Friday, August 12, 2022

Stupid war, wise book

My book Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story is the true story of Nobuo Fujita, a Japanese pilot who became the first foreign power to bomb the U.S. mainland during a war. (Next month marks the 80th anniversary of this unprecedented event.)

After the war, he regretted his actions and returned to America to apologize. "What a stupid war we made," he said.

I just discovered a review of the book in Friends Journal (published by the Quakers) that ends on a line that not only humbles but also chills: "What a wise book it has made."

Friday, July 15, 2022

Nerd Camp PA - superheroes and illustrated books

On 7/15/22, I had the privilege of participating in a Justice League of Authors panel for Nerd Camp (AKA nErD Camp) PA—second Nerd Camp, first time virtually.

My four famous co-stars *:

  • Kirsten W. Larson 
  • L.L. McKinney
  • Annie Hunter Eriksen
  • Tom Bober, who stepped up to moderate

The topic: comics are real books. Would that we need not have to keep justifying this! Still, there is fun in the fight.

I have not met any of my fellow panelists in person and had been in touch with only Kirsten prior to this panel formation. I look forward to seeing everyone again, hopefully with no screen between us.

For years, at school visits, kids have asked me if I would follow up my Superman and Batman books with one on Spider-Man. I always said that I'm not enough of a Marvel fan to take that on, but surely and eventually someone will. Annie has fulfilled the prophecy! She's written a picture book on Stan Lee and an upcoming one on Steve Ditko, and while Spider-Man is not the sole focus of either book, he is, of course, central to both. So now I can finally direct kids to published books and not only the possibility of books.

Thank you again to Kirsten for including me, Ariel Franchak for your organizational efforts, and Tim Smyth for stepping back when the panel grew. We missed you!

* Can you identify the source for this graphic? Hint: Batman 1972.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Bill Finger's ashes

On 3/7/07, I got good news about a bad situation.

Bonnie Burrell, ex-wife of Bill Finger’s son Fred Finger, told me what really happened to Bill after he died. Prior to that, the only info I could find about Bill’s final resting place was this: he was buried in a potter’s field (AKA a pauper’s grave). 

Seemed plausible. But turned out to be merely a rumor, one whose source I didn’t trace (if that’s even possible). 

Bonnie said that Fred went to an Oregon beach near his home and spread Bill’s ashes on the sand in the shape of a bat.

Poignant, visually striking—and relieving. The thought of Bill Finger ending up in a potter’s field after his hard life was heartbreaking.  

Since then, at least two others have independently verified the ashes story—or at least their memory of it. But since it’s so specific, I believe it has only two possible explanations: either Fred (or someone else) made it up after Bill’s death and the false story spread, or it is true. I see no incentive to make up something like that, especially because Bill was hardly known to the public, so I have considered the story to be true from the moment I heard it.

It took me years to be able to describe the scene to audiences without choking up a bit.

It was first depicted five years later, in Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, courtesy of Ty Templeton:

It next appeared, animated, in the documentary Batman & Bill:

Then it was interpreted for a Brazilian graphic biography, Bill Finger—A verdadeira história do Cavaleiro das Trevas:

It was most recently seen in Bill Finger, dans l'ombre du mythe, a French-language graphic memoir illustrated by Erez Zadok:

This was such a fabled image in my mind from the moment I learned of it, and it’s been a moving experience to see each new interpretation. It’s also been surreal because for years, the scene existed only in memory and imagination. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Students spotlighting little-known true stories

On 2/4/22—rescheduled from spring 2020—I finally spoke at Robious Elementary in Midlothian, VA.

My visit was the kickoff for a student project that is up, down, and all around my alley. 

As my kind host, librarian Melissa West, explained (lightly edited):

we are using [your visit] as a jumping off point for our 4th graders who will embark on a research project looking for an untold story [all tied to Virginia except *]. The project is built on the idea that certain individuals have been recognized, honored, and studied in school for the work that they did, while others who did much the same went unnoticed. Their project that will be part of a museum exhibit at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Funding was provided by Partners in the Arts.

