Tom DeFalco

Tom DeFalco

DeFalco at the 2010 New York Comic Con.
Born (1950-06-26) June 26, 1950
Queens, New York City
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, editor
Notable works
The Amazing Spider-Man
Fantastic Four
Machine Man

Tom DeFalco (born June 26, 1950) is an American comic book writer and editor, well known for his association with Marvel Comics and in particular for his work with Spider-Man.


While in college, DeFalco "wrote for a few local newspapers, a weekly comic strip and did a few short stories", and after graduation "got in touch with the various comic book companies", which led to him beginning his comics career as an editorial assistant with Archie Comics in mid-1972.[1] During his tenure with Archie Comics, he "initiated and developed the Archie Comics Digest Series, which is still being produced today and remains the company's most profitable publishing series". Learning fast, DeFalco was soon writing for the flagship title Archie as well as for other titles including Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats.[2]

He later joined Marvel Comics, with whom he would spend the next twenty years of his career. DeFalco briefly wrote for DC Comics in the late 1970s.[3] He scripted several Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane stories for the Superman Family title; the final issue of Starfire (Oct.-Nov. 1977); and a Cain story in House of Mystery #258 (May–June 1978). DeFalco then moved to Marvel, where he wrote two issues of Avengers and the final five issues of Machine Man plus a Machine Man issue of Marvel Team-Up, before launching Dazzler in March 1981. DeFalco later wrote a Machine Man limited series in 1984, with art by Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith.

DeFalco was the chief designer and author for Dazzler,[4][5] and later became one of the writers for the Spider-Man comic book series while at the same time rising through the editorial ranks. While writing Dazzler, he wrote a couple of issues of Marvel Team-Up, before taking over from Dennis O'Neil as editor of that title, as well as assuming editorial duties on Ghost Rider, What If...? and the Spider-Man titles,[6] which he edited throughout the early 1980s.

G.I. Joe and Hasbro

DeFalco worked closely with toy manufacturer Hasbro in the early 1980s, heading the creative team that "produced the backstory and dossiers that served as the basis for the relaunch of the phenomenally successful G.I. Joe toy line and animated television show", in 1985. As part of this relaunch, Marvel produced a comic entitled G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero in June 1982. DeFalco personally edited the first six issues (handing over to Denny O'Neil in January 1983), as well as assorted issues of G.I. Joe series' throughout the 1980s. The core - Real American Hero - series would run for 155 issues over the next 12 years.[2][7]

DeFalco was "part of the creative team that introduced the Transformers to the American public" in 1984.[2]


In August 1983, DeFalco wrote the first four issues of the third series of Red Sonja and after shedding his Spider-Man editorial duties to Danny Fingeroth, he took over from Roger Stern as writer of The Amazing Spider-Man. The two collaborated on April–May's #251-252 (the Secret Wars crossover issues), before DeFalco took over fully with #253, for a two-year run, chiefly in collaboration with artist Ron Frenz. Concurrent with editing Jim Shooter's Secret Wars, DeFalco introduced Spider-Man's "black costume" in the pages of Amazing.[8] DeFalco co-created the Rose,[9] Black Fox, and Silver Sable[10] during his tenure on the series.

DeFalco and Frenz were both removed from The Amazing Spider-Man by then Spider-editor Jim Owsley, who stated that they had chronically failed to meet deadlines. DeFalco and Frenz both state they met their deadlines more diligently than any other Marvel creative team at the time, and that Owsley caused them to miss deadlines by repeatedly changing his production schedules.[11] Issue #285 (Feb 1987) was their final issue, after which Owsley assumed writing duties. While writing Amazing, DeFalco continued editing various comics.


After co-writing two issues of Fantastic Four (#301-2; April–May 1987) with Roger Stern (DeFalco would return to writing the title between 1991 and 1996), DeFalco took over writing duties on Thor from Walt Simonson with #383 in September. DeFalco became Marvel's tenth Editor-in-Chief on April 15, 1987.[12] This change was effective in comics cover-dated November 1987. He served from 1987 to 1994, making him one of the longest serving individuals to hold that post. The only Editors-in-Chief with longer service than him were Stan Lee (1941–1942, 1944–1972), Shooter (1978–1987), and Joe Quesada (2000–2011).

