Move over, Batman, there’s a new hero in the DC Universe with a secret identity who wears black, sports black eye makeup, hangs out in a cavernous setting, and is associated with bats. Of course I am referring to Svengoolie, the horror movie show host who emerged from the gotham that is Chicago, and can now be found in the pages of DC comics with the story “Svengoolie Meets The DC Universe.”
With the alter ego of Rich Koz, Svengoolie’s eponymous comedy show airs Saturdays nationwide on MeTV, where he introduces classic horror flicks, tells jokes, shares trivia, and has a recurring gag with rubber chickens. Koz has portrayed the character since 1979, when he took over for the original Svengoolie, Jerry G. Bishop. Last month, DC announced Svengoolie would be leaping to the comics in two-page chapters published across various titles throughout October.
Written by DC co-publisher Dan DiDio — with assistance by Koz — and featuring art by Chris Jones, the Svengoolie adventure involves the character standing alongside iconic characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more.
“I’m up against a menace I can’t handle myself, and the only people who can are the Justice Leauge.” says Svengoolie when Den of Geek caught up with him at New York Comic Con. As far as what the threat is, Svengoolie points to his rubber chicken, and teases, “Take a look at this, and magnify it several dozen times.”
“It’s the mystery of the giant rubber chickens, as you can only imagine,” adds DiDio.
Poultry aside, Svengoolie says he was amazed to see Jones’ artwork of him alongside the heroes.
“It blew me away… I’m like there I am with Wonder Woman, oh my god; Chris Jones did a fantastic job, and caught a lot of my expressions, and even my less-than-perfect posture.”
The behind the scenes story of Svengoolie joining the DCU goes back to DiDio waiting in line to get the host’s autograph. He was spotted by the comedy show’s producer, which led to last year’s “Sven, Golly, It’s … Svengoolie” parody in MAD Magazine.
“Literally every single person on the [MAD] staff was a Svengoolie fan, so they started working on it before I even suggested it,” says DiDio. “Then we started talking to the people over at MeTV, and we thought it would be a fun crossover between the two – especially this year, the 40th anniversary of [Koz’s] role in the Svengoolie show. That longevity is worth celebrating.”
DiDio says another reason DC has enjoyed doing the crossover is because Svengoolie has a family audience. He says he hopes to introduce a new generation of kids to both horror movies, and comic books.
“Kids who loved comics are grown up now, and they have their own kids,” Svengoolie interjects. “It’s the same thing with my show; one of the things people say to me is, ‘I used to watch you as a kid, now I watch with my kids’.”
“It’s a nice thing,” he says before joking, “It means I’ll still have a job!”
Not that Svengoolie has to worry about remaining relevant considering his celebrity fans include boosters such as Mark Hamill and Bill Hader. But within the DC Universe, Svengoolie thinks he might have a fan in The Atom “because many people think I’m insignificant, and go right past me.”
And lest anyone think Svengoolie is not superpowered enough, DiDio says his silliness is his power, as is the ability to “wear people down with bad puns.”
As far as crossovers of this level, bringing together real-world characters with super heroes, DiDio says he initially thought of the KFC’s Colonel Sanders in the multi-verse, but now thinks Svengoolie meeting the DC Universe ranks alongside the pinnacle of George Reeves’ Superman appearing on I Love Lucy.
Aaron Sagers is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.