Friday, March 1, 2019



Barbara Bloomfield
(Edited by John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino)  

Swing With Scooter

Ask me how I got started writing an article for this blog and I'll tell you it’s because I happened to Google myself on the internet. And so, there I was, that is, there I was under the name of Barbara Friedlander, a name I had two last names ago. So, to the world of DC Comics during 1963-1970ish, I was the Mother and Creator of the comic Swing with Scooter (not exactly the Mother of Dragons, but just as daunting) and I wrote and edited romance comics along with Jack Miller. I knew most of the editorial staff, the bullpen, and the talented freelance writers and artists. 

Let’s not forget the then President of DC (called National Periodical Publications at the time), Mr. Jacob S. "Jack" Leibowitz, the Vice President, Mr. Harry Donenfeld, and the folks in the accounting and clerical department, which is where I started. I consider myself a relic of that time. When I was nineteen I began as a fish out of water taking subscriptions and any odd job, Mr. Aurthur Gutowitz, the head of clerical, handed me. He hired me, but he often said, “Barbara, you don’t belong here. You should be married.” He echoed my Mother’s sentiments, and so there I was in the mindset of most young women of the time; get married and have kids. At nineteen, you want to find yourself, but you don’t always know where to look.

So, here I am many years later and I go ahead to find myself again, this time it's with Google. It gives me an update on just who I was back then, and it dawns on me, that the stuff I discover is amazing! I then tell my kids about my life in comics and they say, “How come we didn’t know about this?” It was very exciting to rediscover my past life so naturally, I went back on the net and started buying back some of the issues I wrote and edited. I tell my kids, “See that’s me Barbara Friedlander!” The next thing I did was go to Heritage Auctions. I had bought antiques from them in the past when I was an antique dealer and I remembered they had a comic book division. As luck would have it, I got to speak with comic aficionado, Joe Mannarino.

Joe knows all about comic books; he evaluates them and the original artwork and like all the smarties in the field, he knows everything past and present. We reminisce and I'm reminded of all the DC folks walking the halls of the Grolier Building, where DC was once located in NYC. He puts me in touch with Richard Arndt, who is heavy into comic lore and loves the darker side of the field. He knows many of the writers and artists I worked with, and more info starts flooding back to me; BINGO! Richard soon interviews me for Alter Ego, Roy Thomas’ holy grail comic history magazine which is a who’s who in the comic book world.

Roy had met me years ago in passing at DC. He even remembered me! Now I am stoked, and so I put together a kind of “Look Book” and email it to a few people who I think might find it a missing link to DC history. Along the way, the Look Book goes to Jacque Nodell, creator of Sequential Crush, an online blog dedicated to all things romance. We click and do an interview about the silver age DC romance titles, which of course are my special baby...Snap! 

I get invited to TERRIFICON in 2018, where I meet Roy Thomas again and do a Romance Comic panel with Paul Kupperberg. He had met me, quite by a fluke, years back, at an Antique Show, and he knew my name from comic book history. I was flattered but the importance of the meeting eluded me at the time. Paul, as I learned, was an editor at DC and has written romance and action stuff. He was kind and totally into comics, too. I began to notice that people are so involved in this special field and are interested in moving it forward and preserving the genre. This time my kids are there with me and I'm blown away by the sincerity of all the comic fans. My kids are astounded and wonder, “Why did you give this up?” Naturally, I have no good answer. These serendipitous turn of events lead Roy Thomas to introduce me to his manager -- John Cimino! So, I fasten my seat belt and come along for the ride because he likes driving fast. 

 We are not, and never have been, one trick ponies

More than anything, I want the readers to know what the DC mindset was back then, hell, it was the mindset of the time. So, Baby Boomers gave me my title and then there was a thing called the Korean Conflict. We were busy keeping America safe, fighting bad guys around every corner, this was what the comic books were made for -- good guys versus bad guys. DC had SUPERHEROES, and with very, very few exceptions, men wrote and drew those heroes. Lois Lane and Diana Prince may have hit home for a few females who took typing and had a smart nose for a good story. As you might have guessed, most of their actual talents were, ordering coffee, working switch boards, taking dictation and adding numbers.

Back then, high schools and secretarial schools offered typing classes, and later dictation, for those who wanted to be secretaries or bookkeepers. I don’t recall any guys in those classes, most took shop, forget about home economics. So, as a female, you were destined to be a Betty the homemaker, Marilyn Monroe Sex Goddess, or file clerk extraordinaire. Being a stinky typist, and out of the running for sex goddess, I was on the hunt for me. One thing I've learned over the years, we can fry eggs and fly to the moon, but if we’re lucky we can make our own choice. We are not, and never have been, one trick ponies. 

 DC was run like a "mom and pop" shop

There was one huge computer, it resided on the other end of the DC building. It handled all the subscriptions, and at the time, including the distribution of Playboy, and other publications. It was a very huge thingy and was so sensitive to dust, heat and bad input, let’s face it, it was a relic, but it was DC’s step into the future. Meanwhile, while the 20th century was forging ahead on the distribution, DC itself was run like a "mom and pop" shop. Printing operations and all the operation kudos with pats on the back never happened. Creators and artists were expected to hatch ideas and plot twists without exception or big Daddy would raise hell and make you feel like kryptonite kicked you in the butt. 

