Click here to load reader

Alter Ego #14

  • View
    235

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

DESCRIPTION

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are interviews with Golden Age All-Star Comics greats Shelly Mayer and Lee Elias, plus never-before-scene art from the unpublished 1940's JSA tale "The Will of William Wilson," secrets behind the 1970's All-Star revival, the saga of the 1980's All-Star Squadron, and JSA co- creator Gardner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!

Text of Alter Ego #14

  • $5.95In the USA

    $5.95In the USA

    No. 14April2002

    Art

    20

    02 J

    ames

    Cav

    enau

    gh; J

    SA T

    M &

    20

    02 D

    C C

    omic

    s

    Plus:Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine

    Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine

  • 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

    ChristopherMcGlothlin

    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.

    FIRST PRINTING.

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: ...And Justice Society for All! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2All the Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4The 1970s JSA revivala 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 1940splus 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 issues coversincluding 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: Everybodys present and accounted for but Superman, in this Joe Staton/Bob Laytonpanel from the JSAs first-ever origin in 1977s DC Special #29. Reproduced from photocopies ofthe original art, courtesy of Brian H. Bailie. [2002 DC Comics.]

  • by Roy ThomasI was there for the conceptionbut thats 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 Manhattans WestSide, we started kicking around some ideas for new projects he couldinitiate at DC. Gerry had plenty of his own concepts, of coursebut, 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 shouldnt even have suggested the idea in thefirst place!) Well, actually, I did send, at Gerrys request, comments to be

    printed on the revived All-Stars first letters page; I figured thatwouldnt 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 Marvels editor-in-chief againthe post Id held from 1972-74. I agreed, but (after a weeksvacation in sunny L.A. convinced me Id rather move to Californiainstead) I soon reneged, and suggested to Stan that he offer Gerry thejob. He did, and Gerry very briefly became Marvels 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 Gerrys departure from DC in early 76, Paul Levitz, hisassistant editor who had already dialogued a bit of JSA material, becameAll-Stars new writer. He continued as scripter for the remainder of All-Stars 70s run, which culminated with #74 (Sept.-Oct. 1978)andincluded the Justice Societys never-before-told origin, unveiled in DCSpecial #29 in 1977and 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 JSAs 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-upswhich led eventually to a full-scale All-Star revival in 1975-76! Reprod from photocopies of the

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

    There Are InSuper-HeroHeaven!

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

    The 1970s Justice Society RevivalAll-Starring the Original Cast!

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

  • these five gents spent with us via e-mail and telephone; and while theircomments have been edited slightly for space, weve made every effortnot to put words into their mouthsor to take too many out.

    What we have, I believe, is both a birds-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 (Supermans 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; hed 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 Girls debut. (e)SSK henceforth uses Starmans Cosmic Rod, borrowed from Ted Knight;(f) The issues 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) Atstorys end, Star-Spangled Kid andPower Girl are accepted into the JSA asa youthful Super-Squad adjunctwhich includes Robinthough 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 thembut it was lovely Mike Grell art!

    Original art reprod 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.]

  • 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 Id been for the previous five years. Incontrast, todays 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 Id done them at Marvel, and that put me up against apretty entrenched creative structure.

    It was a hectic, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding timeand I wasonly 23 years old! I couldnt 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... Im just curious.

    CONWAY: I dont 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 theteams 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 didnt have access to the so-called good artistsand Imnot sure I would have agreed with that designation at DC then anyway!Most of the artists I worked with then were people the other editorswouldnt use, because they were either brand new (Keith Giffen) or wereperceived as being burned out (Steve Ditko, Wally Wood) or just notgood enough for the traditional DC super-hero book (Ric Estrada,Ernie Chan, Dick Ayers, Chic Stone). But Id seen Rics 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 standingthough hisstock had fallen somewhat among other editors at that timebut Idnever 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 Rics pencils and Wallys inks would be exciting, and I wasright (Id 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 1947s 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!

  • All-Star Squadron Chronicles Part IV 27

    Conducted by Roy ThomasAs Monty Python didnt say: And now for something just a wee bit

    different...

    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), werepleased to present a short interview with Jerry Ordway, whose firstongoing professional comic art job was on DCs retroactive-continuitysuper-group. We appreciate his taking a break from his current Marvelwork to answer a whole passel of Roys questions via e-mail on January

    3, 2002. Manyof hiscomments willsee print later inthis series; herewereconcerned onlywith those thatdeal with All-Star Squadron#1-5 (and themags 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 Iwasnt 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 ORDwayChroniclesPart 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,tooand 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 pageand on vellum over poor photocopies, to bootJerry had toembellish a shadowed FDR, his aide Harry Hopkins, an empty JSA-HQ, Johnny (Quick)Chambers and his pal Tubbyplus 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 anthologys 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!)Reprod from a photocopy of the original art, in Roys collection. For the Buckler-Ordway

    version of the races photo finish, see A/E #12. [2002 DC Comics.]