Slides from the presentation about the project:

Here is a partial list, in no order, of people whose stories these kids brought to light (I added the links; they were not necessarily sources the kids used):

three enslaved teens in the household of Thomas Jefferson: Ursula, Edith, and Frances
Acoustic Kitty (CIA operation)
members of the Richmond 34 (1960 sit-in): Woodrow Benjamin Grant Jr., Elizabeth Johnson

Thank you again to Melissa and Robious for promoting the value of research and the thrill of untold stories.

signing the author wall

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Delivering a speech at a high school graduation

On 5/20/20, in Germany, I had the privilege of giving a speech at my daughter’s high school graduation. (It was the IB class, so the ceremony—like their classes—was in English.) 

photos: Oliver Maier

Prior to this, I had not heard of a high school inviting the parent of a graduating senior to speak at this rite of passage, but at my daughter’s school, it is an annual tradition. 

That doesn’t mean the students are excited about it. At that age, kids typically don’t love listening to their parents about even the simplest things. Therefore, my opening line was “Graduates of New York University this week got international Grammy-winning superstar Taylor Swift to speak at their graduation…and you get some random dad.”

I did what I do naturally: tell a story. It is, simply, the best way to immediately grab and retain an audience—kilometers more effective that platitudes. At first the true story I shared might have seemed like a terrible judgment call for the occasion—it’s a tragedy about a wildfire. But at the end, the point becomes clear. That segued into two other topics that at first seem disparate—a dancing man at a music festival and a book by a legendary Hollywood screenwriter—but I tied the three segments together in a way that made sense to me. 

Apparently, I misjudged my audience. I heard that they did enjoy it:

The experience tied together some of my greatest loves—my daughter, speaking to a live audience, and the chance to try to inspire young people. Thank you again, Louisenlund, for the opportunity.

Friday, July 1, 2022

A graphic memoir starring Bill Finger, me…and me

Ten (!) years ago today, Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman came out. Hard as it still may be to believe, it was the first book about Bill Finger—38 years after he died. 

If you’d told me then that this unassuming picture (!) book would be followed by a historic credit change, an unprecedented Hulu documentary, a New York City street renaming, and more than one style of Bill Finger T-shirt, I’d have asked if I could feel your forehead. 

Plus, to date, three more books on Bill have appeared.

The first was in Spanish, the second in Portuguese, and the new one in French. (Then there’s the Polish edition of my book.) I speak none of these languages, though I took French in school for five years. (In my defense, those five years weren’t last week.)

This latest Bill Finger book is the second illustrated biography. Yes, we’ve gotten to the point where there is more than one of certain formats.

Bill Finger, dans l’ombre du mythe was written by Julian Voloj and illustrated by Erez Zadok. Less than a month after DC Comics announced that they would add Bill’s name to the Batman credit line, in 2015, I first heard from Julian. He said he was planning a book about Bill and asked to talk with me. Julian has also written a graphic memoir about the creation of Superman, focusing on Joe Shuster.

Though Julian is not French, the first publisher to make an offer on his manuscript was. He is hoping to also put out an edition in English.

Julian was kind enough to involve me in the editing process of the book, and I greatly appreciated that because I am not only protective of Bill’s legacy but also a central figure in his telling. He sent his first draft and Erez’s initial sketches for my review in 2019. 

It was and still is surreal to see my 2006-07 research experiences recreated so vividly. I imagine people who are depicted by someone else (in words, art, or both) often feel it’s a mix of humbling and strange. Those research moments were so private, so localized, so inward. No one (besides me) was documenting me then. I didn’t even have a book contract yet. I had no idea if any of that work would amount to anything. 

confirming the apartment where a 
1940s photo of Bills desk was taken

how I inherited Bills scarab paperweight

discovering Bill’s birth name
(example of creative license; 
at no point in the research did I do a cartwheel)

finding a previously unpublished
Bill photo that is now my favorite
(again an instance of creative license; 
we did not rendezvous on a street corner)

Both Julian and Erez were highly receptive to my feedback (which, true to form, was detailed). An example: Julian uses a storytelling device in which the adult me interacts with the kid me (specifically me dressed in a Robin-inspired costume).

Side note: whether intentional or not, this is reminiscent of Robin’s original purpose in Batman comics—to give a loner main character someone to talk to, and therefore help convey information to the reader without having to use monologue or voiceover.

