Roy ThomasLENgthy Comics Fanzine
$8.95In the USA
LEN WEINRE-LIVES THE LATE SILVER
AGE AT DC & MARVEL!
P.S.: LEN WROTE A FEWOTHER THINGS, TOO!
HeyMaybe He Can get ME in!
Vol. 3, No. 135 / September 2015
Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash
Design & LayoutChristopher Day
Consulting EditorJohn Morrow
FCA EditorP.C. HamerlinckJ.T. Go (Assoc. Editor)
Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert
Editorial Honor RollJerry G. Bails (founder)Ronn Foss, Biljo
ProofreadersRob SmentekWilliam J. Dowlding
Cover ArtistsDick Giordano & Bernie Wrightson
Cover ColoristUnidentified DC personnel
With Special Thanks to:Contents
Writer/Editorial: Out With The Old?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . 2Ive Never Had To Get A Real Job! . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . 3
Writer & editor Len Wein tells Richard Arndt about his first
decade in comics.
Seal Of Approval: The History Of The Comics Code Chapter 6,
Concluded . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. 41Our ongoing serialization of Dr. Amy K. Nybergs 1998 study of
Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt: Get A Clue Part 2!!! . . . . . . .
51Michael T. Gilbert examines more of the hilarious hoodlums on
those Hillman crime covers.
Comic Fandom Archive: Chatting With Jim Van Hise . . . . .
57Bill Schelly continues a multi-part tribute to G.B. Love and
In Memoriam: Roger Slifer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . 66re: [correspondence, comments, & corrections]
. . . . . . . . . 68FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] #194 . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .73
P.C. Hamerlinck presents two unseen essays by Captain Marvel
co-creator C.C. Beck.
On Our Cover: Len Wein, this issues intrepid interviewee, has
been known particularly for hisscripting (and editing) of
super-heroes and of his muck-monster co-creation Swamp Thingso weve
conspicuously combined Dick Giordanos cover for Justice League of
America #105(April-May 1973) with a masterful early-70s Swamp Thing
figure drawn by that entitys other co-creator, Bernie Wrightson.
With due thanks to Sean Howe, Pedro Angosto, & Mike Zeckfor the
1971 photo of Len himself. [Art TM & DC Comics.]Above: The
villain in Len Weins first scripting assignment on Marvel Team-Up
(#11, July 1973),carried over from the previous couple of issues,
was none other than Kang the ConquerorwhileSpider-Man was teamed in
#11 with the incomparable Inhumans. Pencils by Jim Mooney; inks
byMike Esposito. Thanks to Barry Pearl. [TM & Marvel
Neal AdamsHeidi AmashPedro AngostoRichard J. ArndtRodrigo
BaezaBob BaileyRod BeckWilliam BigginsRobert BrownNick CaputoJames
CassaraShaun ClancyChet CoxJohn De MockoThe Dick Dillin
FamilyJohn EllisHarlan EllisonShane FoleyStephan FriedtJanet
Database (website)Dan HagenHero InitiativeSean HoweDr. M. Thomas
Douglas R. KellyDavid Anthony
KraftMark LewisJim LudwigDoug MartinBrian K. MorrisMark
MullerChip NewtonDr. Amy Kiste
NybergBarry PearlJohn E. PettyNik PoliwkoGene ReedBob
RozakisRandy SargentVijah ShahJeff TaylorDann ThomasJim Van
HiseLynn WalkerGeorge WarnerJohn WarrenLen WeinMarv WolfmanAndy
This issue is dedicated to the memory of
Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407
Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344.
Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial
Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803)
826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to
TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Eight-issue
subscriptions: $67 US, $85 Canada, $104 elsewhere. All characters
are their respective companies. All material their creators unless
otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM
of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed
in China. ISSN: 1932-6890
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Ive Never Had ToGet A Real Job!Award-Winning Writer & Editor
LEN WEIN Talks About Nearly
Half A Century In ComicsInterview Conducted & Transcribed by
Richard J. Arndt
NTERVIEWERS INTRODUCTION: Len Wein is one of thecrew of teen-age
writers who entered the comics field in the late1960s. Over the
past 45 years, hes created or co-created The New
X-Men, Wolverine, Swamp Thing, The Human Target, DominicFortune,
and many more. Hes been the writer on The Teen Titans,Fantastic
Four, Thor, The Phantom Stranger, The Incredible Hulk,The Amazing
Spider-Man, Before Watchmen, Supergirl, and anincredible number of
other titles. Hes been an editor at Marvel, DC, andDisney. He was
the editor who hired Alan Moore to write SwampThing, as well as the
editor on Moore & Dave Gibbons Watchmen. Herecently wrote the
Ozymandias limited series for DC. This interviewwas conducted Aug.
Oh Boy, Im Gonna Be A Comic Book Artist!
RICHARD ARNDT: Lets start things off with your background.Where
did you grow up?LEN WEIN: I was born in the Bronx, New York. I had
one kidbrother. When I was 7 years old, I stepped out between
twotrucks onto the street. My father grabbed me by the back of
thecollar just in time to pull me out of theway of anothertruck
driving by.He stood there for asecond and said,Were going to
thesuburbs! So I grewup in Levittown,New York. I wasntthe only
comic fanthere. Even though Ididnt meet many ofthese fellows until
Iwas grown, MichaelGilbert grew upthere. Bob Schreckgrew up there.