  • Avengers work.

    RT: But of course youd have made a mint in royalties if youd signedon earlier on Titans. Were you familiar with Rich Bucklers workbefore you inked him on Squadron (as Ill 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 hisNeal Adams-looking DCwork, though. Deathlok wasjust great stuff, as well as theissues of Avengers he did.

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

    ORDWAY: I wasnt privy toany of that. I assumed that Dickdid it because hed inked mostof Richs DC work to date,rather nicely at that.

    RT: Were there any specialproblems about inking Richswork? 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 dont recall that... not even hearing about it, though Imsure 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 dont 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 Woods 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 Richs storytellingdidnt 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 thats 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

    panels background depicted thestatue of the 1945 Iwo Jima flag-

    raising, based on the famous photoand 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 readerwouldnt 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 Marvels Thor who poppedup on the next page, or nobody wouldve been able to understand what the heckthey were saying in Archaic-speak! Reprod from photocopies of the original art,

    courtesy of Jerry Bails. [2002 DC Comics.]

  • by Bill SchellyIntroduction: Im sure regular readers of Alter Ego (and my variousHamster Press tomes) wont 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 lifealongwith the birth of my children. Heres 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. Id beena comics fan from the moment I first laideyes on Superman Annual #1 in 1960, andby 1964 had amassed a nice stack of backissuesmainly 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. Id 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 hadnt 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, Worlds Finest, and Detective Comics.

    By the early 1960s comics werent the same sort of mass mediumtheyd 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 werent 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 mea mere twelve-year-oldto befriend. The same wastrue of the people who had letters published in Marvels Fantastic FourFan Page. I couldnt 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 wasnt 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,toountil 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 moneymaking him the envy of other kids,including me. (My parents wouldnt let me have a paper route; theydidnt 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 didnt 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 Rockets Blast Special. [2002 therespective copyright holders. Human Torch, Captain America,

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

  • Rockets Blast-Comicollector.

    Ill always remember that day the envelope from theSFCA arrived at my house. Mom hadnt 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) Rockets 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.

    Its 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, lets see. Looks like a sample copy costs fifty cents.

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

    Ive got the money! I have over six dollars saved up.

    She paused, then shrugged. I guess its all right. Let me see it when itcomes. I want to make sure it isnt something dirty.

    Mom!!

    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.)

    Whats this? I asked Richard, pointing to the sheet with The Eyecharacter. Some kind of comic book?

    Yeah.

    Where do you buy it? Ive never seen this character on the racks. Iwondered if there were regional comic book companies that didntdistribute their wares in Pittsburgh.

    Idiot! he said, laughing. Its not like a regular comic book. Youhave to send away for it. Its probably printed likeRockets 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 didnt 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!

    Thats nuts! I replied, shaking my head. Whowould pay that much?

    I dont know, but a lot of the other old stuff is only threeor four bucks. I think Ill get some of em, if I can figure

    out which ones are the best.

    Thats too much for me, but heres a copy ofSpider-Man #1 for a buck-fifty. I think Ill 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 Mans 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 Rockets 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 Whos Who in Comic Fandom, published early in1964 by Alter Egos founder, Jerry Bails. In it, he listed the names andaddresses of some sixteen hundred active fans. And these werent 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

  • [FCA EDITORS 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 Marvelscripts, 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 Fawcetts romancecomics, and eventually ended his comics career with CharltonPublications. Marcs ongoing professional memoirs have beenFCAs 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 Lil 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]

    By

    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.

  • by Jay DisbrowAs most Captain Marvel fans are

    aware, Fawcett Publications had theireditorial offices in the ParamountBuilding at Broadway and 43rd Streetin mid-ManhattanNew 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 Raymonds 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 viewers 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 toones ego, but it is obvious that he didit for my own personal development.

    During that three-year period I came to Wendells 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 Disbrowa 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 in1953including 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.]

