DENNY O’NEIL

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Denny O’Neil (1939 – ) is one of the most prolific comic writers of all time. A teacher, editor, author of The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics, and member of the board of directors of the charity The Hero Initiative, O’Neil has presided over such critically acclaimed story lines as A Death in the Family, Nightfall, and has written for such titles as Amazing Spiderman, X-Men, Bat Lash, Batman, Detective Comics, The Shadow, Wonder Woman, Daredevil, Superman, The Flash, and too many more to name.

Until 2000, O’Neil served as group editor of the Batman family of comics and, with the possible exception of his work with Neal Adams on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Batman is the character with which he is most closely associated.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, O’Neil graduated from St. Louis University with a degree centered on English literature, creative writing, and Philosophy. He joined the Navy and went on to take part in the US blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. After leaving the service, fellow comics writer Roy Thomas noticed O’Neil’s work appearing in a Missouri newspaper. Thomas suggested O’Neil take the “Marvel writer’s test,” which consisted of adding dialogue to a four-page sequence from a Fantastic Four comic. O’Neil’s entries into the blank word bubbles impressed Stan Lee enough to lead to work on six issues of Strange Tales (Doctor Strange), Rawhide Kid, Millie the Model and a single issue of Daredevil.

The work at Marvel didn’t last long and O’Neil soon took a job at Charlton Comics, receiving regular assignments from editor Dick Giordano. When Giordano went to DC, O’Neil was only one of the talents who followed.

At DC, O’Neil’s career flourished and he is responsible for and/or contributed to a host of historic events in the companies history. These landmarks include the acclaimed Green Arrow/Green Lantern drug issue where Speedy is revealed as a heroin addict, the relaunch of the Shadow – one of the the Pulps and the Golden Age of Radio’s most famous characters – along with Michael W. Kaluta, and revamping and updating Superman in the early 1970’s as well as writing Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978) which Neal Adams, the artist and a frequent collaborator with O’Neil, claimed to be among his favorites that the two produced together.

Of course, no list of O’Neil’s accomplishments would be complete without noting his contributions to the Dark Knight Detective. He not only helped return Batman to his darker roots (repairing the integrity of the character after the campy television series) but also returned the Joker to his homicidal roots as well. O’Neil also wrote the novelizations of Batman Begins and the Dark Knight and also created one of Batman’s greatest foes, Ra’s al Ghul (a character that would later go on to appear, as portrayed by Liam Neeson, in Batman Begins).

O’Neil won 4 Shazam Awards and is one of the honorees in DC’s Fifty Who Made DC Great.

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