BillGriffith grew upthere. So there was asmall group of
comicsenthusiasts who grewup there, completelyunaware of each
Swamped!(Above:) When Len Wein began writing The Phantom
Stranger with #14
(July-Aug. 1971), he started off with a monster-in-a-swamp
scene, illustratedby Jim Aparo. (Left:) A year later, he and artist
Berni(e) Wrightson caused
a minor sensation with Swamp Thing #1 (Oct.-Nov. 1972). Thanks
to Jim Ludwig for the page from PS #14, and to the Grand Comics
for the cover shot. [TM & DC Comics.]
in his photo card from EclipsesFamous Cartoonists trading
cardseries of the 1980s. [ Eclipse or
successors in interest.]
Later that same year, I got very sick. I spent some time inthe
hospital and my father brought me a bunch of comicbooks to keep me
occupied. As they say, Done is done. Iwas hooked. I was a comic
book fan from that moment on.
RA: Do you remember any of the titles in that batch?WEIN: They
were mostly DC, I think. I remember Batmanand Superman. There were
no Marvels, because Marveldidnt exist back then. They would almost
have to havebeen DC comics.
RA: When did you first begin to make your move to becoming
aprofessional in the comics field?WEIN: Eighth-grade art class. In
the 8th grade back then,when the arts were part of our
todayI drew a picture of a shark. My art teacher looked atme and
said, Thats a very good picture. You actually haveartistic talent.
Enough to be an actual artist. I looked back athim and said, Oh,
boy! Im gonna be a comic book artist. Hesaid, Thats not what I
mean. But I said, Yeah, but thats
what I meant! So I majored inart the rest of my high schooland
college career, to help mein becoming a comic bookartist.
RA: I havent actually seen a lotof your comic art but I do
recallyou did a fan illustration for oneof Jim Warrens fan pages
back inthe 1960s in Eerie #22 (July1969). It wasnt too bad, as
Irecall.WEIN: Thank you. Yep, therewere a lot of aspiring
who showed up on those fan pages. When I became aprofessional, I
actually got to draw one four-page story forGold Key. It was a
story called Walk the Plank forGrimms Ghost Stories [#9 (May
1973)]. Thats the onlyactual story Ive ever drawn.
RA: The Grand Comics Database lists three stories you
illus-trated, one apparently a ghost penciling job for Sal Trapani
Masquerader Of The Lost Arcs(Above:) Len Wein was a fannish
double-threat. First, as a writer:His brief interview with Jack
Kirby in the 6th issue of future fellow
pro Mike Vosburgs fanzine Masquerader in the early 1960s
wasquite possibly the first conversation with The King ever
Thanks to Doug Martin. [ the respective copyright holders.]
(Right:) Secondly, as an artist: Besides being assistant editor
of thefanzine Popular Heroes Illustrated, he drew this 1964
spotlighting Steve Ditkos Marvel co-creations. Thanks to
NickCaputo. [Spider-Man & Dr. Strange TM & Marvel
Ive Never Had To Get A Real Job! 5
WEIN: I did a bunch of stories for Twilight Zone, a bunch for
BorisKarloff. I wrote Star Trek for two years. I did The Microbots.
I didMod Wheels for a year or two. I had the best time at Gold Key.
Theywere the nicest guys to work for.
Marv [Wolfman] and I had had a problem at DC. Wed
gottenblackballed for something that we had not done. Artwork
wasdisappearing, and we were the two young kids on the block, and
itwas assumed that we were taking it, which we had not. So
Marvbasically left the industry for a while and became an art
teacher. Idecided that I wasnt quitting comics. There were other
places towork besides DC. So I went literally down the block to the
GoldKey offices one afternoonmade an appointment. I came in
withsamples of my work and told the two editors thereWally Greenand
his assistant, Paul Kuenthat I wanted to work with them.Those two
were among the nicest guys Ive ever met. Well, when Isaid I wanted
to work for them, they hit me with the Springtimefor Hitler face.
You know the reference? [INTERVIEWERSNOTE: Mel Brooks film/play The
Producers had Jewish stage producerstrying to make a light musical
called Springtime for Hitler as a taxdodge, so it was a play that
they never intended to succeed.] There aregreat shots in the films
where the audience at opening night gets alook at whats coming at
them, and the expression is always Whatthe f- are we watching?
Well, both Wally and Paul looked at mewith that kind of expression
and said, In Gods name, why? Whydo you want to work for us?
I said, I like your books. Im a professional writer and I
thinkwe can help each other. They agreed to go ahead and try. I
becametheir top writer for 2 years. I did a lot of work there. Most
of mywork was there, actually. Some appeared at Marvel at the
sametime. And at the end I got back with DC. Dick Giordanos
attitudetowards my blacklisting was Blackball, smackball! He said,
Illuse you. With that, I started getting back to DC. They
finallydiscovered the truth about the art thefts and the
blackballing waslifted. I started making much more money at DC than
at Gold Key.
