A Tribute to the of

Here is part two of the interview I enjoyed with Barbara Friedlander

Bryan D. Stroud: I saw something kind of unique in your body of work, Barbara.

Barbara Friedlander: You’re kidding. (chuckle.)

BDS: You did something I’d never seen before: Romance serial stories.

BF: Oh, I loved doing that. I created those. I loved that because I’m a big soap opera girl. And I figured if I’m a big soap opera girl, there’s got to be a lot of other big soap opera girls out there, and there were! I mean those things went on until the comics folded.

BDS: I’d never seen anything quite like that. So that was your innovation. Good for you.

BF: Yeah, Jack allowed me all kinds of latitude. “If you think about it and you think it might work, then try it. We’ve got nothing to lose. We don’t have to pick it up again.” And he was very creative and he had written plays and directed plays and so he knew good stuff. Mine wasn’t necessarily good stuff, it was just appealing to a certain group of people. And that’s what comic books are. You have to be appealing. And fortunately, they stayed for a long, long time. After I left, I wondered what would happen. I really didn’t want to have to do anything anymore.

BDS: You were listed in several books as the associate editor. What does an associate editor do?

BF: I don’t know.

BDS: (Laughter).

BF: I looked at the title myself and said, “Really?” I don’t know. Honestly. If that’s what they wanted to call me, that’s fine. It sounded very official. It’s just that it would have been the same thing as anybody else. Nelson Bridwell was a marvelous person. Was he listed as anything? Was he ever made an associate editor? He was fantastic at editing stuff. Did he ever have a title?

BDS: I think he did. I believe in several of the titles he worked on he was listed as the associate editor, which I always took to be the person actually doing the nuts and bolts work.

BF: He did.

BDS: …while the editor took credit for editing the book. (chuckle.)

BF: Oh, God. The editor took credit for everything. He (Nelson) was tortured. That man was tortured. He really was.

BDS: I’ve heard that before, and it’s a shame, because it sounds like he was very gifted.

BF: Oh, God yes.

BDS: An incredible memory and creative, but because of his social awkwardness it sounded like certain people just unloaded on him, at least according to a few different sources.

BF: You’re absolutely right.

BDS: What a shame.

BF: He was taken advantage of because he was a small-town genius. He really was. He was a genius. I know, because we shared an office and when the editor came in and tortured him, I was there. I wish I had said something, but you couldn’t. These people were nasty.

BDS: You’ve mentioned several of the people you worked with already. Did you have a favorite collaborator as far as interpreting your scripts?

BF: I loved Scott Pike. He was a gentleman. He really was. A lovely man and he was so talented. There are books that he has done that I wish I could get my hands on about the women that he drew. He and Tony (Abruzzo) were really phenomenal.

BDS: I noticed Bob Kanigher wrote a few stores where you were listed as editor and he has something of a reputation. What were your experiences with Bob?

BF: I never worked directly with him. He was like before and after. But generally, the men did not like me. They didn’t know what I was doing. I never really crossed over into their realm. It wasn’t like, “Gee, I want to write Wonder Woman.” I think they would have crucified me. I never would because I didn’t know anything about Wonder Woman. You had to really know the origins in order to do that. It would be an insult to say, “I’m going to write this,” without the background. I had enough to do with my romance stuff. And I was learning on the job.

BDS: You mentioned how helpful Jack Miller was to you. What else can you tell me about him?

BF: Jack Miller. I’ve done a few comic cons and someone came up to me with one of these books that showed what different people at DC had done and Jack was very modest, even with me. So, there was this listing. It was a ton of stuff that he had done, that he had created. Also, I got an e-mail from Jack’s grandson, Peter, and he said, “Barbara, I’d love to meet you so we could talk about my grandfather. I’d recently seen a movie and at the end in the credits, grandpa’s name was all over the place.”

Now Jack never said, “Oh, I created this or that,” he just went in with the other editors, drummed up a story and then came back and knocked it out. That’s the kind of person he was. He was very well-spoken, he knew all the origins and all the secrets and he was able to knock out stuff 1,2,3. Really good stuff, obviously. And he had created several different things. Before he came to DC, he had an acting group and he directed and he wrote plays. So, there was a lot in his background that I didn’t know about. I knew his daughter pretty well and now I know his grandson. We were friendly. He came to my wedding and I was there in the hospital when he was dying. He’d smoked like a chimney.

BDS: Oh, yeah. Not uncommon for the day.

BF: Yeah, Nelson didn’t smoke, but as I mentioned, Jack smoked like a chimney and at the time I smoked. I gave it up, but it was just the thing to do at the time and it killed Jack.

