RICH INTERVIEWS: Joe Staton Artist and Co-Creator of E-Man

First Comics News: What is a normal day in the life of Joe Staton?

Joe Staton:  I try to catch up on e-mail and computer stuff for an hour or so around 8AM.  Usually to work by a little after 9AM and then finish up around 8PM.  Couple of times a week I’ll get in a long walk with either Hilarie or my pal artist Paul Abrams, who lives down the street.  We have a great Victorian cemetery a the end of our street perfect for walking. When I have a day off I usually work in the yard, bushes to trim, grass to cut.

1st: You co-created “E-Man” with Nicola Cuti in 1973 how did you two come up with the idea for E-Man?

Joe:  Well, I say Nick created E-Man and I co-created E-Man.  No Nick, no E-Man; no me, a very different character.  Nick wanted to start a new super-hero line at Charlton, but management decided not to back that but did let him go ahead with his own character, E-Man.  I had worked well with Nick on the sci-fi and horror stories so he called me with his idea of E-Man.  Originally, Nick’s idea for E-Man was  that he was a janitor at an atomic energy plant who was caught in an accident. I thought that sounded too much like Capt. Atom, so I asked Nick if he could come with something different as an origin.  And he did, with E-Man as an energy being thrown off by a supernova.  I was really pleased with that and I still think it’s one of the most original origins for a hero.

1st: “E-Man” has certainly moved around some from Charlton Comics, First Comics, Comico, Alpha Productions, Digital Webbing and back to Charlton Comics why did this happen?

Joe:  E-Man has had a following from company to company but never has had a robust ongoing circulation.  Whenever we’ve had a shot at a new publisher, E-Man turns up again. It seems appropriate that new E-Man stories have come back to Charlton.  And of course, the new version of First Comics has the E-Man reprints.

1st: Why is now a good time to revive “E-Man”?

Joe:  It’s always a good time for E-Man.  You can’t keep a good energy creature down.

1st: Who is E-Man, what powers does he have?

Joe:  As we’ve mentioned, E-Man is an alien life form, an energy packet who developed awareness. After thousands of years in space, he comes to earth where he is taken in by Nova Kane, who is working her way through college as a stripper.  E-Man takes on human form to be around Nova.  He basically can take on any physical form and can absorb or generate forms of energy.  He is a tremendously powerful character so it’s a good thing he is slow to become angry. Nick had Plastic Man in mind for some of his transformations so he can take on humorous forms as well as heroic ones.

1st: What look does your art give to E-Man’s face, what characteristics?

Joe:  E-Man made up his own look and tried to look like a  human hero .  When I was designing his look I settled on Roger Moore, James Bond, who just recently died. So he is an American version of Roger Moore.

1st: Who is Nova and how do you manage to draw her looking so beautiful?

Joe:  Nova is a nice Polish girl from Pennsylvania who came to New York to follow her education in archaeology at Xanadu University (which looks a lot like Columbia).  She supports her studies by performing as an “exotic dancer” and was originally based on Kim Novak in a tv movie called “Third Girl from the Left”.  I think her expressiveness comes from the physicality of a dancer.  Later she became a super-hero on her own but the physical expression was there to start with.

1st: How does your art portray Vamfire?

Joe:  Vamfire is sort of E-Man’s “sister”, a darker energy force who was generated by the supernova at the same time as E-Man.  To start with, Nick suggested we have a classic vampire look, but when we brought her back at Comico, I tired for a more “punk” look, but as a superhero.

1st: Why is there an E=MC2 on E-Man’s chest?

Joe:  When E-Man arrived on earth at Nova’s apartment, he saw that she had an Albert Einstein poster with the classic formula, E=mc2.  When he understood what that meant, he thought it applied to him.  Energy=mass, so energy can be any form of solid thing, and E-Man thought that described him.  Nick wanted the formula to be on the costume and it wasn’t easy to come up with a design for it.

1st: What is the most endearing quality of E-Man?

Joe:  He really is tremendously powerful, like a minor god, even, but he’s a good-natured, likable guy next door, even if he is a wandering space creature.  There’s a lot of possibility there.

1st: You have worked for DC Comics which comic was your favorite to work on there and why?

Joe:  I worked for DC for something like 30 years had lots of favorites over that time.  I guess my real favorite would be Helena Wayne, the Huntress, Batman’s daughter, who Paul Levitz and I created during our time on the Earth II JSA stories.

1st: Outside of comics what interests you?

Joe:  I’m a real history buff, both from my background in the South and living in the Mid-Hudson in NY now.  Also love seeing different parts of the world and it works out nicely that we can go off to China to research one of Hilarie’s books and comic cons from Spain and Portugal have us over. Still lots of the world to see and there are getting to be cons all over the place.

1st: If you had E-Man’s powers how would you use them?

Joe:  Wow, hard question.  I hope I would use them the way E-Man uses them, help people where I can and have fun when I can.

1st: What would you like to say to the past, present and future fans of your work?

Joe:  Just say that I drew comics because I loved comics.

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