Tom DeFalco (born June 26, 1950) is an American comic writer and editor, well-known for his association with Marvel Comics and Spider-Man.
Tom DeFalco was born in Queens, New York City, New York, where his family owned a supermarket. His introduction to comic books came when, aged five, an older cousin read an issue of Batman to him.
While in college, DeFalco "wrote for a few local newspapers, a weekly comic strip and did a few short stories," and after graduation "got in touch with the various comic book companies", which led to him beginning his comics career as an editorial assistant with Archie Comics in summer 1972. During his tenure with Archie Comics, he "initiated and developed the Archie Comics Digest Series, which is still being produced today and remains the company’s most profitable publishing series". Learning fast, DeFalco was soon writing for the flagship title Archie as well as for other titles including Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats.
He later joined Marvel Comics, with whom he would spend the next twenty years of his career. One of his earliest non-Archie credits was as writer, however, was with the "Distinguished Competition," on the final (8th) issue of DC's aborted "Swords and Science" title Starfire (Oct 1977) and a back-up Cain story in House of Mystery before moving to Marvel, where he wrote a couple of issues of The Avengers and the final five issues of Machine Man.
DeFalco was the chief designer and author for Dazzler, and later became one of the most popular writers for the Spider-Man comic book series while at the same time rising through the editorial ranks. While writing Dazzler, he penned a couple of issues of Marvel Team-Up, before taking over from Dennis O'Neil as editor of that title, as well as assuming editorial duties on Wikipedia:Ghost RiderGhost Rider, What If...? and the Spider-Man titles, which he edited throughout the early 1980s.
GI Joe and HasbroEdit
DeFalco worked closely with toy manufacturer Hasbro in the early 1980s, heading the creative team that "produced the backstory and dossiers that served as the basis for the relaunch of the phenomenally successful GI Joe toy line and animated television show," in 1985. As part of this relaunch, Marvel produced a comic entitled G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero in June 1982. DeFalco personally edited the first six issues (handing over to Denny O'Neil in January 1983), as well as assorted issues of G.I. Joe series' throughout the 1980s. The core - Real American Hero - series would run for 155 issues over the next 12 years.
DeFalco was also "part of the creative team that introduced the Transformers to the American public" in 1984.
Spider-Man and Star WarsEdit
In August 1983, DeFalco wrote the first four issues of the third series of Red Sonja and after shedding his Spider-Man editorial duties he took over from Roger Stern as writer of The Amazing Spider-Man. The two collaberated on April-May's #251-2 (the Secret Wars crossover issues), before DeFalco took over fully with #253, for a two year run, chiefly in collaboration with artist Ron Frenz. Concurrent with editing Jim Shooter's Secret Wars, DeFalco was dealing with Spider-Man's "black costume" in the pages of Amazing.
DeFalco and Frenz were both removed from Amazing Spider-Man by then Spider-editor Jim Owsley, under the orders of Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter. Issue #285 (Feb 1987) was their final issue, after which Owsley assumed writing duties. While writing Amazing, DeFalco continued editing various comics, including several of Marvel Star Wars titles.
After co-writing two issues of Fantastic Four (#301-2; April-May 1987) with Roger Stern (DeFalco would return to writing the title between 1991 and 1996), DeFalco took over writing duties on Thor from Walt Simonson with #383 in September, before succeeding Jim Shooter as Editor-in-Chief effective from comics cover-dated November 1987. He served from 1987 to 1994, making him one of the longest serving individuals to hold that post. The only Editors-in-Chief with longer service than him were Stan Lee (1941–1942, 1944–1972) and Shooter (1978–1987).
