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Alter Ego #141

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From Detroit to Deathlok, ALTER EGO #141 (80 full-color pages, $8.95) is devoted to the comet-splashed career of artist RICH BUCKLER! He drew it all: Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Black Panther, Ka-Zar, Dracula, Morbius, and a zillion mighty Marvel covers—Batman, Hawkman, and other DC stars—Creepy & Eerie horror—and that’s just in the first half of the 1970s! Plus MICHAEL T. GILBERT in Mr. Monster's Comic Crypt, BILL SCHELLY on comics fandom history, FCA (Fawcett Collector’s of America) section, and comics expert HAMES WARE on fabulous Golden Age artist RAFAEL ASTARITA! All behind a great Deathlok painted cover by Buckler! Edited by ROY THOMAS.

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Page 1: Alter Ego #141

$8.95In the USA



Deathlok TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.











Roy Thomas’Rapid-Fire

Comics Fanzine


1 82658 00055 4



Page 2: Alter Ego #141

Vol. 3, No. 141 / August 2016EditorRoy ThomasAssociate EditorsBill SchellyJim AmashDesign & LayoutChristopher DayConsulting EditorJohn MorrowFCA EditorP.C. HamerlinckJ.T. Go (Assoc. Editor)Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. GilbertEditorial Honor RollJerry G. Bails (founder)Ronn Foss, Biljo WhiteMike FriedrichProofreadersRob SmentekWilliam J. DowldingCover ArtistsRich Buckler

With Special Thanks to:

ContentsWriter/Editorial: History Golden/History Silver . . . . . . . . . . . . 2“Just Living My Dream!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Rich Buckler talks to Richard J. Arndt about his first decade at Warren, DC, & Marvel.

Rafael Astarita – Comic Book Pioneer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35Hames Ware & David Saunders on a great Golden Age artist who remembered everything!

Mr. Monster’sComicCrypt!Fatman, The Lost Issue (Part 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51Michael T. Gilbert on that strange 1967 comic by Otto Binder & C.C. Beck.

Comic Fandom Archive: Remembering RBCC—With Love. . 57Five fans reminisce about G.B. Love & the Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector.

re: [correspondence, comments, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . 65FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] #200 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

P.C. Hamerlinck presents a celebration featuring Beck, Swayze, Champlin, & a 1940Hollywood party—attended by Captain Marvel himself!On Our Cover: While Rich Buckler has drawn, at one time or another, just about every major herofor every major company, he probably remains proudest of his creation of “Deathlok,” the cyborg whostarred in Astonishing Tales during the last half of the 1970s and has often reappeared since,including in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC-TV. It was his suggestion that this recentpainting of Deathlok become the cover of this issue of Alter Ego, and he didn’t have to ask us twice![Deathlok TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]Above: This issue, too, we applaud the 200th edition of FCA [Fawcett Collectors of America], 141of which have appeared in this third volume of A/E. And there’s nobody whose art could betterrepresent FCA than C.C. Beck, artistic co-creator of the original Captain Marvel and the first artistof the “Marvel Family” series. This 1979 painting of Cap, Cap Jr., and Mary came to us courtesy ofHeritage Comics Auctions. [Shazam heroes TM & © DC Comics.]

Heidi AmashPedro AngostoRichard J. ArndtBob BaileyAlberto BecattiniLarry BigmanJudy Blackman

SwayzeGary BrownRobert BrownBernie & Lucille

BubnisRich BucklerNick CaputoMildred ChamplinShaun ClancyJohn CoatesJon B. CookeComic Book Plus

(website)Craig DelichDiversions of the

Groovy Kind(website)

John EllisRocky FawcettShane FoleyStephan FriedtJanet GilbertGrand Comics

Database (website)Heritage Comics


Alan HutchinsonBill JohnsonJim KealyRobert Kline &

familyMark LewisArt LortieJim LudwigDoug MartinHarry MateskyRaymond MillerBill MohalleyBarry PearlGene ReedRandy SargentDavid SaundersArlen J. SchulerAllen SmithBryan StroudDann ThomasJim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.James Van HiseHames WareWho’s Who of

American ComicBooks 1928-1999(website)

Steven G. WillisAndy YanchusMike Zeck

This issue is dedicated to the memory ofRafael Astarita & Nat Champlin Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344.

Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected]. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Eight-issue subscriptions: $73 US Standard, $88 US Expedited, $116 International. All characters are © their respective companies. Allmaterial © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCAis a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in China. ISSN: 1932-6890


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“Just Living My Dream!”RICH BUCKLER On His First Decade

As A Comic Book ArtistInterview Conducted & Transcribed by Richard J. Arndt


NTERVIEWER’S NOTE: Rich Bucklerbegan his comic book career in 1967 with aback-up tale in Flash Gordon #10. After

a two-year gap, he began doing short mystery(for color comics) and horror (for black-&-whitemagazines) stories for DC, Warren, Skywald,and Marvel. He was soon doing regular back-up features in such titles as Batman andSuperman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane. His firstwork on a lead feature was The Avengers#101 (July 1972) working from a plot byHarlan Ellison (as edited and later scripted byRoy Thomas). Over the next two decades, heworked on nearly every major character andtitle at DC or Marvel and drew hundreds ofcovers for both companies. He has also producedwork for Archie’s Red Circle characters. Hecreated the Marvel character Deathlok andpenciled the first five issues of DC’s All-StarSquadron with Thomas. In recent years, helaunched another career doing stunning surre-alistic paintings. He is the author of How toDraw Dynamic Comic Books and stillfrequents conventions, often with DonMcGregor, with whom he worked on both “TheBlack Panther” and “Killraven” series in the1970s. This interview was conducted via e-mailon December 19-22, 2014.