The original drawings of my Robin costume had a “N” (for Nobleman) instead of Robin’s “R.” I understood that Julian and Erez were taking creative license, and I accepted it in other instances, but in this case I asked if they would either stick with “R” or do away with a letter altogether. Life as we know it would hardly screech to a halt if this little fabrication remained intact, but it felt a bit too self-aware for my taste, and the dynamic duo graciously obliged.

The book is 136 pages with a trim size roughly that of a standard magazine. It is gorgeous and heartfelt. I’m honored that I had a small role in it.

Here is the introduction I wrote for the book:

Oh, you’re partial to English? Thy shall be done:

His Identity Remains Known

Truly by chance, I began to write this on September 18, 2021—which is, as I’m sure you immediately realized, the sixth anniversary of the announcement that DC Entertainment would add Bill Finger’s name to the Batman “created by” line…76 years late.

I don’t need an anniversary to celebrate Bill Finger. I’ve been doing it almost daily since I began researching him in 2006, though those early months were mostly a party of one. 

Bill was, creatively, the primary influence behind a character who became one of the most iconic fictional heroes of all time. Ask a person who has never read a Batman story or seen a Batman show/film to name three things related to the Dark Knight. First, she will be able to do that. Second, unless she says “Harley Quinn,” all three will almost certainly be Bill contributions. 

I set out to write a book, but I knew from the start that I was also setting out to try to fix a mistake. It’s still mystifying to me that no one had already published a biography of Bill, and I remain grateful that, somehow, I got to be the first. 

That’s not to say that no one knew of Bill. Thanks to fandom chatter at comic conventions and later message boards and social media, word spread that artist Bob Kane was not alone at bat. Some lamented Bill’s fate and called for justice. But because Bill wrongly appeared as only a cameo in most published sources covering the Batman creation story, many fans knew little about the degree of his involvement…and almost nothing about the man himself. 

That began to change in 1965, on the eve of the debut of the now-mythic TV show that elevated Batman from comic book hero to pop culture icon.

Batmanians (a pre-existing word, yo) owe a cave-sized debt to a man named Jerry Bails. 

Jerry was many things to comics history, notably the first known person to interview Bill Finger. Based on what Jerry learned from that interview, he wrote a two-page article. It was not published in Time or Newsweek, though some form of it could’ve and should’ve been. Instead, Jerry mimeographed it (blue paper, smudgy purple ink) and mailed those copies to other Batman fans—Batmanians—nationwide. Simple as this seems, it was a radical move. Jerry was a fan first. But not at the expense of the truth. And this truth was titanic. It would debunk (and therefore irk) one of the most famous names in the business.

I had the privilege of corresponding with Jerry about Bill. I received his first email on May 31, 2006, and last on August 14. I’d reached him just in time; only three months later, Jerry died. He might’ve thought that I was just another annoying wannabe crusader who would never follow through on a book. I wish he knew that he passed the Bill baton to someone who was willing to stick to the mission. Perhaps I should say Bat-on… (It’s okay. Bill used puns.)

Other Bill champions who predated me and whom I acknowledge whenever possible include superfan Tom Fagan, Bill’s longtime writing partner Charles Sinclair, comics legend Jim Steranko, comics writer Mike W. Barr, Bob Kane biographer Tom Andrae, Bill’s second wife Lyn Simmons, and early Batman ghost artist/creator advocate Jerry Robinson. In various ways, each of them did something meaningful on behalf of Bill’s legacy, sometimes after his untimely death at age 59. Unfortunately, like Bails, Fagan and Robinson also died too soon (2008 and 2011, respectively) to see Bill get his long overdue validation.

In my efforts to commemorate Bill, I failed…a lot:

  • Bill the Boy Wonder was rejected 34 times (including three times by the editor of my previous superhero-related biography, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman). 
  • Batman & Bill was the third attempt to make a documentary about Bill Finger; the first two attempts imploded, in 2009 and 2011 (though footage from each is in the final film). 
  • I proposed the installation of a statue or memorial for Bill in New York City (where Batman was born). I was dismissively told that Bill is not a suitable subject. 
  • I proposed a Google Doodle for what would have been Bill’s 100th birthday (as well as Batman’s 75th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of Bill’s death). Even though the public flooded Google with support for the idea—I think the biggest push for a Doodle up till that point—it wasn’t enough.

