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CSBG Archive

Denny O’Neil’s Back Pages

Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.

Today’s featured creator is Dennis “Denny” O’Neil!


Dennis “Denny” O’Neil has had a number of prominent runs at DC and Marvel Comics, as well as a prominent stint as the editor in charge of the Batman line of comics (a position he held for over a decade, a decade that was one of the most successful in Batman comics history). His runs on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow still captivate audiences to this day. And that is not even getting into his work on titles like Superman, Justice League of America, Daredevil and Iron Man! And even that is not getting into his work for Charlton in the late 1960s!

O’Neil worked in newspapers until his mid-20s, when he was approached by Roy Thomas to work for Marvel Comics, as the company was quickly getting to the point where Stan Lee needed new writers to write for the company (this was 1966, before the major 1968 expansion).

O’Neil’s first works were just as scripters over either Lee or Thomas’ plots, but in June 1966, O’Neil saw his first solo stories published in a couple of Marvel’s Archie-esque titles, Millie the Model #138 and Patsy and Hedy #106, which I’ll show you here…

Around this time, O’Neil had also been given the assignment of scripting Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange series (due to Ditko not wanting anything to do with Lee), and when Ditko left the book with #147, O’Neil actually got to write the first Doctor Strange story sans Ditko! Bill Everett drew it, and Everett might have had a major hand in the plotting of the story, I’m not positive…

Eventually, work dried up at Marvel (remember, this was before the post-1968 major expansion of Marvel, so there were not that many assignments) and O’Neil went to work for Charlton Comics and when Dick Giordano left Charlton for DC Comics, he brought O’Neil with him and the rest…well, you all know the rest!


One of my favorite scripters.

Why is he called “Big Daddy” indeed. That Patsy and Hedy comic reads a lot funnier with your mind in the gutter. Interesting to see Patsy falling for the quiet, smart guy…before eventually ending up with the Son of Satan. Good times…

O’Neil’s early Marvel scripting is pretty unremarkable. He only became distinctive when he went to DC and introduced “relevance” to their characters.

Other thought: I don’t like to say it, but Bill Everett really didn’t work on Dr Strange. The other-dimensional imagery is very much styled after Ditko, but where Ditko created a sense of space and intangibility, Everett made everything look solid and cluttered.

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