E. Nelson Bridwell

Edward Nelson Bridwell (1931–1987) was a writer for Mad magazine (writing the now-famous catchphrase, "What you mean...we?")[1] and various comic books published by DC Comics. One of the writers for the Batman comic strip and Super Friends, he also wrote The Inferior Five, among other comics. He has been called "DC's self-appointed continuity cop."[2]

E. Nelson Bridwell
Enelsonbridwell
Bridwell in 1974.
BornEdward Nelson Bridwell
September 22, 1931
Sapulpa, Oklahoma
DiedJanuary 23, 1987 (aged 55)
Kings County, New York Cause of death: Lung cancer
NationalityAmerican
Area(s)Writer, Editor
Notable works
The Inferior Five

Career

Bridwell's early childhood interest in mythology and folklore stayed with him throughout his professional life and permeated much of his work. He credited his fame to his third grade teacher, Ryan Samuel, for interesting him in comics. Bridwell "was one of the first 'comics fans' hired in the industry after the long, bleak 1950's,".[3] Although his first published work consisted of a text page in Adventures into the Unknown #9 (Feb–March 1950) published by the American Comics Group,[4] he had since he "was still a kid" created various characters who would later evolve into those used in comics such as The Inferior Five.[3]

In 1962, while still residing in Oklahoma City, Bridwell submitted to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction his first idea for a Feghoot adventure, a specific type of shaggy dog story that ends in a humorous and unexpected play on words. His story was promptly accepted by the feature's pseudonymous author, Grendel Briarton (Reginald Bretnor) and shortly followed by yet another submission from Bridwell which was also accepted ("Dr. Jacqueline Missed Her Hide" and "Nude Rally Tea Pact", respectively.) Besides F&SF, both stories would appear in the various Feghoot anthologies to follow.

E Nelson Bridwell by Dave Manak
Caricature of E. Nelson Bridwell by Dave Manak (c. 1976).

After writing a few stories for Mad and for Katy Keene, Bridwell began working for DC Comics in 1965 as an assistant to editor Mort Weisinger, "on the Superman titles, eventually becoming an editor himself (Lois Lane, and later The Superman Family)."[3] Jim Shooter (who also worked with Weisinger) recalls that Weisinger did not always treat his assistant well, saying that his "assistant was Nelson Bridwell and boy, he tortured Nelson. He just was awful to Nelson."[5] Bridwell, however, recalled in 1980 an important lesson learned from Weisinger, that:

"You've got to keep in mind that while there are a lot of people who've read about the characters before, there are always new people coming along, and you've got to realize that you can't count on them to know the whole legend of the character."[3]

This lesson set him in good stead both when he helped DC produce three 1970s anthologies — Superman from the Thirties to the Seventies (1971),[6] Batman from the Thirties to the Seventies (1971),[7] and Shazam from the Forties to the Seventies (1977)[3][8][9] — and when he wrote for the comic book series based on "one of the best rated TV shows on Saturday morning", Super Friends.[3]

Concurrent with his duties for DC, Bridwell "was submitting material as a freelancer to Mad", some of which was illustrated by Joe Orlando, who would later be suggested by Bridwell as artist for The Inferior Five.[10]

Continuity

Recalling an early interest in comic book continuity, Bridwell "remembered getting a bit perturbed at times when I was a kid by having things that didn't fit", particularly over the wide range of Martian races in evidence in the adventures of DC's Atom, Wonder Woman, and Superman characters.[3] Bridwell was also an early advocate of the theory that the Marvel and DC characters "exist in the same universe", citing early inter-company crossovers such as Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man and a cross-company interlocking storyline, with real-world crossover characters, between Justice League of America #103, Thor #207 and Amazing Adventures #16.[3]

