When Gerry Conway speaks, even on other websites, we at TVWriter™ listen. Because not only is he a “minor comics icon,” (in Gerry’s own words), he’s one of Larry Brody’s closest friends, plus a frequent contributor to TVWriter™ and, of course, a force to be reckoned with in ye olde television industry as well.
Last week Gerry talked to SyfyWire about Netflix’s version of one of his major comics creations, the Punisher. Here’s the result:
by Dana Forsythe
Boasting dozens of writing credits for both DC and Marvel, Gerry Conway helped shape the Bronze Age of comic books with stories like “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” the original Clone Saga, the creation of the Punisher, and his run on the Justice League. He’s written almost every superhero from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Flash to Spider-Man, Daredevil, Thor, Hulk, and Iron Manand amassed countless writing credits for his work in TV, movies and books.
He’s been able to be so prolific in part because he got such an early start. Conway sold his first stories to DC and then Marvel when he was just 16 years old. Over his 50-year career as a comic book writer, Conway co-created handfuls of characters including Power Girl, Killer Croc, Firestorm and Jason Todd for DC and Dracula, Tarantula, and Mockingbird and more for Marvel. Still active today, Conway most recently penned a What If? issue with Flash Thompson as Spider-Man.
Ahead of the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, Conway spoke to SYFY WIRE about the Punisher and prevalence of the skull symbol, how working at Marvel and DC felt like going to college, why he thinks universe-changing events are destroying the comic book industry, and, of course, killing Gwen Stacy.
I’m really proud of my work on that issue — and the work of Gil Kane and John Romita. We had no idea that story would end up having the legacy it’s had, but even at the time I was conscious of wanting to drive home what I believed was the core theme of Marvel’s approach to superhero storytelling: that being a superhero doesn’t make you immune to tragedy, that superpowers don’t make you infallible, and that real life doesn’t always produce happy endings.
Unfortunately, Gwen’s death also inspired some terrible stories, including the “girl-in-a-refrigerator” trope women in comics rightfully decry. I’d like to think that our approach to Gwen’s death wasn’t a cheap shot to create sympathy for our male hero, especially because I tried to use that tragedy more as a motivation for the emotional growth of the woman who would become the most significant female in Peter Parker’s life, Mary Jane Watson….