A Tribute to the of

I'm pleased to report that Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff is alive and well and I managed to track him down, and he agreed to answer a few of my questions about his work during the Silver Age, though of course his efforts pre-date that back into the Golden Age.  I'd called and made an appointment to speak with him, commenting about those I'd managed to contact before and how gracious everyone had been.  He replied that comic book people are usually good people.  I couldn't agree more.  Unfortunately when I called him at the appointed time, he had a conflict and asked me to just mail him my questions.  I gladly did so and he sent back a handwritten sheet of responses, in a very steady hand, I might add; not bad for a man of 87 years, which I'll reproduce for you here:

Prof:  Your major contribution to DC's Silver Age was your ghost work for Bob Kane on the Batman titles from the early 50's to the late 60's.  What was that like?  Did you ever tire of drawing and sometimes inking the character?

Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff:  I never tired of drawing.

Prof:  How did you manage to keep your "ghost" status under wraps?

SM:  I never advertised that I was Kane's ghost.  But I'm sure some editors suspected it—but never mentioned it!

Prof:  I understand you and Kane co-created Betty Kane, the original Bat-Girl along with Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound.  Was the last name "Kane" a coincidence?

SM:  Kane didn't co-create any characters.  I read the script and developed the characters.

Prof:  Why were you, Wayne Boring and Joe Papp let go in 1967?  Did it have anything to do with the effort to get some benefits from DC for the freelancers or was it due to the sale of DC and the departure of Publisher Irwin Donenfeld?

SM:  Sales of comics were down – D.C. editors decided to change to a more realistic style to accommodate the change in storylines.

Prof:  Am I correct in saying you created Hawkgirl?  A husband and wife superhero team was quite a different idea what with all the sidekicks at the time like Robin, Green Arrow's Speedy and so forth.

SM:  I created Hawkgirl!

Prof:  Were you involved at all in the daily Batman comic strip?

SM:  I was not involved in the daily Batman strip.

Prof:  What were your impressions of Bob Kane?  Did you work much with Bill Finger?

SM:  I don't care to discuss Bob Kane – Finger was a good story man – and was happy to be working!!

Prof:  Legend has it that Batman was in danger of being canceled in the 60's.  Is that true and how could it be?  Everyone knows the Batman.

SM:  [DC Comics co-founder] Jack Liebowitz would not permit Batman to be canceled.  He proved right!

Prof:  I understand you did work on the Sea Devils, the Legion of Super-heroes and Superboy.  When was that and in what capacity?

SM:  I only inked Sea Devils.  Inked the others.  Did a lot of inking on Curt Swan's Superman.

Prof:  The Batman logo has changed several times over the years.  Whose idea was it and who designed the updates?

SM:  The lettering department sometimes changed the logos.

Prof:  Do you still do commissions?  How would someone contact you to get one?

SM:  Very few commissions.

Prof:  Have you seen the Batman Returns movie?  What did you think?

SM:  Batman movies are fair…comic books tend to be more realistic in art and story.  (I suspect Shelly thought I was referring to the animated movies.)

Prof:  Are comic books becoming obsolete art forms?

SM:  No one knows why some features become so successful – and others fail – if we did, we would have a hit every time we came up to bat.

I was grateful for Shelly's kind indulgence and I found it interesting that he declined to talk about Bob Kane, but did point out that he (Kane) didn't co-create any characters.  It occurred to me later that I've now had the great privilege to talk with two of Kane's "ghosts," Shelly Moldoff and of course the great Joe Giella.  I really appreciated the interesting insights from another one of the men who were there.

© 2007 by B.D.S.

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