Classic Comics Cavalcade

Comics' Greatest Biographer, Bill Schelly, Part One: Gary Groth and John Lustig

An episode of Classic Comics Cavalcade

By Jason Sacks
We explore all areas of comic book history in our own unique way. You'll have fun, get insights and learn a lot at the same time.
More places to listen
We explore all areas of comic book history in our own unique way. You'll have fun, get insights and learn a lot at the same time.

More places to listen

Jim Shooter, Comics Maverick, Part One
Jim Shooter is one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in comics history. Loved by some, hated by others, and misunderstood by many, Shooter stands alone as one of the most complex figures ever to work in comics. Several years ago, in preparation for Jim Shooter: Conversations, Eric Hoffman, Dominick Grace and Jason Sacks had the chance to interview Shooter for several hours. We will share that interview over the next several weeks. In part one, Shooter discusses his childhood, his traumatizing experiences working for the legendary Mort Weisinger, and Shooter's rise to the editor-in-chief role at Marvel. Come back every Wednesday morning for the next several weeks to hear the next parts of our fascinating conversation.
November 20, 2019
Jonny Harvey on "Ghost Empire: The Forgotten Story of Harvey Comics"
For many years Harvey Comics were perhaps the premier publisher of kids' comics in America, with characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich providing wholesome entertainment for elementary school kids. But since Havey went under in the mid-1990s, this "little company that could" has largely passed out of the imaginations of readers and fans. I was joined by Jonny Harvey, director of an upcoming documentary series about Harvey Comics and a member of the Harvey family, to discuss the fascinating life and times of this very unique family business.
October 30, 2019
Comics' Greatest Biographer, Bill Schelly, Part Three: Jeff Gelb
In part three of our three-part celebration of the great comics historian Bill Schelly, Bill's good friend Jeff Gelb. We talk about the "golden age of fanzines" in the 1960s, Bill's rediscovery of comics fandom in the 1990s, what made Bill a special historian and all that good stuff about history. What makes this episode special, though, is that it's a portrait of the deep bond between these two friends, a sweet and sad look at what made Bill a special person and why his loss is so deeply felt.  This is one of my favorite episodes I've ever recorded of this show because it feels so true to the spirit of what Bill created: facts and emotions in good balance, providing great insight into the person being profiled. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
October 23, 2019
Comics' Greatest Biographer, Bill Schelly, Part Two: Frank Young
In part two of our three-part celebration of the great comics historian Bill Schelly, Bill's good friend, fellow historian Frank Young joins Jason to reminisce about Bill, sharing stories about Bill's commitment to greatness, his love for film, and the unique challenges of having a friend who wrote a book about which you are an expert. This was another wonderful episode of the show. You can hear Frank's deep love for his friend in everything Frank says, and I really enjoyed hearing more about Bill's methods, process and life well lived.
October 15, 2019
Comics' Greatest Biographer, Bill Schelly, Part One: Gary Groth and John Lustig
In part one of our three-part celebration of the great comics historian Bill Schelly, Bill's close friends Gary Groth of Fantagraphics Books and John Lustig of Last Kiss join Jason to reminisce about Bill, sharing stories about Bill's interesting life and happy late career. We discuss Bill's outstanding writing, his strong motivations to do his work, his unique life and approach to the world, and how neither Gary nor John ever heard Bill use profanity. This is one of my favorite episodes I've ever done of this show. Gary, John and I agreed this was a wonderful chance to celebrate Bill's life, a kind of wake in which we had a chance to trade stories and share our sorrow. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as well.
October 8, 2019
Gideon Marcus Talks Rediscovery and Galactic Journey - Two Fascinating Science Fiction Projects
Editor and writer Gideon Marcus joins Jason to talk about two fascinating science fiction projects: Rediscovery, his new collection of science fiction by women, and Galactic Journey, a website which explores the world of pop culture from 55 years ago. Jason is an excited contributor to Galactic Journey and reader of Rediscovery, and enjoys talking about these passion projects with him. It's a fun conversation which covers some very interesting ground about an important corner of science fiction history. We hope you enjoy it
September 25, 2019
Classic Comics Cavalcade Book Club: Ezra Clayton Daniels's Upgrade Soul - Plus an Introduction to Fieldmouse Press
Welcome to the first episode of the Classic Comics Cavalcade Book Club, as Keith Silva and Daniel Elkin join Jason for an in-depth discussion of a fascinating graphic novel sure to become a classic, Upgrade Soul by Ezra Clayton Daniels. It's fair to say that Daniel, Keith and Jason found the book to be fascinating, and they spend an interesting hour discussing it before they move to the exciting announcement by Daniel of his new Fieldmouse Press, a collaboration with some of his friends devoted to bringing some great indie comics to life.
