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Roy Thomas Dynamic Comics Fanzine Roy Thomas Dynamic Comics Fanzine $ 5.95 In the USA $ 5.95 In the USA No. 19 December 2002 PLUS: PLUS: Art ©2002 Estate of Dick Sprang; Batman & Robin TM & ©2002 DC Comics.

Alter Ego #19

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Editor Roy Thomas' ALTER EGO #19 kicks off its new monthly schedule with a bat-signal spotlight on DICK SPRANG, the ultimate Golden Age Batman artist! Behind two fabulous full-cover covers (by SPRANG and FRED "Tomahawk" RAY), you'll find DICK SPRANG profiled and interviewed, with classic and unseen art! There's rare Batman art and artifacts by BOB KANE, CHARLES PARIS, SHELLY MOLDOFF, MAX ALLAN COLLINS, JIM MOONEY, CARMINE INFANTINO, ALEX TOTH, and other Golden/Silver Age greats! Vintage Batman illustrator JERRY ROBINSON is interviewed about Tomahawk and 1940s cover artist par excellence FRED RAY! Plus: There's FCA with MARC SWAYZE, C.C. BECK, et al., MICHAEL T. GILBERT on WALLY WOOD's Flash Gordon, Part 2, and MORE!

Text of Alter Ego #19

  • Roy Thomas Dynamic Comics Fanzine

    Roy Thomas Dynamic Comics Fanzine

    $5.95In the USA

    $5.95In the USA

    No. 19December



    Art 2002 Estate of Dick Sprang; Batman & Robin TM & 2002 DC Comics.

  • Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues:$8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 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.


    Vol. 3, No. 19 / December 2002Editor Roy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorsJohn MorrowJon B. Cooke

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

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

    Production AssistantEric Nolen-Weathington

    Cover ArtistsDick SprangFred Ray

    Cover ColoristsTom ZiukoFred Ray

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

    And Special Thanks to:

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: Hope Sprangs Eternal! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Ask not what the now-monthly Alter Ego can do for you, but rather!

    Dick Sprang Rides Again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4The late Golden Age Batman illustrator, interviewed by Ike Wilson.

    The Good Batman Artist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18Road to Perdition writer Max Allan Collins extols the one and only Dick Sprang.

    The Greatest Batman Artist Who Ever Lived! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19Dont be shy, Bob Koppany! What do you really think of Richard W. Sprang?

    Who Cares? I Do! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22Comics master Alex Toth on comic art in generaland Batman in particular!

    Batman during the Sprang Era . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28Weve also got a fondness for Kane, Robinson, Schwartz, Mooney, and Moldoff!

    Partners in Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Sprang and inker Charles Paris talk about their longtime Batman collaboration.

    FCA [Fawcett Collectors of America] No. 78 . . . . . . . . . . . 43P.C. Hamerlinck presents Marc Swayze, and a look at Captain Marvel Jr.

    Focus on Fred Ray & Mort Leav . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: A late-1980s photo of Dick Sprang juxtaposed with a detailjust a part,mind youof a 1986 Batman and Robin conceptual illustration, which was previouslyprinted only in Ike Wilsons contribution to the fanzine CFA-APA in 88. For the full doubletruck drawing, see p. 11. Art and photo courtesy of Ike Wilson. [Art 2002 Richard W. Sprangestate; Batman & Robin & other artifacts TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    Above: We like Ike! (Wilson, that is.) And not just because Ike, the agent for the Sprang estate,sent us what he calls an unfinished illustration for [a] Gotham Graphics litho certificate bythe fabled artist. Since Dick Sprang is the focus of this half of the issue, weve used it as ourcontents page header, though without altering a single line of the artexcept for putting ourA/E logo inside it, of course. [Art 2002 Richard Sprang estate; Batman & Robin TM & 2002DC Comics.]

    Manuel AuadMark AustinBob BaileyMike W. BarrJack BenderRay Bottorff, Jr.Jerry K. BoydAlan BrennertLen BrownJack BurnleySteven ButlerTony CerezoMax Allan CollinsTeresa R. DavidsonAl DellingesJoe DesrisJames DotyDon EnsignRon FernandezCarl GaffordJack GilbertMichael R. GraboisJanice GreenDavid G. HamiltonBill HarperRon HarrisRoger HillBob KoppanyMort Leav

    Mitch LeeSteve LeialohaArthur LortieBrian MakaraDan MakaraDennis MalloneeJohn MoretJim MotavalliJohn ProvinceCharlie RobertsEthan RobertsJerry RobinsonEric SchumacherDr. Augustus ScottNoreen ShawMarc SimmsJeff SmithRobin SnyderDick & Cindy

    SwanMarc SwayzeDann ThomasAlex TothMichael J. VassalloJ. VillalpandoRon WebberDylan WilliamsIke WilsonMichael Zeno

    In MemoriamRichard Grass Green

  • [NOTE: This interview was conducted in the Phoenix[Arizona] area home of Dick and Marion Sprang on August12, 1987, by Ike Wilson. It was transcribed by Barry Burris,copy-edited by David Bachman, and edited by Dick Sprangand Ike Wilson, and has previously been printed only in thelimited-edition apa-zine CFA-APA #13, Sept.1988. Text2002 Ike Wilson.]

    IKE WILSON: How did you get started in comics?

    DICK SPRANG: I was living in New York City, illustratingfor the pulp magazinesthe western, detective, and adventuremagazines in the era of the late 1930s. I wanted to leave NewYork and move west, and the only way I could see to make aliving as a commercial artist in the Far West was to become aghost artist for a major comic strip, because there were nosignificant commercial art outlets in Phoenix or anywhere elsein the area I wanted to live, which was Arizona, Utah, or NewMexico. Perhaps there may have been in Los Angeles or SanFrancisco, but I didnt want to live in or near those cities. Iwas able to take over a portion of Batman production, provemyself, and after the war I came west and did Batman and ashare of Superman up until the time I retired, voluntarily, inthe mid-60s.

    IW: Did you have any special art training, or did you studyon your own?

    SPRANG: A lot of studying on my own, in addition to highschool art classes with a very good teacher who emphasizedthe fundamentals of drawinghow to draw a box, a hand, anautomobile, in perspective. Then I went to work for theScripp-Howard newspaper chain in Toledo, Ohio. I was in theart department, where we had to meet five deadlines a day. Wehad five editions on the street that, in part, carried differentadvertisements for jewelry stores, furniture stores, and so on.

    We had todraw theitems theysold, pluseditorial cartoons andeditorial illustrations.I had to work withengravers, and Imastered thetechnology ofprinting. I learned thevalue of meeting adeadline. You grewup fast in that atmos-phere. That wasbetter training thancould be found in themajority of artschools of the day.

    IW: So actuallypractice was the bestmethod of training?

    SPRANG: It was for me. Given a native sort of talent to draw and themotivation and drive to develop it is one of the best ways to train. Youlearned your craft by working at it, especially if you were workingunder deadlines. Self-discipline is the best discipline, because its thetoughest.

    IW: Did you ever have the opportunity to work for any other comicscompany besides DC?

    SPRANG: Yeah, one I remember was Prize Comics. I think we did afew of the Power Nelson stories, and perhaps a cover or two. NormanFallon, Ed Kressey, and I had a little studio loft on 42nd Street between5th Avenue and Grand Central Station. We did the Prize stuff and a fewsketches for the Lone Ranger comic strip, and a bit of script writing forthat titles radio show. But thats the extent of the comic work I didbefore I joined DC. Our main thrust was advertising illustration, and I,independent of Norm and Ed, did pulp illustrations.

    IW: Were you ever influenced by any particular artist?

    An Interview with One of the Greatestof Golden Age Batman Illustrators Conducted by Ike Wilson

    A half-inked panel by Sprang, done for some earlycomics feature but never used; provided by Ike

    Wilson. [2002 the Richard Sprang estate.]

    Dick Sprang in 1991 at the AcmeCon in Greensboro, North Carolinaand a reproduction from photocopies of original art from Batman #56 (Dec. 49-Jan. 50). According to

    interviewer and Sprang estate agent Ike Wilson, this splash is one of the rare Dick Sprangoriginals that turned up at the Kansas City Convention [in 1987]. Photocopy courtesy

    of Ike and of Batman collector/expert Joe Desris, from whose collection it comes; photo by Teresa R. Davidson, courtesy of TRD & Jim Amash. [2002 DC Comics.]

    4 Spotlight On DICK SPRANG part one

  • SPRANG: Yes. Concerning comics,I was mainly influenced by AlexRaymond. In those years when wehad full-page Sunday supplementswith Terry and the Pirates, PrinceValiant, and Flash Gordon, some ofus who wanted to become comic bookillustrators studied those men, enviedthem highly, copied them, and decided we

    would never copy as well as those men didtheir work, which would have been amistake anyway. But one of those studieswe probably developed was a proficiencysomehow that derived from their work.

    Alex Raymond was a superb figure man.He could draw figures in any form of action.That was a great influence, and evidence ofthe need to draw figures well. I also studiedmen like Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, thegreat illustrators who brought great compo-sitions and motion to their work. Wyethsillustrations of pirates fighting on the deck

    of a shipImean theymoved! Myother favoritesamong the illus-trators of myyouth wereHarold VonSchmidt, RobertFawcetttruly a masterdraftsmanTom Lovell,John Gannam,

    A triptych of Sprang art: (1) Napoleon in exile, from a studentproject (grade/age uncertain). Sprangs notation indicates thathe felt this previously-unpublished drawing (one of a series)was the Best of series - gazing out upon the sad and solemn

    sea... evidently a quotation. (2) President FranklinRoosevelt, drawn for the Toledo News-Bee in the late

    30s; (3) a half-finished pulp illo, courtesy of Dr.Augustus Scott. The latter drawing appeared in Bob

    Kopannys fabulous 1998 coffee table book The Art ofRichard W. Sprang (more about it on pp. 20-22); the others

    are courtesy of Ike Wilson. [First illo 2002 the Richard Sprangestate; second 2002 the respective copyright holder; third

    2002 Augustus Scott & the Richard Sprang estate.]

    At left, an ad for the Fallon-Sprang studio indicates they were providing art to Prize Comics Power Nelson, Harveys Shock Gibson, and Hillmans SkyWizard (see A/E V3#2), among others. A/Es founder Jerry Bails feels the splash at right, from Prize #8 or #9 (1941), was probably penciled by Ed Kressy andinked by Norman Fallon, rather than drawn by Sprang, who drew the stronger artwork in the ad. Anybody know where K-7, The Scorpion, and Speed

    Martin appearedand what the heck they were? Ad provided by Ike Wilson. Thanks to Jerry Bails for the Prize page. [2002 the respective copyright holders.]

