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Alter Ego #27

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Dovers by JACK BURNLEY and JACK “KING” KIRBY! Inside, we interview VIN SULLIVAN (the man who bought Superman, and told BOB KANE to create Batman!), with art by JOE SHUSTER, CREIG FLESSEL, SHELLY MOLDOFF, OGDEN WHITNEY, FRED GUARDINEER, JACK BURNLEY, et al.! MICHAEL T. GILBERT and two talented super-fans show “lost” KIRBY Hulk covers that might’ve been if The Incredible Hulk hadn’t been canceled after #6 in 1963! Then, we present the 1948 NEW YORK COMICON with STAN LEE, JULIUS SCHWARTZ, CHARLIE BIRO, HARVEY KURTZMAN, ROY THOMAS, and OTTO & JACK BINDER (you won’t believe it till you see it—and maybe not even then)! There’s also BUNNY KAUFMAN (she wrote Batman in the 1940s), and a pulsating potpourri of underrated Golden Age artists: L.B. COLE, HENRY ENOCH SHARP, LES ZAKARIN, and, oh yeah, JOHN ROMITA! Plus: ALEX TOTH, BILL SCHELLY, JIM AMASH, FCA with C.C. BECK, MARC SWAYZE, JAY DISBROW, & more!

Text of Alter Ego #27

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    Plus Art &Artifacts By:JACK BURNLEY














    Plus Art &Artifacts By:JACK BURNLEY
















    NO, ITS...


    Superman, Batman TM & 2003 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, $11.00 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 elsewhere. All characters are theirrespective companies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM ofRoy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada.


    This issue is dedicated to the memory ofMrs. Dolores Farris Burnley,

    Lester Zakarin,& Al Hartley


    ContentsWriter/Editorial: Vin and Vigor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Vin SullivanPresent at the Creation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3A candid conversation with the late godfather of Superman and Batman.

    The Golden Girl and the Silver Slipper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27Comics great Jack Burnley writes about his wife Dolores FarrisBroadway dancing star of the 1920s.

    I Wrote Batman in the 1940s! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38Move over, Bill Finger! Here comes Ruth Bunny Lyons Kaufman.

    FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) #86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43P.C. Hamerlinck presents Jay Disbrow, Marc Swayze, and more.

    New Jack Kirby Coversand Some Great Unknowns . . Flip Us!About Our Cover and Illo Above: Jack Burnleyco-creator of Starman and ofttime artist of theSuperman and Batman newspaper stripshas done occasional re-creations of his classic 1940s art. The drawing he graciously allowed us to use as this issues cover was a quasi-re-creation of the onehed done for the cover of Worlds Finest Comics #29 (July-Aug. 1946)except that, as seen above,on the original drawing Robin the Boy Wonder was winning a race with his bemused elders. Was the fix in? [Cover art 2003 Jack Burnley; WFC cover 2003 DC Comics; Superman & Batman TM & 2003 DC Comics.]

    Vol. 3, No. 27 / August 2003Editor Roy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorJohn Morrow

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

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

    Production AssistantEric Nolen-Weathington

    Cover ArtistsJack BurnleyJack Kirby

    (with Randy Sargent & Shane Foley)

    Cover ColoristsTom ZiukoShane Foley

    And Special Thanks to:Heather AntonelliDick AyersJill BailyRegina BailyRobert BeerbohmBlake BellJohn BensonJay DisbrowShel DorfKen DudleyHarlan EllisonTom FaganMichael FeldmanCreig FlesselPatricia FlossShane FoleyKen GaleGlen David GoldRon GoulartGeorge HagenauerPeter HansenRon HarrisLarry IvieBill JourdainBunny Lyons KaufmanAdele Kurtzman

    Richard KyleJoe LatinoMark LuebkerMaurizio ManzieriFred MommsenBrian K. MorrisWill MurrayVittorio PavesioJohn G. PierceDevon RaymondCharlie RobertsJohn RomitaRandy SargentWarren SattlerRomano ScarpaBarbara SeulingCarole SeulingGwen SeulingDavid SiegelMarc SwayzeAlex TothJim Vadeboncouer, Jr.Michael J. VassalloHames WareBill WarrenRay Zone

  • [EDITORS NOTE: On October 8, 1994, four knowledgeablecomics fans/collectors interviewed Vincent Sullivan, who alongwith Whitney Ellsworth had been one of DC Comics firsteditors, back in the latter 1930sincluding at the time ofAction Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27. The interview,according to one of themJoe Latino, from whose videotapingof the session our transcript is takentook place in a parlorroom in his home on Long Island, New York. He wasfriendly and cordial to all of us. Totally absent from the walls inany of the rooms that I saw, Joe writes, were any comic art ofany kind, although we did not walk by many rooms. Theinterview took approximately two hours before we broke andwent out for dinner. We treated Vince to dinner at a local steak-house... where Ken Gale and I got into a heated discussion oncapitalism and landlord/tenant issues. Joe has long since leftthe profession of tenant lawyer, but Ken says that Vin reallyseemed to enjoy the argument. He was smiling broadly thewhole time, didnt give his opinion on what we were arguingabout. After the dinner he said we made him feel young.

    [Vin Sullivan, who had been born in 1911, passed away in 1999.This interviewdespite lapses while the videotape was beingchanged, etc.deals with his accomplishments, primarily at DCComics. In 1940 Sullivan left DC to co-found Columbia Comic

    Corporation and launch such titles as Big Shot Comics, Skyman,The Face, and Sparky Watts. However, dissatisfied with thatcompany, he left in 1943 to start his own well-rememberedMagazine Enterprises, which became a reasonably prominent playerin the field through most of the 1950s with such other-mediaadaptation comics as Straight Arrow, Tim Holt (later Redmask),and Durango Kid, and with such original material as the westernGhost Rider, Siegel and Shusters Funnyman, The Avenger, StrongMan, and others.

    [The portion of this interview which dealt with MagazineEnterprises saw print in Alter Ego, Vol. 3, #10, along with a several-page article on Vin Sullivan. That issue is still available fromTwoMorrows; see its ad bloc in our flip side. Roy.]

    We Were Putting Out a New Comic BookJOE LATINO: Okay, would you like to introduce yourselves?Name, identity, what your interests are....

    KEN GALE: Im unwrapping tapes so I can record this whole thingfor playing on WBAI, because I do a comic book show every twoweeks, interviewing different people in the industry. My name isKen Gale, and I guess the first time I knew of Vin Sullivans workwas when I started buying Golden Age comics in the late 70s.

    Vin Sullivan--Present At The Creation

    A Candid Conversation with the Godfather (or Is It Midwife?) of Superman and BatmanConducted Oct. 8, 1994, by Joe Latino, Rich Morrissey, Ken Gale, & Tom FaganEdited by Roy Thomas Transcribed by Brian K. Morris

    Present At The Creation 3

    In the beginning...! Since we lack the facilities for turning videotape images into reproduceable photos, heres a shot of Vin Sullivan and two dawn-of-DCcolleagues snapped in May 1993, a year and a half before this interview was

    conducted. [Left to right:] Creig Flessel (at whose Long Island home it was taken),Fred Guardineer, and Vin. Read about all three on the pages that follow. The

    accompanying art, of course, is from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shusters Supermandebut in 1938s Action Comics #1; more about it coming up, too!

    [Photo 2003 Charlie Roberts.]

  • TOM FAGAN: Im Tom Fagan, and Im from Rutland,Vermont. The first time I heard of Vin Sullivans work waswhen I bought Detective #31.

    JL: Mr. Sullivan, youre still incredibly photogenic.

    VIN SULLIVAN: Yes, I am. [laughter]

    RICH MORRISSEY: My names Rich Morrissey. Ive been a Superman and Batman fan since early childhood, and Imreally thrilled to be the guest of the man who first launchedthem as editor and to hopefully shed some light on his careerand how these characters, and so many others, came intoexistence.

    SULLIVAN: This is a new experience for me.

    KG: Have you been interviewed on radio before?

    SULLIVAN: Not that I know of. One of the groups that came in,they had the microphone on the coffee table here, but what happenedwith it, I dont know. Creig Flessel and Fred Guardineer live outhere on the Island, too. If you ask the questions, Ill try toanswer them. I have that Comic Buyers Guide.

    RM: Thats when you and several others all got together? Now,there were a few things [in the CBG piece] that really didntmake a lot of sense. It says at one point that DCs official storywas that Harry Donenfeld discovered Superman. Ive never heardthat. The stories Ive heard say it was either M. C. Gaines or SheldonMayer or both who spotted the feature and brought it over.Everything Ive heard about Donenfeld indicated he thought it was asilly idea at first.

    SULLIVAN: Well, I guess it was Sheldon Mayer, but Charlie Gainesbrought the thing to me. He knew we were putting out a new comicbook.

    We Would Just Buy ThingsRM: Maybe we should start at the very beginning. How did you getinto comics?

    SULLIVAN: I really dont remember the beginning of this thing, how Igot in touch with Nicholson [Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson,founder of National Allied Comics, forerunner of DC]. He may havehad an ad in the paper, or something, for an artist or cartoonist.Nicholson was the fella who started the comic books, originally. In anyevent, I met him, and I think Whit Ellsworth came into the picture atthat time, and we started off as editors of his book [New Fun].

    RM: How did you and Ellsworth divide up the responsibility? Hehad some books and you had some?

    SULLIVAN: Actually, there was no official technique for getting out abook. We would just buy things as the public came in. We did a lot ofwork ourselves on a book, both Whit and I. Wed draw cartoons, covers,and things.

    KG: So you started out as an artist?

    SULLIVAN: As a cartoonist. I am not an artist. Ihavent tried to sell comic strips of my own stuff,

    This 1990s illo by veteran artist Creig Flessel, first published in The All-StarCompanion, is a recollection of three of DCs founding fathers and himself in the

    mid-to-late 1930s. (Left to right, standing:) Vin Sullivan, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, and Whitney Ellsworth. Creig drew himself seated at the drawing

    board, where else? Courtesy of the artist and David Siegel. [2003 Creig Flessel.]

