Monday, February 19, 2018

The Legion Companion

The Legion Companion is the 2003 book all about the Legion. Perhaps you have heard of The All-Star Companion, or The Justice League Companion, or The Fawcett Companion? Well there is one out there all about the Legion, as well. And today we're going to talk with the man behind it, Mr. Glen Cadigan!

Q: Could you tell us the Secret Origin of the The Legion Companion? Did you have a relationship with TwoMorrows already, or did you pitch it to them cold?
A long time ago, way back in the early 2000's, I had a Legion website called The Legion of Super-Heroes Online Companion. It had issue summaries, a list of heroes and villains (with pictures), and a section devoted to creators with a brief bio of each. It was divided into chapters -- '60s, '70s, early '80s, mid-to-late '80s, and the Five Years Later era. (At least, it was in theory. I only ever got around to doing the 5YL era (which is where I started, before I expanded) and the Silver and Bronze Age.)
It no longer exists, but those were the early days of the Internet, when all it took to become an expert on something was to plant your flag and start a website. Since every other Legion website out there (almost -- there was one Silver Age one) was about the Zero Hour reboot, there was a void to be filled.

The site actually took up a lot of time and was a lot of work, and I was thinking of ways I could improve it. Then it hit me that interviews with creators would be a good way to accomplish that goal. There was a Daredevil fan site at the time that really did a good job of that, so it was a natural progression for me to make, and I'd already done the research on a lot of the creators' lives.
I was aware of TwoMorrows by that point, and had interacted with P.C. Hamerlinck, the editor of FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America), which is still published as a part of Roy Thomas' Alter Ego magazine. He'd emailed me a picture of Otto Binder (upon request -- I found his address online) for my site, and it was a pleasant interaction. TwoMorrows had published both The All-Star Companion and The Fawcett Companion by then, and I just naturally assumed they'd eventually publish one about the Legion of Super-Heroes. But as time went by and one didn't appear, I started to think, "Why not me?"
So I reached out to P.C. to let him know my intentions, and inquire if he thought that was the sort of thing that TwoMorrows might be interested in. He said yes, and told me to drop his name in my email to John Morrow. As it turned out, TwoMorrows had considered doing a Legion book, but none of their regulars had enough of an interest in doing it! (This was back before Michael Eury was there, otherwise I would've been toast!)
To his credit, John gave me a chance. It's funny; I remember him saying it would have to be more than just character bios and issue summaries, like on my website, but my intention was always to fill it with interviews. I was a big, BIG fan of Peter Sanderson's X-Men Companion, and that was really my template for a book about the Legion. But any feedback I got from fans was along the lines of, "Why isn't it more like The All-Star Companion?" as if any book without issue summaries and indexes was doing it wrong.

Q: How long did it take you to write/assemble it, from GO to publication?
The rule of thumb for any of those books was about a year, and The Legion Companion was a little bit longer. That's because it wasn't a given when I got the green light. The timeline went like this: I already had an interview in my back pocket in case John Morrow wanted to see what I could do. I'd run into Jim Mooney on eBay in April of 2002, and summoned up the nerve to ask for a phone interview. I figured if there was no book, then I could always put it on my website, but John didn't even ask to see it.

TwoMorrows had only done two DC Companion books by that time (three overall -- George Khoury's excellent Miracleman Companion was the other), and it was really on a case-by-case basis. I was told -- and it's been a while, but I'm pretty sure this is true -- that no one at DC would sign off on The All-Star Companion, given its grey area as a scholarly work. It went all the way up the chain until it landed on Paul Levitz's desk, and he approved it personally given a) it was Roy Thomas, b) his own association with the Justice Society, and c) his roots in comics fandom.
Look at the depth of interviews and/or profiles Glen included!! 
So when I pitched The Legion Companion to John, he said that he wanted to wait until that year's Comic-Con International to feel Paul Levitz out face-to-face. I had to wait three months to hear back, and the report, when it came, was that he'd said, "I'd like to see it." And with that blessing, I was officially given the green light.
Another funny story: at that same con, Tom Galloway approached John Morrow and pitched doing a Legion book with them. Tom is a Big Name Fan, and he had what I didn't have -- credentials -- but again, to his credit, John Morrow stuck with me. He didn't dump me for the pretty girl at the dance!
The book came out a little over a year later. And when I got back on the horse, the next person that I interviewed was Dave Cockrum. Enough time had passed that I was nervous all over again!
Creators who Glen was not able to interview still got profile pages and write-ups
Q: How did you know you were "done"? Did you have a mandatory page count, or a deadline, or both?  
It was the page count. At some point I figured out that a half hour interview worked out to five pages, and an hour-long one was ten. Based upon how much work each creator had done, I could estimate the length of the interview, and therefore, the number of pages. There was also a deadline, but it was more of a flexible one. The book was supposed to come out in September, but production delays pushed it back to October, I think.