    Rides Again 5

  • Herbert Morton Stoops, Rockwell Kent,Peter Helck, and Dean Cornwell. Theirwork taught me many lessons, and I owethem much.

    IW: Did movies have an influence?

    SPRANG: Very much. Very much. Movies were a great influencesimply because they had movement. In those years the moviemakersrealized that the camera was a hell of a versatile device. There was nobetter means of telling a story than with a movie camera, if the cameramoves and the actors move and dont just stand around and talk. But acomic artist works in a static medium. What I tried to do was get intomy work a dramatic highlight, such as you would identify in a filmaction sequence, in other words to isolate peak action in whatmoviemakers call the frozen frame, the equivalent of a comic bookpanel. There are a lot of visual tricks used in trying to create this, andits tough to describe them without going into great detail.

    One detail, for instance, is use of the follow-through that we knowin golf, tennis, and baseball, where the follow-through is important tothe accuracy of the driven or thrown ball. In the static medium ofgraphic illustration, the depiction of the follow-through establishes aflowing action. For example, when Batman would be in a fist fightwith a crook and hes striking him on the jaw, you dont stop the fistright at the jaw. You can, and you can draw your little splash impactsymbol there, and have the crook falling back. But its far moreeffective when Batmans fist strikes the jaw and, with the arm trailingspeed lines, follows through, goes beyondthe jaw to one side. Leave the splashsymbol indicating impact at the pointwhere the fist struck the jaw, but have thefist follow through. This is a way ofactivating the frozen frame, simulatingmotion in a static medium. Ive used itscores of times. Everybody has.

    Another method of enhancing theillusion of speed: draw a big truck goingdown the highway. Okay, its a movingvehicle and you draw a bunch of speedlines following the vehicle. You have thewheels off the ground slightly, indicating ahigher speed. But a better device is to havea tarpaulin on the top of the truck blow

    partially loose and be billowing in the air as the truckspeeds along. That is all you need. You dont needspeed lines, the billowing tarp dramatically indicatesspeed.

    IW: When you have drawn Batmans cape, it showsa lot of movement.

    SPRANG: Yes, the cape is an excellent device.Probably Kane had this in mind when he createdBatman, as did the guys who created Superman. Its apowerful instrument to show speed and action, theway it folds and billows.

    IW: Some of your work was inked by Charles Paris.Did you ever ink any of your own work?

    SPRANG: Oh, yes. In the early years, I inked all of it.But to increase my production, the powers-that-wereat DC decided to have someone else ink my work andthat way I could turn out more pencils. It was a matterof expedience. Inking can be fun, and good inking iscreative, but after you pencil a drawing, it can be abore going back over every line. And my pencils werepretty exact.

    These late-30s (?) pencil sketches show thatSprang was studying Alex Raymonds classic FlashGordon newspaper strip. Provided by Ike Wilson.

    [2002 the Richard Sprang estate.]

    Dick Sprang in 1945around the time he penciled and inked theaccompanying splash for Batman #32, for the second of the stories in

    which Prof. Nichols sent Batman and Robin (well, actually, Bruce Wayneand Dick Grayson) back in time. (Dec. 1945/Jan. 1946). Photo courtesy of

    Ike Wilson; all rights reserved. [Batman art 2002 DC Comics.]

    6 Dick Sprang

  • IW: Were they tight pencils?

    SPRANG: Yes. I used soft pencils,2B, and applied them over a verydim sketch. My initial sketch wouldbe laid in heavily. I would dim itwith a kneadable eraser, then refinethe sketch in final tight penciling.

    IW: How long would it take you topencil one page?

    SPRANG: One day, six panels.

    IW: And how long if you penciledand inked, both?

    SPRANG: Maybe a day and a half,maybe more. Inking requires a lot ofprecisely rendered detail. Neverdisparage a good inkers technologyand contribution. Charlie Paris, whoinked most of my stuff, is a mastercraftsman.

    IW: Did you ever ink any otherartists? I think maybe you inkedsome of Curt Swans WorldsFinest covers.

    SPRANG: I have no recollection ofinking anyone elses covers or otherart.

    IW: Are you familiarwith any of the workof more recentBatman artists, suchas Marshall Rogers,Neal Adams, or FrankMiller?

    SPRANG: FrankMiller, I am. Theothers Im not. I haveseen Miller only in thehardback book thatGraphitti published,The Dark Knight.

    IW: What did youthink of the book?

    SPRANG: Great,marvelous. Hiscityscapes aremagnificent. Hisbuildings, hisperspective, hisfigure movement,his compositions, his

    use of everything that would contribute to a dramatic presentation isthere. And the color work by his wife [Lynn Varley] is superb.Absolutely superb.

    IW: Would you say the story is too harsh?

    SPRANG: Frankly, I must admit I havent read the story. I will when Iget time. But this Batman is just not the old Batman. I understand that

    Robin is now a girl. Is that true?

    IW: Thats in Dark Knight. In the regularBatman book they have a different Robin.The old Robin has become a character calledNightwing, with a different costume. Theyhave an entirely new Robin.

    SPRANG: Well, as I told you early in our visit,I dont follow modern comics except those thatpeople send or bring to me in small number. Ireally dont know whats going on in anythoroughly informed way. There was an artist[Don Newton] who lived in Phoenix for a timeand died quite young. His concept of Batman Iliked. He used a great deal more black shadingthan I was allowed to use. He created a moody,darker image of Batman, which was fine. It fitthe character, and the name. He was a hell of agood artist and, Im told, a very nice, modestguy.

    IW: Speaking of artists, how did you likeworking with Bob Kane?

    SPRANG: I didnt [work with him]. I met BobKane once in DCs offices to say hello, andthats all. I know nothing about working withBob Kane.

    IW: How did you like working with BillFinger?

    SPRANG: Very much. Its a strange thing. Irecently read an extensive interview I gave a

    The illo above of DCs two caped crime-crushers was penciled by Sprang and inkedby Stan Kaye as the splash of Worlds Finest Comics #85 (Nov.-Dec. 1956); but, for

    reasons unknown, editor Jack Schiff decided to make it the cover, insteadandturned Curt Swans cover art into the splash at right. Sprang/Kaye splash reprodfrom a photostat of the original art, courtesy of Ike Wilson. [2002 DC Comics.]

    Don Newtons rendition of Batman, such as this 1983 page,was well-liked by Sprang for its moodier,

    darker image. [2002 DC Comics.]

    Rides Again 7

  • by Bob KoppanyYes, Im him.

    That guy who wrote a book about the greatest Batman artist whoever lived.

    What book, youre wondering? Which artist, youre asking yourself?Im not surprised most people dont know the book. DC Comics onlyallowed me to print 200 copies of the book, after I spoke with threelawyers about it for more than two hours. And I wasnt allowed to sellthemI had to give them away! The books ended up going to libraries,collectors, and friends. Thats why the book instantly became the rarestBatman collectible ever produced. Thats why the book was bringingover $1000 less than six months after it was printed. I myself have astanding offer to buy back these books at market rate for an impromptulist of collectors (over thirty in line currently) who wanted a copy, butnot one book hascome my way forredistribution.

    Let me tell youabout this book, theHoly Grail ofBatmania that youveprobably neverheard about, letalone seen. Its title isThe Art of RichardW. Sprang. DickSprang. Yes, I know,what a quirkycomic name. Youmay never haveheard of him, either,but Ill get to thatshortly.

    The book was 272pages, hardback. Inits pages there are174 illustrations, 68of which cover hisyears at DC (from1941 through 1963and beyond sporadi-cally until 1998),with 63 illustrationsin full color. Thebook discussesSprangs life, hiswork, and every-thing in between. Itcame out inNovember of 1998, with Sprang himself signing every one. Then, a yearand a half later, in May of 2000, at the age of 82, Dick Sprang died. Only

    200 copies plus sixteen publishers proofs were printed, andthats it. Thats Dick Sprangs legacy. Thats the notice forfuture generations that he walked the Earth, and what heleft behind.

    Let me go into detail about whats in this book. The first38 pages cover his early years growing up in Ohio, hiscomic and art influences, high school, art correspondence,and work he did for newspapers. Then he went to NewYork and became an artist for the pulps, and even wrotesome pulp stories, mainly westerns. Forty pages in the bookcover these years of Sprangs life. Then we get to his work atDC, covering twenty pages or so. Sprang talks about thepeople at DC, and his work, a bit. In 1948 he left New Yorkfor Arizona, and settled in Sedona.

    He was still producing stories for DC but started his firstlove, exploring. Believe it or not, thats what hes known for.He explored parts of Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that fewpeople had explored before. He literally carved the pathsthat turned into the roads that traverse that region. Hefound Anasazi (also know as the Cliff Dwellers) Indianruins that no one knew about before. For those of youunfamiliar with the Anasazi, they were native to theSouthwest in the 1300s or so. Anasazi artifacts areconsidered to be national treasures and it is illegal to removethem from America. Vases that were sold before legislationto protect them brought hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Sprangs name is legend among pioneers of the American Southwest. Hiscorrespondence and explorations are in the Utah Historical Society.

    The Greatest BatmanArtist Who Ever Lived!

    A Paean of Praiseand News about a Book You Probably Never Heard Of

    The cover page of the Sprang/Koppany tomeexcept that thewhite framing area shown here printed as black on the actual

    book. Its Civil War scene was one of several samples Sprang usedto land work in the pulp magazines in the late 30s. No wonder he

    got the job! (The sword, he told Bob, was authentic. Its mygreat-great-uncles.) [2002 Richard Sprang estate.]