September 18, 2019
An Interview with Lynn Johnston, Creator of the Classic 'For Better or For Worse'
Every once in a while you get to meet one of your heroes and they turn out to be even more wonderful than you expected. Lynn Johnston is one of the great newspaper cartoonists of her era. The creator of the classic "For Better or For Worse:", a most delightful and humanistic strip, joined me for a most delightful and humanistic chat which left me smiling for hours after we spoke. I don't want to spoil this at all but suffice it to say that Lynn was one of my favorite interview subjects ever.
September 11, 2019
Legendary Fan Artist and Editor David Heath Jr.
David Heath Jr. was a legend among the fanzine and small press movement of the 1970s and early 1980s. In his long-running sci-fi fanzine No Sex (as in "All Violence and No Sex"), Dave published stories, comics and art by some of the greatest young talents of the time, including a very young Daniel Clowes and Jaime Hernandez. Dave was a fascinating character and a larger than life figure for many of us at the time, a bug, burly, Army Captain who loved to hang out with his friends and draw Vaughn Bodē-style spaceships and aliens. We recorded this chat about ten years ago and planned to do many more but weren't able to get any more done before he sadly passed away. I had to share this with my listeners because it's one of my favorite interviews I've done.
September 5, 2019
Chris Claremont at the Washington State Summer Con
One of the highlights for me at this year's Washington State Summer Con was a chance to see Chris Claremont as the subject of a panel and to ask him a question during the panel. Of course, Claremont being the consummate storyteller that he is, he couldn't stop telling interesting stories and sharing speculation and comment about subjects like the X-Men movies, the MCU, the X-Men in comics, his beloved series Sovereign Seven, the time Spider-Man met John Belushi and much more. It's a delightful hour of mostly Claremont free-associating -- and thoroughly entertaining the crowd who watched it.
August 28, 2019
Terry Moore on Strangers in Paradise, Echo and Feeling Like an Outsider
Terry Moore is one of the greatest indie cartoonists around. His work on series such as Strangers in Paradise, Echo, Rachel Rising and Motor Girl is consistently entertaining: smart, powerful and incisive. My interview with him fit all those adjectives, along with a healthy dose of interesting reflection. Moore was an interesting and honest interviewee, and I think that makes this half-hour interview a compelling listen.
August 14, 2019
An Amazing Conversation with Jerry Robinson, Creator of the Joker
Several years ago I had the opportunity to talk with Jerry Robinson, legendary creator of the Joker as well as many other iconic comics and comic characters. Though he was in his eighties, Robinson was sharp and spellbinding, bringing to life stories from comics history that my co-interviewer Alex Rodrik and I thought were fascinating. Listening back on it now I'm struck by the man's incisive memory and his delight in telling stories. This may be my favorite episode of Classic Comics Cavalcade so far, and after listening to it you might agree with that assessment.
July 31, 2019
Bob Burden talks Mysterymen, Marble Comics and Much More
Bob Burden is one of the most idiosyncratic comics creators of all time. Jason interviewed Bob at the 2011 SDCC and had a great time listening to Bob's unique plans for his oddball roster of comics. 
July 24, 2019
Breakfast with Jon Bogdanove and Friends: On the Death of Superman, the superhero's circus roots, and the joys of camping
I had the chance to eat breakfast with Jon Bogdanove, one of the legendary artists responsible for the death of Superman, at San Diego Comic Con 2013. Jon and his family and friends shared stories about that legendary tale, as well as discussing the circus roots of many superheroes, his deep love for Jack Kirby, and the pleasures of getting outdoors while living in LA. Though the Kickstarter project we discuss didn't get funded, the behind the scenes story of its ideas are fascinating and make for interesting listening.
July 17, 2019
"Steve Gerber: Conversations" Roundtable with Co-editors Dominick Grace and Eric Hoffman
Dom Grace and Eric Hoffman, Jason's co-editors of Steve Gerber: Conversation (now available at Amazon and many other outlets) join Jason to talk about the life and fascinating career of one of comics' most original and unique creators.
July 10, 2019
Jim Shooter and Roy Thomas at the Washington State Summer Con
This week we deliver a bonus episode of Classic Comics Cavalcade. Jim Shooter and Roy Thomas appeared on a panel at the Washington State Summer Con in June 2019, and I recorded the session. The two men share interesting and fun stories from their three decades in comics and present portraits of some of the most interesting men in comics history, including Stan Lee and Mort Weisinger. I thought it would be fun to share the chat since I didn't see it come up in any other podcasts. I'll still have a new Classic Comics Cavalcade episode on Wednesday as usual.