Even in death, Bill couldn’t catch a break.

Why go through all of this for a person who had been dead for two generations? Especially a person who, by virtue of being a white man, had privilege, not to mention steady writing work for 25 years and, some argue, obligation to speak up more forcefully for himself? 

Because no matter what, you should get credit for what you do (good and bad). Credit is a key component of our dignity. Lack of credit for one of us is an existential threat to all of us. This fight was for Bill, of course, but also for every creative whose intellectual property has been stolen. Taking a person’s idea is saying “You have something of value but you yourself are not valuable enough to be acknowledged.” 

Family, friends, and fans tried for decades to get recognition for Bill. Some, like me, were told flat-out: I’m all for it but don’t waste your time. It will never happen.

It took far too long, but it did happen. If Bill’s legacy was preserved despite the odds, anyone’s can be—with persistence. No story starts with “Let me tell you about the time I gave up…”

A credit is like a gravestone—a forever marker to honor a person. Both are surrounded by beauty (gravestone by nature, credit by art). Bill Finger has no gravestone, but now, finally, he has credit. Official credit. On every Batman story. Way better than a statue.

The last line of the first panel of the first Batman (then “Bat-Man”) story is “His identity remains unknown.” Bill wrote it referring, of course, to Bruce Wayne’s secret identity—but eerily, unknowingly, it would also come to describe Bill himself. Yet like the hyphen in the hero’s name, Bill’s anonymous status is now a thing of the past. Now his identity remains known, permanently. I only hope that he knows it.

Fred Finger on an Oregon beach, 
spreading the ashes of his father Bill

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Love thy brother and sister and fellow human

my daughter and me at the first Black Lives Matter 
protest in our Maryland town, 6/2/20

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Bill Finger’s scarab paperweight: mystery solved

In 2006, a beetle landed on my desk. It was not alive, and it came not from nature but rather another writers desk and, before that, the Museum of Natural History in New York.

This paperweight was a gift from writer Charles Sinclair, who inherited it from his friend (and Batman co-creator) Bill Finger, who in the late 1960s or early 1970s had received it as a gift from his second wife Lyn Simmons. That’s already a lot of backstory for a little bug, and the Bill connection was all I needed for it to be culturally valuable. 

So I never considered that there could be more to it.

This week I heard from Alex Cash, who will soon be launching a Batman podcast called Bat Lessons.

He informed me that Bill’s scarab was likely from a batch made by Alva Studios, a company that produced replicas of ancient jewelry and sculpture which were sold at museum gift shops starting in the late 1940s.

This particular replica commemorates Amenhotep III, a pharaoh of the 1300s BCE (18th dynasty). In particular, it glorifies the pharaoh’s hunting skills. The hieroglyphics on the bottom tell how Amenhotep III slayed 102 lions. (That crushes my record.)

To date, 123 of the OG scarabs have been excavated. They are made of a metamorphic rock called steatite, or soapstone, which is a variety of talc. The Global Egyptian Museum, the British Museum, and the Met each have at least one of the originals.

To quote Alex, referring to the scarab at the British Museum: “Note that it is written right to left, while Bill’s replica reads left to right. Hieroglyphics can be written and read either way. Animals and humans always face towards the beginning of the line. Size (and therefore line length) also varies from scarab to scarab. ‘102’ is on its own line, but on Bill’s, it is with the final line of text.”

These scarabs even have a Wikipedia entry hiding in plain sight, where you can read the full translation of the hieroglyphics.

Thank you again, Alex!

In sum, going backwards in time:

backstory 1: Charles gave the paperweight to me.
backstory 2: Charles got the paperweight from Bill, presumably after Bill died.
backstory 3: Lyn gave the paperweight to Bill after purchasing it at a museum.
backstory 4: The paperweight was produced by a company that specializes in replicas of pre-CE craftwork. 
backstory 5: Amenhotep III of Egypt was revered for killing lots of big cats.