I finally had to ask Wally and Paul, I know you cant matchthis
but Ive got to ask otherwise, Ive got to go. So they saidNo, no.
Go. Go. Thank you for everything you did. We lovedeverything you
did. We loved working with you and wed love tokeep working with
you, but we cant afford you anymore. Youshould go where the money
is. So they sent me on my way.[laughs] It was very sweet, very
paternal.RA: Thats nice. One of the stories I recall as being very
good during thistime period was one you did for Marvel called The
UndergroundGambit. It was a spoof on underground comics and Robert
Crumb. Idont know if you remember that one or notWEIN: I do
remember it. I dont recall the artistwas it SalBuscema or Marie
RA: Actually it was Herb Trimpe. It was a story about a guy who
Hey, KidsComix!(Left:) Writer Len Wein and artist Herb Trimpe
created a horrific homage to underground comix in Marvels Creatures
on the Loose #11 (May 1971) in the
person of an artist named Roger Krass. A tribute to Trimpe, who
recently passed away, will appear in a near-future issue; a photo
of him appears on p. 37.(Right:) The legendary Reed Crandall drew
Lens story for Creatures on the Loose #13 (Sept. 1971). Thanks to
Barry Pearl. [TM & Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Ive Never Had To Get A Real Job! 15
[continued from p. 11]
being a hip underground cartoonist and ends up in hell.WEIN: Oh,
yeah! Well, Herb would have been mynext guess. I vaguely remember
that. It certainlysounds like one of my titles.
RA: One of the reasons it sticks in my memories wasthat this was
the first time (1972) Id ever heard ofunderground comics. As a
Midwestern boy who grew upin a rural area, the notion that there
were these comicsthat were unheard of by most peoplehidden
even,secreted awaywas fascinating to me. It was like aSteve Ditko
curio-shop story come to life. It eventuallyled me to search out
these books, and the creators likeRobert Crumb, so thank you for
that.WEIN: [laughs] Youre welcome!RA: Still, it was a pretty good
little story. You probablysold it to Tower of Shadows or Chamber
ofDarkness, but it ended up in one of the retitled,
mostlyreprint-filled, monster titlesCreatures on the Loose#11 (May
1971).You must have just gotten back into DCs good
graces when you wrote the first Swamp Thingstorythe eight-pager
that appeared in House ofSecrets in 1972.WEIN: Yeah, Id been back
at DC for a little whileat that point.
Swamp Thing Was One OfThose Weird Cases
RA: Can you tell us how that story came about?WEIN: Swamp Thing
was one of those weird cases. I dont reallyremember. I know that it
came to me on the subway on the way tothe office. I was still
writing mystery stories by the dozens for JoeOrlando. I was on my
way in and I had nothing really firm to givehim. So I came up with
the idea on the subway, but I dontremember what sparked the notion.
I do remember how it gottitled. Thats one of my favorite stories. I
kept talking about theuntitled story as I worked on it. It was that
swamp thing storythat Im doing. So when the story finally needed an
actual title, Ifound it was actually already in place, just sitting
RA: Well, it did work out pretty good.WEIN: Yeah, it worked out
nice! [laughs]RA: Ive talked to Gerry Conway about his co-creation
of Man-Thing.WEIN: Oh, Im having lunch with Gerry tomorrow!
RA: Say hello for me. Now, at the time, he was your
roommate?WEIN: Gerry and I were sharing an apartment.
RA: He was working on the first Man-Thing story [for Marvel].
Bothinitial stories were published at nearly the same time. The
first two storiesdidnt really resemble each other plot-wise, but
both were featuringswamp monsters.WEIN: I know. Its one of those
bizarre coincidences that crop upfrom time to time.
RA: I should mention here that Roy Thomas had a big hand in
WEIN: Yeah, Im told he did. Roy was a fan of a character that
Idiscovered later and became very fond of, which was the oldHeap,
the one published by Hillman Comics. A lot of people saythat I just
stole the idea of Swamp Thing from The Heap. But Ihad never heard
of The Heap at the time.
RA: Well, The Heap was also stolen, if thats the word you want
touse. So it doesnt really matter.WEIN: Really?
RA: The Heap, DCs Solomon Grundy [the Heaps first appearance
wasin 1942, Grundys was in 1944], all the early undead swamp
creatures incomics were inspired, either directly or indirectly, by
the classic storyIt by Theodore Sturgeon, which was originally
published in themagazine Unknown in 1940. Alfred Bester, who
created SolomonGrundy, admitted in an interview that hed gotten the
idea for Grundydirectly from Sturgeons story. In fact, Roy Thomas
and Marie Severindid a great adaptation of It for Marvel in 1971
[SupernaturalThrillers #1 (Dec. 1971)], just a few months after
both Man-Thingand Swamp Thing first appeared.WEIN: Im a big Solomon
Grundy fan. I dont like the new one,but I used to like the old one.
At the time, though, I just wasnt thatknowledgeable about older
comics. I just knew what I knew. I usedto follow Kirby and stuff.