July 7, 2019
Jonathan Baylis on Original Art, Working for Jim Shooter and Self Publishing
Jonathan Baylis of the mini-comic So Buttons joins Jason to talk about following the autobiographical traditions of Harvey Pekar, the experiences of working for seminal '90s publishers Valiant and Topps Comics (as well as pre-bankruptcy Marvel), and the joys of collecting original art. Jonathan's stories start with, "My first day at Marvel, Jack Kirby died"... and the stories go from there!
July 2, 2019
Dan Gearino on Comic Shop: the Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture
Dan Gearino, author of Comic Shop: the Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture, joins Jason to talk about the evolution of the culture around comics retailers in America. The conversation makes for a surprisingly fun, interesting and entertaining hour.
June 26, 2019
Keith Dallas and John Wells Talk DC Implosion, American Comics and Much More
John Wells and Keith Dallas. who co-produced the Eisner nominated Comic Book Implosion, join Jason to discuss that book, their work on The American Comic Book Chronicles, why Archie Comics needs a good book about their history, and much more. 
June 19, 2019
Aaron Kashtan Takes Users from Pen to Pixel
This week Jason is joined by Aaron Kashtan, author of the Eisner Award-nominated Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future. Aaron and Jason have an interesting discussion around comics theory and practice, focusing on work by Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Alison Bechtel and more, around questions of the power of physical books, the ways to simulate hypertext in print, and the ways digital versus print books work for readers. It makes for an interesting and multifaceted discussion we think you'll enjoy.
June 12, 2019
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Part Two: the 1986 Black and White Bust
Carlos Rodela joins Jason again to talk about one of the biggest impacts of the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the epic 1986 black and white comics boom and bust.
June 5, 2019
Sim-pathy for Dave Sim, with guest Keith Silva
This week Jason is joined by Comics Journal writer and reviewer Keith Silva to discuss the complicated legacy of Dave Sim, the controversial aueturist creator of Cerebus. Sim is generally acknowledged as one of the finest cartoonists of his era but the subject of his alleged misogyny continues to haunt his legacy. Jason and Keith discuss that legacy and attempt to help find Sim's place in the pantheon. Jason and Keith wrote about Sim before in 2013. That article is available on Comics Bulletin. Show notes at
May 29, 2019
Chatting About Mark Waid's Flash Run with Chris Kiser
Jason's old pal Chris Kiser joins Classic Comics Cavalcade to discuss one of his favorite comic runs, Mark Waid's epochal run on The Flash.
May 22, 2019
Kurtis Findlay on "For Better or For Worse", the Library of American Comics, and some classic comics picks
Vancouver-based editor, podcast host and fellow comics lover Kurtis Findlay joins Jason this week to discuss Lynn Johnston's brilliant classic comic Strip For Better or For Worse, which Kurtis is assembling and editing for the Library of American Comics. Jason and Kurtis also discuss his work for the LOAC before launching into a discussion of some comics they will have to trade with each other someday when they finally meet up.
May 15, 2019
J. Michael Catron On What Made EC Comics Great and What Makes Publishing Comics Fun
This week Jason speaks with J. Michael Catron, a senior editor at Fantagraphics Books who is responsible for the E.C. Comics and Disney Comics libraries, among others. Jason and Mike talk for around an hour about what made E.C. the greatest company of their time, celebrate some great cartoonists and some rather subpar lettering. They also delve into Mike's history as a publisher at his own Apple Comics.  Show notes at
May 8, 2019
Eddie Campbell on Great Cartoonists, Establishing Shots and more
This week Jason chats with one of his favorite cartoonists of all time about many topics, including Campbell's remarkable work of comics history "The Goat Getters: Jack Johnson, the Fight of the Century and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics." It's a very fun listen. Show notes at
May 1, 2019
Jon B. Cooke on 'Weirdo', one of Robert Crumb's Longest Lasting and Most Impactful Creations
Jon B. Cooke has once again delivered a definitive comics history. "The Book of Weirdo" is an amazingly in-depth history of one of the most important comics anthologies of the 1980s and 1990s, featuring work by such prominent cartoonists as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, Bill Griffith, Kim Deitch, Ace Backwards and many more, as well as by some of the most obscure and fascinating talented creators of that era. I had a great time talking "Weirdo" and its impact with Jon and I think you'll enjoy the chat too. For more on Weirdo and Jon's book, click here. Jon's podcast is called Subterranean Dispatch -- and the first episode includes an interview with R. Crumb. Show notes at
April 24, 2019
The Birth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
We've all forgotten how strange the phrase "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" sounds. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Turtles, Carlos Rodela joins Jason to discuss the creation and amazingly rapid rise of the Turtles, to a point where the two creators were earning $50 million a year from the Turtles. Show notes -- including some vintage photos from Eastman -- are posted at 
April 17, 2019
Bill Schelly on James Warren: Empire of Monsters
Jason interviews award-winning comics historian Bill Schelly about his new book James Warren: Empire of Monsters. Warren was a fascinating and important character in comics history, and Schelly shares some fascinating stories about this unique and often person. Show notes are at
April 10, 2019
Translator Zack Davisson on the Art of Translation
Jason talks with Zack Davisson, translator of classic manga by creators such as Go Nagai, Mizuki Shigeru, Satoshi Kon and Leiji Matsumoto , about the art of comic translation and what happens when you finally achieve everything you've dreamed of.