(I am confident that this post has more hyperlinks than any other post about a paperweight in the history of the internet.)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Cheshire High School Hall of Fame - 2022 inductee

Unlike an estimated 86% to 90% of Americans, I liked high school. And I would’ve said that at the time. 

It might help you put that in perspective to know that I entered ninth grade with two middle school yearbook superlatives on my then-nascent résumé: Friendliest and…Best School Citizen. What could go wrong?

I’m a proud product of small-town New England—namely Cheshire, AKA the Bedding Plant Capital of Connecticut. 

Growing up, I heard that no commercial sign could be higher than the second story of a building. (I can’t think of a building in town that had more than two stories.) An apocryphal nighttime activity of certain high schoolers in our farm-adjacent community: cow-tipping. Terrible, which makes me happy to report I never knew of anyone actually doing it. I am wired to function best with a change of seasons, in particular a snowy winter (flurries, don’t waste my time). I pronounce “Bill Clinton” as if the “nt” in the middle of the last name were buried several feet underground, though I’m not sure if that’s unique to CT.

Cheshire has only one public high school. For me, highlights of attending it included designing both the logo of our senior play, The Boyfriend, and the cover of our yearbook. (I also sang and danced in the play, but that was emphatically not a highlight…for anyone listening/watching.)

I’m still in touch with some of my high school teachers and my principal, and not only because it’s part of the Best School Citizen’s Code of Conduct.

My best friends in high school are still my best friends today—same exact group. No one has dropped out, no one has joined. Most of us have relocated to the Washington DC area—because of us. We’re a secret society without the vaguely sinister intrigue.


A few summers ago, two of those friends and I were back in our hometown. On a lark, we stopped by our high school even though I said the doors would be locked. I was wrong. We entered. We reminisced. We recreated (by memory) one of my favorite high school photos. We left without seeing another soul though I, for one, felt many souls.

We didn’t quite nail it.

I even took it upon myself to plan our 30th high school reunion. I was able to round up emails for perhaps two-thirds of our graduating class of 289 and sent the reunion announcement on 3/12/20…yes, the day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and approximately ten minutes before life as we all knew it screeched to a halt. Number of replies to that initial email: zero. 

Our 30th reunion did take place, but in our 31st post-grad year (November 2021). Maskless and mirthful.

Also delayed due to COVID: the 13th induction ceremony for the Cheshire High School Hall of Fame. I did not know that CHS had a hall of fame before I received an email in December 2019 to notify me that I had been selected as an inductee. Like everything else originally scheduled for spring 2020, it was postponed (eventually more than once), finally happening on 4/24/22 at the venue where we had our senior prom.

As you can imagine, it was an honor for this former Best School Citizen. I was heartened to see that it was also an honor for the other six living inductees, none of whom I knew previously and none of whom were from my year, though one is the brother of a guy I sat next to in homeroom. 

Most had been star athletes so in my brief acceptance speech, I pointed out that I, too, set a high school football record: I did not attend a single game in all four years.

Two plaques per inductee were produced: one for the inductee, one to be hung in the high school. 

This makes up for the fact that I was never Student of the Month. 

Thank you again to the Cheshire High School Alumni Association for this honor, and to Cheshire High School for an experience that, despite the odds, holds a special place in my memory. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Interview: Anne Collins Ludwick, writer for “Wonder Woman” (1977-79)

Anne Collins Ludwick (then Anne Collins) was not the first female to write scripts for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. She was the last. To clarify, she wrote the last five episodes (among others). 

On this list of the 10 best eps of the show, five (including the top four) are Anne’s (one based on a story idea from someone else).

I’ve covered various aspects of Wonder Woman before (from two granddaughters of one of his creators to two people who sang on her delicious theme song).

But I was inspired to find/interview Anne because of this line in a 2019 article: “it isn’t super easy to find out information on her.”

That’s throwing down the gauntlet to me.

Luckily Anne did not throw up her bracelets to deflect me. She kindly agreed to an interview and I excitedly share it here:

How did you end up writing for Wonder Woman?

