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Alter Ego #12 presents quality control: The Golden Age of Blackhawk, Plastic Man, The Spirit, and Torchy! Plus, DC, Fawcett, and more! Featuring never-before-published color cover re-creations by Bill Ward and Paul Reinman! A humongous interview with Gill Fox, 1940s artist/editor of Quality Comics! Rare Quality Comics art by Reed Crandall, Lou Fine, Jack Cole, Will Eisner, Paul Gustavson, Alex Kotsky, Bill Ward, and more! Also, unseen 1940s DC art by Paul Reinman, Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, and others! A look at Gladiator, Philip Wylie's 1930 novel that may have spawned Superman! And, at last, The All-Star Squadron saga continues, with Wein, Buckler, Giodano, Ordway, and Thomas! Plus, Michael Gilbert revisits the wondrous world of Wally Wood! FCA presents Marc Swayze, C.C. Beck, et al! And that infamous 1965 Newsweek article on comics, printed in full, and examined by Bill Schelly, with previously un-transcribed tapes from the Newsweek interviews! All this and more!

Text of Alter Ego #12

  • Roy Thomas Legend-Laden Comics Fanzine

    Roy Thomas Legend-Laden Comics Fanzine Plus:

    $5.95In the USA

    $5.95In the USA

    No. 12January2002

    Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, & Flash TM & DC Comics

  • This issue isdedicated to the

    memory of

    Vol. 3, No. 12 / January 2002Editor Roy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorsJohn MorrowJon B. Cooke

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comics Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

    Editors EmeritusJerry Bails (founder), Ronn Foss, Biljo White, Mike Friedrich

    Cover Artists (& Colorists)Paul Reinman, Bill Ward

    Mailing CrewRuss Garwood, Glen Musial,Ed Stelli, Pat Varker, Loston Wallace

    And Special Thanks to:Bill AlgerDarren AuckMurphy AndersonMike W. BarrDennis BeaulieuBill BlackJerry K. BoydBob BroschRich BucklerNick CardyAlex ChunDan ClowesLynda Fox CohenGary CrowdusRay A. CuthbertTheresa R. DavidsonAl DellingesShel DorfScott FossKeif FrommWill EisnerShane FoleyGill FoxRon FrantzKarl GaffordMarvin GilesDick GiordanoJennifer T. GoMartin L. Greim Fred GuardineerBob HarperRon HarrisMark & Stephanie

    HeikeDaniel HermanDennis KawickiJohn KellyJim KorkisHarry Lampert

    Mitch LeeCarl LundgrenDan MakaraJoe & Nadia

    MannarinoJean-Francois MassHugh McCannTom McNallyBrian K. MorrisRoger MortimerEric Nolen-

    WeathingtonJerry OrdwayChris OvertonJon ParkBill PearsonRichard PryorEthan RobertsSteven RoweEugene SegerKevin SharpeDave SiegelJeff SmithRobin SnyderTim TakeuchiJoel ThingvallDann ThomasHames WareBill WarrenLen WeinMarv WolfmanEd ZenoMichael Zeno

    Ronn Foss

    Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues:$8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Eight-issue subscriptions: $40 US, $80 Canada, $88 elsewhere. All characters are their respectivecompanies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & DannThomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada.

    FIRST PRINTING.

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: Dont You Know Theres a War On? . . . . . 2Theres no Black Terror to deal with the terrorists... so well have to do it!

    Written Off - 9-30-49, Part II: Reconstructing Reinman . . . . . . 4Focus on a never-before-seen Green Lantern story from the 1940sand more!

    That 1965 Newsweek Article: A Triptych in Prose . . . . . . . . . . 17Bill Schelly examines a landmark media piece and its lost interviews.

    Hail, Hail, This Times the Gangs Really All Here! . . . . . . . . . . 28Roy Thomas talks to Len Wein and Rich Buckler about All-Star Squadron.

    re:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33Playing catch-up, with loquacious letters & cogent corrections concerning recent issues.

    FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America #71) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39P.C. Hamerlinck presents another Fawcett foray with C.C. Beck & Marc Swayze.

    Gill Fox and Quality Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: The cover of Comic Cavalcade #6 (Spring 1944) was either a joint effort byPaul Reinman (Green Lantern), H.G. Peter (Wonder Woman), and Martin Naydel (TheFlash)or else of an artist carefully emulating the styles of all three. This Reinman-executedversion, like Bill Wards Blackhawk art on our flip cover, is one of the 1970s re-creations sold byCollectors Book Store in Los Angeles, and is likewise from the collection of Roy Thomas. [Art2002 estate of Paul Reinman; GL, Wonder Woman, & Flash & TM DC Comics.]

    Above: If the caption-writer of this Reinman-drawn panel from Comic Cavalcade #15 (June-July 1946) thinks that wood is GLs implacable enemy, he shouldve met the DC honchoswho wrote off several unpublished Green Lantern stories back in 1949! Luckily, Fatespared at least the artwork printed in this issue. [2002 DC Comics.]

  • by Roy ThomasReconstructing Reinman

    [Except where otherwise noted, all original-art reproductions accom-panying this article are from photocopies courtesy of Marv Wolfman.]

    Skip ahead a bit if youve heard this one before (especially if youveread the fuller account back in A/E V3#10):

    In 1949 National Comics Publications, Inc. (a.k.a. DC), elected towrite off what may have amounted to hundreds of pages of unpub-lished comic art and story, no doubt in order to get a one-time tax break.Many of these pages were stampedWritten Off 9-30-49 on that date orlater. Prominent among them seem tohave been never-used stories fromrecently defunct (or totally revamped)titles such as Flash Comics, All-Flash,Comic Cavalcade, All-AmericanComics, Green Lantern, the still-ongoing Sensation Comics, and at leastone probably-completed but long-shelved Justice Society of America tale(The Will of William Wilson) from1945-46... in other words, the majorityof the All-American line which had oncebeen M.C. Gaines sister company toNational/DC, and which had beenpurchased outright by DC circa 1945.Along with this, apparently, went at leastone Superman story drawn in theearly 1940s by the Joe Shuster studio.

    In the second half of the 1960s, on atleast two occasions, future comics writerand editor Marv Wolfman and severalfellow fans were fortunate in beingallowed, by production chief SolHarrison, to cart off what amounted tohundreds of pages and demi-pages oforiginal DC artwork from the 1940s-60speriod, much of the earlier work fromthe material written off in 1949. Undercircumstances explained in full in A/EV3#2, many (but not all) of the latterpages had been cut by Marv into thirds(rows, or tiers), since in the 1940s mostDC comics had three even rows ofpanels on all pages except the splash.

    A few of these lost stories havesince been printed complete by a more

    enlightened DC management, beginning in the late 60s and early 70s inthe companys giant anthologies. Most of them, however, almostcertainly do not exist en toto, or, if they do, the pages and panels are atthe very least scattered to the winds and probably impossible for eitherourselves or DC to completely reassemble.

    Weve had fun trying, though, in the interests of historical schol-arshipoh yeah, and because we dig the stories and art, as well.

    These Carmine Infantino-penciled panels are from an unpublished circa-1948 encounter between The Flash and TheThinker, complete with editorial notes in the margin. [Flash & Thinker & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

    4 Written Off 9-30-49

    Part IIPart II

  • Some of this art has seen the light of day in the newly-resurrectedAlter Ego, occasionally in other magazines, as well. In the basically out-of-print All-Star Companion I assembled and edited for TwoMorrowsin 2000, more than a dozen pages worth of the unpublished mid-40sJSA story were gathered together for the first time. And only two issuesago we printed all the art we could find (approximately six pages worth)from a Carmine Infantino-penciled, never-before-seen late-40s Flashstory, The Garrick Curse!

    This time around, weve attempted to reconstruct what we could ofanother of those rescued storiesa Green Lantern tale drawn bythe late Paul Reinman (though the writer, alas, is unknown).

