My First Freelance Writing Sale: A History Of DC Comics’ THE SECRET SIX

You never forget your first.

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1984. I have never been a terribly successful freelance writer, but I wrote some stuff, made some sales, collected my meager paychecks, and got some notice. My widest notoriety was connected to my rockin’ pop journalism for Goldmine magazine 1986-2006, for Rhino Records‘ 1997 CD collection Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The ’90s, for contributions to books like Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth and Shake Some Action, and for my proudly biased proselytizin’ on behalf of The Flashcubes. Since 1998, I’ve co-hosted (and written weekly commentary for) This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. Since 2016, I’ve pursued the cockeyed notion of daily blogging right here at Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). I’m currently writing a book called The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). I’m at least as active now as I’ve ever been. 

But before I ever started getting money to write about rock ‘n’ roll, I was paid to write about comic books.

My very first freelance writing sale was to a magazine called Amazing Heroes. In 1984, AH editor David W. Olbrich bought my history of The Secret Six, a DC Comics title which had run for seven issues in 1968-69. 

Success! MONEY! Nearly enough money to buy dinner for two, and a movie! Nearly. But the best thing was seeing my byline in Amazing Heroes # 58 (11/1/84), and knowing that whatever happened or didn’t happen next, I had been paid for writing. I really liked that idea.

I did a little more work for Amazing Heroes over the next couple of years, and branched out to Krause Publications with a 1985 retrospective of the 1960s Batman TV series for Krause’s Comics Collector magazine. Krause also published a music magazine called Goldmine. That history was told elsewhere, in a lengthy reminiscence called “The Road To Goldmine.”

My freelance writing story started here, with a fond look back at a 1960s comic book about five adventurers being blackmailed by the sixth member of their team. But none of them knew which teammate was doing the blackmailing. Until they figured that out, they were obliged to answer the call:

DC did eventually do a sequel series to The Secret Six, published in the late ’80s in the pages of Action Comics Weekly. The “Secret Six” title was later appropriated and repurposed for an unrelated group of DC super-villains, and while some of those stories have their moments, they weren’t about my Secret Six. 

My Secret Six was important to me. I wrote about them. I sold what I wrote. And I kept writing after that.

In 2019, I sold four short stories to AHOY Comics. I’m working on my book. I’m blogging. I’m writing. And I’m not done writing just yet.


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Quick Spins

The Monkees / Live – The Mike & Micky Show

The Monkees

Live – The Mike & Micky Show (Rhino)

Micky Dolenz has often joked about the aging Monkees over the years, saying, “Eventually, there’ll be just one of us touring, billed as The Monkee.” Truth be told, though, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith have toured in so many different groupings over the years, that diehard fans don’t find it particularly odd that further shows will only include Micky and Mike. Seems like par for the course, actually.

The Mike & Micky Show chronicles a string of shows done in March of 2019, and it’s one that is sure to please. Micky opens the show with an enthusiastic “Last Train To Clarksville,” followed by Mike’s “Sunny Girlfriend.” Both Monkees are in fine voice, evidenced by the fact that Mike belts out the ringing high notes in the bridge of his “You Just May Be The One,” and Micky still squarely nails the high notes at the end of “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

Fans are also treated to several neglected Nesmith gems like “You Told Me” from 1967’s brilliant  Headquarters, and “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster,” written for him by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller for the recent Good Times! long-player.

Also from Good Times! and arguably the highlight of these evening shows, is the beautiful duet between the old friends, which is an absolute master class in harmony vocalizing. These two Monkees have always had a really fine vocal kinship, but here, in the tender ballad, “Me & Magdalena,” it’s nothing short of gorgeous.

Fronting a skilled band that includes Mike’s son, Christian, and Micky’s sister, Coco, The Monkees are as strong and smile-inducing as they ever have been. Unlike their initial live album way back when, The Mike & Micky Show’s sound quality is superb. Additionally, it boasts a whopping twenty-five tracks, each as welcome to these ears as the one before it. Highly recommended.


Quick Spins

Stone Temple Pilots / Perdida

Stone Temple Pilots

Perdida (Rhino)

It’s never an easy row to hoe when a new member steps into a band replacing an original member. Vocalist Jeff Gutt has just such a task, having to walk a very narrow line somewhere between his own personal voice and that of Scott Weiland. In my humble opinion, he succeeds on all counts here.

Perdida is a soft, atmospheric affair, fleshed out by acoustic instruments that lend honesty to the songs. “Fare Thee Well” is a lonely, Southern ballad, and stands  confidently amongst the best tunes in STP’s back catalog. “She’s My Queen” is a dreamy love song, buoyed by clouds of hazy background vocals. 

My fave of the set is “Sunburst,” which aims for Abbey Road greatness, and very nearly achieves it. While not everyone might appreciate the band’s new direction, I’m betting they gain far more fans with Perdida than they lose. It’s refreshing to see an established rock band take a risk by shifting gears.