Don McGregor

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Don McGregor
Born Donald Francis McGregor
(1945-06-15) June 15, 1945 (age 69)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer
Notable works
Sabre; "Killraven"; "The Black Panther"

Official website

Donald Francis McGregor[1] (born June 15, 1945)[1] is an American comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Comics, and the author of one of the first graphic novels.

Biography[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Don McGregor was born in Providence, Rhode Island,[1] where as a young adult he worked a myriad of jobs including as a security guard, at a bank, at a movie theater, and "for my grandfather's company, [which] printed, among other things, the patches the astronauts wore on their flights to the moon."[2] He additionally served as military police with the National Guard.[2] His first appearances in print were in the letters-to-the-editor columns of various Marvel Comics titles, including Fantastic Four #33 (cover-dated Dec. 1964), Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), Fantastic Four #74 (May 1968), The Amazing Spider-Man #77 (Oct. 1969), Fantastic Four #80 (November 1968), [3] and for The Providence Journal, where his work included reviews of books by authors including Evan Hunter, "who influenced me greatly as a writer."[2]

McGregor broke into comics with stories in Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics anthology magazines. His first purchased script, "When Wakes The Dreamer", did not see print until Eerie #45 (Feb. 1973), long after his first published script: the 12-page cover story "The Fade-Away Walk" in Creepy #40 (July 1971), credited as Donald F. McGregor, with art by Tom Sutton.[4] Through 1975, he would write a over a dozen more stories for those magazines and its sister title Vampirella, drawn by artists including Richard Corben and Reed Crandall.[3] Of "When Wakes the Dreamer", he explained decades later, "[W]hat held it up was that [artist and Warren art director] Billy Graham was going to draw it and he'd done a spectacular opening page for it, but for one reason or another, it just didn't happen. ... I don't think we ever found the finished art for Billy's version of another early story of mine, 'The Vampiress Stalks The Castle This Night.'"[5] That story eventually appeared in Vampirella #21 (Dec. 1972), with art by Felix Mas. After a stint with Marvel, McGregor would return to write another 18 stories for those Warren titles as well as The Rook between 1979 and 1983, with artists including Paul Gulacy, Alfredo Alcala, and Val Mayerik.[3]

Marvel Comics[edit]

McGregor became a proofreader for Marvel Comics in late 1972,[6] earning $125 a week,[2] before establishing himself as a Marvel editor and writer. His first stories for the company were co-writing, with Gardner Fox, the six-page supernatural story "The Man with Two Faces" in Journey into Mystery vol. 2, #4 (April 1973; credited as "Donald F. McGregor"); and, solo, the six-page "A Tomb By Any Other Name", with art by Syd Shores, in Chamber of Chills #5 (July 1973).[3]

He recalled in 2010,

I came to Marvel Comics because I loved Marvel Comics. As the line burgeoned, one of my jobs was to read all the reprint titles. One of the titles was Jungle Action, a collection of jungle genre comics from the 1950s, mostly detailing white men and women saving Africans or being threatened by them. I voiced a lament that I thought it was a shame that in 1973 Marvel was printing these stories, and couldn't we have a black African hero. ... Now, it was one of those unwritten rules that if you worked in editorial you would be given things to write, to supplement that $125 a week. It was at such a meeting that I learned I would be given [the recently launched feature] 'Killraven' (in Amazing Adventures) and Jungle Action, with the [existing African superhero the] Black Panther ... to write.[7]

With those two features, which became among comics' most acclaimed,[8] McGregor soon established himself as one of a 1970s wave of Marvel writers, including Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber and Doug Moench, who took often minor characters and helped create a writerly Renaissance. Former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas said in 2007,

[T]here was a lot of invention and experimentation going on during that period ... Steve [Gerber] and Don turned out be [writers] who advanced the field. ... I don't think Don's work sold terribly well, but I always thought he was doing some interesting things, and I thought, 'Well, the kind of stuff we put him on was the kind of stuff that we didn't expect to become great sellers anyway ... So let him experiment with it and see what happens'. And he certainly did a lot of interesting things with it.[9]

Amazing Adventures vol. 2, #31 (July 1975) contained color comic books' first interracial kiss. Cover art by P. Craig Russell.

