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$ 7.95 In the USA $ 7.95 In the USA No.104 August 2011 Roy Thomas Presents The Worlds Greatest Comics Fanzine! Fantastic Four & monster TM & ©2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. FANTASTIC FOUR #1! Celebrating 50 YEARS since LEE & KIRBY’S FANTASTIC FOUR #1! ’Nuff Said? RARE JACK KIRBY ART AND INFO! MAKE MINE MARVEL! I PREFER THE INTERVIEW WITH AL SULMAN-- "PERSONAL ASSOCIATE OF STAN LEE"! STAN LEE AND OTHERS REVEAL THE SECRET ORIGINS OF MARVEL! 1 8 2 6 5 8 2 7 7 6 3 5 0 8

Alter Ego #104

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ALTER EGO #104 (84 pages with color, $7.95) proudly celebrates the 50th anniversary of Fantastic Four #1—and the birth of Marvel Comics! With a new, never-before-published interview with STAN LEE (look for a few real surprises!)—and rare art and artifacts by JACK KIRBY, STEVE DITKO, JOE SINNOTT, DICK AYERS, ROY THOMAS, and others—plus lots more secrets behind the Marvel Mythos! Also: JIM AMASH’s interview with 1940s Timely editor AL SULMAN, FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) with MARC SWAYZE and C.C. BECK, and MICHAEL T. GILBERT in Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt! All behind a new cover by RON FRENZ and JOE SINNOTT! Edited by ROY THOMAS.

Text of Alter Ego #104

  • $7.95In the USA

    $7.95In the USA

    No.104August2011

    Roy ThomasPresents

    The Worlds GreatestComics Fanzine!

    Fantastic Four & monster TM &

    2011 M

    arvel Characters, Inc.

    FANTASTICFOUR #1!

    Celebrating 50 YEARSsince LEE & KIRBYS

    FANTASTICFOUR #1!

    NuffSaid?

    RARE JACKKIRBY ARTAND INFO!

    MAKE MINEMARVEL!

    I PREFER THE INTERVIEWWITH AL SULMAN--

    "PERSONAL ASSOCIATEOF STAN LEE"!

    STAN LEE ANDOTHERS REVEALTHE SECRETORIGINS OFMARVEL!

    18265827763

    5

    08

  • Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Eight-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $85 Canada, $107 elsewhere. All characters are their respective companies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada. ISSN: 1932-6890

    FIRST PRINTING.

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: Stan The ManMeet Stan The Man! . . . . . . 2Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Interview!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

    Two astonishing 2005 recording sessions with the man who spearheaded Marvel Comics.

    I Had A Liking For The Comic Magazine Business . . . . . . 46A catch-as-catch-can conversation with Al Sulman, Golden Age scripter and Timely editor.

    Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt!Blood, Sweat, And TearsAnd Then Some . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61Michael T. Gilbert spotlights Mike Friedrichs hair-raising account of his first pro comics sale.

    re: [correspondence, comments, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . 68FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] #163 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73

    P.C. Hamerlinck presents the memories of two Fawcett stalwarts: Marc Swayze & Roy Ald.On Our Cover: Our heartfelt thanks to Ron Frenz for re-rendering the original Jack Kirby cover of 1961sFantastic Four #1, as it might have looked if the quartet had been sporting the costumes they didnt actuallydon until the third issuewhile, to show how it couldve looked if it had been inked by Joe Sinnott, who is allbut universally acclaimed as the best F.F. inker ever, we just had to talk Joltin Joe himself into doing it! Wetruly appreciate their Herculean effortand Joe, in particular, is still bothered by that detached shoulder rotormuscle of a couple of years ago. [Fantastic Four TM & 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]Above: While a number of fine comics artists have drawn The Silver Surfer over the years, both in a mag ofhis own and elsewhere, the gleaming guardian of the spaceways will forever be identified with Jack Kirby,who came up with the hero for Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966) just so worlds-gulping Galactus would havesomeone to talk to! This dynamic drawing, penciled and possibly inked by Kirby, was utilized as the coverfigure on the program book of Phil Seulings 1975 New York Comic Art Convention. Thanks to John Benson.[Silver Surfer TM & 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Vol. 3, No. 104 / August 2011EditorRoy ThomasAssociate EditorsBill SchellyJim AmashDesign & LayoutJon B. CookeConsulting EditorJohn MorrowFCA EditorP.C. HamerlinckComic Crypt EditorMichael T. GilbertEditorial Honor RollJerry G. Bails (founder)Ronn Foss, Biljo WhiteMike FriedrichProofreaderRob SmentekCover ArtistsRon Frenz (pencils) [after Jack Kirby]& Joe Sinnott (inks)

    Cover ColoristTom ZiukoWith Special Thanks to:Roy AldHeidi AmashGer ApeldoornDick AyersBob BaileyTodd BatesSteve BeckBlake BellJohn BensonAl BigleyAlmeida BiraDominic BongoJerry K. BoydFrank BrunnerMike BurkeyJames H. BurnsJohn CaputoMichael CatronShaun ClancyPaty CockrumBetty DobsonJim EngelJackie EstradaJ. FairfaxShane FoleyRon FontesJoe FrankJenna Land FreeRon FrenzMike FriedrichJanet GilbertLeigh GilbertGolden Age Comic

    Book StoriesDavid Hambone

    HamiltonJennifer HamerlinckHeritage ComicsShayna IanSharon KaribianGene Kehoe

    Jack & Roz KirbyEstate

    Henry KujawaJim KuzeeR. Gary LandStan LeeLen LeoneJohnny LoweJim LudwigBruce MasonBrian K. MorrisSarah MorrowMark MullerWill MurrayBarry PearlJohn G. PierceMike PloogWarren ReeceDonald A. RexConor RischJohn RomitaSteven RoweSteve RudeJoan SchenkarJoe SinnottAnthony SnyderJim StarlinAl SulmanDesha SwayzeMarc SwayzeJeff TaylorGreg TheakstonDann ThomasJim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.Dr. Michael J. VassalloAmy WidemanLynn WoolleyDonald WoolfolkVern YuMichael Zeno

    NOW WITH16 PAGESOF COLOR!

  • EDITORS INTRO-DUCTION: To celebratethe 50th anniversary ofThe Fantastic Four #1,

    which went on sale circa July/August of 1961 andthereby set in motion what Stan Lee would latertout as The Marvel Age of Comics, Im honoredto be able to present in print for the first time everwhat is probably the longest interview ever givenby Stan, the writer/editor who started it all.

    So how did I stumble upon this treasure trove?

    Sometime in early 2005 I received a phone callfrom a young man named Conor Risch, an editorfor a Seattle-area editorial book-packagingcompany with the offbeat, uncapitalized, andexclamation-pointed name of becker&mayer! Theywere about to put together a book centered aroundmy old boss and mentor Stan Lee (with whom Iwas still working, actually, on the daily-and-Sunday Spider-Man newspaper comic strip). Itwas to be titled Stan Lees Amazing MarvelUniverse, and would be issued bySterling Publishing Co., Inc.

    Becker&mayer!s personnel hadsold Sterling on a concept for anunusual type of book. It wouldelaborate upon a number of keymoments in Stans career as writer andeditor at Marvel. (But50 moments?100? The precise number was still upin the air.) It would combine straighttextwhich Stan had kindly suggestedI might be the right person toprovidewith accompanying audiotracks to be narrated by Stan himself.Interspersed throughout the 200-pagetome would be a series of so-calledillustrated icons. Each time thereader came to one of these icons at aparticular spot in the text, he neededonly to press the PLAY button on thedigital audio player (a 2" x 11" x "mostly-plastic device physicallyattached to the book), and he/shewould hear Stans voice, relating asentence or three that would augmentthe information on that particular page

    and subject. The project sounded like a fasci-nating experiment, and I was overjoyed to beinvolved.