Portrait Of The Artist As A VeryBusy Young Man

A self-portrait of Rich Buckler (beingpainted by his own hand)—surrounded byexamples of his work for three mainstream

publishers in the early 1970s (clockwisefrom above right): Warren Publications’

Creepy #36 (Nov. ’70), script by GregTheakston... “Hawkman” in DC’s Detective

Comics #434 (April ’73), inks by DickGiordano & script by E. Nelson Bridwell...

and the cover of Marvel’s The Avengers #101(July 1972), inks by Dan Adkins. With

thanks for the comics-page scans to theDiversions of the Groovy Kind website,

Steven G. Willis, & Chris Day, respectively.The portrait, retrieved online, is done in acrylic on a board that measures

13 11/16" x 22¼". [Portrait © Rich Buckler;Creepy page TM & © New Comic Company;

“Hawkman” page TM & © DC Comics;Avengers cover TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]


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“Comic Books Actually Saved My Life,In A Sense”

RICHARD ARNDT: Let’s start this off with some information on yourbackground. I know we’re both originally from Michigan....

RICH BUCKLER: I was born in Detroit, but up to age nine I spentmy time in a house built by my father and my grandfather. I mean,they actually built the place from the foundation up. This was inupstate rural Michigan, just off Houghton Lake. The nearest townwas Prudenville. When I was ten years old, my family relocated toDetroit. So I’m both country- and city-bred—but mostly city. I havea younger sister Peggy, and a younger brother Ron. My fatherpassed away when I was very young, so we were raised by mymom.

RA: What comics were you enthused about when you were a kid? Werethere any that made you sit up and take notice?

BUCKLER: I started out reading and collecting Superman. Thatcharacter, and the creations of animator/filmmaker RayHarryhausen, sparked my imagination in early youth. Then Batmanand Justice League and The Flash and eventually all of the DCcomics line.

Not long afterward, I picked up on Marvel, especially with theFantastic Four and Spider-Man. By that time I was completelyobsessed with comics! By the time I was a teen-ager in Detroit, Iwas a die-hard comic book collector, and I bought just about every-thing on a weekly basis.

Comic books actually saved my life, in a sense. From an earlyage, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a full-timeprofessional in the comic business. My teen years were magicalbecause I was fortunate to fall in with some very key figures in thenascent comic book fandom scene in Detroit.

RA: You were very active in the fan scene. How did your involvement incomic fandom come about?

BUCKLER: Actually, I was involved in the organizing of comicsfandom in its earliest days. I met Shel Dorf when I was a teen-ager,

before he founded the first Detroit Triple Fan Fair, which was in1965. I took over the publishing of the fanzine Super-Hero fromMike Tuohey, beginning with #4, while I was still in high school.Mike was going off to college, so I took over the journalistic reinsand continued to publish both Super-Hero and my other fanzine,Intrigue, which featured amateur comics creations by me and otherfan artists. Through networking via telephone and the postalservices, I also contributed art to many other fan publications ofthe time.

I was a bit of an overachiever, even at that young age. For thevery first Detroit Triple Fan Fair, I worked on the organizingcommittee. My job was art production and doing liaison work withthe comic book professionals. I helped bring in guests like JimSteranko, Mike Kaluta, Neal Adams, and Al Williamson. At thevery beginning, I did all of the convention’s progress reports andprogram books. I was co-chairman with Robert Brosch for one ofthe later Detroit conventions. This was all during the late 1960s.

I was also very fortunate to have met Jerry Bails. That meetingand the friendship that followed sparked a lot of creativity for me.Professor Bails was sort of the father of the whole organizedcomics fandom movement. If you could call it a movement. It wasmore like a relentless phenomenon, one that no one had any ideawould grow to the epic proportions that it has today.

Professor Jerry Bails was very much an early mentor for me. Hethought I was some kind of young genius. I thought he was justbeing nice. As a matter of fact, it was Jerry who gave me my veryfirst paid art assignment for one of his publications.

It was also through Jerry that I met Roy Thomas. This was wayback when Roy was an English teacher and was just taking overthe publishing of the 1960s version of Alter Ego. Roy was verysupportive of my efforts as an artist even in those early fan days,long before he went pro and became Stan Lee’s assistant.

In those early days, I was very actively participating in fanpublications. I did art and stories for many fanzines like Star-Studded, Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector, The Comic Reader, ComicCrusader, Bombshell, and so many others.

Detroit Daze(Left:) Rich Buckler (on the left) and Dr. Jerry G. Bails, founder of Alter Ego and, at least to some extent, of organized comics fandom—both entities being

launched in spring of 1961. This photo was taken in Detroit circa the mid-’60s. Thanks to Rich Buckler & Richard Arndt.

(Right:) Rich at a Detroit Triple Fan Fair. Both Bails and Shel Dorf were involved in getting that early fandom event begun in 1965, only a year after the firsttrue comics convention ever; Buckler got involved a couple of years later.

4 Rich Buckler On His First Decade As A Comic Book Artist

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and assured him that he would ink my work, so there was nothingreally to worry about.

So, great. I returned to Detroit with my mission accomplished.Well, sort of. I drew the story on my back porch workplace. I wasalmost entirely certain then that my comics career was about totake off. So I concentrated on doing my absolute best with thatshort story, but also drawing it within a normally allotted time.Then I mailed in the artwork. I got paid. Then weeks went byslowly and nothing happened. No follow-through. Nothing.

Now, I’d gotten lots of “no’s” in my early try-out years, but thiswas a case of things just left hanging and who knows what willhappen. I was always certain that my unwavering persistence anddedication would pay off. I never doubted that for a moment. Iknew I was ready. And I was confident that I had proven that.Well, I just couldn’t stand the suspense anymore, so finally Idecided to follow up and call DC.

