An Interview With Nicola Cuti
by Ken L. Jones
Ken: Your connection with Wally Wood was something that has always interested me. I met him only once at the San Diego Comic Con many years ago because I was the assistant back then to the late Alfredo Alcala. Alfredo hated most every other comic book artist but Mr. Wood who he treated with respect and even adulation and I’ve always totally agreed with his opinion on that. There must be some interesting stuff you could tell us about Mr. Wood?
He was kind but said if I would do a single page on my character “Moonie” he would publish it in his “Witzend” magazine. I did but when I went to give it to him he informed me he had sold “Witzend” to BILL PEAERSON. BILL hated “Moonie” and she was never published in that magazine, however, BILL and I became friends and some of my stories were eventually published in “Witzend”.
Later, Woody and I discovered we lived near one another, I lived in Valley Stream and he lived in Woodmere Long Island, so he hired me as his assistant. We used to work over at each other’s house but WOODY found this a poor way to work and asked me to locate a studio. I found an office in Valley Stream right between our two homes. SYD SHORES and JACK ABEL joined us and thus Wood Studio began. We produced strips for the “Overseas Weekly”-- “Cannon” and Sally Forth”. We had great times at the Studio where guys like LARRY HAMMA, WAYNE HOWARD, TONY TALLIRICO and RALPH REESE would drop by to help. WOODY said I would look back at my days at the studio as the best time of my life and he was right.
Ken: Was there any defining moment when you were young that made you say I'd like to do that too?
The cover of Creepy with the giant blonde girl on top of the Empire State building with the tiny gorilla in her hand was my idea, but he never illustrated any story of mine. BERNIE did illustrate a single page I wrote called “Four Famous Martians” and a narrative poem, “A Martian Saga” but never a story. Except for BERNIE all the others are gone so I guess it will never happen, however, I have had the privilege of having my tales drawn by some of the finest comic book artists in the business like GRAY MORROW, TOM SUTTON and JOE STATON so I certainly can’t complain.
So I created E-Man based on the most famous equation in history, Einstein’s E= mc2. E is energy, m is the mass of an object and c is the speed of light. It is the equation for converting a solid object into energy or energy into a solid mass. I also wanted JOE STATON, who had done a bang up job on “Primus” and several horror stories I had written. JOE was also a very likable person, so I knew we’d get along. I called JOE and told him about the character. JOE thought the character was a winner except for the origin story. I had him being caught in an explosion while working in a factory. Then, one day, while reading a book on outer space I came across the Nova, a star explosion. There was my origin story, he was a packet of energy created when the star Arcturus underwent a nova or star eruption. He can change into a solid object or energy at will and can direct energy. JOE liked the origin and I told him to design the character. The only instructions I gave were he was to have the E= mc2 on his chest and no cape. JOE sent me an inked drawing and I overlaid the color. I stayed away from red and blue, the colors of so many super heroes, and went with orange and yellow, the colors of energy. I decided he was naive but with a strong sense of right and wrong and was devoted to his girl friend, the streetwise college student Nova Kane. She was also his guide to his adopted planet, the Earth. I kept the stories on the outrageous level because I felt super heroes had become too serious and the kids needed something light to contrast all the dreaded self-loathing of the others.
Presently, I write, produce and now direct movies, which my company Ni-Cola Entertainment LLC and Moonie Productions DBA create. My partner, NIKOMA DeMITRO and I are putting all our efforts into raising the funding for a big sci-fi thriller called "Too Many Moons."
I've been awarded the Ray Bradbury Award twice (1970 and 1984) for writing and the Ink Pot Award (2009) for my work in Comic Arts. So far, none of my movies have garnered any awards but I have my eye on an Oscar.