Wait, What? Ep. 277: And Now…Steve Englehart!

August 11, 2019


0:01-02:07:  Greetings from Graeme “Oh My Stars & Garters” McMillan and Jeff “Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God” Lester! Our intro is a bit different than usual because instead of diving right in to talking to each other, we instead take a moment to explain about how we are and what we do.  Is this our attempt to be more inclusive to new listeners?  Heck, no!  It’s our attempt to be more inclusive to our special guest, Mr. Steve Englehart!  The writer, raconteur, and mastermind behind dozens of classic stories helps us celebrate Wait, What’s tenth anniversary by joining us for a nearly two hour chat.  So without further ado…
2:07-20:19:  Graeme kicks off the questioning by asking about SE’s entrance into the comics industry—one of our very favorite comics writers started off as an artist.  How and when did that change? Discussed:  the first Marvel story SE wrote; The Beast’s series in Amazing Adventures (issues #12-17); confidence; working Marvel method vs. full script; working on Detective Comics; working with artists who won’t draw your plot; and more.
20:19-24:35: Speaking a bit more about the Marvel method, Jeff asks if the method as Englehart’s preferred working was aided by some of the very tight collaborations with artists and friends in the early days of SE’s career:  Discussed:  working with Frank Brunner, Jim Starlin, and Al Milgrom on Captain Marvel and West Coast Avengers.
24:35-40:29: Graeme asks about how the early days of Englehart’s career—where he was living the dream of working alongside friends in the The Bullpen—contrasted with his return to working on comics in the Eighties. Did he see the change in the comics industry happening toward what it would become when he came back?  Discussed:  the shadowban of the word supervillain; Shooter vs. DeFalco; the end of the Marvel age and the end of Englehart’s run on the Fantastic Four; Jeff’s melodramatic RL fanfic; and more.
40:29-55:36: I think everyone should give Graeme McMillan so many kudos for managing to hold out for forty full minutes before asking about The New Guardians!  (To be fair to Graeme, it is a brilliant tie-in to talking about the end of Englehart’s work at Marvel because the New Guardians represented the end of his work at DC.  Discussed:  sex, drugs, and rock & roll; Snowflame!; devil’s advocate, devil’s devil’s advocate, and devil’s devil’s devil’s advocate with mention of storylines in Green Lantern Corps and West Coast Avengers; Coyote as a comic outside the Comics Code that takes its cues from Englehart experiencing freedom as a novelist; crafting stories with recognizable characters inside and outside the Comics Code; using the X-Men during their lost era; and more.
55:36-1:08:38: Graeme has an “entirely random” question for Steve: “How did you get involved in video games?”  Discussed: an epiphany via Dick Giordano; Ted Richards and Dopin’ Dan; writing for video games; The Tribe project at Atari (in the early 2000s) and Games.com; 21st Century pop culture; and more.
1:08:38-1:32:34:  They’re doing a Shang-Chi movie (as we’re all aware)!  That must be an odd and amazing feeling for SE, right? Discussed: Starlord; royalties and revenue streams and Marvel//Disney vs. DC; looking for movies and TV licensing with the self-owned properties; having readers and instant feedback for your work; a deep cut question about the letters page of Captain America #148, and a question (or two) about comic continuity and whether it has a limited shelf life; The Malibu Ultraverse and why those characters and stories have not returned despite some initial plans;  and more.
1:32:34-1:50:03: Could Steve see himself working for Marvel again? Or DC?  The answers may surprise you!  (By which I mean: Jeff.  It definitely surprised Jeff.)  Also discussed: Hollywood’s interest in making comic book movies; the difficulty of doing that well; the reinvention of Batman (again!); comics as a collaborative force; favorite comic book artists; the Buscema brothers; and more.
1:50:03-end:  “Do you still love superheroes.  Do you still read comics?” Jeff apologizes (a lot!) and we thank Steve Englehart (hopefully even more?) for joining us. Instead of our regular closing comments, we had to just go recline on the divan and recover.  (So much so, that next week is a skip week—we will return in two weeks with a new episode of Drokk!!)  But I will say here that you can look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week:  Skip week, as we’ll be recovering.  But join us in two weeks for the seventh episode of Drokk!!

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12 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 277: And Now…Steve Englehart!

  1. Jeff Lester Aug 11, 2019

    Need to cut and paste this sucker, sucker? Then try this on for size:


  2. Great interview! Congratulations on 10 wonderful years. I’m so glad you got to celebrate it like this.

  3. Tim Rifenburg Aug 12, 2019

    Your Englehart interview was a great listen. Partly because of the person you were interviewing and partly because of how happy /awed you guys were with being able to ask questions and talk to him. Great way to celebrate 10 years for both you and us listeners.

    • Jeff Lester Aug 12, 2019

      Thank you, Tim! I’m really glad you enjoyed it. It was an amazing event for me!

  4. Bruce Baugh Aug 12, 2019

    What an utter delight this interview was. Everything I like in a good interview – friendly, informed, funny, crisp and clear, the whole deal.

    I hadn’t really realized just how close to the start of Engelhart’s career I started noticing him, but yeah. I was in my late single digits (born in 1965) when reading his stuff on picnic tables in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. (The canteen stores there had really good comics spinner racks then.) He’s one of the first writers I found I could recognize by style and tone. In short, I’ve spent my whole life with him looking over the rest of my imagination from a comfortable perch!

    I feel a happier person for having heard it, and would like to carry that style of good will forward a bit. Thanks for bringing it, guys.

  5. Voord 99 Aug 13, 2019

    That was definitely one of the highlights of the podcast.

    For the twentieth anniversary, perhaps you could have a séance and interview the ghost of Jack Kirby. :). It’s about the only way to turn the dial up a notch after this.

  6. David M Aug 13, 2019

    More good wishes on your anniversary and delight with this interview. It was a pleasure to hear a comic book hero of mine sound so happy and relaxed about his life. Seventeenerino Steve.! His thoughts on Shooter were illuminating.

    • Great interview. And I agree, it was interesting to hear his view that Marvel was at least recognizably itself under Shooter, and it was the following regime that really killed things.

  7. John Q Aug 14, 2019

    Great job, guys! Question for Englehart fans – anyone read The Phantom of Fear City series he wrote?

    • Matthew Aug 15, 2019

      Looking it up just now I was surprised to see that it got a collection last October. Easier to track down at least!

    • Doug O'Keefe Aug 16, 2019

      When I was reading the series, about ten years ago, I couldn’t find the last issue, so I emailed Steve E. He responded twice, first saying he would have a look, and then a couple days later to tell me that he couldn’t find any copies. He was really nice. He stressed both times that it was one of his favorite series to write.

      I finally got the last issue. My feeling was that the series was a mixed success. It has a lot of complexity and neat ideas, at least one great betrayal (a device Englehart used a lot at the time), and breaks new ground with an ending dealing with non-binary sexuality unlike anything else in comics up to then. But the art is maybe somewhat stiff, and sometimes hard to follow, and there were some sequences that didn’t work for me. Opera and comics: the jury is still out.