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

    Part IComic as in Comic Strip

    The real secret behind the success of Captain Marvel, which fewpeople recognized, was that Billy Batson told about Captain Marvelsexploits 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!Heres where we go to town! Me and

    You and who else, son? Mr. Morrisasked.

    er, nobody, sir. Just me and the micro-phone. Thats all, sirjust 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 inFawcetts photo studio and heavily retouchedin Fawcetts 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 wasnt supposed to be real. Hereswhat Bridwell wrote in his introduction to the book, Shazam from the40s 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 unrealitymentioning 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 wont 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 stripcartoon-style artwork drawn in the style more like Muttand Jeff or Bringing Up Father than in theheavy-handed, realistic-style artwork. Bridwell,however, didnt understand the differencebetween drawing comic and being comic. Mostpeople dont. He wrote:

    Fun! Everyone Ive 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 dont know that its not at all comical simply toput funny words into a script. Big Red Cheese is not funny by itselfonly when spoken by a comical character like Dr. Sivana, who was aburlesque charactershort, 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

  • magic, not frightening, gooseflesh-producing magic or evil, demonicmagic. It was the kind of magic a kid could produceif 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 Marvelstories 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, its just a TV program, their fatherassured his children. Then the kids went out intheir backyard and saw somethinga flyingsaucer?taking off in the distance.

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

    You cant 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 Seulingscomic conventions. Weve 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 Marvelinstead. 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 Worlds 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. Binderscharacters 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.]

  • Plus Rare Artand Artifacts by:

    ADAMSANDERSON BECKBLACK BROOKS

    BRUNNERBUCKLERBURNLEY DILLINDISBROW ELIAS

    ESTRADAFLESSEL FOX

    GALLAGHERGILBERT GIFFEN

    GONZALESGREENE GRELL

    HASEN HIBBARDINFANTINO

    KANE (Bob & Gil)KAYANAN KIRBY

    KUBERT LEIALOHAMANNINGMILGROM

    MOLDOFFNASSERNAYDEL NODELL

    ORDWAYPACHECOPEDDYPETER

    REINMANROSSSCHAFFENBERGER

    SEKOWSKYSHERMANSHUSTER

    SIMON STATONSWAN SWAYZE

    TOTH WOOD

    The Will ofWilliamWilson!

    $5.95In the USA

    $5.95In the USA

    No. 14April2002

    NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN ART FROM A LONG-LOST

    GOLDEN AGE JSA TALE!

    Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine

    Roy Thomas All-Star Comics Fanzine

    Ar t

    2 0

    0 2 M

    i ch a

    e l T

    . Gi l b

    e rt ;

    J SA

    TM

    &

    2 00 2

    DC

    Co m

    i cs

  • 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.

    FIRST PRINTING.

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

    Where Theres 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 Hasnt Copied from Somebody? . . . . . . . . . . . 43A 1970 interview with Lee Elias, 1940s artist of Flash, Sub-Mariner, and Black Cat.

    The 1970s Justice Society RevivalRevisited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: In The All-Star Companion we printed Michael T. Gilberts own versionof a 1944 All-Star Comics coverso 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 whosgiven us Mr. Monsterand were pleased as punch to feature it as one of this issuescolorful 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 scripthas 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 whove waited more than half a century to see a lost JSA adventurewhetherthey knew it or not! [2002 DC Comics.]

    Contents

    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 ZiukoMailing 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

    ChristopherMcGlothlin

    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

  • Call it the Justice Society of Americashorten it to the Justice Societyor 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, lets 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, well take em in alpha-betical orderwhich 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 reprintedbut 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.]

    3

    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 Spanishsuper-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.]

  • 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 dont 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 threadsin a pose from Irwins cover for All-StarComics #43. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Zeno. [Art 2002

    Irwin Hasen; Atom & TM 2002 DC Comics.]

  • 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 Robinsons 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 Kanes first assistants on Batmanand 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; reprod 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, createdThe Batmanand 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.]

    Batman

  • 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 meall 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 Societystories 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 itmore 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 onein his own tongue-in-cheek style! Since you couldnt see all the details(or the logos and other info at the top of the art)

    on this issues cover, were 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

  • 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 itand Itheorized about several things we couldnt tell.Theres no space to go into detail here (or anyneed, since many A/E readers own a copy ofthe Companion and can easily refer to itand,truth to tell, theyll 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 storys 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 madeand that the WingedWonder might have gone after either Nostradamus crystal ballorperhaps the egg of a mythical animal such as a rocor of an extinctdinosaur or dodo.

    (Re the missing Hawkman solo chapter, Jerry Bails writes thatThe 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 theHawkman chapter hasnt surfaced suggests to me that it was a Kubertchapter. What a contrast that wouldve beena dynamic Hawkmanchapter by Kubert following this introduction by Naydel. It makes mewince all the more to see these pages. Jerry, clearly, is no fan of theJSA art of Martin Naydel... nor am I, though it didnt 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 Gardners records indicated he wrote Will duringSeptember, 1945) were either 38 or 39 pages long, with most solochaptersexcept sometimes Hawkmansbeing 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, youll 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 its time to show them to youandto 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 supposedlylost JSA stories; and

    Craig Delich, who in 1977 had edited the handsome, 88-page All-StarComics Revue, which had greatly expanded on Jerrys 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 cant begin our art-specific commentary on a pagewhich faces Page A of that artwhich begins three pages from nowbut theres 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?