McGregor wrote "Killraven, Warrior of the Worlds" in Amazing Adventures vol. 2, #21-39 (Nov. 1973 - Nov. 1976, except for fill-in issues #33 and 38);[10] and "Black Panther" in Jungle Action #6-24 (Sept. 1973 - Nov. 1976, except for #23, a reprint).[11] Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "The scripts by Don McGregor emphasized the character's innate dignity."[12] Unusually for mainstream comics, the Panther stories were set mostly in Africa, in the Panther's fictional homeland Wakanda rather than in Marvel's usual American settings. As with the futuristic stories of Killraven, McGregor's settings were enough outside the Marvel mainstream that he was able to explore mature themes and adult relationships in a way rare for comics at the time.[13]

Artist Rich Buckler, his first "Black Panther" collaborator, called McGregor and fellow Marvel writer Doug Moench "two of my absolutely favorite writers. They had the same drive and enthusiasm, and just huge amounts of talent and energy."[14] African-American writer-editor Dwayne McDuffie said of the 1970s "Black Panther" series:

This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. ... It's damn-near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You'll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero's skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion. That's what we should all be delivering, every single month. Don [McGregor] and company did it in only 17 story pages per issue".[15]

He and artist P. Craig Russell engineered color comic books' first known interracial kiss, between the "Killraven" characters M'Shulla and Carmilla Frost, in Amazing Adventures #31 (July 1975). Three years earlier, McGregor and artist Luis Garcia had already presented the first known interracial kiss in mainstream comics (as opposed to underground comix) in Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics magazine, Creepy #43 (Jan. 1972), in the story "The Men Who Called Him Monster".

More than two decades after the "Killraven" feature ended, comics historian Peter Sanderson wrote that,

It was writer Don McGregor who transformed the Killraven saga ... into a classic. Of all of Marvel's writers, McGregor has the most romantic view of heroism. Killraven and his warrior band were also a community of friends and lovers motivated by a poetic vision of freedom and of humanity's potential greatness. McGregor's finest artistic collaborator on the series was P. Craig Russell, whose sensitive, elaborate artwork, evocative of Art Nouveau illustration, gave the landscape of Killraven's America a nostalgic, pastoral feel, and the Martian architecture the look of futuristic castles.[16]

McGregor's run on Jungle Action ended when the series was canceled due to low sales.[17] He also wrote stories for the Marvel characters Luke Cage and Morbius the Living Vampire, and created the detective feature Hodiah Twist, seen in the black-and-white magazines Vampire Tales #2 (Oct. 1973) and Marvel Preview #16: "Masters of Terror" (Fall 1978).[18] McGregor wrote an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" as a backup story in Marvel Classics Comics #28 (1977). This would be Michael Golden's first published comics work.[19] A Marvel "Bullpen Bulletins" page in 1975 announced his planned radio drama series, Night Figure, that was to have run on WHBI-FM.[20]

Graphic novel pioneer[edit]

Sabre (1978). Cover art by Paul Gulacy.

With artist Paul Gulacy, McGregor created one the first modern graphic novels, Eclipse Enterprises' Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species, a near-future, dystopian science fiction swashbuckler that introduced the title character. McGregor's work premiered in August 1978, two months before Will Eisner's better-known graphic novel A Contract with God. Sabre was additionally the first graphic novel sold through the new "direct market" of comic-book stores.[21] It later spun off a 14-issue Eclipse comic-book series.[22]

Also for Eclipse, McGregor authored Detectives Inc., a pair of graphic novels set in contemporary New York City and starring the interracial private eye team Ted Denning and Bob Rainier. Detectives Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green (1979), with DC Comics artist Marshall Rogers, and Detectives, Inc.: A Terror Of Dying Dreams, with veteran Marvel artist Gene Colan, who would become a frequent collaborator, comprised the series.