    Reinman, who in the 1960s would ink many Jack Kirby stories forMarvel and illustrate the Mighty Comics material for Archie, was for abrief time in the 1940s a minor luminary at DC/AA. His GreenLantern work generally headlined All-American Comics from 1943-47,but also appeared occasionally in Comic Cavalcade and even in All-Star Comics, and he drew at least a cover or two for Green Lantern...though, oddly, no interior stories.

    Putting together all the known extant art from this tale was notunlike doing a jigsaw puzzlewhich is appropriate, since it deals with aradio program called Dr. Cypher, the Puzzle King!

    Reconstructing Reinman 5

    This penultimate page from the third, mostly-unpublished Flash vs. Rose & Thorn exploit, scriptedby Robert Kanigher and drawn by Joe Kubert, previously appearedin colorin Lois Lane #113

    (Sept.-Oct. 1971). It, like other pages from this story previously printed in Alter Ego, was also seen,in black-&-white, in Robin Snyders The Comics. [2002 DC Comics.]

  • [INTRODUCTION by Bill Schelly: 1965 was a watershed year forcomicdom. 1964 had witnessed three regional fan gatherings (inDetroit, New York City, and Chicago) and the first major article onthe comic fandom movement (in The New York Times); but thefollowing year brought the first true comic book conventions, publi-cation of The Guidebook to Comics Fandom, and a slew of articleson the hobbyincluding, most notably, truly national exposure inNewsweek magazine.

    [Entitled Superfans and Batmaniacs, the latter page-plus articleappeared in the February 15, 1965, issue of the periodical, whichboasted a circulation of over a million readers. Comics fans, alertedby the fandom grapevine, eagerly snapped up copies of the issue to seewhat sort of treatment their hobby received.

    [To say that the response was one of mild disappointment is probablythe best way to characterize fansoverall reaction. While there was nodenying the giddy thrill of seeing comicsdepicted and discussed in nationalmedia, the article managed to get almostas many facts wrong as it did rightnotthe best batting average for a highly-respected periodical.

    [It was widely known that a Newsweekreporter had met with fans in two cities:

    with Phil Seuling (and possibly others) in New York City, and with agroup of several Detroit fans at Jerry Bails home in a Michigansuburb. Of the Seuling interview, no record has come to light, thoughit was probably Seulinga prominent fan and comics dealer inBrooklyn who later became a convention entrepreneur and a co-establisher of the direct sales marketwho provided the magazinewith the cover reproductions of five Golden Age comics which accom-panied the article, as well as the notion that a copy of Action Comics#1 would sell for $100, then an astronomical sum for a mere comicbook. Fan gossip at the time was that Seuling seemed to resent Bails,and that this animosity began when Newsweek mentioned Bails, ShelDorf, and the Bails-founded fanzine Alter Ego by name, but notSeuling.

    [Be that as it may: Its clear that the interview with the Detroitcollectors was the primary source of information used for the article.

    Accordingly, we are here pleased toreprint three artifacts of 1965: therarely-seen Newsweek article itself(with the kind permission of thepublishers); the Detroit interview; plus,as an offbeat footnote, a spoof of thearticle which Roy Thomas wrote a fewweeks later.

    [First, the article itself:]

    Jerry Bails, in a photo first printed inAlter Ego [Vol 1] #5, 1963. As founderof Alter Ego and other fanzines in theearly 60s, as well as of the Academyof Comic-Book Fans and Collectors,

    Jerry was a seminal figure in thebeginnings of comics fandom.

    I Let People Do Their Jobs! 17

    That Newsweek Article

    A Triptych in Prose

    Comic Fandom Archive

    The 2-15-65 issue of Newsweek cover-featured IndonesiasPresident Sukarno. What? No blurb trumpeting the comics

    fandom piece in its Life and Leisure section? Regarding upsetfan reaction to the article, Don & Maggie Thompson wrote in

    Capa-alpha: Now come on, people, what did you expect? Whatreactions have you been getting from the outside world whenyouve talked about your hobby, anyway? Respectful interest

    and where do I go to sign up reactions? Thanks to TomMcNally & Roger Mortimer of Thomas Cooper Library, University

    of South Carolina. [Cover 2001 Newsweek, Inc.]

    Phil Seuling may not have been directlyquoted in the Newsweek piece, but he

    was still a major force in 1960s-70sfandom. Here he hosts the 1969 Comic

    Art Convention in New York City, as seenin Alter Ego [Vol. 1] #10 in 1969-70.

  • 18 Comic Fandom Archive

    From Newsweek, Feb. 15, 1965 1965 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

    Supe

    rman

    #1, B

    atm

    an#1

    , Spe

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    Edi

    tion

    #1 (

    Capt

    ain

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    , & G

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    Lan

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    2002

    DC

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    Sub

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    #38

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    2002

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  • HailHailNow The GangsReally All Here!

    by Roy Thomas[WRITER/EDITORS NOTE: Were baaaack!Due to the wealth of contributions with whichAlter Ego has been happily deluged in recentmonths, its been four issuesthe larger part of ayearsince we presented Part II of this ongoingseries, which detailed how in late 1980, in devel-oping the World War II-era title I had conceivedfor my new employer, DC Comics, I chose theGolden Age heroes who would be most stronglyfeatured in the initial issues. Onward:]

    I. Editors And EnigmasThings were proceeding apace. Several aspects of

    All-Star Squadron were already fairly well estab-lished in my mind. Among other things, I alreadyknew:

    That my first story arc (not that I used that termthen, or like it much now) would commence onSaturday, December 6, 1941the night before theJapanese attack on Pearl Harbor that pulled Americainto World War II;

    That it would open with most of the then-activeJustice Society of Americaplus honorary membersGreen Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman,and Batmanbeing captured by time-tossed super-villains masterminded by Per Degaton, so that less-developed DC stars could shine in their place;

    That Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and The Atomwould evade Degatons net and join forces withseveral other heroes who had never been JSAers, toform the nucleus of the Squadron.

    Also that, just as in 1975 I had had British PrimeMinister Winston Churchill give both name andmission to The Invaders over at Marvel, this time Iwanted the group to be assembled and christened byPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself.

    Around this time, DC finally got around toassigning an editor to All-Star Squadron.

    Len Wein and I had first met not too long after Ibecame an assistant editor at Marvel in the mid-1960s...and Im dead certain that, whenever it happened, I metMarv Wolfman that same day. These two longtime

    Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and The Atom would evade Degatons net and join forces with several other heroessuch as Robotman and Johnny Quick on this page from

    All-Star Squadron #2 (Oct. 1981). Reprod from photocopies of the original Buckler-Ordway art,courtesy of Jerry Bails. [2002 DC Comics.]

    Chronicles

    Part III

    28 The All-Star Squadron Chronicles

  • friends were involved in various fan activities together; even their earlywriting assignments at DC soon afterward would be done in tandem.

    By 1974, as editor-in-chief, I had lured both Len and Marv over toMarvel as full-time associate editorsof the color and black-&-whitecomics, respectively, though Marv was basically de facto editor of thelatter. Ive been told that being my associate editor back then didnt looklike a job with a lot of room for career advancement, since most peoplefigured Id stay at Marvel, like, forever. Still, in point of fact, after littlemore than two years at the helm I opted out for a writing-and-editingcontractat which point Len suddenly foundhimself editor-in-chief of Marvels color comics,with Marv at last inheriting the black-&-whitesofficially. Health considerations, however, ledLen to step down after half a year or so, and bythe time I made the move to DC in late 1980 hewas firmly ensconced there as full editor ofseveral titles.

    Quite logically, the projected All-StarSquadron was added to Lens pile. Since DCdidnt allow writer/editors at that stage (nordid Marvel, any longer, which is partly why Idleft), I was pleased when I learned Len wouldedit the bookalthough both Dick Giordanoand I remember dimly that at one stage Dick,then a line editor like Len, was slated to handleAll-Star and Len my planned sword-and-sorceryseries. Len, however, has no recollection of everbeing told he would edit the title that eventuallybecame Arak, Son of Thunder.

    All three of us agree, however, that the switchin assignments made more sense, since Len hadbeen a self-confessed big fan of the JusticeSociety ever since the JLA-JSA team-ups beganin 1963, and was already editing Justice Leagueof Americaso whynot its new 1940scounterpart? For hispart, Dick, as hereiterated over lunch lastspring in New YorkCity, was far moreenthusiastic aboutheroic fantasy in generalthan about super-heroesin particular.

    When I spoke withLen by phone lastOctober, he confirmedanother thing Isuspected out loud backin A/E V3#8: Neitherpublisher Jenette Kahnnor editorial directorJoe Orlando noranybody else everbreathed so much as a word to him concerning the verbal promise thathad been made to me before I signed a three-year writing-only contractwith DCnamely that, though house editors would be assigned to bothnew mags I would create, their direction, storyline, and dialogue wouldbe basically in my purview, and that the editors would merely be thereto help me, end-quote. Len swears that no one ever so much as hintedto him of such a hands-tying agreement, and Ive no reason to doubt hismemory. I had long suspected as much.

    The stage had been set, via this failure to communicate, for somereal problems if Len (or Dick) and I ever found ourselves at loggerheadson the direction, plots, or dialogue of either title. Fortunately, they and Iwere nearly always on the same page, as they say. I wouldnt havedreamed of interfering with whatever you wanted to do with the book,Len told me recently. While I, in turn, respected Lens expertise,especially as a prospective sounding-board, even if I understandably feltthat it was merely my duty to advise him of what I was going to write,not to ask for his consent or accept his creative input. This had nothing

    to do with Len, of course; Id have felt the samewhether the editor of the two new titles was he,Marv, Dick, Gerry Conway, Julie Schwartz, oranybody else.

    Naturally, I realize now (and did then) that,in the event of creative differences with myeditor, I wouldnt have had a legal leg to standon, since, as Sam Goldwyn was reputedly fondof saying, An oral contract isnt worth thepaper its written onand neither are oralamendments to a written one. But heyanyonewho knows me knows that would hardly havestopped me from raising serious Cain over beingmisled, however inadvertently. After all, it wasover a less defensible misrepresentation that Iwas leaving Marvelbut thats another story.

    II. The Fault, Dear Brutus,Is Not In Our Stars...

    Anyway, I threw myself into All-StarSquadron and Bloodwolf (the mag that at thelast moment we would all decide, I think wisely,to retitle Arak, Son of Thunder.)

    For the former Ipored over my boundcollection of All-StarComics and re-readnumerous vintage DCand Quality comics,both actual and onmicrofilm. At Marvel Ihad played fairly fastand loose with 1940scontinuity in TheInvaders, since Timelycomics had neverpossessed the internalconsistency andcharacter history thatDC and Fawcett had.However, I haddefinitely decided that Iwanted to keep theheroes of the All-StarSquadron consistent

    with what they had been in the wartime mags, though hopefully withadded character development, in keeping with the way Id written X-Men, Avengers, Defenders, F.F., Invaders, et al.

    Since the Golden Age super-doers had been mostly two-dimensionalat best, and I wanted to make them three-dimensional (or more nearlyso), I decided I would find, or else develop, character traits within themon which I could build.

    Oddly, when this photo depicting writer/editorLen Wein in his mentors office appeared inAmazing World of DC Comics #3 (Nov. 1974),

    Len was editor-in-chief of Marvels colorcomics! The mentor at left? DC legend Julius

    Schwartz, who else? On the verge of turning prowriter in 67, Len drew the illo below for a 1967

    New York comics convention. Thanks to MikeFriedrich. [Art 2002 Len Wein; heroes & photo

    2002 the respective copyright holders.]

    Hail, Hail, Now the Gangs Really All Here! 29

  • To that end, I even drew up astrological charts for the major heroes!

    Not that Im a believer in astrology. Far from it. In making these one-sheet charts, I paid no attention whatever to any arbitrary birthdaysfor any of the JSAers, as had been given on a DC calendar. I simplywanted to make one hero a bit of a Scorpio, another would possess moreof the aspects of a Virgothat sort of thing. But, rather than come upwith an astrological list of traits and then shoehorn an All-Star into it, Idid it the other way around.

    I knew, for instance, that I wanted Hawkman to be the groupsoriginal chairman, just as he had become of the JSAthough admittedlythere only after both Flash and Green Lantern had been kickedupstairs into their own titles. I forget under what astrological sign Ifound the leadership qualities I was looking for for the Winged

    Wonder, but once I matched sign and hero, I kept thetraits of that sign which I wanted and discarded anyothers.

    Before many issues had elapsed, as it happened, Iwould cease to refer to these charts, even in passing,but I had enjoyed making them up so much that Ididnt toss them out until only a few years agonotlong before Jon B. Cooke invited me to revive AlterEgo in the pages of Comic Book Artist, as I recall.Oh well... they were hardly major cultural artifacts.

    The reason I discarded some of the less desirablecharacters traits related to a heros particular astro-logical sign (though I believe I did utilize indeci-siveness and one or two others from time to time,now that I stop and think about it) is that, realism tothe contrary notwithstanding, I didnt want any pre-existing DC/Quality heroes to suddenly develop theproverbial feet of clay.

    The comic book super-heroes of the WWII erawere heroes, as far as I was/am concerned.Throughout the new series, that given would leadme to walk a tightrope between trying to humanizesome of the longest-established characters in comicsand, at the same time, keeping them above all heroic.I never wanted them to be just guys who happenedto have super-powers but were otherwise just regularjoes, because thats not how they were conceived. Iadmire, in varying degrees, the Watchmen-influencedseries that came along during the 80s and since, but Iwasnt interested in writing super-heroes who weresadistic or psychotic or even too neurotic

    or racist.

    III. On Politically (If Not Aerodynamically)Correct Super-heroes

    Dealing with race in All-Star Squadron, I knewfrom the outset, would be one of the trickiest aspectsof the book.

    After all, America was at war, and roughly half itsenemies were of a non-Caucasian race. Neither StanLee nor I had ever had any qualms in Sgt. Fury andHis Howling Commandos about calling Germansoldiers krauts or the likethough Im even ofGerman descent on all sidesbut racial epithets likeJaps and unfavorable use of the term yellowwere out. Even Nips, a far weaker epithet derived

    from Nippon, the Japanese name for their nation, would raise hackles,as Id discovered when writing Invaders a few years earlierhackles Iwas interested neither in raising nor in soothing.

    Yes, I would portray what I generally called the Imperial Japaneseas the enemybut because they were aggressively imperialistic, notbecause they were Japanese. I cringe today when I read, in 1942s All-Star Comics #12, The Atom calling a Japanese-American a YankeeJap, although the Mighty Mite meant it as a compliment! I deploremany aspects of political correctness, both current and even more soretroactive, and consider it overtly stupid to waste time decrying suchname-calling in a comic or movie of WWII vintageeven stupider toalter such a phrase in a reprint and thus to falsify historybut Ipreferred to fudge the matter in All-Star Squadron, even though itwould make the dialogue a bit less realistic. (Truth to tell, DC would

    The Preview in JLA #193 would mark the only real action Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lanternwould see in All-Star Squadrons first few issues. Reprod from original art, courtesy of Jerry Bails.

    Art by Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway. [2002 DC Comics.]

    30 The All-Star Squadron Chronicles

  • [Art

    20

    02 th

    e es

    tate

    of C

    .C. B

    eck.

    ]

    No. 71

    C.C. BECKSONTOPOFOL LYMPOSPlus MARC SWAYZES WE DIDNT KNOW... IT WAS THE GOLDEN AGE!

    In this issue:

  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941 to 1953, Marcus D. Swayzewas a top artist for Fawcett Comics, designing Mary Marvel and illus-trating her earliest adventures; but he was hired primarily to illustrateCaptain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and CaptainMarvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel stories,and continued to do so while in the military. Soon after leaving theservice, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to work for them on afreelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he both wrote anddrew stories for The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics, in additionto drawing the Flyin Jenny newspaper comic strip for Bell Syndicate(created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancel-lation of Wow, he did artwork for Fawcetts romance comics. MarcSwayzes ongoing professional memoirs have been FCAs mostpopular feature since his first column appeared in issue #54 in 1996.Last issue, Marc discussed the beginning of his prolific artistic outputfor Fawcetts romance line. This time, he further analyzes his romancecomic work and how he adapted from adventure features to romancestories. P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    The romances crept up on us unexpectedly. Away we had flownthrough the Golden Age with our squint-eyed heroes, slam-bang action,superhuman feats, until... without much notice... it all must have begunto fade. Suddenly we had... right in our laps... on our drawing boards...love, romance.