Actions as Editor-in-ChiefEdit
As with several others who held the post, DeFalco became one of the public faces identified with a number of controversial decisions taken by Marvel in the period, and he is sometimes held responsible for them in fan circles. He was a key member of the management team that took Marvel public, and under his leadership, Marvel's net profits from publishing rose by over 500%. Under DeFalco's guidance, Marvel entered a phase of expansion that provided an opportunity for an army of "new talent" to enter the comic book industry, and released a number of new titles with original characters. After clashing with the company's upper management, DeFalco was fired in 1994. During the year following his departure, Marvel decided to distribute its own comics and sales on most of Marvel's core titles sagged. At the same time, the company's finances entered a crisis point amidst accusations that owner Ronald Perelman had strip-mined the company for his own gain. Initially the position of overall Editor-in-Chief was scrapped in favor of breaking the line into five sub-sections with their own group editors. In late 1995, the post was restored and filled by Bob Harras.
During his tenure as Editor-in-Chief, DeFalco had continued to write as well, with noted runs on Thor (where he created the New Warriors with artist Ron Frenz) and the spin-off Thunderstrike, as well as Fantastic Four.
Return to Spider-ManEdit
His dismissal from the position of Editor-in-Chief coincided with a run on The Spectacular Spider-Man (#215-229 Aug 1994 - Oct 1995), after which he returned to The Amazing Spider-Man in January 1996 for a couple of years (#407-439). During this time he helped co-write the controversial and much maligned Spider-Clone Saga which revealed (temporarily, at least) that Peter Parker was a clone of the original that had been active since 1975. Peter would be replaced by the original Spider-Man under the alias "Ben Reilly". However, following several changes of creators and fan reaction, this was soon reversed.
DeFalco is also the author of over a dozen graphic novels, several hundred comic book stories, several dozen cyber-comics, three novels and six children's books, including the best-selling Dorling Kindersley guides to Marvel comics characters. These include: Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide, Avengers: The Ultimate Guide, Fantastic Four: The Ultimate Guide and Hulk: The Incredible Guide. For Titan Books he has compiled three volumes in their "Comic Creators On..." series of essays and thoughts on Marvel characters (Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, between 2004 and 2006).
DeFalco has personally created and developed over three dozen characters that have all been licensed for television, toys, t-shirts, posters, trading cards and other merchandise, and has written Khan for Moonstone Books. DeFalco also created Spider-Girl, who currently has an ongoing monthly series which only sells satisfactory in the "direct market", but does well in the collected digest format.
In August 2008, DeFalco will once again return to the character of Spider-Man in a new comic strip for Amazing Spider-Man Family, Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man, which will serve as the definitive continuity of the MC2 Spider-Man universe
Star Wars worksEdit
Tom DeFalco on Wikipedia
Notes and referencesEdit
The six issue miniseries will re-tell the story of Peter Parker, Ben Reilly, and the rest of the large cast from the original story that was seen by many as an example of the excesses of the ‘90s – or a classic Spider-Man story, depending on your take.
While Defalco and Mackie gave us the scoop last week, today, we talk to the miniseries artist Todd Nauck for more.
Newsarama: Todd - you were just getting started in comics when the original Clone Saga started in the Spider-Man books at Marvel - did you read it then or since?
Todd Nauck: I was reading Amazing Spider-Man back then. I had been collecting the title faithfully since Todd McFarlane’s run. So I think I read about half of the Clone Saga, at least. I remember all the controversy as to which one was the clone or not.
But I had also just moved to California to work at Image Comics’ Extreme Studios and I was so focused on getting started in my career, so really didn’t keep up with every chapter of the Clone Saga.
NRAMA: It seems that everyone has an opinion of the original Clone Saga - where do you fall on the issue?TN: At the time when it first came out, I was pretty against it. I had been a Spider-Man fan since I was a little kid. Then to find out he could have been a clone all that time? It felt a little disheartening. That was probably another reason I didn’t read the entire saga at the time. I was afraid of finding out the truth. But towards the end, I really kinda liked Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider. The clone aspect did bring a new element to the Spider-Man stories.
NRAMA: So how did you wind up on this new iteration of The Clone Saga? You've obviously done some Spider-Man work lately, what with that storyline that guest-starred...what's his name...that guy...
TN: Do you mean Amazing Spider-Man #583: The Spider-Man/Obama Team-Up? That story brought a lot of attention to my work!
NRAMA: That would be the one (laughs).
