CIA agent turned Batman writer will give away comics to government workers amid shutdown

January 19 at 10:46 AM

Today, Tom King is an acclaimed author of heroes’ tales, but years ago he was a government worker living paycheck to paycheck — when a furlough would have been painful.

“I started out at as a claims examiner at the Justice Department. I didn’t make much,” said King, the Washington-based comic-book writer of “Mister Miracle” and “Heroes in Crisis.”

“I worked my way [up] to more financial security at CIA, but still I remember when my wife was in law school, every penny counted — every step, every danger pay, every inflation-inspired pay increase determined how we lived our lives,” King said. “If I missed a check then, I would’ve had a roof over my head, but it would’ve been hard.

“To take something away from people for nothing is cruel,” said the author, citing the current partial government shutdown. “Work is dignity. Pay is dignity. This is America. This is insane.”

Because King felt compelled to do “just anything positive” in response to the shutdown, he will sign and give away free comic books to government workers this afternoon at the Third Eye shop in Annapolis.

“Mister Miracle.” (DC Comics) (Mister Miracle (DC Comics). )

“I had a bunch of comics that DC Comics had sent me because I write for them,” says King, noting that the titles are his “comps,” or complimentary trades and comics from the publisher.

“It should be about a hundred trades and hardcovers, maybe a little more or less, mostly recent DC releases,” said King, who last year won the Eisner Award as best comic writer, largely for his Batman comics. “I’ll also be there to sign whatever anyone has. And sketch if anyone wants a sketch, but I am well-known as the world’s worst artist, so beware. It’ll be fun.”

King, who was in the CIA for seven years, largely as a counterterrorism officer, says he knows people personally affected by the shutdown.

“Living here, it seems to me like it’s hard not to,” said King, who believes the shutdown won’t end until it starts affecting enough people that Senate Republicans care about.

“We’re a company town and someone just shut down the company,” he said. “My only insight into it is to say how idiotic it is, how worthless this all seems to the people affected.”

King’s stories are sometimes laced with the political. Could he see writing an arc about a government stoppage like this?

“No,” he said. “This is too stupid for comic books.”

King is scheduled to appear till 2 p.m. at Third Eye, 209 Chinquapin Round Rd. in Annapolis; call 410-897-0322 or visit ThirdEyesComics.

Tom King. (DC Comics) (Tom King. (DC Comics) )
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