I got Dick on the phone right away. Very carefully choosing hiswords, he told me that they were happy with the work but unfor-tunately there were no other assignments forthcoming. Thatseemed like a bit of a dodge to me. I’m somewhat of a quick study,and I could read between the lines, so I figured out right awaywhat the problem probably was.

Then, choosing my own words very carefully, I told Dick thatmy aim was to be a full-time comic book professional. Anythingless that that was unacceptable. Then I asked him: “Would it help ifI moved to New York?” And he said he couldn’t make anyguarantees, of course—but yes, that would greatly improve mychances. That’s all I needed to hear. I decided then and there that Ihad to make the big move. I say “big move,” because it was by nomeans a small thing. In fact, moving to New York proved to be life-changing!

RA: I noticed that you seemed to have an understanding and command ofhow the human body stands and works at a very early age for an artist.Other young artists of that time period—Barry Windsor-Smith, BernieWrightson, Michael Kaluta—showed a learning curve for a number ofyears. Not a lot of years, but for a while. You, however, seemed to advancefrom promising newcomer to a young pro very quickly. Almost overnight,in terms of how your work appeared to comic readers. Did it feel that wayto you?

BUCKLER: It might have appeared that way. There is always thatlearning curve. I started out younger than most of my contempo-raries. Back during my school years in Detroit, while other kidswere outside playing football or baseball or bike-riding and skate-boarding and chasing girls—and I did my share of that, too—Istayed indoors mostly and I read a lot and worked at developingmy drawing skills.

I remember hearing a story about Frank Frazetta that he toldwhen he was asked about that. He started out very young, too.Because of his youth and inexperience he was having troublegetting anybody to take him seriously even as an assistant. Oneday, it was put to him that he really needed to learn humananatomy. So, according to Frank, he spent the weekend hitting theanatomy books and practicing, and on the following Monday hearrived ready for work and proclaimed: “Okay, now I knowanatomy!”

Of course, that’s only a story, and maybe in Frank’s case, it’strue. But that kind of mastery of the human figure takes a lotlonger for most of us mortals. When I decided to get really seriousabout my drawing, at about age thirteen or fourteen, I put inserious hours of practice and study. I took out art reference booksfrom the local library. The only problem was that I was under-ageand the books I needed were in the adult category. I had to get myMom to sign them out for me! So my advantage was that I tackledall of the hard stuff first and at a very young age.

I studied and practiced diligently and definitely for more than afew weekends! For me it was a total obsession! As I mentionedearlier, I am self-taught as an artist. There is also a very serious sideto me, so my approach from the start of things was very focused.To this day, my standard is excellence. So my goal back then was tolearn all the fundamentals, so that I could apply that to comicsillustration and cartooning. I think my edge was that I neverthought of myself as only a cartoonist.

“Sol Brodsky… Was Actually The Only ReasonThat I Went to Skywald”

RA: Mike Friedrich told me that, when Skywald started up as acompetitor to Warren Publishing, editor and co-publisher Sol Brodskyasked Roy Thomas about writers and artists that Roy could recommend,and that Roy was delighted to recommend good artists and writers—whodidn’t work for Marvel. You did a considerable amount of work for theearly Skywald. How did you get so much work so fast?

BUCKLER: The short answer was Sol Brodsky. I enjoyed working

’Snow Foolin’!Rich did full art on this moody tale from House of Mystery #199 (Feb. 1972).

Script by Lynn Marron. Thanks to Steve G. Willis. [TM & © DC Comics.]

10 Rich Buckler On His First Decade As A Comic Book Artist

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That was my guess for what Vince was expecting, and when Ishowed that to him he said: “Now, that’s your style!”

“None Of The Other Artists… Wanted ToWork On Team Books”

RA: Your first effort at drawing a main title was on The Avengers #101.How did you advance from back-ups to a main feature and on such amajor title? You were also following John Buscema, Neal Adams, andBarry Windsor-Smith on the book. Was it intimidating following thosethree?

BUCKLER: Well, Barry Windsor-Smith and I are contemporaries.We both started our careers at Marvel at around the same time, so Iwasn’t exactly following Barry. Both Neal Adams and JohnBuscema were way ahead of me, so yeah, that was a bitchallenging. Not intimidating, though, not really.

At both Marvel and DC, early on, I made friends fast. Imanaged to get to know many of the artists from the generationbefore me—all of whom I admired and respected. I didn’t actuallymeet John Buscema or Joe Sinnott [who inked most of that Avengersrun] until years later. But I did seem to fit right in, at both Marveland DC.

For instance, at Marvel I immediately got along well with FrankGiacoia, Mike Esposito, Marie Severin, Vince Colletta, George

Roussos, and Jack Abel. That was back when there was an actualMarvel bullpen. And you know what? They all accepted me as oneof their own! So I wasn’t exactly competing with those artistswhose work I admired since my youth. It wasn’t like that at all.

I was more like a professional artist who was still very much acomics fan. That always showed and I never apologized for it.Also, I’m not really the competitive type. So I didn’t regard thoseartists as competition. For me they were colleagues and collabo-rators.

My work on Avengers was due to Roy Thomas deciding to moveme up to the main titles. None of the other artists back thenwanted to work on team books. Those were always assiduouslyavoided! Too much work, too many characters, too much of every-thing. Well, for me, too much is never enough. I was up to thechallenge, and Roy knew it.

Avengers #101 was titled “Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow!” andwas adapted from a Harlan Ellison story. The inking was by DanAdkins. I remember it well. I was Roy’s first choice for penciler onthat assignment. Roy and I are both big science-fiction fans, andboth of us were huge fans of Harlan Ellison. So it was a good fit,and this was Roy giving me my first big break and trying me outon a main title.

It’s interesting that, in my trade book How to Draw DynamicComic Books, Stan Lee boasted in his introduction that he was from

Sample CaseAmazingly, Rich still has the two sample pages he first showed to Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, in hopes of getting assignments at Marvel. Hey, guess what?