April 3, 2019
Kurt Mitchell on the Greatest Comics of the 1940s
Jason chats with Kurt Mitchell, author of The American Comic Book Chronicles: the 1940s, about some of the most important and exciting comics from that era. We talk Simon & Kirby, Eisner, Lou Fine and a slew of more obscure creators and comics. Kurt's book is available at or, or through Diamond at your local comic shop. Show notes, including pages from some of the comics we mention are available at
March 27, 2019
The Life and Great Comics of Steve Gerber
Jason is joined by Daniel Elkin of My Chicken Enemy and Nick Hanover, esteemed critic, for a discussion of some of the fascinating life and career of writer Steve Gerber. Nick, Daniel and Jason discuss the chilling feel of the Foolkiller comic, how writing six comics per month can change one's attitude, and the importance of having the right artist to match a story. Show notes at Please leave us a review on iTunes and tweet us @jasonsacks!
March 20, 2019
The Crazy History of American Comic Book Distribution in the 1980s and 1990s
In part two of his history of the crazy American comic book distribution system, Jason talks about the 1980s comic book boom and bust and about the 1990s comic book boom and its terrible bust, which led to bankruptcy for many businesses and a single national distributor of comic books. How did we get to the bizarre place in which only one company distributes comic books to American comic stores? Find that answer -- and a lot more -- in this week's Classic Comics Cavalcade.
March 13, 2019
The Corrupt and Crazy Beginnings of the Comic Book Direct Market
We're all used to Diamond Distribution being the only company that distributes comic books to the American direct market. But how did we get that way? We look at the corrupt and complex beginnings of comic book distribution and learn about a crucial lawsuit that changed everything.  Part one of two.
March 6, 2019
Comic Books and TV Shows: From Umbrella Academy to Superman
This week Jason joins Carlos Rodela of the ALOTOFTHINGS podcast to talk about comic book TV shows. They start with a lively chat about Doom Patrol and The Umbrella Academy before talking about every single comic book based TV show ever produced. Yeah, it's a tough job but who better to handle it? Show notes are available at
February 27, 2019
An interview with Tom Mason About Malibu Comics, Image Comics and Much More
Tom Mason was in the front line for some of the most interesting events in comics history, from the black and white boom of the 1980s to the creation of Image Comics to Malibu Comics' purchase by Marvel. Tom shares some fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of his long career in this very fun episode.
February 20, 2019
DC Brutalized Heroes in the 1990s
Broken backs. Madness. Hands eaten by piranhas. A job at Taco Bell? DC abused their mainline heroes in the 1990s -- and were rewarded with great sales.
February 13, 2019
1993: Craziest Year Ever for Comics? Part 1
1993 was a weird, wild year for comic book fans. On one hand, traditional super-heroes seemed to be drifting away from what fans loved about them. On the other hand, a befuddling number of new comics lines were created. We begin exploring that crazy year in this episode.
February 6, 2019
Interview: Gahan Wilson
For many years, Gahan Wilson has been one of our smartest and darkest cartoonists, with brilliant work appearing in the pages of The New Yorker, Playboy and other magazines. It was a thrill to get to speak with the master creator as he launched a kickstarter project.
January 30, 2019
Profile of Jim Shooter
Jim Shooter is one of the most controversial creators in comic book history. But is that controversy justified? I explore that topic in my latest episode.
January 23, 2019
Interview: Mark Schultz
Reviving an interview I conducted with the great artist Mark Schultz in 2011 to discuss his amazing Xenozoic Tales, Prince Valiant and artistic independence.
January 16, 2019
A History of Valiant Comics
Valiant Comics was one of the most important and influential comic book companies of the 1990s. In this episode, I trace Valiant's long and winding history.
January 9, 2019
Steve Englehart's Justice League of America
Steve Englehart's run on Justice League of America is a lost classic. We explore it here.
January 2, 2019
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