    For the serious comic book artist there was more to it than justexpanding the sketch file to include flower gardens and fountains. Itmeant dealing with a new, female readership, new marketing strategies.

    When I was doing Captain Marvel thestrategy had been simple: Put the super-hero onthe cover and youve got the book sold. Now itwas different. There being no hero in the romancestory, whats to go on the cover that would havethe book sold?

    My original opinion of the lead story positionin the romance comics may have been hasty. Thelocation of a story within the pages was not, as Ihad imagined, a measure of the quality of thestory. Any responsible editor, I came to realize, forone thing would have arranged the contents toavoid successive similarities of themes and locales.The disappointment I had felt earlier at not seeingmy art in the front of the book was unjustified.

    On the other hand, many newsstands made it easyfor the shopper to browse. In the case of the Fawcettromance comics, little could be judged of the contentsfrom the covers... photographed scenes unrelated to thestories. The next anticipated move of the shopperwould be that she flip open the magazine to... the leadstory. No question about it, the lead story was animportant factor in the sale of the Fawcett comicromances.

    It was with some satisfaction that, after the first fewstories in Sweethearts, I found my art in the leadposition consistently. The same was true when theycame out immediately with Life Story and the eightadditional romance magazines that followed, allfeaturing my work. I was reminded of an editorial thattold of the average reader of the slick magazines of the1930s. She looks first, the account went, for herfavorite illustrator, then for the author.

    (c) mds[Art & logo 2002 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel 2002 DC Comics]

    By

    38 Marc Swayze

    In his stories, the characters he befriended were my friends. Rare Captain Marvel head sketches bySwayze. [Art 2002 Marc Swayze; Capt. Marvel & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

    A recent Mary Marvel sketch by MS.[Art 2002 Marc Swayze; Mary Marvel & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

  • by Ron FrantzEdited by P.C. HamerlinckThe religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct. The so-calleddivinities of Olympus have not a single worshipper among livingmen. They belong now not to the department of theology, but tothose of literature and taste. There, they still hold their place, andwill continue to hold it, for they are too closely connected with thefinest productions of poetry and art, both ancient and modern, topass into oblivion.

    Thomas Bulfinch, Mythology

    Arnold Toynbee, the eminent historian, wrote: History grew outof mythology. It has been said of the Iliad that anyone who startsreading it as history will find that it is full of fiction; but anyone whostarts reading it as fiction will find that it is full of history.

    Mythology has endured the passing of time because the stories dealwith problems that have not changed. The problems havent changedbecause people havent changed. The same human foibles that Homerobserved 3000 years ago are as real now as they were then. Everyepoch has certain outstanding characteristics that help explain whatmen did at the time they were written. The forms of modern literaturethat are familiar to us today took their beginnings from these ancienttales.

    The late C.C. Beck knew these things well. Beck, of course, is nostranger to most comic book fans. Bestknown as the Golden Age CaptainMarvels chief artist, he left behind alegacy of wonderfully illustrated storiesthat have entertained millions. Beckthought of himself as a cartoonist.However, he was something more. Beckwas a humorist in the classic traditionwho knew how to tell a good story.

    There are few things more difficult towrite than humor. Critics and humoristshave debated the subject for centuries.Theories about the composition ofhumor are endless. One popular belief isthat the best humor is blended withpathos until the two become one,becoming a juxtaposition of laughter andtears. Some contend that the essence ofgood humor is that it be presentedwithout malice or harm. One can look tothe cartoons of Charles Schultz or thenovels of William Saroyan as contem-porary examples.

    These elements glisten in the artworkand writing of C.C. Beck. His storieswere an ingenious mixture of hyperboleand myosis. One easily detects asweeping grandeur in the style of writing,

    From 1939-1953 Charles Clarence Beck and the Big Red Cheese made it through 150 issuesof Captain Marvel Adventures and 155 of Whiz Comics, although, alas, neither would

    fare as well at DC in the 1970s and since. [2002 DC Comics.]

    For Ace Comics (and Jerry de Fuccio) in the 1980s, Beck re-created (i.e., penciled and inked) numerous pages of 1940scomic art, mostly by artists other than himselfe.g., Fantomah, Homer Fletchers (Barclay Flaggs) flying super-

    heroine from early issues of Fiction Houses Jungle Comics, and Lev Gleasons epic Daredevil Battles the Claw, originallydrawn by Jack Cole. [Re-created art 2002 the estate of C.C. Beck.]

    A Twilight Of The Gods 41

    A Twilight Of The GodsC.C. Becks On Top of Ol Lympos

  • yet Beck often depicts events and situa-tions on a smaller scale than what appearsin most contemporary fiction. In light ofthis perspective, it seems strangely ironicthat one of Becks last creative works hasyet to be published.

    I first met C.C. Beck in 1976 at asummer convention in Dallas. Theconvention had a great guest line-up thatincluded Noel Neil (Lois Lane from theSuperman TV series), Kirk Alyn(Superman from the movie serials), andJackson Bostwick, who portrayedCaptain Marvel on the Saturday morningTV show, Shazam!

    Beck invited me to sit down at histable for a chat. Talking to him in personwas an experience not to be missed. Hehad a reputation as a curmudgeon, which,in some respects, is not without merit.Beck was inclined to peppery opinionand not everyone appreciated his sense ofcandor.

    Our conversation was mostly causal.We talked a bit about his sour relationshipwith DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz while Beck was the artist of theShazam! comic book. To put it mildly, Beck and Schwartz wasntexactly a marriage made in heaven... and it was interesting to hear Becksstory straight from him.

    Beck took time to talk to fans and showthem his original art and realistic-lookingmodel weapons which he had crafted frombalsa wood. Most of the fans seemed to havea genuine appreciation for Beck and hiswork. It was a joy watching him visit withthem. I remember one obnoxious fan thattried to talk him out of an original drawing.Curiously, this fellow felt entitled to suchgratuities by virtue of his status as a big-name fan. Lord only knows what misguidednotions rattle around in some peoplesminds. My only thought is that someonewas careless in his upbringing. The fanturned belligerent when Beck refused tooffer it as a gift. I took great pleasurewatching Beck tell the fellow where hecould go.

    Being episodically retired from the comicbook business, Beck busied himself doingspecial commissions for collectors. For Jerryde Fuccio alone, Beck illustrated over onehundred Golden Age cover re-creationpaintings. Some of the commissions Beckdid for other fans were a little bit different. Iremember seeing a unique drawing Beckhad done for a Tennessee collector, depictinga topless Mary Marvel dancing a striptease,while a smiling Billy Batson played thebanjo and Freddy Freeman joined him onthe trumpet.

    In addition to creating these special commissions, Beck quietlyworked on several unpublished novels, including one that he also illus-trated, entitled On Top of Ol Lympos. After Beck finished writing thebook, he tried to obtain a suitable publisher. Finding no success, Beckasked Jerry de Fuccio for help.

    As a former associate editor of Mad magazine, deFuccio knew a lot of people in the publishing business. Heshopped the Ol Lympos manuscript around to variousbook editors and publishing houses, but found no takers.Then, in January of 1987, while de Fuccio and I wereworking together on some of the Ace Comics titles, he sentthe manuscript along to me, with the following comment:

    Ron... Ive had no success selling C.C. Becks novel.Would appreciate if youd look at it, just as a courtesy.Whimsy is hard to place, I know! Maybe he can do somefiller for Ace Comics. Greek gods as hillbillies.

