Steve Englehart is an American writer of comic books and novels. His impressive comics experience includes his work at Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the 1970s and 1980s and The Night Man in the 90s.
How did you get started in Comics? Reading your bio you studied Psychology?
I loved comics since I was a little kid, particularly the art, since the stories were simply serviceable. Maybe that’s why I wanted to do stories I liked better when I got the chance. And stories are all about people, so psychology.
What was it like working for Marvel in the 70s?
Fun. It really was the Bullpen they said it was, a small group of people all devoted to doing great comics, and I was psyched (so-to-speak) to be involved in it. We had complete creative freedom to make the best comics we could, and that’s not a common thing.
What was the biggest difference between DC and Marvel? Both of which you’ve worked for.
Marvel has become a real corporation, but it’s always had a human vibe because Stan had a human vibe. DC has always been a corporation and they have no human vibe.
You’ve created quite a few characters, which one did you enjoy writing about the most?
Coyote. My first series outside the Comics Code so I got to go in all sorts of new directions.
Do you think your environment—where you live—has an effect on the type of art you create?
I think so. I moved to California because I liked California, and so I have had a more complete life than if I were living someplace simply for work. Also, Cali has a certain vibe and that probably comes through in my overall body of work.
Is it easier for you to create if you are given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
Either way, because when I started it was all assignments and we didn’t know anything else—while, as I said, we had complete freedom to create. So I could make any assignment whatever I wanted it to be. (I should add that I’m old-school enough to honor the character I’ve been given, so that is part of what I wanted it to be. I don’t believe in blowing things up to just do it. But building and expanding makes for good stories.)
You’ve also written novels and screenplays—not just comics. What medium do you think you’ve achieved the most in with your writing?
Comics. I naturally resonate to the rhythms there. I can do others and I like the others, but those are rhythms I have to adapt to.
What have you written that you are most proud of?
It’s an annoying answer but I like almost everything I’ve written, because I almost always make it what I consider likable (and hope you think so, too).
What was the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to do in your writing career? A specific assignment from a comic book company, a screenplay for a producer, or books for a publisher?
Off the top of my head: I was asked to do an English script for a Yu-Gi-Oh! cartoon, where the villains spoke normal language in the original, but were supposed to rhyme in English. The problem was, they would make mouth movements for “Blah blah blah blah blah,” and then “blah.” It was impossible to make any rhymes. But when I showed the producer that he said, “Do it anyway.” Needless to say, I bailed.
What projects are you working on now?
A while ago I set myself a huge challenge, writing-wise, because that sort of thing is fun for me. I would write chunks of it, then forget about it for months while I’d travel or whatever. Then when the pandemic hit, I started to work on it daily, and now I’m close to finishing it. It’s a seven issue “mini” where each issue is 60 pages long, and soon we’ll see if anybody wants to draw such a thing. But from a writing standpoint it’s been the usual fun.