    The founder of the company that in time became DC Comics was depicted last issue in a World War I-era photo. Here,courtesy of Charlie Roberts, is a 1926 cartoon by Hinky

    (full/real name unknownany ideas out there?) which, Charliesays, was probably published in a Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson pulp. [2003 the respective copyright holder.]

    4 Vin Sullivan

  • not as a success, really. So, yes, I think you could call me a cartoonist,because Ive done some cartoons for the newspapers and also for themagazines themselves.

    TF: We know you did the cover to Detective #1 with Fu Manchu.

    JL: How did you get involved in cartooning?

    SULLIVAN: I guess it was born in my body. [laughs] The first cartoonI ever had printed, I believe, I was in high school... or it could have beeneven before high school. I came from Brooklyn and our paper, TheBrooklyn Eagle, had a Buttons and Fatty cartoon on the front cover ofthis small supplement they had for kids. They had school kids sending incartoons and poems to be printed. I became friendly with one of theeditors, a woman. I would keep feeding her these different strips, andone day she decided to print one. Jibby Jones, as a matter of fact, wasit. A little boy.

    RM: Ah, you ran that a bit later at DC when you came.

    KG: But not the exact same strips?

    SULLIVAN: Oh no, no.

    RM: When, exactly, were you born?

    SULLIVAN: [laughs] I hate to give my age away. 1911. I guess thatmakes me 83 years of age. I lived in Brooklyn all my life, really, until Igot married and came out here. I wasnt married until I left DC. I wentwith the North Syndicators, Frank Marky. We formed this companycalled the Columbia Comic Corporation. It was right after that when Igot married.

    RM: When you worked at DC, did artists generally come to you andmake submissions, or did you go out to them?

    SULLIVAN: They brought them in. I wouldbuy or turn them down. The word had gottenaround among the artists and writers at thatparticular point. I dont remember solicitingany work.

    KG: How closely did you work with any ofthe artists and writers? Did you discussstories before they were written?

    SULLIVAN: Occasionally. Most of the time,they would come in with the completestoryfirst it would start with the story, ofcourseand then Id go over that. All thatstuffId be working with them, editing thething.

    TF: How much editing did you do?

    SULLIVAN: Not much, quite frankly. Itwasnt needed. If something had to bechanged, wed change it.

    RM: Had Nicholson been editing the bookhimself before you came with Ellsworth?

    SULLIVAN: Well, he was the publisher. Hewas trying to raise cash for the operation allthe time.

    TF: Why was Nicholson always trying toraise cash?

    SULLIVAN: He first had the idea, whichturned out to be a fabulous ideabut hehadnt any money of his own or he couldnt

    raise money to put this operation on the road. When youre buyingartwork, you must have money; and half the time, he wouldnt pay theartists.

    RM: Ive heard that he was often very slow in paying and sometimeshe wouldnt pay them at all. Were you generally paid on time?

    SULLIVAN: I think we were. Because if we werent, there wouldnt beany business at all. But it was difficult, really. We had space inI guessyoud call it a warehouse type of building, on 4th Avenue. I believe theaddress was 432. Around 30-some-odd Street in New York City.

    KG: Thats right where Park Avenue South is now.

    TF: And how many people would be working in the office in thosedays?

    SULLIVAN: Just Whit and I. Freelancers would bring the work in. Anywork [that] had to be done on the strips or the pages, either Whit or Ihad to do it. We were, presumably, professional cartoonists. It was askeleton crew.

    We Were Looking for WorkTF: And Nicholson, what was he all about? What was he like?

    SULLIVAN: He was a very charming man, Ill put it that way.

    TG: I think he had to be charming to get a printer to change hisentire printing system just for him.

    SULLIVAN: Well, they didnt change anything, really, at that time. Theprinters were printing cartoon pages, the Sunday papers.

    KG: I heard a story that hed convinced the printer in Sparta {Illinois]

    Present At The Creation 5

    Vin Sullivan apparently did the drawing above left of his character Spike Spaulding for a fan circa 1937and the cover of the landmark Detective Comics #1 (March 1937) a bit earlier. Thats not really Sax RohmersOriental mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu, but rather Fang Gow, enemy of feature star Barry ONeill. According

    to comics historian Ron Goulart: Had Major Nicholson not had money problems, this title would haveappeared months earlier and been the first comic book devoted entirely to detectives. But the proto-DCtitle has lasted a wee bit longer than Comic Magazine Companys Detective Picture Storieslike, 66 years

    and counting! Spike Spaulding cartoon courtesy of Charlie Roberts.[Detective #1 cover 2003 DC Comics; VS cartoon 2003 Estate of Vin Sullivan.]

  • to make his two two-color presses into one four-color pressthat hesthe one who convinced them to do that so there would be comics, andhe promised to fill up their press time.

    SULLIVAN: [shrugs] He might have. I dont know what arrangementhe had with that printer. World Color Printing, I think it was called.Nicholson was very affable and good company and a good storyteller.As a matter of fact, he had been writing stories for years in the pulpmagazines, so he and I had a fairly good idea of what stories should belike and structured in a comic book.

    TF: What was it about him that made you want to work for them?Was it the need for a job, simply?

    SULLIVAN: Neither Whit nor I had any work at the time, I suppose.We were looking for work ourselves. I had been constantly goingaround to the newspaper syndicates, trying to land a job of some sort.So we decided to go along with this. It looked promising. Cartoons hadalways appealed to me, and I thought it might appeal to other people,particularly kids.

    RM: But you didnt aim at any particular age bracket the way mostcomics do now; say age 12 or 10-to-14 or whatever? I know that,especially during the war years, a lot of older people, especiallysoldiers, were buying the books.

    SULLIVAN: Well, at that particular time in my life, the appeal was foradults, I thinkfor instance, the soldiers. The soldiers were all youngfellas anyway: 17, 18, 19 years of age. So they were more into comicbooks at that time, too.

    They Didnt Come Just to See UsRM: Id like to talk a bit more about the specific people you workedwith. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, I believe, did their first work foryou on Slam Bradley.

    SULLIVAN: Yeah. That came out of the office on Fourth Avenue, yes.

    Thats where I first met them. They were looking, thesame as I had been looking, to place their various strips inthe newspapers. They got word, I suppose, aboutNicholson and his organization being in operation, so theycame down to see him.

    RM: They lived in Cleveland. They actually came toNew York to see you rather than doing it by mail?

    SULLIVAN: They didnt come just to see us, let me put itthat way. I think we were the very last ones, perhaps, tolook at the stuff that they had.

    TF: So they were literally just shopping their stripsaround? Had they created Slam Bradley already?

    SULLIVAN: Yes, that was one of the first features that weran. He was in Detective ComicsI dont know what othermagazine. We had started Detective Comics, too, downthere. Detective Comics, New Comics, and More Fun.

    TF: They had done some work for More Fun [earlier NewFun] with Dr. Occult.

    SULLIVAN: Yeah, and Henri Duvall and some otherthing.

    Early DC artist and editor Whit Ellsworth did this Little Linda drawing for a fan or friend, circa 1937... complete with a note on the back. Linda

    was a soul sister to Little Orphan Annie. Courtesy of Charlie Roberts.[2003 Estate of Whitney Ellsworth.]

    Siegel and Shusters Slam Bradley made his debut in 1937s Detective Comics #1.Put Slam in a blue-and-red suit, and hed be able to leap tall buildings with asingle bound. Jerry and Joe had earlier done Dr. Occult for the Majors New

    Fun Comics #6 (Oct. 1935). [2003 DC Comics.]

    6 Vin Sullivan

  • [INTRODUCTION: Thisentry is a bit unusual forAlter Ego, and reallyshould have appeared in anissue with a February coverdate. For it is indeed aValentinefrom GoldenAge great Hardin JackBurnley, 1940s artist ofStarman, Superman, and

    Batman, to his beloved wife of more than six decades, Dolores FarrisBurnley. I felt our readers might enjoy, as a change of pace, readingthis piece which, though written by a legendary comics artist, dealswith non-comics subject matter, although weve scattered a few ofJacks comic book images throughout what follows. Heres how itcame about:

    [In 1995 Jack Burnley wrote a biography of Dolores early life,when she was a dancer and headliner on Broadway during the 1920sand 30s. The book contains some eighty pages of text plus dozens ofpages of photos and art, documenting not only her show businesscareer and the famous personalities she encountered, but the wholepanorama of the 1920s. It also recounts her love affair at that timeyears before she and Jack metwith a prominent Broadwaynightclub owner and, yes, racketeer. (But not gangster. Jack draws afirm distinction between the two: a racketeer is one engaged in anillegal business; a gangster is a member of an organized group ofcriminals. The man Dolores Farris loved was definitely the first, butprobably not the latter.)

    [It is rare to find a biography written by the subjects spousefarrarer to find one dealing largely with that husband or wifes earlierromance with another person. But such was the strong bond betweenJack and Dolores Burnley that he wrote just such a book, for whichDolores gave unstintingly of her honesty and memories... and theresult, I found, is a book which touches the heartstrings and, at thesame time, brings alive a decade that became an era. Jack gives copiesof his book only to those he believes will appreciate it... and he wasdecidedly correct in deciding I was one of those.

    [Early this year, I suggested to Jack that a brief abridgement of hisbook be featured in the issue of A/E fronted by his cover ofSuperman and Batman. Only 10% or so of its text could be includedhere, and a like percentage of the accompanying visuals. But Iassumed our readers would appreciate, just this once, a piece by acomics master, yet not about comics. The fact that some of the real-lifecharacters youll meet herein, even in truncated fashion, are at least ascolorful as Dr. Sivana or Dr. Doom could ever be, helped me make

    my decision... and I trust youll agree with it. The abridgement thatfollows is copyright 2003 Jack Burnley, and is, with minimal editing,just as written by Jack, and studded with liberal quotations fromDolores herself. Even in the italicized/bracketed stitching I havewritten between sections of the text, I have tried to paraphrase Jackto the fullest extent possible in the space allowed.]

    [Sadly, Dolores Burnley passed away on May 22, 2003, while thisabridgement was being readied. Jack, however, gave us his blessing togo ahead with its publication... and it thus becomes his, and now in asense our, parting gift to a most remarkable lady. Roy.]

    The Golden Girl and the Silver

    SlipperThe Dolores Farris Story: A Tale of the TwentiesExcepts from the Book by Jack BurnleyEdited and Abridged by Roy Thomas

    Jack and Dolores Burnley in 1992, holding someof Jacks most noted comic artwork: a Macys

    Department Store giveway featuringSuperman, printed as a Sunday advertising

    supplement in the New York Journal Americanfor Nov. 24, 1940, and the cover of New York

    Worlds Fair Comics1940 Issue, the firstdrawing ever to depict Superman and Batman

    together. Photo courtesy of Jack Burnley.

    The Gangster and the Bubble Dancer. Illustration by Jack Burnley for the DamonRunyon short story collection Guys and Dolls, source of the popular Broadway and

    Hollywood musical comedy. Runyons tales were a major source of popularmythology about the Roaring Twenties... and Burnleys gangster couldve done

    a walk-on in his Batman newspaper strips of the 1940s. Dolores, of course, wasnever a bubble dancer. [Art 2003 the respective copyright holder.]

    The Dolores Farris Story 27

  • PrefaceThis is a tale of the Roaring Twenties and of a great dancer who made

    the Twenties roar with applause. The dancer is my wife, Dolores Farris,originator of the jazz toe dance, which she introduced in the Jazz Age.

    I was motivated to write the story after seeing television re-runs ofthe film versions of two classicsF. Scott Fitzgeralds The GreatGatsby and Damon Runyons Guys and Dolls. Although Fitzgerald andRunyon are the acknowledged literary spokesmen for the Twenties, itoccurred to me that Dolores life and career could express the spirit ofthat exciting time even better than their books and the movies based onthem. The Farris scenario combines the romanticism of Gatsby withRunyons Broadway atmosphere in a sparkling show business settingwith a Prohibition-era gangster background.

    The 1992 edition of The Great Gatsby has a preface by ProfessorMatthew J. Bruccoli in which this scholar complains that the Twentieshave been trivialized and vulgarized by people who werent there.Dolores Farris was there, right in the middle of the action onBroadways Great White Way. Here is an authentic memoir of the JazzAge, the true story of a remarkable dancers meteoric rise and star-crossed romance in the most colorful decade of the century.

    Making It in the Big CityWhen a little blonde dancer from Kansas City, Missouri, arrived in

    Manhattan in 1922, she was just one of many thousands of aspirantsfrom all parts of the country who came to New York hoping to makegood in the big time of show business. Dolores Farris was one of the fewwho succeeded.

    Scott Fitzgerald was the first to call the Twenties the Jazz Age.Dolores combined classical ballet technique with the rhythm of the dayand came up with an entirely new creation: the jazz toe dance. Heryouthful exuberance and sensational dancing style matched the frantic

    tempo of the time, and she went on to become the golden girl of thenightclub era and the epitome of the Roaring Twenties. It was a dreamshe had always believed in, never doubting for a moment that it wouldcome true. She wasnt awed by the Big City, but her self-confidence wasnot egotism; Dolores knew what she could do, and all she wanted was achance to show it to blas New Yorkers.

    The opportunity came when she was given several featured parts in AFantastic Fricassee, a revue which opened September 11, 1922, at theGreenwich Village Theatre. Thanks to a Kansas City friend who hadpreceded her to New York and sang her praises (and showed herpictures) to the producer, she was given a part in the new production.The cast included Jeanette MacDonald, who later starred with NelsonEddy in popular Hollywood musicals. Future literary lights Ben Hechtand Maxwell Bodenheim contributed a one-act play to the revue.

    Reviews of A Fantastic Fricassee singled out Dolores. The dramacolumn of the New York World called the Fricassee a dish worthtrying.... Dolores Farris, who has the burden of the dancing, asColumbine in the pantomime and in two specialties, carried off thehonors of the dish. She has better things than this present engagementahead of her.

    [Dolores attracted the attention of producer Daniel Frohman, butthe role he offered her in a traveling stock company involved acting,not dancing, so she politely declined. However, leading musicalcomedy producer J.J. Shubert offered her a dancing part in his WinterGarden revue set for the following year. After Fricassee closed, sheremained in the Village to open at a swank nightclub, BarneyGallants. Dolores recalls:]

    This was the first time I had ever danced in a nightclub; in fact, itwas the first time I had ever been inside a nightclub. I was incrediblynaive; I didnt drink and paid no attention to the problems caused byProhibition. At that time it never occurred to me that these places werebreaking the law by serving liquor; I regarded them as entertainmentshowplaces where I could dance for a big city audience. I had no ideathat gangsters owned the clubs or at least controlled the liquor supply. Iwould find out about that later.

    [Dolores was next a featured dancer in Hitchy-Koo, a revuewhich went on a Midwestern road tour. Among the dancers in theshow was Busby Berkeley, who in the 1930s would becomeHollywoods top choreographer. Hitchy-Koo closed in Cincinnati, butDolores reviews were wildly favorable, including one that referred toher as a ginger cookieevidently high praise. She was soon bookedinto one of the resort hotels in the Catskill Mountains in upper NewYork state, which were patronized by prosperous Jewish vacationers,the so-called Borscht Circuit. There she worked with young MiltonBerle, whose mother traveled everywhere with him.]

    The Dance AgeIn his book America in the Twenties, Geoffrey Perrett points out

    that the Jazz Age might with greater accuracy have been called theDance Age. There was always a new dance sensation. It was theCharleston that became for all time the wild and happy symbol of theTwenties: flappers with flying beads, knocking knees, and crossinghands. I used steps and swinging hand movements from the Charlestonin my jazz toe routines, recalls Dolores. It was such a contrast to theslow, graceful, classical ballet style that it surprised and delightedaudiences everywhere.

    The basic Farris jazz toe dance had several elements that made itunique and inimitable. The most difficult part was the Russian toe

    The Girl with the Iron Toes. Dolores Farris shows her inimitable Russian toestep. Jack writes: No other dancer has ever been able to do this. Photo

    courtesy of Jack Burnley.

    28 The Golden Girl and the Silver Slipper

  • sequence. Russian dancing isstrenuous enough as it is; toperform these steps on the toeswould seem impossible if Doloreshadnt done it. At first she intro-duced just a few Russian steps intoher jazz dance; eventually herexceptionally strong toes enabledher to close her dance with a fullchorus of Russian toe stepping.For a spectacular finish, shehopped all the way across the stagein the Russian position, squattingon one toe with the other legextended. This would bring downthe house. It was an exhibition ofvirtuosity that showed remarkabletoe and leg strength; no otherdancer has been able to duplicate it. This tour deforce earned her the title of The Girl with theIron Toes, and stopped the show many times innightclubs and on the stage. The whole danceshowed off her toe strength; Dolores was on hertoes from the time of her entrance until she left thestage. Classical ballerinas remain on their toes forno more than three minutes at a time in the courseof a ballet; this new jazz toe dancer stayed on hertoes for a full seven minutes in her routines.

    It is traditional that entertainers have to strugglethrough a long and difficult climb if they hope toget to the top. Dolores was a featured performerfrom the outset and went from one success toanother without experiencing any setbacks.

    [The grand new movie houses of the 1920s were the mostspectacular Broadway theatres in existence at the time, and featuredelaborate stage shows, of which Manhattans later Radio City MusicHall became, in time, the last survivor. In spring and summer of 1925Dolores made a hit as a premiere danseuse alternating betweenBroadways famous Rivoli and Rialto [movie] Theatres. One criticremarked that Miss Farris is an unusually pretty chick, andproduction managers this week should not pass the Rialto. Nor didtheybut, Jack reports, the constant presence of her overlyprotective mother Bessie... was enough to discourage amorous senti-ments. Her father, Merl, generally kept to himself.]

    The Nightclub EraReturning to New York after J.J. Shuberts latest show, Innocent

    Eyes, closed in Cleveland, Dolores was in demand. This was the JazzAge, the Dance Age... and it was also the Nightclub Era. In between

    musical shows and movie theatre engagements, thetoe dancer was featured in the leading Broadwaycabarets, including the famous El Fey Club. Itsowner, Larry Fay, was one of the most colorfulracketeers of the Twenties and, Dolores says, oneof the ugliest men I have ever known. He died bythe bullet, but not one from a gangsters gun. Hewas shot by a drunken doorman who resented asalary cut.

    [The El Fey Club was often called theGuinan Club after colorful cabaret hostess MaryTexas Guinan, Queen of the Night Clubs,who in 1929 was featured in a film with that title.Her life was the subject of a 1940s Broadwayreview, Billion Dollar Baby, and a Betty Huttonfilm Incendiary Blonde (1945). In DamonRunyons stories, Texas Guinan appears thinlydisguised as Miss Missouri Martin. Guinanopened the nightly entertainment with herfamous greeting, Hello, Suckersa cheerfulinsult the customers loved, even though itobviously referred to the padded checks, wateredbooze, and inflated prices of the Prohibition nightspots.

    [Two dancers who worked with Dolores atGuinansGeorge Raft and Ruby Keelerlater

    gained movie fame. Fred Astaire once said that George Raft did thefastest and most exciting Charleston I ever saw, and Doloresconcurs. When, following a small role in Queen of the Night Clubs,Raft made a big hit as a coin-flipping gangster in Scarface in 1932, hereturned to New York for public appearances to help publicize thatmovie. Wherever Raft appeared, the crowd went wild. He was thetoast of the town, as New Yorkers welcomed him back after hisHollywood success.]