BDS: I see where there was an issue of Showcase featuring Binky that had you listed as the editor, but all the stories seemed to be reprints. Was that some sort of scheduling issue?

BF: I don’t remember doing anything with those stories, but I did end up doing a lot of rewrites for romance stories. We’re talking about stories that were so old that the artists had to adjust the length of the skirts. So, I had to rewrite and update a lot of that stuff and did some other comic re-writing. So, if I did any writing on those Binky stories, they were re-written re-writes. (Laughter.) I don’t remember them.

BDS: I noticed a few credits where you were both scripting and editing. How does that work?

BF: It’s not easy. At times I was working like crazy and would deal with all kinds of things. I’ll give you an example, even though I probably shouldn’t, but when I would write a story that involved a yacht, it always came out “Yatch.” I just couldn’t seem to type it the correct way, so it ended up being a chore for the letterer to fix, because they knew what I meant. And they knew I was a dope. (chuckle.) But they liked me and they were nice to me and they just took care of me in that way.

BDS: That’s good. We all need allies.

BF: I was lucky. Sol Harrison was a big fan of mine. I wish I had known. But at the time I was just like everyone else and was afraid I was going to get dumped, but that was not true. When they were taken over by Warner or whoever it was back in the day, that even scared me more, but the truth was Warner was the secret word and they were looking for women who did creative things. And Sol kept saying to me, “Don’t leave.” And Irwin Donenfeld really liked me, and Sheldon Mayer, who had a lot to do with DC behind the scenes. Anyway, they sent me away for a weekend to learn a lot of the ins and outs of how things worked with comics. As a single woman they had my mother come along for a chaperone and I learned all these things. She wasn’t thrilled. She kept asking why I wanted to get involved in all of this. She thought it was dumb. She ended up spending a lot of time with the wives, who were lovely to her. Anyway, they did all this stuff because they were grooming me. I only wish someone had said, “Barbara, we’re grooming you.” I had no idea. But with all the effort they were putting forth, I think that’s what was happening. But no one said, “Barbara, don’t get married and leave.” I should have had the courage to stay, but I just didn’t.

BDS: You talked a little bit about Swing with Scooter. It must have been inspired by the British Invasion.

BF: Yes, it was.

BDS: It said that you and Jack shared the scripting credits.

BF: Yes. I wrote the first one. And afterwards, I hated it. (chuckle.) It was not my wheelhouse. It really wasn’t. I enjoyed the romance so much more. I think Jack and I worked on it together until I finally said, “I can’t do this. I hate it.” And he could knock it out in two seconds. So, he did. I’m sure there were other people that worked on it in the writing credits. But he and I knocked out the first, I think it was 10 issues together. I was dating someone who was actually a writer for Newsweek and among other things got to interview Sophia Loren, which was much more exciting than what I was doing. (Laughter.) Then he also got to cover the Beatles and that’s kind of what gave me the inspiration for Swing with Scooter. That and Jack was growing his hair out. He was an audiophile, so he grew his hair out. (chuckle.)

BDS: I noted that Joe Orlando took over editing with issue #12.

BF: Yes, and Jack was gone by then. He was dying of cancer. So, it was uncomfortable for me to stay there without my ally. And I wanted to have babies.

BDS: I found some credits for you a little bit later in that series and this is kind of humorous to me, it looks like they listed the writer as “B. Fried Lander.”

BF: That’s me. I’m a fried lander. I also worked on stuff for…I did Thelma of the Apes. Do you know who did that?

BDS: Oh, yes. Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

BF: Exactly. I worked on that with them. They called me when my son was about two years old and said, “Barbara, we’d like you to write this,” knowing how much I liked to write that stuff. But I did, I sat down and I wrote that and they liked it and they asked if I could do an origin of how it got started, so I did that. And unfortunately, between their distribution trouble and MAD being so hot, it was just, forget about that. I worked on that for them and I was shocked that I did it and they really liked it. I hadn’t done it in so long I wasn’t sure I still could.

BDS: Oh, good for you. It was one of Mike’s big disappointments as he told me that “Up Your Nose” did not take off like they’d hoped.

BF: Exactly. It did not.

BDS: He said they’d poured their guts into it.

BF: They did. They really did and I was so sorry because they were such nice people. They worked for Jack for a while, too.

BDS: That was one of my most enjoyable interviews when I got to talk with Mike. He was so funny to talk to.

BF: He was funny. I spent so much time with all these lovely people and they were. They were fine people.

BDS: Do you remember doing some work on Teen Beam? It looks like there was only a single issue produced, but oddly it looks like it was #2.