Early in DeFalco's run as editor-in-chief, executive editor Mark Gruenwald remarked, "Tom does not seem to have as strong a personal vision for Marvel [as Shooter], and as a result he's more open to other people's visions. It remains to be seen if that's good or bad."[13] In an interview with The Comic Book Gazette, DeFalco described his experiences as Editor-in-Chief as being "A lot like those old Bullpen Bulletins comic strips, but with significantly more yelling!"[14]

He was a key member of the management team that took Marvel public, and under his leadership, Marvel's net profits from publishing rose by over 500%. Under DeFalco's guidance, Marvel entered a phase of expansion that provided an opportunity for "new talent" to enter the comic book industry, and released a number of new titles with original characters.[2] After clashing with the company's upper management, DeFalco was forced out in 1994.[15]

During his tenure as Editor-in-Chief, DeFalco had continued to write as well, with noted runs on Thor where he created the New Warriors with artist Ron Frenz[16] and the spin-off Thunderstrike, as well as Fantastic Four.

Return to Spider-Man

Defalco was one of the writers on the "Maximum Carnage"[17] storyline in 1993. His dismissal from the position of Editor-in-Chief coincided with a run on The Spectacular Spider-Man (#215-229 Aug. 1994 - Oct. 1995), after which he returned to The Amazing Spider-Man in January 1996 for issues #407-439. During this time he helped co-write the Spider-Clone Saga which revealed (temporarily, at least) that Peter Parker was a clone of the original that had been active since 1975. Peter would be replaced by the original Spider-Man under the alias "Ben Reilly". Following several changes of creators and fan reaction, this was soon reversed.

DeFalco created Spider-Girl, who first appeared in an issue of What If?[18] which led to him writing the MC2 line launched in 1998 including the Spider-Girl ongoing series[19][20] which ran for 100 issues. Spider-Girl went on to star in Amazing Spider-Girl (30 issues) and the most recent volume, The Spectacular Spider-Girl, making her Marvel's longest-running female star of a solo series.

In early 2009, as the Spider-Girl series was drawing to a close, DeFalco said it might be some of his last work for Marvel as he was in danger of being typecast because of his long run with the characters.[21]

The bad news about working on the same thing for that many years is that editors start to believe that it is the only thing you can do. So the only way I can get non-Spider-related work is to work for other companies.[19]

The Spider-Girl series was cancelled in 2010.

Other work

DeFalco is the author of over a dozen graphic novels, several hundred comic book stories, several dozen cyber-comics, three novels and six children's books, including the best-selling Dorling Kindersley guides to Marvel comics characters. These include: Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide, Avengers: The Ultimate Guide, Fantastic Four: The Ultimate Guide and Hulk: The Incredible Guide. For Titan Books he has compiled three volumes in their "Comic Creators On..." series of essays and thoughts on Marvel characters (Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, between 2004 and 2006).

DeFalco has personally created and developed over three dozen characters that have all been licensed for television, toys, T-shirts, posters, trading cards and other merchandise, and has written Khan and The Phantom for Moonstone Books.

In April 2010, Archie Comics announced DeFalco would be returning to his roots, to write a four-part storyline, "The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.", beginning with Archie Comics issue #610.[22]

DeFalco would return to DC Comics in August 2011 with a Superman one-shot, Superman Beyond[23] and in 2012 as guest writer on Nightwing and helping on the Ravagers for DC's The New 52 line.[24] DeFalco began scripting the Superboy series over Scott Lobdell's plots with issue #6 (April 2012) and became the full writer with issue #12 (October 2012).[25] His Superboy run ended with #18, which was co-scripted by Tony Lee. He also wrote Legion Lost #0 & 6-18 and the final four issues (#17-20) of Savage Hawkman.