Bridwell's love and knowledge of old comics led to his becoming editor on numerous reprint books, including digests, giant-size comics, and hardcover anthologies. He also worked as assistant editor to Julius Schwartz, keeping track of continuity between the numerous Superman titles published. Part of his job was to manage the letter columns for all the Superman titles, and in response to constant reader questions, Bridwell standardized the Kryptonian language and alphabet. Dubbed "Kryptonese", Bridwell established the 118-character alphabet, which was used by DC until John Byrne's 1986 "reboot" of the Superman universe.[11]

The Inferior Five

Bridwell and Joe Orlando created the Inferior Five in Showcase #62 (June 1966).[12] Talking about the humorous super-hero series, Bridwell recalls that:

"Jack Miller came up with the idea of a group of incompetent heroes, and at first he came up with the title The Inferior Four. When I created five heroes, he changed it to The Inferior Five. I completely created the heroes as a clown set, and Joe Orlando created the costumes."[3]

Other comics

Bridwell wrote for several other DC titles, including Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Shazam!, Superman, The Superman Family, World's Finest Comics and The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Bridwell and artist Frank Springer co-created the Secret Six in the first issue of the team's eponymous series in May 1968.[13] The first use of the Super Friends name on a DC Comics publication was in Limited Collectors' Edition #C–41 (December 1975–January 1976) which reprinted stories from Justice League of America #36 and 61 and featured a new framing sequence by Bridwell and artist Alex Toth.[14][15] In 1976, Bridwell and Ric Estrada launched an ongoing Super Friends comic book series.[16]

Bridwell edited DC Comics' first comic book limited series, The World of Krypton (July–September 1979).[17] He co-wrote Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes with Paul Kupperberg[18] and followed it with The Krypton Chronicles.[19]

He co-created the Justice League members Fire and Ice[20] in the Super Friends series and introduced the Global Guardians in DC Comics Presents #46 (June 1982).[21]

He wrote Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, The Oz/Wonderland War trilogy, as well as occasional stories for the black-and-white horror comics Creepy and Eerie, published by Warren Publishing. His last freelance writing work was for Cracked magazine.[4]

As an editor, Bridwell compiled a number of issues of DC 100 Page Super Spectacular, collecting out-of-print stories from the DC archive, often under new covers featuring a Bridwell-created character key.[20][22]

Papers

Following his death from lung cancer on January 23, 1987, his papers were acquired by the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa in 1989.[23]

Homages

  • In Watchmen, Captain Metropolis was named "Nelson Gardner" as a tribute to Bridwell and to Gardner Fox.
  • Astro City #5 introduced "Mr. Bridwell" (alias), a shape-shifting extraterrestrial and undercover advance scout for the invading "Enelsians", compiling, much like his (and their) namesake, an encyclopedic database of Earth's superheroes.

Awards and honors

In 2005, Bridwell was posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, located in the Toy and Action Figure Museum.[24][25]

Bibliography

DC Comics

EC Comics

  • Mad #27, 34, 38–40, 44, 53, 137, 158 (1956–1975)
  • Mad Special #27, 30, 36 (1978–1981)
  • More Trash From Mad #2 (1959)
  • Worst From Mad #1 (1958)

Warren Publishing

  • Creepy #142 (1982)
  • Eerie #2, 16, 24 (1966–1969)
  • Eerie Yearbook 1970 (1969)

References

  1. ^ Cronin, Brian (August 26, 2011). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #329". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Since I can’t find any other published reference to it that predates Bridwell's, I think it is fair to give him the credit.
  2. ^ Schwirian, John (February 2010). "Purple Prose: The Perplexing Popularity of the Wonder Twins". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (38): 62.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i O'Connell, Margaret. "With One Magic Word...: A Talk With E. Nelson Bridwell!" in Richard Howell and Carol Kalish (ed.s) Comics Feature #10 (New Media Publishing, July 1981)
  4. ^ a b E. Nelson Bridwell at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Stroud, Bryan D. (June 14, 2008). "Interview with Jim Shooter (Pt. 2)". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Superman from the Thirties to the Seventies at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ Batman from the Thirties to the Seventies at the Grand Comics Database
  8. ^ Shazam from the Forties to the Seventies at the Grand Comics Database
  9. ^ Eury, Michael (July 2015). "DC's Bronze Age Collected Editions". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (81): 69–70.
  10. ^ Cooke, Jon B. "Orlando's Weird Adventures Interview with that man of mystery, the late Joe Orlando". Comic Book Artist #1. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2012. I had illustrated some of Nelson's material; he liked my art enough that when they were looking for an artist to do "The Inferior Five" - Nelson's creation - he suggested that I do it and I was happy to oblige.
  11. ^ Turniansky, Al; Eury, Michael, ed. (2006). "The Kryptonese Alphabet: A Real-World Historical Tale". The Krypton Companion. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 1-893905-61-6.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando knew what was in a name when they unleased the Inferior Five in Megalopolis.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  13. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 130: "Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Frank Springer brought together six individuals who all possessed special skills and dark secrets, and were all being blackmailed into the service of the faceless Mockingbird."
  14. ^ Franklin, Chris (December 2012). "The Kids in the Hall (of Justice) A Whirlwind Tour with the Super Friends". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (61): 24–28.
  15. ^ Limited Collectors' Edition #C–41 at the Grand Comics Database
  16. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 171: "Hanna-Barbera's animated Super Friends proved so successful that DC brought the concept full circle, adapting the show into a comic. Scribe E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Ric Estrada crafted the inaugural issue."
  17. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 181: "The worldwide success of Superman: The Movie motivated [DC] to publish more Superman-related titles. With that, editor E. Nelson Bridwell oversaw a project that evolved into comics' first official limited series - World of Krypton...Featuring out-of-this-world artwork from Howard Chaykin, [Paul] Kupperberg's three-issue limited series explored Superman's homeworld."
  18. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 192: "This was DC's third foray into the world of the world of the miniseries...Plotted by E. Nelson Bridwell, with a script by Paul Kupperberg, Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes featured the art of Jim Janes."
  19. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 195: "The Man of Steel took a look at his family tree in this three-issue miniseries by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and longtime Superman mainstay artist Curt Swan."
  20. ^ a b Hatcher, Greg (March 7, 2008). "Bridwell Appreciation Day". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  21. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 197: "The DCU's newest superhero team, the Global Guardians, was formed in this Superman tale by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and penciler Alex Saviuk."
  22. ^ Eury, Michael (July 2015). "A Look at DC's Super Specs". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (81): 17.
  23. ^ "McFarlin Library Through the Years". University of Tulsa. Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  24. ^ "E. Nelson Bridwell (1931-1987) Writer/Editor, Sapulpa" (PDF). Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  25. ^ Bru-Hed (December 12, 2005). "New Cartoonists Hall of Fame Collection & Museum!". Iola, Wisconsin: Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.

External links

Angel and the Ape

Angel and the Ape was a humor comic book created by E. Nelson Bridwell published by DC Comics. The characters first appeared in 1968 in Showcase #77 then graduated to their own title, with art by comic artist Bob Oksner, most often inked by Wally Wood. The title lasted for seven issues, changing its name to Meet Angel for its final appearance.

Bizarra

Bizarra is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Bizarra first appeared in DC Comics Presents #71 (July 1984), in a story written by E. Nelson Bridwell with art by Curt Swan. The character is a distorted version of the superhero Wonder Woman, based on the Superman villain Bizarro. She is a very simple-minded being, has reversed character traits, believes women are inferior to men, and speaks in reverse of what her true meaning is.

Bushmaster (DC Comics)

Bushmaster is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Super Friends #45 (June 1981), and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Romeo Tanghal.

Doctor Mist

Doctor Mist is a fictional character, a comic book superhero published by DC Comics. He was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon, first appearing in a cameo in Super Friends #12 (June–July 1978).

Elementals (DC Comics)

The Elementals are a fictional team of superheroes published by DC Comics. They first appeared in Super Friends #14 (October 1978), and were created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon.

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion was a horror-suspense-romance anthology comic book series published by DC Comics from 1971–1974, a companion to Secrets of Sinister House.

Four-Star Spectacular

Four-Star Spectacular was an anthology comic book series published by DC Comics in the mid-1970s. The series was edited by E. Nelson Bridwell and ran for six issues from March/April 1976 to January/February 1977. The books were in the "giant size" format and consisted mostly of superhero reprints, with some new material. A total of four characters from DC's roster of superheroes appeared in each issue — hence the title. (Half of the title's issues, however, only featured three stories.) Each issue featured a Superboy story, a Wonder Woman story, and at least one other story (usually a team-up story). All issues featured cover art by DC artist Ernie Chua.

Impala (DC Comics)

Impala is a fictional character, a comic book superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Super Friends #7 (October 1977), and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon.

Kid Impala is a fictional character, a comic book superhero published by DC Comics. He first appears in JLA: Classified #2 (February 2005), and was created by Grant Morrison and Ed McGuiness.

Inferior Five

The Inferior Five (or I5) are a parody superhero team appearing in books by the American publisher DC Comics. Created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando, the team premiered in the DC Comics title Showcase #62 (1966).The premise is that the characters were sons or daughters of members of a superhero team called the Freedom Brigade, a parody of the Justice League of America. Most of the Inferior Five were takeoffs of other popular DC characters, though Merryman's appearance was modeled on Woody Allen.

Little Mermaid (comics)

Little Mermaid is the name of two DC Comics superheroes. They are named after, but not related to the character in "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen. The Little Mermaid first appeared in Super Friends #9 and was created by Nicholas Pascale, E. Nelson Bridwell, and Ramona Fradon.

R. J. Brande

Rene Jacques "R. J." Brande is a fictional DC Comics character in the 30th and 31st centuries with the Legion of Super-Heroes. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #350 and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell.

Rising Sun (comics)

Rising Sun is a fictional Japanese superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared solo in Super Friends #8 (November 1977), and as a member of the Global Guardians in DC Comics Presents #46, (June 1982). He was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon.

Secret Six (comics)

The Secret Six is the name of three different fictional comic book teams in the DC Comics Universe, plus an alternate universe's fourth team. Each team has had six members, led by a mysterious figure named Mockingbird, whom the characters assume to be one of the other five members. The third, villainous incarnation of the Secret Six was rated by IGN as the fourth Best Comic Run of the Decade in 2012.

Secrets of Sinister House

Secrets of Sinister House was a horror-suspense anthology comic book series published by DC Comics from 1972–1974, a companion to Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion.

Seraph (comics)

Seraph is a DC Comics superhero from Israel. He first appeared in Super Friends #7 (October 1977), and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon, art by Bob Oksner and some lettered by Milt Snapinn.

Showcase (comics)

Showcase is a comic anthology series published by DC Comics. The general theme of the series was to feature new and minor characters as a way to gauge reader interest in them, without the difficulty and risk of featuring untested characters in their own ongoing titles. Showcase is regarded as the most successful of such tryout series, having been published continuously for well over a decade, launching numerous popular titles, and maintaining a considerable readership of its own. The series ran from March–April 1956 to September 1970, suspending publication with issue #93, and then was revived for eleven issues from August 1977 to September 1978.

The Maniaks

The Maniaks are a fictional rock band published by DC Comics. They first appeared in issue Showcase #68 (May 1967), and were created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Mike Sekowsky.

Weird Mystery Tales

Weird Mystery Tales was a mystery horror comics anthology published by DC Comics from July–August 1972 to November 1975.

Wild Huntsman (comics)

The Wild Huntsman is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Super Friends #45 (June 1981), and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Romeo Tanghal.

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