    Almost immediately, however, Conor Risch leftbecker&mayer!, and I was handed over into theconsummate care of his colleague Jenna Land Free,who made all subsequent editorial and productiondecisions on the book (with feedback from herb&m bosses and Sterling, of course). At some pointshe and I settled on 50 as being the maximumnumber of moments we could handle well in 200pages, so we began culling an earlier list of around100 down to half that number. (The finished bookwould appear in 2006, with image research forbecker&mayer! credited to Shayna Ian, design toTodd Bates, audio sound editingan unusualcredit in a bookto Kate Hall, and custom audioengineeringdittoto Steve Beck. My maincontacts via phone and e-mail in 2005, while Iwrote the text, were Jenna, Shayna, and Todd.)

    But the contents of the book werent allhandled long distance.

    In August, with the writing wellunder way but with the list not yettotally pared down to the final 50,Jenna phoned to ask if I could flyfrom South Carolina to Los Angeles(where Stan has lived for the pastthree decades) to take part in the firstof probably two recording sessions tobe done with Stan for the book. Niceas it would be to see Stan again, Iwas less than eager to hop a plane foran overnight stay in L.A. But Jennafelt I might be useful in jogging Stansmemory concerning some bit ofMarvel arcana about which, due tomy long-standing interest in comicshistory, I might remember more thanhe didand frankly, I figured shewas probably right. So, California,here I come!

    The recording studio, nestledsomewhere in the urban sprawl thatis the Los Angeles Basin, was a tidylittle building which contained a

    3

    STAN LEEs Amazing Marvel Interview!

    Two Extraordinary 2005 Audio Sessions With The Man Who Spearheaded Marvel Comics

    Additional Text by Roy Thomas Interview Transcribed by Brian K. Morris

    Digital DoingsPhoto taken on Sept. 5, 2005, at the conclusion of

    the second recording session held for the bookpictured below. From left to right:

    editor/questioner Jenna Land Free Marvelfountainhead Stan Lee longtime Marvel writer

    & editor Roy Thomas and audio session directorLeigh Gilbert. With thanks to Jenna.

    A/EA/E

    The cover of Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Universe (Sterling Publishing,2006), with its John Romita art and attached digital audio player.

    Photo by Jon B. Cooke. [Art 2001 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • small sound booth set off by a glass window for the recordee, while the restof us would sit or stand in a larger room, 10 to 20 feet from where Stanwould sit and answer questions relayed to him electronically. In addition toa recording engineer (the Steve Beck credited in the book?), Jenna hadhired an audio session director named Leigh Gilbert to advise her onvarious vocal aspects of the sessions. The three of them would be physicallyclosest to Stan (though not that close), while I was free to sit or stand a bitbehind them and would be called on only if and when necessary. Which wasfine by me. In fact, I prayed that I would prove so superfluous to theproceedings that Jenna would feel no need to have me present for the secondsession, if one were needed.

    The Q&A session was designed so that Stan could stateand re-state, ifnecessary, to achieve just the wording mutually desiredhis answers toquestions posed by Jenna (which had been partly worked out with YoursTruly). From a response that might have lasted just a few seconds or acouple of minutes, Jenna and her crew would later excerpt the sound bitethey felt would work best at that point in the book. We were all aware fromthe start that, out of several hours of recording, only a half-hour to 45minutes could be utilized by the audio-book. So some points we coveredwould definitely not make the cut, and most would do so only in truncatedform.

    Jenna, of course, wasnt out to elicit startling new revelations from Stan,let alone engage in any gotcha moments; what she, b&m, and Sterlingwere after was concise summaries of events and motivations, mixed withcolorful anecdotes, all of which would make the reader/listener feel that Stanwas filling him/her in personally, virtually face-to-face, on the colorful

    history of Marvel Comics. Stan would basically be asked, once again, someof questions hed answered most often plus, hopefully, a few that were newto him. Under Jennas gentle prodding, there were a few disclosures whicheven I didnt recall have heard from Stan before.

    There would also be, as it turned out, a fair amount of back-and-forthbanter between Jenna and Stanwith my humble self becoming involvedfrom time to time (through exchanges with Jenna, or occasionally directlywith Stan) in order to clarify a question or to suggest a pertinent fact thatStan might consider adding in a rephrasing of his answer. With such anexhausting pace and a full schedule, its not surprising that occasionally Stanmisremembered a fact or twowho wouldnt?but in the end his answersare all his own, made after he had both searched his own memory andreceived such verbal reminders as Jenna or I could give him, along with hisoccasionally perusing pages from the original comics. All in all, it was aformidable, once-in-a-lifetime feat, and Im proud to have been on hand tohelp, even a little bit.

    At any rate: Stan arrived on his own, having driven to the studio, lookingas dapper and cheerful as ever. We exchanged a few pleasantries, thoughStan was eager from the outset to find out how long the session would last.Unfortunately, Jenna could only tell him: An hour or so. Stan, ever thetrooper, took his place on the chair in the sound booth before a microphone,while Jenna, Leigh, and the recording engineer took their stations in theouter roomand I sat and/or paced behind them. Most of the time, frommy angle, I couldnt even see Stan, though we could all hear his electroni-cally-amplified voice. He was wearing headphones in order to hear Jennasquestions.

    Icon Do It!The first of the books icons, in a cartouche

    flanked by images of Simon & Kirbys cover forCaptain America Comics #3 (May 1941) and of

    the Kirby-penciled illo that accompanied Stanstext story in #3, the latters first published

    comics work. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • And so, after a few sound checks, it began. Jennas specific questions (andmy own verbal suggestions) were not recordedonly Stans answers werebut the former are generally easy to reconstruct from a combination ofmemory and simple deduction.

    SESSION I (August 2005)First, Jenna asks Stan a double question

    about Spider-Mans powers, and aboutworking with artist/co-creator Steve Ditko.

    Hmm about his powers?... Well,considering that his name was Spider-Man,it would have been silly to give him anypowers other than the spider powers, Ithink. It seems to me, since we called himSpider-Man, like any good spider, heshould be able to crawl on walls, he shouldbe able to spin a web. That was just verynatural. Perhaps the cleverest part of it wasthinking that he should have the propor-tionate strength of a spider, which ofcourse means, if a spider were the size of aman, how strong wouldhe be? And I alwaysloved that phrase, theproportionate strengthof a spider.

    Working with SteveDitko was an absolutejoy. He was fast. Hewas good. He wasinventive, creative.After the first fewstories, Steve was veryhelpful in the plotting.In fact, after a while hedid most of theplotting and I justwrote the copy. So, itwas really a truecollaboration betweenme and Steve Ditko.

    It was really veryfunny when Isuggested Spider-Man to my publisher,Martin Goodman. Hethought it was theworst idea ever. Hesaid, Stan, you cantgive a hero the nameSpider-Man. Peoplehate spiders! Andthen, when I told him Iwanted Peter to be ateenager, he said, No,teenagers can only besidekicks! And then,when I told him that Iwanted Peter to have alot of personalproblemshes not thatpopular with hisfriends; he has to worry

    about his schoolwork; he doesnt have enough moneyMartin said, Stan,dont you realize what a super-hero is? They dont have those kinds ofproblems. So, you could see he wasnt totally thrilled with the notion ofSpider-Man.

    Next: Since Peter Parker was originally a high school student, why is hecalled Spider-Man and not Spider-Boy?