Q: How did you manage to get interviews with so many Legion creators?
I just asked! This was back before social media, so it was like tracking down long-lost relatives. Some I found through message boards and mailing lists, like Dave Cockrum and Steve Lightle. Others I got through TwoMorrows, and there was even someone at DC that sent me Al Plastino's mailing address. I ended up calling him, anyway, because he was in the book, and once you have his address, you can just look it up. But there was a lot of cross-referencing through websites that had public data (based upon birth & death certificates, I imagine, along with census information), and that was how I tracked down the hard-to-find ones. An address leads to a phone number, etc..
Funny story; for years, every so often someone would ask on a Legion board, "Whatever happened to James Sherman?" So tracking him down was a priority, and I found him in the exact same studio where he had drawn the Legion years earlier. He'd never left! How's that for lost?
Q: Would you share one or two of your favorite things that happened to you while you were writing The Legion Companion?
The thing that strikes me the most is a happy accident that occurred because the book was late. I was online at Legion World, and a poster there happened to mention that he had Legion commissions by Curt Swan. I immediately reached out to him and asked if he'd like to send copies directly to the book's designer so they could make it in time. His reply was along the lines of, "Isn't it almost out?" I let him know that if he acted fast, there was still a chance to get them in. So Mike Napolitano stepped up, and that's the reason why there are so many beautiful Curt Swan penciled commissions in there! If the book had been on schedule, they wouldn't have made it.
I also remember the designer left a couple out, and I told him to put them ALL in. 

Curt Swan as inked by Steve Lightle. A real rarity! 

Q: How about sharing one or two things that didn't work out quite as well as you had hoped? I'm not necessarily asking for "dirt," I'm just curious about missed opportunities or not enough time or things like that...
Everything happened to my satisfaction. I had certain goals when I started out, and I accomplished all of them. I wanted a cover by Dave Cockrum, and I got it. Ditto for an introduction by Jim Shooter. It wasn't like I wanted an interview with Steve Ditko and I didn't get it. I was realistic about what was attainable.

Q: Who was your favorite interview, and why? How about least interesting, or dull? You might not want to answer that one....!
It sounds like a cop out, but they were all interesting. For commercial reasons, I knew I had to get the big guns, so as each one was checked off, the book came together. It was very satisfying to add texture to the book and cover some of the creators that other editors might have skipped. There was a period there in the mid-Eighties when Mindy Newell, Terry Shoemaker, Dan Jurgens, and Ernie Colon were all in the mix, and I interviewed all of them.

Even lesser-famous LSH creators, such as Jimmy Janes, 

get their time in the spotlight! 

Q: Can you tell us how you accumulated so many great illustrations for the book?
There were a few collectors that contributed a lot of artwork, and many collectors that contributed a few. It's a very small community, so I knew who the big dogs were since I was active online. When I later did both Titans Companions, I also had the same ratio, plus I viewed original art galleries online to see what was out there. Since most collectors are fans first, they were happy to help.

Q: Any regrets? Any thing you read in the book today and you think "I wish I had  asked a follow-up," or done something differently or something else?

Nope. I know that some people wanted to see the reboot be covered, too, but there simply wasn't enough room. I didn't want to shoehorn it into the end as a, "By the way," and TwoMorrows had a very specific demographic that needed to be catered to first. I left the door open for a sequel down the road, but market conditions, changes of personal at DC, and diminishing returns on future books closed that door pretty tight.
I was pretty lucky that I did the book when I did. Al Plastino, Dave Cockrum, and Jim Mooney are no longer with us. I got to ask them specific questions about their work that wouldn't be nailed down now if I hadn't. Obvious questions, like if Jim Mooney designed the characters that first appeared in the stories that he drew (he did). That's nine Silver Age Legionnaires, and people would still be debating if it was him or Curt Swan or somebody else if I hadn't. If only my predecessors had tracked down Jerry Siegel to ask similar questions while he was still around!
I guess I regret that everyone wasn't still alive for me to interview, but that's not a regret, that's life.

The Legion Companion is an awesome collection of original art, great interviews, and interesting facts. Unfortunately, it is no longer available from TwoMorrows Publishing. So if you ever happen upon a copy at a used bookstore or at a convention, the Legion of Super-Bloggers *absolutely* recommends you pick it up!!

Glen Cadigan was born on the planet Earth in the second half of the Twentieth Century. He used to write non-fiction, but now he just makes things up. His previous work includes The Legion CompanionThe Best of The Legion Outpost, and The Titans Companion Vols. 1 & 2. His stories also appear in Cthulhu Tales Omnibus: Madness and Cthulhu Tales Omnibus: Delirium. When he isn't making fun of lawyers, he pursues more literary endeavours. You can find out more about him at
Although The Legion Companion is no longer available, some of his other work is (atleast, at the time of this writing....).
Check out


  1. Would love to have a copy of this one but they're going for darned near two hundred bucks on Amazon. Still, I've added it to my "look for" list and perhaps someday at some out of the way used book store..........

  2. Great story. It was very cool to get a behind the scenes, plus some awesome drawings!