It worked! As it happened, the pages featured Ka-Zar and Black Panther—two characters he would soon be drawing professionally for Marvel. See why Marvel hired ’im? [Ka-Zar & Black Panther TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.; other art © 2016 Rich Buckler.]

16 Rich Buckler On His First Decade As A Comic Book Artist

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the beginning one of my biggest fans and boosters. Well, Stan didgive me my first assignment at Marvel, and he was supportive.But, you know, that was typical Stan Lee hyperbole, and it wasprobably not literally true. Because, as I recall, it was mainly RoyThomas who gave me all my big breaks [at Marvel]! I just can’t sayenough good things about that guy!

It was like that at DC, too, with Dick Giordano and Joe Orlando.Both of those artist-editors were very supportive of my work. Attimes, we were almost like family.

RA: You only did four or five issues of The Avengers before leaving thetitle (except for doing the covers). Was there any particular reason forthis?

BUCKLER: I was working eight- to twelve-hour days back then,seven days a week. Just living my dream! I was happy drawing The

Avengers. To be honest, I was more than happy working with DonMcGregor and drawing “The Black Panther” for Jungle Action,which was going on at the same time, or maybe just before or after.So I didn’t want to give up drawing “The Black Panther,” either!But there was only so much that one artist could do and keep upwith deadlines, too.

Like I said, my work on Avengers was due to Roy Thomasmoving me up to bigger things. So I had to leave the Avengers bookin order to switch to the Fantastic Four—and boy, was I happyabout that!

I got to do whatever I wanted on my run on Fantastic Four. Andwhat I wanted was, in my own way, to bring back some of thestorytelling dynamics and excitement of all those Jack Kirbymasterpieces that I grew up on! It was a shameless fanboy send-up—I admit it. But I had a great time doing it.

Roy ThomasPic from the 1975

Mighty Marvel ComicConvention program


Steve Englehartwas interviewed indepth in Alter Ego

#103. Thanks to JohnMorrow.

Two Dooms To Save TwoMorrows!(Left:) The splash page of Buckler’s first major Marvel feature—The Avengers #101 (July 1972), inked by Dan

Adkins. He and scripter Roy Thomas adapted a synopsis that science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison had submittedyears before to Julius Schwartz—as a “Hawkman” tale. For the story behind this issue, including Ellison’s full

plot, see Alter Ego #31, still available from TwoMorrows.

(Right:) Buckler and George Tuska teamed up to pencil Avengers #106 (Dec. ’72), which was then inked by Dave Cockrum. Script by Steve Englehart. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]

SPECIAL NOTE: Barry Pearl, besides supplying virtually all of the Marvel art that accompanies this interview,went above and beyond by reading the Buckler interview in advance (as did Bob Bailey) and picking out artthat especially fit this section. Roy, who was still valiantly attempting to finish his big book on Stan Lee forTaschen Publishing (out this fall!), needed all the help he could get this issue, and appreciated the lengths

to which Barry (and Bob, re DC mags) went to help out!

“Just Living My Dream!” 17

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approached Roy Thomaswith the idea of doing itas a comic for Marvel.

Marvel was biddingon the license for The SixMillion Dollar Man then,and Roy told me he likedmy concept but we wouldhave to wait and see,because if Marvel gotthose publishing rights,then they were definitelygoing with that franchise.

I wasn’t interested instarting a franchise, norwas I designing a characterthat could be merchan-dized as a toy or a videogame or the like. My firstlove is comics. I just wantedto tell my character’s story.

What I really wanted was a new sci-fiaction/adventure character that reallyrocked—one that would not be derivative ofanything Marvel was already publishing. Mycharacter had drastic differences from theBionic Man, and I was certain that I could dothis as a Marvel series and do it much betterthan the popular television series—which Ifound disappointing. So I waited patiently tosee how that would play out, and only a fewmonths later Marvel lost that license toCharlton.

I remember when I first heard that news: Imet Roy in the hallway at the Marvel offices

one day and he stopped me and said: “Rich. Good news. Charltonis doing The Six Million Dollar Man, so that means your project is ago.”

I was thrilled. “Only one thing, though,” Roy continued. “Theonly publishing slot we have open is Astonishing Tales, which is abi-monthly. So it won’t be a number one, but we could start on itright away. What do you think?”

What did I think? I said yes! Didn’t hesitate even for a moment!

I was told that I needed to work up a quick formal presentation.

Ernie Chanwas drawing at that time under the name

“Ernie Chua.”

Astonishing MalesThe cover and splash page of Astonishing Tales #26 (Oct. 1974). Buckler

did full-art chores on the former, while Pablo Marcos inked the latter. Thestory was co-plotted and scripted by Doug Moench. Thanks once again to

the GCD and Barry Pearl. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]

“Just Living My Dream!” 27

No Wonder They Call It “The Forgotten City”!Rich probably provided just layouts for the 15-page lead story in Marvel’s

Conan the Barbarian #40 (July 1974)—but between them, he and inkerErnie Chan/Chua well evoked a time-lost city in a yarn guest-plotted byfantasy author Michael Resnick for scripter/editor Roy Thomas. Thanks to

Barry Pearl. [TM & © Conan Properties International, LLC.]

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EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: Comic book orcomic strip artists often have a champion whomake it his/her business to make certain that that

artist is not forgotten, and that his/her accom-plishments are noted and documented forposterity. Comics and pulp artist RafaelAstarita (1912-1994) is fortunate in havingtwo such champions, who have pooled theirresources in the following pair of entries.