    You know, its very interesting why Icalled him Spider-Man instead of Spider-Boy. Its something Ive thought about quitea lot. I think probably because Supermanwas Superman, and somehow Spider-Boywouldve sounded too immature. Toonot fully developed. Not enough of asuper-hero. And I wanted our super-heroto be on a par with any other competingsuper-hero. So I felt Ive gotta call himSpider-Man. Also, I had the idea that, if hesucceeded in subsequent issues and insubsequent years, we would age him. Andat some point he would

    be a man. And when he became an adultmale, it would be silly to

    keep calling him Spider-Boy. So I guess I wasjust farsighted enoughto think ahead and bewise enough to call himSpider-Man.

    Well, the reasonSpider-Man firstappeared in AmazingFantasy is: As you mayremember, my publisherhated the idea anddidnt want me to goahead with the script.But I just felt I had toget it out of my system.Well, we had amagazine calledAmazing Fantasy that Iloved, but it wasntselling. And we wereabout to drop it. Now,when you drop amagazine, nobody careswhat you put in the lastissue. Because it doesntmatter; thats the lastissue and there wont beany more. So, just forfun, I put Spider-Manin the last issue ofAmazing FanFantasyalmost forgotthe nameand Ifeatured him on thecover, just to get it outof my system. Strangelyenough, that was thebest-selling book thatwe had had all yearafter it was published.So, it shows virtue is

    The Amazing Steve & Spidey, Man!Steve Ditkoand two stages of a pair of primo panels from his final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man:#38 (July 1966), Just a Guy Named Joe! (Left:) The only clearly printable panels from a photocopy of Ditkos rough pencils, with Lees text already added by letterer Artie Simek. With thanks to DavidHambone Hamilton. (Right:) The same two panels from the finished comic. Thanks to Barry Pearl.

    [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    (Top center:) The affectionate caricature of Ditko turning 81 in 2008drawn by noted Braziliancartoonist Almeida Birautilizes images of three of Ditkos most noted co-creations. For photos ofSteve, see p. 8. Thanks to Roberto Guedes. [Caricature 2011 Almeida Bira; Spider-Man & Doctor

    Strange art 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.; Mr. A art 2011 Steve Ditko.]

    Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Interview! 5

  • rewarded and righteousness alwaystriumphs.

    After Jenna has a brief exchange withthe recording engineer:

    A question for the engineer? Am Icompeting with the engineer? Hisanswers better not be cleverer thanmine. [in response to an unrecordedcomment from someone:] I like yourattitude.

    Stan is asked about the creation of J.Jonah Jameson as a foil for Spider-Man.

    You probably cant tell by listening tome, but I love humor. And I feel that,even in serious stories, the more youinject elements of humor, the morepalatable it is and the more you enjoythe story. So, even though Spider-Manwas the story of a super-hero whosfighting deadly super-villains, I wantedto inject some humor, and I couldntthink of a better way to do it than tohave another character that Spider-Manor Peter Parker would be involved withand who would hate Spider-Man. Andwho would not like Peter Parker thatmuch, either. But poor Peter had to bewith this guy, and of course that wouldbe Jonah Jameson, the publisher of TheDaily Bugle, which was the newspaperthat Peter sold photographs to on afreelance basis.

    Now, I didnt want to make him likethe editor of the paper that Supermanwas involved inalthough I never readSuperman that much. But I knowthere was an editor, a publisher, orsomebody named Perry White. And asfar as I could tell, he was just a regularguy. But I made our J. Jonah Jamesonnot really a regular guy. I made himirascible, a loudmouth, bigoted, narrow-minded, with a quick tempereverybody that you wouldnt like. Andpoor Peter was stuck with this guy as hisboss. And I dont know if the readersliked it, but I had a lot of fun writing the dialogue between Peter and J.Jonah Jameson.

    Jenna asks Stan why he had so much faith in Spider-Man as a character?

    You know, its a funny thing Im not sure that I had so much faith inSpider-Man. It was just an idea that I had. And I hate to let an idea go towaste. I wasnt sure it would be a hit. It was just something I wanted to do,mainly because I felt hes different than all the other super-heroes. First ofall, he was a teenager and all the others were adults. They had teenagesidekicks, but that was all. And he had all these problems. And he wasntthat handsome. And he wasnt that tall or strong, and I just thought itwould be fun to do it. I wasnt certain that it would be successful, but Iwanted to try it. I love trying new things.

    Theres one very interesting thing about Spider Mans costume that Idont know if everybody is aware of. And it happened, I think, acciden-tally. When Steve Ditko designed the costume, he covered Peter up totally.

    You dont see any skin, any flesh at all,which is unusual. On most other super-hero costumes, you see a bit of the face,or the hands, or something. Well, whathappened was, it was a very fortuitouschoice of costume, becauseand Ilearned this later; I wasnt aware of it inthe beginningbut it happened that anyyoung person of any race could identifywith Peter Parker, or rather Spider-Man.Because, for all we knew, under thecostume, he could have been black hecould have been Asian he could havebeen Indian. He could have beenanybody with any skin color. And Ithink that turned out to be a wonderfulthing, and I think it may be one of thereasons that Spider-Man is so popularall over the world.

    Tell us about Dr. Octopus.

    Hm-hmm I always loved Dr.Octopus. First of all, as you may haverealized by now, I love wacky names.And the big thing with a villainusually in creating a villain the firstthing I would think of was a name, andthen I would try to think of, Well, nowthat Ive got the name, whos thecharacter going to be and what will hedo? For some reason, I thought of anoctopus. I thought, I want to callsomebody Octopus. And I want him tohave a couple of extra arms just for fun.But I had to figure out how to do that.Well, I worked that out. But then,getting back to the name: Since he was ascientist, I figured, Ill call him Dr.Octopus, which sounded good to me.But again, I kept thinking about it andoh, incidentally, in order to make itrealistic, I called him Dr. Otto Octavius.But because he had these artificialtentacles, I had the people who knewhim call him Doc OckDr. Octopus.Just as a nickname. Something that theymight in real life call somebody whosename was Octavius, and who looked likethat. But then I thought Id even make it

    more of a nickname, and I changed Dr. Octopus to Doc Ock. And I lovedDoc Ock. I always think of him as Doc Ock. As you can tell, I really turnon to strange names.

    I guess I nickname everybody. For example, Spider-Man himself. Imean, nobody ever called Superman Supey, as far as I know. But I felt,Spider-Man, its a good name. Its dramatic, but its a little bit stiff. So Ibegan to refer to him as Spidey. And I think I did that with most of ourheroes. I gave almost all of them nicknames which I enjoyed. I had noidea how the readers felt about it, but I was making myself happy when Iwrote the stories.

    I think it humanizes them. And I think it also makes the reader feel alittle friendly toward them. Daredevil I called Horn-head, and Thor Icalled Goldilocks, cause he had that long golden hair. I had little namesfor everybody.

    6 Two Extraordinary 2005 Audio Sessions With The Man Who Spearheaded Marvel Comics

    Look Out! Here Comes The Spider-Man!Because virtually all of Stans Marvel work has been reprintedand

    re-reprintedand re-re-reprintedthis A/E will feature very fewimages taken from the comics themselves, such as the Kirby-

    penciled cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)! The above artthe cover Steve Ditko drew for that issue but which Stan and/orpublisher Martin Goodman elected not to usesaw print for the

    first time in Marvel Tales #137 (March 1982). Thanks to HenryKujawa. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    As for Stan saying, Im not sure I had so much faith in Spider-ManJenna Free asked that question partly because Royd told

    her that 1960s Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky had used thevery phrase Stan always had faith in Spider-Man when talkingto the very interested new staffer RT about the subject in 1965-66.