It really comes down to great mindsthinking alike, I think. Ive
made that point many times over theyears, including one in court on
a case where I was testifying as anexpert witness. Every year,
every single year, there are two moviesabout exactly the same
thing. Same thing happens in stories,especially SF stories. Two or
more writers will come out withsimilar stories at roughly the same
time. Notions or ideas get
Just One Of Those [Swamp] ThingsThe cover of DCs House of
Secrets #92 (June-July 1971), showcase for the first Len
Wrightson Swamp Thing story, which was originally intended as a
stand-alone effort. Wrightson(the spelling of whose first name soon
reverted to Bernie) is seen in a 1975 photo from a fanzine.
Thanks to Bob Bailey for the cover scan, and to Stephan Friedt
for locating the photo. [Page TM & DC Comics.]
16 Writer & Editor Len Wein Talks About Nearly Half A
Century In Comics
two weeks! Thats how I soldThe Human Target! I basicallyjust
made Jonny Double into anew character.
RA: Did Dick Giordano do the firstfew stories?WEIN: No! Carmine
Infantinodrew the first two HumanTarget stories. Dick inked
them.Dick was involved in nearlyevery Human Target story insome way
or another for yearswhile I was writing him. Hedrew and inked or
just inkedanother artist on almost all thestories I wrote. But
howCarmine got involved was inter-esting. Most of us at DC used
togo out to a local pub after workon Friday nights. One
Fridaynight, a week or two after I soldthe Human Target
story,Carmine and I were the onlytwo guys left in the room. Hesaid,
Im tired of being thisboss all the time. Id love todraw something
again. I askedhim what he wanted to do. Hesays I dont know. Some
goodold-fashioned detective stories. Iused to love those. I asked
him,What about the character youjust OKed? What about TheHuman
Target? He thoughtabout it and said, Naw. I dontthink so. It took
me a half hourand a couple more drinks to talkhim into penciling
the first one.
RA: Thats pretty good. Carminesa great artist.WEIN: Yep. It
worked out pretty neatly.
Youre WritingThe Flash!
RA: You also worked on The Flash. This wouldhave been after
Carmines days on that book,thoughWEIN: Yes. I think the artist was
Irv Novick.Irv and Dick Giordano were illustrating mystories there.
That reminds me of one of myfavorite stories. Julie shared an
office inthose days with the late, and much beloved,E. Nelson
Bridwell. Nelson was editing LoisLane early in my career. I came in
to pitchsome ideas for a possible Lois Lane story,because it would
give me a chance to writeSuperman. While I was sitting in his
guestchair, Nelson was called into a meeting. SoIm just sitting
there waiting. The room was empty. Julie wasntthere. Nelson wasnt
there. Im just sitting there, as patiently aspossible. Suddenly
Julie comes storming into the room. Mind you,
he recognized me. All thosevisits to DC back in the daywhen I
was a fan and so on. Heyells, You! What the hell areyou doing
I was terrified, because Juliecould be terrifying. I started
tostammer and said I was justtrying to sell some Lois Lanestories
to Mr. Bridwell. Heliterally grabbed me by the backof my collar,
pulled me out ofNelsons guest chair, dumpedme in his guest chair
and said,No, youre not. Youre writingThe Flash! I said, What?
Hesaid, You couldnt possibly beany worse than the son of abitch I
just fired. Thats how Igot to write The Flash! [laughs]RA: Im not
going to ask then whowas fired.WEIN: Im not going to tell
you,either. [both laugh]RA: You also wrote at least onestory for El
Diablo. That wouldhave been for Joe Orlando.WEIN: I only did the
one. It wasa four-pager that Gray Morrowdrew. El Diablo had a very
oddorigin. He was struck bylightning and was in his civilianpersona
a quadriplegic! Hebecame a version of Zorro atnight! I always
wondered if thepeople who were reading thestrip wondered how this
guywho couldnt move kept suchgreat muscle tone?
RA: I guess because he spent all night outriding horses?WEIN:
Exactly! Fighting crime and using awhip! It was an odd strip.
RA: You did a lot of fill-ins during this timeperiod, for both
DC and Marvel.WEIN: Yeah. I was hungry. When I washungry, I would
RA: Then you went with Joe Kubert on Korak,Son of Tarzan and
Carson of Venusboth ofthem being Edgar Rice Burroughs
adaptations.WEIN: Well, Joe Orlando edited the firstthree or four
issues, and then Joe took thebook over. I wrote three Burroughs
adapta-tionsCarson of Venus, Pellucidar, andKorak, all for Joe
Orlando and then Joe
KubertGod rest his soul [INTERVIEWERS NOTE: This interviewtook
place only a week or so after Kuberts death]came in to take
over.That was interesting. I have a very peculiar, personal style
Carmine InfantinoEditorial director of
DC Comics from 1967-71, publisher 1971-76
and, as the originalartist of the Silver Agetitle The Flash, one
ofthe most importantcomic artists of thelate 1950s and early
Dick Giordano,who would serve as
DCs managing editorfrom 1983 into the
1990s, was an artistwhose work (esp. his
inking) adornedmany a comic book
over the years. Thanksto Pedro Angosto and
Target PracticeThe first Human Target splash page, from Action
Comics #419 (Dec. 1972).Script by Wein; pencils by Carmine
Infantino; inks by Dick Giordano. Thanks
to Bob Bailey. [TM & DC Comics.]
Ive Never Had To Get A Real Job! 23
book, Paul Levitz, bless him, who was in charge of thesales
records at that time, came and told me that sales onSwamp Thing
didnt drop one copy when Bernie left.When I left, the sales went
right into the toilet. I told him,Thank you! That does more for my
ego than you haveany idea! The emphasis in comics is so dependent
on theartist that it really helped knowing that people bought
thebook for my stories, too! Who knew?
Roy Thomas And Gerry Conway Were Very Sly
RA: Somewhere in the mid-1970s on, the majority of yourbooks
began to be from Marvel Comics. You did The IncredibleHulkWEIN: I
did all four of the top titles: Amazing Spider-Man,Incredible Hulk,
Mighty Thor, and the Fantastic Fourall atthe same time.
RA: Was your work on those titles why you ended up gettingthe
editor-in-chief title?WEIN: No, Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway were
verysly. They decided early on that they wanted me workingfor
Marvel. As I mentioned earlier, Gerry and I wereroommates. Gerry
would give up a book and,offhandedly, say to me that he was giving
up that bookWerewolf by Night was the first one. Hed say, You
wannatake it over? Id say The same pay rates? Yeah? Thenwhy not? So
I took over Werewolf by Night. Then it was,Im leaving Marvel
Team-Up. You wanna take it over?Want to do Spider-Man? Well, you
bet! Sure! So I kepttaking on titles that Gerry was leaving. So,
and one-by-one, my schedule filled and I had to give up books at
DCto do the Marvel books. I left Phantom Stranger. I leftwhatever.
One morning I woke up and discovered that Iwas working for Marvel.
It took me a while to realizehow that happened!
Later, after I was fully at Marvel, Roy Thomas offeredme a job
as his assistant editor. At Marvel, there was onlyone editor and
one assistant for all the books. So I took it,what the hell! Joe
Orlando, before I left DC, spent a lot oftime trying to convince
Carmine to make me an editor.Carmine, being old-school, wouldnt do
it. He said, Givehim ten years. Let him get seasoned. Well talk
about itthen. But Roy, when he hired me, knew he was going tobe
leaving the editor-in-chief job and becoming awriter/editor in just
a few months. He basically hired meto replace him. He didnt tell me
this, though. Then, six months in,I was offered the job of
editor-in-chief. I took it! What am I, anidiot? Over at DC, Joe
Orlandos going over to Carmine andsaying, See, Schmuck! I told you!
Now hes running the compe-tition!
I lasted about half a year before it completely burned me out.
Itwas a rough job. Marv Wolfman followed me, than Gerry steppedin.
He lasted about three weeks and asked me how I could dothis job. It
was driving him crazy! There was only one editor and ahuge amount
of books! There were a half dozen or more DCeditors, and none of
them had more than ten books. No one editorcould really do the body
of work that Marvel expected. Eventually,under Jim Shooter, they
split the books among a whole communityof editors, like any normal
publishing company. It was a lot easierto take care of eight books
a month as opposed to 58 books amonth! Thats how many I was doing,
about 50 books a month! It
was killing me, as it did every editor who followed me,
untilShooter. There was no better editor who ever lived than
ArchieGoodwin, with the exception of maybe Julie Schwartz, and it
evenburned him out after a year or two.
Bat-Murderer! And Gideon FaustRA: Were near the end of the time
period were discussing, but I reallywanted to talk about your
Batman story Bat-Murderer!, which cameout in Detective just after
Archie Goodwins acclaimed run on that title.In fact, the only
reason I was reading Detective at that point was forArchies
stories. Plus, he had great artists drawing those stories. Somewere
young and just starting out like Simonson or Chaykin. Others wereat
the top of their game, like Toth and Aparo.WEIN: Archie was one of
those guys that artists loved to draw for.Look at those Creepy and
Eerie stories he wrote. Artists fell over
If The Hulks Hunting For The Missing LinkHas He Tried Looking In
While Len had stepped in to take a Roy Thomas plotline and turn
it into a script for The Incredible Hulk #145 (Nov. 1971), that
proved to be a one-issue stand
and he didnt return as Ol Green-skins full writer till #179
(Sept. 74), aided andabetted by penciler Herb Trimpe and inker Jack
Abel. Thanks to Barry Pearl for the scan.
[TM & Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Ive Never Had To Get A Real Job! 33
he four publishers who remained active in the CMAA duringthe
late 1970s and the 1980sArchie, Marvel, Harvey, andDCcontinued to
challenge the need for a code. Marvel
president James Galton, at a meeting of the board of directors
inOctober 1976, questioned whether there was any need to
continuethe use of the seal. Others, however, felt that the seal
remainedessential to the viability of the comics magazine
industry(CMAA Files [minutes, 19 Oct. 1976]). Galtons question
wasspurred in part by changes in the comic book publishing
industrythat would enable new publishers to bypass the CMAA and
itscode administrator entirely. Beginning in the late 1970s,
aninnovation was under way in comic book distribution that was
tohave tremendous impact on the way comic books were marketedand
sold. That innovation was direct market distribution.