BF: Let me tell you about that. There are two issues. Now Teen Beat was a big magazine at the time. I had no idea, because I didn’t read that kind of stuff and I think it was Sol Harrison’s idea. And he said, “Barbara, you’re going to do this and Jack, you’re going to do this.” It was a family thing. For twelve cents you got really top credits of all the best stuff and then you have wonderful people that you interview. So, Teen Beat was already on the stands. I had no idea. And we had put our own Teen Beat [#1 + house ad] together. That was the first issue. And Irwin came screaming in and called us idiots. He said, “You can’t use this. Think of another name.” I said, “Okay. Teen Beam.” I mean, how difficult is that?

So, the first one, I have a copy of, which I had to pay $100 to get, but I wanted it. I knew that was never any place, but it was a very good issue. The second one was a bust, because it didn’t get any promotion. I think at twelve cents, people could have afforded it. I had the same connections as Photoplay and all that. I had called everybody. The agents and everyone. I was being sent all kinds of publicity and stuff like that and the article could write themselves. A lot of people worked on it. And Jack went with me to the Waldorf Astoria where I interviewed Herman’s Hermits. They were always throwing me into doing stuff I had no idea how to do. To ask questions and I had no idea, but I did it. Because that’s what I was supposed to do. (chuckle.)

BDS: We step up where we’re told to.

BF: Yeah. I mean I wasn’t storming the beaches at Normandy, but…I was terrified. But I did it.

BDS: What would you say was your most unusual assignment?

BF: That one. (Laughter.) And going to see Sheldon Mayer. That was completely nuts. It was like the Lost Weekend. Because so many emotions hit me at the same time that I had no idea why I was going there. I thought it was a punishment.

BDS: It looks like they basically bounced you back and forth between the romance books and the humor titles. It sounds like you preferred the romance titles.

BF: I did. I still do. But I just wrote humor for Jack Holder and I just wrote some romance for Ken Wheaton. And as I mentioned earlier, I also did a Jetta, which they said my dialogue was a little old. But that was because I hadn’t written that kind of dialogue for a very long time. I know I can do it. That’s how you learn.

BDS: That’s exactly right. Do you remember working on the Maniaks that came out in Showcase?

BF: I do, but very vaguely. I couldn’t help you much with that.

BDS: Okay, I was just wondering who came up with it. That looked like another inspiration by a music group of the day.

BF: I don’t know. I do remember the name, though. There were so many of those names.

BDS: Right and Showcase was used as a tryout title. Some of the tryouts stuck and some didn’t. Apparently the Maniaks didn’t. There was something like 3 issues in Showcase, but they never got their own series.

BF: Sort of a Monkees kind of thing?

BDS: Exactly. At least that’s the way it looked to me. Did you ever run across Liz Safian Berube at the offices?

BF: I did not.

BDS: Okay. She did a lot of work in production as a colorist, but also did some of the fashion features in the romance books.

BF: I really started those fashion features, to my knowledge. At least no one ever said, “Hey, we’ve done this before.” But Tony (Abruzzo) helped me. I would show him artwork and he would do his thing. He was wonderful with fashion and I recently found out in an article that he actually designed dresses.

BDS: That was actually how Gaspar Saladino started out was in the fashion industry. I don’t know how that led to lettering, but there you go.

BF: He was a wonderful letterer. He did the lettering for my wedding invitation. Wasn’t that nice of him?

BDS: That sounds like Gaspar. He was my very first interview and I can’t think of a sweeter guy.

BF: He was a very practical, good person.

BDS: Very much so. If my information is correct, Barbara, you were with DC about six years?

BF: Yes, but when I left, I did do some freelance work for them on the romance books, but nothing else that I can remember.

BDS: You left in order to start your family?

BF: I did and it lasted 24 years.

BDS: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

BF: I’m just sorry I didn’t get to know a lot of the people at DC better. I’m sorry I stopped when I did, but who knows what you don’t know? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this interview and I look forward to someone calling and asking me about my time there, because I’m eager to do it now. Because I grew up. (chuckle.)

BDS: Well, I’d like to thank you for your generous help today and wish you great success as you move forward.

BF: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed it.

© 2020 by B.D.S.

The Silver Lantern Site Menu + Map & Updates

HomeThe SageSage Archives1934-19551956
1967196819691970GL Data

All characters mentioned, artwork, logos and other visual depictions displayed, unless otherwise noted, are © by DC Comics. No infringement upon those rights is intended or should be inferred. Cover, interior and other artwork scans and vid-caps are used for identification purposes only. The mission of this non-profit site is to entertain and inform. It is in no way authorized or endorsed by DC Comics and/or its parent company. The Webmaster assumes no responsibility for the content or maintenance of external links.