    19Spotlight On DICK SPRANG part three

    Dick Sprang signs copies of The Art of Richard W. Sprang on Dec. 1,1998, at the home of editor Bob Koppany. Bobs lovely wife

    Marguerite Harning is seen at right, and Sprangs agent Ike Wilsonat left... but alas, Bob doesnt seem to have had any photos taken ofhimself with the artist! This, Ike says with regret, is the last time Iever saw Dick. Since [his wife] Marion was ill and Dick apparently

    had cancer, we never got together for another convention.[Photo 2002 B. Koppany III.]

  • [EDITORS NOTE: Beginning thisissueor maybe it actually started withhis cogent remarks on Lou Fine two issuesagowere proud to announce that thecommentary of the one and only Alex Tothwill become a regular feature in AlterEgo, appearing in most issues of thismaglike, we hope, forever! Alex, whollprobably disown this grandiose intro-duction, is widely acknowledged as one ofthe finest artists/storytellers in the historyof the comics medium, from his GreenLantern, Justice Society, JohnnyThunder, et al., in the later 1940s,through the day after yesterday. Weveinvited him to have his say about varioussubjects and creators featured in A/E, orpretty much anything elseincluding hisown work, any time he cares toand hesgraciously consented to do so. Hes givenhis column the tentative/temporary title of WHO CARES? I DO! (I like it.)

    [This time around, to make up for a Toth-less A/E #18, were presenting two of hiscolumns in tandemthe first, generalcomments on comics artists and their styleand on the overall comics field... and thesecond, starting on p. 24, pertinent toBatman, a character hes drawn from timeto time, including in the gorgeous Batman:Black and White book of a few years ago.Enjoy! Roy.]

    Comics Master

    Alex Toth...

    22 Spotlight On DICK SPRANG (Interlude #1)

    Background art on these two pages 2002 Alex Toth

  • In General...On Comics

    Alex Toth at an AcmeCon panel in Greensboro,North Carolina, in 1985. Photo taken Teresa R.Davidson; with thanks to TRD & Jim Amash.

    In A/E #19 we printed a Zorro color illo of Toths, though necessarily in black-&-white. We figured that, since Zorro was an acknowledged forerunnerof Batman, it might be appropriate to feature a line-art version of Alexs illo here, and to juxtapose it with a 2002 Toth sketch with the artistsappended comment. Both courtesy of Toth fan-supreme Al Dellinges. [Art 2002 Alex Toth; Zorro TM & 2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    Who Cares? I Do! 23

  • ...And BATMANIn Particular!

    Love that Batman lettering! Thanks to Al Dellinges.[Art 2002 Alex Toth; Batman TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    [Text continued on p. 26]

    24 Alex Toth

  • Text by Roy ThomasWhile Richard W. Sprang is undeniably one of the best and most

    important Batman artists of the 1940s and 1950s, he was, of course,not the only person drawing the Caped Crusader during that period.Among his peers were the following talented stalwarts:

    BOB KANE conceived the idea of Batman in 1939, even if many(including Ye Editor) feel that writer Bill Finger should be officiallyacknowledged as the heros co-creator. Kane worked on the featureeither in comic books or newspaper strips through 1968... at first withthe penciling assistance of Jerry Robinson and the inking of GeorgeRoussos. This 1970s specialty piece seems to be pure Kane, sold in aSothebys auction in the 90s. It makes everybody look like one big

    happy family, doesntitas if the DynamicDuo and their mostfamous antagonists wereenemies only when thecomic book cameraswere rolling! [Art 2002estate of Bob Kane:Batman, Penguin, Joker,& Robin TM & 2002DC Comics.]

    This second drawing,a humorous self-portraitsold at auction in 1998,was drawn by Kane onhis stationery for a fannamed Margiewhoclearly had never seenhim. [Art 2002 estateof Bob Kane; Batman,Robin, & Joker TM &2002 DC Comics.]

    LEW SAYRE SCHWARTZ drew Batman stories but virtually noother features for National/DC from 1946-53, and was one of BobKanes most prolific ghosts. The tale whose splash is printed at left is

    one of his best-rememberedefforts, partlybecause themystery manturned out to beThe Joker, in astory whichrevealed secretsbehind the crimeclowns origin. Itappeared inDetective Comics#168 (Feb. 1951),and was inked byCharles Paris. Aninterview with LewSchwartz byComic Book Artisteditor Jon B.Cooke is scheduledfor an early issue ofAlter Ego. [2002DC Comics.]

    JERRY ROBINSON,who is interviewed onour flip side primarilyabout his friend andcolleague Fred Ray(who also drew Batmanfrom time to time in thisera), soon branched outon his own as a full-fledged artist onBatman covers andstories, and iscommonly consideredone of the best of thebrood. He worked onthe hero, alone or intandem with Kaneand/or inker GeorgeRoussos, from 1939-45,before moving on toother pastures, first incomic books, then in newspaper strips; he has also written booksabout the history of the comics field. An interview with the artist isscheduled in an upcoming issue of this magazine. This cover forDetective Comics #68 (Oct. 1942) is one of Ye Editors personalfavorites. [2002 DC Comics.]

    Batman During TheSprang Era

    A Quick Overview of Dick Sprangs Contemporaries in the Bat-Arena

    28 Spotlight On DICK SPRANG (Interlude #2)

  • [TRANSCRIBERS NOTE: I used to put on comic book conventionsfor Mark Austins Acme Comics in Greensboro, North Carolinathecity where Charles Paris was born. In November of 1989 I was privi-leged to have both Dick Sprang and Charles Paris as guests. As itturned out, this was the only comic-con where these two longtimeartistic collaboratorspenciler and inker of many a Batman taleever appeared together. I had so much to do during the AcmeCon thatI asked Dicks art agent and close friend, Ike Wilson, to moderate thepanel with those two gentlemen. What follows is a well-roundeddiscussion about comics and the first Batman movie, with my personalfavorite Batman art team. Jim.]

    DICK SPRANG: [who was already speaking when the tape started]...and I wasnt getting anywhere. In 1936 I made up some samples andwent to New York City. I tried to break into magazine illustration,mainly the pulp magazines... the western, detective, sports, pulpmagazines. That went along pretty well for two or three years. Whilereading some of the scripts I was to illustrate, I decided to try my handat writing some pulp stories, and so I did. And that worked; I sold aboutthirty of them. Then I could see that the pulps were going down thestream and the comic books were coming on.

    I could also see that New York City was not a place I wanted to livein after World War II. I figured the only thing I could do was to get ajob as a ghost artist on a major comic strip. I didnt care to create myown. I went to DC Comics [then National Periodical Publications] and Icaught on. I worked in New York until 1946; then I left and moved toArizona and have been there ever since. And up to the time I retired, Idid it all by mail. I would send my pencils to New York, they wouldsend them to Charlie in Tucson. We lived about, what, 300 miles apart?[Charles Paris agrees.]

    We never met during that period, but he would ink my pencils andsend them to New York. So we didnt become enemies because we neverhad close contact, you see. [audience laughs] But Im telling you that ifanyone would ever make an enemy out of an inker of the quality, skill,and vitality of Charley Paris, that penciler would have been crazy,because Charley is the best in the business. Absolutely!

    IKE WILSON: Okay, Charley, how did you get started in comics?

    CHARLES PARIS: I was going to the Grand Central School of Art,

    studying under Harvey Dunn, who was a very famous illustrator. Someof the fellows in that class were working for DC at that time, so I knewthem there. Every year in the spring, after school was out, Dunn wouldhave a cookout for the students and past students. It was at one of thosethat [comic artist] Jack Lehti asked me if Id like to be his inker. I had toask him what an inker was, because I was in the department storedisplay at that time. He told me and advised me to keep my job while hetaught me how to ink. I inked for him for about two or three months,when he told me I could quit my job. From then on, I was into comics; Ijust fell in the back door.

    IW: Charley, what was it like to work in the DC bullpen? Who weresome of the other pencilers you inked? Did you influence each otheror bounce ideas off of each other?

    PARIS: We discussed things. Cliff Young was in the bullpen and wasdoing Green Lantern. Alex Brodie [NOTE: Did he mean SteveBrodie? Jim.], whom Dick knew up in Sedona... he was inking stuff.

    (Left to right:) Inker Charles Paris, moderator Ike Wilson, and artist Dick Sprang at the AcmeCon panel, 1989. Photo by Teresa R. Davidson;

    courtesy of TRD & Jim Amash.

    30 Spotlight On DICK SPRANG part fourPartners In Time

    An Interview with the Classic Batman Team of DICK SPRANG and CHARLES PARISConducted by Ike Wilson Transcribed by Jim Amash

    The Sprang/Paris splash for the cover story in Batman #81 (Feb.-March 1954), reprod from the mostly black-&-white 1971 book

    Batman from the 30s to the 70s. [2002 DC!Comics]

  • George Roussos was doing the backgrounds on Batman, and JerryRobinson was doing the figures. Raymond Perry was in charge ofcoloring at that time. I was there, Stan Kaye was in the next desk...Freddy Ray, Jerry Robinson. There was a change because World War IIcame along and a lot of guys were being drafted, so the staff changedfrom time to time.

    It was a great experience to work in the bullpen with those people. Iwas able to ask them how to proceed because I didnt know anythingabout this business, really. When Jack Lehti was called into the serviceand Whit Ellsworth, who was the head editor there, put me in thebullpen... he put me to work inking Lee Harris strip called Air Wave.Then Lee was called into the service and they gave the strip to GeorgeRoussos, then put me to inking Mort Meskins stuff [e.g, Vigilante].He was a great, great penciler, too, and was patient with me. He was oneof the best in the business.

    Youre probably going to ask me how we got together, so go aheadright now. [audience laughter]

    IW: [to Sprang] Well, how did you feel about Charley inking yourpencils?