Changes in distribution during this period were linked to
anearlier change in the industry, the rise of independent
publishers.In the 1970s, there was a movement toward
independentpublishing, which initially served as an outlet for
creator-ownedproperties. Until that time, all of the rights for
characters wereowned by companies, not by individual writers and
artists. Newpublishing companies were started that allowed creators
to retainthe rights to their characters. At first, distribution was
limited tomail order and a small number of specialty shops, and the
were not high enough to lure top talent away from the
majorcompanies. But by the end of the decade, a proliferation
ofspecialty shops and the emergence of direct market
distributioncreated a market capable of sustaining these
independentpublishers (Jacobs and Jones 269).
EDITORS INTRODUCTION: We near theconclusion of our reprinting of
Dr. Nybergsgroundbreaking history of comic book
censorshipa work weve felt honored to be able to re-present,
with awealth of added illustrations, for Alter Egos audience.
Previous install-ments have appeared in A/E #123-128, 130, 133,
& 134. As weve saidbefore, Seal of Approval is footnoted in the
MLA style which listsbook, article, or author name, plus page
numbers, between parentheses inthe main text: e.g., (Hart 154-156)
refers to pp. 154-156 of whicheverwork by an author or editor named
Hart appears in the bibliography(which will be printed at the
conclusion of our serialization, a few issuesfrom now). When the
parentheses contain only page numbers, its becausethe other
pertinent information is printed in the text almost
immediatelypreceding the note.Weve again retained such usages and
spellings from Nybergs book as
superhero, an uncapitalized comics code, E.C. and DC, etc. Inthe
captions we ourselves have added, however, we have reverted to
A/Ehouse style and preference. These captions, of course, do not
reflect the opinion of Dr. Nyberg or of the University Press of
Mississippi,the original publisher of the bookthe original edition
of which can stillbe obtained from UPM at www.upress.sate.ms.us.
Our thanks onceagain to Dr. M. Thomas Inge, under whose general
editorship the volumewas originally published in 1998 as part of
its Studies in Popular Cultureseries, and who was of great help to
A/E in helping to arrange for itsreprinting here to William Biggins
and Vijah Shah, acquisitions editorspast and present at the U.
Press of Mississippi and to Brian K. Morrisfor retyping the text on
a Word document for Ye Editor.The preceding segment dealt with the
alterations made to the code in
1971 in order to acknowledge changes in American society since
1954which included allowing the use of vampires, ghouls, and
werewolves,as long as they were handled in the classic tradition of
high caliberliterary works read in schools throughout the World. In
1976, outsiderJenette Kahn became DCs new publisher, and longtime
comics writer JimShooter ascended at the beginning of 1977 to the
post of Marvels editor-in-chief.
A EA E//
Publish Or Perish(Left:) Jenette Kahn, publisher of DC Comics
from 1976-2002. Photo undated.
(Right:) Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, on left, and
Marvelpublisher Jim Galton, circa 1980. From Jim Shooters blog. An
interview with Shooter will appear in Alter Ego #137. (Note:
Galtons lastname is spelled Galston in Nybergs book. Typist Brian
K. Morris corrected
the spelling for this reprinting.)
Dr. Amy K. NybergSeal Of Approval:The History Of
The Comics CodeConcluding Chapter 6 Of Our
Serialization Of The 1998 Study By DR. AMY KISTE NYBERG
Under the old system,which is still in place [in1998] and
accounts for aboutone-quarter of all comic bookdistribution, comic
books aredistributed by companies thatalso handle other
periodicalsand are sold in outlets thatcarry a variety of
magazines.Retailers are able to returnunsold copies to the
publisher for credit. Under the direct marketsystem, distributors
who specialize in comic books and comics-related merchandise
solicit orders for upcoming titles and sellcomic books directly to
retailers on a non-return basis. Theirprimary customers are comics
specialty shops, which pay less fortheir comics through the direct
market system but forfeit the rightto return unsold copies. Store
owners develop an inventory of backissues that then may be sold to
fans and collectors at a later date.The number of specialty stores
in the United States increased froman estimated twenty-five in the
mid-1970s to between 3,500 and5,000 by 1990 (Thompson 58). The
number of such stores is hard toestimate because many of these
retail outlets were served by morethan one distributor, and because
distributors protected theircustomer lists.
As a result of this change in distribution, companies were
ableto eliminate some of the guesswork involved in production.
Underthe newsstand distribution system, as many as seven of every
tencopies of a comic book were returned to the publisher.
Becausecomic book orders for direct market sales are solicited
before thecomics are published, publishers know in advance how
manycopies of each title to print for distribution to specialty
shops.Often, companies will print more copies of a particular title
thanwere ordered so they can fill back orders. In addition,
distributorsmay speculate on how well a particular issue of a comic
book willsell and purchase more copies than retailers order.