  • Why didnt Peter Parker tell the world he now had spider-powers?

    I just felt it was more dramatic for Peter to keep his Spider-Manidentity a secret, because if everybody knew he was Spider-Man, I couldntget as many problems for him in his life, in his personal life. And it justseems to me that the more personal problems a character has, the moreinteresting he is. So, except for the Fantastic Four, I think just about all ormost of our super-hero characters had secret identities.

    Jenna asks for a fewwords about The GreenGoblin.

    The Green Goblin, ofcourse, is another of myfavorite villains. In fact, Ithink all of my villains aremy favorite villains. ButSteve and ISteve Ditko,the artist, and the co-plotter,I might addwe had a bigargument. Now, Im not sureit was about The GreenGoblin. It might have beenabout someone else, causemy memory is terriblebutThe Green Goblin will serveas a good example. So letssay it was about The GreenGoblin. At some point wehad to tell the reader whoThe Green Goblin reallywas. And Steve wanted himto turn out to be just somecharacter that we had neverseen before. Because, hesaid, in real life, very often avillain turns out to besomebody that you neverknew.

    And I felt that that wouldbe wrong. I felt, in a sense, itwould be like cheating thereader. It would be like in amurder mystery where youfind out, well, it was thebutler who did it, or it wasthe innocent aunt orsomeone. But if itssomebody you didnt knowand had never seen, thenwhat was the point offollowing all the clues? Ithink that frustrates thereader. So that was a bigargument that we had. Andwe ended up I won thatone. And not probablybecause I was any moreright than Steve, butbecause I was the editor. Sowe made The Green Goblinturn out to be HarryOsborne, who was thismillionaire businessman.And of course that led to a

    lot more complications, because he had this son who was Peters bestfriend, who hated Spider-Man because Spider-Man was the one who hadbrought his father down. And, as I mentioned, the more complicationsyou get, I think the better the story is.

    After Roy, through Jenna, corrects Stan on a point or two:

    What did I say? [after Roys response] Thats typical. You know, Roy, Idont think it was The Green Goblin. I think we had ahe was a gangster.

    There was a gangster in onestory. Thats who it was! Oh,is that what happened? So, Iwas right about theOkay.Good. So, now I gotta say itagain. Cuz it was NormanOsborne. Harry is the son,right? [At this point, Stanrephrases his answer in theprevious paragraph,replacing Harry Osbornewith Norman Osborne.]

    What about your secondcharacter created with SteveDitko?

    The two of us? Youmean Oh, I see. Of course,another favorite of mine,which I did with SteveDitko, was Doctor Strange.We had done a charactersome years agoI think wecalled him Dr. Droom, orsomethingwho had been amagician. And I always likedhim, but I forgot about him.It was a one-shot thing. Andone day while we weretrying to think of some newheroes, I thought Id like tobring back a magician. And Igave him the name DoctorStrangeI think StephenStrange; something like that.And Steve was the fellowwho drew it.

    I dont think DoctorStrange would ever havebeen as successful if anyonebut Steve Ditko had drawnhim. Because Steve found away to draw backgroundsand areas that we made up,like Dream World and allkind of other dimensions.The way Steve drew theseplaces, you really thoughtyou were in a differentdimension. And, of course,Steve gave Doctor Strangethis great cloak and thisamulet that he wore, andeverything looked myste-rious and magical. And all Ihad to do was write the

    Goblin Up Spider-ManCollector/dealer Mike Burkey, whose art website is www.romitaman.com, no less, supplied

    us with this never-used version of a Spidey/Green Goblin penciled page from AmazingSpider-Man #40 (Sept. 1966). He says its the only existing large art [i.e., twice-up] fully

    penciled John Romita ASM page Ive ever come across in 20 years of collecting AmazingSpider-Man artwork!... The Norman Osborn head was inked partially, and John Romita, as a favor, redrew the Norman Osborn head in pencil on a separate piece of drawing boardwhich fits perfectly over the partially inked Norman Osborn head! What a great guy JohnRomita is and what a great piece of art we have here! Course, since Mike was selling

    the page, he couldve been excused for exaggerating just a bitbut, in truth, it is a great unused page find. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Interview! 7

  • our main characters ever since. Tony Stark, The Invincible IronManand its his mansion where The Avengers have theirheadquarters.

    Jenna asks about Gabriel Jones, the African-American member ofthe Howling Commandos.

    Was he before The Black Panther, Roy?... Okay. No I probablywont mention that, but

    Im not a great war lover, but in looking for variety when wewere doing so many books, I thought it would be nice to do somestories of World War II. So I created this character, Sgt. Nick Fury,and I really wanted him to be like our version of John Wayne.Hes rough and tough, but hes got a heart of gold, and he loveshis men and he takes care of them, and hes the best darnsergeant in the Army. And just for fun, I wanted to give him a

    very ethnic platoon, because again, I love to show that, in a perfect world,people of all colors, races, and religions would get along well. So I madehis platoonI had it consist of Izzy Cohen, who was Jewish; GabrielJones, who was black; Dino Minnelli, who was Italian; Dum-Dum Dugan,I believe he was Irish; and on and on. I had a few others there was evenan Englishman named Percy somebody, and now that I think of it, heseemed a little bit gay, [chuckles] although it wasnt purposely done thatway. However, I loved this platoon, and I think, by the way, that GabrielJones, the black soldier, was the first time any black had been a super-heroin a book, cause this whole platoon, they were super-heroes.

    And one thing Im proudest ofI think those characters acted and

    talked in a very true-to-life way, the way soldiers really did talk, but wewere able to achieve that feeling without using any profanity in the booksthemselves, and I thought that was a real good accomplishment. And ofcourse we had the usual kind of stories where our little platoon, whichconsisted of just a few men, would defeat half of the German army, theNazi army.

    The stories were good. What happened was, I got tired of doing warstories after a while, so at some point we dropped the books, and so muchfan mail came in from readers who wanted more of Sgt. Fury, but wedidnt have time, I didnt have the men to draw it, I didnt have the time towrite it, and we were busy with other things, so we just started re-printingthe books, and strangely enough, the reprint versions of Sgt. Fury sold aswell as the original ones had! And we reprinted them for the longest timeuntil we finally stopped. [laughs]

    Apparently, at this stage, Jenna asked Stan to rephrase part of hisprevious response.

    22 Two Extraordinary 2005 Audio Sessions With The Man Who Spearheaded Marvel Comics

    Getting Some Iron Man In Your Diet(Above:) Ubiquitous 1970s cover artist Gil Kanes pencil layout for that

    of Iron Man #62 (Sept. 1973); thanks to Anthony Snyder. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    (Above right:) By 1965, the still-ongoing UK version of the old Timely/Atlasmystery title Spellbound (#51) from publisher L. Miller & Son, like its

    surviving American cousins, was being headlined by a super-heroin thiscase, Iron Man. Shellheads still in his original bulky armor in this Steve

    Ditko drawing (inked by Iron Man artistic co-creator Don Heck) that hadbeen the splash page of Tales of Suspense #47 (Nov. 1963). So why wasnt

    Jack Kirbys cover utilized instead? Youd have to have somebody in balmyBritain! To whoever sent us this coverthanks!

    Alas, there are a couple of verbal missteps in Stans narration, though theydidnt make it into the audio tracks as part of the book. Iron Mans 1962

    creation did not occur during a period when the U.S. was particularly sickof warthough Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963) did hit the newsstands

    in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 62.Likewise, his origin occurred not in Korea, of course, but in Viet Nam, not

    yet an area of real American military involvement. Stan was doubtlessmomentarily confusing the Vietnamese War with the Korean War, since hehad lived through both of those conflicts, as well as the Second World War.