Hames Ware, no stranger to readers of thismagazine, was originally a voice actor. In theearly 1970s he was the co-editor (with Dr. JerryG. Bails) of the four volumes of the print editionof the Who’s Who of American ComicBooks, forerunner of the current online websitewhich lists data connected to the careers of

comic book professionals up through the year1999. He probably knows more than any manalive about the comics shops/studios from theearly days of comic books… and part of what heknows first came from artist Rafael Astarita.

David Saunders (born 1954 in New YorkCity) came to his interest in the history of pulpmagazines and their artists as a matter ofbirthright: his father was Norman Saunders, amajor pulp-mag cover artist. David is, in fact,

an artist himself, and has taught at various art schools. His websitewww.pulpartists.com contains a wealth of information on numerousclassic American illustrators, and on the history of the pulps.

I. An Interview WithHAMES WARE – Conducted

by DAVID SAUNDERSDAVID SAUNDERS: Why is RafaelAstarita important?

HAMES WARE: He is important becausehe was one of the best comic book artistswho ever drew. He was a part of thebeginning of comics. His first workappears in 1935 in Major MalcolmWheeler-Nicholson’s titles [forerunners ofDC Comics]. He was already drawing in away that was superior to most of the otherwork that appeared in those comic books.Generally, the subjects of the comics thathe drew were classic legends or fables ofhistorical adventures, which the averagecartoonist at that time was not really ableto handle, and yet as early as 1935 and 1936he was already drawing things like “KingArthur” and “Allan de Beaufort.”

Hames Ware

David Saunders

RAFAEL ASTARITAComic Book PioneerTwo Easy Pieces On “One Of The BestComic Book Artists Who Ever Drew”

A EA E//Rafael Astarita

Photo courtesy of Hames Ware, with thanks to David Saunders.

I Don’t Want To Leave The Jungle…(Left:) Astarita’s Kaänga cover for Fiction House’s Jungle Comics #47 (Nov. 1943). From the Comic

Book Plus website of public domain comics, the ultimate source of several other scansaccompanying these pieces, as well.

(Right:) Later, for Fiction House’s pulp magazine Jungle Stories (Feb. 1947), he drew thisillustration for the “Ki-Gor” lead story; scan courtesy of David Saunders. Both writers unknown.

A Ki-Gor by any other name would be Kaänga! [© the respective copyright holders.]


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WARE: The reason I mentioned Will Eisner and Lou Fine isbecause Astarita took over “The Hawk of the Seas” after it wasstarted by Eisner and after Fine had taken it over, so to be desig-nated the person to follow Eisner and Fine was a high honor. Thatshows how he was respected by the top artists in his field. He wasa pioneer in the shops, both with Harry Chesler from about 1936 to1939, and from about 1939 till the war he was with the Eisner/Igershop. Anyone who was in any of those shops always mentionedhim as one of the top artists.

Another artist once recalled Astarita telling him you couldactually draw with a matchstick, and the man didn’t believe him,so Astarita lit a match and blew it out and proceeded to drawsomething with the matchstick! He was appreciated and admiredby the artists in all the shops where he worked, but he workedindependently and he was not a self-promoter. He did not socializewith other artists in the after-hours. He was already married.

DS: What do comic book fans think of when they hear the name RafaelAstarita?

WARE: Unlike most artists that worked in comic books, he was nota cartoonist. I would describe him as a dynamic illustrator. Hisoriginal goal was to illustrate classic adventure literature. Isuppose, with his ancestry, he was carrying on the tradition of

Italian art. His work stood out from other artists’ because he drewin the style of an illustrator rather a cartoonist.

DS: So he never had his own famous comic book character?

WARE: No, and that is part of the reason why he is not betterknown. He did not work in the super-hero genre enough to beknown for that, so he is rarely listed among the better-knowncomic book artists. He did not draw in a style that fit that genre,nor was he interested in it. For instance “The Hawk of the Seas”does have a hero, but he is not like Superman or Batman. He ismore like the adventure hero from Rafael Sabatini’s novel The SeaHawk.

DS: Why is it important to document the life and art of Rafael Astarita?

WARE: Well, because of his unique and dynamic style of illus-trated drawing. He hit the ground running in 1935 and workeduntil World War II; then, after the war, he came back and workeduntil the mid-’50s. He was consistently good, so all of his work wasrendered in a polished and finished way. His work always standsout, because he put his best effort into everything he did.

DS: Can you list some of the comic features he drew?

WARE: He drew the features “Round Table Adventures,” “Daniel

A Hero Sandwich(Left:) By the time Astarita inherited the strip that had begun life as Will Eisner’s “The Hawk of the Seas,” the feature’s name had long since been shortened to

“The Hawk.” But “Willis Rensie” remained as the house name (“Eisner” spelled backward, of course), though the actual writer is unknown. Thanks to DavidSaunders. From Fiction House’s Jumbo Comics #47 (Jan. 1943). [© the respective copyright holders.]

(Right:) Although Astarita drew few super-hero stories, he reportedly did this one for Quality’s Doll Man #10 (Autumn 1946). Scripter unknown. Thanks to JimLudwig. [Doll Man is a trademark of DC Comics.]

Rafael Astarita—Comic Book Pioneer 37

Page 11: Alter Ego #141


(Below:) Alan Hutchinson’s cover to Gary Brown’s originalarticle in CPA-alpha #325 and Southern Fandom Press

Alliance #163, both from Oct. 1991. [©1991 Gary Brown andAlan Hutchinson; Fatman TM & © Milson.]

[The Brain art © Milson or successors in interest.]

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Fatman, The Lost Issue(Part 1)by Michael T. Gilbert

ometimes you can get too much of a good thing. Case inpoint: Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer!

On paper, it must have seemed a stroke of genius. By 1967,Adam West Batmania was in full swing, and every comic publisher

hoped to cash in on the “camp” craze. Harvey Comics had alreadytapped Joe Simon to create a new “Thriller” line of comics. Towerhad their T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and even Archie had launchedtheir Mighty Comics line, scripted by Superman co-creator JerrySiegel. Everyone hoped their hero would be the next Batman.