    Youre rightits 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 Willsplash, weve added the heads of the seven JSAers who appear in Will,lifted from #24s 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 likedws!) But, as detailed in The All-Star Companion, JSA stories wereoften published out of the order in which they had been written.

    Actually, its the two notations which flank A.S.#31 that are reallyfascinating.

    First, theres the circled 48PP:

    24 Where Theres A Will...

    Youve read the comicsnow play the game!The JSA Sourcebook, on sale now, is a

    supplement to the DC Universe RoleplayingGame, with emphasis on todays JSA and,gratifyingly, yesterdays Justice Society,

    Seven Soldiers of Victoryand 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.]

  • 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 pagesi.e., they contained 48 pages, excluding covers, whichwere printed separately. But that cant be what is meant by 48PPbecause 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 longwhichimmediately suggested,to my mind, two likelypossibilities.

    The first and (tome) more intriguing isthat the publishereither 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 bythenhad decided toexpand All-StarComics into aregularly-published15, 80-page comic (84 counting covers).This would have put itin a class with WorldsFinest 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 its 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 isntan almost 100% dead certainty is the 7-page Hawkman chapter. That48th story page of Will could have been given to some other JSAerssolo chapter. However, during this period, Hawkmans 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 Societys permanent chairman. Surelyrank has its privileges. Hawkman usually appeared in more panels andhad more dialogue in the JSA intros and finales than the others, tooand Will would prove no exception.)

    The other mostlikely reason forthe storys 48-pagelength was thatWill was origi-nally prepared fora one-shot comic,probably eventhicker thanWorlds 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 couldnt 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 wouldnt fill a second Big All-American, but it could be the lead feature, with a bunch of other backupfeatures. This second giant wouldve come a year after the first Big AA,and it would feature the one AA strip that wasnt featured the first timearoundnamely, 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

  • The Write Stuff! 35

  • Introduction by Michael T. GilbertThere are no hard and fast rules

    to 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 visualscriptseven 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 theMarvel 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 its 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 isnt 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 ideas approved, the writerwill generally type up a longer plot synopsis describing the major actionthroughout the story.

    In Foxs 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, its a miracle Fox was able to write so many memorablestories!

    To give you a clearer idea of what wemean, were reprinting a small sampling ofFoxs 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 werent ableto find one single story that documentedall the stages described above, there werenumerous separate examples of each in theUniversity of Oregons 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

    Comics.]

    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 didnt know it inadvance, Foxs Zatara 1943 story BobbyMeets a Brownie would appear in WorldsFinest Comics #12 (Winter). As per the next

    page, he seems to have been writingStarman and even Sandman scripts at

    the same time. [2002 DC Comics.]

    36 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt

  • Who The Hell Hasnt 41

    [A/E EDITORS NOTE: In June 2000I believe partly through thegood offices of British editor Dez SkinnI 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 youd 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 Ive 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 wasnt 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 wifes nostalgia? I honestly cant 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 LilAbner.

    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 Whos Who in American Art, Whos Who in Music,Whos Who in the East, and other Whos Whos.

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

    As Harvey Kurtzman asked way back in 1954s 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

  • LEE ELIAS: My first job was with a trade paper, a liquor publication,in fact, in about 1934. Every once in a while, Id get an idea for a funnygag cartoon and Id 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, wed 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 whocant draw a damn coining it in,hand over fist, doing 10-15 pagesa week while I struggle trying tomake it perfectbutI 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 youllsee 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 werent workingand Iwas.

    Whenever other cartoonistsasked me what rate of pay I wasgetting... I was then getting up to$100 per page... I didnt mindtelling them. There was nothingpersonal between me and mypublisher. He didnt employ mefor my looks or for myfriendship with him, but becauseI did good work. If another artistdid equally good work, I couldnt keep him from competing with me bynot revealing my page rate. But most of the guys in the businesswouldnt 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 Beckboy, Ive 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 calledClipper Kirk.

    A: Were there any difficulties with that? There were a lot of planes init, werent 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 forernakedladies and sex in their stories.What did you feel about doingthose?

    ELIAS: I wasnt too happyabout it. Not because Im 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, wasnt 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 bodybut then todebase itthe 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, somebodycomplainedI dont know who it wasthey 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 onwhich seemed pretty ridiculous... but thiswas the commercialism bit. I didnt like itnever 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 wasnt so much indisagreement, afterward, as I thought. I had two kids of my own, and Id

    A Firehair page by Lee Eliascomplete 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 its from Fiction Houses Firehair #2(Winter 1949), reprinted in Rangers #59 (June 1951). No half-naked ladies, alas!

    [2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    42 Lee Elias