    Of course, it didnt take much persuasion from deFuccio to get me to read the novel. After reading themanuscript, I called Beck and told him I would like topublish it. When I mentioned that we had met ten yearsearlier at Dallas, I was flattered to learn that he actuallyremembered me. Since Beck had not seen any of the comicbooks I had published, he asked to see some of them. I wasdelighted to comply with his request and sent a batch outto him the next day. A short time later, I received thefollowing letter from Beck:

    I have looked through the comics you sent me and Iam much encouraged. They seem to be closer to theoriginal conception of comic books than the things that DCis putting out today. Their stuff is too elaborate to suit me.Most of yours retain the simple panel-by-panel approach tostorytelling instead of using the jigsaw-puzzle layoutsfavored by many of todays comics illustrators.

    We talked several times on the phone over the next fewweeks and reached a verbal agreement for me to publish his

    A character sheet by Beck for On Top of Ol Lympos. [Art 2002 the estate of C.C. Beck.]

    Pa and Hanimer, the novels hero. Evidentlythere was no failure to communicate

    between these two generations![2002 the estate of C.C. Beck.]

    42 C.C. Becks On Top Of Ol Lympos

  • GILL FOX

    MURPHY ANDERSONNICK CARDYGIL KANEHARRY LAMPERTMICHAEL T. GILBERTWALLY WOOD

    Plus:

    Roy Thomas Quality Comics Fanzine

    & More!

    $5.95In the USA

    $5.95In the USA

    Roy Thomas Quality Comics Fanzine

    Shows-and-tellsabout

    GILL FOX

    No. 12January2002

    QualityControl

    QualityControl

    Plus:

    & More! B la c

    k ha w

    k s T

    M &

    D

    C C

    o mi c

    s

    JACK COLEREED CRANDALLCHUCK CUIDERA

    WILL EISNERLOU FINE

    FRED GUARDINEERPAUL GUSTAVSON

    ALEX KOTZKYKLAUS NORDLING

    BILL WARD

    JACK COLEREED CRANDALLCHUCK CUIDERA

    WILL EISNERLOU FINE

    FRED GUARDINEERPAUL GUSTAVSON

    ALEX KOTZKYKLAUS NORDLING

    BILL WARD

  • This issue isdedicated to the

    memory of

    Vol. 3, No. 12 / January 2002Editor Roy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorsJohn MorrowJon B. Cooke

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comics Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

    Editors EmeritusJerry Bails (founder), Ronn Foss, Biljo White, Mike Friedrich

    Cover Artists (& Colorists)Bill Ward, Paul Reinman

    Mailing CrewRuss Garwood, Glen Musial,Ed Stelli, Pat Varker, Loston Wallace

    And Special Thanks to:

    Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues:$8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Eight-issue subscriptions: $40 US, $80 Canada, $88 elsewhere. All characters are their respectivecompanies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & DannThomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada.

    FIRST PRINTING.

    Bill AlgerDarren AuckMurphy AndersonMike W. BarrDennis BeaulieuBill BlackJerry K. BoydBob BroschRich BucklerNick CardyAlex ChunDan ClowesLynda Fox CohenGary CrowdusRay A. CuthbertTheresa R. DavidsonAl DellingesShel DorfScott FossKeif FrommWill EisnerShane FoleyGill FoxRon FrantzKarl GaffordMarvin GilesDick GiordanoJennifer T. GoMartin L. Greim Fred GuardineerBob HarperRon HarrisMark & Stephanie

    HeikeDaniel HermanDennis KawickiJohn KellyJim KorkisHarry Lampert

    Mitch LeeCarl LundgrenDan MakaraJoe & Nadia

    MannarinoJean-Francois MassHugh McCannTom McNallyBrian K. MorrisRoger MortimerEric Nolen-

    WeathingtonJerry OrdwayChris OvertonJon ParkBill PearsonRichard PryorEthan RobertsSteven RoweEugene SegerKevin SharpeDave SiegelJeff SmithRobin SnyderTim TakeuchiJoel ThingvallDann ThomasHames WareBill WarrenLen WeinMarv WolfmanEd ZenoMichael Zeno

    Ronn Foss

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: A Matter of Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Issue overviewand a movie moment related to our Bill Ward cover.

    Gill Fox: Quality Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Qualitys editor (1940-43) interviewed by Jim Amashwith tons of Quality artwork!

    A Tribute to Ronn Foss (1939-2001). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40A fond farewell to one of Alter Egos earliest editors and a swell guy.

    Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Wood! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43Michael T. Gilbert & Mr. Monster showcase the art that caused Wally to go away Mad!

    DC, Fawcett, and More!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: Circa the early 1970s Bill Ward was one of several Golden Age artists whobegan to re-create classic covers, some of which were sold through the Collectors Book Storeon Hollywood Boulevard in L.A., including this re-do of the cover of Military Comics #29 (May1944), currently part of Roy Thomas personal collection. For more about this Blackhawk battlescene, see our Writer/Editorial on the very next page. [Art 2002 the estate of Bill Ward;Blackhawks & TM DC Comics.]

    Above: Part of editor Gill Foxs job description in the early 1940s was to illustrate many ofQuality Comics coversincluding Feature Comics #58 (July 1942), spotlighting The Doll Man.For more on Foxs long and fantastic career, see our in-depth interview! Reprod from photo-copies of the original art, courtesy of the artist. [2002 DC Comics; licensed characters 2002 therespective copyright holders.]

  • I. BeginningsJIM AMASH: What spurred your interest incartooning?

    GILL FOX: It was survival. I come from thedepths of the Depression. I knew the way itwas going Id be driving a truck. I had tomake a positive decision, and it seemed to methat cartooning would be a way out. For mysixteenth birthday, my mother and father gaveme the Landon Art Correspondence Course,which many of the famous artists like JackCole and Roy Crane had taken. Once, twoother cartoonists and I took Roy Crane out todinner in New York and questioned himabout the course. Crane told us he went outto Cleveland once and found out Landon wasan alcoholic. But Landon was awfully, awfullygood. In the old-fashioned style.

    The course took about a year. If youbought the course, you paid about $7-8. Ifyou took instruction from him, which meantevery week, youd send stuff to him and hedcorrect it and send it back for an additional$20. I had to take the cheaper way, but Iswore to myself that I would religiouslyfollow it, and it worked.

    JA: Did you take art in school, too?

    FOX: Yes. Textile High School in GreenwichVillage in New York had some excellent artcourses, including a course in advertising; andunder that was a course in cartooning. I tookfour years in textile design, but cut thoseclasses to go to the advertising class. I didntget credit for it, but around me were somevery good guys like John Stanley [futureLittle Lulu artist], who had gotten out a yearThis, Gill says, is my most publicized Plastic Man cover. I get constant offers from all over the U.S. to buy it.

    Reprod from a photostat of Gill Foxs original art for the cover of Police Comics #11 (Sept. 1942). The printed color version, as reprinted (restored) in DCs Plastic Man Archives, Vol. 1, was trimmed slightly at the bottom.

    [2002 DC Comics; Spirit & TM 2002 Will Eisner.]

    A Conversation with GILL FOXArtist, Writer, and Editor (1940-43) of Quality Comics Group

    Quality Control 5

    Conducted and Transcribed by Jim Amash[All materials for this interview furnished by Gill Fox and/or Jim Amash, unless otherwise indicated.]

    [INTERVIEWERS NOTE: Gill Fox had the amazing combination of talent and luck to be at theright place at the right time, over and over again in his long career. As editor at Quality Comics inthe early 1940s he oversaw the flowering of that companys best period of publishing. Later heworked with the agents of advertising art at the legendary Johnstone and Cushing Art Service,worked on the first Hi and Lois strips with Dik Browne, and showed a remarkable flair for cartooning, always earning the respect of his peers.A friendly, funny, giving man who has always cared deeply about his chosen profession, he has not received the attention he deserves.Hopefully, we can fix that just a bit, starting now...! Jim.]

    Gill Fox calls this maybe the only photo of Busyever seen by the public! Left to right: Gill, hiswife Helenand Busy, which is short for EverettBusy Arnold, publisher of Quality Comics from

    the late 30s to the very end in 1956.