With all that activity going on, it’s no surprise that newcomerMilson Publications decided to throw its cape into the ring.Fawcett scholar P.C. Hamerlinck recently shared some backgroundon the company’s origins:

“Will Lieberson was the editor of the first couple of issues,


52 Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt!

Fatman To The Rescue!We see not only Fatman in action, but three Milson staff members, too… sort of! From Fatman #3 (Sept. 1967). [© Milson or successors in interest.]

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Introduction by Bill Schelly

any, many fans contributed to RBCC in the 1960s and1970s. We venture that all of them have stories to shareabout working with, and knowing, G.B. Love. For this

installment of our series, we’ve asked five of them to share some memoriesof those halcyon days.

It’s fitting that we begin with those of Bernie Bubnis, since hecontributed a piece to Gordon Love’s very first fanzine, The Rocket’sBlast #1 (Dec. 1961). Bernie is best remembered as the key organizer ofthe 1964 New York Comicon, as recounted most recently in A/E #137 &138. We continue with artist Robert Kline, whose covers are among themost memorable to appear on RBCC (and other top fanzines of the era—as well as later in Marvel’s Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction,Savage Sword of Conan, etc.). Next come the reminiscences of GaryBrown, whose “Keyhole” column was one of the zine’s most popularfeatures. Gary later found his calling as a newspaper journalist, whilecontinuing his Ibid contributions to CAPA-alpha to the present day.Then, after a brief piece by our FCA editor P.C. Hamerlinck, we closewith Larry Bigman’s affectionate recollection of events leading up toG.B. Love’s life-altering move to Houston, Texas, including Love’s firstexperience with plane travel.

BERNIE BUBNISThe need to share my comic book fascination was so strong that

I eagerly responded to Gordon’s letter in Mystery in Space #72 (Dec.1961). Along with my dues to the SFCA [South Florida Comics

Association], Isent a 226-word shortstory titled “ILoved Her,”about short-circuiting myrobotgirlfriend. Hetold me it wastoo long andcould Ishorten it?Hey, Gordon,I’m a 13-year-

old geek just sitting in my room with a few hundred comic books.I’ve got nothing else to do. I’ll write another story with only 80words. The “Dividing Line,” about a visitor from the fifthdimension, saw print in The Rocket’s Blast #1. “I Loved Her”appeared in Yandro #118 (Nov. 1962), a sci-fi fanzine, accompaniedby an illustration by Dan Adkins. Thank you, Gordon.

Adkins DietWhen Bernie’s G.B.-rejected story “I Loved Her” appeared in Yandro #118

(Nov. 1962), it was accompanied by an illustration by Dan Adkins.[© Estate of Dan Adkins.]

Then and NowBernie Bubnis, then (c. 1964) and, more or less, now (okay,

2014), photographed by his wife Lucille.

Comic Fandom Archive

G.B. Love.(1939-2001)

Photo by Robert Brown.


Alter Ego’s Multi-Part Tribute To G.B. Love & RBCC – Part 5

Remembering RBCC—With LOVE

Five Fans Reminisce About G.B. Love& Contributing To His Classic Fanzine,

The Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector


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In RB #3 or 4, G.B. requested ideas on how to increase the sizeof the newsletter. I used my spirit duplicator to run off about 25copies of a piece about the original Golden Age Atom. Thatappeared in #6. I contributed an art-only ditto page (a Kirbytribute) for #8. These were just stapled into the Love-producedpages. So began our postal affair. He never requested any specifictype of art or article. As I met and interviewed pros, I would typeup an account of it and send it in. It was such a laid-backrelationship that I was shocked when Gordon wrote me a veryangry letter. Oh, oh, what did I screw up now?

I interviewed Jack Kirby and that article appeared in Comicollector.Gordon was disappointed it was not submitted to the Rocket’s Blast.He even referred to me as a member of his “staff” and was disap-pointed that I had forgotten my loyalties. Who knew? Thatincident was really the only real interaction I ever had withGordon Love. I was proud to think I was part of his “staff.” Hence,the bulk of my fan work was published in Rocket’s Blast. I renewedmy loyalty and remain a member of the SFCA to this very day.

Fighting Captain American(Above:) Bernie Bubnis’ ditto insert, a tribute to Jack Kirby (but copying a

1954 Romita Captain America), appeared in The Rocket’s Blast #8 (July 1962).Along with Rick Weingroff, Bernie was a frequent contributor to the earlyissues of Gordon Love’s fanzine, when it morphed from a newsletter into ageneral fanzine. [Captain America TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.; Fighting

American TM & © Estates of Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.]

58 Comic Fandom Archive

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Captain Marvel!(Left & above:) By the time The Rocket’s Blast had reached #19

(June 1963) and #20 (July 1963), it was printed in the“friendlier” ditto process, and becoming known as a

competitor to The Comicollector because its regular monthlyschedule made it an ideal and timely vehicle for fans’

advertisements of comics for sale, et al. Art by Buddy Saundersand Howard Keltner, respectively. [Miss Liberty, Billy Batson,

& Shazam hero TM & © DC Comics.]

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Page 16: Alter Ego #141

The MysteryBehind ThePreviously

Unseen VersionOf C.C. Beck’s

Captain MarvelAdventures #2

Coverby P.C. Hamerlinck

A Comic Book Hit(Counter-clockwise from above left:)

Captain Marvel Adventures #2 (Summer 1941) original cover art; note thatthe CM head is a paste-up.

The published cover.

A photocopy of the original art after the paste-up was removed by HarryMatesky, revealing Beck’s partially-finished first version of CM’s head—

accompanied by Mark Lewis’ blue pencils to CM’s face during therestoration process. [Shazam hero TM & © DC Comics.]


