Batman vs. Richard Lee Evans

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Did you know that my criminal past once brought me up against Batman?

Panel from Batman 239

Though DC Comics legalistic paranoia made them resequence my name.

Long ago I went to two comic book conventions. The first was hosted by Gary Groth, then publishing Fantastic Fanzine, since a force for good in the comics publishing community running Fantagraphics. The second, I think, was probably the first Creation Con in New York City.

My young self was in the beginnings of developing a sensibility, taste. I thought Dennis O'Neill wrote the best captions in comics. Back then he was a comic book superstar, initiating the changes in Batman that many credit to Frank Miller.

Denny O'Neill's time was sold at auction. As well as getting to talk to O'Neill privately you'd get your name in a Batman comic. From the vantage of years later I can only wonder what made my young self do that. He was a na´ve, impressionable kid not yet ready to adopt the worldly-wise posture he'd have at eighteen.

My conversation with O'Neill was recorded and made its way on a flexidisc distributed by Alan Light. It was an insert in The Buyers Guide which he'd founded not much earlier (and may have had a different name, I can't remember). Google tells me that an academic library has a copy of the interview in its archives. Perhaps the building will burn down.

My main memory of O'Neill is that he must've been an alcoholic. At least recollection says he drank lots of liquid that was brown like whiskey, not cola. Eventually I think he may have saved himself through tai chi or a similar new age discipline.

By the time that issue of Batman was published I'd left comic book collecting, comics fandom and had discovered the joy of a pretty boy. I didn't buy or read the comic. The copy I scanned came in the shop and my partner wouldn't have even given it a second look if it didn't have reprints. I still haven't read the story with my name.

For the scholars among you it is Batman #239, "Silent Night, Deadly Night." (Also the name of a junky horror movie I think.)

That was one of my fifteen seconds of fame.

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