    QualityControl

  • ahead of me. You wouldnt believe how good his work was at 16asgood as most professionals today. There was one school that was betterthan ours, and that was the School of Music and Art. Alex Kotzky andAl Jaffee went there.

    John Stanley and [future Timely artist] Vince Alascia took an artcourse that was an offshoot of the course at Textile. I was deeplyimpressed with Vinces talent; he did great stuff for the yearbook. Yearslater, I went to see him and he had totally changed. I tried to get him tomake a move into a better kind of work, but I couldnt get him to do it.Vince had an uninspired art career.

    I started copying the newspaper comics when I was twelve. I wastotally fascinated by them. My favorite was George McManus BringingUp Father. God, that man was good! He had been a trained architect.The way he drew his figures, his stylization fascinated me. For instance,if you see a hand pointing, the wrist bends downward and the fingercomes up. To this day, Ill draw a guy pointing the way McManus did.

    I was about sixteen when I went over to the King Features offices inNew York and asked the receptionist if I could see McManus. She said Icouldnt see anyone without an appointment. I mentioned Id come along way to see him, so she took me down the hall. McManus wassitting in a chair, smoking a cigar, reading a newspaper, and a guy wasshining his shoes. I stood there for five minutes looking in a doorway,and she said, Have you had enough? Then she took me back. I lovedMcManus that much. He looked like Jiggs.

    As a kid, I wrote and drew my own stories of that strip. That trainingtaught me to write. Ive done a lot of gag cartoons, and that training iswhat a lot of people doing strips today dont have. How to build a gagand have impact, leaving out a lot of unnecessary elements. Landon toldhis students, Dont go out there until you are ready. A lot of guyswho get syndicated are not ready, and theyre locked in to this semi-professional style. So I followed Landons advice.

    While I was going to high school and taking the Landon course, Iwent to Washington Irving High School in New York City at night.They had life drawing and continuing education classes. I would gohome and have dinner and then go back to New York City and take thelife drawing class at night. I did that for about a year.

    There were others at Textile High who got out and got jobs and cameback and told us about them. One of the places we were told about was

    Fleischer Studios, which was in the heart of New York.In order to pick up samples for reproduction as quicklyas possible, I asked a friend going to St. Johns and said,Hey, let me do a cartoon for you, and you can put yourname on it. I did a couple of covers for St. Johnsmagazine and my cousin and someone else let me do thesame for their high school papers. So I was able to haveprinted samples for a portfolio.

    II. Fox at FleischerJA: Did you get your start at Fleischers?

    FOX: That was my first job. I had enough of an artbackground that they hired me as an opaquer in 1936.Opaquing is simply coloring the backs of animated cartooncells. It was easy to do. I was about twenty years old.

    A fascinating thing happened there. There was agood-looking man with a little moustache and this guywas good. He was about twenty years old, and his namewas Burne Hogarth. He went out to lunch and put hisportfolio on a rack. I took his portfolio and lookedthrough it. He came back and I told him what I haddone, explaining that Im a nut and trying to get

    somewhere. Hogarth had already gotten into advertising and had done acampaign about baby powder with a baby lying on the floor. I said, Idlove to have an original. And he gave me that thing and I still have it.But he was so good that he was out of there in a week or two. [NOTE:Hogarth soon become the renowned artist of the Tarzan newspaperstrip, and later a teacher of future generations of cartoonists. JIM.]

    Incidentally, one of the men who caused all this interest at my highschool was Shelly Mayer. He had gone to my high school. [NOTE: Bythe late 30s Mayer had become both a cartoonist and a major editorat All-American and National/DC Comics. JIM.]

    JA: Who did you know at Fleischers that we would know of today?

    FOX: Harry Lampert, who was the co-creator of The Flash, was inthe inking department. In fact, Harry recently reminded me that wewere two of the four guys who helped lead the strike at Fleischers!Luckily, by that time I knew that I did not want any part of animation. Iwas there a year. I was promoted from opaquing to inking in about twomonths. There were about a hundred employees there. I would have

    God, that man was good! says Fox. These four panels from a (17-panel!) Sunday forApril 17, 1938, show how George McManus played with the comic strip form in Bringing Up Father.

    [1938, 2002 King Features Syndicate, Inc.]

    One of Gills co-workers at Fleischer was Harry Lampert, who in 1939-40 would co-create the original Flash. This Lampert re-creation was auctioned off at the

    All-Time Classic New York Comic Book Convention in White Plains, NY, in 2000. Tocontact Harry re commission art, etc., write him at: 2074 S.W. 17th St., Deerfield

    Beach, FL 33442enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope.[Art 2002 Harry Lampert; Flash & TM DC Comics.]

    6 Gill Fox

  • Quality Control 7

    become an in-betweener, had I continued.

    JA: Did you ever meet the Fleischerbrothers?

    FOX: Interesting that you should ask methat. During the strike, a group of three guyscharged the picket line because we were tooclose to the entrance. They deliberatelycharged our line because they wanted tobring charges against anybody who gotviolent. Dave Fleischer was one of thosethree guys, and thats the closest I came tomeeting them. Luckily, I didnt touch himand I didnt strike anybody. I had been onthe wrestling team in high school and knewhow to grab somebody. I did get arrested,but they let me go on disorderly conduct thenext day. This was a deliberate attempt todemoralize us.

    JA: What started the strike?

    FOX: We were getting $17.50 a week, whichwas standard. We were trying for moremoney and better conditions. HarryLampert thought that job was the greatestthing that ever happened. They got vacationsand raises and everything else. I didnt likethe job anyway and got out of it.

    We were approached by a union. The gag cartooniststhe oneswriting for The Saturday Evening Post, Judge, etc.had a unionbehind them. That union was a little to the left. I took my future wife toa dance they ran, and there was the hammer and sickle crossed with theAmerican flag. They took over and organized the strike. Harry and Iand a couple other guys helped lead the strike.

    I dont remember how long after that it was, but they closed the placedown and moved to Florida. I was still out of work and I wrote them aletter down in Florida. One striker had been beaten by the police at leasttwice; they really worked him over. But he joined Fleischers and wentto Florida with them. I figured to do the same thing and I wrote them aletter. They never bothered to answer it. They had wind of who I was.

    JA: Do you remember what cartoons you worked on at the studio?

    FOX: Betty Boop and Popeye. They usually gave you a sequence ofabout 25 drawings and you inked them on celluloid, which was likeinking on glass. You warmed up by using a rejected cell that had somespace on it left. I have a cel here, not opaqued, with a three-quarterfigure of Betty Boop, Popeye, and Bluto. They were wearing footballuniforms in the background.

    JA: Where did you sell your first [magazine] cartoon?

    FOX: While I was at Fleischers, one of the guys in the inkingdepartment was doing sports cartoons for a magazine called Sport Eye.It was a weekly tabloid with full-size, half-page, and quarter-page sportscartoons about sporting events from the previous week. I got them tookay a quarter-page from me, and it was my first sale. It paid about tenbucks. My future wife and I went to a newsstand to get a copy, but Iwasnt in the issue.

    III. DC DaysJA: Where did you go after you left the Fleischer studios?

    FOX: Word was beginning to come in about a strange publication called

    comic books. One guy told me you couldget paid $5 a page, and that was greatmoney. I began to seek out the publishers.William Cook was one of the first ones[Comics Magazine Company, Inc.]. I wroteand drew a one-pager that ran on the insideback cover. I began to develop at that pointand was hooked on the comic book. Thatwas also my first professional writing.

    Then I did movie pages for MajorNicholson [Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson] at National Comics. This wasbefore [Harry] Donenfeld owned it.

    JA: Did you deal with Nicholson himself?

    FOX: Not at all. I dealt with Vin Sullivanand Whitney Ellsworth. They werecartoonists, and good editors. I did about 3-4 pages for them, though I was never paidfor them. $5 apiece they owed me. Theywere movie personality pages and a pageabout a detectivea drawing of him, andsome cartoons around it detailing what hedid. Later, Busy Arnold told me that, if hehad known what I had gone through, hecould have gotten that money for me. But I

    never pressed it. I never burn bridges behind me.

