Elliot S. Maggin

Elliot S. Maggin, also spelled Elliot S! Maggin (born 1950), is an American writer of comic books, film, television and novels. He was a main writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics in the 1970s and 1980s. He is particularly associated with the character of Superman, where he worked on both Action Comics[1] and Superman.[2]

He has also been active with the Democratic Party of the United States, twice running for the nomination of his party for the United States Congress — once from the 2nd district of New Hampshire in 1984 and again from the 24th district of California in 2008.


Initial employment with DC Comics

Maggin started working as a professional writer in his teens, selling historical stories about the Boer War to a boys' magazine. He attended Brandeis University, where he wrote a term paper titled "What Can One Man Do?" for a class during his junior year. When it received a grade of B+, Maggin disagreed with the assessment, remade it as a comic book script, and sent his script to DC Comics. It was passed around the DC offices, and Neal Adams chose to draw the script.Though the initial grade was not amended, Maggin became a writer for DC, selling his stories to fund a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

During Maggin's time at Brandeis, he also befriended the university's vice-president, meeting his family. During one of the meetings, the vice-president's stepson (and future comic book writer) Jeph Loeb suggested a story that would eventually be called "Must There Be a Superman?". Maggin used the idea, which became his initial foray into the Superman comic book, a title he would write from 1971 to 1986.[3] He also wrote for Green Arrow, where his sense of humor was allowed far more freedom in the loose dialogue of the main character.

Notable additions to the DC Universe

Maggin is responsible for a number of innovations in the DC Multiverse. Two that continue to shape the worlds of DC are Superboy-Prime[4] (later given greater definition by Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns and others) and Lexcorp[5][6] (later more fully developed by John Byrne and others).

Origin of professional name

Because comic book scripts tend to favor the exclamation mark as the punctuation of choice, Maggin routinely used it instead of a full stop. Out of habit, he once signed his own name Elliot S! Maggin and editor Julius Schwartz liked the distinctive rhythm of the name, insisting that Maggin's name henceforth be written that way. Explaining in an interview:

I got into the habit of putting exclamation marks at the end of sentences instead of periods because reproduction on pulp paper was so lousy. So once, by accident, when I signed a script I put the exclamation point after my 'S' because I was just used to going to that end of the typewriter at the time. And Julie saw it, and before he told me, he goes into the production room and issues a general order that any mention of Elliot Maggin's name will be punctuated with an exclamation mark rather than a period from now on until eternity.[7]

Beyond comic books

In addition to the hundreds of stories Maggin wrote for the DC comics universe, he has also written television scripts, stories for film, animation and journalistic pieces. Many of them have continued to show his allegiance to comic book characters. He wrote two Superman novels, Last Son of Krypton and Miracle Monday. He also wrote the novelization of the graphic novel Kingdom Come based on the story by Mark Waid, and a novel featuring the Marvel mutant superhero team Generation X. He has occasionally sold scripts to non-print versions of superheroes, including Spider-Man (1994), X-Men (1992) and Batman: The Animated Series.

Besides his work in comics, he has received compensation for raising horses, skiing instruction, teaching at various high schools and colleges, writing stories for Atari video games, and working on websites. In addition to on-going freelance writing, he currently works as a developmental learning consultant for Kaiser Permanente.


In 1984, Elliot first ran for political office as a candidate for the US House of Representatives in the New Hampshire 2nd congressional district.[8] The slogan "Maggin!" was used on his campaign button.[9] However, the campaign stalled at the nomination round, and Maggin did not compete in the general election for the seat. After the election, the campaign was the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Federal Election Commission, in which his campaign treasurer and the committee itself had to pay fines for failing to submit a 1984 quarterly report.[10]

On May 21, 2007, Maggin announced[11] that he would be running for the 2008 Democratic party nomination for California's 24th congressional district seat. On February 1, 2008, Maggin posted on the main page of his website that he had decided not to run after all,[12] effectively ending his 2008 campaign. In an essay written the following day, he cited principally financial reasons for his withdrawal.[13] It appears that at no point during this campaign did he ever officially file with the Federal Election Commission.[14]


He has made several works of fiction available exclusively online, including the short story Luthor's Gift and the novella Starwinds Howl, both of which take place in his Superman continuity. He is also currently presenting a novel-in-progress, Lancer, on his personal website.[15]

Comic book appearances

Maggin is himself a character in the DC Universe.[16] During the Bronze Age of comics, Maggin was a known resident of Earth-Prime and a major character in Justice League of America issues #123 and #124. In the Modern Age of comics, Maggin cameoed as Oliver Queen's campaign manager in issue 24 of DC Comics' 52. This appearance is notable for referencing a biographical fact about Maggin. The term paper which had been awarded a B+ at Brandeis University, and was subsequently Maggin's first sale to DC, posited Green Arrow's mayoral campaign in Star City.[8]