  • Gabriel Jones was probably the first African-American super-hero in a comic, and I was veryproud of that. I was proud of all these types in Sgt.Furys platoon, and I loved the way they were allfriends and comrades, and each one of themwouldve taken a bullet for the other one, and itjustSgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos wasvery satisfying to me.

    Oh, can I mention about the name? We havetime? I almost started that book on a dare, becausemy publisher Martin said to me once, Stan, why areour books selling so well? I dont understand. Theyseem to be similar to the competition, but wereoutselling them! And I said, Well, I think its thestyle that these things are being written and drawnin. And he said, No, I dont think thats it. I thinktheyre better names; weve got better titles. I said,No, that isnt it! And we argued about it. So I said,Look, Im gonna prove youre wrong. Im gonnacome up with a book with the worst title in theworld, and I bet we could make it sell! Yeah, now Iremember exactly how it happened. And he said, Allright, go ahead. So I said, And Im gonna make it abook of war stories, and you know theyre not aspopular as super-hero stories, so if we can make thatsell, youll know it isnt the title, or the subject, its thestyle. He said, Okay, so I came up with Sgt. Furyand His Howling Commandos, which really is aterrible title for a comic book! [laughs] And it didsell, and it was successful, and Martin finally had toadmit that, well, maybe I was right. [chuckles]

    Jenna asks about the 1953-55 revival ofTimely/Marvels Big Three heroes: The HumanTorch, Captain America, and Sub-Mariner.

    Woo. This is one Roy could answer much betterthan me. I remember there was such a book; I dontremember a damn thing about it. And who was init?... [Roy reminds Stan]

    You know, back in the olden days, like in 1953,whenever Martin told me to do a book, I just did abook without giving it much thought, Im afraid. Oneday he said, I wanna do a book called Young Men,and I want it to feature The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, and Captain America. And I said Great,and um, we did the book, and it contained thosecharacters, and, you know, nothing happened; itwasnt anything special. Unfortunately, we reallydidnt have anything special until the 60s, when westarted with The Fantastic Four, and we developed ourso-called Marvel Style. But Young Men was typical ofthe type of books that were published in those days,where you just throw a lot of characters into a book,get somebody to write em, get somebody to drawthem, and you knew youll sell a certain amount ofcopies.

    While dealing with the 1950s, Jenna asks about anartist of that period who wasnt around for the MarvelAge: Joe Maneely.

    One artist who was really great, and its very tragic that he didntsurvive, was Joe Maneely. Joe was an artist that worked for us in the earlydays. One of his most famous strips was one called The Black Knight, andit was really a series about knights in armor, magnificently illustrated. He

    also did a number of Westerns and horror storiesand humor strips. He was the most versatile artist inthe world. He was as fast as any artist, even as fast asJack Kirby, who, [laughs] people thoughtnobodycould be that fast! The way he [Maneely] drewhewould just sketch a line or two in pencil, and then hewould take a pen or a brush and go over it and dothe finished drawing. Its as though he actually didhis drawing with a pen, or with a brush! And he wasaccommodating; no matter what you gave him todraw, he did it, he did it quickly and beautifully.

    Unfortunately, one day he was going home to hishome in Jersey from Manhattan, and somethinghappened on the train, and he fell off the train, andthat was the end. Its just really tragic, because I thinkJoe Maneely, today, would be one of the mosthonored artists, if he had just been around a littlelonger.

    Jenna next brings up Captain America Foils theTraitors Revenge, the two-page text story in CaptainAmerica Comics #3 (1941) that had become Stansfirst published story of any kind.

    Oh that little thing, The Traitors Revenge!was that what it was called? I dont remember thestory, but I remember the name. Um The firststory that I actually wrote in comics and waspublished was in Captain America #3, which wasprobably in 1940 or 41, somewhere around there. Itwasnt a comic strip. In those days, the Post Officehad a law saying that the publishers couldnt call acomic magazine a magazine unless it had at leasttwo pages of just words without panels. Im not sureof the reason for thatit doesnt matterbutbecause of that, every comic book had two pages oftext. And nobody cared who wrote them, causenobody read those two pages. The people whobought the books just wanted the comic strips. So,when I came to work forit was called TimelyComics at the timethe first assignment I was givenwas to write one of those two-page text pieces, and Iwrote something called The Traitors Revengestarring Captain America, and it wasI think it wasstarring Captain Americaand it was published inCaptain America #3 with my name on it, and oh, Iwas so proud! I ran home, showed it to all myfriends, who never read it, probably, but there I wasin a comic book with my name on it. Ill never forgetthat day. [NOTE: See p. 4.]

    Jenna, having been made aware that Stans mostsuccessful hero creation before 1961 was TheDestroyer, in the early 1940s, asks Stan about thecharacter.

    Dunno. Roy showed me a picture of it, but Idont know what to say. He was a good guy, right?...[after Roy says a few memory-jogging words to Stanabout The Destroyer:]

    One of the first really popular characters I created in those early dayswas called The Destroyer! I love that name! And he was a little likeCaptain America in those days. He fought the Nazis also, but unlikeCaptain America, he was in Europe, so he was fighting them overseas. Hehad a great costume. And I was in my element, I was writing actionstories, I had myself a hero, I loved the name The Destroyer, and I was

    Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Interview! 23

    Color Me Embarrassed!By the time of the double-page spread

    from which the above figure in Sgt.Fury #1 (May 1963) is taken, a tinyimage of Gabriel Jones had already

    been colored Caucasian pink on thecoveras well as a slightly larger one

    on the splash page. But when theengravers corrected the flesh

    coloring on this far larger figure, it wasjust too much! Fortunately, by #2, they

    colored Gabe as gray, which wouldsoon give way to a more complex (butmore accurate) brown. It took a little

    time for the engravers to get theirheads around the fact that an African-

    American was one of the seven HowlingCommandos! Thanks to Barry Pearl.

    [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • 24 Two Extraordinary 2005 Audio Sessions With The Man Who Spearheaded Marvel Comics

    off and running. And I even put my name on the story, ha ha ha!

    At this point the session ended. As he prepared to leave, Stan said a fewwords about how glad he was that everything was over and had turnedout all right, and seemed a bit surprised when Jenna reminded him (if hebeen told before) that thered probably have to be a second session in avery few weeks. Stan accepted that in good grace, said they should get intouch with him when the time came, and then he was gone whileJenna and I were soon winging our way back to Washington State andSouth Carolina, respectively. But, based on the days experience, I waspretty certain Id be back.

    SESSION II (September 2005)As indeed I was, three or four weeks later. The routine was pretty

    much the same, with Stan just wanting some assurance (whichJenna duly gave) that this indeed would be the final session.However, this one was destined to last approximately as long as theprevious one. Stan, Jenna, Leigh, the recording engineer, and I alltook our by-now familiar places.

    This time, Jenna begins by asking Stan about the origin of hismotto, Excelsior!

    All right. Years ago, when I was writing the Soapbox and the BullpenBulletins pageI wrote the whole thing at the timeI would usually endwhatever I wrote with some expression like Nuff said!, Face front!, orHang loose! or whatever I could think of. And, little by little, I wouldnoticed those expressions creeping into our competitors magazines, and Ifelt Ive got to think of something that (A) they wont know what it means;and (B) they wont know how to spell it. And I came up with the wordExcelsior, which at that time was the slogan of the State of New York; itwas on the New York State code of arms, but I did not know that at thetime. I took it because it is from the Old English. It is an Old Englishexpression that I had read somewhere which means upward and onwardto greater glory. I later learned that it is even on the New York State codeof arms, which I thought was great, but anyway, I started writingExcelsior!, and I guess it was just too big a word for anyone to cope with,and it sort of remained mine for all this time.

