With his towering 6-foot-2-inch frame and quiet demeanor, Shalom Fisch could be mistaken for a caped crusader who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Instead, Fisch is the mind behind such characters. He’s the creator of more than 100 comic books, ranging from humor and superhero to science fiction and horror. “Basically whatever looked like fun and people (usually DC Comics and Marvel) paid me for,” he quips, adding that he has written comic book scripts for Batman, Bugs Bunny, Captain America, Daffy Duck, the Incredible Hulk, Scooby-Doo, Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, the X-Men, and others.
The Teaneck native is particularly proud of his current comic series, Super Friends (DC Comics), which is designed for children as young as 6. “These are comics with a message,” he says. “There’s something of moral value in each issue.”
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A lot of the ideas he attempts to convey through his stories are the same values he tries to get across to his own brood at home, says the father of three.
“Many of my story lines are inspired by trying to promote good middot,” he said, good character traits. “Of course, I don’t call it that. But it’s charity and chesed [kindness] and that sort of thing.”
For example, one issue dealt with the importance of taking care of animals. Another storyline demonstrated the need for teamwork, and a third grappled with the ramifications of cheating.
The characters in the comics – who include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman – spend much of their time being “Super Friends,” hence the title of the series. “It’s a kids’-oriented version of Justice League of America, which happens to be the first comic I ever bought,” said Fisch.
In fact, part of the reason Fisch said he couldn’t refuse the Super Friends offer was that it reminded him so much of that childhood favorite.
The upcoming Super Friends issue is devoted to the theme of faith and sharing traditions. The characters will celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Chanukah amid an atmosphere of tolerance that would inspire envy in most New Jersey residents. (In case you were wondering, the Green Lantern will be the character lighting a menorah.)
“This is not a series where you constantly see people being hit on the head or kicked in the stomach,” said Fisch. “Instead, they are constantly helping people in trouble – rescuing people from hurricanes or earthquakes, rounding up runaway dinosaurs, or even helping a skateboard team learn new tricks through hard work and practice.”
Based on the fan mail being sent to Fisch’s office, the year-old series has been a huge success. “What’s most gratifying are the letters saying, ‘Here’s all the things I do to be a Super Friend and help out’ and for us that’s what it’s all about. The idea behind the series is to grab kids and inspire them and to show them that you can be a Super Friend too by being good to the people around you.”
Comics aren’t the only focus of his life. Fisch has also enjoyed careers outside of comic book panels. As a developmental psychologist who worked at the Children’s Television Workshop for 15 years, Fisch has created his own research consulting firm, MediaKidz Research & Consulting. Through MediaKidz, Fisch handles educational content and kid-testing for a wide range of educational television series, Websites, and other media, for clients ranging from Channel 13 to Sea World and Procter & Gamble.
Fisch read his first comic when he was 5 and was hooked for life. By the time he was a teenager, he was writing his own scripts for comics, which he sent to publishers. “I accumulated a lot of rejection letters,” he recalls with a chuckle.
He got his first break after college, when he got a gig working at Marvel Comics. After a few years, he achieved his dream: His first comic book, Spider-Man, was published in 1986. Fisch had found his calling as the writer of storylines and dialogue while collaborating with artists who captured his ideas on the comic panels.
“Throughout the years, these kinds of assignments made my inner 5-year-old very happy. I grew up and got to write things like Batman and Bugs Bunny, which kind of brought a giggle to the little voice in the back of my head.”
“It’s really fun. The really nice thing about being able to do all this stuff is that essentially I get to indulge all my hobbies and I get paid for it too.”