Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 7, 2004

Bob Haney, 1926-2004


Word began to spread Sunday that prolific comic book writer Bob Haney passed away in Southern California on November 25. Haney's death came at the end of a long period of hospitalization made necessary by a stroke earlier this year. Haney had before then been living in somewhat of an isolated state in Mexico, friendly with neighbors and occasionally coming across the border to attend various panels and activities at San Diego's Comic-Con International.

imageHaney was best known as a writer for DC Comics, particularly its fresher, stranger superhero titles of the 1960s like co-creations Metamorpho (with artist Ramona Fradon) and Doom Patrol (with Arnold Drake). He also enjoyed long, noteworthy runs withe DC's Batman character on World's Finest Comics, and on the seminal teen superhero team Teen Titans (a concept co-created by Haney from existing characters). His scripting on Teen Titans, marked by dialogue that grasped for but did not quite achieve typical 1960s teenager-speak, has since become a charming comics culture touchstone, particularly for those who do not take their comics as grim-faced reality. What's lost in some appraisals of Haney's choices as a scripter is how effectively those lighter touches worked in comics, and how those attempts indicated he was one of the rare creative people working at DC during Marvel Comics' ascendency who saw the style used by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as artistically valid rather than the engine of a fluke success.

A resident of upstate New York (the Woodstock area) who performed a long, periodical commute into the DC office where he would pick up work, Haney also wrote fondly remembered stories for DC's war titles like The Unknown Soldier and Sgt. Rock, and professional, well-crafted work for any number of the company's characters. He also worked in animation, and before settling in at DC was one freelancer among many during comics' post-World War II boom and subsequent fade.

As always, you're directed to historian and author Mark Evanier's always-smart, well-researched and to the point obituary for more information. A Newsarama piece on Haney includes some fan reaction. I believe this article about Haney in retirement facilitated much of the comics industry's recent information about the man. Haney did a a Teen Titans story that was canceled close to its 2003 publication and has yet to be released by DC Comics, art (by Jay Stephens) from which is pictured above. One can also find a classic Haney story (art by Dick Dillon) and a more recent offering (art by Kieron Dwyer) -- I believe the latter had been part of a DC decision to have a comic book issue destroyed before wide release. The trade magazine The Comics Journal also has a terrific interview with Haney on file that one hopes can be published at some future date.

Bob Haney was 78 years old.


Then-DC Employee Brian Pearce Elaborates on the second Super-Sons story.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

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