Somewhere in the process of writing three scripts for Hawaii Five-O in the mid-70s, the show’s Story Editor, Curtis Kenyon, helped me get an agent, John Schallert. Though I was working at a PR firm and living in Denver at the time, John successfully pitched me to the people at Wonder Woman, who were looking for a woman to join its writing staff. So I packed up my VW Rabbit, sublet my apartment, and drove out to LA, fully expecting to return within a month once they discovered how inexperienced and untalented I was. 

But to my surprise, I discovered I could, in fact, hold my own when it came to working with and, frequently, heavily editing the work of the (mostly male) freelance writers to whom the show was giving assignments. The Supervising Producer, Bruce Lansbury, was such a joy to work with and so creative and sooo supportive that I stayed in LA for the next seven years and never looked back.

Did you pitch storylines on your own or as part of a team, or were writers assigned certain premises by producers?

Bruce, the studio and the network had a vision for the show, which in its second season saw it move from WWII into the ‘70s, so there was already an informal list of suggested and approved storylines. At that time TV programs were required to utilize freelance writers. We would contact writers we thought would “get” the show and assign a story area to them, though they were also free to pitch their own ideas if they wanted. I, too, could and did pitch ideas, of course, but as story editor I mostly helped outside writers develop their stories and would rewrite/polish their final drafts if/when necessary.

It looks like you first wrote for the show during season 2 (of a three-season series). Were you already a fan of the show (or the character)?

I never saw a single episode of Wonder Woman before I joined the show. However, my two brothers and I were avid consumers of DC comics growing up so I was familiar with the character, although I must admit, she was not my fave because, unlike Superman, Superboy, or Surpergirl, she couldn’t fly. (Never was a fan of that invisible plane.)

Is there one story about your Wonder Woman days that you tell more than any other?

My hands doubled for Lynda Carter’s in the episode called (I think) “The Man Who Made Volcanoes.”

Oh, and also, I was walking across the lot (Warner Bros. in Burbank) one day for some reason with the show’s producer, Charlie FitzSimons (wonderful Irish guy, Maureen O’Hara’s brother). As he talked I became aware of a guy walking toward us, someone with the most electrically blue eyes I had ever seen in my life. I couldn’t take my eyes off his, and suddenly had no idea, and could not care less about, what Charlie was saying to me. I recognized the guy’s face, but it was his eyes I’ll never forget. Paul Newman, in the flesh.

Any other funny/inspiring/weird anecdotes about your Wonder Woman experience?

There was one Saturday or Sunday early on in my Wonder Woman stint that I absolutely had to get into my office to write/rewrite something (this was eons before laptops, remember). However, to my horror, the key I was given to the WW office suite would not work. Desperate to get to my typewriter, and more than a little pissed at the key, I took the door handle with both hands and shook it in utter frustration. Causing the lock to break and the door to limp open. I went straight to my office and got to work.

Next thing I know, a wide-eyed security guard was peering at me from around the corner of my doorway, hand on his nightstick, ready to use it on whomever had broken into the suite. I apologized for breaking the door but it was an emergency. I just kept working, and he finally went away to get the door fixed. He also filed a report, so that come Monday everyone knew the story and thought it was quite amusing, and appropriate, that a woman employed by Wonder Woman had busted down a door.

What was it like to be a female writer in Hollywood in the 1970s? How did the men involved with the show treat you?

Frankly, so grateful was I to be getting paid for something I absolutely loved to do that I never gave my gender much thought. I never came close to being pressured into sleeping with someone in order to get work, and I never felt like I was being patronized, or that my work was in any way discounted because I was female. When dealing with some of the older male freelancers (and there were quite a few back then that had written for network TV since its inception), I occasionally detected some arrogance and resistance to my notes on their scripts, but I don’t recall any major incidents. I felt like the producers on the show respected me because I could, and did, get the job done promptly and well.

At the time, did you reflect on the number of women vs. number of men writing for the show?

No, because at that time, there were very few women writing action-adventure, and there was also nowhere near the pressure to hire women and minorities back then that there is now. True, I was hired by WW largely because everyone, including Lynda, felt the show could only benefit from including “a woman’s POV,” but I’m not sure my gender ever really had a big influence on the scripts we churned out.

Do you remember any instances where you felt strongly about an idea that didn’t make it on air?

