DC Comics’ And Television Writer Marty Pasko Passes (1954 – 2020)

by Olly MacNamee

The sad news has broke that Marty Pasko has passed away from natural causes today, May 11th 2020.

Martin Joseph Pasko was born August 4th 1954 making him only 65 and while his career saw him write for a wide variety of media, including shows such as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Roseanne, The Twilight Zone and Max Headroom he will probably be better known to older readers for his writing and editing work in the field of comics, starting with Superman in 1973 and a back-up strip for Superman #277. He was a particularly prevalent writer for DC Comics throughout the 70s and in later decades moved into writing for television too.

His time in the comic book industry saw him work not only on Superman titles on and off, but also on the Star Trek comics for Marvel as well as creating the concept of Nabu residing in Dr Fate’s helmet; an idea that was adopted by Roy Thomas in the All Star-Squadron and has been an integral part of Dr Fate ever since. He also had the unfortunate claim to being the writer who preceded Alan Moore on Saga of The Swamp Thing, which was illustrated by Tom Yates and a title I really enjoyed.

For me he will stand out as the guy who launched DC Comics Presents, one of the comics that got me into a hobby that has vastest a lifetime. So, yeah, he was a big part of my youth and a big part of my early love of comics. And, a big part of many people’s lives. As you can tell from the outpouring of shock and grief shared by some of those he knew, and didn’t but were touched by his work, over on Twitter:

We’ll leave you with the words of Paul Levitz, a man who knew him well and who posted the following tribute over on Facebook:

This is a hard one to write, bear with me. I just received word that Martin Pasko passed away.

Marty was part of my life almost forever. FANTAZINE, which he and Alan Brennert produced from just before Paul Kupperberg and I started our fanzines, was one of our inspirations. I still have the note Marty sent ‘resigning’ from the fanzine business claiming we were doing what he’d hope he could do, scrawled loudly in his bold handwriting. We became good buddies during his time as an editorial assistant to Julie Schwartz at DC while I was assisting Joe Orlando, and ended up rooming together for a couple of years when I moved out of my folks’ house. He and I were part of now-legendary poker games, collaborated on a tale or three, and even though he headed out to Los Angeles to seek the next stage of his career, our lives stayed intertwined. He wrote stories for me when I was an editor, stood up in my bridal party, and connected back with me professionally when he was writing and story editing on BATMAN ADVENTURES. After the Northridge Quake, he came back to New York, and did another stint at DC, heading a special projects editorial team before ultimately returning to LA.

But you’re more likely to know Marty from his writing. He was the first. of the fan generation to be the regular writer on SUPERMAN (then THE prestige assignment at DC), helped bring Wonder Woman back to glory after her detour out of costume, and touched the lives of most of the DC heroes. In television he built an impressive list of credits, including ROSEANNE, TWILIGHT ZONE and a ton of animation. He was the writer of MASK OF THE PHANTASM, the first Batman animated movie. Along the way he picked up an Emmy Award, and the respect of his peers.

Marty connected with comics originally as a letterhack, with Julie Schwartz pinning the label ‘Pesky’ Pasko on him. Whether commenting on the latest comic he read, the events of the day in politics, creative theory, or just making conversation, Marty had one of the sharpest wits of our generation, and opinions…oy, did he have opinions. I learned from him, learned by arguing with him, and took joy in ample helpings with the hamburgers or Chinese food we shared over the decades.

There are too many tales to tell (and quite a few I won’t), and I’m pissed at him for dying when we can’t even have a proper funeral. But the odds are you’ve read his work, credited or not, or enjoyed a comic or cartoon or tv show or even a theme park event he made better, even as he relentlessly complained about the difficulties of making it as good as it ‘should’ be. Marty didn’t have a genius for making anything easy (especially for him), but he had a real genius for making creative magic. Go read one of his stories or watch one of his shows, and raise a glass to a writer who always gave you his all.

RIP Martin Jospeh Pasko (August 4th 1954 – May 11th 2020)

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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