In 2016, Archie announced a new ongoing Reggie & Me series for December, with art by Sandy Jarrell.[26]


  1. Cage, John (February 4, 2001). "The Spider's Web Exclusive: Interview with Tom DeFalco". The Spider's Web. Archived from the original on August 23, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  2. 1 2 3 4 G., Lori (n.d.). "Tom DeFalco". Chicago, Illinois: Moonstone Books. Archived from the original on February 10, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  3. Tom DeFalco at the Grand Comics Database
  4. DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1980s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 197. ISBN 978-0756641238. Writer Tom DeFalco, who was hired to develop the character, decided that Dazzler would be a mutant with the ability to convert sound waves into a beam of concussive force.
  5. Ash, Roger (August 2016). "Dazzler Lights Up Marvel". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (90): 11–16.
  6. Catron, Michael (August 1981). "Tom DeFalco Gets Spidey Back in the Swing". Amazing Heroes. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books (3): 54–58.
  7. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 206: "A creative team that included Jim Shooter, Archie Goodwin, Larry Hama, and Tom DeFalco was immediately assigned to develop G. I. Joe as a comic book and, possibly, an animated television series."
  8. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 217: "It [the black costume] first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #252, written by Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco and penciled by Ron Frenz."
  9. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 218: "Created by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Rick Leonardi, the villain tended his rose garden as he casually ran his various criminal enterprises."
  10. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 221: "Silver Sable first appeared in this issue [#265] by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz."
  11. Greenberg, Glenn (August 2009). "When Hobby Met Spidey". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (35): 10–23.
  12. Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. Harry N. Abrams. p. 207. ISBN 9780810938212.
  13. Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (January 1988). "Mark Gruenwald". Comics Interview (54). Fictioneer Books. pp. 5–23.
  14. "Tom DeFalco Interview". The Comic Book Gazette. March 26, 2006. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  15. "Newswatch: DeFalco Resigns from Marvel". The Comics Journal. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books (174): 25. February 1995.
  16. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 243: "Tom DeFalco had intended to launch a team of teenage super-heroes in 1990, but an opportunity came along in 1989."
  17. Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 263: "Writers J. M. DeMatteis, Tom DeFalco, Terry Kavanagh, and David Michelinie...all brought their talents to this key story line."
  18. Manning "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 289: "What if the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had survived the Clone Saga? That was the question that writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz posed in this stand-alone issue that starred the teenager May Parker."
  19. 1 2 Taylor, Robert (February 17, 2009). "Reflections: Tom DeFalco". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.
  20. Manning "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 290: "Spider-Man's daughter May Parker swung to new heights in her own ongoing series. Written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by artist Pat Olliffe, she faced such threats as Crazy Eight and Mr. Nobody."
  21. Taylor, Robert (February 12, 2009). "Marvel + DeFalco = Finished?". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.
  22. "Tom DeFalco Returns to Archie with The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.". Comic Book Resources. April 14, 2010. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013.
  23. "DeFalco, Frenz & Buscema Take Superman Beyond". Comic Book Resources. May 12, 2011. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  24. Nagorski, Alex (August 10, 2012). "Announcing 'H'el on Earth'". DC Comics.
  25. Rogers, Vaneta (July 24, 2012). "Superboy's New Writer Says We Don't Know if He's 'Good'". Newsarama. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012. I've scripted a number of issues. I was originally brought in because Scott Lobdell was juggling so many different assignments that he needed a little assistance in order to catch up.
  26. "Riverdale's Most Rotten: DeFalco & Jarrell To Launch Reggie & Me For Archie Comics". Comics Alliance. September 20, 2016.
Preceded by
Jim Shooter
Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
Succeeded by
Group Editors-in-Chief:

Bob Budiansky, Spider-Man titles;
Bobbie Chase, Marvel Edge titles;
Mark Gruenwald, Heroes & Cosmic titles;
Bob Harras, X-Men titles;
Carl Potts, licensed-property titles

Preceded by
Jim Shooter
The Avengers writer
Succeeded by
David Michelinie
Preceded by
Dazzler writer
Succeeded by
Danny Fingeroth
Preceded by
Roger Stern
The Amazing Spider-Man writer
Succeeded by
Jim Owsley
Preceded by
Walt Simonson
Thor writer
(with Ron Frenz credited as co-writer from 19891993)
Succeeded by
Ron Marz and Jim Starlin
Preceded by
Walt Simonson
Fantastic Four writer
Succeeded by
Brandon Choi and Jim Lee
Preceded by
Ann Nocenti
The Spectacular Spider-Man writer
Succeeded by
Todd Dezago
Preceded by
J. M. DeMatteis
The Amazing Spider-Man writer
Succeeded by
John Byrne
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