    EXCELSIOR! Thats for you, for your very own. [chuckles]

    Jenna asks what Stan would like to be his legacy.

    WeirdAnd Wonderful!(Left:) Artist Joe Maneelys entire three-issue opus on Timely/Atlas BlackKnight (plus his covers for #4-5) is on gorgeous display in the hardcoverMarvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Black Knight/Yellow Claw. But thats onlythe tip of the talented iceberg that was Joe Maneely. He drew in virtually

    every genreand did them all splendidly, with his own individualistic flair. Here, courtesy of Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, is his cover for Adventures intoWeird Worlds #26 (Feb. 1954), at the height of the horror-comics craze.

    [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Destroy All Nazis!(Right:) The Destroyer, Stan Lees most popular super-hero co-

    creation pre-F.F. #1, goes into action for the first time ever in MysticComics #6 (Dec. 1941). Besides his blue face-mask, The Destroyers

    most unique quality was the fact that he did all his Nazi-busting inOccupied Europe, not on the Home Front; Captain America, HumanTorch, and Sub-Mariner divided their time between the two. Art by

    Jack Binder. Thanks to Warren Reece. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • lbert Sulman hasbeen discussed anynumber of times inA/E interviews with

    other Timely Comics staffersand freelancers, not tomention those who workedfor him at Ace Publications.An editor and writer forcomics and magazinesthelatter chiefly at MartinGoodmans MagazineManagementAl had a longcareer in publishing, but notmuch was known about him.Former Marvelites SolBrodsky, Mike Esposito, JohnRomita, Stan Goldberg, andRoy Thomas (and later Al

    Milgrom) used toplay poker with Alduring the 60s and70s, but they neverbecame close friends with him.Apparently, Al built a wall between him and most othersawall I tried to penetrate with small success. I finally did get him to laugha few times, but did not succeed in getting him to send a photo. At first,Al wasnt interested in granting me an interview, but I managed topersuade him to talk to me; so, figuring that Id probably have only oneshot at it, I mostly asked him basic questions. He enjoyed talking to meenough that he agreed to another short session. We spoke a couple oftimes, and right as I was breaking a hole in the wall, Als health (whichwas not good) precluded further discussion, resulting in an uncompletedinterview. Ive been unable to re-establish contact with Al for over a yearnow, but hope he is alive and well somewhere. Many unasked questionswill remain unanswered, Im sorry to say, but at least we have this peekbehind the Sulman curtain. Thanks to Steven Rowe for helping me findAl Sulman. This interview was conducted in 2009. Jim.

    46

    AA

    I Had A Liking For The Comic Magazine Business

    A Catch-As-Catch-Can Conversation With AL SULMAN, Personal Associate of Stan Lee

    Conducted by Jim Amash Transcribed by Brian K. Morris

    Blonde Ambition(Top left:) Photos of Al Sulman are virtually unobtainablebut fortunately this skillful caricature of him, drawn and signed by fellow bullpenner/future Mad-man Dave Berg, appeared in Stan Lees 1947 mini-tome Secrets behind the Comics, a 700-copy limited hardcover second edition of which was published byMarvel in 1994. A/Es editor kicks himself every time he recalls how he played poker with Al, all those years, and never asked him what Stan mightve meantby calling him a personal associate of his! Roy recently did e-mail Stan on the pointbut, surprise, surprise, Stan had no memory of ever using the term.

    (Incidentally, although Stan refers to him in the book as Alan Sulman, the editor/writers first name was actually Albert.) [ 2011 Stan Lee.]

    The book reproduced both the full typed script (left) and the black-&-white Syd Shores artwork of the 4-page yarn I Hate Me! from Blonde Phantom #15(Fall 1947), starring the gorgeous gang-buster Al had co-created. Seen above right from Secrets is the tales first page, in color from an art scan provided by

    Betty Dobson. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • My Brother Asked Me To Help Him With The Scripts JIM AMASH: When were you born, andhow did you break into comics?

    AL SULMAN: I was born in March 19,1918. So Im now 91 years old. My olderbrother Joseph was a cartoon artist, and heworked for Detective Comics. So, after Igraduated from college, he got me in thebusiness of writing scripts for him on afreelance basis. He did do some work forTimely Comicsalso on a freelance basis,of course. His cartoon style was pretty muchlike Al Capps, who did Lil Abner. He drewseveral scripts for Timely, like EustaceHayseed, which looked a lot like Lil Abner.He mainly drew humor features. He was notan artisthe was a cartoonist. But he was avery, very good cartoonist. He was born in1911.

    I graduated from Yale University inNew Haven, Connecticut, in 1940. Imajored in English literature and Americanliterature. I minored in European historyand American history. [After graduation], Iwent to New York looking for a job. Iapplied at Timely for a staff job as a story orscript editor, and told them that Id written acouple of strips for Detective Comics[National/DC]. Stan Lee was the artdirector; he hired me as a staff script editorand as a story editor to buy from freelancewriters in 1941. At that time, Timely waslocated on West 42nd Street. Thats how itstarted.

    Simon and Kirby must have left thecompany before I joined them, because Idont remember meeting them. Timely musthave moved to the Empire State Buildingwhile I was in the military service. I wasdrafted in February of 1942.

    JA: Since you hadnt gone to college to be acomic book writer

    SULMAN: Oh, no, no, no.

    JA: what did you have in mind to do withyourself before comics came about?

    SULMAN: I wanted to be a novelist and ashort story writer, but my brother asked meto help him with the scripts, and I had a

    liking for the comic magazine business, youknow.

    JA: When you wrote for your brother on thoseDC comic stories, did DC pay you or did hepay you? Who had the account?

    SULMAN: My brother paid me. [DC] had astrip called Zatara the [Master] Magician,and a guy named Fred Guardineer was theartist. But the time came when he didntwant to draw it anymore, so the editor at DCturned it over to my brother, and he beganto draw the strip; but he had to imitate FredGuardineers drawing style, because thecharacter had to look [the same], and itworked out fine. I wrote a few Zatarascripts, and that got me interested in writingcomic scripts. But Joe and I didnt doZatara for very long.

    JA: You wrote Eustace Hayseed for Timely,and Zatara for DC. For Quality Comics,your brother drew something called Woopy.Did you write that for him?

    SULMAN: No. I did not write everythingthat he drew.

    JA: He drew three other features. One wasSocko Strong, for DC. Did you write that?

    SULMAN: Yes, I did.

    JA: Caveman Curly.

    SULMAN: Caveman Curly soundsfamiliar. I think I may have written a fewscripts on that one, too. But Socko Strong,I definitely remember.

    JA: And the other one is Biff Bronson.

    SULMAN: Yes, I wrote that one, too.

    JA: Basically, your brother was packagingthese features for DC. You werent going intothe offices, were you?

    SULMAN: No, I did not go to the DC office.I gave my brother an outline which hesubmitted it to the editor at DC, whom Ibelieve was Whitney Ellsworth. [NOTE:Biff Bronson with a byline for both brothersappeared in All Star Comics #1, as well as inissues of More Fun Comics, so the formerwork mustve been done for All-Americaneditor Shelly Mayer.Jim.] When it was itwas okayed, I wrote the scripts. Joe showed

    I Had A Liking For The Comic Magazine Business 47

    Thars Gold In Them Thar Hillbillies!The Sulman brothers, Al (writer) and Joseph (artist), seem to have been typecast for a time as the writer-&-artist team called when a company needed a

    knockoff of Al Capps wildly popular daily comic strip Lil Abnereven though we couldnt come up with any definite Sulman art and/or story in that area:

    (Top:) This Woopy of Shootn Creek splash page is from an uncertain Quality Comics issue, in a story bylined not by Joseph Sulman but by Art Gates (with the scripter totally unguessed at). The hillbilly hero appeared in Hit Comics #26-29 and Uncle Sam Quarterly #6 & #8 in 1943. Thanks to Jim Ludwig.

    [ 2011 the respective copyright holders.]

    (Above:) Dr. Michael J. Vassallo feels this Eustace Hayseed yarn from Krazy Komics #1 (Aug. 1948)with its super-heavy Capp influenceis most likely the work of Joseph Sulman, so its quite possible that his brother wrote it. It was some of Joes last work in comics. Thanks also to Steven Rowe for pointing us

    the way. [ 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • me how many pages he needed, afour-page script or a five-pagescript.

    JA: Did Joseph ink these features aswell as pencil them?

    SULMAN: Yes. He did not letterthem. Someone in the office letteredthem.

    JA: Did he serve in World War II?

    SULMAN: No. He worked for acompany that built submarines.

    JA: His comic book career was not avery long one. What he did after hiscomic book days?

    SULMAN: He had a job with thegovernment. It had something to dowith delinquent students, like aprobation officer, things like that.And thats what he did the last tenyears of his life.

    JA: He didnt keep his art careergoing, did he?

    SULMAN: No, he did not. Ill tellyou what he did. In our home townnewspaperNew London,Connecticuthe used to draweditorialI dont know if Id callthem cartoons, but editorials forthe local newspaper, for theeditorial page. That was after [his comic book days]. He did not do thatfor a long time. Eventually, he retired down to Florida. I had two olderbrothers; theyre both gone now. I had a still-older brother who was adoctor for 50 years in New London.He died ten years ago.

    I Just Had To Buy The Scripts

    JA: Since youve read my interviews,you have an idea of what Im lookingfor, because a lot of people we talkabout were never interviewed, andtheyre gone now. I have to rely onpeople like you to tell me aboutthem, so their biography wont fadeaway.

    SULMAN: Yeah. Well, I cant saythat my memory is very good nowat my age.

    JA: Im grateful for whatever you cangive me. First Id like to know a littlebit more about your brother Joseph.What kind of person was he?

    SULMAN: He was a very goodbrother, and he graduated fromBrown University in Providence,Rhode Island. And my doctorbrother graduated eight years before

    me from Yale. We were all very welleducated.

    JA: Were your parents?

    SULMAN: No, they wereimmigrants from Eastern Europe.My father came from Lithuania, andmy mother from Russia.

    JA: I had wondered about your lastname, because I looked Sulman upon the Internet, and its both an Arabname and a Jewish name.

    SULMAN: Well, my fathers originalname was not Sulman, it wasShulman, with an h. When hecame to America, he dropped theh and became Sulman. So I andmy two brothers are Sulmans, notShulmans. But we are Jewish, yes.

    As a matter of fact, during the warwhen I was with the Air Force inNorth Africa, I picked up a few

    Arabic expressions from the local population, so I do speak a little Arabic.I do speak French, though. When I graduated from high school, I was [at

    the top of] my class, and I also wonthe French Prize. Im very good atpicking up languages.

    JA: I take it you didnt see combat inthe service.

    SULMAN: No. I was not a memberof a crew. I was in SquadronIntelligence, in a bomber squadron.We had B-25s, medium bombers,but I was in the Intelligence office,gathering intelligence from infor-mation where our bombers shoulddrop their bombs. We got infor-mation from various sources, so webombed bridges and ammunitiondumps and things like that. Westarted in Morocco, Algeria, andTunisia, and then we moved to theisland of Corsica, in theMediterranean. Our final airportwas on the east coast of Italy, justsouth of Venice. I was in the militaryfor 3 years, and overseas two yearsand seven months. I was a staffsergeant in the Intelligence Office ofthis bomber squadron. Not asergeant, but one higher.

    Come Out Of The Cave, ManAl says he may have written a few scripts of Caveman Curly, which

    was likewise illustrated by his big brother Joseph. This splash page from AllFunny Comics #14 (Nov.-Dec. 1946) was provided by Michael T. Gilbert. [

    2011 DC Comics.]

    The Brand New 1940 MottleJoseph Sulman became the firstartist to succeed creator Fred

    Guardineer on the Zatara strip thelatter had createdthough whether

    or not his brother Al wrote thisparticular script for Action Comics

    #30 (Nov. 1940) is unknown. Thanksto Mark Muller. [ 2011 DC Comics.]

    48 A Catch-As-Catch-Can Conversation With Al Sulman, Personal Associate of Stan Lee

  • 61

  • Introductionby Michael T. Gilbert

    recently stumbled across a fascinating 1974 fanzine article inBatmania #19, featuring a blow-by-blow account of writer MikeFriedrichs attempts to sell his first pro story to editor Julie Schwartz.This was no easy task in 1966, especially for a starry-eyed 16-year-

    old high school student. DC had pretty much slammed the door on newtalent when sales took a big dive after the notorious 1954 Congressionalcomic book hearings. But by 1966, young Turks like Neal Adams, JimSteranko, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, and Len Wein had begun to breakinto the old boys network.

    Friedrichs article provides a rare snapshotof those times, a peek behind the editorialcurtains of staid DC. Though his memoir ispainful in spots (oh, the rejection!), Mikesyouthful enthusiasm still shines through.Weve all been there.

    Mike submitted his article to Batmaniafounder Biljo White in July 1967, shortly afterhis first sale. It sat on Biljos shelf until secondeditor Rich Morrissey published it in 1974.Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Then Someis comic history in the raw, at the cusp ofMikes writing career.

    Julie, in this account, comes across astough but fair. A long-time sci-fi fan himself,he was unusually receptive to others of histribe. Reading between the lines, one can alsosee how staid DC would soon lose their #1spot to upstart Marvel. Schwartz washorrified at Mikes use of the Golden Agevillain Two-Face. He also disapproved of anymention of drugs, which seems positivelyquaint in light of DCs current storylines.

    After getting Mikes permission to reprint the piece, I asked him toexplain a couple of obscure references, and also encouraged him to shareany thoughts on his old article. On 4/21/10, Mike replied:

    Hi, Michael, I completely forgot that I ever wrote up my breaking-instory for Batmania. It's a pleasure to read this report from my youngeryears. To fill in a couple of obscure references: in his letter columns Juliecame up with cute names for some of his regular correspondents, likemyself. I lived in Castro Valley, California, as a teenager, and he'd dubbedme Castro Mike. Also, an oblique reference is made to a bloody event toJuly 4, 1966. Fellow Schwartz letter-writer Guy H. Lillian III also lived inthe Bay Area at the time and we got together a few times in high schooland college. On July 4, 1966, Julie Schwartz was vacationing in SanFrancisco. Guy and I arranged to meet with him but were involved in a

    near-serious pre-seat-belt car accident. We were bothpassengers in the back seat and fortunately escapedwith bumps and scrapes. It was very traumatic, notthe least for missing the opportunity to meet Julie,which didn't occur for another year.

    It's very clear in retrospect that Julie bought myfirst story not because it was any good, but becausehe was worried that I was giving up, just when I wasstarting to develop a tiny talent. I'm glad he stuckwith me, or otherwise I may never have had the 35-year career in comics that I wound up having. I usedthe money from that first check to go to New York fora summer and get a first-hand tough-but-fairtutoring from Julie. Three months later I wrotemy first published script, which was drawn byNeal Adams. Now that's a real sweet debut!

    Mike

    Sweet, indeed, Mike! A young ArlenSchumer illustrated Mikes article when it waspublished in Batmania #19. In later years,Arlen became a talented commercial artistand comic historian; his The Silver Age ofComic Book Art won the IndependentPublishers Award for Best Pop Culture Bookof 2004. And now, without further ado

    II

    62 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt!

    by Castro Mike Friedrichackground: In the spring of 1966, NPP [National PeriodicalPublications, a.k.a. DC Comics] issued a statement at the end ofmost of their lettercols to the effect that letters will not beanswered unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped

    envelope. Now to any normal-thinking person (like myself, natch), thismeant letters will be answered when accompanied by an SASE. So Imade a practice of writing a LOC [letter of comment] to every JuliusSchwartz mag when that came out, enclosing an envelope for a reply. Aregular correspondence was set up this way (though I had to wait daysand weeks for replies because thousands of other fans had the same I ideaI had). In early June I asked a post-scriptural question to the effect, Doyou take seriously reader contributions?, adding that I had an idea for astory that I would like to submit. The reply was

    (June 16, 1966) Finally, do I take seriously reader contributions? Yes

    and nodepends on the contributor. In your case, you get the red carpettreatment. As a matter of fact, I definitely do encourage you to take acrack at writing for me. Im open to EVERYTHING!

    However, I recommend that you send me a plot firstno point indoing a whole script based on an idea or development I dont likeor onsomething similar I may have coming up [sic].

    Believe me, Im not putting you on with writing for me. Im hopefulyou can come up with some fresh ideas. Im confident that you have theliterary ability to make a go of itif not right off, then in due time, ifyoure willing to stick to it and learn the business.

    Naturally, I went out of my skullJulie Schwartz asking me to write forhim! Me, who had never done anything in the line of straight fiction morethan a short story for an English class the year before! I quickly dashed upa Batman story featuring the return of the old villain TWO-FACE andsent it in.

    Pictures Perfect!(Left:) A mid-70s photo of Julius Schwartz, fromAmazing World of DC Comics #3 (Nov. 1974).

    (Right:) Sheldon Mayer, editor Schwartzs former editor, draws Julie for AWODC #3.

    [ 2011 DC Comics.]

    Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Then Some or How to Sell a Batman Story in 12 Easy (?) Lessons

    BB

  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a topartist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvel charactersketches came from Marcs drawing table, and he illustrated her earliestadventures, including the classic origin story, Captain MarvelIntroduces Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures No. 18, Dec.42); but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrateCaptain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and CaptainMarvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, andcontinued to do so while in the military. After leaving the service in1944, he made an arrangement withFawcett to produce art and stories forthem on a freelance basis out of hisLouisiana home. There he created bothart and stories for The Phantom Eaglein Wow Comics, in addition to drawingthe Flyin Jenny newspaper strip for BellSyndicate (created by his friend andmentor Russell Keaton). After thecancellation of Wow, Swayze producedartwork for Fawcetts top-selling line ofromance comics, including Sweetheartsand Life Story. After the companyceased publishing comics, Marc movedover to Charlton Publications, where heended his comics career in the mid-50s.Marcs ongoing professional memoirshave been a vital part of FCA since hisfirst column appeared in FCA #54(1996). Last time we re-presented thesecond part of John G. Pierces discussionwith Marc from Comics Interview #122(1993), which covered Marcs post-1944Fawcett work as well as the baseball gameget-togethers with the Jack Binder artshop. As the final installment of thisinterview unfolds, we pick up with Marcrecounting his work on The PhantomEagle. (Thanks to publisher DavidAnthony Kraft [comicsinterview.com].

    P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    JOHN G. PIERCE: Now, to draw afeature such as The Phantom Eagle, youhad to have some knowledge of planes.Was research mandatory, or did you justuse your imagination a lot?

    MARC SWAYZE: My approach was torough in the planes the way I wantedthem in relation to the story, then get out

    the file material for detail. I suppose that would beemploying both imagination and research. I redesignedThe Phantom Eagles plane after taking over the featurein 1944, endeavoring to create a small, easily identifiablejet that reflected Phantom Eagles character. Due to thevolume of work I had taken on, which included the FlyinJenny Sunday page and later the daily strip, time was ofextreme importance; therefore all the fussy detail wasomitted from the plane.

    JGP: That brings two questions to mind. First of all, doyou know who created The Phantom Eagle?

    SWAYZE: No, I dont. Probably Bill Parker, who dreamedup many of the Fawcett characters and titles. I believePhantom Eagle, along with such features as Mr.

    Scarlet, Prince Ibis, and Golden Arrow, was in existence when I firstjoined the Fawcett staff. When I took it over in 44 it was being done bythe [Jack] Binder studio. [Executive editor] Will Lieberson and I discussedthe feature before I brought the assignment South with me, and thegeneral understanding was that I was to do anything I wanted to do withitchanges, that is. I changed the title logo completely and did away withthe six or seven young flyers representing Allied countries who followedPhantom Eagle everywhere he wentand had to be drawn! I connectedhim with a commercial aviation firm and centered the interest aroundhim, his girl friend, and a few minor associates. I think I must have been

    readying the feature for peacetime.Phantom Eagle was a fun jobbothwriting and drawing. I regret that there islittle possibility that it will ever appear inreprints because much of the oppositionwas the Rising Sun.

    JGP: The second question: when youwere working on Phantom Eagle andFlyin Jenny simultaneously, did youhave any trouble keeping them separate?Both, after all, were aviation-oriented. Iwould assume that Phantom Eagleoperated in more of a fantasy realmthan did Flyin Jenny, and likely thishelped to keep them apart.

    SWAYZE: Had I been writing bothfeatures, I might have had that trouble.But Phantom Eagle was written byseveral veteran freelancers, with anoccasional story by me.

    JGP: I know this question was posed toyou years ago by another interviewer,but Im going to repeat it, mainlybecause of my own interest in youranswer, and the information it bringsout. When you wrote stories which youwere also going to draw, did you try tobring elements of sophistication into thestories, or was that frowned upon by theeditors?

    SWAYZE: I had no urge to be bringinganything into comics that wasnt alreadythere. The Fawcett policies were immac-ulate. The books were put togetherprimarily for young people, and as far asI could tell were never suggestive in anyway. To illustrate, I was with Charlton

    [Art & logo 2011 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2011 DC Comics]

    By

    Guardian of the AirwaysSwayzes striking Phantom Eagle opening page from WowComics #52 (March 1947)edited by Roy Ald, whose interviewbegins on p. 77 of this very issue. After his discharge from theArmy in 44, Swayze took over the strip as a freelancer, creating

    both art and often scripts from his Louisiana home until thefeature came to an end with Wows cancellation in 1948.[Phantom Eagle TM & 2011 respective copyright holders.]

    74

    ALTER EGO #104Celebrates the 50th anniversary of FANTASTIC FOUR #1 andthe birth of Marvel Comics! New, never-before-published STAN LEE interview, art and artifacts by KIRBY, DITKO, SINNOTT, AYERS, THOMAS, andsecrets behind the Marvel Mythos! Also: JIM AMASH inter-views 1940s Timely editor AL SULMAN, FCA, MR. MONSTERSCOMIC CRYPT, and a new cover by FRENZ and SINNOTT!

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