    SPRANG: I felt wonderful. Until I saw them, well, naturally a pencilergets a little worried about what an inker will do to his all mighty creations,you know. But that turned out to work as beautifully as ever could beexpected. I always did a very tight, detailed pencil job of not only theconstruction of objects and figures, but also the line shading and paidgreat attention to any background detail such as lamp posts or themechanics of some of those huge machines that Bill Finger dreamed up.He was one of the great writers of the comics. And I provided these to myinker, and while it denied the inker some creativity in regards to puttinghimself into the rendition, Charley didnt seem to mind that at all.

    But his great creativity was the vigor of his inked lines. He had amasterful control of the most difficult inking instrument there is, whichis a sable brush. It comes to a fine point and you use a number three or anumber two or sometimes even a number one brush. Thats awfully hardto master. Charley is the ultimate master of that particular brush [Note:Dick is talking about a Winsor-Newton sable brush. Jim.] and hiswork just made my pencils sing, and Im eternally grateful to Charleyfor the fine job he did.

    I felt absolutely no regrets once I saw that this man, whom I met onlyonce in the hallway at DC or in Whits office, just long enough to sayhello to, that he was doing my work. I paid him great silent respect.Today, Im paying him verbal respect at long last.

    IW: Didnt Charley once say that the job of an inker was to followthe pencilers intentions?

    SPRANG: Thats an astute statement.

    IW: What was it like inking Dicks pencils as opposed to some of theother artists you were inking?

    PARIS: It was very great to work on his stuff, because I never had anydoubt as to what he wanted me to do with his pencils. I certainlycouldnt say that about some of the other pencilers I inked. I dont thinkthere was ever any criticism from the office when I turned the stuff in.Nothing ever had to be changed.

    Some of these other guys stuff would come in and Id wonder,What is that supposed to be? What am I supposed to do with it?Sometimes I didnt know, but that wasnt the case with Dicks stuff. Helaid it out beautifully and Id simply try to do the best job that I couldon his pencils. It was a great pleasure to be able work with him, and tosay this because after 40 years, we didnt see each other. He lived in

    Some of the most dynamic pre-Sprang Batman covers were rendered by Jerry Robinsonsuch as DetectiveComics #66 (by Robinson with George Roussos inks) and #69 (full art by Robinson). [2002 DC Comics.]

    Partners In Time 31

  • Prescott and I lived in Tucson. We hadnt seen each other until abouttwo years ago.

    That lady back there... would you stand up please, Marion? ThatsMrs. Sprang and shes a tennis buff. She had Dick bring her down towatch a few tennis matches that were a few miles from where I lived andthey stopped in to see me. Since then, weve seen quite a bit of eachother, though most of our contact is through the telephone. [Spranglaughs] Now dont get me started because Ill go on and you neverknow where itll end.

    IW: Dick, how difficult was it to make the transition from pulps tocomics?

    SPRANG: It was very drastic, because in the pulps we were using ahighly shaded style that we called dry brush. Or wed use a lithographiccrayon on pebbled illustration board thatd give a half-tone effect. It wasfun because it was very loose and slashing. In comics, we had to limitourselves to a hard line. It was a great change but it wasnt too difficult.It was really simpler, because I wasnt confronted with the problems ofdeciding the direction of light with the intensity that you had to dowhen youre shading a bunch of gunfighters in a saloon, with oneoverhead lamp lighting them all with eighteen different shadows movingaround. Comics were more simple. Today in comics, were seeing a lotof very intricate shading, which is a very good advance for the medium.

    IW: I know that you put a lot of accuracy in your work. Exactly whatkind of research did you do to make that work more authentic?

    SPRANG: Well, I had extensive piles of newspapers and had a great filewhich we called a morgue, that wed go to for almost any use. It wasall indexed under almost every conceivable subject. I created my own fileby clipping magazines and photos. If you want to draw a certainairplane, you have to make it correct. If youre drawing the greattemples of Egypt, you must make it correct. Our great editorial director,Whitney Ellsworth, insisted on this in a very quiet way. He said, Look.When a kid reads this comic and you go back in time (like some of thestories with Batman and Robin), they are looking at the architecture andthe chariots or the Knights of the Round Table, we want it to beauthentic. In that kids mind, theres a authentic depiction of whatsbeing depicted, not some faked-out thing. Never fake it, Dick. I said,Thats right up my alley because I love research, especially historicalresearch. I attempted to do that.

    As for some of the big machines that Bill Finger and Don Camerondreamed up... my father was an electrical and mechanical engineer and Igrew up in his factory shop where he was redesigning machinery all thetime. Huge lathes, punch presses, drill presses, and so on. I becamefamiliar with the principles of mechanical movement. So when BillFinger would give me some godawful machine coming down the streetwith arms out in all different directions, I knew how to articulate thosemetal arms. Theres a certain mechanical joint thats universally used forthat purpose. I dont think anybody, except for some engineer, wouldrealize that the drawings were halfway authentic, because I couldnttruly make it authentic. Butresearch was fun and I got akick out of it. In all of mywork, about 75 or 80% of itwas about as authentic as youcould get... battleships, racingcars, airplanes, architecture...it was fun.

    IW: Did Don Cameroncome up with those time-period stories?

    SPRANG: Yes, he did. Idont know how many hewrote and I wish Id keptnotes of that. He was verycreative, and I want to tellyou something else. We sit

    The Riddler first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (Oct. 1948), with art by Sprang & Paris. Reprod from Batman from the 30s to the 70s.

    [ 2002 DC Comics.]

    An early-40s photo of Charles Paris and hiswife Phoebe, as seen in the book Batman: The

    Sunday Classics, 1943-46, of which more below.[2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    Dick & Marion Sprang with Acme Comics owner Mark Austin in the lattershome in 1989. The lad behind Mark is Robert Millikin. Photo taken by

    Pocho Morrow; courtesy of Jim Amash & Teresa R. Davidson.

    32 Sprang & Paris

  • [Cap



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    No. 78

    CAPTAINMARVEL JR.The Post-War Years

    MARC SWAYZEsWe Didnt Know... It Was the Golden Age


  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE:From 1941-53, Marcus D.Swayze was a top artist forFawcett Comics. The very firstMary Marvel charactersketches came from Marcsdrawing table, and he illus-trated her earliest adventures,including the classic MaryMarvel origin story, CaptainMarvel Introduces MaryMarvel (CMA #18, Dec. 42);but he was primarily hired byFawcett Publications to illus-trate Captain Marvel storiesand covers for Whiz Comicsand Captain MarvelAdventures. He also wrotemany Captain Marvel scripts,and continued to do so while inthe military. World War IIended, and after drawing Ibisthe Invincible and Mr. Scarletstories, he made an arrange-ment with Fawcett to produceart and stories for them on afreelance basis out of hisLouisiana home. There hecreated both art and story forThe Phantom Eagle in WowComics, in addition to drawingthe Flyin Jenny newspaperstrip for Bell Syndicate (createdby his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation ofWow, Swayze produced artwork for Fawcetts top-selling line ofromance comics, including Sweethearts and Life Story. After thecompany ceased publishing comics, Marc moved over to CharltonPublications, where he ended his comics career in the mid-50s. Marcsongoing professional memoirs have been FCAs most popular featuresince his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue, Marcdiscussed his friendship with C.C. Beck. In this installment, Marcrecalls a summit visit by the Becks, when he and his erstwhilecolleague leafed through old Fawcett comics, trying to determinewho had drawn what. Through some handy detective work, Marcpoints out key artistic characteristics of the Worlds MightiestMortal to help solve the mystery. P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    As C.C. Beck and I thumbed through some old Fawcettcomic books on one of their visits to our homein the 1970s, the conversation, as I recall, went:Did you do that one or did I? Is this one

    yours or mine?

    We were comparing the covers of various issues ofWhiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventuresmagazines published when we had worked side by side asmembers of the art staff thirty years earlier. We werehaving trouble distinguishing our work, one from theother.

    Fawcett comic book covers were assigned as personalart projects rarely as collaborations other than theplugs and blurbs that were added prior to printing. Witha few exceptions the covers of the two regularly-published books that featured Captain Marvel had beenprepared by C.C. Beck, beginning with their first issues.

    By the time I entered the fray, the super-herohad filled out a bit physically and achieved theimage that comics editor Ed Herron and artdirector Al Allardand otherswanted. It wasthe Captain Marvel I was there to draw.

    It was also the Captain Marvel that Beck andI were puzzling over that evening at my house.Your work or mine? There must have beensome satisfaction, at least on my part, at the diffi-culty we were having, after so many years, indetermining who did what. After all, maintainingthe similarity had been my purpose. At the time,though, it didnt make much difference. We wereenjoying a vacation visit and not interested incomic book history. A call to dinner may havebeen enough for us to lay aside the oldmagazines with no intention to pursue the matterfurther.

    Since then, though, I have become less patientabout leaving such questions dangling. When Idecided to do a little snooping on my own, it

    was like examining Captain Marvel for fleas!In a close study of the super-hero as heappeared on the covers, I kept returningto the same three areas most likely toreveal a clue to the artist his yoke, hisears, and the cuffs on his wrists!

    (c) mds


    [Art & logo 2002 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2002 DC Comics]

    Marc Swayze (printed) cover for Captain Marvel Adventures #19 (Jan. 1943)

    [2002 DC Comics]...

    ...and C.C. Becks 1977 re-creation of the Cap and Santa Claus figures from thatcover. [Art 2002 estate of C.C. Beck; Captain Marvel TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    44 We Didnt Know...

  • by Don EnsignEdited by P.C. HamerlinckPart I

    [NOTE: Over the next few issues of Alter Ego, FCA will serializethis study of Captain Marvel Jr.his artists, stories, and themesinthe years after World War II.]

    IntroductionWho were the most popular super-heroes during the Golden Age of




    Captain America?

    Captain Marvel?

    Plastic Man?

    If one were to look at the total number of stories published duringwhat is sometimes called the First Heroic Age, the breakdown is (1)Captain Marvel (over 730 stories from 1940-53); (2) Captain Marvel Jr.(over 580 stories from 1942-1953); (3) Batman (over 525 stories from1939-1953); (4) Superman (over 465 stories from 1938-53); and (5)Captain America (over 250 stories from 1941-49).

