's when we met Don Thompson from The Comics Buyer's Guide. Well, he was down at that show in Florida, and he and Marty hit it off very well. He was a wonderful man.
The promoters began to call us from all over. Charlotte, Detroit, Pittsburgh... oh, and the San Diego con, at which you gave him his Inkpot Award [as presenter].
RT: Tell me about this "comics cruise" you just came back from.
CARRIE: It was wonderful. Marty did a couple of panels, spoke to a lot of fans. It was organized by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They're planning another one next May out of New Orleans. They had over 300 people on the cruise, mostly would-be writers, would-be artists, plus artists and writers like Neal Adams, Kurt Busiek, Matt Wagner, the Hernandez Brothers...
NODELL: I didn't do any drawing, just talking.
CARRIE: The last day, the fans asked me, "Do you have any of Marty's work?" But we had just come from MegaCon in Orlando, and the Wonder Con, and we had sold out in both places. But I had prints with me, and a few originals, which they quickly bought. A lot of young people are comic books fans, and they have wonderful jobs in computers!
Marty, near the end of the cruise, got a little wobbly, but he's better now.
RT: Carrie, Marty never did really tell me how the two of you met.
CARRIE: We met in October 1941. And I was in the bridal shop, getting my wedding dress, when I heard Pearl Harbor had been attacked.
RT: In other words, Sunday, December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy"?
CARRIE: Yeah. Marty and I had been married in court on December 1, and our religious ceremony was scheduled for January 4. The rumor was that submarines [i.e., German U-boats] were coming up where I lived, facing the Atlantic Ocean. After Pearl Harbor, a lot of girls cancelled their wedding plans.
RT: And others sped them up, if they thought their boyfriends were going to join the armed services or get drafted.
CARRIE: Marty was fortunate in that his mother was a widow, and he supported his mother and brothers at the beginning of the War. And then our children came along. We had two boys, so the draft board left us alone, so thank God for that! Most of the artists I've read about didn't see service overseas.
RT: No, they ended up working on camp newspapers, things like that. The services found out out they had better uses than as cannon fodder.
NODELL: I wound up doing a lot of war-related work anyway.
CARRIE: M.C. Gaines would get the boys to do something for the war effort. All the comics books ended up in the paper drives!
RT: But yours didn't. You said you tossed them, years later.
CARRIE: Marty decided he didn't want comic books in our home in Washington, D.C., when he went into advertising, so I gave some to my sister, who had two boys, and she put them up in the attic - and two squirrels ate them!
RT: [Laughs] Million-dollar squirrels!
CARRIE: You're not kidding! I did find an old, beat-up copy of Green Lantern #1 among Marty's papers, so I had it restored. And that's our comics collection!
RT: Carrie, Marty... thank you. I'm sorry to take so much of your time, when you just got back from that cruise....
NODELL: [Sings] "My time is your time".... Remember Rudy Vallee?
RT: Sure do. Well, good night. See you in White Plains and Charlotte this summer.
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