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I’ve been a comic, music and movie fiend all my life, then I started getting paid to write about what I loved.

Since the 1970s, I’ve juggled writing hard news stories with features about music, movies and comics for newspapers near Philly and Chicago. Shortly after I started writing for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, I kicked up my critical comic work with a nationally syndicated, weekly comic book column with the uninspired name of “On Comics.”

In 2000, when I started rewriting the column for the super website www.newsarama.com, I began using the title I always wanted: Journey Into Comics, an homage to those great comic titles of the past.

Then Marvel President Bill Jemas changed my life and offered me the chance to create a comic of my own. I hadn’t thought of crossing the fence before, figured it was too difficult. But I pitched an idea. That became PHANTOM JACK, the story of a hard-working reporter with the ability to turn invisible. Before Phantom Jack came out from Marvel’s stillborn EPIC line, Jemas left Marvel and Jack followed.

Phantom Jack landed at Image. The sequel, PHANTOM JACK: THE NOWHERE MAN AGENDA comes out in August, 2010 from IDW, a tearful, 110-page finale in which Jack faces an invisible villain 100 times more powerful than himself. It features three new artists, plus some unpublished PJ work from Marvel superstar Mitch Breitweiser. Before you read it, you might want to pick up the PHANTOM JACK: DIRECTOR'S EDITION Trade Paperback available on-line at DriveThru Comics or through Amazon. The complete TALES OF THE STARLIGHT DRIVE-IN is available there as well. I highly recommend the revised trade version of PHANTOM JACK: DIRECTOR'S EDITION, from Atomic Pop Art Entertainment. Hunt 'em down. You won't regret it.

Just as I used my life as a reporter for many of the Phantom Jack adventures, my love of the movies and my summers working at the Valley Forge Theater near Philadelphia inspired me to create TALES OF THE STARLIGHT DRIVE-IN.

The fact that the drive-in is now the site of the King of Prussia Mall was not lost on my psyche. So yes, some of the stories in the collection of 32 are dredged from my misspent youth. Catch me at a comic-con and I might tell you which ones.

At this writing, I’m still a reporter at the Plain Dealer in Cleveburg, largest daily newspaper in Ohio, churning out hard news. Writing things like PHANTOM JACK and STARLIGHT allows me to stretch my imagination and reshape reality from “what happened” to “what should have happened.”

That’s the great thing about being a comics writer, I can reshape reality, even if it’s just for a little while.

-- Michael San Giacomo