    While magazines featuring Batman and Superman had total circula-tions higher than Capt. Marvel Jr. (if not Cap himself, at least for a fewyears during the mid-40s), why did the Worlds Mightiest Boy achievesuch heights of popularity? While Junior was created as a spin-off ofthe amazingly popular Captain Marvel, he sustained a significantmeasure of popularity until the end of Fawcetts comic bookpublishing dynasty in 1953.

    The focus of this series will be on the post-war years of CaptainMarvel Jr.

    What made readers come back again and again to buy and read hisadventures?

    Well explore the characters of Cap Jr., Freddy Freeman, and thestrips supporting characters, and what kind of stories made CaptainMarvel Jr. the popular comic book strip it was. Also, we will take aglimpse at the CMJ artwork produced during the post-World War IIera, as well as analyzing the worldview that was conveyed throughJuniors stories.

    In preparing for this article, I read and analyzed a sampling ofstories from issues of Capt. Marvel Jr. and Master Comics (which

    included Junior stories from 1942-53; the issues sampled are from thepost-war and post-Mac Raboy era, Raboy being the artist mostassociated with the character). The stories reviewed for this article werefrom Capt. Marvel Jr. #35-40, 62, 63, 65, 67, 69-71, 93-94, 96, 98-99,108, 110, 117 and Master Comics #65, 68, 83, 93, 95, 111, 117. This is atotal of 86 stories out of the more than 580 Captain Marvel Jr. storiesproduced between 1942 and 1953.

    But first, an overview of...

    Captain Marvel Jr.The Post-War Years

    Cap Jr. was forged in the fiery cataclysm of World War II. This dramatic splash page by Mac Raboy from Master Comics #27 (June 1942) features both

    Junior and his ultimate foe, Captain Nazithe super-fascist whose violentarrogance led both to Freddy Freemans crippling and to the origins of Cap Jr.!

    Reprod from a photocopy of the original art, courtesy of Jack Bender, the current(and only the third) artist of the Alley Oop comic stripbut Jack tells us that, trueto Raboy form, the looming Captain Nazi figure and all art in the panel at bottom

    right is pasted-on photocopies; only the lettering is new! Much of thebreathtaking rendering of London in the Blitz is probably by Raboys backgroundace, Rubin Zubofsky (now Bob Rogers). All the same, Mac Raboys masterful style

    had an enduring influence even in the post-WWII years. [2002 DC Comics.]

    The PostWar Years 47

  • The ArtistsThe post-WWII CMJ artwork is characterized by two major


    The first was the continuing influence of original series artist MacRaboy. Even today, when many collectors and comic book historiansconsider Captain Marvel Jr., Raboys artwork comes foremost tomind. While he drew the strip for a comparatively short time, his stampwas to remain on it through the Fawcett years. The legacy of Raboysunique version of Junior would cast a long shadow over the immediatepost-war period. During the first few of those years, one can see storiescontaining many swipes/tracings/copies or photostats of Raboys workpasted over the work of other artists.

    The other factor that stemmed out of this dominant artistic influencewas a hodgepodge of different styles. Some of these artists were not veryskilled storytellers, and some stories look as though they were rushedand thrown together by several artists. However, by the late 40s andearly 50s the art styles finally settled down and the Raboy influencewhile not completely gonehad diminished significantly.

    The artists who produced the bulk of Juniors art in the post-waryears were Bud Thompson, Joe Certa, and KurtSchaffenberger. Thompson did perhaps some of the bestpost-war CMJ art. He worked out of his own uniquestyle to produce some of Juniors finest stories. His workis characterized by loose and graceful figure work andmood-setting backgrounds. In an interview in Alter EgoV3#7, artist Bob Rogers (then known as RubinZubofsky) stated that he did background work for bothRaboy and Thompson on CMJ stories. Exactly howlong Rogers worked on the feature is not known, but hecertainly deserves credit for the visual success of bothartists versions of the Worlds Mightiest Boy.

    Bernard Bud Thompsons best work is on storieswhere fantasy/folklore elements prevail. His art makessuch stories as The Witch of Winter (CMJ #63), TheGreeting Cards of Hate (CMJ #67), The Terrible

    Topsy-Turvy Table(CMJ #70), TheSinging Donkey(CMJ #71), and TheArk from Space(CMJ #98) minorwhimsical classics ofthe Golden Ageyears. Thompsonseems to have leftcomics entirely withthe demise of theFawcett line in 1953.

    If Thompsons artwas exemplified bygraceful figuredrawing, Joe Certaswork was charac-terized by stifffigure-drawing withrepetitive,serviceable, and

    unimaginativelayouts. Still, Certawas a competentstoryteller and wasable to produce

    volumes of work for Fawcett and other publishers for decades.

    Kurt Schaffenberger was one of comics greatest storytellers. BesidesCaptain Marvel Jr., his outstanding artwork also graced manyCaptain Marvel, Marvel Family, and Ibis the Invincible tales.Perhaps because of Schaffenbergers slightly more cartoon-like aspect tohis art style, his work seemed better fitted to the Big Red Cheese than tothe Worlds Mightiest Boy. Nevertheless, he produced very likable andappealing work on the Junior strip. Comics historian John G. Pierceaptly describes Schaffenbergers work as clean, clear, sparkling artwork,of a bright, cheerful world with clearly-defined heroes and villains.Kurts work stands as the epitome of much that has been great aboutcomics over the years. Like Certa, Schaffenberger was highlyproductive during his post-Fawcett years.

    Generally remembered as one of the top Good Girl artists of thatera, Bill Ward, whose work also embodied the clean, cartoon-like aspectof Schaffenbergers work, produced several of Captain Marvel Jr.s (andBulletmans) post-war stories.

    As the 40s turned into the 50s, Bud Thompsons and Joe Certaswork on the CMJ strip matured. One can note the improvement in theart of both men as they gained confidence in their own styles and were

    A nice 1977 drawing of Freddy and Junior by Kurt Schaffenberger, courtesy of Jerry K. Boyd.

    [Art 2002 estate of Kurt Schaffenberger; heroes TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    Bud Thompson drew the Cap Jr. chapter in the full-length story in Marvel Family #10 (April 1947), as well as many of the young heros soloadventures in his own mag. Incidentally, though weve sometimes seen this artists name rendered as Thomsonand thus spelled it that way

    ourselves a few issues backtwould seem the usual spelling was indeed the more common Thompson, after all. [2002 DC Comics.]

    Joe Certa art from Captain Marvel Jr. #99 (July 1951). [2002 DC Comics.]

    48 Captain Marvel Jr.

  • $5.95In the USA

    No. 19December


    Roy Thomas Star-Spangled Comics Fanzine

    Roy Thomas Star-Spangled Comics Fanzine
















    Art 2002 Estate of Fred Ray; Tomahawk TM & 2002 DC Comics.






  • Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues:$8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 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.


    Vol. 3, No. 19 / December 2002EditorRoy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorsJohn MorrowJon B. Cooke

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

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

    Production AssistantEric Nolen-Weathington

    Cover ArtistsFred RayDick Sprang

    Cover ColoristsFred RayTom Ziuko

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

    And Special Thanks to:

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: A Ray of Hope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Jerry Robinson on Fred Ray, the Harrisburg Patriot . . . . . . . . . . . . 3A great Batman artist talks about his friend and colleagueand about those covers!

    A Fred Ray InterviewSort-of. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8Charlie Roberts got the reclusive Mr. Ray to jot down a few short answers, anyway.

    Fred RayArtist-Chronicler of American Landmarks . . . . . . . . . 11A brief Ray bioor is it an auto-bio?

    A Tribute to Fred Ray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14Golden Age illustrator Jack Burnley on the 1940s work of a DC cover star.

    Fortune. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16A memoir by Golden Age artist Mort Leav, co-creator of The Heapand Mr. Whipple.

    Richard Grass Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Bill Schelly remembers one who left his mark on comics fandomand on comics.

    Comic Crypt: Wally Woods Flash Gordon, Continued. . . . . 35More about the non-EC work of one of ECs greatest artists!

    re: [comments and corrections] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41Spotlight on Dick Sprang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: If the main figure in this painting by Fred Ray isnt Tomahawk, the comicbook hero he drew from 1947-68, hes a dead ringer for himthough a bit more of the originalraccoon remains in his coonskin cap! Dan Makara, the collector who generously provided theart, says he understands that Ray did numerous paintings for his own pleasure which at timeshe would sell through the Howard Gallery in California. This particular painting he kept forhimself. I understand that it hung in his living room over the mantel for over 30 years. In fact,I had to have the picture cleaned, as it smelled heavily of smoke! As for the frontiersmandepicted: He may or may not be Tomahawk, but hes certainly the spirit of the time. Dansfriend Jim Motavalli, editor of the environmental magazine E, scanned the painting for him,and for us. [Art 2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    Above: These panels from Tomahawk #89 (Nov.-Dec. 1963) are reprod from a photocopy ofthe original art, courtesy of collector Bob Bailey, who writes that theyre from the periodwhere, every issue, Tomahawk was either transformed ( la red kryptonite) into some kind ofcreature or fought some odd creature out of the Fortean Times! Hey, look at the bright side,Bob: at least theres no lady reporter hanging around trying to learn his secret identityif onlybecause he didnt have one! [2002 DC Comics; Tomahawk TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    Manuel AuadMark AustinBob BaileyMike W. BarrJack BenderRay Bottorff, Jr.Jerry K. BoydAlan BrennertLen BrownJack BurnleySteven ButlerTony CerezoMax Allan CollinsTeresa R. DavidsonAl DellingesJoe DesrisJames DotyDon EnsignRon FernandezCarl GaffordJack GilbertMichael R. GraboisJanice GreenDavid G. HamiltonBill HarperRon HarrisRoger HillBob KoppanyMort Leav

    Mitch LeeSteve LeialohaArthur LortieBrian MakaraDan MakaraDennis MalloneeJohn MoretJim MotavalliJohn ProvinceCharlie RobertsEthan RobertsJerry RobinsonEric SchumacherDr. Augustus ScottNoreen ShawMarc SimmsJeff SmithRobin SnyderDick & Cindy

    SwanMarc SwayzeDann ThomasAlex TothMichael J. VassalloJ. VillalpandoRon WebberDylan WilliamsIke WilsonMichael Zeno

    In MemoriamRichard Grass Green

  • Interview and Transcriptionby Dan Makara[INTERVIEWERS INTRO-DUCTION: By all accounts, Fred Raywas a private person, respected by hispeers and by the many comic book fanswho knew and loved his work. Thehistory of early DC Comics was madericher by Freds engaging cover artwork.He both wrote and drew features andrarely received a byline. Fans knew himby his fresh, clean drawing style,sometimes signed with a small F.R.,FRAY, or F.RAY.