During this period, McGregor also wrote the two prose works Dragonflame and Other Bedtime Nightmares[23] and The Variable Syndrome.[24]

Later comics[edit]

Other work includes the DC Comics' miniseries Nathaniel Dusk (1984) and Nathaniel Dusk II (1985–1986), both with Colan; and, for New Media Publishing's Fantasy Illustrated (1982), "The Hounds of Hell Theory", starring the husband-and-wife detective team Alexander and Penelope Risk, with artist Tom Sutton.[25]

McGregor revisited the Black Panther with Colan in "Panther's Quest", published as 25 eight-page installments within the biweekly omnibus series Marvel Comics Presents (issues #13-37, Feb.-Dec. 1989); and, later, with artist Dwayne Turner in the squarebound miniseries Panther's Prey (Sept. 1990 - March 1991). McGregor and Marshall Rogers crafted a two part story in Spider-Man issues #27-28 dealing with bullying and gun violence.[26] Other comic-book work in the 1990s includes Blade #1-3 (Nov. 1998 - Jan. 1999), starring the Marvel Comics vampire-slayer; the 14-page Morbius, the Living Vampire story "Desiring Martine", with artist Mike Dringenberg, in the Marvel one-shot Strange Tales: Dark Corners #1 (May 1998); and various issues of such Topps Comics licensed properties as Mars Attacks!, James Bond, the Lone Ranger and The X-Files.[3] McGregor wrote "Thin Edge of a Dime", a Batman Black and White backup story, in Batman: Gotham Knights #28 (June 2002) which was illustrated by Dick Giordano.[27]

As well, McGregor is one of the primary writers of the Zorro canon, with a dozen issues of Topps' Zorro (#0-11, Nov. 1993 - Nov. 1994) and the spinoff Lady Rawhide #1-5 (Oct. 1996 - June 1997; reprinted by Image Comics as Zorro's Lady Rawhide: Other People's Blood #1-4, March–June 1999); two years of the Zorro newspaper comic strip (with artists Tod Smith and Thomas Yeates, premiering April 12, 1999, with the first year collected in a 2001 Image Comics book); Zorro #1-6 (May-Oct. 2005), with artist Sidney Lima, from the NBM Publishing imprint Papercutz; and 2010's Zorro: Matanzas, a sequel to the Topps series, with penciler Mike Mayhew, for Dynamite Entertainment.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Home of The Silver Screen Cowboys: Zorro Creators Page: Biography Information: Don McGregor". CowboyPal.com. undated. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d McGregor, Don (2010). "Panther's Chronicles". Marvel Masterworks: Black Panther Volume 1. New York City: Marvel Worldwide. p. vi. ISBN 978-0-7851-4198-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Don McGregor at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Donald F. McGregor at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ "Don McGregor". The Warren Magazines: Interviews (requires scrolling down). February 3, 2010 update with nine interviews. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.  .
  6. ^ Bullpen Bulletins: "Four or Five Phenomenal Flashes, Fitfully Fashioned to Fight Lethargy (Or: Those Wedding Bells are Waking Up that Old Gang of Mine)", in Marvel Comics cover-dated March 1973, including Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #108.
  7. ^ McGregor, Masterworks, p. vii
  8. ^ In addition to contemporaneous reviews in the 1970s, latter-day reviews include:
    • Gage, Chris: "Don McGregor took over the 'Killraven' writing chores, and was joined soon after by P. Craig Russell. With their combined talents, and the freedom that comes with working on a low-selling book that could be cancelled at any moment, the two of them produced a groundbreaking series that explored philosophy, madness, love, violence, and the nature of freedom". — "Killraven [vol. 2] 1 (of 6)". (review), FeoAmante.com. 2002, n.d. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. 
    • Sangiacomo, Michael: "Though quite a few folks had their hand in the original run back in Amazing Adventures, it was the words-and-pictures team of Don McGregor and P. Craig Russell that made my tentacles twitch. ... a classic". — "JiC: Looking Over the January Rack". Newsarama.com. January 25, 2003. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. 
    • Vance, Michael: "As his work progressed, readers saw P. Craig Russell take artistic ownership of 'Killraven'. ... Much like Jim Steranko's work on Marvel's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, events flowed through some pages in a style that was as reminiscent of fine art as it was of comic art. Also impressive was his sense of design. Russell arguably produced some of the most imaginative, and visually horrific, monsters and villains in Marvel's history. Don McGregor handled the writing for this issue-run, and credit must be given to his involved plots, as well as his ability to pack a lot of story into a 32-page pamphlet". — "Amazing Adventures". "Suspended Animation" (column), SciFiDimensions.com. August 17, 2001. Archived from the original on July 18, 2007. 
  9. ^ Alter Ego vol. 3, #70 (July 2007), p. 54
  10. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-7566-4123-8. "Marvel's 'War of the Worlds' series in Amazing Adventures became a true classic when Don McGregor took over as writer." 
  11. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 160: "Marvel assigned Don McGregor, a uniquely talented writer, to write this series. McGregor's initial idea for this Black Panther series was an ambitious thirteen-part storyline."
  12. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. Harry N. Abrams. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-8109-3821-2. 
  13. ^ Sacks, Jason; Elkin, Daniel (2013). "Don McGregor on 'Killraven,' Part Two: The Surreal Life of a Comics Writer". Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013. "CB Jason: So it's weird because you were off in your own corner of the universe, but at the same time they were still paying attention to you.
    McGregor: Well yeah, they were, yeah. I was called into the editorial office I don't know how many times."
     