TN: Of course, even before that issue, I had also been working on a number of different Spider-Man projects for the past three years like Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man Family.
I had also drawn the American Dream mini-series and the Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man stories for Amazing Spider-Man Family written by Tom Defalco. We have a great working relationship.So I wouldn’t be surprised if all these factors came into play when editorial chose me to draw this Clone Saga mini-series.
NRAMA: What was your reaction when you were asked?
TN: I was a little surprised at first. I know the Clone Saga has been a pretty controversial point amongst Spider-Man fans. But when I learned the story was to be approached the way it was originally intended to be told, that had me really intrigued. And it sounded like a lot of fun to do. I really enjoy working off of Tom Defalco’s plots. And this is my first time to work with Howard Mackie. It’s an honor to associated with these legendary writers!
NRAMA: Why do you think this story, or rather, these elements keep cropping up with Spider-Man? After all, it's appeared in the animated series, the Ultimate series, Tom used it in Spider-Girl, and pieces of it are responsible for how things are today in the Marvel Universe - like Norman Osborn being alive. Why do you think people hate to love the Clone Saga and love to hate it at the same time?
TN: Whether fans liked it or not, the Clone Saga was a three year storyline that had significant ramifications on Spider-Man’s life. It challenged everything we knew about Spider-Man. That kind of shake up makes things interesting. It brought about mystery and questions. I think that kind of tension brings about the love/hate feelings. If it didn’t elicit that kind of response (positive or negative), it would have been forgettable. But these elements have spawned new stories and sub-plots. That’s got to say something towards its impact on the Spider-Man mythos.
NRAMA: Obviously, as evidenced by your WildGuard work, you've got a jones for designing characters. Is this story allowing you to tweak any of the characters from the Clone Saga?TN: You’ve got me… I do enjoy designing characters! Since I just started drawing issue #1, I’m keeping the characters as they were originally designed. I think it’s important to keep the characters recognizable for the most part.
But I know Tom is very open to discussing ideas on how to approach characters and storytelling. So if I come up with an idea for tweaking a character, I’m sure I could run it by Tom, Howard, and the editors, Ralph Macchio and Michael Horwitz.
NRAMA: And just so we're clear on the setting of this, this is the "writer's cut" of the original, right? So you're getting to play with mid '90s era Spider-Man? Is anything different, from your eye between Spider-Man from that era and now?
TN: The plot references certain key moments in certain issues of the original Clone Saga. I’m bringing those into this mini-series. It’s almost like an anchor to the past. But I’m also approaching aspects of this comic with the present in mind.
NRAMA: What do you look to for inspiration when you draw Spider-Man? Is there a particular artist or style you use as a foundation of sorts that you build on?
TN: A lot of great artists have drawn Spider-Man. They all inspire me. But as I approach the art to this story, I’m hoping to try some new things, new ways of telling the story and posing Spider-Man. At the very least, I want to put my style and flavor on the Spider-Man universe.
I have a bunch of the original Clone Saga comics for reference for the different story elements we’re playing off of. This have been giving me a guide as to what was done before and allows me to take things in new directions visually.And I have just begun to see Victor Olazaba’s inks over my pencils. They are so gorgeous. That is what really is inspiring me nowadays!
NRAMA: We've talked to Tom and Howard about their goals for this miniseries, but for you - what do you want this miniseries to accomplish?
TN: I want to this to be fun. I want to have fun drawing it (which I am so far!) and I want fans to have fun reading it! As Tom and I have discussed, this is why we make comics: Pure enjoyment.
NRAMA: End of the day - do you think this will bring peace to the world of Spider-fans still divided over the Clone Saga? Will there be spider-peace in our time?
TN: I don’t know if it will bring peace to the Spider-Fans. But it will bring them a new recounting of the Clone Saga… The way it was intended. I guess we’ll find out at the end of this mini-series if it brings peace or riots in the streets.
Of course I like what Tom has said that this series could appeal to those who loved the Clone Saga, and make true believers of those who hated it. What I have read of the plot so far, I am very excited about this project.
Maybe there is hope for peace for the Spider-Fans after all.