    At this time Dolores didnt pay much attention to the movies; shewas concentrating on her own dancing career, and when George Raftmade an unexpected appearance at a big benefit show in which she wasone of the performers, she was not impressed. She liked George, but stillthought of him as just another fine dancer she had worked with in theGuinan years. However, everyone else was excited when the greatHollywood star walked in, accompanied by his bodyguards just like thebig shot gangsters he portrayed on the screen. Raft looked around, andwhen he saw Dolores his face lit up, and with one exclamationDOLORES!he went over and hugged her happily, while other

    Paul Muni (left) was the star of UAs 1932 blockbusterScarface, but former Broadway dancer George Raftnot even billed in the credits on the movies original

    posters!stole the show. Sorry we couldnt find astill of Georgie flipping a coinbut in 1946 JackBurnley would draw Batmans nemesis Two-Face

    doing so, and even using the weighted half dollar as a weapon! Rafts trademark had doubtless

    inspired Bob Kane and Bill Finger a few years earlier.Inks by Charles Paris. Reprod from a photocopy

    of the original art. [2003 DC Comics.]

    The Dolores Farris Story 29

  • by Bill JourdainAs the webmaster of the Golden Age Batman website, I receive inter-

    esting e-mail from around the world asking questions about Batman.While I dont profess to be an expert on the topic, I love to discuss theGolden Age Dark Knight with the various fans that take the time towrite.

    Imagine my surprise in June of 2000 when I received an e-mail withthe subject: I wrote Batman in the 1940s!

    The receipt of that e-mail from Ruth Bunny Lyons Kaufman hasled to the discovery of a wonderful woman who wrote a few GoldenAge stories for DC Comics in 1942.Apparently, hercontribution to theGolden Age ofComics wasunknown beforenow.

    When I firstreceived the e-mailcontaining this claim,I must admit I wasskeptical. I didntknow this person, andupon checkingsources such as theGrand Comic BookDatabase Project(www.comics.org), Ifound no reference toher. In fact, theBatman story sheclaimed to have writtenwas credited to thegreat Bill Finger. Shetold me that she hadwritten other stories aswell, and upon checking references for those stories, I found that thescripters were listed as unknown. Despite my skepticism, my interestwas piqued, and I began to exchange e-mails with this mystery writerfrom the Golden Age.

    After we exchanged a few more e-mails, in late June she emailed methat she had copies of the books in which her stories appeared andwould be happy to send me color copies of the covers. She also told me,almost as an aside, that she had a letter from a DC editor in which herBatman story was discussed and that she would send me a copy ofthat, as well. I gladly accepted her offer and told her that I would lookforward to her package. Two months later (I had almost forgotten aboutthe package by then), I received a large manila envelope from my e-mailfriend of the Golden Age of Comics. Upon opening the envelope I wasastounded by what I found inside.

    Inside the package was a handwritten note clipped to color copies of

    some Golden Age comic book covers and what appeared to be a copy ofa four-page 1942 letter on Detective Comics letterhead. The note was asdelightful as the e-mails had been. My friend wrote, Enclosed, finally,are photo-copies of the Batman, Shining Knight, and Aquaman 1942comic books. Frankly, those early scripts had a lot more story-line,but less blood and gore than todays comic books. She then went on todescribe the attached letter: To me, the letter from Jack Schiff is farmore interesting. Jack was a great guy and a very good editor. Heapplied the same in-depth editing to Batman as he would to a NeroWolfe mystery novel! Hope you enjoy this bit of comic book memora-bilia. See you on the E! Upon reviewing the rest of the contents of theenvelope, I knew that her story was true, and she had indeed writtenthese Golden Age stories. I also knew that she deserved the credit forher work, so here it is!

    I Wrote Batman in the 1940s!RUTH BUNNY LYONS KAUFMAN

    Probably the First Female Ever to Script the Darknight Detective

    A couple of years back, Ruth Kaufman sent Bill Jourdain the photo at left, which she says was taken about the time she wrote the story for

    Batman #16. Interestingly, if DC ever does a fourth volume of its Dark Knight Archives, The Grade A Crimes will finally be reprinted after more than six decades. Photo courtesy of Ruth Kaufman. Thanks to Ken Dudley for all scans from the Batman story which accompany this article. Art by Dick!Sprang &!Charles Paris. [Art 2003 DC Comics.]

    38 Bunny Kaufman

  • Ruth Bunny Lyons Kaufman wrote threestories for DC Comics in 1942. Under the nameBunny Lyons, she submitted her stories to editorJack Schiff. She wrote The Grade A Crimes,which is the second story in Batman #16 (April-May, 1943); Riddle of the Rodeo, the ShiningKnight story in Adventure Comics #84 (March1943); and Somewhere in the Pacific, theAquaman story from More Fun Comics #90(April 1943).

    How do we confirm that she wrote thesestories? Other than her word (which is more thangood enough for me), there is no way identify withcertainty her work in Adventure and More Fun.However, the 1942 Jack Schiff letter confirms thatBunny Lyons, not Bill Finger, scripted The GradeA Crimes for Batman #16 (a key book becauseit features the first appearance of Alfred, Batmanand Robins loyal butler and friend). Not onlydoes this letter confirm Bunnys authorship; italso provides a wonderful historical glimpse intothe creation of a published Golden Age comicbook story.

    Here is Schiffs letter, dated August 14, 1942:

    When writer/historian Ron Goulart interviewed Jack Schifffor Pioneer Books 1985 book The History of DC Comics: Fifty

    Years of Fantastic Imagination, the above photo of thelongtime DC editor appeared with it. Alas, we couldnt turn

    up copies of Adventure Comics #84 or More Fun Comics#90, in which Mrs. Kaufmans Shining Knight and

    Aquaman stories appeared, by deadline time. But hereare the classic covers to those two issuesby Joe Simon &

    Jack Kirby, and by George Papp, respectively. Can anybodyout there supply us with interior art for a follow-up piece?

    [Art 2003 DC Comics.]

    I Wrote Batman In The 1940s! 39

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  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was atop artist for Fawcett Comics. The very first Mary Marvel charactersketches came from Marcs drawing table, and he illustrated herearliest adventures, including the classic Mary Marvel origin story inCaptain Marvel Adventures #18 (Dec. 42); but he was primarilyhired by Fawcett Publications to illustrate Captain Marvel stories andcovers for Whiz Comics and CMA. He also wrote many CaptainMarvel scripts, and continued to do so while in the military. Uponleaving the armed services in 1944, he made an arrangement withFawcett to produce art and stories for them on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he created both art and story for ThePhantom Eagle in Wow Comics, in addition to drawing the FlyinJenny newspaper strip for Bell Syndicate (created by his friend andmentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation of Wow, Swayzeproduced artwork for Fawcetts top-selling line of romance comics.After the company dropped its comics line, Marc moved over toCharlton Publications, where he ended his comics career in the mid-50s. Marcs ongoing professional memoirs have been FCAs mostpopular feature since his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996.Last issue, he related more about the fun atmosphere that prevailed inthe Fawcett art department in the early 1940s. This time, he talksabout how he came to write a number of the Captain Marvel scripts,citing several examples from his repertoire. P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    I didnt go to Fawcett Publications as a writer. It is doubtful that thersum sent to them made the slightest reference to the college semesterof short story composition... or the later library study of the literarynovel. They werent looking for a writer. They were looking for anartist... to draw Captain Marvel.

    My writing for the super-hero began simply as an offer to fill animmediate need. Wish I could remember its title... or what it was about...or the book in which it appeared.

    Not much was made of that story. The only obvious benefit from theexperience was a possible degree of respect among the Fawcett comicbook editors... as an artist who could write. Apparently not a commoncombination in those days.

    If I had a system, a formula, for writing the comic book story, I haveno idea what it might have been. I had carried around in the back of mymind, for I dont know how long, a set of fundamentals that I thought, iffollowed, might make sense... a character, a problem of some kind...some obstacles, then a solution by way of the main characters specialabilities.

    Nothing to it, was it? Three major elements, two of which... thecharacter and the solution... had been provided originally by Fawcettwriter-editor Bill Parker, with pictorial assistance from C.C. Beck.

    The hero, as one would expect, was Captain Marvel. Or, to be morespecific, Billy Batson. Billy, who was always there... at the beginning and

    at the end. Billy, who invariably set the stage for thesolution to the problem. Billy, who had merely to speakthe magic word... and have done with it!

    So where did the thinking come in when thesestories were being conceived... the... if I may use theword... the creativity?

    It was essential that each story be different...distinctive unlike any that had ever been spoken,written, or printed. Put more simply... and truthfully... ifone tale was to be about a frog, the next one should notbe about a frog. Anything else... but not a frog! I recallthat as being the way editor Ken Crossen described itlong ago in relating the trials and tribulations of editorialwork. A book full of frog stories, said Ken, could cost an

    editor his job... his career... his sanity... if any. His sobriety, for sure!

    France E. Herron, Fawcett executive editor of comics, had a knackfor transmitting his editorial... and marketing... theories withoutlecturing. You could have lunch with him and chat the whole time aboutthe rising cost of Automat peach pie, and come away with newknowledge of the necessity for an element of the unique to the comicbook story. Uncanny.

    Herron had excellent people on the comic book staff. Crossen, MercyShull, Stanley Kauffman, Tom Naughton, HenryPerkins... and others. They all

    (c) mds[Art & logo 2003 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2003 DC Comics]


    44 Marc Swayze

    Last issue, we saw the splash of Marcs 1943 Captain Marvel story titled TheBaron of Barracuda Bay. To avoid using that title again five years later,Marc metamorphosed a Phantom Eagle tale with the same tentative name

    into The Horror of the Swamp for Wow Comics #64 (Sept. 48). It featuredP.E.s old enemy, The Black Flamingo. [2003 DC Comics.]

