Mike Carlin, long-time comic book editor at DC, announced his retirement over the weekend, ending a 37 year career that included working as editor on the Superman titles, overseeing “The Death of Superman” storyline and the aftermath.
Carlin’s wife Janice posted this message on Mike’s behalf:
After nearly 37 years I literally have seen hundreds come and go. Alas, dear Reader, I didn’t know them all well… but what I did know was that each and every one of them was here at DC for the same reason I was: We loved comics… and, in particular, DC Comics (oh, and other jobs were probably beyond our ken, anyways). If an employee didn’t love comics or DC Comics when they got here… they did by the time they were writing their Farewell Note… originally with Carbon Copies and now with a *DCE – Burbank All e-mail address.
My earliest memory is waking up on a Gurney at 2 years old having just had my tonsils out, I was being wheeled into my Mother’s room as she had her tonsils out that day, too. Part of the memory was that I had a bunch of SUPERMAN Comics on my lap. Mom had arranged that I’d get them when I woke up… because she loved SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN Comics when she was a kid (she also loved EC Comics but they were harder to come by in 1960 – and the pictures probably too much for a 2 year-old who was only “reading” the pictures at that point).
I first visted DC’s offices in a dream. Late one Christmas Eve when I thought I’d never fall asleep from excitement– I finally did, and I found myself at DC’s offices. I knew it was DC because the printing presses were there and running and they were printing a BATMAN Comic. I woke up and it was literally Christmas morning.
I wanted to draw comics so my mother arranged for me to take the entrance exam to New York’s HIGH SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN. I got in, and there I studied Animation and Cartooning… and one Saturday famed DC Editor DICK GIORDANO gave a lecture about doing comic book art. He gave out a packet and said that if we did sample pages and they were selected, the “winner” could come up to DC’s offices at 75 Rockefeller Plaza for a private (well with 8 other kids) lesson from Dick… I was selected and invited up to DC’s headquarters . (P.S. There were no Printing Presses in that Manhattan office building.)
The next time I was at DC was in 1974 when I was selected to be an Intern at DC by my High School Art teacher. I sat outside Julie Schwartz’s office and listened to him plot comics with Cary Bates and Eliot S! Maggin. I mostly Xeroxed art (having copied Kirby’s KAMANDI and Simonson’s MANHUNTER/BATMAN pages I quickly decided I probably was NOT going to be a comic artist and I should stick to humorous cartooning) and sorted color separations… and a few production artists talked to me… but rarely Carmine Infantino or the Editors. I learned alot. Best part of this internship was the day Burt Ward came in to the office in his TV Show ROBIN costume! No stockings… shaved legs… but a hearty handshake and “Hello, Citizen.”
Finished High School… and then College at the SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS. No real DC connections there– except the creator of MAD Magazine, Harvey Kurtzman, was one of my teachers. Will Eisner, too (thanks for the award 15 years later, Will)!
Anyways… after a small detour through Marvel Comics where I wrote and drew for their version of MAD, CRAZY Magazine… and writing some CAPTAIN AMERICA and HE-MAN Comics I was fired. That was 1986.
Luckily lots of Marvel folks were leaving… and landing at DC (George Pérez and John Byrne and Denny O’Neil)… and they helped me get seen by Dick Giordano, once again.
Somehow I got hired and on my birthday in 1986 the attached Company I.D. was created… and then almost 37 years passed. The only thing different is that now they don’t print your Social Security number on your I.D.s! >Whew!<
Anyways… I’ve worked at a bunch of DC offices in those years… and put out a bunch of comics… and for the last 13 years worked on some animated cartoons. The job always being “make good stories”… so I tried. I think DC tried, too, and now I have a good story.
Yeah… Intern to Editor to Group Editor to V.P. Executive Editor to Senior Group Editor again (not a fan of the V.P. part of the job!) and lastly Creative Director of Animation in Beautiful Downtown Burbank! Thanks DC… no more Winter fer me!
$@%$!, I swore I’d make mine shorter than everyone else’s… oh well… I was at DC longer!
The short version: I dreamed of being at DC… my dream came true… now it’s your turn!
I am available on my regular old person e-mail if anyone wants/needs help – because no matter what I’m a Company Man!
My next “adventure” will sound dull… I’ll be reading all the books I’ve been buying for 40 years with no time to read ’em… and, since I haven’t ever done a Resumé on a computer, I’ll leave the job hunting to the young folk. At the same time if jobs hunt me… I’ll do ’em ’cause I wanna… not ’cause I hafta!
I look forward to not setting my alarm on Monday and expect all of you left behind to HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME™!
Happy retirement, Mike! I thought the Superman books were pretty consistently great when you were the editor. Hopefully the current good stretch continues, but since you moved up, I don’t think the Superman books as a whole have ever been as good for as long as they were when you were at helm. Great single books here and there, but hard to get the titles all clicking at the same time.