No. Hey, I well understood the perimeters of what we were creating: WW aired at 8 pm on Friday and was considered “family” programming. Which meant no realistic violence, no swearing, no drinking, no depiction of deviant behavior, no adult situations. The network’s Standards and Practices Department scoured every script and finished episode to make sure nothing that could be construed in any way as offensive made it on the air.

Did you interact with Lynda Carter, and if so, what was your impression of her? Did it change over time in any way?

Lynda was a sweetheart. We didn’t hang out, but our interactions were always pleasant and she always came across as genuine. She wasn’t hired because of her acting skills, and she no doubt knew that, which had to’ve made showing up for work every day somewhat terrifying. But by golly she did her best, and I have to say, whenever I happen to catch an episode, I’m struck with how likeable she comes across on screen. Not just because of her considerable physical beauty, but she has a nice, watchable presence. Probably because she is/was basically a sincerely nice person.

What is your favorite episode that you wrote and why?

“Phantom of the Roller Coaster,” probably because it was such a colorful arena (who doesn’t love amusement parks?) and I have an affinity for Raggedy Man-type stories. It started out as a single episode, but the shoot at Magic Mountain went so well that we made a two-parter out of it, though I forget when in the process that decision was made, or exactly how much more shooting was involved.

What did you do professionally after Wonder Woman?

After WW was cancelled, Bruce Lansbury became the Supervising Producer on Buck Rogers. To repeat, Bruce was one of the kindest, merriest, most creative people I’ve ever known, so when he asked me to come aboard as Story Consultant, I immediately said yes. I was on staff on a couple of other shows after that, and eventually wound up story editing for Matlock while raising two kids in Seattle. I have two fantastic grown-up daughters. 

What are you doing these days?

Living in the PNW, enjoying my WGA pension, and writing, though I’m not sure yet exactly what.

Anne 2022

Are either of your children fans of Wonder Woman?

I don’t think either of them have seen an episode of TV’s Wonder Woman, nor to my knowledge have they read a WW comic book. They both saw and liked the first Wonder Woman movie but passed on the second one (as did I).

Have you participated in any Wonder Woman-related event (comic convention, panel, documentary, etc.)? If not, would you be open to meeting fans and signing autographs?

No thanks. That kinda stuff just isn’t my thing.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the cast or crew?

No. Although I am still in touch with novelist Alan Brennert, the most talented freelancer to ever write for Wonder Woman.

When was the last time you watched Wonder Woman? How did you think it held up?

The last time I caught an episode was probably two years ago. As I said, Lynda was very watchable, but oh my gosh, the production was so amateurish compared to what’s on TV now. The special effects were dreadful, the storyline was simplistic, the dialog was utilitarian, and the characters were one-dimensional. But that was the way episodic TV was back then. The networks had a very low opinion of their audience; we writers were instructed to repeat info important to the plot as often as possible, and to spell things out for viewers instead of relying on them to figure things out. Pretty much the opposite of the way TV is now.

Do you have any mementos from the experience such as set photos, a script, or anything from the set?

I think I have copies of all the scripts I wrote for the show in a trunk somewhere, but that’s about it.

What did you think of the first Wonder Woman movie?

I loved it. It struck just the right tone and it worked. There was one scene—I think Wonder Woman making her way through a battlefield—that was incredibly moving. I didn’t bother to see the second movie after reading the reviews.

What did you think when you first heard my request?

I thought, who the hell would be interested in hearing about my experience on a short-lived TV show that ended more than 40 years ago?

How do you look back on your Wonder Woman experience?

I loved every single minute of it. Needless to say, as a kid originally from Toledo, Ohio, I’d never been on a real movie set before (though I did participate in some student productions during my two years of grad school at UT Austin). It felt good to be part of a major creative endeavor and to have my work appreciated (and well-compensated, though little did they know I would’ve gladly done all that writing for free!).

If the experience changed your life in any way, how?

Though I don’t remember the exact circumstance, I do remember Bruce Lansbury, in response to some expression of self-doubt I’d just made, sternly admonishing me, “You are a writer.” Not sure if he changed my life at that moment, but he definitely defined it.

Anything you’d like to add?

I’ve bored you enough. 

Anne, no you didn’t. If you don’t believe me, put the magic lasso around me…
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...