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Schoolboy HobbyBecomes CareerFor Local Artist

M.D. Swayze Draws Well Known ComicsFlyin’ Jenny, Phantom Eagle

by Paul Martinlmost all boys—and girls, too—have at some time in theirlives tried their hand at cartoons or other drawingendeavors, but very few have had their schoolboy hobbiesdevelop into careers. One of the few is Monroe’s own

M.D. Swayze, descendant of one of the South’s oldest families,who is turning out the well-known comic strip Flyin’ Jenny, whichappears daily and Sunday in newspapers from Alaska to Mexicoand coast to coast.

Swayze was born and reared here and turns out his work in a

DITOR’S INTRODUCTION: No FCA anniversary issue would becomplete without the presence of Marc Swayze. Marc, an important part ofour family here at FCA/Alter Ego/TwoMorrows, passed away on October

14, 2012, at the age of 99. His continuous narrative, “We Didn’t Know… It wasthe Golden Age!” graced hundreds of our pages for years, and his colloquial yetilluminating memoirs were unprecedented amongst his Golden Age artist peers.

In case you didn’t previously get to know him in our magazine: Marcus D.Swayze was one of the top artists for Fawcett Publications from 1941-53. The firstMary Marvel sketches emerged from Marc’s drawing table, and he illustrated herearliest tales; but Marc was originally hired by Fawcett to draw “Captain Marvel”stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He alsowrote several “Captain Marvel” scripts while in the military. After his dischargefrom the Army in 1944, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art andstories for them on a freelance basis out of his home in Monroe, Louisiana. Therehe worked on “The Phantom Eagle” featured in Wow Comics, in addition todrawing the Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip, originally created by his mentor,Russell Keaton, for Bell Syndicate. After the cancellation of Wow in 1948, Swayzeproduced artwork for Fawcett’s successful line of romance comics. After thecompany ceased publishing comics, and after a brief stint with CharltonPublications in the mid-’50s, Marc left comics for corporate work. His first “WeDidn’t Know …” column appeared in FCA #54 (1996).

Now, here’s an opportunity to get to know Marc even more as we present thisrare 1945 article showcasing “Monroe’s Comic Creator” from his hometownnewspaper, the long-defunct Monroe Morning World. —PCH.

Through A Glass, DarklyThe front page of the Monroe (Louisiana) Morning World from 1945featuring hometown hero Marc Swayze—referred to throughout as

“M.D. Swayze” by the author of the article. Unfortunately, the photois of poor quality, having been shot through a glass frame. If youcan see it, on Marc’s home studio drawing table is a Flyin’ Jennyoriginal Sunday page he was working on, along with an issue ofWow Comics (#37, July ’45) featuring one of his “Phantom Eagle”stories. Seen on the wall behind him is C.C. Beck’s going-away-from-Fawcett gift to him, the original cover art to Whiz Comics

#19… and a portrait Marc drew of Mickey Malone, aka “The PhantomEagle.” Special thanks to Judy Blackman Swayze.

Hometown HeroA Vintage 1945 NewspaperArticle On Golden Age Great

MARC SWAYZEby P.C. Hamerlinck


AA small studio at his home, 2007 South Grand Street, where he liveswith his father and two sisters, May and Daisy, who take a keeninterest and pride in the work of their son and brother.

“Flyin’ Jenny” is a beauteous blonde aviatress whose love forthe airways leads her from one adventure to another, and currentdaily strips find her involved in an interesting experience with twoconvalescing GIs who are treasure-hunting for Nazi loot. Heradventures are timely with her new thrills, after activities in whichshe recently was testing jet propulsion planes, having a decidedpostwar theme.


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But Jenny is not Swayze’s only endeavor. He is also drawing“The Phantom Eagle” for Wow Comics, a monthly magazine publi-cation, and prior to turning his efforts to Flyin’ Jenny he was a staffartist for Fawcett Publications, New York, drawing and writing thewell-known comic character, “Captain Marvel.”

Swayze’s partner in creating the Flyin’ Jenny strips, which is alsopublished in two foreign languages, Spanish and French, is GlennChaffin, one of the originators of Tailspin Tommy. Chaffin, whosehome is in Corvallis, Montana, prepares the script and plot, thenSwayze draws it up. Swayze’s sister Daisy assists in the inking andlettering.

But she has only been able to lend her aid since the artist’sreturn here from New York, where he was for some time doingillustrations and commercial art for magazines before taking to thefruitful comic field.

The war interrupted Swayze’s work for a while and he served ayear and a half with the United States Army before beinghonorably discharged about a year ago. He has since been electedfirst vice commander of the L.B. Faulk Post No. 13, AmericanLegion, here.

With his Army discharge the young artist returned to New Yorkbriefly before heading home with the Flyin’ Jenny and “PhantomEagle” assignments. For the past year, Swayze has been drawingthe Sunday page, but recently he took over the daily strip as welland now has full charge of the artwork, daily and Sunday.

“New York is all right for those who like it,” Swayze declared.“But I am all Southerner, and I took to the comic field as a meansof being able to come home.”

It’s a full-time job, but he keeps his workseveral weeks ahead of publication dates andmails his drawings to Bell Syndicate eachweekend. The syndicate handles distribution tosubscribing papers.

Often scenes in his drawings are from actualbuildings and places right here in Monroe, and ina recent Flyin’ Jenny daily strip there was adrawing of Conway Memorial Hospital. Thescene called for a hospital building in thebackground, so Swayze drove to the institution ashort distance south of his home and sketched theMonroe building.

Because his drawings of airships are so up todate and true to actual designs, Swayze isconsidered something of an authority on planes.Manufacturers of such ships keep him suppliedwith pictures of new planes and designs they areturning out, and frequently he finds an occasionfor sketching the new craft into his strips, muchto the pleasure of the plane designers.