Particularlysuccessful comic books may have additional press runs
The new distribution system, which eliminated some of the riskin
publishing comics, led to a boom in independent publishing inthe
1980s. Independent companies who were early leaders in thistrend
included Aardvark-Vanaheim, created in 1977 to publish a
Conan parody entitled Cerebus; andWaRP Graphics, started by
Richardand Wendi Pini in 1978 to publishtheir comic, Elfquest. The
firstcompany to bring out regular-formatcomics among the
independents wasPacific Comics, which publishedcomics from 1981 to
1984. FirstComics, started in 1983 in Chicago,was a strong
performer in the 1980s
before folding. The leading independent company in the
early1990s has been Image Comics, started by a group of creators
whocapitalized on their popularity with the fan community to
producetitles that have outsold many comics marketed by the
largercompanies. While Marvel and DC still dominate the comic
bookindustry in terms of number of titles, sales figures on their
titleshave dropped as independents cut into their market.
Althoughsome of these independent publishers, like Image, produce
profes-sional quality four-color comic books on a monthly schedule
andcompete successfully with the major publishers, many
independentcompanies publish only one or two books, often on a
highly erraticschedule, and the number of such companies fluctuates
almostdaily as smaller companies are started, merge, or fold.
These independent companies distribute comics only throughthe
direct market system. Bypassing the newsstand distributionsystem,
the enforcement arm of the comics code, these independentpublishers
do not submit their titles for code approval nor are theymembers of
the Comics Magazine Association of America. As aresult, the CMAA
and its code administrator have no say in thecontent of comic books
which make up a significant part of thecomic book industry today.
It was inevitable that independentcompanies, freed from the
constraints of the comics code, wouldproduce adult-oriented
material for the evolving marketwhichone study suggests has led the
industry once againbut this timenot innocentlyto confront the adult
themes of violence, sexualityand obsession (McCue and Bloom
Unlike the underground comics, these new independentlypublished
comics did represent an economic challenge to the estab-lished
publishers. And, more important, these comics demon-strated the
possibilities of a distribution system that was moreopen to
experimentation and to the expansion of the audience for
The Declaration Of IndependentsTwo early independent comics
writer/artist Dave Sims Cerebus (a.k.a.Cerebus the Aardvark),
published by theCanadian company Aardvark-Vanaheim,
and Elfquest, published in the U.S. byWendy & Richard Pinis
WaRP Graphics.Wendy was the writer/artist, with co-
plotting by Richard. Earlier, in 1974, hadcome Mike Friedrichs
Star*Reach #1,commonly considered the first true
independent (as opposed tounderground) comic book. [Cerebus
TM & Dave Sim; Elfquest cover TM & Wendy & Richard
Dave Sim. Wendy & Richard Pini.
42 Concluding Chapter 6 Of Our Serialization Of The 1998 Study
By Dr. Amy Kiste Nyberg
Bums On The Run!I dont know whos the bigger loser, the mug
hot-footing it from the cops, or the clueless crook
taking notes. From Real Clue Crime Stories Vol. 5, #1 (March
1950). Art by Dan Zolnerowich. [Real Clue cover the respective
Get A Clue (Part 2!)by Michael T. Gilbert
ast issue we shared some amusing Hillmancrime covers. This time
weve unearthedmore gems, many drawn by the talented Dan
Zolnerowich. Zolne is perhaps best rememberedfor his classic
Planet Comics covers for FictionHouse. But his work for Hillman is
equally striking.And, speaking of Hillman....
Noted art collector, book, and magazinepublisher Alex L. Hillman
founded the company in1938 with a line of True Confessions titles.
Theseincluded Real Confessions, Real Romances, True Crime,Crime
Detective, and Real Detective.
Hillman branched out into comics with thepublication of Miracle
Comics #1 and Rocket Comics#1. Both sported a February 1940
Stupid Crook Tricks!(Above:) Boy, leave it to those country
hicks! First the store-owner
sheriff makes a killing selling expensive bank-robbing gear to
the cityslickersthen he arrests them for the heist! Say, didnt I
see the sameplot on an old Green Acres episode? From Real Clue
Crime Stories, Vol.4, #10 (Dec. 1949). Art by Dan Zolne
Zolnerowich. [ the respective
I Get No Respect!(Left:) Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on this
poor slob. Hes toobroke to afford a decent hotel, thanks to a
botched bank job (see
cover above!). And even mean Mrs. OLeary doesnt want the bum
inher cheap flophouse. From Real Clue Crime Stories, Vol. 4, #4
1949). Art by Zolne. [ 2015 the respective copyright
52 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt!
Introductionomic fandom has a lot of reasons to thank the late
Gordon BelljohnLove, publisher and editor of the adzine juggernaut,
RBCC... or, tospell it out, Rockets Blast-Comicollector. Over time,
become even clearer how much we owe G.B.Certainly, Jim Van Hise
would second that motion, for it was at
Gordons side that he learned the writing and magazine business.
I talkedto Jim on October 8, 2012... and thanks to Brian K. Morris
fortranscribing our conversation. Bill Schelly.
BILL SCHELLY: I thought we should start with just talking about
youand your background first, like where you were born and where
you grewup.JIM VAN HISE: Okay, I was born in Tonawanda, New York,
whichis not far from Buffalo, in 1949.
SCHELLY: How did you end up in Florida?VAN HISE: I had
grandparents who lived in Florida because mygrandfather worked at
Cape Canaveral. We would go down thereevery summer. Sometimes, wed
stay as long as a month to visit,and we started doing that in the
early 1960s. And so in 1970,when I decided I just wanted to go out
on my own, I decided thatwhere I would move is to Florida, because
I always hated thewinters in New York. Since I had been exposed to
Florida and Iknew what it was like, I decided to move there.
SCHELLY: I know that you are a fan of comics, but you also have
otherinterests, maybe even stronger interests, in pulps and
science-fiction andso on. Can you describe how your personal
interests evolved as a kid?VAN HISE: When I was a kid, there was a
package of moviesgoing around, the horror and science-fiction
movies that theystarted showing in the 50s. I guess the package was
called ShockTheatre, but in Buffalo they called it something else,
like Super-Duper All-Night Theatreor something. So I became
interested in those kinds of science-fiction movies. Ipicked up a
science-fiction paperback around 1959 called Forgotten Planet by
MurrayLeinster because it showed, like, a giant insect on the
cover, and thats how I startedreading science-fiction. I didnt
discover pulps till the late 60s, when I found acouple copies of
Weird Tales in an old book store.SCHELLY: So that came later. What
about comics?VAN HISE: I got interested in comics when I was
probably around ten or so. Myfather brought home a comic book for
me when I was sick. It was Showcase #29 withthe Sea Devils, and I
actually still have it. [NOTE: That was the Nov.-Dec. 1960
issue.Bill.] And when I started buying comics regularly around 63,
thats when I started
57Comic Fandom Archive
A Dynamic Duo(Above:) Jim Van Hise
(on left) and G.B.Love at Miami Con in1971. Photo courtesy
of John Ellis.
(Right:) Showcase #2(Nov.-Dec. 1960),featuring the SeaDevils,
was one ofthe first comics Jimremembers reading.
[Cover TM & DCComics.]
G.B. Love.Photo by
Alter Egos Multi-PartTribute To G.B. Love & RBCC Part 3
Chatting With JIM VAN HISE
difficult over the phone, because he was kind of hard to
understand. Whenyou met him initially, were you able to communicate
with G.B., given hiscerebral palsy? How was that for you?VAN HISE:
When I first met him, he had an assistant working atthe office,
Andy Warner, and Andy would be able to explain whatG.B. was saying.
But when I started to work for G.B. later in 1970, Iworked for him
six days a week and I came to be able to under-stand what he was
saying. It was basically like learning how tounderstand what
someone is saying who has a thick accent. Hecould talk over the
phone, but unless you were used to talking tohim, you probably
wouldnt be able to understand what he wassaying.
SCHELLY: Fandom was a great place for people who werent in
themainstream and maybe who were shut-ins or maybe had various
issues.In a way, it was a saving grace, probably, for Gordon,
wouldnt youthink?VAN HISE: Well, it started out as a hobby. I mean,
I think he onlymade like five copies of the first issues of Rockets
Blast, usingcarbon paper in the typewriter. Then he had letters in
some earlyDC comics in the early 60s and people started writing to
him fromthat. Then he began printing copies in mimeograph, and it
wasworthwhile to put ads in Marvel Comics to build up his
SCHELLY: He found a place where he was accepted and in fact
Chatting With Jim Van HiseAbout G.B. Love & RBCC 59
The Rockets Blast Specials #1-2Loves Rockets Blast Special
fanzine presented early attempts to chronicle the history of
comics. RBS #1 (1963) presented The Timely Story by Raymond
Miller, behind an illo of the Human Torch, Captain America, and
Sub-Mariner (who else?). RBS #2 (1963) offered I Remember This by
Margaret Gemignani,and numerous tracings of Golden Age comic book
panels and covers, and sported a Human Torch cover. Cover art by
Buddy Saunders. RBS #1 shown from the
photo-offset re-issue in 1967.) [Human Torch, Captain America,
& Sub-Mariner TM & Marvel Characters, Inc.; other art
elements Buddy Saunders.]
Warner TimeAndy Warner (left) and G. B. Love at Multicon 1970,
the occasion when JimVan Hise cemented his relationship with Love.
Photo courtesy of John Ellis.
second bonus The artist. by delineated dogmatically
mid-1980s the om fressays lished arBeck C.C. s s $&)om
sBecksof one om frsnippet a is piece and eator co-crs Marvels
comic of rudiments the on mid-1980s unpub-eviously prtwo come
RZWHUDJQLWQLDS WUDIRPURI\UHYojects prbook aborted several
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ALTER EGO #135LEN WEIN (writer/co-creator of Swamp Thing, Human
Target,and Wolverine) talks about his early days in comics at DC
andMarvel! Art by WRIGHTSON, INFANTINO, TRIMPE, DILLON,CARDY,
APARO, THORNE, MOONEY, and others! Plus FCA(Fawcett Collectors of
America), MR. MONSTERs Comic Crypt,the Comics Code, and DAN BARRY!
Cover by DICK GIOR-DANO with BERNIE WRIGHTSON!
(84 FULL-COLOR pages) $8.95 (Digital Edition) $3.95
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