$7.95In the USA
$7.95In the USA
The Worlds GreatestComics Fanzine!
Fantastic Four & monster TM &
arvel Characters, Inc.
Celebrating 50 YEARSsince LEE & KIRBYS
RARE JACKKIRBY ARTAND INFO!
I PREFER THE INTERVIEWWITH AL SULMAN--
"PERSONAL ASSOCIATEOF STAN LEE"!
STAN LEE ANDOTHERS REVEALTHE SECRETORIGINS OFMARVEL!
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
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of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed
in Canada. ISSN: 1932-6890
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Digital DoingsPhoto taken on Sept. 5, 2005, at the conclusion
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.
The cover of Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Universe (Sterling
Publishing,2006), with its John Romita art and attached digital
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Jenna asks Stan why he had so much faith in Spider-Man as a
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
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
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
Why didnt Peter Parker tell the world he now had
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
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
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
Stan Lees Amazing Marvel Interview! 7
our main characters ever since. Tony Stark, The Invincible
IronManand its his mansion where The Avengers have
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
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.
Apparently, at this stage, Jenna asked Stan to rephrase part of
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
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
on the splash page. But when theengravers corrected the
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
American was one of the seven HowlingCommandos! Thanks to Barry
[ 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
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
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
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
creation pre-F.F. #1, goes into action for the first time ever
in MysticComics #6 (Dec. 1941). Besides his blue face-mask, The
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,
lbert Sulman hasbeen discussed anynumber of times inA/E
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.
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
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
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
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
JA: Did Joseph ink these features aswell as pencil them?
SULMAN: Yes. He did not letterthem. Someone in the office
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
JA: Im grateful for whatever you cangive me. First Id like to
know a littlebit more about your brother Joseph.What kind of person
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
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
or not his brother Al wrote thisparticular script for Action
#30 (Nov. 1940) is unknown. Thanksto Mark Muller. [ 2011 DC
48 A Catch-As-Catch-Can Conversation With Al Sulman, Personal
Associate of Stan Lee
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
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
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
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!
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
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,
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
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
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
[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
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
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
[Art & logo 2011 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2011
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,
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.]
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!
(84-page magazine with COLOR) $7.95(Digital edition) $2.95
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW,CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS
ISSUE IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT!