$ 5.95 In the USA $ 5.95 In the USA No. 14 April 2002 Art ©2002 James Cavenaugh; JSA TM & ©2002 DC Comics Plus: Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine

Alter Ego #14

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Just when you thought you knew all about the Justice Society, Alter Ego #14 presents this special All-Star issue featuring the JSA from the '40s to the '80s! Behind two great full-color Justice Society covers by Michael T. Gilbert and the team of Mike Nasser and Steve Leialoha, you'll find rare Justice Society art from across the years by Murphy Anderson, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, and more! Also featured are interviews with Golden Age All-Star Comics greats Shelly Mayer and Lee Elias, plus never-before-scene art from the unpublished 1940's JSA tale "The Will of William Wilson," secrets behind the 1970's All-Star revival, the saga of the 1980's All-Star Squadron, and JSA co- creator Gardner Fox finds himself under Mr. Monster's microscope!

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Page 1: Alter Ego #14

$5.95In the USA

$5.95In the USA

No. 14April2002



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Plus:Roy Thomas’ All-Star Comics Fanzine

Roy Thomas’ All-Star Comics Fanzine

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Vol. 3, No. 14 / April 2002Editor Roy Thomas

Associate EditorsBill Schelly, Jim 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 ArtistsMike Nasser & Steve LeialohaMichael T. Gilbert

Cover ColoristsTom Ziuko & Michael T. Gilbert

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

And Special Thanks to:Pedro AngostoJeff BaileyBrian H. BailieBill BlackRay Bottorff Jr.Jerry K. BoydJack BurnleyGlen CadiganJames CavenaughGerry ConwayMike CrudenMike CurtisRay A. CuthbertFred W. DeBoomCraig & David

DelichAl DellingesJay DisbrowRic EstradaMark EvanierRyan FarnsworthStephen Fishler Creig FlesselKeif FrommKeith GiffenDavid G. Hamilton Paul HandlerIrwin HasenMark & Stephanie

HeikeCarmine InfantinoFred JandtJim KorkisThomas LammersJim LeePaul LevitzRuss MaherasScott McAdam


Ralph Ellis Miley/New Creation

Al Milgrom Sheldon MoldoffMatt MoringMart & Carrie

NodellMichelle NolanEric Nolen-

WeathingtonJerry OrdwayBob OverstreetCarlos PachecoChris PedrinIan PenmanPeter C. PhillipsGinny ProvisieroCharlie RobertsEthan RobertsJulius SchwartzDez SkinnRobin SnyderJoe & Hilarie

StatonMarc SwayzeJoel ThingvallDann ThomasAlex TothDr. Michael J.

VassalloNikki VrtisHames WareLen WeinMarv WolfmanEd ZenoMike Zeno

In Memoriam: Chase Craig & Dan DeCarlo

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 ($10.00 Canada, $11.00 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.


ContentsWriter/Editorial: ...And Justice Society for All! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2All the Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4The 1970s JSA revival—a guided tour by Conway, Levitz, Estrada, Giffen, Milgrom, & Staton.

Inking Comics the ORDway. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27Pardon the bad pun! Jerry Ordway on inking/embellishing the early All-Star Squadron.

Welcome to Fandomland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31Bill Schelly tells how comic fandom changed his life in the 1960s.

re: [a letter of response from veteran artist Carmine Infantino] . . . 35Tributes to Craig Chase and Dan DeCarlo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) #73 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39P.C. Hamerlinck presents Marc Swayze, C.C. Beck—& Jay Disbrow.

All-Star Comics in the 1940s––plus Fox and Elias . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: In 1977 Craig Delich assembled (and his brother David published) TheAll-Star Comics Revue, an 88-page celebration of the JSA up to that point. It sported agorgeous cover penciled by Mike Nasser (now Mike Netzer) and inked by Steve Leialoha,which all associated with it have given us their blessing to use as one of this issue’s covers—including copyright owner James Cavenaugh. Thanks, guys! We figured it was high time thisnice piece of art was seen in color again! [Art ©2002 James Cavenaugh; JSA © & TM 2002 DCComics.]

Above: Everybody’s present and accounted for but Superman, in this Joe Staton/Bob Laytonpanel from the JSA’s first-ever origin in 1977’s DC Special #29. Reproduced from photocopies ofthe original art, courtesy of Brian H. Bailie. [©2002 DC Comics.]

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by Roy Thomas

I was there for the conception—but that’s just about it.

In 1975 Gerry Conway, scripter of several of Marvel Comics’ majortitles, left that company and became a writer/editor for DC. Gerry and Ihad already been friends for over half a decade, so it was only naturalthat, one evening early that year, at his apartment on Manhattan’s WestSide, we started kicking around some ideas for new projects he couldinitiate at DC. Gerry had plenty of his own concepts, of course—but, ona whim, I suggested a revival of All-Star Comics.

In those days, the fabled Justice Society appeared only in annualguest-shots in Justice League of America, and were assumed to dwellon “Earth-Two,” an other-dimensional world that existed parallel to thatof the JLA. I reasoned, why not give the JSA their own title again,tapping into that exposure? (Of course, what I really wanted, as a fan ofAll-Star Comics from 1945 through the end in 1950, was just to see theguys return in their own mag instead of in one story a year.)

Gerry sparked to the idea and, for good or ill, from that point on Ihad no more to do with it. (How could I? I was under exclusive contractto Marvel, and probably shouldn’t even have suggested the idea in thefirst place!) Well, actually, I did send, at Gerry’s request, comments to be

printed on the revived All-Star’s first letters page; I figured thatwouldn’t ruffle too many feathers back at Marvel. All-Star Comics #58hit the newsstands in autumn of 1975, and became a reasonably popularif not best-selling title.

In February 1976 Stan Lee asked me to become Marvel’s editor-in-chief again—the post I’d held from 1972-74. I agreed, but (after a week’svacation in sunny L.A. convinced me I’d rather move to Californiainstead) I soon reneged, and suggested to Stan that he offer Gerry thejob. He did, and Gerry very briefly became Marvel’s editor-in-chief inbetween Marv Wolfman and Archie Goodwin... and, even when hedecided the job was not to his liking after all, he continued to writeexclusively for Marvel for some months.

With Gerry’s departure from DC in early ’76, Paul Levitz, hisassistant editor who had already dialogued a bit of JSA material, becameAll-Star’s new writer. He continued as scripter for the remainder of All-Star’s ’70s run, which culminated with #74 (Sept.-Oct. 1978)—andincluded the Justice Society’s never-before-told origin, unveiled in DCSpecial #29 in 1977—and which then continued in Adventure Comics#461-466 in 1979, at which point the JSA “died” with the decade thathad seen its revival.

The following is a brief overview of the JSA’s career during the GerryFord and Jimmy Carter years, punctuated by short interviews given byboth of the series’ writers and by all three of its surviving pencilers. (Thegreat Wally Wood, alas, died in 1981.) We greatly appreciate the time

The Justice Society returned after a twelve-year hiatus in The Flash #137 (June 1963). Two months later they guest-starred in Justice League of America#21, the first of many annual JLA-JSA team-ups—which led eventually to a full-scale All-Star revival in 1975-76! Repro’d from photocopies of the

original Infantino/Giella art, courtesy of Jerry Bails. [©2002 DC Comics.]

There Are In�Super-Hero�Heaven!

4 All The Stars There Are In (Super-Hero) Heaven!

The 1970s Justice Society Revival—All-Starring the Original Cast!

Special thanks to Michelle Nolan, Eric Nolen-Weathington, and Ray Bottorff Jr. for providing the All-Star and Adventure covers.

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these five gents spent with us via e-mail and telephone; and while theircomments have been edited slightly for space, we’ve made every effortnot to put words into their mouths—or to take too many out.

What we have, I believe, is both a bird’s-eye and microscopicviewpoint of two dozen 1970s comics which are more fondly remem-bered, and which have left a more lasting legacy, than 90% of what waspublished during that era and since...

I. The All-Star Issues (and an Awesome Secret Origin)All-Star Comics #58 (Jan-Feb. 1976)

“All Star Super Squad” – 18 pp.Cover: Mike GrellWriter: Gerry ConwayArtists: Ric Estrada & Wally Wood [see Estrada interview]

JSAers Participating: Flash,Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat,Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, Robin (plusStar-Spangled Kid and Power Girl)

THE STORY: Brainwave tries todestroy Seattle, Capetown, andPeking (Beijing) to gain revenge onthe JSA, who are joined by Robin,Star-Spangled Kid, and newcomerPower Girl (Superman’s cousin) as ayounger “Super-Squad.”

NOTES: (a) Brainwave (Brain Wave in 1940s All-Stars) has a new bodyand look. (b) Though Star-Spangled Kid says he “belong(s) in the1950s,” his original stories actually ran from 1941-48; he’d returned in1972, with the rest of The Seven Soldiers of Victory, in Justice League ofAmerica #100-102. (d) Though listed in the roll call, SSK and PowerGirl are not JSAers in this issue; indeed, this is Power Girl’s debut. (e)SSK henceforth uses Starman’s Cosmic Rod, borrowed from Ted Knight;(f) The issue’s “All-Star Comments” letters page includes pre-solicitedmissives from longtime JSA fans Roy Thomas and Jerry Bails. (g) From#58-65 All-Star covers feature a smallish “Justice Society” logo plus alarger “Super Squad” one, plus the main All-Star Comics logo; “Super-Squad” was usually hyphenated in the stories. (h) The splash-page logofrom #58-65 will read “The All Star Super Squad,” with no interior JSAlogo. (i) This is the first All-Star cover ever to feature a Justice Societylogo of any kind. (j) All-Star #58-59 were reprinted in the DC SpecialBlue Ribbon Digest, Vol. 1, #3 (July-August 1980).

All-Star Comics #59 (March-April 1976)

“Brainwave Blows Up!” – 18 pp.Cover: Ernie Chan (as “Ernie Chua”)Writer: Gerry Conway (“with an assist from Paul Levitz”)Artists: Ric Estrada (“designer”) & Wally Wood (“artist”)

JSAers Participating: Same as inpreceding issue

THE STORY: The JSA preventsBrainwave and his ally Per Degatonfrom pulling the Earth from its orbit.

NOTES: (a) Degaton, with a new lookand hair color, is treated as the “greatest[scientific] genius of all time,” a trait notconsistent with his 1940s persona. (b) Atstory’s end, Star-Spangled Kid andPower Girl are accepted into the JSA asa youthful “Super-Squad” adjunctwhich includes Robin—though the Boy Wonder will not appear againuntil issue #67, as he is featured in a new Teen Titans comic.

All-Star Comics #60 (May-June 1976)

“Vulcan: Son of Fire!” – 17 pp.Cover: Ernie Chan (as “Ernie Chua”)Writer: Gerry ConwayArtists: Keith Giffen & Wally Wood [see Giffen interview]

JSAers Participating: Power Girl, Flash, Wildcat, Star-Spangled Kid,Green Lantern, Dr. Fate

THE STORY: The destruction ofVulcan Probe One, a 200-day missionto orbit the sun, turns astronautChristopher Pike into a cosmic-axe-wielding super-villain who menaces theEarth.

NOTES: (a) Alan (GL) Scott isrevealed to be having economicproblems as head of GothamBroadcasting. (b) Layout penciler RicEstrada, replaced by newcomer KeithGiffen, is announced as having movedon “to new heights in Blackhawk.”Ye Editor confesses he winced when he saw that the cover of All-Star #58,

the very first revival issue, showed four JSAers sprawling, defeated, whilethree upstart youngsters rush to save them—but it was lovely Mike Grell art!

Original art repro’d from a black-&-white copy in Amazing World of DC Comics #6 (May 1975). [©2002 DC Comics.]

The 1970s Justice Society Revival 5

Main text continued on p. 9

[©2002 DC Comics.][©2002 DC Comics.]

[©2002 DC Comics.]

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GERRY CONWAY: My recollection ofevents from the mid-’70s is a bit vague,at least when it comes to the details ofwhy I did things a certain way in acertain issue. At the time I was writingand editing half a dozen magazines amonth, with a part-time assistant, in an

editorial regime that, in many ways, was the bureaucratic opposite of thesystem in place at Marvel, where I’d been for the previous five years. Incontrast, today’s comic book editors handle about four titles a month,under the direction of “group editors” and with a full-time assistant. Myposition at DC was somewhat difficult and unique: I was trying to docomics the way I’d done them at Marvel, and that put me up against apretty entrenched creative structure.

It was a hectic, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding time—and I wasonly 23 years old! I couldn’t have accomplished anything at all (to thedegree that I did) without the support and encouragement of CarmineInfantino, Paul Levitz, and Joe Orlando... not to mention your veryhelpful kibitzing.

ROY THOMAS: Which of course was very much off the record, sinceat the time I was under contract to Marvel! Do you recall, one nightin 1975, our talking over possible new projects you might initiate atDC, and my suggesting the revival of All-Star and a full-blownSuperman-Captain Marvel fight? Not that I want to claim any creditfor what you did with the concepts... I’m just curious.

CONWAY: I don’t recall the specific conversation, but I know wetalked about it. Your interest in an All-Star revival certainly put me onthe path to championing it at DC. Obviously, because of my age at thetime, I was only familiar with the “Earth-Two” version of the JSA, as perthe annual JLA-JSA team-ups, so I think it was your enthusiasm for theteam’s potential that inspired me, more than anything else.

RT: Later you offered me a chance to ghost-write an issue or so of All-Star. But I preferred not to, since it would have had to beanonymous... and I wanted any JSA story I wrote to have my nameon it. How did Ric Estrada and Wally become the art team?

CONWAY: I didn’t have access to the so-called “good” artists—and I’mnot sure I would have agreed with that designation at DC then anyway!Most of the artists I worked with then were people the other editorswouldn’t use, because they were either brand new (Keith Giffen) or wereperceived as being “burned out” (Steve Ditko, Wally Wood) or just not“good enough” for the traditional DC super-hero book (Ric Estrada,Ernie Chan, Dick Ayers, Chic Stone). But I’d seen Ric’s pencils on somebooks Joe Orlando was doing (I think), and thought he had a greatstorytelling/design sense.

Wally Wood, of course, was a master of long standing—though hisstock had fallen somewhat among other editors at that time—but I’dnever felt his storytelling was his strong suit. I had this (probablycrackpot) theory that one could combine artists with different strengthsand that the whole would be greater than the parts. I thought theteaming of Ric’s pencils and Wally’s inks would be exciting, and I wasright (I’d like to think).

RT: Was Paul Levitz your assistant editor from the beginning?

CONWAY: If not from the beginning, very soon afterward. I believe Ialso worked with Alan Asherman. An anecdote: shortly after I startedworking at DC as an editor, the powers-that-be decided to eliminate all

Gerry Conway in the 1970s.

The first two splashes for the revived All-Star, by Estrada and Wood. Boy, had The Brain Wave changed since his last previous appearance, in 1947’s All-Star #37, as drawn (at right) by Irwin Hasen! [©2002 DC Comics.]

GERRY CONWAY(Writer/editor,

All-Star Comics #58-62)

6 All The Stars There Are In (Super-Hero) Heaven!

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All-Star Squadron Chronicles Part IV 27

Conducted by Roy ThomasAs Monty Python didn’t say: “And now for something just a wee bit


The three preceding installments of these Chronicles of the creationand roots of the All-Star Squadron series I conceived and wrote for DCComics during the 1980s were all first-person accounts by Yours Truly,albeit with a few welcome comments here and there from editor LenWein, penciler Rich Buckler, and even almost-editor Dick Giordano.

This issue, with no time for fanfare (especially since our coverage ofthe 1970s JSA revival grew to quasi-gargantuan proportions), we’repleased to present a short interview with Jerry Ordway, whose firstongoing professional comic art job was on DC’s retroactive-continuitysuper-group. We appreciate his taking a break from his current Marvelwork to answer a whole passel of Roy’s questions via e-mail on January

3, 2002. Manyof hiscomments willsee print later inthis series; herewe’reconcerned onlywith those thatdeal with All-Star Squadron#1-5 (and themag’s 16-pagePreview inJustice Leagueof America#193), whenRich and Jerrywere the artteam.

As related two issues ago, Rich and I had slight trepidations in 1980when Len assigned an untried newcomer to ink the new title we werepreparing...

ROY THOMAS: How did you get the assignment to ink All-StarSquadron? Were you trying to get work as a penciler as well as inker?

JERRY ORDWAY: Well, starting in the summer of 1980, I had done afew jobs for DC, as an inker, while still working full-time at acommercial art studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. DC was obviously

pleased with my work, and first offered meThe New Teen Titans to ink, but I passed, as Iwasn’t ready to quit my day job.

Later, in December of that year, I made atrip to New York City to attend an illustrationseminar held by Bob Peak, Mark English,Bernie Fuchs, and Fred Otnes, top illustratorsof their time. In between art workshops, Iwent to see [DC editors] Len Wein and KarenBerger, my contacts at DC. They convincedme to try comics full-time, which I agreed to,providing I could eventually get pencilingassignments instead of inking. Working withyou, Roy, was a big factor in taking on All-Star Squadron, as I was a huge fan of your

Inking ComicsThe ORDwayChronicles

Part IV

An Interview with JERRY ORDWAY on the Early Days of All-Star Squadron

Jerry Ordway renewed his fannish roots when he attended the1997 Fandom Reunion Luncheon put together in Chicago by

Bill Schelly, et al. Left to right: cartoonist Jim Engel, Jerry, andcomics researcher Bob Beerbohm. (Roy T., Jerry Bails, Maggie

Thompson, Tony Isabella, and a dozen or so others were there,too—and we all had a blast!!) Photo courtesy of Russ Maheras.

Since Dick Giordano inked the “interior cover” of the 16-page Preview in JLA #193 (Sept. 1981), its “Page 1” was the first the waiting world saw of the Buckler-Ordway team.

On that single page—and on vellum over “poor photocopies,” to boot—Jerry had to“embellish” a shadowed FDR, his aide Harry Hopkins, an empty JSA-HQ, Johnny (Quick)Chambers and his pal Tubby—plus a Wonder Woman/Flash/Green Lantern charity raceinspired by the cover of Comic Cavalcade #1, which would go on sale in fall of 1942.

(Incidentally, that 15¢ anthology’s back cover continued the front scene, revealing thatWildcat and other heroes from CC #1 were also in the race, but well behind the star trio!)Repro’d from a photocopy of the original art, in Roy’s collection. For the Buckler-Ordway

version of the race’s photo finish, see A/E #12. [©2002 DC Comics.]

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Avengers work.

RT: But of course you’d have made a mint in royalties if you’d signedon earlier on Titans. Were you familiar with Rich Buckler’s workbefore you inked him on Squadron (as I’ll call the book to differen-tiate it from the original All-Star without abbreviating it!).

ORDWAY: Oh, sure. I saw everything Rich had done, starting with astory he did for a slick fanzinecalled Phase. I preferred theMarvel work he did, prior to his“Neal Adams”-looking DCwork, though. Deathlok wasjust great stuff, as well as theissues of Avengers he did.

RT: Were you told why DickGiordano inked both the“interior cover” on the All-Star Squadron Preview inJustice League of America#193 and the cover ofSquadron #1?

ORDWAY: I wasn’t privy toany of that. I assumed that Dickdid it because he’d inked mostof Rich’s DC work to date,rather nicely at that.

RT: Were there any specialproblems about inking Rich’swork? Were the pencils prettytight? (I seem to recall theywere.)

ORDWAY: Well, I was hiredand paid as a finisher, thoughthe pencils were fairly complete.I figured I earned that feebecause of the high volume ofart corrections you requested inthe margins of the pages. Iroutinely fixed cars, planes,fashions, and hairstyles tomatch the 1940s.

My biggest problem withinking Rich was on issue #1,

where the first 14 or so pages were lost by FedEx, and I was given poorphotocopies to ink over, on vellum (a thicker version of tracing paper),without any of your margin notes, where you called for specific changes.That was a nightmare.

RT: Funny, I don’t recall that... not even hearing about it, though I’msure I did at the time. I seem to remember that you used some zip-a-tone or other kind of artificial shading in the Preview... like on Page4, the final panel, where Grundy slugs Wonder Woman. But you soonabandoned that, and your work got a bit slicker.

ORDWAY: I believe I continued to use a fair amount of shading filmthroughout my run on the book. The early ’80s were not a great timefor printing in comics, as the newsprint paper they were printed on wasalmost grey, and thin as tissue, but guys like Tom Palmer and KlausJanson, whom I admired, used zips in combination with color to greateffect. My biggest battle was that Carl Gafford consistently colored myzip with pale blue, where I wanted a regular fleshtone. I don’t blameCarl, because I think production had some inflexible rules about color atthe time. I took to putting tracing paper guides on panels where Iwanted a specific look, something I did on all my covers, as well, untilthe late ’80s, on Superman, when I was finally allowed to “officially”

color my own covers.

RT: You had a bit of a Wally Wood-influenced flare in places, like onThe Shining Knight. Was that conscious?

ORDWAY: Oh, sure! I was and still am a huge fan of Wood’s work. Healways used to render the chain-mail shirt on Captain America a certainway, and that influenced me to do it, as well. I used Wood as a model,too, in inking Squadron, because the book was set in the 1940s andseemed to need a classic look. I also was resistant to inking the book tolook like the Neal Adams work that Buckler had referenced, preferringto give it its own identity.

RT: Did you have to do much redrawing at the start? I remember theIwo Jima flag-raising panel, but did Len or I really have you doingthat many corrections as you inked?

ORDWAY: Yes. I did a fair amount of changing a male head to a femalehead, or even redrawing figures as you requested. I remember you usedto cut and tape tiers of pages together at times, when Rich’s storytellingdidn’t match what you wanted, and invariably there would be a panel ortwo that required redrawing. Len Wein knew he could rely on me to doit on deadline, so I assumed that’s why they never sent that stuff back toRich, as he was drawing other features for DC concurrently.

28 Inking Comics The ORDway

As penciled by Rich Buckler on thefinal story page of the Preview, this

panel’s background depicted thestatue of the 1945 Iwo Jima flag-

raising, based on the famous photo—and thus a patent impossibility in atale set on the night of December 6,1941. Regretfully, as Rich had clearlyput a lot of work into penciling eventhat small image of the statue, Royhad Jerry redraw it as a well-knownobelisk that dates back to the Civil

War. (Oh, and the guy in the hat andcoat is Robotman, though the readerwouldn’t know that till he picked up

All-Star Squadron #1 a few weekslater.) [©2002 DC Comics.]

The Shining Knight makes his entrance in All-Star Squadron #1, drawn by Bucklerand Ordway. Good thing it was Danette Reilly and not Marvel’s Thor who poppedup on the next page, or nobody would’ve been able to understand what the heckthey were saying in Archaic-speak! Repro’d from photocopies of the original art,

courtesy of Jerry Bails. [©2002 DC Comics.]

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by Bill SchellyIntroduction: I’m sure regular readers of Alter Ego (and my variousHamster Press tomes) won’t be surprised when I say that the momentI first became aware of the fledgling comic fandom movement in theearly 1960s ranks as one of the most important days of my life—alongwith the birth of my children. Here’s the story of how it happened,and how I came to publish my first fanzine, excerpted from a chapterin Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Fandom, my recent book fromTwoMorrows Publishing.

A good part of the fun of any hobby issharing it with others of like mind. I’d beena comics fan from the moment I first laideyes on Superman Annual #1 in 1960, andby 1964 had amassed a nice stack of backissues—mainly DCs and Marvels, with asprinkling of Gold Key, Charlton, andACG comics for the sake of variety. Myimagination had been seized by the colorfulfour-color adventures that adorned theirpages, and I had tried my hand at drawingthem, too.

My frustration, at this point, was the lackof anyone with whom to share my enthu-siasm. I was basically alone with my hobby.A few neighbor kids (usually younger) hadstacks of comics, and we would occasionallyswap mags, but their attitude about comicswas far more casual than mine. For me theywere more than mere entertainment; theywere a medium where I could experience asense of wonder that was available nowhereelse to me, not even at the movies.

I wanted more of them, and I wanted totry my hand at drawing them. I’d alreadydone so, creating my own heroes andvillains, but none of the neighborhood kidsseemed to share my fanaticism. Also, I desperately wanted to find backissues of my favorite comics. I hadn’t started buying Amazing Spider-Man until #7, and Fantastic Four with #21, and I wanted the earlierissues badly. I quickly got what I could from the neighborhood kids, butwhere to find more of them? Sometimes a school bazaar would have atable with some back issues, and I was able to score some earlierBatman, World’s Finest, and Detective Comics.

By the early 1960s comics weren’t the same sort of mass mediumthey’d been in the 1940s, when just about every kid read them.Television had made major inroads. Also, they were considered to bereading for pre-adolescents; one tended to be secretive about liking themonce a guy got into his teens. How could I ever fill in the back issues ofMarvel Comics that I had missed? It was a frustrating dilemma.

Nor was there any way for me to learn about comics of the past.There weren’t any books or magazines about the history of comics. Iwas solely dependent on the comic book letter columns that occasionallyincluded factual tidbits about the comics published during World War II,or the DC annuals with reproductions of old covers in color on the

back. (Seeing the cover of Superman #1, reproduced on the back coverof that first annual, was like viewing the Holy Grail.)

I had no way to get in touch with other fans in my vicinity. I didnotice that some DC Comics (Flash, Justice League of America, GreenLantern) were printing full addresses in the letter columns. Editor JuliusSchwartz made this unobtrusive change to facilitate contacts betweenfans, but the erudite commentators in those columns seemed far tooimposing for me—a mere twelve-year-old—to befriend. The same wastrue of the people who had letters published in Marvel’s “Fantastic FourFan Page.” I couldn’t have held my own in a correspondence with them,and there was no hint that they could help me in my goal of filling in

back issues. Besides, none of them seemedto live in Pittsburgh.

Then, fortune smiled upon me, and Iwas off to Fandomland.

No, it wasn’t a White Rabbit withcomics tucked under one arm who led meto that magical new world; it was through alanky, freckled-faced blond boy that I gotmy direction. One fateful day, whileperusing the extensive shelves full ofcomics at my favorite drugstore, I noticedanother set of hands pulling issues. When Ichecked out their owner, I was surprised tosee a fellow from school named RichardShields.

I recognized him at once. We were thesame age and had some of the same classes,but he ran in different circles than I did,and I had no idea he collected comics,too—until we encountered each other inthat drugstore, sometime in the spring of1964. I watched as he assembled a hugestack of Marvel, DC, and Gold Keycomics. I think my opening line was, “Iguess you like comics, too.” Not too

original, but it broke the ice.

Richard had no qualms about buying and liking comics. “My olderbrother read ’em, and I do, too.” We began commenting on our selec-tions, and before I knew it I had a friend who shared my hobby. Itturned out Shields had amassed what to my eyes was a huge collectionof comics. He was mature for his age, and had a paper route that gavehim plenty of spending money—making him the envy of other kids,including me. (My parents wouldn’t let me have a paper route; theydidn’t want the neighbors thinking we needed the money!) He and Ibegan getting together on a regular basis to discuss comics, negotiatetrades, and occasionally check out a far-flung newsstand on our bikes.

After our friendship was a few months old, late in the summer of1964, Shields pointed out a curious item in Justice League of America#30: editor Schwartz had inserted a plug for some sort of magazineabout collecting comic books. It didn’t mention the price, but merelygave an address where those interested could send for information. Weboth immediately sent away to an organization in Miami, Florida, withthe cryptic name “The SFCA” to find out about something called The

Title 31Comic Fandom Archive

Welcome to FandomlandHow a Life-changing Odyssey Began with My Discovery of Comic Fandom in the Fall of 1964

Covers of the 1964 Rocket’s Blast Special. [©2002 therespective copyright holders. Human Torch, Captain America,

and Sub-Mariner © & TM 2002 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Page 9: Alter Ego #14

Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector.

I’ll always remember that day the envelope from theSFCA arrived at my house. Mom hadn’t noticed that itwas addressed to me, since the only mail I ever got wasgreeting cards from relatives on my birthday andholidays, and had opened it by mistake. She came intomy room with a quizzical expression on her face.“Bill, you got something odd in the mail,” she said,handing the torn envelope and the contents to me.“What is it?” She stood there waiting for my reply.

I could hardly contain my excitement. It was threesheets with advertising. The first was for the magazine(called, I learned, a “fanzine”) Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector (RB-CC for short). The second wasfor the RB-CC Special #1, featuring a long article onTimely Comics of the 1940s by someone namedRaymond Miller. The third, which I found particularly intriguing, wasfor Fighting Hero Comics #10, starring a weird super-hero called TheEye, Underworld Executioner, with a huge eyeball for a head. TheSFCA, I discovered, stood for the Science Fiction and ComicAssociation.

“It’s some stuff I sent away for,” I explained. “For comic bookcollectors. You can order a magazine about comic books!”

“How much does it cost?”

“Hmm, let’s see. Looks like a sample copy costs fifty cents.”

Her eyebrows raised. “That much? It sounds too expensive.”

“I’ve got the money! I have over six dollars saved up.”

She paused, then shrugged. “I guess it’s all right. Let me see it when itcomes. I want to make sure it isn’t something dirty.”


I hopped on my bike and pedaled like mad over to Shields’ house,where I discovered that he had not only received the three pages ofinformation, but also a copy of RB-CC which he had ordered right offthe bat. (He had boldly included a dollar with his letter of inquiry.Shields was always rolling in dough.)

“What’s this?” I asked Richard, pointing to the sheet with The Eyecharacter. “Some kind of comic book?”


“Where do you buy it? I’ve never seen this character on the racks.” Iwondered if there were regional comic book companies that didn’tdistribute their wares in Pittsburgh.

“Idiot!” he said, laughing. “It’s not like a regular comic book. Youhave to send away for it. It’s probably printed likeRocket’s Blast-Comicollector.”

We looked through the copy of RB-CC, whichwas duplicated by the same printing method ourschool teachers used for pop quizzes andworksheets. I didn’t know the name of the process,but the print was purple. We were captivated bypage after page of advertisements for old comicbooks, many dating back to the 1940s. Shields letout a long whistle. “Look at this! Someone wantsfifteen bucks for Captain America #1!”

“That’s nuts!” I replied, shaking my head. “Whowould pay that much?”

“I don’t know, but a lot of the other old stuff is only threeor four bucks. I think I’ll get some of ’em, if I can figure

out which ones are the best.”

“That’s too much for me, but here’s a copy ofSpider-Man #1 for a buck-fifty. I think I’ll send forthat.”

Although the ads for much-sought-after back issueswere fascinating, I was equally interested in thefanzines that promised information about comics of the

past. Just the idea that you could buy a bunch ofdifferent magazines about comics excited me. What a

momentous, mind-boggling development this was! Myjoy knew no bounds!

Without hesitation, I ordered several of the mostpromising fanzines, carefully taping quarters,

nickels, and dimes to pieces of notebook paper and stuffing them intoenvelopes. The first ones I received, in addition to RB-CC, were YancyStreet Journal (devoted solely to Marvel comics), Batmania (dedicatedto the Dynamic Duo), and Fighting Hero Comics (featuring a changingroster of amateur heroes such as the aforementioned Eye, but also otherintriguing characters with names like Dimension Man and The Demon).

I quickly ascertained that the one called Alter Ego looked especiallyinteresting. I ordered the seventh issue of A/E, which introduced me tothe Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel,and the rest). I had never heard of Captain Marvel until I saw A/E. Iread Roy Thomas’ article “One Man’s Family” and a long letter fromMarvel Family scripter Otto Binder over and over, and yearned toperuse the adventures of the Marvel Family myself.

Soon I understood the basic make-up and origins of comic fandom. Itwas a grass-roots movement started mainly by people who had read andloved comics in the 1940s, and who were enthused to see the new waveof heroes emerging in the not-yet-named Silver Age. Fanzines like AlterEgo, Comic Art, and The Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector had gotten theball rolling, and by 1964 there were dozens of fanzines being published.Fans and collectors from all walks of life came out of the woodwork toshare their appreciation for the medium.

I got a copy of Who’s Who in Comic Fandom, published early in1964 by Alter Ego’s founder, Jerry Bails. In it, he listed the names andaddresses of some sixteen hundred active fans. And these weren’t abunch of pre-adolescents. Most were in their mid-teens or in college. Asignificant number (like Bails, who was a college professor) were adultsin their twenties and thirties. Some had loyally followed comics for yearson their own, having only linked up with other collectors after hearingabout fandom in 1961.

I was at first surprised, then thrilled that (supposedly) sober andintelligent adults openly expressed their enthusiasm for comics. It gaveme a strong message of validation. For the first time, I envisioned myself

“Yours truly in 7th grade, about thetime I discovered comic fandom.”

An ad from an early-1964 issue of RB-CC. 75¢ for Amazing Fantasy #15! Just imagine!

32 Welcome to Fandomland

Page 10: Alter Ego #14
Page 11: Alter Ego #14

[FCA EDITOR’S NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was atop artist for Fawcett Comics. The very first Mary Marvel sketchescame from his drawing table, and he illustrated her earliest adven-tures, including her origin story; but he was primarily hired to illus-trate “Captain Marvel” stories and covers for Whiz Comics andCaptain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote many “Captain Marvel”scripts, continuing to do so while in the military during World War II.After the war he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce artand stories on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There hecreated both art and story for “The Phantom Eagle” in Wow Comics,in addition to drawing the Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip for BellSyndicate (created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). Afterthe cancellation of Wow, Swayze drew for Fawcett’s romancecomics, and eventually ended his comics career with CharltonPublications. Marc’s ongoing professional memoirs have beenFCA’s most popular feature since his first column appeared in FCA#54, 1996. Continuing from last issue, Marc reflects further on hisseveral attempts to sell a syndicated comic strip… and sparking theinterest of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. —P.C. Hamerlinck.]

There was one other situation involving collaborationthat took place around the close of the ’40s. In the dailymail there was an occasional brief, courteous letter thatusually ended with the suggestion that the writer and Ipool our efforts toward a syndicate venture. I never metJerry Siegel face to face and, although this was severalyears after his connection with Superman, I was a bitawed by attention from the co-creator of the first, as faras I knew, super-hero of comic book, radio, and moviefame.

The correspondence continued until Jerry wasconvinced of my aim to do my own writing.

Much of that writing is found in the stack of notes andsketches left from the syndicate tries. The majority of it

had been typed somewhat formally, but some was apparently conceivedalong with the initial drawings. One of those, a feature almost forgotten,was Louis LeBone.

Louis was a Cajun, a member of a family living in a contemporarycommunity of fun-loving Americans, descendants of the Acadians whohad settled in a section of the deep South before the Revolution.

The strip was intended to be funny, and, by the standards of the day,by George, it was funny! Looking over the drawings in the cold light oftoday, however, one can see Louis as a Cajun Li’l Abner. Really... toomuch so. Perhaps that realization was why the work was carried nofurther than two weeks of partially-completed daily strips.

Notwithstanding, I liked Louis. Itwould have been a pleasure tellingthe world about those people whoclung so loyally to the traditions anddialect of their ancestors.

Come to think of it, LouisLeBone might be more acceptable tothe syndicates now, fifty years afterhis time, where funny funnies onceagain dominate the newspaper page.

The idea of combining music, art,and writing in some way had lurkedin the back of my mind since I leftthe milk route. Neal Valentine wasthe eventual response to that urge.The thoughts, however, of writingand drawing something that wasmeant to be heard was a stymie for awhile. Neal, a piano-playingsongwriter with a penchant for

detective work, was the answer to that. Then there was the question ofwhether the music game would provide story ideas for the long haul.

That took considerable thought. Since college days I had performedin combos and bands in environments ranging from roadhouses toballrooms. I had composed, arranged, and copyrighted songs that couldbe worked into the stories. I had known and worked with manymusicians. The conclusion… I could do it.

“Syndicate tries” makes it all sound so simple… like the work ofmaybe two or three weeks. In actuality they were all done during thesame periods I was working on “The Phantom Eagle,” the Fawcettromances, Flyin’ Jenny, “Captain Marvel,” and “Mary Marvel.”Completing one required weeks… months… even years. None wasconsidered lightly. They were work!

I completed two weeks of Neal Valentine strips and five weeks oftyped continuity… and made the rounds.

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


40 Marc Swayze

Previously unpublished Mary Marvel sketch by Marc Swayze, who designed thecharacter in 1942 and drew her first few stories in Captain Marvel Adventures and

Wow Comics. [Art ©2002 Marc Swayze; Mary Marvel © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

Marc Swayze in a 1950s photo.Courtesy of the artist.

Page 12: Alter Ego #14

by Jay DisbrowAs most Captain Marvel fans are

aware, Fawcett Publications had theireditorial offices in the ParamountBuilding at Broadway and 43rd Streetin mid-Manhattan—New York City.This same building, however, alsohoused the plush offices of thelegendary Adolph Zukor, who inpartnership with Jessey Lasky andCecil B. DeMille founded the

Paramount Motion Picture Studios back in 1915.

I first discovered Captain Marvel in the fall of 1940, when I was still akid. At that time the character failed to impress me, because for years Ihad been a Flash Gordon fan. Alex Raymond’s magnificent art hadworked its magic upon me.

Then, in the summer of 1941, The Adventures of Captain Marvelmotion picture serial from Republic Pictures was released, and thatchanged everything. I became an instant Captain Marvel fan. Nothinglike this production had ever been seen before. The special effects andthe flying sequences were astonishing, and the musical score left ahaunting memory in the viewer’s mind from week to week.

Of course, Tom Tyler looked nothing like Captain Marvel. But thenagain, neither Ralph Byrd nor Warren Beatty looked anything like DickTracy. But Tyler brought great dignity to the role of Captain Marvel,despite his weak diction and grating voice. Even to this day I enjoydropping my Captain Marvel tape into the VCR and watching thoseglorious moments of 1941. I realize that the late C.C. Beck had nothingbut contempt for this cinematic production, but in this case I mustdisagree with him.

The fact that I had chosen the comics as a career is mute testimony tothe influences of a host ofcomic creators who hadpreceded me. While I neversold a comic book story toFawcett Publications, I amproud to say that WendellCrowley, editor of CaptainMarvel Adventures,Captain Marvel Jr., TheMarvel Family, andothers, was a friend ofmine.

I first met Wendell at hisoffice in the fall of 1946.He was one of the tallestmen I had ever seen. WhileI was by no means short,he towered above me, andabove all the people on theFawcett staff. He had thepotential of being veryintimidating, but he alsohad a way of putting

people at ease. He was a very graciousindividual. He examined my woefullyamateurish pages of comic art, andwith great diplomacy explained that Iwas not ready for the world of comicspublication. He knew that all I hadgoing for me at that time was anunbridled enthusiasm for a career inthis medium. He encouraged me tokeep at it and come back when I hadprogressed further.

Of course I did come back, againand again… not only to FawcettPublications, but also to many othercomic publishers. In those days,fondly remembered as the “GoldenAge” of comics, there were a host ofcomic book publishers, nearly all ofwhom were located in mid-townManhattan. Wendell Crowley alwaystook the time to examine my art pagescarefully. He even corrected thespelling and syntax errors in mystories. He frequently would place mypages side by side with the Fawcettcomics pages he was currently editingso I could see the differences. Suchcomparisons can be devastating toone’s ego, but it is obvious that he didit for my own personal development.

During that three-year period I came to Wendell’s office many times,but he never once gave me short shrift. By 1949 the quality of myartwork took a quantum leap forward, and Wendell recognized this. I

Gentle Giant 43

Gentle GiantA Golden Age Comic Book Artist Remembers a Well-respected Fawcett Editor

Longtime comics pro Jay Disbrow—a self-portrait, with special thanks to Ralph Ellis Miley/New Creation.

[Art ©2002 Jay Disbrow.]

Wendell Crowley (1921-1970) edited Captain Marvel Adventures,Marvel Family, and other Fawcett

comics from 1944 through the end in1953—including the legendary MF #1

(Dec. 1945), below, with its one-and-only Golden Age Black Adam story.

Art by C.C. Beck. Photo courtesy GinnyProvisiero. [Art ©2002 DC Comics.]

“Tyler brought great dignity to the role.”Stuntman (and future Mummy) Tom Tyler in the1941 Republic serial The Adventures of Captain

Marvel. [Captain Marvel © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

Page 13: Alter Ego #14

by C.C. BeckEdited by P.C. Hamerlinck[EDITOR’S NOTE: FCA presents another previously unpublishedearly-’80s essay from the FCA archives by the original CaptainMarvel’s chief artist, C.C. Beck. Special thanks to Sam George. —PCH.]

Part I“Comic as in Comic Strip”

The real secret behind the success of Captain Marvel, which fewpeople recognized, was that Billy Batson told about Captain Marvel’sexploits over his radio and television programs. In the very first story inWhiz Comics, written by Bill Parker, Billy never revealed anythingabout Captain Marvel to Sterling Morris and instead said, “Boy, oh boy!Here’s where we go to town! Me and—”

“You and who else, son?” Mr. Morrisasked.

“—er, nobody, sir. Just me and the micro-phone. That’s all, sir—just me and ’Mike!’”Billy said. As far as anyone ever knew, Billymay have made up the stories he told over theair.

The stories were actually made up by OttoBinder and some other very talented writers.They knew that children, and for that mattermost adults, are far more interested in fantasy,magic, and outrageous fiction than in realityand facts, which are generally dull.

Fawcett Publications knew this, too, butthey were always trying to hide the fact thatthey were publishing fiction in magazinessuch as True Confessions. The TrueConfessions type of stories were written byhard-bitten male writers, not by innocentyoung women who had lost their virginities.The photo illustrations in True Confessionsand similar magazines were all taken inFawcett’s photo studio and heavily retouchedin Fawcett’s art department.

Even E. Nelson Bridwell, who wrote some of the better “CaptainMarvel” stories for DC after they revived the character, never quitegrasped the fact that Captain Marvel wasn’t supposed to be real. Here’swhat Bridwell wrote in his introduction to the book, Shazam from the’40s to the ’70s:

“Oddly, they [the three other Billy Batsons] knew Billy was CaptainMarvel and acted as if it were common knowledge. This was an incon-gruity in the early Marvel tales. Sometimes few people knew, sometimeseveryone seemed to know.”

A little farther into his introduction Bridwell wrote: “Again [therewas] that note of unreality—mentioning that the action was occurring in

comic books.”

Of course it was! It was all fantasy andimagination and good-natured hokum, neverintended to be taken seriously!

I won’t bother to list all the ways in whichCaptain Marvel and his stories were differentfrom the super-hero comic books of the time;admirers of the character are probably moreaware of them than I am. One big differencewas that Captain Marvel was comic, not sober-sided and stuffy.

By comic I mean as in comic strip—cartoon-style artwork drawn in the style more like Muttand Jeff or Bringing Up Father than in theheavy-handed, realistic-style artwork. Bridwell,however, didn’t understand the differencebetween drawing comic and being comic. Mostpeople don’t. He wrote:

“…Fun! Everyone I’ve talked to who everhad a hand in the Big Red Cheese has used thatword to describe it. Cap was a different kind ofhero, though originally conceived as another

Superman imitator. His creators and the writers and artists who followedthem put a peculiar magic into their work.”

Bridwell and others don’t know that it’s not at all comical simply toput funny words into a script. “Big Red Cheese” is not funny by itself…only when spoken by a comical character like Dr. Sivana, who was aburlesque character—short, big-nosed, round-shouldered, and wearingCoke-bottle-lensed eyeglasses. The magic of Captain Marvel was fun

“As far as anyone ever knew, Billy may have made up the stories he told.” Billy Batson, from thefirst issue of Whiz Comics. Art by C.C. Beck, words

by Bill Parker. [©2002 DC Comics.]

A 1977 Beck sketch of Captain Marvel, done for our publisher,John Morrow, in Montgomery, Alabama. [Art ©2002 estate of

C.C. Beck; Captain Marvel © & TM DC Comics.]

Real Facts...About an Unreal Character

46 C.C. Beck

Page 14: Alter Ego #14

magic, not frightening, gooseflesh-producing magic or evil, demonicmagic. It was the kind of magic a kid could produce—if given the power,as Billy Batson was, by a benevolent old wizard with a long white beardwho looked like Moses.

The story that caused me to stop illustrating new “Captain Marvel”stories for DC was an impossible pile of garbage about some talkingvegetables that had to land on Earth when their little flying saucer ranout of fuel. Captain Marvel had to do such idiotic things as carry themaround in a grocery shopping bag and, to avoid suspicion, pretend thathe was catching a cold when one of thevegetables in the bag sneezed loudly.

I laid out the story as written but thensuggested a change in the copy to have Billytelling the story over the air, just narrating it, as itwere. I showed some kids watching televisionand wondering whether the story was real. “Ofcourse not, it’s just a TV program,” their fatherassured his children. Then the kids went out intheir backyard and saw something—a flyingsaucer?—taking off in the distance.

I felt it was that touch of unreality thatattributed to Captain Marvel’s success in theGolden Age. But Julius Schwartz, chief editor atDC, was furious.

“You can’t do that to our scripts!” he roaredat me when I met him in New York, where I hadgone as a guest of honor at one of Phil Seuling’scomic conventions. “We’ve put another artist onthe story!”

Part IIHow To Write (Or Not Write)

Comic StoriesBehind every great person in history there has

been a writer. Who would ever have heard ofAdam, Eve, or Moses if someone had not writtenabout them? There might have been thousands

of men and women just as interesting as these, but asnobody has ever written about them nobody will everknow about them.

Behind every great character in comics there is also awriter, or two or three or a dozen. These writers come in allshapes and sizes and have varying amounts of talent. Someof them can sit down at a typewriter and bang out, likemachines, so many words per minute at so many cents aword. They start when an editor tells them to and stopwhen the editor cries, “Enough!” These writers seldom givea publisher any trouble, as they are dependable and willfurnish whatever kind of stories the publisher or his editorswant.

There are some writers, however, who write what theywant, not what some publisher tells them to. Such a writerwas Bill Parker. He was told by the upper management atFawcett Publications to “create a comic character just likeSuperman.” Parker, after looking at a Superman comic, satdown at his typewriter and wrote “Captain Marvel”instead. Fawcett was not very happy with the new characterParker came up with, but they decided to publish itanyway.

Captain Marvel was a big hit right from the beginning. Readers lovedthis huge, red-suited character… who was really only the boy, BillyBatson, magically grown up. They could identify with Billy, a kid likethemselves, much more than they could with Clark Kent, a sort ofordinary, middle-aged commuter type.

Parker went into the armed services when World War II began, andother writers took over the writing chores for The World’s Mightiest

Mortal. Among thesewriters was the verytalented Otto Binder, whoconcealed, beneath a bland-looking exterior and acheerful face, the fact thathe had the soul of aJonathan Swift.

Binder wrote bitingsatire and sardonic humor,disguised as jolly littleadventure stories. He knewthat without villains therecould be no heroes. Asuper-hero must have super-villains to battle, and Binderknew that without somehuman touches in theirmake-ups both heroes andvillains become merecardboard figures, dancinglike puppets at the ends ofstrings pulled by invisiblemanipulators. Binder’scharacters moved and actedon their own, which is whatmakes a story come to lifeand keep the reader asking,“Now what will our herodo?” instead of muttering,“Oh, no, how stupid thisstory is!”

Other writers followed

Real Facts... 47

“Invasion of the Salad Men” (Shazam! #10, Feb. 1974) was the story that was the final straw for Beck, causing him to leave DC and comics for good. It was then drawn by Bob Oksner and

Vince Colletta. [©2002 DC Comics.]

As suggested by this illo done in 1982, Beck modeled the old wizardShazam after none other than Moses, years before Charlton Heston camealong. [Art ©2002 estate of C.C. Beck; Shazam © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

Page 15: Alter Ego #14

Plus Rare Artand Artifacts by:















“The Will ofWilliamWilson!”

$5.95In the USA

$5.95In the USA

No. 14April2002



Roy Thomas’ All-Star Comics Fanzine

Roy Thomas’ All-Star Comics Fanzine



02 M


el T

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& ©





Page 16: Alter Ego #14

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 ($10.00 Canada, $11.00 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.


Writer/Editorial: “Impossible Things” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2The All-Star Companions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3A page-by-page survey of the original 18 JSAers—with some pretty fantastic artwork!

Where There’s a Will . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23More mystery-solving art from that fabled “lost” 1945 issue of All-Star Comics!

The Gardner Fox Scrapbook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37Michael T. Gilbert walks us through stories and scripts of a Golden Age master!

“Who the Hell Hasn’t Copied from Somebody?” . . . . . . . . . . . 43A 1970 interview with Lee Elias, 1940s artist of Flash, Sub-Mariner, and Black Cat.

The 1970s Justice Society Revival––Revisited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: In The All-Star Companion we printed Michael T. Gilbert’s own versionof a 1944 All-Star Comics cover—so when we were blessed to discover five additional pagesof a never-published 1940s JSA story, we invited him to create the cover it probably neverhad. Michael gave it his own sardonic spin, as one would expect from the writer/artist who’sgiven us “Mr. Monster”—and we’re pleased as punch to feature it as one of this issue’scolorful covers! [Art ©2002 Michael T. Gilbert; JSA © & TM DC Comics.]

Above: The 1948 All-Star story “The Invasion from Fairyland!”—with its nice Irwin Hasenart and John Broome script—has never yet been reprinted; but this pair of panels sets thescene for the meeting of two worlds in this issue of A/E: the Justice Society of the 1940s, andthe fans who’ve waited more than half a century to see a “lost” JSA adventure—whetherthey knew it or not! [©2002 DC Comics.]


Vol. 3, No. 14 / April 2002Editor Roy Thomas

Associate EditorsBill Schelly, Jim 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 ArtistsMichael T. GilbertMike Nasser & Steve Leialoha

Cover ColoristsMichael T. Gilbert & Tom Ziuko

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

And Special Thanks to:Pedro AngostoJeff BaileyBrian H. BailieBill BlackRay Bottorff Jr.Jerry K. BoydJack BurnleyGlen CadiganJames CavenaughGerry ConwayMike CrudenMike CurtisRay A. CuthbertFred W. DeBoomCraig & David

DelichAl DellingesJay DisbrowRic EstradaMark EvanierRyan FarnsworthStephen Fishler Creig FlesselKeif FrommKeith GiffenDavid G. Hamilton Paul HandlerIrwin HasenMark & Stephanie

HeikeCarmine InfantinoFred JandtJim KorkisThomas LammersJim LeePaul LevitzRuss MaherasScott McAdam


Ralph Ellis Miley/New Creation

Al Milgrom Sheldon MoldoffMatt MoringMart & Carrie

NodellMichelle NolanEric Nolen-

WeathingtonJerry OrdwayBob OverstreetCarlos PachecoChris PedrinIan PenmanPeter C. PhillipsGinny ProvisieroCharlie RobertsEthan RobertsJulius SchwartzDez SkinnRobin SnyderJoe & Hilarie

StatonMarc SwayzeJoel ThingvallDann ThomasAlex TothDr. Michael J.

VassalloNikki VrtisHames WareLen WeinMarv WolfmanEd ZenoMike Zeno

In Memoriam: Chase Craig & Dan DeCarlo

Page 17: Alter Ego #14

Call it the “Justice Society of America”—shorten it to the “Justice Society”—or slice itdown to the bare bones as the “JSA.”

By any name, it remains the ultimate, theessential, the first super-hero group of all time.

And so, before we present more newly-surfaced art to the 1945 All-Star Comics sagatitled “The Will of William Wilson,” let’s take afull-page look at each and every one of theeighteen stalwarts who, between 1940 and1950-51, passed through the hallowedheadquarters of the Justice Society, as membersand/or honored guests.

Not counting the two full-group illustra-tions on this page, we’ll take ’em in alpha-betical order—which means that we begin onthe very next page with—

Art by Rafael Kayanan (pencils) & Alfredo Alcala (inks), fromAmerica vs. the Justice Society #1 (Jan. 1985), as per a b-&-w

poster released at the time. [©2002 DC Comics.]

Never reprinted—but wait till next year (we hope, we hope!)—is All-Star #39 (Feb.-March 1948), “The Invasion from Fairyland!,” whose Irwin Hasen-drawn splash depicts all seven JSAers, plus

future member Black Canary. [©2002 DC Comics.]


The Justice Society will probably be with us for a long, long time, if the past fewdecades are any clue (Vol. 8 of the All Star Archives, featuring the classic issues #34-38, will be on sale this summer). Still, Avengers Forever artist Carlos Pacheco had fun

a few years back drawing our heroes as the “Over-the-Hill Gang” in a Spanish“super-heroes special” called Humor a Tope, published by Tountain. Thanks to PedroAngosto for pointing it out to us! (For a more dramatic rendition by Carlos of the JSA,

see TwoMorrows’ The All-Star Companion! [Art ©2002 the respective copyrightholder; JSA © & TM DC Comics.]

Page 18: Alter Ego #14

the Atom4 The All-Star Companions

In this tier (row) of panels drawn by Joe Gallagher for an unpublished (?) story drawn circa 1943, The Atom relies onhis wits, half a decade before he converted to nuclear power. Thanks to Len Wein. [Atom © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

The Atom displayed a newfound “atomic strength” in a handful of tales before donning a more Atomic Age-oriented costume. This climactic panel from Comic Cavalcade #28 (Aug.-Sept. 1948) looks for all the world like

Irwin Hasen pencils, inked (with lots of black) by Frank Giacoia... but don’t quote us on that. [©2002 DC Comics.]

Irwin Hasen, still drawing at 83, is a popular guest at comicsconventions, where he does illos like this one of The Atom in hissecond set of threads—in a pose from Irwin’s cover for All-StarComics #43. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Zeno. [Art ©2002

Irwin Hasen; Atom © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

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Jerry Ordway, who drew a great Batman in All-Star Squadron inthe early ’80s, rendered this sketch for collector Keif Frommseveral years back, in honor of Jerry Robinson’s legendaryversion of the Dark Knight. Thanks, Keif. [Art ©2002 Jerry

Ordway; Batman © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

The Justice Society of America Revisited 5

Sheldon Moldoff was briefly one of Kane’s first assistants on “Batman”—and returned in 1953 to become his principal “ghost” for the next decade and a half. This commission drawing courtesy of Scott McAdam, via Jerry K. Boyd; repro’d from a photocopy of the original art.

[Art ©2002 Sheldon Moldoff; Batman & Robin © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]In 1939 artist Bob Kane, working with writer Bill Finger, created“The Batman”—and in 1978, as a guest of the San Diego Comic-Con,drew this illo for their program book. Thanks to Jerry K. Boyd. [Art

©2002 the estate of Bob Kane; Batman © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]


Page 20: Alter Ego #14

by Roy Thomas Now, as I was saying back in the

Writer/Editorial on Page 2, before I rudelyinterrupted myself to run 19 pages ofscrumptious Justice Society-related art:

In The All-Star Companion(TwoMorrows Publishing, 2000) we repro-duced well over a dozen pages’ worth of artfrom the “lost” 1945 story “The Will ofWilliam Wilson,” much of which had beenfor years in the collection of the late MarkHanerfeld before he sold it to me—all ofwhich I held onto until the middle 1990s, andsome of which I still own.

I was truly thrilled to reproduce most ofthe extant art from “Will” for the first timeanywhere, partly because of my firmconviction that only the 55 “Justice Society”stories that appeared from All-Star Comics#3 through #57 are truly “authentic.” ThoughI enjoyed much of the 1970s All-Star revivaland loved writing my own All-StarSquadron in the ’80s, to uncover such asizable portion of a never-published storywas, to me, absolutely the only way thatthere could ever really be a 56th authenticJSA adventure.

And now we had it—more or less!

[Continued on next page]

Installment No. �

Still More Long-lost Art from “The Will of William Wilson”—

The Legendary Never-published 1940s Issue of All-Star Comics!

Chances are no cover was ever drawn for theunprinted JSA story “The Will of William Wilson”

back in the mid-’40s, so Roy Thomas and MichaelT. Gilbert put their heads together, and Michael

decided to draw one—in his own tongue-in-cheek style! Since you couldn’t see all the details(or the logos and other info at the top of the art)

on this issue’s cover, we’re printing it againhere. Enjoy! [Art ©2002 Michael T. Gilbert; JSA ©

& TM 2002 DC Comics.]

Where There s A Will...

Part IIIPart III

�“The Will of William Wilson” 23

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In the Companion, extrapolating frominformation given in the 44 (at most, 47) tiersof panels we had of “Will,” I summarized whatwe could figure out about the missing parts ofthat story from what we had of it—and Itheorized about several things we couldn’t tell.There’s no space to go into detail here (or anyneed, since many A/E readers own a copy ofthe Companion and can easily refer to it—and,truth to tell, they’ll need to, to get the most outof what follows). But, in brief:

The JSA were “summoned,” I assumed, byattorney Harvey Davis and asked to try tofulfill the terms of the “peculiar will” of oneWilliam Wilson. In order to gain his unspec-ified inheritance for “the poor and theorphans,” the six JSA men must accomplishhalf a dozen “impossible feats.” They mustobtain a goblet/cup made by Cellini, thesignature of a man named Abel Northrup, acertain Near-Eastern jewel, and the sword ofGenghis Khan. Existing art in the JSA and solochapters showed that Green Lantern, Dr. Mid-Nite, Atom, and Flash, respectively, managedto obtain those items.

Practically nothing, however, was known about the missions ofHawkman and Johnny Thunder, since no art has turned up from theirsolo chapters. Hawkman was seen, in the story’s full-group finale,holding what looked like either a sloppily-drawn sphere or a well-drawnegg, and Johnny was carrying a triangular chunk of something-or-other.I theorized he “might have been sent after a piece of the green cheese outof which the moon is sometimes said to be made”—and that the WingedWonder might have gone after either Nostradamus’ crystal ball—or“perhaps the egg of a mythical animal such as a roc—or of an extinctdinosaur or dodo.”

(Re the missing “Hawkman” solo chapter, Jerry Bails writes that“The Will of William Wilson” had originally been “scheduled betweenearlier stories in which ’Hawkman’ was drawn by Joe Kubert and laterstories with ’Hawkman’ by Jon Chester Kozlak. The fact that the’Hawkman’ chapter hasn’t surfaced suggests to me that it was a Kubertchapter. What a contrast that would’ve been—a dynamic ’Hawkman’chapter by Kubert following this introduction by Naydel. It makes mewince all the more to see these pages.” Jerry, clearly, is no fan of the’JSA’ art of Martin Naydel... nor am I, though it didn’t bother me whenI first read the stories at ages five and six.)

I also referred in the Companion to an anomaly which the existingart suggested, to wit:

All JSA stories from #20-39, covering a period from 1944 through1948 (and Gardner’s records indicated he wrote “Will” “duringSeptember, 1945”) were either 38 or 39 pages long, with most solochapters—except sometimes Hawkman’s—being five pages.

However, very strong circumstantial evidence in the surviving artpointed to each of the six solo chapters in “Will” as having six pages, andto the total story as having been at least 45 pages long. And that was ifthe missing JSA intro was only three pages long, not five or six like thefinale! (For my full reasoning on this point, you’ll have to see theCompanion.)

But, as detailed in our Writer/Editorial, we are now privileged to haveaccess to the five-page JSA introductory chapter of “The Will of WilliamWilson,” thanks to Steve Fishler, and it’s time to show them to you—andto tie them in to what we knew (or suspected) before... while revealing

the new mysteries they in turnunveiled.

In this context, I wanted you tohear, not only from myself, but fromtwo of the most knowledgeable JSAfans around, with their commentsinterwoven below with my own:

Jerry Bails, who in 1962 publisheda 14-page fanzine, the firstAuthoritative Index to All-StarComics, and who in ’65 had learnedfrom Fox about the four supposedly“lost” JSA stories; and—

Craig Delich, who in 1977 had edited the handsome, 88-page All-StarComics Revue, which had greatly expanded on Jerry’s original.

Both publications had strongly influenced my own All-StarCompanion, so it seemed only fitting that we jointly examine andannotate this new discovery. It was only later that I realized that wewere also, in a sense, much like the fabled “three blind men,” all feelingup the same elephant!

I also sent photocopies to Julius Schwartz, who from 1944-50 was aneditor of All-Star Comics, though Julie has never claimed to remembermuch about specific issues or stories.

We regret that we can’t begin our art-specific commentary on a pagewhich faces Page “A” of that art—which begins three pages from now—but there’s just too damn much to say! Anyway, to begin:

“What?” you exclaim, after eyeing the “William Wilson” splash onPage 27. “No JSAers on the splash page? Just black circles partly hidingrectangles inside which their names are lettered?”

You’re right—it’s an unusual page. During this period, the JSA nearlyalways appeared in the splash panel itself, not just in cameo shots in themargins. The only issue in which they were “marginalized” is All-Star#24 (Spring 1945). So, just for the heck of it, to the left of the “Will”splash, we’ve added the heads of the seven JSAers who appear in “Will,”lifted from #24’s splash and arranged so they all face right.

Moving across the top of the unlabeled Page “A”:

“Will,” as indicated by the notation “A.S.#31,” was at some pointscheduled to appear in All-Star #31. It was supplanted, for unknownreasons, by a tale with a similarly alliterative title, “The Workshop ofWillie Wonder.” (Either Gardner or editor Shelly Mayer sure liked“w’s”!) But, as detailed in The All-Star Companion, JSA stories wereoften published out of the order in which they had been written.

Actually, it’s the two notations which flank “A.S.#31” that are reallyfascinating.

First, there’s the circled “48PP”:

24 Where There’s A Will...

You’ve read the comics—now play the game!The JSA Sourcebook, on sale now, is a

supplement to the DC Universe RoleplayingGame, with emphasis on today’s JSA and,gratifyingly, yesterday’s Justice Society,

Seven Soldiers of Victory—and even All-StarSquadron/Young All-Stars and Infinity, Inc.

Behind this great cover by Tom Grummetand Rick Magyar, it sports art by Joe Staton,

Tom Grindberg, Steve Lightle, MarshallRogers, Paul Ryan, Steve Sadowsky, et al.

Thanks to Christopher McGlothlin and Nikki Vrtis. [©2002 DC Comics.]

Page 22: Alter Ego #14

This was a real revelation, because, as noted, all published JSA storiesduring this time were either 38 or 39 pages long. Never more, never less.Yet “Will” was definitely slated to be 48!

You might argue that, in one sense, all DC/AA comics of that dayhad 48 pages—i.e., they contained 48 pages, excluding covers, whichwere printed separately. But that can’t be what is meant by “48PP”—because nine or ten of those 48 interior pages of All-Star (as well asother DC/AA mags) were always given over to a combination of paidads, house ads, public service announcements, filler cartoons, and thetwo-page text story which every comic book had to have in order tokeep its second-classmailing permit.

No, “48PP” canonly mean that the JSAstory itself was 48pages long—whichimmediately suggested,to my mind, two likelypossibilities.

The first and (tome) more intriguing isthat the publisher—either M.C. Gaines,co-publisher of theAll-American Comicsgroup which wasloosely allied with DCat this time; or else DCco-publishers HarryDonenfeld and JackLiebowitz, if they hadbought Gaines out bythen—had decided toexpand All-StarComics into aregularly-published15¢, 80-page comic (84 counting covers).This would have put itin a class with World’sFinest Comics, whichstarred Superman andBatman, and ComicCavalcade, whichspotlighted Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Since All-Starwas a successful title which showcased seven heroes, it would seem alikely candidate for increased size, if any DC/AA comic was.

Julie Schwartz, who began editing for All-American Comics (AA) inearly 1944, has no recollection of such a size jump ever beingconsidered... though he admits it’s not impossible. Understandably, heargued with my contention that “Will” had originally been a 48-pagestory, until I explained to him why it must have been. I showed himhow the steel-tight evidence of the available art now suggested the storyhad been divided:

JSA intro - 5 pp.Hawkman - 7 pp.Dr. Mid-Nite - 6 pp.Atom - 6 pp.Green Lantern - 6 pp.Flash - 6 pp.Johnny Thunder - 6 pp.JSA finale - 6 pp.

For a grand total of 48 pages.

Given what we know, the only page-count in the above list that isn’tan almost 100% dead certainty is the 7-page “Hawkman” chapter. That48th story page of “Will” could have been given to some other JSAer’ssolo chapter. However, during this period, Hawkman’s segments weresometimes a page longer than those of his fellow members. (Well, whynot? Not only had he, like The Flash, been created by scripter GardnerFox, but he was also the Justice Society’s permanent chairman. Surelyrank has its privileges. Hawkman usually appeared in more panels andhad more dialogue in the JSA intros and finales than the others, too—and “Will” would prove no exception.)

The other mostlikely reason forthe story’s 48-pagelength was that“Will” was origi-nally prepared fora one-shot comic,probably eventhicker thanWorld’s Finest andComicCavalcade. Herethe templatewould have beenthe 128-page BigAll-AmericanComic Bookpublished in 1944,an anthologywhich hadcontained solotales of everycurrent JSAerexcept Dr. Mid-Nite, plus otherfeatures.

Jerry Bails feelsthis one-shotapproach is “farmore likely” thana plan to increasethe page count ofAll-Star on aregular basis. Heconcurs with my

view that “Will” might well have been “one of the last special projectsGaines had in mind [before selling his share of AA to Donenfeld andLiebowitz]. Maybe he was planning a second Big All-American a yearafter the first, with the JSA featured. He seemed to like the idea of biggerpackages. This may explain why Gardner couldn’t fit all the issuenumbers into the sequences [in his February 1965 letter to Jerry, whichfirst named the four ’lost’ stories]. One was for that giant.”

Jerry goes on: “The 48-page JSA story wouldn’t fill a second Big All-American, but it could be the lead feature, with a bunch of other backupfeatures. This second giant would’ve come a year after the first Big AA,and it would feature the one AA strip that wasn’t featured the first timearound”—namely, the “Justice Society.”

As to the “A.S.#31” notation at the top of Page “A,” Jerry suggests:“Notice that ’A.S.#31’ was written in a different hand than the rest ofthe proofreading. I think it was scheduled to be #31 after the idea of thesecond Big AA was dropped (after Gaines sold out), but when theproofreader checked it out, he discovered it was 48 pages long, and madethe notation and circled it three times. The proofreader was clearly

Among the Golden Age original art saved from the fire by Marv Wolfman circa 1967 were these panels from alate-’40s “Dr. Mid-Nite” story once scheduled for All-American Comics #109. That mag metamorphosed intoAll-American Western with #105, and the story was never used. Art by Arthur Peddy & Bernard Sachs. [Dr.

Mid-Nite © & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

“The Will of William Wilson” 25

Page 23: Alter Ego #14

The “Write” Stuff!” 35

Page 24: Alter Ego #14

Introduction by Michael T. Gilbert

There are no hard and fast rulesto scripting a comic book story.Every writer approaches the task inhis or her own way.

Artist/writers such as HarveyKurtzman, John Stanley, and WillEisner generally favored visualscripts—even when their storieswere illustrated by others. In these,the artist draws a rough comicspage, often in miniature. Dialoguecan be written directly on theroughly sketched pages,or indicated withnumbers and typedseparately for clarity.

In the 1960s StanLee perfected the“Marvel method,”carried on by a host ofother Marvel scripters.

Here, a short description of the story is given to the artist,who tells the story visually as he sees fit. Afterwards, thewriter adds the actual dialogue and captions to the penciledart before it’s sent off for lettering and inking. Simple, huh?Back in the Golden Age, things were a bit different.

Back then, DC and most of the major publishers requiredtheir writers to type panel-by-panel descriptions of thevisual action, followed by the characters’ dialogue. This is

the method most often used by Gardner Fox.

Even this seemingly straightforward method isn’t quite as simple as itappears. Often a series of steps between writer and editor may berequired before a script is approved. The editor may ask for a short storyidea, usually only a paragraph or two. If the idea’s approved, the writerwill generally type up a longer plot synopsis describing the major actionthroughout the story.

