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Michael Uslan has to be one of the world’s most powerful comics fans. He attended the very first comic book convention in the 1960s, taught what was probably the first academic course for credit on comics, and was a producer of all the modern Batman movies. Now, he’s penned The Boy Who Loved Batman, about his love of comic books and how he turned it into a career. Uslan will speak tomorrow at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring. He spoke with me over the phone about making superhero movies, writing Archie comics, and dressing up as Sandman.

Washington City Paper: Your new book is an autobiography covering a specific part of your career?

Michael Uslan: Yeah, The Boy Who Loved Batman is about the boy who loved Batman, the ultimate fanboy geek who learned to read from comics before he was four, and the adventures and misadventures I had collecting comics, going to the world’s first comics convention ever held, becoming an early member of comics fandom, finding a way to incorporate my love of comic books and superheroes, in particular Batman, into my work and life with my attempt to restore dignity to Batman after the TV show and finding the ways for a blue-collar kid from New Jersey to make it to Hollywood to show them the potential of dark and serious Batman movies, even though I didn’t come from money, and couldn’t buy my way into Hollywood. I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any relatives in the business, so it’s really my story of a life’s journey of what you can do to make your dreams come true—-for me I was able to pull it off ultimately.

WCP: Let’s touch on those early years…you said you went to the first comics convention…that would have been one of the ones in New York City then?

MU: Yeah, July 1964 in a fleabag motel in downtown New York called the Broadway Central which a few years later collapsed on itself. That’s pretty much where it all began. There were 200 of us at that first comic con. It’s where the first comic book auction was invented, where the first screening of old serials dealing with comic book characters was held, where the first panels were held, and that last-minute addition that I don’t know who thought of, but of having people come dressed up. My god, what we have unleashed since then is pretty incredible.

WCP: Yeah, there’s a lot to answer for there.

MU: Yeah, I get most chuffed when I see this one guy…every year he’s at San Diego [Comicon] somewhere north of 300 pounds and he comes as Princess Leia. This is not the one with the white robe…this is the Jabba the Hutt Princess Leia.

WCP: Oh my god.

MU: [Laughs] It’s pretty awful.

WCP: Oh well, you never know where these things will lead.

MU: That’s for sure. There’s a picture in my book that was taken of me dressed up as DC Comics’ 1940s version of Sandman for the first costume party. I was in seventh grade at the time and that was also the last time I put on one of those costumes.

WCP: At this early con, were a lot of the early founding members of fandom there?

MU: Jerry Bails was the guy who gave us credibility because he was a college professor. I remember at the ’64 or ’65 convention, Jerry held the auction where he auctioned off comics from his collection. I recount this in my book—-the first issue of Action Comics, which this week went for $2.6 million, was sold at this first auction for an astounding $40. Jerry was there, Maggie Thompson was there, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein and of course guys like John Benson, Dave Kaler, Bernie  Bubnis, Alan Weiss…there’s not too many of us left who are still showing up every year at the convention. I’m coming up on my 48th so I guess that’s a pretty good run so far.

WCP: Yes, it is. When I was doing some research for this I was surprised to see that you aren’t quite 60 yet.

MU: Well, I started young. I was collecting comics from the time I could read, got into comic book fandom very early on, and started writing for fanzines by the time I was 13 or 14. I was in it up to my eyebrows from a very early age.

WCP: You had mentioned Wolfman and Len Wein and that’s how they got their start, right? Writing for fanzines?

MU: Yes, Marv had one called True Fan Adventure Theater fanzine and Len Wein had Aurora. Len started out as an artist, but ultimately realized he was doing better as a writer than as an artist, and switched over.

WCP: The promotional material on your website says you were teaching an early comics course in 1972 in Indiana. How did that happen?

