Tom stated that Austin was an incredibly fun town and has fallen in love with it. We got into a discussion about great local restaurants and directions on how to find Gus' Fried Chicken.
We discussed the first comics that he read, Detective Comics issues that, as a young child, scared the hell out of him in some instances. We both pined for the days of newspaper stands and spinner racks at corner stores where comics were readily available to the masses.
DeFalco reminisced about the years spent working for some local newspapers in New York and New Jersey, as well as working on weekly comic strips. He branched out to work for Archie, writing for both the Scooby-Doo and the Josie & the Pussycats comics, right at the height of both franchises' popularity. He had a funny story about a meeting on the animation side. "The network guys pitched in a meeting a great idea for next season. We're gonna send 'em into space. Everyone in the room applauded. Then the network guys left the room and the guy next to me lit up a cigar and said 'Kid, you better polish your resume, because this is gonna sink like the Titanic.'"
Tom's later work was for DC, working on the Superman Family title, with stories about Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. This was followed by a stint managing the creative team on the G.I. Joe line. Tom joked that in no way should he be in charge of greats like Larry Hama, Mark Gruenwald and Archie Goodwin. He did a stint on The Phantom for Moonstone. Unlike most diehard fans of that franchise, DeFalco admitted that he didn't have encyclopedic knowledge of the character and had to do some intense research.
We moved on to DeFalco's Marvel work. I admitted that I didn't appreciate his work with Eric Masterson Thor/Thunderstrike when it was coming out, but reread it in recent years and gained a new fondness for it. This fact was driven home by me clean forgetting that he created the New Warriors, a fan favorite and cult classic team of teen heroes. DeFalco stated he only set up the team and motivations. Any popularity that the New Warriors had boils down to Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley (with later artists). The work they did with that franchise was just fabulous. Tom joked that he was always so angry at Nicieza because he did such a much better job with that team than Tom ever would have and he thought that was very rude of Fabian. If the team is ever remembered fondly in the future because of Tom's (and artist Ron Frenz' contributions), he'll be more than appreciative of it.
The conversation shifted to one of Tom's favorite creations, Spider-Girl. He and Ron Frenz did a What If story and they came up with a great way of bringing back May Parker. They were originally going to go with Spider-Woman, but DeFalco stated that the name had been used by more than one other character and they didn't want to start off by being the third or fourth Spider-Woman. They went on to do another What If story featuring Thunderstrike. Tom received a call from Editor Bob Harras and they were asked to do new stories like the What If they did. DeFalco asked "You mean of Thunderstrike?" Harras said "No, of Spider-Girl". So they were off to the races. Tom sounds like a proud dad, every time he sees Spider-Girl pop up, never expecting her to have this kind of longevity.
When asked what would be the one thing DeFalco loves about the industry and what would be the one thing he'd like to see different. He stated that he loves that the market as far as independent comics is concerned has grown so much over the past several years. He does wish that sales of Marvel and DC were what they were in the 80s-90s. He also added that story decompression and utilizing tools from other media, such as film, may not translate as well to Big Two super hero comics and the sales numbers kind of prove it.
As far as upcoming work is concerned, Tom is working on a book for Archie called Reggie & Me and he also has a top secret project that he's collaborating on with Ron Frenz that will likely be out in the Spring of 2017. He promised that he'll get his behind out of this business soon, but is grateful that his work still resonates with many fans.
We thank Tom DeFalco for this impromptu interview here at Wizard World Austin. Stay tuned for more news.