    [His work first appeared in late 1940. As aDC bullpen artist, he is sometimescredited with contributing to the 1940Superman Gum Card series; some of theearly advertisements for SupermanBread bear a resemblance to his style. His first cover credit is the1940 Macys Christmas giveaway. He was then assigned to producecovers for Superman comics, beginning with issue #8, Jan. 1941. Forthe next two years Ray also produced many of the covers to ActionComics, featuring Superman, and Worlds Finest Comics,spotlighting both Superman and Batman, as well as an occasionalcover for Detective Comics and Leading Comics. His early interiorwork was on Radio Squad, Sgt. OMalley, and Congo Bill. Attimes he wrote, penciled, inked, and colored the features. You can alsofind spot illustrations by Fred on many of the two-page text stories.

    [He joined the Army Air Forces in 1942, and Ive found at least oneof Freds editorial cartoons in Yank magazine. While in the service, hecontinued to illustrate Congo Bill and did his first and only

    Superman story, collaborating withMort Weisinger. After the war he traveledthroughout Europe, South America, andthe American West. He studied art at thePennsylvania School of Fine Art. In 1947he took over the feature Tomahawk forStar Spangled Comics. A strip with anovel setting in Colonial times whosecoonskin-capped hero anticipated the1955 success of Davy Crockett,Tomahawk began in SSC #69 (June1947) with art by Edmond Good and anuncredited writer; Ray took over with#72 and became the artist most identifiedwith the strip, though Sy Barry, BobBrown, Leonard Starr, and FrankFrazetta also drew it in later years. DCoriginally promoted Tomahawk as theBuckskin Batman. In 1950 DC added aTomahawk title, which Ray wrote anddrew for 22 years; Tomahawk alsoappeared in various issues of Adventure

    Comics and Worlds Finest Comics. In Les Daniels history of DCComics, editor Jack Schiff credited the success of the Tomahawk comicentirely to Fred Ray: He was magnificent.

    [In 1960 Ray became art director for The Civil War Times, AmericanHistory Illustrated, and British Heritage, based in Harrisburg,Pennsylvania. In the 1970s he painted full-color re-creations of hisearly comic book covers, which sold at the time for $250 each. In 1997Sothebys sold his original cover art to Superman #17 for $37,000. Itwas sold privately by a dealer; Ray himself saw none of the profit.

    [It was a surprise to see Fred Rays personal effects for sale on theInternet auction site eBay in July 2001. Not many had even heardthat he had passed away. While alive, he rarely conducted interviews,

    Photos of a young Fred Ray in uniform during World War II...and of his colleague Jerry Robinson today... flanking one

    of their collaborative efforts, the cover of Worlds Finest #3(Fall 1941). Jerry told Alter Ego that, though the cover

    was basically Rays, he [Jerry] was asked by DC to ink theBatman and Robin figures, to keep the official Bob Kane

    look. Photos courtesy of Ron Webber, Dan Makara, and Jerry Robinson. [Art 2002 DC Comics.]

    3Focus On Fred Ray part oneJERRY ROBINSON On FRED RAY

    The Harrisburg PatriotOne of the Great Early BatmanArtists Talks about His Friend

    the Illustrator ofBatman and Robin in Buckskin!

  • and when he did, his answers were generally short.Now his personal life was on exhibit. Page afterpage of never-seen sketchbookspredating his DC work were shown.Studies of hobos, views along traintracks, abandoned buildings, bagladies. Drawings of Tarzan, RobinHood, a magician. Notebooks fromthe war years. Fred in uniformgoing to war. Watercolors of Mexico,oil paintings of nudes. A photo ofFred dressed as a pirate.

    [The obituary in the HarrisburgPatriot said that he died at home onJan. 23, 2001. 79 years old. Noimmediate family.

    [I spoke with Jerry Robinson, thereal-life Boy Wonder, about hisfriend and collaborator. Jerry, ofcourse, began working with BobKane on the Batman feature in1939, and became the second artist really to work on the strip,supplying many beautiful covers, penciling over Kanes breakdowns,and even drawing entire stories from 1939-45, as well as working onsuch Golden Age features such as Vigilante, Johnny Quick,Daredevil, Green Hornet, Atoman, Black Terror, FightingYank, and others. But hell be featured, hopefully, in an upcomingAlter Ego interview all his own, so here we decided to concentrate onhis friendship and professional relationship with fellow artist FredRay:]

    DAN MAKARA: What most impressed you about Freds work?

    JERRY ROBINSON:Fred had a crisp, cleanstyle, very fluid and verynicely composed. His stylewas not so personal, sothat it could be adapted tomany characters. It wasntjarring when he wouldmove from Superman toBatman to CongoBill. He had a cartoonylook that was at the sametime quite stylish.

    DM: He would work at the DC office?

    ROBINSON: Oh yes. I had begun in comicsshortly before him, working directly for BobKane on Batman. Later that year I was hireddirectly by DC to work in their bullpen onBatman. Fred had his table next to mine.That would have been in 1940.

    DM: What was it like at the office?

    ROBINSON: I think we had a pretty uniquebullpen, those first years at DC. Joe Shusterwould work there. Jack Kirby... Mort Meskin,whom I brought up from MLJ... GeorgeRoussos. DC was the elite publisher of thattime.

    DM: So to be given the cover assignment to Superman, the top featureof that time, you had to be considered pretty good.

    ROBINSON: Everyone thought Freds work was marvelous!

    DM: Did the editor provide the cover artist with cover concepts?

    ROBINSON: Perhaps in latter years. Early on, though, Fred would doa small rough sketch and get it OKd. Hed then pencil it full-size. We allworked on the same size illustration board, about 14" x 18".

    DM: [showing Jerry a copy of Worlds Finest Comics #3, the baseballcover] What can you tell me about this cover?

    4 Jerry Robinson

    Both the above photos were sent by Ron Webber, via DanMakara. The inscription on the pirate gag photo, presumably

    by Fred Ray, says, A rich gal from PhilaEI LEOU! Was thather name? The dates of the photos are unknown.

    While one classic late-40s house ad for Star SpangledComics referred to Tomahawk and Dan Hunter as Batman

    and Robin in buckskin, by the time of Tomahawk #1(Sept.-Oct. 1950) DC figured they didnt need that

    kind of boost any longer. [2002 DC Comics.]

    The cover of a small 1983 book called Antietam and an interior illustration of General McClellandirecting the Union forces at that battle fought in Maryland on September 17, 1862. Roy purchasedthe proofs of this book for his personal collection from Ron Webber. [2002 estate of Frederic Ray.]

  • by Charlie Roberts[NOTE: Fred Ray was apparently loath to talk about his comicswork. However, a few years back, Charlie Roberts, who has beenresearching (and often photographing) comics creators for a longwhile, managed to convinced the reticent artist to agree to at least aby-mail interviewwhich was forwarded to us by the good offices ofDan Makara. Getting answers to his questions, Charlie says, waslike pulling teeth, and the responses are generally brief, sometimesalmost maddeningly vague. Still, this is Fred Ray, talking abouthimself and his work. Roy.]

    CHARLIE ROBERTS: Mr. Ray, Ive tried to make this chrono-logical, and anything you can answer will help educate those of usinterested in comic book history. You were there early on and canimpart a lot of things which would otherwise be lost. Thank youagain for your time.

    Where and when were you born?

    FRED RAY: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

    CR: Did you read comic strips as a child? (If so, what were yourfavorites? Childrens books, et cetera?)

    RAY: Yes. Favorites: Highlights of History by J. Carroll Mansfield,Young Buffalo Bill (later Broncho Bill) by Harry F. ONeil, Tarzanand Prince Valiant by Hal Foster. Books: Scribners illustrated classicsby N.C. Wyeth.

    [NOTE: Hope Charlie Robert doesnt mind my breaking into hisinterview to mention that, in a few paragraphs he once wrote aboutHal Foster, he said that in December of 1945 he went to the suburbsof Chicago to see Foster. My first sight of the great one was a manshoveling show from the sidewalk in front of a rather modest house....Much of our conversation was about hunting, as I recall.... He didmention that any cats who invaded his grounds were in mortaldanger of being shotto prevent the killing of small wildlife.Thanks to Al Dellinges. Roy.]

    CR: What sparked your interest in drawing?

    RAY: Always drawing as far back as I can remember.

    CR: What was your first published art?

    RAY: An historical strip in The Evening News on the history ofHarrisburg. Still in high school when I started it.

    CR: When did you begin working for DC Comics?

    RAY: 1940.

    CR: Did you pencil and ink the work you ghosted for Joe Shusterand Bob Kane?

    RAY: Yes, usually. Some of the Batman covers were inked by JerryRobinson, an expert inker!

    CR: Please tell us what it was like working in a comic shop in thosedays. (Talk about Shuster and Kane?)

    RAY: A room full of cartoonists. Siegel and Shuster were on thepremises, Kane brought his work from home.

    CR: Who were the other ghost artists working with you?

    RAY: None.

    CR: Did you do any interior story art, or just covers?This illustration from Rays Gettysburg Sketches appeared in Robin Snyders The Comics! [2002 estate of Frederic Ray.]