MU: Yeah, it was the first accredited college course on comic books. It was a turning point for me in my career. As I said earlier, how does a blue-collar kid from New Jersey get to Hollywood from here and how do you make those dreams come true? Well my first opportunity really began at Indiana University in Bloomington in the early ‘70s. The college had started an experimental curriculum department and if you had an idea for a course that had never been taught before, and could get the backing of a department on campus, you would then have the right to appear before a panel of deans and professors to pitch it. I designed this course on the basis of assuming that comics were a legitimate American art form, that comics socially were reflective in a change in American culture since 1934, and in fact became a mirror of our society and all the changes in our society, and also that comic books were contemporary folklore. They are our modern day mythology. My theory that I advanced was that the ancient gods of Greece, Rome, and Egypt still existed, only today they wear spandex and capes. So I was able to get my folklore professor to agree with that and back me to appear before this panel. I went in and I was dealing with deans and professors who were out of the Fredric Wertham Seduction of the Innocent generation. They really looked down their noses at comic books and comic book creators. Very much so. When I walked in the door and the dean said to me, “So you’re the fellow who wants to teach a course on funny books at my university?” I knew this was going to be a difficult task, and sure enough, he cut me off about three minutes into my pitch, and said he rejected my theory and that comic books were in reality nothing more than cheap entertainment for children. He said to me that he’d read every issue of Superman that he could get his hands on when he was a kid, but these things are just cheap and lurid entertainment for kids. That was the moment for me. I could have picked up my stuff, head down, and walked out the door. Instead I stood my ground and I looked at him, and I said, “Dean, may I ask you two questions?” He said, “You can ask me whatever you like.”

I said, “Are you familiar with the story of Moses?” He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Yeah, so?” I said, “Can you summarize the story of Moses for me? Real briefly?” He agreed to do it. This is also recounted in the book, but he said, “The Hebrew people were being persecuted and their firstborn slain, so a Hebrew couple placed their firstborn son in a wicker basket and sent it down the river Nile where he was discovered by an Egyptian family who raised him as their own son. When he grew up and learned of his true heritage, he became a great hero to his people…” and then I stopped him. I said, “You said you read Superman comics. Do you remember the origin of Superman?” And he said “Sure, the planet Krypton was blowing up, a scientist and his wife placed their infant son in a rocket ship and sent him to Earth, where he was discovered by the Kents…” Then he just froze and looked at me and said, “Your course is accredited.” That is literally how I wound up teaching the first college-accredited course on comic books.

That was a game changer, but in and of itself, it might not have done the trick had it not been for my mother always telling me that you have to do the business side of things, you have to market yourself, you have to market your creations or nobody will ever know of them. That just kept ringing in my head. When I got to my apartment, I called United Press International and I started screaming at a reporter there. I said “What’s wrong with you? You’re not doing your job! You’re supposed to be the watchdog for our society!” And he said, “Calm down. What’re you talking about?” I said, “I hear there’s a course on comic books being taught at Indiana University. This is outrageous! Are you telling me that as a taxpayer in this state they’re spending my money to teach our kids comic books? This has got to be some Communist plot to subvert the youth of America!” and I slammed down the phone. Three days later this reporter tracked me down and did an interview. It was picked up by virtually every newspaper in America and a bunch in Europe. My phone never stopped ringing from that moment on. I was invited on radio talk shows, TV talk shows. I never taught one class that wasn’t filled with reporters and television cameras. Network news came down to cover it…two weeks later my phone rings and it’s Stan Lee. “I’m watching you on tv, I’m reading about you in the newspapers…what you’re doing is super for the whole comic book industry. How can I help you?”  Two hours later Sol Harrison, who at that time was vice president of DC Comics in New York calls me and tells me he’s been reading about me in magazines and listening to me on the radio. “You’re a very innovative young man and I’d like to fly you to New York City and discuss ways we can work together.”

Well, that led to a summer job in New York. There was no such word as interns or internships back then so they just called us Junior Woodchucks. It was me and some kid named Paul Levitz …I don’t know whatever happened to him [of course he does—-Levitz became the publisher of DC Comics]… Bob Rozakis, Jack Harris…a bunch of us that were the first generation of fanboys that were hired by DC Comics to groom us to be the next generation of execs there. They put me on retainer when I went back to school, and one thing led to another, and I started writing The Shadow comic books with Denny O’Neil. [DC Comics editor] Julie Schwartz read my Shadow script and he stopped me in the hall one day. “Hey kid, I read your Shadow script and it didn’t stink.” I said, “Wow, thank you so much,” and he said, “How’d you like to take a shot at writing Batman?”  So while I’m still in college, I started writing Batman comics and that was like the answer to a dream since I was eight years old. I loved Batman so much more than any other hero. It was right at that time that I had the epiphany of “Oh my god, this dream I’ve had since I was eight has come true and I need another dream. What could it be?” I remembered that cold January night in 1966 when the Batman TV show came on and I was simultaneously thrilled and horrified by what I was seeing on TV. The car was cool, it was in color, the sets were extravagant, but my god, I realized the whole world was laughing at Batman. He turned into a laughing stock and that just killed me. I had my little young Bruce Wayne vow moment that night, except my parents were safe in the kitchen upstairs. I vowed that  somehow, someday, some way , I would show the world

what the true Batman, The Batman—-the creature of the night, stalking criminals in the shadows as created in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger—-what he was, and somehow eliminate from the collective consciousness of the world culture those three little words, “Pow!” “Zap!” and “Wham!” That’s what really set me up on that specific goal task. That’s how it all really got started and the journey began.

