AUSTIN, Texas â€” Former â€œGreen Arrowâ€ writer and â€œLegion of Super-Heroesâ€ artist Mike Grell discussed how he broke into the comic-book industry more than 35 years ago at the recent Austin Comic-Con.
Grell also recounted the birth of his sword-and-sorcery title â€œWarlord,â€ which ran for 133 issues from 1975 to 1989. He returned for 16 issues of â€œWarlordâ€ in 2009-2010.
â€œI was going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright and would have been if it wasn't for the math,â€ he said about his original career plans, speaking to fans at Comic-Con. After four years in the Air Force as an illustrator, Grell became an assistant to Dale Messick of â€œBrenda Starr.â€
Grell attended the New York Comic-Con in 1973 with the intention of selling an adventure comic strip called â€œThe Savage Empire.â€ But adventure strips were no longer selling. On the advice of some cartoonists attending the conference, he pitched his artwork to DC Comics. On the strength of his samples, he received an assignment, and after that he was recommended as the new artist of â€œLegion of Super-Heroes.â€
Grell said he was blessed with good timing. â€œI was walking in the door at DC when (former â€˜Legion' artist) Dave Cockrum was walking out,â€ he said.
â€œSavage Empireâ€ had another shot at life a couple of years later, when Grell pitched the idea to new publisher Atlas/Seaboard. But Julie Schwartz at DC Comics got wind of Grell's pitch and asked Grell to pitch DC instead. Since DC at that time didn't have creator ownership of concepts, Grell tweaked his â€œSavage Empireâ€ idea so that he could keep the rights to the original.
Grell came up with â€œWarlord,â€ the story of Travis Morgan, a former Air Force pilot and Vietnam veteran drawn into a fantastic world. Morgan falls through a hole in the Earth's crust at the North Pole and finds himself in the underground world of Skartaris.
The first two years of â€œWarlordâ€ stories are currently in print in DC Comics' â€œShowcase Presents: Warlordâ€ collection.
Grell also is known for his work on â€œGreen Arrow,â€ â€œJon Sable: Freelanceâ€ and â€œStarslayer.â€
In the future, Grell plans more with his popular Jon Sable character and has hopes that â€œStarslayerâ€ may make its way to the movies.
Grell is appearing this weekend at the Atlanta Comic-Con at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.
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