    Later, I remember [Sullivan and Ellsworth] talking aboutSuperman. They couldnt get over how Action Comics was selling,and they found out it was because of Superman. I was there when thishappened.

    But I really wanted to get a syndicated strip and to break intoJohnstone and Cushing [an advertising service]. They were big, and theiradvertising strips were a big deal all over the country. Creig Flessel[important early DC artist] was already working for them. As a matterof fact, I had an incident that taught me a lesson for the rest of my life.

    I thought that, if you freelanced for one person, that was all you wereallowed to do. I dont know where I got this idea. One day I broughtwork in to DC. Flessel was working there and asked me if Im doing anyother work. I said something to the effect that I got a job at Johnstoneand Cushing. I thought I was covered because I wasnt freelancing. He

    Gill Fox, age 19, in the inking department of the Fleischerstudio. Note the model charts on the walls.

    Three of DCs pioneersl. to r., Sheldon Moldoff, Creig Flessel, and FredGuardineerpose at a 1999 reunion. Shelly and Fred both had artwork

    (a sports page and Zatara the Magician, respectively) in Action Comics #1in 1938, while Creig was one of National/DCs top early cover artists.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Siegel.

  • said, Where are you sitting? I said, Im sitting in the corner.

    Flessel said, Thats strange. I havent seen you. I work there. Well, Iliked him, so I told him the truth. After that, I decided I wouldnt lieanymore. Creigs an awfully nice man and we are still friends to this day.

    IV. What Did That A Stand for, Anyway?FOX: I didnt stay at DC long and began to get work elsewhere. HarryA Chesler placed an ad in The New York Times or somewhere,looking for artists for his studio. I went over there and he said, Do foursamples. I went home and did them in a week or so and brought themin. He said, These are fine. I can use them. How would youlike a job?

    I asked howmuch and he said,$20 a week. Mynose startedbleeding, nokiddingrightthere standing infront of hisdeskI was soexcited aboutwhat hadhappened! Myfather was amilkman and hegot $35 a week,and I had a $20job already. Iworked forChesler about ayear. This was about 1937.You couldnt believe thepeople in that studio. JackCole was there. WinsorMcCays son Bob was there.Frank Frollo, who had astyle like Alex Raymonds.Charlie Biro, Bob Wood,and Paul Gustavson werethere, too. Chesler hadabout four different studios.

    For that twenty, I had todo five pages a week. Oneeach day. Pencils, inks, andletters. I wrote them, too. Iremember working oncoquille paper, the paperwith a stipple. And I used to letter with a brush. I was a professionalletterer for a while.

    JA: Chesler had four different studios?

    FOX: Maybe three, at one time or another. Different staffs at differenttimes. It gets confusing. Incidentally, Chesler took the four pages I didas samples, used them, and never paid me. Later on, when he waspackaging books for Quality, he came over and Arnold came out andsaid to me, Hes not supposed to be here. Im busy. Get rid of him! Iwent out and told Chesler this and he said, You used to work for me.I said, Yeah. You didnt pay me for those four pages!

    Once I ran into a woman with a couple of kids, and she was cryingand told me he had about 20 or 40 pages of hers and never paid her! I

    felt so sorry for that woman.

    JA: What do you remember about Cheslers personality?

    FOX: He was likable. Hed come in wearing a hat on the back on hishead with a watch chain in his vest. He reminded me of a fight promoter,and he smoked a cigar. He was about 35-40 years old. He had about tenguys in his studio.

    Several people ran the studio for him. One was Ken Ernst [in 1940the first artist of Mary Worth after it ceased being Apple Mary]; he wasgood and ran the studio for a couple of months. A quiet guy. JackBinder was art director for a while, too. He never bothered us and sat upfront doing his work.

    JA: Did all theartists write whatthey drew?

    FOX: Jack Coledid. Fred Schwabdid. I wrote myown stuff. Most ofthe artists did. Butthere was a writerin there; I dontremember who hewas. I had asyndicate stripidea, and Cheslergot one of thestraight illus-trators to draw it.I was more of asemi-straightartist. This writerwrote it and theyused it.

    In those days you didnt have a writer and anartist. The same man did both jobs. If you had 25cartoonists syndicated, you might have one or twothat had a writer working with them. Comic bookschanged that whole thing.

    I also created sports pages and Believe It orNot-type things for Chesler. One week, I wroteand drew a five-page detective strip. I really floun-dered on it. I was still developing and I reallydidnt know how to put a strip together. It was atremendous experience.

    JA: According to Whos Who in American ComicsBooks, youre listed as doing Gill Galen, G-Man, Gnaw and Nibble, Voices in the Dark,

    Strange but True....

    FOX: Thats mostly misinformation. I didnt do any of those. Well,Strange but True could be one of those Believe It or Not-type pages.

    JA: What were your early impressions of Jack Cole?

    FOX: He was about 23 years old, and he was in the raw stages of artisticdevelopment. His stuff was funny and didnt look anything like thePlastic Man work he did later on. But you could see him developingright on the spot. Everybody liked Jack Cole. He was about six-foot-three and thin. Tall and narrow. And he had such an inventive mind. Iknew him pretty well, but we didnt get that close. He came up toStamford later on in the Quality days. But he wasnt an outgoing person.He had a very pleasant personality, but he wasnt a mixer, really.

    Before Crime Does Not Pay and Mary Worth and Plastic Man,artists Charles Biro, Ken Ernst, and Jack Cole labored in Harry A

    Cheslers art shop. These three panels (clockwise, from Biros Sgt.Boyle, Ernsts Larry Steele, and Coles The Comet) appearedcirca 1940 in comics published by MLJ, DC, and MLJ, respectively.

    Thanks to Jerry Bails & Hames Ware. [Sgt. Boyle and Comet art2002 Archie Publications; Larry Steele art 2002 DC Comics.]

    8 Gill Fox

  • by Bill SchellyOn September 24th, after returning from an out-of-town trip, I found

    a message on my answering machine from Ronn Foss son Scott. WouldI please call him as soon as possible?

    Scott and I had traded e-mails before, but this was the first time hedcontacted me by telephone. I feared bad news.

    When we spoke, scant moments later, my fears were realized. Dadpassed away about ten days ago, he told me. Ronn Foss, one of myoldest friends, had died.

    I had reached Scott via his cell phone as he waited for a flight toMissouri. He and his sister Alex (short for Alexandra) were in line toboard a plane that would take them back to the rural backwoodshomestead where they had spent so many happy early yearsthis timeto lay their father to rest.

    Scott explained that Ronn had apparently died of natural causes in hishome in the Ozark hills near the small town of Birch Tree, Missouri,about September 14th. He and Alex had been contacted soon after, butdue to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon,had not been able to find a flight out until then.

    Scott and I only had time to exchange a few more words, and for meto wish Alex the best as well, before it was time to board. When I hungup the phone, after volunteering to write Ronns obituary to be releasedto the comics press, I must admit I was in a daze.

    Although the news wasnt wholly unexpected, since Ronns healthhad been gradually deteriorating in recent years, I couldnt really believethat he was gone. That the man who had written me hundreds of lettersover the years, who had been a major inspiration for my books offandom history, and who had recently given me a testimonial I could use

    to publicize Sense ofWonder, which he hadread in manuscriptformwould neverwrite another letter,would never drawanother illustration,would never drawanother breath wasvery difficult to accept.

    Ronald Eugene Fosswas born in Defiance,Ohio, on July 14th,1939. His family of six(he was the eldest offour siblings, two boysand two girls) movedfrequently around smallfarming towns in theMidwest until theysettled in Fort Waynewhen Ronn was finishing grade school. He was just old enough to catchthe end of the first great comics era, as well as the end of the heyday ofradio and Saturday afternoon movie serials. He loved them all, and createdhis own comics characters almost as soon as he could hold a pencil.

