Bob Rozakis is a thirty-year veteran of the comic book industry, having spent the first twenty-five at DC Comics.
As a writer, Bob is perhaps best known as the co-creator of 'Mazing Man, but his credits include more than four hundred stories featuring Superman, Batman and virtually every other DC character. In addition to a few stories for Archie Comics, he has done a number of "custom comics" projects for the U.S. Postal Service, Six Flags, Con Edison, OnStar, and the San Francisco Giants. Outside the comic book business, he has written storybooks for educational publishing projects and co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Office Politics with his wife, Dr. Laurie Rozakis.
Bob was DC's Answer Man for several years, using his vast knowledge of the company's history and characters to respond to all sorts of readers' questions. Adapting to the technology, Bob utilized his credentials as a master of comic book history by hosting a weekly trivia chatroom on America Online for more than six years. His daily Anything Goes Trivia Quiz appears online at World Famous Comics and his weekly It's BobRo... The Answer Man! column can be found here at Silver Bullet Comics.
During his seventeen years as head of DC's Production Department, Bob guided his staff into previously unexplored areas of computerized color separations and typesetting, electronic page preparation, and computer-to-plate printing. These efforts earned DC Comics over one hundred awards for printing excellence and resulted in Bob twice being profiled and cover - featured in PUBLISHING & PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE.
In the "real world" Bob is an accountant for Preload, Inc., a firm that designs and builds concrete water tanks and reservoirs around the U.S. He teaches creative writing courses for the Johns Hopkins University / Center for Talented Youth summer program for gifted students and has taught similar courses for the Farmingdale (NY) Youth Council and Sylvan Learning Centers. He plays softball and volleyball, works out at the gym four times a week, donates blood and/or platelets as often as they'll let him, and even sleeps occasionally.
I just want to start off by letting you know how much I loved your column in the back of DC comic books when I was a kid! I thought you were the smartest guy in the world for the amount of random DC trivia you knew. I was delighted to stumble upon your online column a few months back -- it brings a big smile to my face each week!
Now on to my question: From the age of 5 through 12, I understood the DC Universe. I had a full grasp of the concept behind there being Earth-1, Earth-2, etc. and enjoyed the many cross-over stories, as well as all of the time travel tales. One of my favorite comics was SUPERBOY & THE LSH and Supergirl was one of my idols (loved those Supergirl Underoos!). I even enjoyed the pointless, never-going-anywhere romance between Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman.
Why then did the powers that be choose to have CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS? It was a great story, and Perez's art was amazing, but was it really necessary? I'd always heard that the purpose behind Crisis was to make the DC Universe easier to understand, but how can that be since as a 30-year old, I can't understand what the heck is going on with the characters and their origins/relationships now that things have been "cleaned up," yet to my pre-pubescent mind things were all hunky-dory pre-Crisis? Also, I'm still a bit traumatized that Kara Zor-El is both gone and forgotten.
This has been bothering me for quite some time. Your amazing Answer Man talents would be much appreciated here! Thank you! -- Zhene Lejuwaan (email@example.com)
Publishers do things for only one reason - to sell books. The thinking behind CRISIS was that new readers would be confused by the multiple Earths and various incarnations of the heroes, so doing away with them would make things simpler. Perhaps if they'd come up with a way to wipe the memories of all their current readers clean, this would have worked. Unfortunately, long-time DC fans did not forget all the stories they'd been reading for 25+ years and each attempt to "fix" things just made it worse.
For the record, I still hate the idea that Black Canary was retroactively made a founding member of the JLA in place of Wonder Woman.
Since every week brings another question about CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and the changes made to the origins and histories of DC characters, I thought I would fly this past you: Have there been any post-Crisis changes to a major hero that you believe have been detrimental, or are there any parts of a character's pre-Crisis origin or history that you wish DC had changed, post-Crisis, but never did? -- Joseph Askins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I think the elimination of the multiple Earths was a mistake. I particularly did not like the revamping of Superman's life, eliminating Superboy, especially since it negated the SUPERMAN: THE SECRET YEARS series I had been writing.
Did your wife teach English at Hofstra University in the mid-80s? If so, I took her class. -- John Lippolis (email@example.com)
Indeed she did. Though she is now a full professor at Farmingdale State University, our ties to our alma mater continue: our daughter Sammi is a freshman at Hofstra this year.
Just thought you would get a kick out of this... In my basement I found a Quiz Wiz cartridge from Coleco made in 1980 with 1001 questions on DC Super Heroes, written by you. It's interesting to check out all the pre-Crisis trivia. -- Aaron Schatz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I actually wrote 1026 questions - they wanted 25 extra in case they had to omit some for one reason or another. As it turned out, they used the first 1001.
I picked up an old issue of ACTION COMICS and it turns out you wrote it..."The Return of the Yellow Peri." What's the deal with her? Did you come up with the character? -- Erik
Julie Schwartz came up with the name and told me to use it for a character in a Superboy story. After her debut as a foe for the Boy of Steel, she made a comeback as an adult and faced Superman.
Bob, Bob, Bob. I recently purchased a copy of JIMMY OLSEN #138, written and drawn by Jack "The King" Kirby. In the letters column there is a letter from YOU, actually COMPLAINING that Jimmy hardly appeared in his own title anymore, having to share space with the Newsboy Legion, Guardian, etc. Do you still stand by your comments, or what? -- Cal L.
Has there ever been a super-hero character from Minnesota - or a story-line set in Minnesota? -- Dirk Abraham (email@example.com)
As a matter of fact, the Freedom Fighters (well, Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb, anyway) visited Minneapolis and its IDS Center and battled the old Batman villain Catman in FF #10. The story was written by some guy named Rozakis.
Longtime DC colorist Anthony Tollin hails from Minneapolis and there is a store in the background of that tale named for him.
Who wrote and drew the Hostess ads in the 80s? From memory at least one with the Thing looked like it was inked by Joe Sinnott. Was it an in-house thing at each comic company? -- Oliver Townshend (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The ads featuring the heroes and villains were created by artists and writers working at DC and Marvel. For a complete rundown and look at them all, click on over to http://www.seanbaby.com/hostess.htm.
How about posting your five favorite comic book links in the areas of general information, fan created site and creator sites? Would like to see what site you personally favor (other than the usual ones such as Silver Bullet, Comic Book Resources, DC and Marvel) -- Steve (email@example.com)
But, Steve, I like SBC and CBR and World Famous Comics, along with the Grand Comics Database and sites like the above- mentioned "Seanbaby" one.
For more on Rao, pick up SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS, and check out the "Dream" story -- Rao plays a part in that!
Also re: the bat flying through the window, I believe it was explained away in an issue of SECRET ORIGINS, which featured a number of radar-less bats escaping from a research lab! It seems pretty much everything in comics has been explained away one way or another! -- Dan Fish (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In "The Secret Origin of Man-Bat" (SECRET ORIGINS #39, April 1989), Jan Strnad suggests that the bat that crashed into the window of Wayne Manor was one whose ears had been plugged with wax as part of an experiment by Kirk Langstrom. With its echolocation sonar thus disabled, it was unable to avoid the window. -- John Heaton (email@example.com)
Superboy also had numerous encounters with young Master Mxyzptlk. I also recall Superbaby once crossing paths with Zatanna's father, Zatara the Magician; Superboy palling around with a time-traveling Jimmy Olsen; and, in a reverse twist, an amnesiac Superboy meeting his young cousin Kara in Argo City. -- Bob Buethe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Another appearance of Chief O'Hara (and I mean he actually appeared, complete with dialogue) was in DETECTIVE COMICS #470, "The Master Plan of Doctor Phosphorus." That issue is part of Steve Englehart's famous run, and is one of the two issues prior to Marshall Rogers' establishment as penciller (to say nothing of Terry Austin as inker); Walter Simonson pencilled it.
The whole package has been reprinted most recently as BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS. -- The Blue Spider (email@example.com)I love your column. Some of my earliest comics reading memories are of your old Answer Man columns in the faux Daily Planet pages that DC used to run in the back of their books. Those were great by the way, why doesn't DC bring those back instead of the dull "DC in Demand" pages. Would be a heckuva lot more fun to both create and to read than the tired infomercial they're doing now. -- Jay D'Aoust (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Well, if you bought all of DC's titles in a month, you could read that same "DC in Demand" page about 50 times. Of course, most fans these days know about everything that's on the page before it even appears, since the news makes it to the internet much more quickly, so reading it once is probably more than enough.
Back when I did the Daily Planet and Answer Man pages, they were spread among the books so that any given page would appear in titles that probably didn't have the same readers. That way, there would be different material if you bought only the superhero books or the war books or whichever.
Comics, for better or worse, have moved forward, Fred. Compare a current issue of a long-running title like SUPERMAN or SPIDER-MAN with ones published in 1963, 1973, 1983 and 1993. As for fans accepting them, the shrinking reader base would probably be the best feedback on what they think of those changes.
I love the column very much and am glad that you're still doing the fine work that a lot of fans remember you for. Do you have any comics work lined up for the future? I'd love to see you write comics again, and with Marvel's Epic imprint, I think you'd most likely get the green light from them. -- Chad (email@example.com)
I don't think anybody's going to be getting a green light from Epic based on recent events at Marvel, Chad, but thanks for the vote of confidence. As for comics work in the offing, read on...
Hey, Bob, what's up? Do you like your job? -- Rej104
Yes, Rej, I do - 46 weeks a year as an accountant and six weeks as a writing teacher make for a happy life.
Now that it has been five years since I left DC Comics after more than twenty-five years on staff, I am officially closing the door on my career in the comic book business. No farewell tour like my old pal Tony Isabella, no retirement dinner, no parade. Just time to turn out the lights and go home.
This is my 183rd column for SBC... three and a half years' worth and somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 words. During that time you've allowed me to share my opinions, tell some stories about life in the comic book business, and, mostly, return to being the Answer Man. It's been a lot of fun. (All of the columns will remain archived and available here for the foreseeable future, by the way.)
Thanks to Jason Brice for inviting me to join the crew here. Thanks to my official unofficial researcher (and pinch-hitting columnist) John Wells for bringing his pile of information along to help me out. Thanks also to my various pals in the biz - Bob Greenberger, Len Wein, Rick Taylor, and Kurt Busiek, to mention a few - and outside it - Bob Buethe, Howard Margolin and Tom Galloway come to mind - for your remarkable memories and able assistance.
Most of all, thanks to all of you who came here each week to peruse my writing. I wish you health, happiness and wisdom... and may we all meet again sometime.
-- Bob Rozakis
"Be always displeased with what you are if you desire to be what you are not. Always add, always walk, always proceed. Neither stand still nor go back nor deviate." - St. Augustine