Deadman played a pivotal role in BRIGHTEST DAY. Up next? A starring role in FLASHPOINT: DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS. But before he jumps into that ring, catch up on his original adventures with DEADMAN, VOL. 1. Collecting his first appearance and storyline from STRANGE ADVENTURES #205-213, this volume features Boston Brand’s very first mission: seek vengeance on his own murderer.
DEADMAN, VOL. 1 comes from the classic creative teams of Neal Adams, Jack Miller, Carmine Infantino, and Arnold Drake. This trade paperback is available in comic book shops now and will be in bookstores across the nationwide next Tuesday.
Below, read series creator Arnold Drake’s introduction to the book:
Fittingly, it began with a death. In 1967 DC Comics editor Larry Nadel had a fatal heart attack. His replacement was freelancer Jack Miller, a warm man who loved good books, fine cologne, and classy (if ultra-conservative) clothing. One title Jack inherited was STRANGE ADVENTURES, an anthology book (any book without a running character was an “anthology”). At that time, all anthologies were in trouble. Jack asked me to create a new character that might save the book. I said I liked challenges.
The challenge wasn’t new to me. In ’63, Murray Boltinoff was trying to save MY GREATEST ADVENTURE and asked me for a new series. With an assist from good friend and fine comics writer Bob Haney, I created the Doom Patrol. Writing the 42 original DP stories was an unalloyed joy. Murray gave me infinite freedom. He also gave me superb Italian artist Bruno Premiani. Without that freedom and Bruno’s magnificent pen, the DP would not have become a cult classic.
Jack asked how I intended to find a new series. I said I had no road map. But I knew whatever I invented would be pretty radical for DC. In the mid-‘60s, most of DC’s books still reflected the ‘40s and ‘50s. So I said I’d start by listening to the answer that was “blowin’ in the wind.” Jack’s very pink cheeks became even pinker; he was excited at breaking new ground but worried about the conservative views of DC management and the Comics Code Authority. I felt that the more we shook them up, the more we’d know were on the right track.
One wind blowing in the ‘60s was from the East: the search for enlightenment via Eastern mysticism. So I wanted a supernatural theme. A hero who was a dead man? Okay. But he must look like Death. And who’d look that way in life? Someone courting death for a living – with clothes to match: a circus aerialist in a skull-and-bones costume, billed as “Deadman!” Some Eastern diety empowers his spirit to search the Earth for his murderer…with that discovery everything fell into line.
Carmine Infantino, who shared Jack’s office, was at his easel when I began my pitch. I took out a rough sketch of the character and opened with a cover blurb: “The man who has just been murdered is our hero. His story begins one minute later!”
Jack was visibly shaken. Carmine whispered, “Wow!” The rest was easy – until I said, “We’ll call him Deadman!” Jack said, “Not a chance!” I was intransigent. So was he. Then I must have seemed to weaken because, behind Jack’s back, Carmine raised a fist in the air. That fist said, “Don’t let him blow your title!” So I fought for it until Miller became determined to do the same.
At a career point where he could name his own assignments, Carmine’s decision to draw Deadman’s first appearance was crucial. He humanized the death’s-head I’d created, added a dramatic cowl and designed the “D” logo on his chest. Deadman was near perfect. But out of costume, Boston Brand was too handsome. I said, “Carmine, this guy’s been on his own since he was 12! By 14 he’d done every nasty, dangerous job in the circus. He was even a semi-pro boxer. You’ve gotta bust his nose!” Carmine smiled as his eraser and pencil broke Boston’s nose. Now it was truly perfect.
After that, Deadman’s life was extraordinary, particularly the spectacular explorations of Neal Adams. But for me his essence was in that first meeting when I pitched the wind from the East, and Carmine raise his fist, and Miller got the courage to fight for the idea. Long live Deadman!