    In 1952 an important event occurred in Ronns young life: he metanother lad who was equally interested in comics and equally talented asan artist. They first became acquainted in gym class, drawn togetherbecause they were the two skinniest kids. The other boy would becomeRonns lifelong friend, Richard Grass Green. (Foss gave Green hisunusual nickname.) They drew their own comic strips, created their ownsuper-heroes, and were inseparable through the remainder of their

    school years.

    When Foss was discharged from the US Air Force in thelate 1950s, and discovered comics fandom in 1961 (with thereceipt of Alter Ego #2, July 1961), he immediately sharedthis discovery with Green. Both began doing illustrationsand comic strips for the fledgling comics fanzines of the era.Ronns earliest published strip featured Dimension Man(co-created with Parley Holman) in Spotlite #1 in late 1961.

    Foss was one of the most enthusiastic, energetic contrib-utors to fanzines of the early 1960s, providing superbcovers, pin-ups, illustrations and strips to dozens of earlyditto fan publications, including Headline, Super Hero,Komix Illustrated, Comic Hero, Fighting Hero Comics,and Action Hero. His widely popular work was charac-terized by its confidence, panache, and sophistication. Hewas especially adept at drawing lovely women, includingamateur heroes The Viper and Joy Holiday. In an era beforeprofessional comics artists would deign to contribute to fanmagazines, Foss was one of the leading artists among abevy of talented amateurs.

    A Tribute ToRonn Foss -

    Fan-artist Extraordinaire and Editor Emeritus of Alter Ego

    A 1964 self-portrait of Ronn, surrounded by most of the characters he created or drew in the comics fanzines of the early 1960s. [Eclipse ^&!TM 2002 Bill Schelly; Other characters

    2002 the estate of Ronn Foss.]

    Ronn Foss in 1985, opaquing negatives for the ECLibrary edition of Valor.

    40 Ronn Foss

  • 43

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  • Wally Wood was one of Mads founding artists and one of itsbrightest stars. Over a period of twelve years, his uncanny ability tomimic other cartoonists made him the ideal choice to illustrate its manycomic strip parodies, first in the Mad color comic, later in the 25(cheap) magazine. Oddly, it was one of these comic strip take-offs thateffectively ended Woods career at Mad.

    In 1964 Wally was hired to illustrate a four-page article entitledComics for Publications That Dont Have Comics. Wood handed inthe finished art, as hed done ever issue since Mads first. Hed never had

    any trouble before, but this time was different. Woods lifelong battlewith alcoholism was beginning to affect his work. His drinking was acontinuing concern that dogged the talented and prolific artist most ofhis life, and it flared up again in 1964.

    Trouble began when Wood handed in the finished art, which hedworked and reworked until it was thick with white-out. Worse, he hadinexplicably switched the first two panels of a Little Orphan Annieparody with the second two. Woods editor was not pleased. For the firsttime in his career, Mad rejected Woods art. Wood was furious and

    promptly quit.

    Some claim that the rejection was just a joke that hadgone terribly awry. Others say Wood was fired. Woodsfriend and helper Bill Pearson recently stated:

    Woody was not fired. The art was rejected, yes, buthe was expected to do it over. Instead, he called [publisherBill] Gaines and quit. He made a mistake.

    Pearson also claims Wood was tired of Mad, wantedout, and used the rejection as a handy excuse. Woodhimself discussed the issue in an uncompleted autobiog-raphy, written in the late 1970s. This excerpt recentlyappeared in the 11th issue of The Journal of Madness forJune 2001:

    I was at Mad 12 years, 7 years after it stopped being achallenge and after it was not fun at all.

    In the article Wood talked about Little Wally Wood,the idealistic, childlike part of himself, and how it relatedto his break with Mad:

    Let me tell you about how Little Wally Wood quitMad. I turned in a job that Id worked day and night on,and when they picked on it, I felt entitled to throw atantrum and quit. Much later, I saw the originals, and ithit me... I was terrible! I had worked very hard to make itbad, so I could feel justified in quitting. That kid is prettysneaky.

    While Wood may have subconsciously sabotaged thejob as he claims, one cant discount the possibility that hisexplanation could simply be an after-the-fact rationali-zation for his own poor judgment. Whatever the case, thataction caused a lifelong rift between Wood and Mad.When Wood refused to re-do the strips, Mad hiredcartoonist Bob Clarke to step in and take over. Theredrawn version appeared in the July 1964 issue of Madmagazine under the forementioned title, as written byFrank Jacobs.

    Clarkes version was pleasant enough, but Woodsmany fans sorely missed his distinctive cartooning, whichhad appeared in virtually every issue since the first. Withthe exception of two pages in 1971, this was the last time

    IT S AMADMADMADMAD

    by Michael T. Gilbert

    Heres a Wood preliminary to another Mad job, sketched on the actual script page. If anyone knows where (or if!) the final version appeared, please let Michael know, as hes been unable

    to track it down. Perhaps it was never published!? [Art 2002 the estate of Wally Wood; script 2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    44 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt

  • the artist would ever do new work for Mad. For years after, publisherBill Gaines often asked Woody to return to Mad, but Woods pridemade that impossible. It was the end of an era.

    Since hearing the above story, Ive often wondered about the rejectedart. Was it really as terrible as suggested? Since Mad never printedWoods version of the strips, it seemed Id never know.

    As it turned out, I was wrong.

    Not long ago, I read a post on one of the Internet comic lists fromcartoonist Bill Alger. Bill mentioned in passing that he owned theoriginal to one of Woods rejected strips. I contacted him, and Billinformed me that hed bought it a couple of years back from BillPearson, who had also printed four more of the rejected strips in hissales catalog. (Note: The published article had three other parodies inaddition to the ones printed here. I dont know if Wood drew versionsof those, as well.)

    Bill Alger kindly send me scans of the five unpublished strips fromPearsons catalog, so that I could finally see the strips myself. (Some timelater Bill Pearson mailed me a copy of the actual catalog, which we haveused to photograph the strips reprinted here.) To my surprise, the artwas considerably better than I had been led to believe. Bill Alger agreed,noting:

    ...Wood strips are much better than the Clarke strips, but theressomething vaguely depressing about Woods art on these (especially thePeanuts strip). Theyre nicely done, but Im imagining that whenWoody was working on these, he felt much like the way he drew CharlieBrown. Withered and tired. It looked like he was burned out, but he hadtoo much talent at that point in his life to turn out crap. Id say as lighthumor they fail, but as a window into the psyche of a depressed

    cartoonist, Id give all As!

    Sad or not, the art itself is surprisingly good. Its by no means Woodsbest work, but the cartooning is solid and well-crafted. It does the job.Yes, some of the drawings are off. The girl on the left in panel one of theSteve Canyon parody is pretty strange. But other panels, like the illo ofLittle Orphan Annie walking down the street, are masterful.

    So why were the strips rejected?

    The white-out and transposed panels in the Annie parody reallyshouldnt have been a major issue. Corrections could easily have beenmade by the production department, as weve done for this printing. Asfar as the sadness in the Peanuts parody, well... Peanuts is a prettydepressing strip at times, and Woods art reflects this. Actually, I like theJules Feiffer feel Wood brought to it.

    There may have been other factors that exacerbated the situation,such as personality clashes between Wood and editor Al Feldstein. Butas for the work itself, I still think Woods take is superior to the printedversion. Dont take my word for it, though. Were printing Woodslost Mad strips here along with the portions of redrawn and printedversion, so that you can decide for yourself!

    Best wishes,

    Michael T.

    P.S.: Dont ask me why Woody signed the Donald Duck take-off SyBarry. Perhaps it was a private joke, as Sy was a real artist who workedfor DC in the 1950s, drew syndicated strips such as Tarzan and ThePhantom, and would occasionally ghost the Flash Gordon strip forhis brother Dan.

    [Special thanks to Bill Pearson, Bill Alger, Bob Harper, John Kelly,and Chris Overton for their help.]

    Its A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Wood! 45

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    The Wood Version

  • The Rejected Wally Wood Version

    [Art this page 2002 the estate of Wally Wood.]

    46 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt