Home > Letters to CR
Dennis O'Neil On Teaching A Writing Course at NYU (PR)
posted February 19, 2009
Dennis O'Neil, prize-winning comics writer and editor, will offer a 10 week course in writing comic books and graphic novels at New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, beginning on February 11. Classes will start at 6:45 in the evening and end about two and a half hours later.
For more information, see the university's home page.
For over 30 years, editor and writer Dennis O'Neil put the "dark" in the Dark Knight and was the guiding force behind the Batman mythos. He has been called a living legend, a master of the comics form, a visionary, the thinking man's superhero writer, the dean of American comics writers, and--his favorite--an erudite hippie. He prefers to think of himself as, simply, "a working professional storyteller."
Dennis, a native St. Louisan and graduate of St. Louis University, began his writing career as a newspaper reporter in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, over forty years ago. Intrigued by the creative revival of comics in the mid-60s, he came to New York as Stan Lee's editorial assistant at Marvel Comics. Next, he did freelance writing at Charlton Comics under editor Dick Giordano. When Giordano moved to DC Comics in 1967, he brought Dennis with him. There, Dennis scripted such titles as Wonder Woman, The Justice League of America and, notably, 13 issues of Superman, a run some aficionados say is a high point in the character's long history. In 1968, following the cancellation of the Batman television show, editor Julius Schwartz asked Dennis to revamp DC's Dark Knight. Dennis and artist Neal Adams took the character back to his roots and, adding sophistication and their own unique vision, created the version of Batman which has been an inspiration for the Emmy-winning Fox cartoon series, the mega-budget Warners movies and, of course, the current comics. In 1970, Dennis again collaborated with Neal Adams and Julius Schwartz to produce the Green Lantern-Green Arrow series that first brought him into national prominence. This series earned praise, awards and media attention for its ground-breaking combination of flamboyant fantasy with genuine social concerns such as racism, drug addiction, environmental dangers and Native Americans' problems.
During his 30-year career, Dennis has written stories for almost all of DC and Marvel's major titles, including Spiderman, Hawkman, The Atom, Iron Man, Daredevil and The Question, a series that combined authentic martial arts action with thoughtful plots and is credited with being a forerunner of today's "mature reader" comics.
Dennis' comics work has been only a part of his career. He has edited Newsfront Magazine and has written short stories, articles and reviews for a wide variety of publications including Gentleman's Quarterly, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, New York, The Village Voice, Coronet, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Publishers Weekly. He has had five teleplays produced, adapted four Batman movies into comic book form and is the author of several novels and nonfiction books, including a guide to writing comic book scripts published by Watson-Guptil. One of his most significant achievements was converting 1,162 pages of comic book continuity into a hard cover novel which became a national best seller: KNIGHTFALL, published by Bantam Books. While he was writing the novel, he was also assisting with the adaptation of the Knightfall storyline for England's BBC radio. More recently, he adapated to novel form the movie Batman Begins, which was partially based on his comics work.
An expert on comics, pop culture and folklore/mythology, Dennis is a popular guest at conventions and has been heard on literally hundreds of radio shows. He has appeared on dozens of television programs, including The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, NBC Nightly News, Fox News, Fox Morning Show, Real News for Kids, The Anti-Gravity Room, The History Channel's comics documentary, and the Disney Channel's Audubon Show. He has been interviewed internationally on the BBC, Australian, French, Mexican, Chilean and Canadian television.
Dennis has taught writing at the School of Visual Arts and New York University in Manhattan, and at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY,, and has lectured at the Open Center in New York City. He has also lectured at numerous colleges and universities including New York University, Fairleigh-Dickenson, Penn State, Tufts, St. Louis University, Indiana State University, the State University of New York at Stonybrook, City University of New York, UCLA, Atlantic College, the Philadelphia College of Art, Webster University. MIT, The Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and The Learning Annex.
For 15 years, until his retirement in February, 2001, Dennis was a group editor at DC where, in addition to editing the Batman titles, he wrote a monthly title he created, Azrael, helped make policy decisions and co-supervised a large editorial staff. He now serves DC as an editorial consultant.
Last year, some of Dennis's work provided the basis for the movie Batman Begins, for which he wrote the novel version and consulted on the video game.
He is currently contributing a weekly column to an online magazine, ComicMix.
In April, 1999, two Californians, Bob Brodsky and Kevin Hanley, began publishing The O'Neil Observer, a quarterly magazine devoted to articles about Dennis and the craft of comics writing. In November of the same year, a midwesterner, Scott McCullar, created a website to augment the magazine.
Dennis currently lives in Nyack, New York, with his wife, Marifran.
Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards:
Favorite Editor 2000, 1996, 1989, 1988, 1986
Tenth Favorite Writer of the Century
Fifth Favorite Editor of the Century.
No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" from Green Lantern #76 placed tenth as Favorite Story of the Century
Denny was the Favorite Pro Writer (a tie with Roy Thomas) in the First Goethe Awards presented by Newfangles (edited by Don and Maggie Thompson) back in 1971. Also, GL/GA won for Favorite Pro Comic Book and "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" took Favorite Comic-Book Story.
Haxtur Award for Best Short story, given by Spanish fans: 1995
Haxtur Lifetime Achievement Award: 1998
"Julie" lifetime achievement award from Atlanta Fantasy Con 2004
Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences Award for Best Writer: 1971, 1972.
Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences Award for Best Series: Green Lantern & Green Arrow, 1971, 1972.