I'm a native of Fairfield, Connecticut, living now in Doylestown, PA, with my wife, author Grace Marcus, and inclined to stay. It's a great town, a fine place to live.
I'm a "creative," as they say, and a triple-threat at that, being accomplished in writing, art, and music. What this means is that I am never bored!
A facility with words is one of my strongest skills. Not so much verbally, though there are plenty of times when you can't shut me up; but I've always had a deep love of and respect for the written page. I've wanted to be a writer since I was quite young. I read voraciously from the time I was 5 or 6, often far beyond the experience of my years. Before I was 10 I discovered James Thurber and Robert Benchley -- could the rest of the Algonquin Roundtable be far behind? I also hit upon Robert Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien, and so my fate was sealed, as they say. Procol Harum's lyricist Keith Reid calls the compulsion to write "typewriter torment," but I've been a happy prisoner of print since my early childhood.I started teaching myself to type on an old Underwood typewriter when I was 8 or 9. I'd sit at the dining room table and bang on the keys. I must have been one of a very small number of boys who was absolutely thrilled to receive a typewriter for Christmas at the age of 12. I worked my way up through several portables and electrics until I bought my first computer back around 1988. Whoo-hoo! No more carbon paper! Plenty of disks of varying formats, though, as well as documents preserved in old formats like MultiMate. Who knows what's on those things anymore! (Actually, I do know what's on them; retrieving it is another matter, however!)
It never occurred to me that I couldn't draw -- so I just kept doing it. I doubt I realized until around 6th or 7th grade that I was better at it than most other kids my age. By the time I was in high school it was so ingrained that in some ways it would have hurt me not to do it. Many years later, that's still true, except even more so.Like a lot of kids, I grew up reading comics (as opposed to the comics, the newspaper daily and Sunday funnies. But I read those too). But unlike most other youngsters I could draw. As a result I was putting my own comics together from a fairly young age. I was inside drawing while the rest of the neighborhood boys were playing baseball or football.
This was all in the Sixties, right in the middle of the whole Batman craze. I was very into superheroes for a while, there, as well as MAD. I loved MAD, partly because it was funny, partly because it was iconoclastic. I didn’t know it as anything other than a black-and-white magazine until I discovered the old Ballantine paperback compilations from its days as a full color comic book. The paperbacks weren’t in color, but that was just as well, because I could see all that glorious artwork by Jack Davis, Will Elder, John Severin – and Wally Wood, my all-time favorite comic artist. I learned how to draw, in part, by copying his stuff out of those old MAD paperbacks.
Fast forward a few years. I was 24 or so, living in New Haven, playing in a rock band, working in a book store, eating a lot of brown rice, with my hair down to my butt. I joined a local science fiction club that held monthly meetings at members’ homes. At one such get-together, I saw a middle-aged guy sitting to one side and went over to introduce myself. I thought it was the host’s father.
“No,” he said, smiling. “I’m Wally Wood.”
Well. I knew that Wood lived in the area; and I had heard that the mother of one of the group’s members (also a member herself) had been dating him. Turns out, he came to the meeting with her that night.
A couple of days later he came into the bookstore where I was working. Long story short: he had seen some of my artwork and (untrained as I was) he figured I might have some skill. He needed a background assistant, he said, and would I like to have the gig?
That was the beginning of my association with Wally Wood, and of my involvement with comics. I wasn’t long for the field, but while I was in it I worked for Marvel, Charlton and DC and had a lot of work published in other places.
Accordian was my first instrument, taken up when I was 8 or 9. It wasn't... me, shall we say. A few years later I essayed the trumpet for a year or so. I had no lip for it. But it wasn't until I sat down behind a drum kit for the first time, in my friend Ray's basement on New Year's Eve, 1966, that I knew I'd found my axe. Somehow, the uncoordinated kid I was, who couldn't hit a baseball, throw a football or sink a basket to save his life, knew what needed to be done in order to make the drums work: coordinate and even syncopate the movement of two feet and two hands -- and occasionally a singing part -- doing five things at once, in essence.
My folks, bless them, indulged me, and bought me a decent three-piece set. It couldn't have been all that much fun to have a fledgling, untrained drummer pounding away in the basement. I had no lessons; I taught myself by putting Beatles and Stones albums on the record player and banging along until what I was doing sounded pretty much like what Ringo or Charlie Watts were doing. (I loved The Who, too, but couldn't always duplicate Keith Moon's outrageous patterns, though I could come pretty close.) Despite all this, a year later I was playing my first paying gig -- another New Year's Eve party.
Then came a series of bands... many, many bands... The Hillbrand Rarity... Frog Hollow Day Camp... Bruno and the Flippers... The Global Nomads... Bedbug Eddie... and many, many jams, with many musicians... I learned other instruments, and tinkered with even more: autoharp, guitar, bass, sitar... and I started writing songs. That's a whole other story, but I've written dozens, and have had them performed and recorded by solo artists as well as bands. I don't do much songwriting these days, but who knows; the urge could strike at any time.