Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – O
One of my favorite writers is the pick today!
John Ostrander worked in the theater for quite awhile until taking up comic book writing when he was in his mid-30s.
His first major work was for First Comics, and it was the classic series (Ostrander co-created it with artist Tim Truman), GrimJack.
When Ostrander’s editor at First, Mike Gold, went to work at DC, Ostrander soon followed, and had two very impressive debut works at DC, Firestorm and Suicide Squad.
Greg Burgas and Ryan Day both wrote extensive features on Ostrander’s Firestorm work here (yes, we’re the blog where you can get not one, but TWO extensive looks at John Ostrander’s Firestorm ;)), Greg for his Comics You Should Own feature here and Ryan as a guest spot here.
Suicide Squad was an amazing series as well. I’ve often spoken of my admiration for it here. Dave Campbell (also as a guest spot) featured the Top Ten coolest Suicide Squad lines here (#10-6) and here (his own blog, featuring #5-1).
Ostrander followed up Firestorm and Suicide Squad with perhaps his most acclaimed work to date, his five year run on The Spectre with his close friend and co-worker, Tom Mandrake (the two worked on Firestorm right before The Spectre began).
This run closely examined the iffy morality that is inherent in the idea of the Spectre, and did it all while remaining firmly within the DC Universe, even introducing the new Mister Terrific, who is currently a popular member of the Justice Society of America.
DC was so enamored with Ostrander’s work on The Spectre that they actually allowed him to let Jim Corrigan find his final resting spot at the end of Ostrander’s run. Talk about appreciation!
Ostrander and Mandrake followed this run up with a run on the Martian Manhunter that lasted for a few years.
Among Ostrander’s other works for DC were The Kents (a look at the history of, well, you know), JLA: Incarnations (a look at the history of the Justice League) and Manhunter (a series that surprisingly did not look at the history, but rather, the present of the bounty hunter Mark Shaw).
One of Ostrander’s greatest strengths was his late wife, Kim Yale. The two co-wrote a number of comics, and it was Kim Yale who inspired Ostrander to “rescue” Barbara Gordon, following her rather awful treatment at the hands of DC in the Killing Joke, and turn her into Oracle, who is now one of the most popular DC characters. Click here for a bit I did on the history of Oracle’s evolution.
Yale was a great writer, and comics are worse for her passing.
Since the late 90s, Ostrander has been employed by Dark Horse, doing their Star Wars license. Recently, he began work on the sprawling Star Wars: Legacy, a look at the Star Wars universe 125 years after Luke Skywalker fought the Emperor.
It is a fine work. Ostrander is notable in his ability to develop long-term working relationships with artists, such as Truman and Mandrake, and in the case of his Star Wars work, the art has mostly been done by Jan Duursema, who has worked with Ostrander for years (she is also married to Tom Mandrake).
I sure am glad that Ostrander is friendly with so many great artists!! It works out great for us readers!
Recently, Ostrander has returned to writing the Suicide Squad for a mini-series for DC (it is good!) and a GrimJack online comic on ComicMix that you can read for FREE!! Check out the Grimjack comic here.