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Monday, October 15, 2007

Aquaman Shrine Interview with Bob Rozakis - 2007

sgBob Rozakis, DC's "AnswerMan" of the 70s and 80s, was foolish enough to agree to an interview with me for TreasuryComics.com last year.

I say "foolish" because I just realized that opened up the chance for me to go back and pester him again for a second interview, this time about his run writing the Aquaman back-up feature that appeared in Action Comics #s 520, 521, 527-530, 536-540. Bob, once again, generously agreed:

Aquaman Shrine: You were on staff when wrote the Aquaman back-up in Action Comics. Did you pursue the assignment?

Bob Rozakis: I had written Aquaman stories in Adventure Comics prior to his series in Action. I'm sure that played a part in Julie assigning the work to me. (As far as getting the assignment in Adventure, I'm sure I pursued it; back then we were always looking for more work.)

AMS: Were you an Aquaman fan at all?

BR: Sure, though I liked his back-up stories more than the ones when he got his own magazine.

AMS: Your stories have a decidedly lighter tone than Aquaman was used to, especially since this was very soon after Black Manta murdered his child in Adventure Comics. Was this a conscious effort on your part to lighten him up a bit?

BR: I think I took a lighter approach to pretty much everything I wrote. There have been too many angst-filled heroes in comics. Surely there had to be some among them who were actually happy!

AMS: What was it like working with Alex Saviuk? He did some amazing splash pages for the Aquaman strip!
BR: Alex and I worked together on numerous series, mostly back-ups in Julie's books. I love his work and was always disappointed that he didn't get more recognition. Had Alex been born twenty years earlier, I think he would have been a mainstay in the biz like Curt Swan, Dick Dillin and Irv Novick.
AMS: Was it a challenge, writing stories just seven pages long?

BR: Julie demanded that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. If you couldn't fit it into six or seven pages, you needed to rethink the tale. Many of the stories hung on a narrative hook, something that made a reader say, "I want to read this and see what's going on."

Comics should always be entertaining and a reader who plunks down his dime or 50c or $2.99 deserves to get his money's worth--finishing it and saying, "I'm glad I spent my money on this."

AMS: How could DC tell if a back-up feature was popular? By reader mail? Could a back-up feature ever boost sales of a book by itself?

BR: Reader mail was probably the only real indicator, though if the back-up character was featured prominently on a cover and it outsold other issues, that would be an indication as well. I'm sure there have been cases where a back-up boosted sales, but I can't think of any right now.

AMS: Do you remember why the Aquaman back-up feature ended?

BR: I think there were plans to give him his own series again, so the back-ups in Action switched to tales of Superman and the Man of Steel’s cast of characters.

I sure hope that when the Aquaman Showcase books get to the 80s, they reprint the Rozakis/Saviuk stories from Action. They're a blast to read. Thanks Bob--again!

Shameless Plug Department: I've been the recipient of some wonderful childhood stories over at
Hey Kids, Comics!, none more amazing than the one just sent to me by F.O.A.M. member Vince Bartiucci.

Not only is it a great, touching story, but it focuses primarily on our collective hero, Aquaman! So anyone reading this please head over there and check it out, you won't regret it. Thanks!


Diabolu Frank said...

It's so great seeing Aquaman and Mera as a couple active in adventures. I miss that aspect of DC heroes, for which the deaths of Ralph and Sue served as a reminder that now only Lois & Clark are left. Alex Saviuk was also well suited here, far moreso than his Superman and Spider-Man work. I never read these stories, so no slight to Rozakis. I'm just ignorant...

Anonymous said...

Bob was a heckuva nice guy. When I was in high school I sent him "interview" questions for a possible Teen Titans fanzine my friends and I were doing, and he was not only nice enough to answer them, he even typed them up as an interview style. We never published the fanzine, but I have the interview around the house somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I was going to write in to say that the Rozakis / Saviuk Aquaman back-ups in Action Comics bumped up sales for that book by at least one: me. Then I realized that I really dug the Atom and Air Wave stories they did, too. So, I guess the Aquaman stories didn't get the bump they should have. I was buying the book for Ray and Hal, also.

Darn, I shoulda bought two of the Aquaman issues!