  • Conducted by P.C. HamerlinckPCH: When was the first time youdiscovered (knowingly or not) Ottoswork? List specific comics, pulps, andbooks.

    BILL SCHELLY: In the openingchapter of my book Sense of Wonder:A Life in Comic Fandom, I describemy experience of discovering themagic of comic books. In 1960, when Iwas eight, my family was on a cross-country trip to visit my grandparents,and my dad bought me the GiantSuperman Annual #1 to give mesomething to read on the train. It was alife-changing experience for me,getting a large dose of some of thebetter Superman family stories ofthe late 50s. Later, I learned that six ofthe nine stories in that annual werewritten by Otto Binder. I wasespecially touched by the story intro-ducing Supergirl, and Lois Lane asThe Witch of Metropolis! I guess

    you could say that, in that sense, Otto Binder changed my life. I becamea lifetime fan of comics, and it all started with that one wonderfulannual.

    PCH: Besides the comics, did you also read Binders Adam Linkstories?

    SCHELLY: I first encountered Binders Adam Link stories through acomic strip adaptation of Adam Links Vengeance in the fanzineFantasy Illustrated, in 1964. I didnt get to read the prose stories in theseries until a year later, when they were collected into a paperback book.I loved them.

    PCH: Why did you want to do a book on Otto Binder?

    SCHELLY: The inspiration for actually doing a book came during adiscussion that Roy Thomas and I had about the lack of books aboutcomic book writersnot writer-artists like Will Eisner, but people whojust wrote the scripts. Thats when I thought of Otto. Here was a manwhose work was read by millions over the years, who wrote for the twomost successful characters of the Golden Age, yet is completelyunknown to all but the people in comics fandom.

    Words of Wonder: The Lifeand Times of Otto Binder

    An Interview with BILL SCHELLY, Author of the New (and First) Biography of One ofthe Greatest Scripters of Comics Golden Age

    Giant Superman Annual #1 (1960) was Bill Schellys first exposureto the work of Otto Binder, and began a lifelong love for comics

    but, as Bill relates, There is a playful, almost childlike quality to much of [Binders] comic book work, especially in his Fawcett stories.

    Panel at right is from Captain Marvel Adventures #115 (Dec. 1950)story by Otto Binder, art by C.C. Beck. [2003 DC Comics.]

    A photo of the Binder brothers and their wives, circa 1947. At left: Jack andOlga Binder. At right: Otto and Ione Binder. These and numerous other rare,

    even never-before-printed photos appear in Words of Wonder.

    46 Bill Schelly

  • Edited by P.C. HamerlinckPart 1 of 3:

    Learning from Captain MarvelWhen Captain Marvel was made into a live-action television series,

    Shazam!, in 1974, many fans of the character were initially excited aboutthe show, until they had their first actual look at the program. Gonewere the whimsy, humor, action, and adventure of his old tales. In theirplace were highly censored stories which attempted to teach kids moralvalues. In addition, Captain Marvel or Billy would later appear aftereach episode to explain the point of each story, just in case the youngviewers had somehow missed it!

    Although most fans highly approved of Jackson Bostwick (or evenhis successor John Davey) as Captain Marvel, and most may havetolerated the too-old Michael Gray as Billy Batson, and even theanimated elders who consulted Billy, overall most fans of the WorldsMightiest Mortal felt the shows approach fell short.

    However, it may come as a surprise that moralistic stories were notreally anything new, or a departure from Captain Marvel tradition, butrather were somewhat of a staple of the Big Red Cheese back in the 40sand early 50s. (DC, in its revival of the character, never attempted thistype of story, per se.) Although Filmation, the studio which producedthe Shazam! TV series, probably didnt know it, they were simplyreviving an old style of story of the original Captain Marvel. Alas,because of the incredible restrictions on Saturday morning television atthe time, one of the shows many writers, Don Glut, once told me thateven the word atomic was forbidden. The morals were not wrapped in

    entertaining adventures.No guns or knives wereever pulled or even hintedat. Most of the conflictwas emotional, notphysical.

    But these were nothurdles to jump duringthe Golden Age days atFawcett Publications,where Captain Marvelsmoralistic stories wereneither lacking inadventure or excitement.In this series firstinstallment, Id like toexamine a few of thosestories which not onlyentertained readers, butprovided good values andlessons which could, andstill do, last a lifetime.

    Many of the best such tales featuredthe talking tiger, Mr. Tawny, all ofwhose stories were written by prolificCaptain Marvel scripter Otto Binderand illustrated by the Captains chiefartist, C.C. Beck. It is sad that manycomics researchers of past yearscompletely missed the point of thosestories because they couldnt get pastthe concept of a talking tiger (yet theycould swallow a boy turning into a manwho could fly!).

    Jules Feiffer, in The Great ComicBook Heroes, dismissed Mr. Tawny as a villain, which he never was,while Dick Lupoff, in All in Color for a Dime, wrote that he hadnever warmed to Mr. Tawny. Later, the author of the RBCC Special#8 stated that hed automatically skipped over any story containingTawny. These individuals really should have read and closely examinedthose stories.

    First of all, though a tiger, Mr. Tawny was actually as human as twomore famous talking animals, Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge. Exceptperhaps for his origin story (Captain Marvel Adventures #79), virtuallyevery tale that featured Mr. Tawny as the main player (with CaptainMarvel being a secondary figure) contained some sort of moral or speciallesson. Usually it was Tawny himself who had to learn the lesson, withthe assistance of his friends Billy and Captain Marvel. The loquaciousfeline was lionized by Hollywood in CMA #92, lost faith in mankind in#96, had a persecution complex in #98, daydreamed of himself as a heroin #102, was turned against Cap in #113, and went on a culture craze in#137. He sought new personalities in #115, looked for happiness in #117,engaged in a sales campaign in #119, had to go on a diet in #121, faced a

    Levity, Learning,&Lightning Boltsby John G. Pierce[Based on previously published articles concerning the many facets of the original Captain Marvel, by JGP; rewritten in 2003.]

    Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel, in themoralistic 1970s TV series Shazam!

    [Captain Marvel TM & 2003 DC Comics.]

    From Mr. Tawny Seeks Happiness, inCaptain Marvel Adventures #117 (Feb. 51)and Mr. Tawnys New Home in CMA #90

    (Nov. 48). Both stories by Otto Binder,with art by C.C. Beck. [2003 DC Comics.]

    John G. Pierce 49

  • Pleasure Peril in #128, went on a quest for youth in #131, marketedbouncing shoes in #134, and became a hermit in #149. Throughout it all,Mr. Tawny usually remained a hard-working individual. His occasionaldissatisfactions were excellent reflections of emotions and experiencesmost people have undergone at one time or another. If young readerscould identify with Billy Batson, older readersand apparently therewere more than a fewcould certainly identify with Mr. Tawny.

    Some stories concerned themes that might even surprise those whobelieve that relevance in comics began with Green Lantern/GreenArrow. In Captain Marvel Adventures #90 (Nov. 1948), Mr. Tawnymoved into a new neighborhood, only to be met with prejudice andbigotry. (He was evidently the first tiger to live in that area.) Hewas ready to pack up and leave, but Captain Marvel convincedhim to stay. When the local bigot and his friends tried burningdown Mr. Tawnys house, Cap saved the day, while Tawnyrescued the neighborhood children from spreading flames, thusproving that the suspicions against him were unfounded.Incidentally, in the house-burning scenes, the bigots wore black-hooded outfits not unlike those of the Ku Klux Klan.

    But there were many moralistic tales which didnt star Mr.Tawny. One of the greatest, The Man Who Thought Aloud,appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #119 in 1951. JasperSauer (names of one-time characters in Captain Marvel storieswere seldom subtle) was an employee of Station WHIZ whoalways had negative thoughts about everyone and everything.(Incidentally, if giving people names which reflected their person-alities seems unrealistic, I refer you to the Old Testament, whereeverybodys name, in the original languages, had a meaningconnected to their personality, attributes, or mission in life.)

    A gnome, the collector of all bad thoughts that you humanshave, had to work overtime because of Sauers outlook on life,so he placed on Jasper The Curse of Spoken Thoughts. Jaspersoon found that his thoughts, spoken aloud, got him into allsorts of trouble, even cost him his job at WHIZ. When CaptainMarvel attempted to intercede, the gnome placed the same curseon him. Jasper gloated over the trouble he imagined Cap wouldsoon get into. Soon a rather plump woman approached, but acaption informed us that Captain Marvel never has badthoughts. Rather, he muses, What a jolly and pleasing face that

    lady has! Eventually Sauer realized it was only his own bad thoughtswhich had been getting him into trouble, whereupon the gnomeappeared and removed the curse from both Jasper and Captain Marvel.(Jasper had learned the truth of Proverbs 23:7: For as he thinketh in hisheart, so is he, as well as Phillippians 4:8, wherein the Apostle Paulurged his followers to meditate on whatever was noble, true, lovely, just,pure, and praiseworthy.)

    Still another story of extraordinary moral content was CaptainMarvel Adventures #113s The Imperfect Perfection, in which BillyBatson visited a town called Perfection, a village devoid of noise, dirt,and slums. As Robert Ajax, head of the Perfection Civic League,explained to Billy, We insist on nothing less than perfection itself....Notice how everybody is handsome and noble in appearance. Theancient Greeks gave us our ideals of human form and face. Our citizensmust conform to those standards. Ajax then proceeded to point outsome disgusting freaks in Perfectionpeople who had oddly-coloredhair, or were too skinny, had big ears, etc.in short, anyone who didnot look like ancient Greek statues. These freaks had banded togetherin an Odd Fellows Club.

    When Ajax and his committee attempted to drive these odd fellowsout of Perfection, Billy said Shazam! and Captain Marvel intervened:You dont like people with purple hair, eh? Well, I dont like peoplewith two ears! My reasons are as good as yours! Still, since CaptainMarvel seldom, if ever, contravened the vested authorities, the OddFellows gave up and left town. Cap then crashed a meeting of thePerfection Civic League, declaring Ajax had been right: But you didntgo far enough. Lets make it a rule that all men in town must be just astall as I am! Cap then proceeded to measure all the men and to toss outof the window anyone who was too shortwhich included all of them.When Ajax protested that Cap had simply made up that rule, Capresponded, Thats the trouble with all such rules made by snobs andbigots like you. Who ever gave you or me or anybody the right to makesuch stupid rules? Actually, he asked this question while he punchedAjax into the wall.

    Robert Ajax learned his lesson and soon returned the Odd Fellows to

    A panel from The Man Who Thought Aloud, CMA #119 (April 1951).Art by C.C. Beck and Pete Costanza. [2003 DC Comics.]

    The splash panel of The Imperfect Perfection, in Captain Marvel Adventures #113(Oct. 50). Art by Beck. [2003 DC Comics.]

    50 Levity, Learning & Lightning Bolts

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  • JACK KIRBY& Some GreatUnknowns!

    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, $11.00 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 elsewhere. All characters are theirrespective companies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM ofRoy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada.


    This issue is dedicated to the memory ofMrs. Dolores Farris Burnley,

    Lester Zakarin,& Al Hartley

    ContentsWriter/Editorial: A Dream! A Hoax! An Imaginary Tale! . . . . . 2I Remember Monster!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Michael T. Gilbert & Co. speculate: What if The Incredible Hulk hadnt been cancelled in 1963?

    The 1948 Comic Art Convention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13And Phil Seuling asks: What if thered been a comicon 16 years earlier than 1964?

    I Never Really Stopped Doing Comics! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22Inker Les Zakarin talks with Jim Amash about John Romita and other phenomena.

    About The Black Pirate and Alfonso Greene . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28Comics great Alex Toth on the career of an African-American Golden Age artist.

    Mike Suchorsky, a.k.a. Mr. Photo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Hames Ware and Jim Vadeboncouer, Jr., on one of the best of the Great Unknowns!

    A Talk with John Benson (part one). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33Bill Schelly interviews the editor of Squa Tront, greatest of the EC fanzines.

    In Memoriam: Al Hartley (1925-2003) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43A few words about the talented artist of Patsy Walker, Archie, and Christian comics.

    re: [comments, criticisms, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44Vin Sullivan and the Giants of DCplus FCA. . . . . . . . Flip Us!About Our Cover: Randy Sargent and Shane Foley did such a fabulous job creating new JackKirby covers using the Kings early-60s art that, when they composed their own pseudo-MarvelCollectors Item Classics cover harking back to that latter-60s reprint mag, we just had to use it asour flip cover! [Art reconstructed by Randy Sargent & Shane Foley; art 2003 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Above: This Kirby-penciled panel of the ever-lovin blue-eyed Thing was previously printed inTwoMorrows flagship title The Jack Kirby Collectoreven in the recent issue #38but whenGlen David Gold sent us a copy, we couldnt resist. This is a rejected final panel from page 3 ofFantastic Four #15 (June 63)around the time The Incredible Hulk was cancelled. Stan Lee hadJack replace it with a new panel showing Ben joining his three fellow heroesbut heres the original,in all its glory! [ 2003 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Vol. 3, No. 27 / August 2003Editor Roy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorJohn Morrow

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

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

    Production AssistantEric Nolen-Weathington

    Cover ArtistsJack Kirby

    (with Randy Sargent & Shane Foley) Jack Burnley

    Cover ColoristsShane FoleyTom Ziuko

    And Special Thanks to:Heather AntonelliDick AyersJill BailyRegina BailyRobert BeerbohmBlake BellJohn BensonJay DisbrowShel DorfKen DudleyHarlan EllisonTom FaganMichael FeldmanCreig FlesselPatricia FlossShane FoleyKen GaleGlen David GoldRon GoulartGeorge HagenauerPeter HansenRon HarrisLarry IvieBill JourdainBunny Lyons KaufmanAdele Kurtzman

    Richard KyleJoe LatinoMark LuebkerMaurizio ManzieriFred MommsenBrian K. MorrisWill MurrayVittorio PavesioJohn G. PierceDevon RaymondCharlie RobertsJohn RomitaRandy SargentWarren SattlerRomano ScarpaBarbara SeulingCarole SeulingGwen SeulingDavid SiegelMarc SwayzeAlex TothJim Vadeboncouer, Jr.Michael J. VassalloHames WareBill WarrenRay Zone

    JACK KIRBY& Some GreatUnknowns!

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    4 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt

  • by Michael T. GilbertIt was 1962, and my mom and I had just walked from our Levittown,

    Long Island, home to the A&P grocery store a few blocks away. Whileshe searched the aisles for dented cans and other dubious bargains, Idashed to the drugstore next door to look at comics.

    One book in particular caught my attention among the dozens ondisplay at the drugstores spin-rack: a strange comic featuring a greenmonster called The Incredible Hulk. (It was issue #2.) Before I knewwhat was happening, Jack Kirbys dynamic art hooked me, and SteveDitkos dark, moody inks reeled this poor fish in! Who was this Hulkguy? Another Marvel monster threatening Earth for the umpteenthtime? Or some kind of gruesome super-hero? My 11-year-old brainburned with curiosity! The Hulk sure looked like a monster, but theweird Toad Men he was fighting looked even worse.

    Predictably, I begged Mom for 12. Equally predictably, she refused.

    Rats! A couple of months later, the third issue of The Incredible Hulkwas on the same spin-rack. This story began with The Hulk trapped in adark, gloomy cell, somehow imprisoned by a terrified teenager namedRick. How could any kid do that? And was Rick a friend of The Hulk,or his enemy? I was dying to find out more, but Id only read a fewpages when Mom returned. Try as I might, no amount of whiningconvinced her to buy me that glorious comic. Double rats!

    A few months later I finally scored my first Hulk comic. I wasstudying for my upcoming Bar Mitzvah, and every Saturday my dadtook me to his tailor shop, where Id cool my heels until Hebrew Schoolstarted. Happily, a soda shop around the corner had a great comic bookdisplay on the wall. Most Saturdays Dad would spring for a hamburgerand a couple of comics.

    One Saturday, we went there for lunch, and I spotted not one, buttwo different Hulk comics on the rack. Issues #4 and #5, to be exact.#4s cover was only so-so, but issue #5 more than made up for it. Thatone showed an enraged Hulk smashing through a solid stone wall in theforeground as the villain ordered his minions to kill the brute. It wasglorious! Dark grey coloring made the cover even more mysterious andappealing. The villain, Tyrannus, was an arrogant blond Adonis. Even asa kid I was struck by the originality of a villain handsomer than thehero. Superman was never like this!

    I read my comics while Dad gulped his food and schmoozed withthe waitress. Between bites I learned that the teenager whod trappedThe Hulk in issue #3 was Rick Jones, a friend of Bruce Banner, TheHulks alter ego. Aha! Bruces girlfriend Betty Ross didnt know herskinny scientist boyfriend was really The Hulk. Good thing too, sinceThe Hulk made her skin crawl.

    And what about The Hulk? Well, he was a good guy, sort of. I mean,he was always saving Earth from Toad Men and Commies and stuff. Buthalf the time you didnt know if he was going to save someone or killthem! He was kind of unpredictable that way.

    That very unpredictability made those early Hulks incrediblyexciting. Stan and Jack were making it up as they went along, and thatwas half the fun. The Hulk might be a half-witted brute one issue, and acunning savage in the next. Once he even became a mindless puppetcontrolled by Rick.

    Then there were the transformations. In issue #1, Bruce Banner invol-untarily changed into The Hulk at night. Later, it took a blast from hisGamma Ray machine to make the change. And you never knew howthat would turn out.

    Those darn Gamma Rays always seemed to screw things up. EitherThe Hulk would wind up with Banners brain, or Banner would windup with The Hulks muscles. One time The Hulk even got stuck withBruce Banners head and had to wear a Hulk mask. Talk about schizo-phrenic! Half the time, The Hulk was afraid he couldnt change backinto Bruce Banner, and be trapped in this monsters body forever. Theother half he worried that he would turn back into his puny alter ego.

    Around the same time, I discovered a second monster-hero in anotheroffbeat Marvel comic. Fantastic Four #11 was a tongue-in-cheek jobstarring The Impossible Man, with a guest appearance by Lee and Kirby,no less. This issue, my first, also introduced me to The Thing, a heroalmost as ugly as The Hulk. Needless to say, I loved the comic, even if Ididnt quite understand it. But things really kicked into high gear thefollowing issue.

    Dad took me to the same drugstore a couple of months later, where I

    I Remember Monster!Michael T. Gilbert 5

    The first Incredible Hulk series died with issue #6 (March 1963). Jack KingKirby penciled the first five, while Sturdy Steve Ditko drew both cover and

    interior art for that final outing. But what if Kirby hadnt left? Well, hiscover might have looked like this imaginary cover (on facing page), rather

    than the published Ditko version (above). Us, we love em both!Art by Steve Ditko. [2003 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • When I got to the Hotel Pennsylvania opposite Penn Station inManhattan, I was nervous and my anticipation was rising minute byminute. I didnt know what to expect, so I didnt know why I wasexcited, but I really was trying to keep myself calm. A fourteen-year-oldkid biting his nails doesnt look too cool, and I tried to resist every timeI found myself chewing at a thumbnail. On the trip to the Conventionby subway, I had already cursed myself out plenty of times forforgetting things I should have remembered to bring. A shopping bag orsomething. Those comics without covers I wanted to dump on someonein a trade. My want list (but anyway I knew it by heart).

    Now I was here. And I was weak in the knees at what might be thereto see.

    Maybe my folks would turn out to be right. The convention wouldbe just another way of taking advantage of kids who were too stupid tostop reading comic books. Especially at your age, they would add.They had a mental warehouse of examples of my misplaced trust whichthey would heap on me every time I wanted to make another ventureinto collecting comic book stuff. Wheres that subscription for a year?You only got three issues, didnt you? That one hurt. Did you ever getthe Tom Mix ring you sent for? No, I didnt. But I did get a badge, ade-coder, and all that went with it from the Junior Justice Society ofAmerica! Anyway, there were things my folks didnt know because Idnever tell them. Once I waited weeks for a Tom Mix comic book whichhad the criminals name hidden somewhere in the bookthe criminal

    from the radio series, of course. It was a contest: who could find thename first and send it in? They announced the winner three weeksbefore I received the comic book!

    Maybe I was stupid. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable tellingpeople about my fascination with comic books. I was now in highschool! Its true I didnt feel odd telling people about my other maniasbaseball, softball, skating, readingbut comic books? They sounded likekid stuff to most people. It wasnt often that I could find others whowould laugh and enjoy themselves as much as I did when we recalledour favorite books, stories, characters!

    The comic book collectors convention might be the place I wouldencounter more of my kind of people. I arrived at the registration area,paid my fifty cents, and walked in. It took me a minute to absorb thescene. It wasnt what I expected, but it wasnt different, either. It wasonly that it caught me unprepared. The room was long and narrow and Icouldnt see what was down at the end. I saw first of all the bannersstrung across the room by National Comics, which was made to look asif it was supported on one side by Superman and on the other byBatman.

    Somebody next to me said, It looks symbolic. Those two havealways supported the company. That was funny, and I wondered whothis guy was who was both clever enough to use words like symbolicin ordinary conversation, and comical enough to make me laugh. We

    [INTRODUCTORY NOTE: By 1978 comics conventioneerPhil Seuling, a Brooklyn high school English teacher, had beenputting on his annual New York shindigs for a decade,beginning in 1968 with the SCARP-Con in affiliation withothers. To celebrate this tenth anniversary, he wrote for the 78Comic Art Conventions program book a fanciful account of acomicon he had attended thirty years earlierwhich of coursehad never existed. But what if it had? Ye Editor believes Philsspoof catches the spirit of the 40s, and what such a conventionmightve been like. Our thanks to Phils daughters GwenSeuling and Heather Antonelli for permission to reprint thispieceto Fred Mommsen for providing a copy of the programbookto Phils ex-wife Carole Seuling for putting us in touchwith all of the aboveand to Barbara Seuling, Phils artistsister, for allowing us to reprint several of the illustrations shedid to accompany the spoof in 1978. All art except Barbarasdrawings has been added for this reprinting. All events in thisarticle are fictitiouson this Earth. Roy.]

    Phil Seuling 13

    A teenage Phil Seuling arrives at the 48 comiconas depicted in 1978 by his sister Barbara. [Art 2003 Barbara Seuling.]

    The 1948 Comic ArtConvention

    As It Very Well Might Have Been, If It Had Been At AllA Report by Phil Seuling (Who Would Have Been There, of Course!)

  • told each other our names (just so we atleast knew someone else at the show, Iguess). He was Harvey Kurtzman. Hesaid he was a writer for Timely Comics.That was interesting! But it turned out itwas only a once-in-a-while page called Hey Look! which was inMillie the Model when they had to fill some space. He drew it, too, butit didnt look like much to me. I didnt have the self-confidence to givehim my advice, which would have been to learn to draw super-heroesand lay off the funny stuff. Comics arent really comic. Who reads thefunny stuff? Maybe when there was nothing else around, Id read Archieor even Donald Duck or Looney Tunes. I didnt know or care whowrote or drew them, though. Who would? I kept my ideas to myself, asI said, because he was a nice guy and I didnt want to hurt his feelings.

    We wandered further in andseparated to look at the differentdisplays. Fawcett Comics wasdrawing the biggest crowds, asmight be expected. NationalComics may publish themost titles, but, likeother fans, I reach forCaptain Marvel orThe Marvel Familyfirst! Thats probablywhy there are rumors ofan everlasting lawsuitagainst Fawcett by National to getthem to stop publishing CaptainMarvel. That kind of legal stuffmust be a joke!

    At the Fawcett Comics boothwere three men with name tags on,artists and writers who producedthe largest part of Fawcetts totaloutput. They were C.C. Beck (Irecognized his name fromCaptain Tootsie ads) and Jackand Otto Binder. I listened in onpart of a conversation as OttoBinder reminisced about hisreason for leaving science-fictionwriting to write for comic books.

    It was raining money! For sci-stories I was getting one centper word. Comic book publishers were paying 2 per word. I couldntbelieve it, but the checks kept coming in. I phoned Jack and told him toget down to New York quick before the golden goose died!

    Jack added that he had replied,Yes, but how long could itlast? And Otto had told him itdidnt matter. They could earnbig dollars while it lasted. Heknew comic books were only apassing fad!

    We all laughed. Otto added,Im still trying to convince himof that! And we laughed somemore.

    These were my kind ofpeople. I was beginning to warmup to the idea of people with the

    same interests gettingtogether to spend some

    time on their favoritesubject. I hopedconventions werehere to stay!

    The next exhibitwas a display of all the

    Classics Illustrated titles, whichI passed by without much pause.I read them only when they wereall there was to read, not bychoice, and I still called themClassic Comics. I didnt even use

    At the time of the 1948 comicon, Worlds FinestComics #37 (Nov.-Dec. 1948) was about to go onsale, with a cover depicting Superman, Batman,and Robin holding up each other if not precisely

    National/DCwhile, some months earlier, the HeyLook page at right, by future Mad and Little AnnieFanny creator Harvey Kurtzman, had appeared in

    Timelys Hedy Devine #25 (Feb. 48). (Above:) Late-1940s photo of Kurtzman courtesy of Adele

    Kurtzman and Blake Bell; it can be viewed in full inBlakes TwoMorrows volume I Have to Live withThis Guy! [WFC art 2003 DC Comics; Hey Look

    art 1992, 2003 Kitchen Sink Press.]

    In 1948 writer Otto Binder (left) and his artist brother Jack (right) worked togetheron various features for Fawcett Comics, especially Mary Marvel. The above

    Binder Brothers script and art is from Marys chapter in the book-length story inMarvel Family #10 (April 1947), as reprinted in the 1977 black-&-white volumeShazam! from the 40s to the 70s. The full photo of Otto and Jack, sent to RoyThomas by Otto circa 1964, will soon be seen in Bill Schellys new biographyWords of Wonder: The Life and Times of Otto Binder. [Art 2003 DC Comics.]

    14 The 1948 Comic Art Convention

  • [INTRODUCTION: Les Zakarin, a fine gentleman, passed away inearly 2003, as this interview was in preparation, a year or two after ithad been recorded. He worked in the comic book business for adecade. He had a few interesting stop-overs during that time, andintroduced a future legend into the field. Les story affirms somecomic book history that we already knew, and adds a new chapter ortwo that we didnt. Before he takes us first to Quality Comics, then toTimely (where Stan Lee handed out assignments to Les and ananonymous friend who was destined to be a Lee collaborator formany years), lets peek inside the famous Jerry Iger shop, which wascovered at length back in Alter Ego #21.... Jim.]

    JIM AMASH: I have a novel way of starting interviews: when andwhere were you born?

    LES ZAKARIN: March 17, 1929, in Brooklyn, N.Y. That was St. PatricksDay, and theyve yet to ask me to lead the parade in New York. [laughs]

    JA: At least they havent put your picture up in any of their postoffices. What art training did you have?

    ZAKARIN: In essence, I went to the High School of Industrial Arts inManhattan. They focused more on art than a regular high school, so Igraduated with a high school diploma and a degree in cartooning. JohnRomita went to school with me. He majored in illustration and Imajored in cartooning; we graduated at the same time and we went ourseparate ways. We didnt meet again until later, when I was trying to getwork from Stan Lee. Stan didnt hire you unless you were able to givehim a complete art job. I was only an inker.

    JA: How did you get your start in comics?

    ZAKARIN: I started working for Jerry Igers studio right after highschool, in 1947. He had a little studio that produced work for FictionHouse, on 51st Street, down in the basement. There were five tablesthere. Ray Osrin, Bob Webb, and another guy were there. They also hada letterer and a colorist. I dont remember their names, except that thecolorist was a woman.

    JA: Was the other guy Matt Baker?

    ZAKARIN: That name rings a bell; I think so. Anyway, I sat there andcranked out ink work all day long. It was easy to ink Bob Webbs stuff,like Sheena, because he put in every little detail. If a guy had seventeeneyelashes, there were seventeen lines there. It was good working withhim. I inked other features and pencilers for Iger, too, but Sheena isthe only one I really remember.

    JA: What do you remember about Jerry Iger?

    I Never ReallyStopped Doing Comics!

    LES ZAKARIN Talks about Timely, Quality, and Other ThingsIncluding JOHN ROMITA

    (Left:) Les Zakarin says he never penciled, only inkedas if that werentaccomplishment enough! Alas, however, though he sent us a beautiful full-size copy ofthe original art of the above splash page for a tale called The Matterhorncomplete

    with a tear at the bottom centerhe never got around to telling us who the penciler waslet alone the date, comics title, or company. Still, its a beauty! (Above:) A caricature ofLes drawn, circa the late 40s, by his friend and colleague Ray Osrin. [Matterhorn art

    2003 the respective copyright holder; caricature 2003 Estate of Ray Osrin.]

