Getting the Inflection Right

When I look back, I can spot moments that changed the direction of my life in unforeseen ways. Some of these inflection points were obvious in the moment; others I only recognize in hindsight.

As Paul Kupperberg and I have worked on our his book I Never Write for the Money… But I Always Turn in the Manuscript for a Check, I’ve realized just how massive an impact he’s had on my life. How so? In 1987, Paul and Steve Lightle had a new DC Comics series set to debut, a revival of the Doom Patrol. One of the things that made this series notable was that it wasn’t set in Metropolis, Gotham, or Central City. It was set in Kansas City. So Paul, Steve, and editor Mike Gold booked a local convention appearance to promote the new series.

Here’s where Paul came into my own story.

Paul Kupperberg at the May 1987 Mo-Kan
Comics Convention in Kansas City.

I was living in central Missouri, working in a department store, and writing for fanzines. I had hooked up with Comics Week, a new glossy comics news magazine edited by Mark Waid. They were planning a cover feature on Paul’s new series and needed someone to write the article. Could I go to Kansas City and interview Paul, Steve, and Mike at the Mo-Kan comics convention for the article?

Well, yes. Yes, I could.

And with that decision, I attended my first proper comics convention. I then became a regular fixture at the Mo-Kan convention for many years. My work for Comics Week also led to my first professional comic book writing assignment, which then led me to publish Comics Career Newsletter (with Paul contributing columns).

Years later, I moved closer to Kansas City and decided to get back into the comic-con scene, so I started working with Chris Jackson to organize Planet Comicon Kansas City, which led to an amazing 10 years growing that show to one of the largest in the nation.

By the way, Comics Week was wise to hire me to write the article; I’m a solid nonfiction writer. Asking me to take photos turned out to be a terrible idea. My shots were horrible, and they didn’t use any of them. You can see some of the odd, grainy, black & white photos of the Doom Patrol crew.

Paul Kupperberg, Mike Gold, and Steve Lightle conduct a Doom Patrol panel at the Mo-Kan Comics Convention in May 1987.
Paul Kupperberg, Mike Gold, and Steve Lightle
conduct a Doom Patrol panel at the Mo-Kan convention.

Today, Paul and I are working together more closely than ever on his new book (more on that below). I want to take a moment to say thank you to Steve and Mike and Comics Week editor Mark Waid and Mo-Kan organizers Mike Worley and Jim Johnson, and especially to Paul, for leading me to so many fun, rewarding opportunities.

Sometimes people reshape your life in unexpected ways. Paul has certainly made a huge, positive difference in mine.

Who is making a difference in your creative life? Have you said “Thank you” recently?

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