WCP: This would be in the mid or early ’70s…

MU: 1973, I want to say.

WCP: So the Batman in the comics is back to being the Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil, Dick Giordano Dark Knight version…

MU: Right, and then the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers gorgeous run…

WCP: Oh yeah, that was a great run. I wish that Batman was back…

MU: Yeah, we all have our period of time for what we believe is the real, true Batman, and there is that magical moment for everybody, no matter what generation, no matter what age they were they read the comics…

WCP: Which is actually one of my questions—-what one is it for you?

MU: You know, it’s really a combination. It is the dark Batman. So that means to me the Bob Kane/Bill Finger, ultimately Jerry Robinson interpretation from 1939-1940, that gets reinvented by Denny and Neal, and highly stylized by Steve and Marshall. Those are probably the ultimates for me. And that’s not to rule out or in any way denigrate Frank Miller, Dave Mazzuchelli, Norm Breyfogle or some of the other stuff that’s been done over the years. In fact there’s some really great stuff being written by Scott Snyder. It’s just that for me in the period of time that I’ve been on my journey, those were my standouts.

WCP: What do you think of DC Comics’ current reboot strategy? It seems to be paying off, at least financially for them.

MU: If anyone deserves a tip of the hat, it is the creators, the artists, the writers, the editors, the publishers of these comic books, Batman specifically, who have somehow managed for almost 73 years to bring us back every single Wednesday to find out what’s going to happen next who’ve been able to keep us intrigued by the evolution of this character, by the storylines, by the greatest rogues gallery of villains in the history of comics…It’s incredible. Yeah, sometimes every story arc doesn’t work, sometimes the stuff is just a gimmick, but every week for 73 years? In multiple titles? It’s incredible, and I think we have to congratulate them and give them a tip of the hat for everything that they try to bring us back and keep it going. I think it’s an amazing accomplishment.

WCP: What did you think of Grant Morrison’s recent idea with Batman Inc. to have Batmen throughout the world?

MU: You know, as a kid I remember reading those stories from the ‘50s, probably into the ‘60s, when every once in a while Batman would go to another country, and you’d meet the Batman and Robin of that country…I enjoyed those when I was a kid. Would I want to see them every week? No. But they were a nice diversion, something different. There were also stories that I loved at that time about future ‘what ifs?’ where Dick Grayson became the new Batman, and the son of Batman and Batwoman became the new Robin, with Alfred dictating the stories of the future. And I loved those. Would I want to see them every week? No. New ideas are great. And old ideas recycled from a new point of view are also great.

WCP: At some point you became a lawyer?

MU: Yeah, I did. One of the things I mention when I lecture at colleges, and I’ve spoken, since The Dark Knight opened [in 2008], at over sixty universities, is in life the twists and turns are so uncertain, you have to have a Plan B. And hopefully a Plan C and a Plan D, the way things twist and turn. I finished my  years at college, I did really great at college, and I wanted to get married when school was out, but what do you do when you send out 372 resumes to get a creative job in an industry where you don’t know anybody, you have no relatives or any connections? What do you do when you get two job offers back, each one offering you $95 a week to move to New York City or move to L.A. to start in the mailroom or go for coffee? So I needed a Plan B and my Plan B became “OK, what if instead I go to law school, and I take every course I can find having to do with entertainment and communications and then try to get a job in a motion picture studio to learn how you finance and produce motion pictures, and network like crazy? Then maybe after doing that for a few years, I can sneak in a back window on the creative side?” And for me, Plan B actually worked.

WCP: What time period are we talking about now?

MU: I graduated law school in 1976 and went to work for United Artists, which was a major movie studio back then and the only one based in New York City. I was with them from ’76 to ’80.

WCP: That would about the time the first Superman movie opened and made it big?