    A photo of Fred Ray... alongside a self-portrait drawn for a bio in Tomahawk #82 (Sept.-Oct. 1962). Thanks to Dylan Williams and Roger Hill,

    respectively. The DC piece didnt even mention his fabulous Superman,Action, and Worlds Finest covers! Photo courtesy of Ron Webber and Dan

    Makara. [Art 2002 DC Comics.]

    A Fred RayInterview---Sort--Of

    8 Focus On Fred Ray part two

  • [NOTE: Our thanks to DanMakara and Ron Webber forthis piece, which was appar-ently written to appear in apublication which featuredsome of Rays historicalartwork. It contains, of course,no mention that he ever drewcomic books of any kind.Though no author is named,Ron believes Fred Ray wrotethis third-person bio himself,to be used as an intro to somepublished Civil War materialused at some state parks inPennsylvania. Roy.]

    Frederic Ray is the soleauthor, artist, and publisher of aseries of little booklets vividlyportraying the history offamous American landmarks.An illustrator of adventureseries, Rays second love to arthas always been Americanhistory. His motor trips aboutthe country are always plannedto include an historicallandmark.

    The idea of producing aseries of booklets on historicalspots had simmered for a longtime before it was triggered sixyears ago when, returning froma trip to old Quebec, Raystopped off at historic FortTiconderoga. Recognizing theneed for an attractive, easy-to-read picture history of the fort, Rayreturned to his drawing board in Philadelphia, where he was attendingart school on the G.I. Bill, and there designed a 16-page booklet. Eachpage graphically depicted in word and picture a highlight of the historyof the fort. The trustees of Fort Ticonderoga saw the first roughs andwere enthusiastic. Every spare minute that winter went into the booklet,and it appeared on the counter at the fort the following summer.

    Each year since then, Ray has produced a different booklet for somehistory-minded tourist like himself who loves exploring the walls of anold fort, inspecting an ancient muzzle-loading cannon, and conjuring upthe ghosts of the past. But Ray is also directing his particular approachto American history to the small fry... the youth of America... to whomthe picture technique of storytelling is most attractive. His drawingsbring it all back to stirring life, being both educational and entertainingat the same time.

    Fort Ticonderoga was followed by Valley Forge. His picture map ofValley Forge Park, which appeared in this booklet, has since been

    adopted by other publications at the park. A trip with sketchpad to St.Augustine, Florida, and the old Spanish Castillo de San Marcos resultedin book no. 3, St. Augustine. Ray personally visits the locale for all hisdrawings to insure accuracy in background portrayal. When his fourthbook, Lake George, was conceived, he journeyed in early March toLake George, New York. Says Ray, Arriving late, I spent the night in atourist house, rising early in the morning to make my sketches andreconnoiter the site of Fort William Henry (this fort has since beenreconstructed). The temperature was 5 below zero, the lake frozen solid.I can assure you that it was a double-time reconnaissance I made thatmorning.

    An exploratory trip to Old Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario wasfollowed by a booklet on that famous landmark. The center spread, inwhich Ray usually depicts a birds-eye view of the fort in question or amap of the area, was here elaborated upon to illustrate Fort Niagara inthe 1770s. An aerial view of the present structures supplemented by an18th-century plan made by the French commander of the fort, CaptainPouchot, made this reconstructed view possible.

    Fred Ray in front of some ancient landmark or otherflanked by a pair of Ray art pieces with related themes from the 1949-50 period: a page from his booklet Fort Ticonderoga, and his

    Tomahawk splash from Star Spangled Comics #90 (March 49). Dan Makara says hes not certain ifRay inked the latter as well as penciling it, but that the story reminds me of the research Ray did for

    his historical booklets on forts. This is more than likely a nice example of his writing as well asdrawing! [Fort Ticonderoga art 2002 estate of Frederic Ray; Tomahawk art 2002 DC Comics.]

    Artist--Chronicler ofAmerican Landmarks

    11Focus On Fred Ray part three

  • by Jack Burnley[EDITORS NOTE: Thefollowing piece appeared in RobinSnyders monthly journal TheComics! Vol. 11, #6 (June 2000),and is noteworthy in part becauseit is written by another masterSuperman artist (and cover illus-trator), Jack Burnley, whose comicscareer drawing Superman,Batman, and especially Starmanwas the subject of an extensiveinterview in Alter Ego V3#2 acouple of years back. In a recentphone conversation in which YeEditor was apologizing foraccidentally rendering his wifesname as Dorothy rather thanDolores in A/E #14, Jackmentioned that, while he and FredRay didnt know each other well in the old days, they almost woundup as neighbors. One day at the DC offices in the 1940s, when he wasfeeling a bit under the weather, Jack bumped into artist Steve Brodie,who suggested he move to Arizona. Youll jump out of bed everymorning, eager to greet the day, Brodie promised him. So Jack madea trip west to investigate, and Fred Ray, who was living in Arizona atthe time, got in touch with him and they spent some time together.But Jack says that a couple of days of Arizona heat put the kibosh onhis passing thoughts of movingthere. In the last few years ofRays life, the two had resumedtheir acquaintance via mail,which led Jack to send RobinSnyder the followingletter/article in 2000. Thanks to both Jack and Robin forpermission to reprint it here.Roy.]

    Robin, your feature on FredRay will give this fine artistsome of the recognition hedeserves.

    Although he turned outexcellent work for DC for morethan thirty years, he is almostcompletely ignored in DCsbooks on comics and is barelymentioned in Sterankos Historyof Comics. Only Ron Goularthas praised Freds art. In TheGreat Comic Book Artists, Vol.2, there is a piece on Ray whichgives high marks to his work onCongo Bill and Tomahawk,as well as his Superman ghostart. Goulart wrote that Ray didsome of the best straight

    adventure stuff in comic books and also did avery impressive job ghosting Superman.

    In Les Daniels official 60-year anniversarybook DC Comics there is only one reference toRay, but that one is worth much: Tomahawkbegan as a back-up and graduated to a book in1950 and lasted for an impressive twenty-twoyears. Jack Schiff, who edited the feature, creditsits success to artist Fred Ray. He was just magnif-icent, Schiff says.

    Freds cover to Worlds Finest Comics #3 isincluded in this big book, but is credited to JerryRobinson (p. 57)! Also, his great shot ofSuperman riding a bomb (Superman #18) appearswithout credit (p. 64).

    When I came to DC in late 1939, I was anestablished professional with ten years experienceas a King Features Syndicate sports cartoonist.Fred Ray was a seventeen-year-old beginner. Hisfirst Superman covers were drawn in the simplestyle of, and better than, the Shuster studio. In a

    A Tribute to Fred Ray14 Focus On Fred Ray part four

    This photo of Jack Burnley (also printed with his interview in Alter Ego V3#2 threeyears ago) shows the artist with one of his most famous coversNew YorkWorlds Fair Comics1940 Issuethe first drawing of Superman and Batman

    together... and a black-&-white version of one of his later drawings of the pair.[Art 2002 Jack Burnley; Superman & Batman TM & 2002 DC Comics.]

    Marc Simms of Big B Books e-mailed us a scan of thisintriguing Tomahawk splash from Star Spangled

    Comics #94 (July 1949), which evidently was set partlyin the 18th century, and partly in the 20th. Readers can

    contact Marc at .[2002 DC Comics.]

  • [INTRODUCTION: Mort Leav (b. 1916) is a truecomics pioneers, with a career that spans the late 1930sthrough the mid-50s in comic books before he left topursue other artistic interests. This too-brief memoirwas edited together by Robin Snyder from several of Morts letters tohim over the past few years (hence the occasional address to anoffstage you), and initially saw print in Robins monthly positive,working oral history of the past, present, and future of the field, TheComics! (Vol. 12, #2, Feb. 2001), information about which can befound elsewhere in this issue. Several additions have been made basedon letters and phone calls exchanged between Mort and Ye Editor,since then... as well as the integration of an earlier letter of Morts thathad appeared in The Comics! exactly one year before the commentscollected as Fortune. Our thanks to both Mort Leav and RobinSnyder for their blessing to reprint and expand this piece. Roy.]

    The Illustrating MenYour kind words and Jerry de Fuccios Broadway-style column of

    facts, queries, and musings have bestirred this usually reticent ol pen-and-inker to dust off his memories and write of old friends, past andpresent. Sitting here in my recliner for most of the 24/7 with my fairshare of aches, I, as an old journeyman illustrator, do truly feel flatteredthat anyone would wish to share inmy reminiscences.

    I had always believed that thereally great artist and/or illustratormust have a solid grounding in studiesof the old masters, and one who is hisinspiration and whom he seeks toemulate. As a teenager I spent mySaturdays in the museums and withart books. Sundays were spentoutdoors drawing or painting sceneryand sketching animals in the zoo. Butas for illustrating: in the early 30s wewere still at the tail end of theexquisite pen-and-ink era.

    I considered my guru, withoutpeer, Charles Dana Gibson. Gibsonsleading disciple and ten years hisjunior was John Montgomery Flagg.

    Another great pen virtuoso was Joseph Clement Coll. Charles A. Voight.Then there was Howard Pyle and all his famous students such as N.C.Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Frank Schoonover.

    They were all the fabulous glazed paper magazine illustrators,going right up to the end of the 1940s. Ill never forget the boost I gotfrom just studying the work of John LaGatta or Wallace Morgan orHenry Raleigh or dozens of others. I was both amused and saddenedwhen a student of mine at the School of Visual Arts asked if I hadlearned to draw from comic books.

    Among comics strips, Milt Caniffs art, exentensive research, andsophisticated writing style [on Terry and the Pirates and SteveCanyon] is in a class never to be equaled. Among other sequential artmasters to whom I doff my cap is Alex Raymond [of Flash Gordon andlater Rip Kirby].

    Douglas Fairbanks [early silentmovie actor] was a favorite of minefrom the time I was an impres-sionable child. I did a swashbucklingdrawing of him for a Woody Gelmanproject. If I ever find the brochure inthe attic, Ill send it to you. Iremember seeing a Fairbanks filmthat must have been earlier than theones mentioned in your [RobinSnyders] listing, because he had nomustache. It was The Americano.He also had been in some two-reelers that had yellowed and fadedaway with age. One of them, myolder brother remembers, was titledReggie Mixes In. Human capabilityof such recall is remarkable.