    22 Les Zakarin

    Interview Conducted &Transcribed by Jim Amash

  • ZAKARIN: He was a taskmaster, but a great guy to work for. He ranthe place himself. If he came over and said, This is the way I want itdone, and if you did it that way, he would never argue with you.

    JA: Did you have to produce a certain amount of pages per week?

    ZAKARIN: It wasnt like that. We were told, This is the stuff. We haveto get it done. I dont remember how many pages wed have to doexcept that it had to get done. It was not a leisurely activity, thats forsure.

    JA: Was there ever a discussion about why no one could sign theirwork?

    ZAKARIN: No. Nobody did in those days. Thats when I startedhiding my name ZAK in the foliage or some other place. One day,Bob Webb noticed and asked me what I was doing. I told him and weused to have a little fun with it. Hed say, Let me find it.

    As an aside, a couple of years ago, I was down at the InternationalMuseum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. They had a display of afew old comic book pages, and one of those pages was a romance page. Iwas there with a friend of mine, and the title card under the art said,Artist Unknown. I told my friend I did that page, and he wasskeptical until I showed him that I had put about thirteen ZAKs in thetrees and branches. He immediately called the curator over, and I becamea celebrity.

    JA: Did you consider yourself to be a fast inker?

    ZAKARIN: Yes. I cant say how fast, but I could get it done. I was thetype of inker who could look at a page and visualize how to ink it.While looking through some old stuff of mine, I found the original full-page inking sample I made when I was freelancing for work. Im sure itwas the first thing I showed Stan Lee. I actually penciled it myself, butyou will see it was penciled so I could show off my inking prowess, notmy penciling ability. You can hide poor penciling with good inking.When John Romita and I worked together, he complained that I usedtoo small a brush. I used a number three. When John started inking hisown stuff, he worked his way up to a larger brush.

    JA: What do you remember about Bob Webb?

    ZAKARIN: I would guess he was a good ten or fifteen years older thanI was then. He was an extremely astute penciler and loved drawingSheena. He was very good and extremely detailed in his work. He wasvery quiet and sat in his corner and worked. He wasnt a great conversa-tionalist. He was a stocky guy. We got along well. If you work in astudio with someone and dont get along with them, you are in bigtrouble. It was a very fun time for me. It was the first time that I reallygot involved in comics and I enjoyed the guys I worked with.

    JA: What do you remember about Ray Osrin?

    Weve no way of knowing if Les Zakarin inked this splash page, which was reprinted in the 1985 Sheena 3-D Special produced by Ray (3-D) Zone

    and his associates for Blackthorne Publishing... but its definitely Bob Webb pencils, so could be! [Art 2003 the respective copyright holder;

    Sheena TM & 2003 Aratow/Columbia.]

    A year or so ago, Les sent us a color photocopy of the above cover for Hit Comics #65 (July 1950)coincidentally, the very last issue of that long-running magand we assume he did so because he had inked Reed Crandalls pencils on this Jeb Rivers scene. Incidentally, A/Ehas an in-depth interview with Al Grenet, Qualitys last editorwho

    oversaw this issuecoming up in just a few short months. Watch for it![2003 the respective copyright holder.]

    I Never Really Stopped Doing Comics! 23

  • 28 Alex Toth

    About The Black PirateAnd Alfonso Greene!

    ALEX TOTH on One of the Unsung Talents of the Golden Age

    The Black Pirate was originally written and illustrated by Sheldon Moldoff in SensationComics, but later, when it had become a secret-identity feature, it was given to Alfonso

    Greene. This Greene-drawn story appeared in All-American Comics #73 (May 1946).[2003 DC Comics.]



    03 A




  • by Hames Ware & Jim Vadeboncouer, Jr.A top-ten list of the finest artists to draw for comic books in their

    first decade would provoke little contention on the first six to ten names.For most whove studied the subject: Lou Fine, Reed Crandall, WillEisner, Carl Barks, Jack Kirby, Walt Kelly, and a number of others, for avariety of reasons, would vie for these slots without protestbut if youonly have ten slots, youve gotta get Jack Cole in there too somehow,and....

    Well, obviously its tough. So tough, in fact, that just by randomlyselecting the above weve already omitted a bunch of other contenders,some of them equally worthy.

    But what if you saw such a listing, and wedged in between some ofthese giants of the comic art world you spotted the nameMikeSuchorsky!?

    Your first reaction, altogether understandable, might be: Now, MikeSekowsky mayve been the fastest good artist... but he sure doesntdeserve to be in the top ten!! (Note: several artists mayve equaledSekowskys speed, but few combined fast and good the way he did!)

    Actually there are probably some who might argue persuasively thatSekowsky does deserve such a designationonly, were not talkingabout Mike Sekowsky or committing a typo. We mean Mike Suchorsky,and heres why!

    As an adjunct of the art-detecting done for the original Whos Whoof American Comic Books, Jim and I began an unofficial list of top tenUnknown Artists whom we were determined to identify. These werethe Golden Age talents who, despite all the research Jerry Bails, Jim, andI had done to uncover their identities, alas, remained unknown. Headingthe list, with no other artist even close, was an unknown whom Jimdubbed Mr. Photo because of his crisp, realistic style.

    What made this artist so worthy of being credited was that, among

    30 TitleThe Great UnknownsPart II of a Series


    a.k.a. Mr. Photo

    The earliest example of Mike Suchorsky work accompanying this piece is this Green Lama splash from Prize Comics #24, a.k.a. Vol. 2, #12

    (Oct. 1942). [2003 the respective copyright holder.]

    A Suchorsky page from Ginny, a teenage feature in My Date Comics #2 (Sept.1947), published by Hillman. [2003 the respective copyright holder.]

  • by Bill SchellyIntroduction

    Few fans have had the kind of wide-ranging experiences that characterizedJohn Bensons years in EC and comicsfandom from 1956 to 1972. You mayknow him from his legendary A/Einterview with Gil Kane, or from hislater articles and reviews for GraphicStory Magazine and Graphic StoryWorld. Or as the fellow who conductedthe first in-depth interviews with WillEisner, Harvey Kurtzman, and BernardKrigstein. But did you know heorganized a full-fledged New YorkComicon in 1966? Wrote stories forWarren Publishing? Assisted on WallyWoods witzend?

    When I sat down with John onJanuary 26th, 2003, I had no idea howmuch fun it would be to pick the brainof this fascinating fellowand theresulting interview was so long, wecouldnt fit it into one issue, or even twoissues. Therefore, sit back, relax, andenjoy the first of three parts of thisfascinating foray into Fandom Past.

    This interview was transcribed byBrian K. Morris and was edited by BillSchelly and John Benson, and is 2003 by Bill Schelly.

    Part OneBILL SCHELLY: John, lets start by going back to ancient history.

    JOHN BENSON: I was just a green kid!

    BS: [laughs] Go back to before you were just a green kid. Back towhen and where you were born, and what your father did for aliving, that sort of thing.

    BENSON: I was born in Chicago, in December 1940, but we moved toNew Jersey before I was a year old. Other than that, Ive hardly everbeen in Chicago. My parents both came from the East; they were just inChicago long enough for me to be born.

    BS: Was that because your father took a job there?

    BENSON: Right.

    BS: What did he do?

    BENSON: Thats always a tough questionto answer. By trade, he was a printer. Imay have gotten some of my interest inamateur publishing from his interest inprinting. But he was really a theologian,although he hated the term because hethought the term implied an academician.He was the leading authority on GeorgeFox, the founder of the Quakers, althoughhe wasnt probably recognized as that untillate in life. Among other things, he createda concordance of Foxs works on Rolodexcards that has now been published and is astandard reference.

    BS: Where did you live in New Jersey?

    BENSON: Mount Holly, which is a smalltown in south central Jersey. My parentswere caretakers of something called TheJohn Woolman Memorial. John Woolmanwas one of the earliest of the Quakerabolitionists. It was a tiny, very old house,but on a large block of land, with a big,beautiful yard. It went way back to a littlestream, with a little glen with bamboo andweeping willows and a stone bench, thewhole thing. I lived there for the firstseven years of my life.

    BS: Would you say it was semi-rural?

    BENSON: Yes. There were small-towntype houses on one side, and on the other side there was a huge appleorchard. Beyond that there was woods, at that time. My recollections ofMount Holly remind me a lot of The Night of the Hunter. [Schellylaughs] I mean in terms of the town. The barber shop was like that onein the famous Norman Rockwell painting. It had these unfinished wideplank wood floors. When I was a little kid, I was fascinated that theydlift a section of board and just sweep the hair into the hole.

    BS: What was the population of the town, roughly? Five thousand?

    BENSON: Probably, yeah. Small town. My father worked in a printshop, in a 19th-century building, which operated in 19th-centuryfashion, with hand-set moveable type. Later my father bought his ownpress, and I think some of the type he got was from that shop. He wasonly in business for himself for a short time, but he kept someequipment for most of his life. He had some large wooden headline typeof nineteenth century vintage, which I later used to print a headline formy fanzine Image. I remember going down there as a very small child,and there were these old characters hanging around. They remind menow of the old codgers in the machine-shop strips in J. R. Williams OutOur Way. Really a different age, different even from the 50s.

    A lady in deadly peril, and not a super-hero in sight! In the late1960s, John Benson's wife Friedel was an art director at

    MacFadden Publications, so the two of them tried their hand atproducing photo covers. This is the only one actually published.

    John is the one wielding the knife; the other pair are personalfriends who would probably prefer to remain anonymous.

    Friedel took the photo. [2003 the respective copyright holder.]

    Title 33Comic Fandom ArchiveThe Comic Fandom Archive proudly presents

    A Talk with JOHN BENSON An Overdue Interview with the Editor of Squa Tront, the Ultimate EC Fanzine,

    about His Days in Comic Fandoms Formative Years

  • BS: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

    BENSON: Im an only child. When we left Mount Holly, we moved toPhiladelphia, where we lived in