  14. ^ Rich Buckler interview, Adelaide Comics and Books. Archive.org archive.
  15. ^ McDuffie, Dwayne (circa October 1999). "To Be Continued". (column #3), Dwayne McDuffie official site. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ Sanderson, Peter. Marvel Universe (Harry N. Abrams, 1998) ISBN 0-8109-8171-8, ISBN 978-0-8109-8171-3, p. 175
  17. ^ Howe, Sean (2012). Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-199210-0. "[Gerry] Conway insisted that the decision was purely financial, that poor sales had combined with blown deadlines (and subsequent late fees charged by the printer) to create a money-losing endeavor." 
  18. ^ Nevins, Jess. "Hodiah Twist" at A Guide to Marvel's Pre-FF #1 Heroes. Archive.org archive
  19. ^ Eric, Nolen-Weathington (2007). Modern Masters Volume 12: Michael Golden. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-1-893905-74-0. 
  20. ^ Bullpen Bulletins: "A Gargantuan Gallery of Garulous [sic] Goings-On Guaranteed to Garner Your Gratitude!", in Marvel Comics cover-dated November 1975, including Fantastic Four #164.
  21. ^ Gough, Bob (2001). "Interview with Don McGregor". MileHighComics.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011.  Additional WebCitation archive (October 9, 2011)
  22. ^ Sabre (Eclipse, 1982 series) at the Grand Comics Database
  23. ^ McGregor, Don (1978). Dragonflame and Other Bedtime Nightmares. Fictioneer Books. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-934882-02-6. 
  24. ^ McGregor, Don (1981). Variable Syndrome. Fictioneer Books. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-934882-05-7. 
  25. ^ "Alexander and Penelope Risk", ThrillingDetective.com. WebCitation archive.
  26. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1990s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-7566-9236-0. "Writer Don McGregor and artist Marshall Rogers created one of the most original Spidey stories of the year with this two-part tale. The story told of events that happened after bullied 12-year-old Elmo Oliver found a gun dropped by a bad guy during a shootout ... Once again, a Spider-Man story provided a platform for real-life issues." 
  27. ^ Eury, Michael (2003). Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At A Time. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 156–157. ISBN 1-893905-27-6. "In 'Thin Edge of a Dime,' written by Don McGregor, the Dark Knight persuades a desperate older gentleman from taking his own life." 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Steve Gerber
Vampire Tales
("Morbius" feature) writer

1973–1974
Succeeded by
n/a
Preceded by
Marv Wolfman
Amazing Adventures writer
1973–1976
Succeeded by
n/a
Preceded by
Bill Mantlo
Power Man writer
1975–1976
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman