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Rightful Recognition

An exhibition at McCabe Library this spring highlighted the work of Bob Haney ’48 (1926–2004). Although he co-created iconic characters for DC Comics, such as the Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, Metamorpho, and Eclipso, and wrote memorable team-ups during his tenure on The Brave and the Bold, Haney is perhaps best known for not receiving rightful recognition for his work while he was alive.

Bob Haney '48 (1926–2004) was a comic book writer for over 30 years, selling his first story the same year that he graduated from Swarthmore. Haney began work in the comics industry at a time when publishers rarely credited creators. Haney's colleague and fellow writer Arnold Drake attributed this to the publishers' attempts to avoid any creators rising to stardom in the eyes of the fans, lest they have to pay them what they were actually worth. Writers also lacked copyright or ownership over the characters they created; their reward for starting a new series was an extra writing assignment, regardless of how popular or profitable those characters became.

It would be decades until DC provided royalties to creators for reprints. In this climate of low page rates, late payments, and no job security, Haney and Drake attempted to unionize comic book writers in order increase page rates and negotiate a sense of ownership over the characters and their stories. These attempts failed, partially due to the lack of participation from artists, who were paid slightly more and treated somewhat better. As the years passed, DC removed Haney from his regular writing assignments in search of "new blood", eventually cancelling the last series he worked on in 1982. After his “retirement” from DC, he still occasionally wrote comic scripts; his last story was published posthumously in 2004. In 2011, Haney was posthumously awarded the Bill Finger Award, an award that seeks to honor underappreciated writers in the comic book industry. This exhibition showcases highlights of his work, from his earliest credit to the "lost" work published after his death, in order to honor his contributions to the world of comics.