    I recall C.D. Batchelor winningthe Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in

    FortuneA Reminiscence by Golden Age Artist

    MORT LEAVCo-Creator of The Heap

    and Mr. Whipple!

    A 1977 Leav drawing in the style of one of his idols, Charles Dana Gibson,creator of The Gibson Girl, one of the mass medias first pinups

    in a far more discreet era, of course. Courtesy of Tony Cerezo.[2002 Tony Cerezo.]

    A self-portrait of Mort Leav (at left) facing two of his most famous co-creationsMr. Whipple (he of Charmin Bathroom Tissue fame a few

    decades back) and The Heap, forerunner of various other Heaps, not tomention the ever-lovin blue-eyed Thing, The Incredible Hulk, Man-Thing,

    Swamp Thing, and other monstrous heroes of the 1960s and since! [Art2002 Mort Leav; Mr. Whipple is TM & 2002 Procter & Gamble; The Heap isTM & 2002 by the respective trademark and copyright holders. So there!]

    16 Mort Leav

  • 1937. I was 21 and beaming with confidence. Come July, portfolio inhand, I went up to the New York Daily News building and EditorsPress Service, a South American newspaper syndicate where all ourdomestic news events were translated into Spanish or Portuguese andthen sent to every newspaper and country in our southern hemisphere. Ibecame the art departmentdrawing everything, lettering in all styles,cutting up and designing photo and copy layouts. All this for only (areyou sitting down?) $78 a month. South American newspapers couldntpossibly pay North American wages. Steranko, in his profile on me,inadvertently had me getting $78 a week. I wasnt that lucky. Hard tobelieve, but that puny salary supported my parents. My father hadbecome an invalid. My daily stipend for work expenses was 25. Brokendown, it included a nickel each way for subway transportation, and forlunch, a lettuce-and-tomato sandwich on toast with mayo for a dime and5 for a glass of milk.

    I would frequently go down from our 15th floor office to the 9thfloor Daily News offices to pick up their comic strip pages from 49weeks ahead of their publication date (depending whether they weredaily or Sunday pages) and replace all English lettering with Spanish.

    We also received Eisner & Iger pages for the same purpose. One daywe started receiving George Brenners The Clock, too. That involvedme in extra work. Seems Brenners drawings, except for the maskedhero, had neighborhoods completely devoid of any life. The streets andbuildings were eerily quiet. There were long wooden fences withouteven posted bills. One of my jobs was to stick in background people,kids playing, a dog at a Brenner hydrant, a cat at a garbage can, automo-biles parked or moving, perhaps a fluttering flag, etc.

    The inside offices of the News were walled all in windows, andprominently displayed Mr. Batchelor in one, working away at hisdrawing table, a few of his large originals having been hung behind him.I often thought of getting up the gumption to interrupt him andintroduce myself as a fellow newspaper artist, albeit some rungs below(and some floors above), but I never did.

    Come January 1940 and German subs were sinking Americanfreighters in the Caribbean to prevent contraband from getting to theAllies via South America. Some work I was doing for South Americannewspapers via Editors Press Service could have been sunk along witheverything else. Hence, I, among others, was let go.

    I had heard that Victor Fox was hiring artists. Armed with a portfolioof my best newspaper illustrations, I hastened to my appointment. Theeditor was Bob Farrell, who threw a bunch of newspaper comic stripcutouts at me and told me to use them to copy from and knock out asmany pages as I could, even if there were to be only two panels to apage. The rates were 5 and 6 dollars a page. I walked out, never to goback.

    Years later, I learned through Ray Hermanns twin brother Georgethat Farrell had been born Izzy Katz. He and George were in the sameArmy unit. The mail-call guy would announce, Hey, Katz, you gotanother letter for Bob Farrell. Rumor had it Farrell was also anattorney.

    Iger Minus EisnerCoincidentally, the Iger & Eisner studio was also selling Editors Press

    their comic book pages for translation and shipment. Eventually I wentto work for Iger. He started me at $30 a week. The very first script I wasgiven in comic books after leaving the job with the South Americannewspaper syndicate was ZX-5, Spies in Action. Eisner had done itbefore their split. It was also the very first time I tried drawing with abrush. It wasnt easy because I was using it like a pen. The brushes wereJapanese bamboo with rabbit hair tips and cost 12 cents each. They werevery springy, pleasant to work with once you got the hang on it. We had

    to go to the Winsor-Newtons after Pearl Harbor.

    Although my work appeared in books of Fiction House, Hillman,MLJ, and Lev Gleason, I never worked directly for any of those outfits.My jobs went there only by way of the Iger shop. That included thecreation of The Heap with Harry Stein. We were having a ball comingup with names before settling on The Heap. That was in the SkyWolf strip, where I also drew a villainous character; half his head andbody were made of steel.

    Eisner had split and left Jerry with stacks of Hawk of the Seaspages. Arty Saaf was assigned to write new material. He carefully cut outEisner panels and partial panels to paste onto fresh pages and drew therest, thereby incorporating as much original Eisner as he could. The newstories on the doctored pages would then go directly to the engraver,andvoila!the books came out with new Eisner Hawks of theSeas stories.

    Some of Igers working conditions may seem harsh: e.g., we wereallowed 35 minutes for lunch. A favorite dining haunt was a couple ofblocks away. One day, Saaf shrewdly invited Iger to have lunch with us.We went to that eatery. It seemed we were hardly settled in when Saaflooked at his watch, noticed the time that had elapsed, and promptlyremarked, Take your time, Jerry. We only have 35 minutes.

    We were given an hour from then on.(Continued on p.20)

    Alas, it has proved impossible to identify, with certainty, any art onBlackhawk, Uncle Sam, Doll Man, or Kid Eternity stories that Mort

    penciled for Busy Arnolds company from 1941-45, so heres a Sally ONeillsplash from Qualitys National Comics #15 (Sept. 1941). Thanks to Eric

    Schumacher for the scans and info. Both Eric and Mort believe he is the actualartist of the Sally ONeil splash we printed back in A/E #12, which we

    attributed to Al Bryant. Check it out. [2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    Fortune 17

  • Mort Leav was the original artistand Harry Stein most likely the scripterof the Sky Wolf feature that debuted in Air Fighters Comics, Vol. 1, #2

    (Nov. 1942). This American-English-Polish grouping of aviators wasprobably influenced by the popular, multi-national Blackhawks over in

    Qualitys Military Comics, but had its own mystique going for it, as well...and indeed, when Eclipse Comics continued the adventures of the magsmain star, Airboy, in the 1980s, it also brought back Sky Wolf. The art on

    these two pages, in fact, is reprod from Eclipses Air Fighters Classics #1-2,which reprinted Air Fighters #2-3, the first issues which featured these

    continuing characters.

    Mort wrote, upon seeing these stories again: Whew! Whered you ever dig up those horrors? I drew like that when I was about 11 or 12, but in 1941I, for one, was 25! And the script, whether by Harry Stein or someone else,

    was even worse. Did we bring the Frederic Werthams on ourselves?[Art on these 2 pages 2002 the respective copyright holder.]

    The cast of Sky Wolf was introduced on page 3along with the concept of semi-planes. And they say Blackhawks Grumman Skyrockets mightve been a wee bit unstable!

    Germanys Fhrer meets Half-Man, the Nazi ace referred to by Mort Leav in his reminiscences.

    This is actually the splash of the secondSky Wolf story, in Air Fighters V1#3.

    The splash from the first Sky Wolf story. Mort writes: I notice in the SkyWolf artwork I did a take-off on Hitler, Goebbels, Hermann Gring, and

    Heinrich Himmler. All this stuff was done in the Iger shop. The inking lookslike it could all have been mine, I hesitate to say.

    18 Mort Leav

  • Last issue, as part of our EC Confidential series which spotlightssome of the non-EC work of some of Entertaining Comics finestartists, we published some examples of Wally Woods brief stint ghostingthe syndicated Flash Gordon strip for artist Dan Barry. This time wereexamining more choice examples from the same 1957 Cyberniastoryline. Theres some great art here, but dont expect Flash and Dale tolook like they stepped out of one of Woods Weird Science stories. Thetwo main characters rarely appear in these scenesand when they do,both have been drawn (or redrawn) by Dan or his brother Sy Barry forthe sake of visual continuity.

    Furthermore, Wood appears to have penciledonly a few weeks worth of the eleven-week

    Cybernia storyline, with Flashs regularartist Dan Barry (or his other ghosts)

    drawing the rest. Our goal for this two-part article was to showcase all the FlashGordon strips we believe Wood penciled.

    The inking throughout was by the Barry studio, thoughits possible Wood inked a few panels here and there. Some

    claim that Woody penciled the entire story, but I see very littlebeyond these strips. Ben Oda lettered the sequence. Dan Barry or someunknown ghost wrote the first strips, with sci-fi writer Larry Shawtaking over on 9/16/57 and completing the story. And a fun story it is!

    The Cybernia storyline tells of a highly technological city on theplanet Mongo whose leaders foolishly believe SCIENCE!!! can solve allmankinds ills. An Efficiency Calculator runs the city with a minimumof wasted effort, and its citizens have been bred into a race of specialists.Everyone on Cybernia is an expert in only one specific skilltakingassembly-line efficiency to a whole new level!

    Naturally, these interplanetary efficiency experts decide to bestow thebenefits of their scientific wisdom on some primitive Mongo natives.In due course, the carefree natives are transformed into efficient, soullessautomatons. Flushed with success, the Administrator decides to spreadthe benefits of their wisdom throughout Mongo.

    But we have no rockets, sir! says one nay-sayer. No problem! AProduct-Designer computer quickly comes up with a shopping list ofparts needed to construct a rocket. A team of specialists set to work,with each man building one part of the ship. Unfortunately, when itstime to build the rocket, they run into one teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy

    problem. You see, they

    Ahhwhy spoil the surprise? Read on


    EC Confidential, Part 4Wally Woods Flash Gordon, continued


    [2002 King Featu

    res Syndicate.]