Most comic book groupies have heard the sad tale of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ownership battles with DC over Superman. It ain’t pretty and it doesn’t have a happy ending. I’ve heard what I consider the “real” version of the story, and although I knew most of the people involved, you create something fresh and original, you damn well better protect it. Intellectual property is the right to claim and reap the momentary benefits that you “gave your heart and soul” to, and if you are considering a career, don’t sign your genius away. Sheer luck had propelled the Donenfelds and Liebowitz’ company into what every red blooded kid needed at the time -- red, white and blue good guys. By using capes and muscles, and a group for talent they often took for granted. They had let two, down on their luck guys, Siegel and Schuster, print what they thought was another piece of junk so that their unused printers would get a workout. For $130 bucks gold was printed in Action Comics #1. One day, I'll tell the full story in detail. 

The other comic book horror story was concerning Batman. Bob Kane was the artist and I met him numerous times. I also met Bill Finger, but even though he was the main creator and writer, he was treated like dirt by editor Mort Weisinger and a few others. Mort was not known for kindness; I think he was envious of talented people (he was a mega bad guy) and got a kick out of creating conflicts where there were none. But DC had its fair share of good editors and a few of them liked working for sales. I knew this because I worked in that division. And I knew comic books are sold by their covers and without distribution you’re dead in the water and that’s why the pressure was always on. 

You may have heard that DC stood for “Detective Comics”, I think, knowing the nature of the men behind the scene, “Donenfeld Comics” was a more accurate name. The company was a small, down on their luck (due to the Depression), lack of business, little "mom and pop" operation. This also meant they employed relatives, and guess what happened next? Skip ahead a few years and some of those lucky ducks made it to the big time at DC. 


Enter me

Enter me, still taking subscriptions, and as you may have guessed, mostly for the action comics. Many of a terrific adventure story knows no bounds, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that prisons and youth facilities were among our biggest fans. To no one’s surprise, they sent cash for their books and I’m sure they were never disappointed. I have never fully understood why comic books got such a bad rap. The writers were well educated and well read, and the language they employed kept the reader fully engaged. The art became more and more sophisticated and if these two factors continued to go unnoticed by mainstream educators, it’s hard for me to understand exactly why.

I was a Betty and Veronica, Archie, and Katy Keene fan, and I had never read a romance comic until I was at DC, then BINGO I was hooked. Why? Simple. I was a fan of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwick, Greta Garbo, and Lana Turner. All the glamour girls who loved and lost and learned the road to true love was one of life’s great lessons. Yes, I was hooked and I also saw the need for continuing dramas, soap operas. Who, in their right minds didn’t get so involved in all the plot twists? These cliff hangers were made for readers who wanted more from their glamorous heroines. The characters I created were career girls, reporters, and models. Some were mysterious with hidden pasts and deep dark secrets. I wanted them to be more than just pretty faces; they had to do more then go bananas over unapproachable guys with tally sheets for feelings and abs for brains. In those early days, these were just ideas that percolated in the back of my mind.


No one stands so tall as when he stoops to stuff

I worked with another young woman, named Jane. We were "IT" when it came to deluxe grunt work, coffee runs, filing, but then Jane had to take sick leave. This coincided with Mr. Donenfeld‘s inspiration to send out a multiple page mailer to all our comic book subscribers. This included old subscribers, and lists of lists, from well, you’d have to ask Irwin Donenfeld (Harry's son) about that. Oh, and all the pages had to be sorted, folded, stamped, and have addresses adhered. Remember the "mom and pop" mentality that existed? This was before Kinney National Services and then Time Warner expanded National Periodicals into a bigger, more professional company.

Let me just say that there were close to eight or nine hundred envelopes and papers to be stuffed and NO accountant, personal secretary, or mail boy were asked to help. I mean they had important jobs to do, so Irwin asked the Editors, you know, the men in charge of the actual books? NUTS! Why hire temporary help when you could get a bunch of “Gold Bricks” that were just sitting around reading comic books to help out with the hump work? I got together with all the editors and production department to take care of this insane task. I organized the piles of papers and we created an assembly of stuffers and folders and then I made up a motto of sorts, because this was too crazy not to give it a name, “No one stands so tall as when he stoops to stuff.”

And that is how I got to know the creative staff at DC. 

True Dat!!

If  you have questions for Barbara, please contact her at:


  1. Looks great, please go for it!

  2. Great information and welcome back to the fold Barbara!

    1. Thank you!I'll be at Plastic City in Mass, come and see me!!Barbara Friedlander

  3. Thanks for the off-beat" article John.

  4. Very interesting and informative!

  5. This was a fun read. Thank you John and Barbara.

  6. I had the great pleasure of meeting Barbara at TerrifiCon 2018, and she was kind enough to postpone leaving the convention itself just to spend some time with me. She's an incredibly charming woman, and there's a regrettable dearth of information online about her. So glad I found this article.