In Fox’s case, his editors would often discuss the storyline with him,and together they would work out the bugs before he went on to writethe synopsis. Afterwards, if there were still flaws in the story, Fox andhis editors would sit down and fix them. At that point, Fox would eitherbe asked to rewrite the synopsis or to begin writing the actual script.Finally, he might be required to rewrite all or part of the finished scriptif the editor found something amiss. Whew! With all those hurdles toovercome, it’s a miracle Fox was able to write so many memorablestories!

To give you a clearer idea of what wemean, we’re reprinting a small sampling ofFox’s notes and script pages on thefollowing pages. We hope this will giveyou an idea of what it takes to create acomic book story. While we weren’t ableto find one single story that documentedall the stages described above, there werenumerous separate examples of each in theUniversity of Oregon’s Gardner Foxcollection. These scraps of comics history,mostly done for DC in the 1940s, havenever been printed before. As such, theyprovide a rare glimpse of comic bookhistory in the making.

We hope you enjoy them!

Writer Gardner Fox (along with editor Julius Schwartz) was

the hero of a story in StrangeAdventures #140 (May 1962), asdrawn by Sid Greene. [©002 DC


Step 1: Fox begins by submitting a few short plotideas. As you can see, few details are worked outat this early stage. No sense doing too much workfor a story that might be rejected!

Though he doubtless didn’t know it inadvance, Fox’s “Zatara” 1943 story “BobbyMeets a Brownie” would appear in World’sFinest Comics #12 (Winter). As per the next

page, he seems to have been writing“Starman” and even “Sandman” scripts at

the same time. [©2002 DC Comics.]

36 Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt

Page 25: Alter Ego #14

“Who The Hell Hasn’t” 41

[A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: In June 2000—I believe partly through thegood offices of British editor Dez Skinn—I received a most welcomepackage and letter from fellow Britisher Ian Penman:]

“Please find enclosed a (coverless) copy of the third issue ofArmageddon, a fanzine I published close on thirty years ago (yikes!). Imore than likely sent a copy to you at the time when you were atMarvel. The item that might be of interest is a long interview that myfriends Mike Cruden and Peter C. Phillips and I conducted with LeeElias in December of 1970, at his house in Warrington, just outside ofManchester, while Lee was resident in the UK.

“Armageddon had only limited distribution in the US, so theinterview would be new to 99% of your readers, if you’d like to use anyof it. It was copy-edited by Lee Elias and myself. The final part of theinterview was on the missing inside back cover, so I’ve included aphotocopy of the final page.

“To fill in some background details: I tracked Lee down after a letterscolumn had mentioned that he was now living in the UK, in theManchester area (Elias wasn’t a very common last name!). I nervouslyrang him up, told him who I was, and he graciously invited us to hishome in the suburbs, where he was living with his young English wifeand daughter.

“Mike and I were twenty at the time, Pete a couple of years older. Leewas the first ever US professional that any of us had met, but he chattedfreely, with great humour, putting us quickly at ease. I kept in contactwith Lee for a while, and then lost touch. As I understand it, hismarriage broke up sometime later and Lee returned to the US.”

[ASIDE FROM A/E EDITOR: Lee Elias (1920-1998) was a favoriteartist of mine as a comics-reading kid back in the ’40s and ’50s,largely because of his work on “The Flash” for DC (including in All-Star Comics #34-36) and Black Cat for Harvey. So, when assemblingthis special JSA-oriented issue of Alter Ego, I wanted to include thisartist interview. The entire piece was too long to fit in this issue,however, and will be completed a couple of issues from now, dealingin more detail with Elias’ work in the 1960s. The interview beginswith the trio of Armageddon interviewers saying that, in the July1970 edition of the DC comic The Unexpected (formerly Tales of ...),“there appeared a short biographical sketch of Lee Elias, one of the

most respected comic artists ofthe last three decades. Thispotted life is reprinted below:

“Born Manchester, England,May 21, 1920. Arrived in US1926. Left again 1965. Reason?

Heaven only knows. Nostalgia? Dissatisfaction with the “good life”?My wife’s nostalgia? I honestly can’t give any reason. Studied violinand viola. Studied art at Cooper Union and Art Students League.Taught cartooning and illustration at School of Visual Arts in NewYork. Did the syndicated strip Black Cat and ghosted many others,then went on to Beyond Mars. Assisted on Steve Canyon and Li’lAbner.

“Did illustrations for slick magazines and advertising. Workexhibited at various state fairs and New York Metropolitan Museumof Art. Comic book characters include The Flash, Green Arrow,Green Hornet, Tommy Tomorrow, Eclipso. Biographical data hasappeared in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in Music,Who’s Who in the East, and other Who’s Whos.”

At this point the Armageddon trio asked Lee to elaborate on howhe first began in comics:]

As Harvey Kurtzman asked ’way back in 1954’s Mad #14: “Where has The Flash dashed to?”A Lee Elias panel from the final super-hero issue of Comic Cavalcade (#29, Oct.-Nov.

1948). Photo of Lee Elias courtesy of Ray A. Cuthbert. [“Flash” panel ©2002 DC Comics.]

“Who The Hell Hasn tCopied From Somebody?”

An Insightful 1970 Interview with Golden Age Artist LEE ELIASPART I

Page 26: Alter Ego #14

LEE ELIAS: My first job was with a trade paper, a liquor publication,in fact, in about 1934. Every once in a while, I’d get an idea for a funnygag cartoon and I’d get an extra $3 for this. I had always been drawing,from when I was old enough to hold a pencil and I realized there was aliving in this, so I began to take an interest in comic strips andcartooning.

I had always loved Terry and the Pirates, and I began studying it totry to learn how it was done. My career in the comics field began via theplodding route, taking aroundsamples that were pretty horrible.I remember each one telling me,“Well, if you had someexperience, we’d take you on.” Sohow do you get the experience ifeach one tells you that?

My first full-time professionaljob in comics was with the now-defunct Fiction House. Largely itwas just a matter of pluggingaway. I remember my guidingphilosophy during all those yearswas, “Look at all these guys whocan’t draw a damn coining it in,hand over fist, doing 10-15 pagesa week while I struggle trying tomake it perfect—but—I get ahigher price per page than theydo!” So it ended up with metaking about a week to do onepage, and I got, say, $40, whilethese guys would be doing 15pages at $20 a page. Work it outby simple arithmetic and you’llsee that these guys were doing ahell of a lot better financially thanI was. But in the long run it paidoff, because when the crunchcame in about 1946, when thingsbecame real bad in the comicbook publishing industry, theseguys weren’t working—and Iwas.

Whenever other cartoonistsasked me what rate of pay I wasgetting... I was then getting up to$100 per page... I didn’t mindtelling them. There was nothingpersonal between me and mypublisher. He didn’t employ mefor my looks or for myfriendship with him, but becauseI did good work. If another artistdid equally good work, I couldn’t keep him from competing with me bynot revealing my page rate. But most of the guys in the businesswouldn’t tell anybody what they were making. The publishers used thisagainst them. When nobody knew what the next guy was getting, thepublishers kept cutting prices, and artists ended up making half of whatthey used to make when times were good.

The first thing I did was “The True Story of John Powers,” about anair ace in World War II who crashed his plane into a Japanese battleship.It was, I think, a four-pager for a company called Western Lithographingand Printing. The editor was a guy named Oscar Le Beck—boy, I’ve gota better memory than I thought! I think I got $10 a page for it, and thatwas pretty low, even in those days, but I thought I was doing great.

ARMAGEDDON: This was in the early ’40s?

ELIAS: Yes, during the very beginning of World War II.

A: Then you went on to Fiction House from there?

ELIAS: Yeah. At Fiction House my first assignment was a feature called“Clipper Kirk.”

A: Were there any difficulties with that? There were a lot of planes init, weren’t there?

ELIAS: Oh, yeah, I knew everyplane backwards and forwards.In fact, I could have been aspotter for the Air Force,because you had to know all thedetails. The strip was read byservicemen and they used tolook very carefully for mistakes.You had to get the insignia righton them, and that sort of thing.

A: Fiction House wentoverboard for—er—nakedladies and sex in their stories.What did you feel about doingthose?

ELIAS: I wasn’t too happyabout it. Not because I’m aprude, but because of the agebracket that might read this sortof thing and the impression thatthey would get. To my mind, itwas misusing something which,seen by an artist, wasn’t dirty.From my days in art school, thehuman body was something youwished you knew how to paintand was, indefinably, a verygreat creation. You triedrepeatedly to interpret what yousaw, and to translate the formand texture into paint on a flatsurface. That was my attitude tothe human body—but then todebase it—the way thispublisher did.... His name wasThurman T. Scott, a reactionarywhite-supremacist, who grewpecan nuts on his plantation inGeorgia. He wanted sex in thebooks.

I can remember one storywhere I had to draw a bra and panties on a girl who was taking a bath ina river. At first the editor, Malcolm Reiss, had said, “Make her naked,but cover her up with the water!” But after I did it, somebodycomplained—I don’t know who it was—they thought this was going toofar and I had to draw in the bra and panties, so she was taking a bathwith the bra and panties on—which seemed pretty ridiculous... but thiswas the commercialism bit. I didn’t like it—never did.

In fact, I did horror comics, and there was a psychiatrist named Dr.Frederic Wertham who crusaded against them, and although I performeda farcical skit in which I imitated him, with a comic German accent, at anaffair in the Hotel Pierre in New York, I really wasn’t so much indisagreement, afterward, as I thought. I had two kids of my own, and I’d

A “Firehair” page by Lee Elias—complete with color markings which would havedisappeared when printed in the actual comic. Collector Paul Handler, who sent us

photocopies of the original art, informs us it’s from Fiction House’s Firehair #2(Winter 1949), reprinted in Rangers #59 (June 1951). No half-naked ladies, alas!

[©2002 the respective copyright holder.]

42 Lee Elias