But Swayze frankly admits he’s not the airshipauthority some think him to be.

“I’ve been up in a plane only three times in mylife,” he said. “The first time I was curious. Thesecond time I was indifferent. And the third timeI was just bored.”

Educated in the city schools of Monroe, youngSwayze found his teachers encouraging, and MissLouise Moore, art instructor for the city schoolsystem, gave him special attention as a student at

Neville High School from which he graduated. He was art editor ofthe Neville yearbook during his senior year. Then he attendedNortheastJunior Collegeof I.S.U., wherehe was arteditor of thecollegeyearbook. He isalso a graduateof LouisianaTech, where artwas hisprincipal study.

The Swayzefamily is one ofthe oldest in theSouth, the firstSwayzessettling in thiscountry nearNatchez,Mississippi, in1772, when thispart of thecountry wasunder Southrule. The familyhas spread outover

This Is A Job For—Well, Maybe Not Captain MarvelIn his final year, Marc Swayze identified for me that he illustrated “Captain Marvel and the Job HeCouldn’t Do!” from Captain Marvel Adventures #13 (July 1942)—but Marc could sure do the job!

Scripter unknown. [Shazam hero TM & © DC Comics.]

Bound For The Big City!Marc Swayze, right before heading to New York City for

the first time to meet… Captain Marvel!

Hometown Hero 73

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A Farewell ToBinder Shop ArtistNAT CHAMPLIN

(July 14, 1919–March 16, 2015)by P.C. Hamerlinck

athaniel Lewis Champlin was one of the Pratt Instituteartists who worked at the comic book page-producing JackBinder shop/barn in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1941 and

early 1942, prior to his entering the military during World War II.My interview with Nat appeared in Alter Ego #3 (Winter 2000).

Within the shop’s assembly-line process, Nat’s work waspiecemeal; he recalled working on such Fawcett comic series as“Ibis the Invincible,” “Golden Arrow,” and others… sometimesdoing a layout rough, or inking backgrounds and secondaryfigures. He also had a hand in pages for “The Black Owl” (PrizePublications) and “Doc Savage” and “Blackstone” (Street & Smith).In our interview, he enlightened readers by detailing which artistsdid what at Binder’s. Nat was also part of the lunchtime baseballgames the artists would play against the Fawcett staff and others.Most of the artists knew each other from Pratt, even before goingto work at Binder’s. Nat got to know Kurt Schaffenberger the best,as the two artists had adjoining rooms in a rental home just a fewblocks from Binder’s shop. Nat was able to finance a good part of

his Pratt education with what heearned at Binder’s.

Drafted into the Army onAugust 1942, Nat was deployedoverseas in October 1943, foughtin battles up the boot of Italy toCassino, and participated in theAnzio Invasion on January 22, 1944—the latter being where helived in a hole he had dug into the ground during the cold ofwinter, hoisting a platform inside of it for his sleeping bag. He washonorably discharged on October 26, 1944.

After the war he freelanced photography, illustrated school-books, and, as a returning student at Pratt, showcased anacclaimed exhibit of his war art at the institute. His final comicbook work was a 4-page filler for Stan Lee at Timely Comics in1945 called “Sir Gnat, the Dragon Slayer.”

In 1946 Nat became assistant professor of fine and applied art atMiami University, Oxford, Ohio, and, upon learning he had toobtain a master’s degree to continue his professorship, enrolled atColumbia University Teacher’s College in 1948 under the GI Bill ofRights. After earning the master’s degree, he went on to earn hisdoctorate in education in 1952. After graduation, he taughtindividual courses in the New York area: Brooklyn College, NewYork University, and Hunter College. He was visiting professor inthe summer of 1953 at Iowa State University and had a summerappointment many years later at Indiana University.

In 1954 Nat was offered a position as assistant professor ofhistory and philosophy of education in the College of Education atWayne State University in Detroit. In addition, he taught in thetheoretical sequence and was chairman of the theoretical staff atCranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, MI, from 1955-65.

Nat married Mildred Kautto in 1957 and they had two girls anda boy.

Nat’s writing appeared in many professional journals, as well asin the New York Times and The Saturday Review. He was a consultantto the Bureau of Research, U.S. Department of Education. Upon hisretirement in 1982, the Michigan State Senate issued a concurrentresolution of appreciation for Professor Emeritus Champlin’scontributions to education in the state.

The Champlins stayed active over the years and were avidrunners. The month before he turned 80, Nat ran a 10-mile race,winning first place in his age group. Another one of his hobbieswas digging and diving for antique bottles, and he illustrated

NN Nat ChamplinSeen in his Pratt Institute yearbook

photo from 1941. Nat would soon seemany of his schoolmates working

over at Jack Binder’s shop. Thanks toShaun Clancy.

Ibis In The MorningNat Champlin identified that he inked the secondary figures and

backgrounds on this particular Binder Shop-produced “Ibis the Invincible”tale from Whiz Comics #24 (Nov. 1941), wherein the Nazis seize control of themystical “Ibistick”… only to suffer the consequences! [Ibis the Invincible TM

& © DC Comics.]


Page 20: Alter Ego #141


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ALTER EGO #141From Detroit to Deathlok, we cover the career of artist RICHBUCKLER: Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Black Panther, Ka-Zar,Dracula, Morbius, a zillion Marvel covers—Batman, Hawkman,and other DC stars—Creepy and Eerie horror—and that’s just inthe first half of the 1970s! Plus Mr. Monster, BILL SCHELLY,FCA, and comics expert HAMES WARE on fabulous Golden Ageartist RAFAEL ASTARITA!

(84-page FULL-COLOR magazine) $8.95 (Digital Edition) $3.95