Sometimes in the comic world we can overlook those who came before and made an impact in our beloved industry. Especially when in a short amount of time we lose a few of them. William Bryan "Bill" DuBay was a comic editor, writer and artist whose work was seen in the Warren publications of Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella.
His comic book love began when he was a child. Reading Mickey Mouse comics and later on Brave and the Bold issues. From there his love spiraled into being a fan artist for Komix Illustrated. His earliest credited work can be found in Charlton Comics Go-Go #4 (1966) in a story titled “Bound in the Badcave.”
Getting his start with Warren came after sometime though. In 1966 he did have a piece of fan art published in the "Creepy Fan Club" section of Creepy #12, but it was not until 1970 that his art was put into a story. Working with R. Michael Rosen (writer) DuBay penciled “Movie Dissector” in Creepy #32. In an interview James Warren recalled his first encounter with DuBay, “You are too young to work for this company, too young to work for anybody. You are a callow youth. You don't even shave yet. Let me see your work'. I took one look and said, 'You're hired'". Just like that his career at Warren began.
When DuBay was officially listed as the Editor for Warren in 1973, he started to make some changes. The magazines were given a new redesign, by dropping the fan pages and implementing newer features to add to the overall look and feel. It wasn’t until 1976 that DuBay, was replaced as editor on the magazine lines, when he took on more of a contributing editor role, but that did not last long, as he went back and forth with the Editor title and stuck with the magazines almost until the end.
After leaving Warren DuBay did some work for the magazine Heavy Metal and eventually became the Editor of the Archie Comic superhero line. It did not last very long. In 1984 he headed into animation work. Working for Marvel Productions and later Fox Kids.
DuBay had his hand in the horror comic pot from his early days as a fan contributor to the editor on the famous Warren titles. Hopefully we can all take a moment to realize the impact he had on some of our favorite works, whether they were scary stories, hero comics or even cartoons we thank you Bill for what you gave us over the years.
- Decapitated Dan & Frank Forte
What follows are some excerpts from two interviews. One tha Bill DuBay did with Jon B. Cooke and one Jim Warren did with Jon B. Cooke.
Jon: How did you break into comics?
William: As I said, I worked hard at my studies. By the time I was sixteen, I was convinced I was the best comics writer/artist who’d ever lived. I started submitting my work to DC, Marvel, Charlton and Gold Key then, and it would come back to me with the standard form rejection. After two or three months, I couldn’t understand why I was having such a hard time breaking into the field. Jack, who’d become a friend by that point, explained that comics was an “old boys’ network” in those days, and not just anyone could walk through the door. That’s when I hit on the idea of sending my art and story samples to an editor using his name, coupled with a note saying, “I’d like to get back into it.” Sure enough [laughs], it worked. The first assignment was from Dick Giordano at Charlton—for Go-Go Comics, one of those really hot, cool sassy ’60s titles. [laughs] I completed the assignment, a simple fourpager, and turned it in with a note from “Jack”: “Didn’t have time to finish this, so I gave it to my assistant—Bill DuBay. Did a wonderful job, didn’t he?” Dick wrote back when he sent the first script intended for me. “Boy, he sure did!” [laughs] From there, I was off and running.
Jon: How did you begin working with Warren Publishing?
William: I was in the Army and had been stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina for about two years—editing the newspaper there, The Ft. Bragg Paraglide—when I took a trip to New York, walked into Jim’s office and introduced myself. Jim was always pretty confrontational, so the first words out of his mouth were, “So, what makes you think you’re good enough to work for me?” I shot back, “‘Cause I’m the best who ever was!” I then whipped a couple of pages from my portfolio and threw them on his desk. “That’s why I think I’m good enough.” [laughs] We struck up an instant adversarial friendship—and I walked out with a script. That was in ’69—and it was that regrettably forgettable story that appeared in Neal’s “Rock God” issue of Creepy. [#31]
Jon: Which leads to how you became Warren’s go-to guy.
William: He was Jim Warren. He needed someone good. Did anyone have a better suggestion? Writer. Artist. Chameleon. Boy Wonder who knew he was the best of the best!
I was out of the Army, going to college, 12 units from my B.A., doing cartoon art for everybody under the sun and publishing a laughable little rag called The Bay Area Entertainer. People liked it because it was free and told them where to party—and it got me in everywhere. I was having a time and still doing the occasional story for Warren. Jim knew I was the guy. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Jon: Did you have strict standards as an editor? Were you tough?
William: I felt I had to be. I was representing Jim with every decision I made. I had to constantly ask myself, “What would Jim want? What would Jim do? Does this meet Jim’s standards?” With that mindset, you have to constantly strive to make sure your contributors— both writers and artists—are among the best in the business.
Jon: How did Warren’s writers feel about you?
William: I think most knew what I expected and attempted to meet those expectations. Still, there were very few scripts that got though intact. As a matter of fact, there was only one writer whose scripts I’d pretty much leave alone: Jim Stenstrum. When he brought in a story, he’d been working on it a minimum of three months—and it was ready to go. He never made much money, but he was the most brilliant comics writer (if you can use that adjective with that noun) with whom I ever had the pleasure of working. He became a close friend and, towards the end, around ’81, ’82, when I was burned out, I wanted him to come in as editor. He lived with me for a while—in my studio, actually—but, the job turned out to be a lot more than he bargained for, so he moved to California to work in animation.
Jon: Any memorable staffers?
William: All of them were memorable. We were in the trenches together, so they all pretty much became family.
Bill Mohalley was my first assistant and first hire. I took him out of The School of Visual Arts and ran him through the same sort of near-sadistic basic training Jim had given me. He produced virtually every page of every issue of Famous Monsters and stayed with the company till the very end. After that, he went up the street to Starlog and has been their Creative Director for the past 15 years. Louise Jones came in as my assistant around ’75. I met her when Jim threw a party at the Plaza Hotel to welcome Will Eisner and Rich Corben to the company. She walked in with then-husband Jeff Jones and, when the party carried over to my apartment, I learned of her interest in comics. I didn’t bother to take her number, but called Archie a day or so later to set up an interview. She was working as an editorial assistant for McFadden Publications at the time, but apparently found Warren more interesting.
Then there was Sherry Berne, our Captain Company advertising designer, sweet, pretty, and talented—someone who just filled the offices with her contagious good spirit. Michele Brand, Roger’s widow, came aboard to produce our color comic separations. Suzin Furst, another wonderful production artist, was a lot of fun. As were Ray Gailardo, Kim McQuaite, Tim Moriarity and Nick Cuti. We had some great people—and some great times!
CBA: When did Bill DuBay come on board?
Jim: I remember the first time I saw him. I said, "You are too young to work for this company, too young to work for anybody. You are a callow youth. You don't even shave yet. Let me see your work." I took one look and said, "You're hired." [laughter] Bill had a habit of never doing the job I gave him. He would do the job plus 25% more.
CBA: He brought in a very strong design element into those books.
Jim: We agonized over the graphics. We needed to give the books a total Warren look, something different and instantly recognizable—and that design was classic. He was able to take my sketches, ideas and concepts and translate them into reality—and if you think that's easy, it isn't. You can say the same thing to three other art directors and they won't get it—they'll do their version and ignore the concept you're trying to establish.
CBA: On and off, he spent 13 years with you.
Jim: He didn't spend 13 years. Let me clarify that: He spent 20 years because Bill DuBay didn't come in at nine and leave at five; Bill DuBay usually came in at 10:30 and left at 10:00 at night—not eight hours a day, but 12.