MU: That was around ’77-78. I remember going to…I’m not sure if it was the premiere of the Superman movie, or if it was just DC Comics’ industry screening before it opened. I was sitting next to Bill Gaines. I do remember that. That was fabulous. Dick Donner opened the door and did an amazing job. I loved the first two acts of that first Superman movie. The film once he was in costume and showed up in Metropolis became too much of a comedy and too much of “a day in the life” of Superman. He goes here and saves a cat, saves a plane… It was the second Superman movie that did it for me more.

WCP: When that movie opened, you mentioned it “opening a door,” but did you also see it as really jacking up the price of a Batman franchise? I assume you had not actually put your plan into action with trying to get the rights to Batman yet?

MU: Right. Well, I was impressed with the approach and the fact that they got Marlon Brando to agree to do this which gave it instant credibility and respectability. What my shock was when I approached DC in ’79 to buy the rights was that the feeling in Hollywood I quickly learned was that comics had no value. Except Superman. Even internally. Even at Warner Communications, which is what DC reported to. The internal feeling was that Superman was the fluke. It was the only character in all of comics that had value, which could be made into a blockbuster movie. Not Batman, not Wonder Woman, not Spider-Man…nothing else had the cachet. Everything else was worth little or worth nothing. Part of that was when I started trying to advance doing serious comic book films in the ’70s in Hollywood, was that they were a generation of executive and agents and even the talent pool that grew up in the Wertham generation. Just like the dean at IU, they looked down their noses at the comic books and the creators, and really had no respect for their characters or the creators and that became the thing that I had to fight in the trenches every day for the better part of the last 35 years until we could break through that. Ultimately, there was a sea change that came through due to the fighting every day, and trying to educate people every day, and ultimately a generational shift in Hollywood.

WCP: Would you say that the special effects finally caught up? Superman’s tagline was “You’ll believe a man can fly.”

MU: That is true, but it’s only true after the powers-that-be, on the creative side, as well as the business and money side, were willing to acknowledge the integrity of comic books, of comic book characters and comic book creators. I was in there fighting every day. We had to convince them that comics are not a genre. It’s not something to see as hot at the box office one summer, and cold the next, but instead comic books were an ongoing source of great stories and characters, just like plays and novels. The third thing which was a routine daily battle was that comic books and superheroes are not synonymous. Anything they could find walking into a Barnes & Noble, I could show them the same things in comic books and graphic novels. And these are battles that went on for decades—-trying to convince and educate.

WCP: Regarding your IMDB list of comic book-related material that you worked on over the years…there’s all the Batman movies, but it also looks like you’ve worked on a lot of the Batman animation…Swamp Thing…Fish Police of all things…

MU: The Fish Police comic book was great, but when Hollywood talks hold of things…you’re fighting battles. I look back on a career now that’s just passing the 35-year mark, and you fight to the death practically and then some things work and some things don’t. Some times they do happen and some times they don’t happen. You’re dealing with studio execs that see things completely different than you do, either as a fanboy or a producer, so you’re always battling it out and striving for the best thing you can get. I look back and say, “OK, I’m batting .500” and people within the industry say to me, “Wow that’s amazing. That’s amazing you’re batting .500,” but that doesn’t lessen the pain of the ones that don’t make it or don’t make it the way they might have.

WCP: A lot of your credits are for executive producer—-can you tell us a little bit about what an executive producer would do on a Batman movie?

MU: Let’s talk generally. In the industry, there are many different producers as you know, and in television probably 10 times that number—-all you have to do is look at the opening and closing credits on any TV show. There are executive producers who are creative, there are executive producers who are money guys, there are executive producers who are business or distribution guys, and there are producers who are exactly the same, because largely what it comes down to—-the credit of producer or executive producer is more often than not an outcome of negotiation. There are co-producers, there are associate producers who sometimes tend to be honorary titles, and sometimes because they control the literary property. Co-producers sometimes are working producers, who are on line and are on the set every day getting the crew up at 6 a.m. and telling the caterer to have hamburgers on Thursday. Strategizers are the equivalent of a contractor on building a skyscraper and you have to picture the screenplay as being your architectural plan. It really varies from one project to another, but often over my career I will do the same thing no matter what my title is, and it’s changed over the years. Starting in 1989, I stopped line producing because I made a decision with my life that what I would really like to be, in terms of priorities, is a father and devote my time to starting a family and having kids, and being there for them and not leading a gypsy life where I would be away for three months, six months or a year working on a movie at some particular point in time. I learned that by being the “executive producer” rather than devoting myself to one project day in and day out for a year, or two, or three, I could have a slate of 10 to 20 different projects going, in live action and animation, movies and TV, looking for writers, working for directors, and creatively putting together a network of projects for me.

WCP: Going back to The Shadow briefly, I think I’ve seen something within the last year that has your name attached to a Shadow movie. Am I imagining that?

MU: You’re not imaging that, but I cannot really comment about up and coming projects at this point. When we have something that’s substantial and ready to announce, we will and we’re really, really, really close on a few, but until that’s ready I don’t want to comment on it, nor do I want to pull the rug out from under the PR or marketing people who may be involved from a particular point of view.

WCP: I was asking I dressed up like The Shadow at around age seven for Halloween and The Shadow has been my favorite character…

MU: Well, mine too. You know I used to write the Shadow in the ‘70s for DC Comics, and my best friend Bobby Klein, he went with me to the first comics convention, and while I was The Sandman, he dressed as The Shadow. I got to know and work with [the Shadow’s creator] Walter Gibson in the beginning of the ‘80s which was amazing. The stories I got from Walter were incredible—-he was the last living associate of Harry Houdini.

WCP: Let me ask you about writing Archie—-so you’ve shifted over from Batman to about as far as you can get on the semi-realistic scale…

MU: I’ll give it to you from a different perspective…I had just finished the Batman hardback graphic novel I wrote called Detective No. 27 and loved it. It was such a great experience working with Mike Carlin and Peter Snejberg. I was a history major and I’m a history buff, and I was able to combine my love of history with my love of Batman to do a graphic novel in the vein of The Alienist and Ragtime and Carter Beats The Devil in which Bruce Wayne would interact with real people and real events of history. It took me six months to do the historical research on it, and then poor Peter Snejberg – I fed him 260 pages of reference material so that every detail, every outfit, every boat, every car, every thing in New York City would look exactly as it did historically. They later told me that it was apparently the first or only graphic novel which had historical footnotes in it. So to go from there to something else I loved in life—-I told you I learned to read from comic books  when I was four—-those first comics were Richie Rich and Casper and Little Max from Harvey Comics—-but I quickly graduated to Archie Comics. And I loved Archie Comics when I was a little kid and probably every pre-conceived notion I ever had about dating in high school came from those comic books.

So it was on my bucket list—-something I really always wanted to do was to write an Archie comic book—-write an important Archie comic. So I went and had drinks with Vic Gorelick from Archie Comics and told him “I want to write an important Archie story.” He said that’s great—-what would you like to do? I said, “Archie gets married.” He looked at me like I was nuts. He said, “You can’t do that. Since 1941,this thing’s been

based on him dating these two girls.” I said, “I think creatively there’s a way to do it.” So we spoke for a couple of hours, and by the end he was convinced. He said, “This is going to work. Let’s do it.” Right after that John Goldwater came in as the new head of the company and it was like he said, “Full steam forward. It’ll turn this character and this company on its head.” So we came out with Archie Gets Married which has now gone from comic books to trade paperback to a beautiful slip-cased coffee table book from Harry Abrams to Life with Archie—-the slick magazine, which has gotten some of the best reviews in the history of Archie Comics—-of any stories. So I’m very proud of it. And I’m very happy that it’s really breathed new life into Archie internationally. It made the public who grew up on Archie aware that these comics are still being published, that they are accessible, that they could be introduced to their kids and grandchildren. It brought renewed interest in comic book shops from fans in terms of what we were doing with Life with Archie—-the soap opera. The characterizations have really brought a lot of critical attention to what we’re trying to do with the characters as well.

WCP: Are you still writing some of the slick?

MU: Yeah, I’m am still doing some stuff and I’ve got some really, really fun new stuff that’s coming up shortly including a complete reinvention of Pureheart and the superteams. I’m also…how can I put this exactly…since the Archie wedding I began to plant clues that there is a linked Archie multiverse. At the center of it is Dilton Doiley who’s kind of my Professor Brown Back to the Future character.  There’s a big bang coming in the future of the Archie universe. There’re some fun things ahead.

WCP: I did notice in my daughter’s current issue of Life with Archie that Dilton had popped up in both the storylines and people were talking about “before he disappeared, he was talking about the multiverse…”

MU: We are planting clues in every issue of Life with Archie. It’s funny—-from my very first story in Live with Archie #1, fans really embraced it and went crazy for it, but they couldn’t figure out one thing: Why was Mr. Lodge being so mean? Why was he being so tough? Why was he seeming to be like Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life or Donald Trump or some such thing?

WCP: I had wondered…

MU: And now as the clues are coming together, they’re seeing that this has all been planned for a long time and there is much more to Mr. Lodge and his odd behavior than fans would have guessed.

WCP: OK. I feel better about that. I thought perhaps somebody was going down the path that Carl Barks did with Uncle Scrooge in the ‘60s, when he wrote The Junior Woodchucks and Scrooge was basically a rapacious anti-environmentalist tycoon. I was afraid that Lodge was being set up that way.

MU: No, Mr. Lodge, as you’ll soon see, is the center or the bridge of all the multiverses.

WCP: Ok, I’ll start stealing my daughters issue more regularly then… [and we both laugh].

MU: One of the things I did was kill off Miss Grundy. There had never been a death in Riverdale before.

WCP: I write about comics and cancer so I made a point about getting a copy of that for myself.

MU: It was an important story for me. It was brilliantly written by Paul Kupperberg. Paul, Norm Breyfogle…the whole team has been doing an outstanding job with it.

WCP: Was there any real-life resonance there for you?

MU: There sure was. In fact, I actually wrote her funeral service, the eulogies and they were excerpts from the same eulogies I gave at the funerals for the two teachers who had the greatest impact on my life—-both English teachers who discovered in me a creative writing ability and nurtured it and made me believe in myself and that I could be doing this as an adult for my profession.

WCP: That’s interesting. Had they died of cancer as well, or was that just a story?

MU: One died of cancer, and one did not.

WCP: I work in an office with another comics fan, and he gave me a couple of questions which you may or may not want to answer. Do you think we’ll ever see a live-action Archie movie?

MU: Sure.

WCP: OK, that was a short one. I’m thinking there’s another story behind that, but I won’t press you on it.  [We both laugh again]. He was really curious about the new Batman movie—-what’s the role of Talia? The role of the Scarecrow? How about Bane?

MU: Let me ask you—-what do you think about Brian Bruney has got one more year to go on his Yankee contract. I’m real excited about that and I hope he keeps pitching until he’s 50. I just love those Yankees.

WCP: OK…although I will say, on IMDB, you’re listed as being an executive producer of an untitled Batman reboot for 2015.

MU: [laughs] Ahhh, I love the internet.

WCP: Indeed. It’s certainly made fandom different. It made it easier is what it did.

MU continues to laugh.

WCP: Getting back to your book that you’ll be here in town for, it covers your early life and about 10 years of your career, right?

MU: You’ve got to understand that it’s the early life that defines us and sets us on paths and sets up everything. You can watch The Dark Knight without watching Batman Begins, but if you watch Batman Begins it so enriches the experience and opens it up in such a way. I think the same thing is true of anyone’s early life in terms of how it forms and shapes us, and keeps on forming and shaping us and empowers us to do what we do. The book is pretty nostalgic about what it was like collecting comic books in the ‘50s and ‘60s when it was a very isolating hobby. There were no conventions initially, there was no internet. It wasn’t until I was in fifth grade that I learned there was one other person alive in the world who was so into comic books and superheroes like I was. I had no idea they existed. To understand that today I think is really, really important. And then to see how conventions started and fandom started and the interconnection that we all have is an important part of the story.

WCP: I was wondering if you were planning a second volume…

MU: I am halfway through the second book, and halfway through the third book. I had to put them down because I now have serious interest in this as a movie…

WCP: No kidding. Good for you.

MU: …which is very exciting. There are people out there who see this as another A Christmas Story.

WCP: Let me wrap up here and ask you: Are you still a collector?

MU: Yes. Although you do need to know is that as of about two weeks from now, about 35,000 comic books and related items of my collection will be at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, which is its rare book library. I’ve been donating my collection there.

WCP: Great—-did they approach you or did you approach them?

MU: They approached me initially and because they really gave me my start by allowing me to teach that course, I thought they were the best place for it to be.

WCP: That’s probably going to be like the…eighth good-sized collection in America now. It’s amazing how these things are popping up.

MU: I’m not sure, but Bobby Klein who I mentioned earlier and was my friend since fifth grade…he and I shared a comic book collection when we were kids and we went to the first comic con together, and did all of our comic book stuff together—-he’s also donating his comic book and related items so we’re going to unify our collections again at Indiana.

Michael Uslan will be appearing at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring Wednesday at 6:30 pm. To pre-register, go to www.cine.org. Tickets are $10-$30.