Martin Pasko is a writer and editor in a diverse array of media, including comic books and television.
Pasko has worked for many comics publishers, but is best known for his work with DC Comics over three decades. He has written Superman in many media, including television animation, webisodes, and a syndicated newspaper strip for Tribune Media, as well as comics. He also co-created the 1975 revamp of Doctor Fate.
Early life and career
As a teenager, Pasko was a regular contributor to comic book letter columns and co-published a fanzine, Fantazine, with Alan Brennert, now a highly-respected novelist. After attending Northwestern University and, later, New York University, Pasko settled in New York.
Pasko's first published comics writing credit was for Warren Publishing's Creepy #51 (March 1973).
Pasko soon started working for DC Comics, beginning his long association with Superman in 1973. Pasko was nicknamed "Pesky Pasko" by long-time editor Julius Schwartz, for whom Pasko wrote for many years. In addition to writing backup stories and occasional features in Action Comics during this period, Pasko was the featured Superman writer from 1977–1979. From 1979–1982, Pasko contributed stories to the Superman Family anthology title. In addition, between 1977 and 1979, Pasko scripted the syndicated newspaper comic strip The World's Greatest Superheroes which initially starred Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and The Flash, but gradually changed its focus to primarily feature Superman.
A solo Doctor Fate story in 1st Issue Special #9 (December 1975), written by Pasko and drawn by Walt Simonson, led to an important development in the life of the character. With this story, Pasko added the concept that the spirit of Nabu resided in Doctor Fate's helmet and took control of Fate's alter-ego Kent Nelson whenever the helmet was donned. In 1981 Roy Thomas incorporated this into his series All-Star Squadron, as an explanation of the changes in Fate's helmet and powers. In 1982, this led to DC featuring Kent and his wife Inza in a series of back-up stories, written by Pasko, in The Flash. DC later collected the back-up stories, as well as the story from 1st Issue Special #9 into a three-issue limited series titled The Immortal Dr. Fate.
Other titles Pasko wrote for included Wonder Woman from 1975–1977, featuring a major story arc documenting the heroine's attempt to gain readmission to the Justice League of America. Wonder Woman had quit the organization after renouncing her powers.
Pasko also wrote a number of issues of Justice League of America between 1974 and 1977; he was the regular writer of Metal Men in 1976–1977, and wrote all seven published issues of Kobra — whose eponymous character he co-created — in 1976–1977. The story intended to be issue #8 appears as the Batman story in DC Special Series #1. In addition, Pasko wrote a number of issues of Adventure Comics between 1976 and 1980.
In his first comics-format work for Marvel Comics, Pasko was the regular scripter of that company's Star Trek comic book in 1980–1981. He was also a writer of the Star Trek comic strip from late 1982 through early 1983. In 1988, Pasko also wrote an issue of the DC Star Trek comic book.
In the early '80s, Pasko wrote a number of issues of the First Comics version of Joe Staton's E-Man. In 1982, Pasko helped revive Swamp Thing, in a new title called Saga of the Swamp Thing. Pasko left Swamp Thing in 1984, succeeded by Alan Moore, who took the title and the character in a different direction.
In 1988–1989 Pasko was a regular contributor to Action Comics during its stint as a weekly anthology, where he developed a new version of The Secret Six. Pasko was also the writer of the Blackhawk series in Action Comics Weekly in 1988, based on the Howard Chaykin retcon, and the subsequent monthly title (1989–1990).
The 1990s and 2000s
Pasko's last regular series as a freelance comics writer was in 1994 for the Marvel Comics licensed series Gargoyles, based on a Disney Animation TV series. He then returned to New York to serve as DC's Group Editor-Mass Market. In this capacity, he oversaw he production of DC's custom comics; licensed titles such as the Star Trek line; and various special projects such as the writing of stage and stunt shows for the Six Flags amusement park chain, and the writing and production of various webisodes for Warner Bros. Online. He also managed the three-person Internal Development Group. In this capacity, he co-created and edited the horror satire Gross Point, which ran in 1997-98.
During his decade on staff at DC, Pasko wrote issues of Impulse, one of two stories in the Green Lantern issue of the 2004 Julius Schwartz tribute series DC Comics Presents, and the comics adaptation of the film Superman Returns. Until 2005, he was DC's liaison to Warner Bros. Studios, vetting scripts for WBA animated programming and the live-action series Smallville and Birds of Prey, as well as facilitating studio research by supplying comics and consulting on issues related to DC continuity. In this capacity, he suggested the comic book story "The Man Who Falls," by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano that became the structural basis for the franchise-rebooting Batman Begins feature.
In Los Angeles in 1980s, Pasko wrote for, or served as a writer/story editor on, many live-action series, including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Fantasy Island, The Twilight Zone (the mid-'80s CBS revival), Max Headroom, Simon & Simon, and Roseanne. Pasko's main interest in television was hour-long action-adventure or fantasy programming. After 1988, however, the economics of the television business motivated programmers to concentrate on half-hour sitcoms, and Pasko shifted gears, working with his then-writing partner on three sitcoms before returning to animated programming.
Pasko began a long career in television animation in 1980, writing several episodes of Thundarr the Barbarian with Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby. Pasko later became one of several Thundarr the Barbarian screenwriters also known for their work in comics, such as Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, to contribute to the show. Pasko's many other TV writing credits comprise animated series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Exosquad, Teen Wolf, Berenstain Bears, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony.
For Thundarr the Barbarian, Pasko came up with the name of Ookla the Mok. In 1980, Gerber and Pasko were having dinner in the Westwood area one night during the period Gerber was writing the "bible" for the series. Gerber commented to Pasko that he had not yet decided upon a name for the Wookiee-like character the network had insisted be added to the series. As the two walked past the gate to the UCLA campus, Pasko quipped, "Why don't you name him 'UCLA'?" (pronounced "Ookla") After writing several scripts, singly and in collaboration with Gerber, Pasko became a story editor on the second season.
After leaving the sitcom world, Pasko wrote for such series as Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars, The Tick, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and The Legend of Prince Valiant, until accepting a job at Disney Consumer Products' startup comic book division, Disney Comics, developing a line of superhero titles and writing the Roger Rabbit comics series. This activity lasted nine months until, in a corporate reorganization, Disney decided to stop publishing comics altogether. The day before he was let go by Disney, Pasko finalized a deal to join Warner Bros. Animation's Batman: The Animated Series as a writer/story editor. For his work on this series, Pasko won a 1993 Daytime Emmy Award. He is also a co-writer of the animated feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
Pasko in the 2000s has worked on nonfiction about various aspects of pop culture history, as a writer-researcher and consultant. These projects include writing The DC Vault, published in 2008; consulting on the dramatics for Freaky Creatures, Abandon Interactive Entertainment's massively multiplayer online game; co-writing The Essential Superman Encyclopedia with Robert Greenberger; writing the children's book Superman: Prankster of Prime Time; and acting as researcher, consultant, and supplemental copywriter on 75 Years of DC Comics.
- ^ Pasko, Martin. Still Pesky (Pasko's blog).
- ^ The Flash #306 (Feb. 1982) - #313 (September 1982)
- ^ Pasko, Martin (2008). The DC Vault. Philadelphia: Running Press. ISBN 13:978-0-7624-3257-8.
- ^ The Essential Superman Encyclopedia. New York: Del Rey Books. 2010. ISBN 978-0-345-50108-0.
- ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Los Angeles: Taschen US. ISBN 978-3-8365-1981-6.