14th May2020

A Memoriam In Four Colours: Marty Pasko

by Ian Wells

This past weekend Martin Joseph Pasko took a seat at the great writing desk above the clouds. Known to everyone as Marty he was one of comics good guys. Marty had time for everyone and everyone had time for Marty. He was a regular on the con circuit. Whether on panels or at his table he always shared his wealth of knowledge and stories with the next gerneration. His career disected a huge cross section of the comics industry. From his first work with Warren Publishing, to DC and Marvel as well as time with independent publishers Eclipse and First Comics. It was a career that saw him work with some of the biggest names around, including Jack Kirby, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Curt Swan and Walt Simonson. Pasko’s first writing credit was Creepy #51 in 1973.

He got his break at DC via what would be deemed unconventional nowadays by becoming a regualr in the letters coloum of Superman. The thinking behind this was having a recognisbale name from the letters column would make him stand out when submitting for work. It probably also helped that Julius Schwartz begane calling him ‘Pesky Pasko’ as the points he made in his letters were well thought out! So in 1974 his first DC work was a backup story in Superman #277. Thus began a three decade association with the company and the Man of Steel in particular, Pasko would go on to write for the character of Superman in all forms of media. During his time at DC he worked in all the heavy hitters in one way or another. Perhaps the crowning achievement of this time was his work on revamping Dr Fate to the newer and in my opinion much cooler version which is still popular today and made its way into some animated movies. Marty Pasko’s comic work speaks for itself, while he may not be seen as a glamour name his work is dependable and his stories never lose that sense of fun. his stories do what a lot of modern comics don’t do and they deliver an entertaining story between front and back cover without thinking about last months or next months issue. He wrote seventeen issues of the Saga of The Swamp Thing before handing the reigns to Alan Moore so while he may not have that quintessential read his work career has been about quality and quantity in equal measure. When you consider the way he broke in, it also shows the measure of his talent to have carved out a successful career for the time he did.

In the 80’s Pasko had done comic book adaptatios for Star Trek and Gargoyles both at Marvel and Who Framed Roger Rabbit for Disney Comics. This was no doubt an advantage when his career took him to TV work, both in animation and live action. In a capacity either as writer or consultant Pasko worked on animated shows that shaped mine and a lot of peoples childhoods. We are talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, Bucky O’ Hare and The Tick. In the world of live action he worked on The Twilight Zone and Max Headroom as well as being executive story consultant on Cheers, one of the most popular sitcoms still today! The place where everybody knows your name! However one writing credit stands head and shoulders above all of these. Well in my opinion and lot of other peoples. In 1993 he co-wrote Batman: Mask of The Phantasm. This movie is easily top 5 Batman movies of all time, maybe even top 3! The film finally got Siskel and Ebert to agree on something. Pasko was also part of the writing staff for Batman: The Animated Series and that same year they won a Daytime Emmy for best writing on a an animated show. Nowwdays there are a lot of comic writers either writing for or show running thanks to the plethora of streaming services at their disposal. Marty Pasko was a forerunner for all of them.

So a career that took in comics, animation, live action TV and newspaper strips. As well as working on some of the industries most recognisbale characters comes to an end. Everyone associated with Marty can be proud and my thoughts are with eveyone who knew him at this time.

Marty Pasko August 4th 1954 – May 10th 2020
– RIP –


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