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ALTER EGO #75 (100 pages, $6.95) is a FAWCETT FESTIVAL—with a fabulous new cover by ALEX ROSS! It’s double-size FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) dynamite, with WALT GROGAN and P.C. HAMERLINCK on all the many "Captains Marvel" over the years, from centuries past to Fawcett to Fass to Marvel Comics, and beyond—spotlighting a previously unseen Shazam! proposal from ALEX ROSS! Plus, there’s C.C. BECK on "The Death of a Legend!"—plus MARC SWAYZE! Bonus: an engrossing interview with Golden Age artist MARV LEVY, featuring art by BERNARD BAILEY, CARMINE INFANTINO, MAC RABOY, CHARLES SULTAN, HOWIE POST, DAN BARRY, MORT MESKIN, et al.! Also, there’s Michael T. Gilbert and Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt, and even more! Edited by Roy Thomas.

Text of Alter Ego #75

  • $6.95In the USA

    No. 75January2008





    Roy ThomasSHAZAM-STUDDEDComics Fanzine


    zam!characters & art TM & 2008 DC Comics.]



    1 82658 27763 5


  • Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected] Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices.Single issues: $9 US ($11.00 Canada, $16 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $78 US, $132 Canada, $180 elsewhere. All characters are their respective companies. All material their creatorsunless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada. ISSN: 1932-6890


    This issue is dedicated to the memory ofPaul Norris

    & Mike Wieringo

    Writer/Editorial: Turning Off The Fawcett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3The Alter Ego 1943 Calendar Goes 2008! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Alex Wright re-casts pulse-pounding WWII pin-ups as the super-heroines DC & Marvel cant buy!

    I Think I Always Knew I Wanted To Be A Cartoonist! . . . . 12A candid conversation between Golden Age artist Marv Levy and Jim Amash.

    Maxwell ElkanThe Hard Luck Unknown . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., and Hames Ware on a 1940s-50s Great Unknown.

    Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt! Twice-Told Marvel Heroes (Part 3). . 51Michael T. Gilbert presents the Golden Age answers to Giant-Man and The Wasp.

    Tributes to Paul Norris & Mike Wieringo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57re: [comments, correspondence, questions, & corrections] . . 59FCA (Fawcett Collectors Of America) #134 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65P.C. Hamerlinck presents and presides over an in-depth look at the many demises of Captain Marvelby Alex Ross, Marc Swayze, C.C. Beckand himself.

    On Our Cover: Super-star artist (and occasional A/E contributor) Alex Ross pays homage toMichelangelos Piet, carved by the legendary sculptor in 1498-99 for St. Peters Basilica inthe Vatican, Rome. And, considering how many times Captain Marvel has died and beenreborn/re-imagined/re-defined/etc. by everybody and his brother since Fawcett ceased publi-cation of the Worlds Mightiest Mortal in 1953, this striking illustration makes the ideal coverto accompany a recounting of The Shazam Curse, as FCAs editor calls it.. We were quitecontent with it just as Alex painted itand you can see it that way in some advance adsbut, as per Alexs preferences, P.C. Hamerlinck and John Morrow added to it a myriad ofCap figures drawn by various talented artists over the decades (clockwise from top center):Tom Mandrake, Jerry Ordway, Joshua Middleton, Bob Oksner, Alan Weiss, KurtSchaffenberger, Marc Swayze, Howard Porter, C.C. Beck, and Don Newton. The NewtonCM was inked by Kurt S. [Shazam! characters TM & 2008 DC Comics.]

    Vol. 3, No. 75 / January 2008EditorRoy Thomas

    Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash

    Design & LayoutChristopher Day

    Consulting EditorJohn Morrow

    FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck

    Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert

    Editorial Honor RollJerry G. Bails (founder)Ronn Foss, Biljo WhiteMike Friedrich

    Circulation DirectorBob Brodsky, CookieSoup Periodical Distribution, LLC

    Cover ArtistAlex Ross

    With Special Thanks to:Heidi AmashMrs. Jill BailyMrs. Regina BailyAlberto BecattiniBill BlackDominic BongoRichard BoucherMike BrombergShane FoleyRon FrantzJanet GilbertIan HamerlinckJennifer HamerlinckDavid G. HamiltonRoger HillHeritage ComicsCarmine InfantinoWilliam B. Jones, Jr.Marvin & Barbara

    LevyArthur LortieBruce Mason

    Peter MeskinPhilip MeskinBrian K. MorrisNick NobleEric Nolen-

    WashingtonJohn G. PierceCharlie RobertsBob RogersHerb RogoffAlex RossJ. David SpurlockHenry SteeleMarc SwayzeDann ThomasJim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.Michael VanceDelmo Walters, Jr.Hames WareJerry WeistAlex Wright


    Top right: As noted, the double-size FCAsection for this issue begins on p. 65with a dynamic illustration by Alex Ross. But Alex also sent us pencilversions of several of the drawings thatappear in his piece Call My NameShazam!and we couldnt resist usingone of those on our cavortin contentspage, as well! [Shazam! characters TM &2008 DC Comics.]

  • hird times the charmnot that the first two were anythingto sneeze at, mind you! In December of 2005, A/E #55spotlighted a 1943 calendar created by Alex Wright,

    utilizing Golden Age DC, Quality, and Fawcett super-heroines aspin-ups for a New Year, as portrayed by stars, starlets, andmodels of the World War II years. It was all in fun, and readersloved it and clamored for morenot knowing that, in point offact, the wondrous Mr. Wright had already prepared ampleimages for no less than two more such calendars! In issue #64(Jan. 2007), we were proud and pleased to present Alexs secondtwelvemonth of costumed cutiesthe lovely and lethally-powered ladies of 1940s Timely (future Marvel) Comics.

    This time around, were equally happy toshowcase another delightful dozen of Alexs colossalcompositionswondrous women [mostly] from 40scomic book companies besides DC, Quality,Fawcett, and Marvel! (Yes, believe it or not, therewere other publishers featuring super-doers in thosedaysquite a few of them, in fact!)

    So here we gowith commentary by both Alexand Ye Editor:


    SATJanuary2008 2









    Ann Blythas Moon Girl

    After appearing on Broadway in LillianHellmans 1941 drama Watch on the Rhine,diminutive Ann Blyth broke into Hollywoodmusicals in 1944 (Chip off the Old Block). Butshe achieved her greatest successand an Oscarnomination for Best Supporting ActressasJoan Crawfords ungrateful daughter in thetearjerker Mildred Pierce in 1945. In 1949 shestarred in both the fantasy movie Mr. Peabodyand the Mermaid (with William Powell)andas herself (who was maybe also a mermaid)alongside Superman, no less, in Action Comics#130 (March 1949)! Here, her likeness is loanedto EC Comics Moon Girl, who starred(moonlighted?) in her own comic from 1947 to1949, written by Gardner Fox and mostlydrawn by Sheldon Moldoffa Wonder Womanwannabe if ever there was one! Alex says: Ichose Moon Girl as Januarys pin-up because anew moon represents a new start. Ann Blythhad a warm smile that seemed right for thecharacter. [Moon Girl TM & 2008 WilliamM. Gaines Agent, Inc.]

    The Alter Ego1943 CalendarGoes 2008!




    SATFebruary2008 2









    Yvonne DeCarloas The Woman In Red

    Alex writes: I decided to do a Film Noir-styleValentines Day for February. Yvonne DeCarloalways had a sultry look to her, and I thought shemight suit the role of The Woman in Red.Indeedsince DeCarlo emerged as a star doing atorrid dance in the 1945 film Salome Where SheDanced. She also had a good femme fatale roleopposite Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross, but it is asLily Munster in the 1964-66 TV series TheMunsters that shes most remembered. As for TheWoman in Red, that character can be considered theearliest comic book super-heroine, except that shehad no super-powers, only a mask and costume.She appeared in Pines/Nedors Thrilling Comicsand Americas Best Comics between 1938 and 1945.[Woman in Red TM & 2008 the respectivecopyright holders.]

    Carole Lombardas Lady Luck

    Though Lady Luck appeared in Smash Comicsand its continuation Lady Luck from 1943 to1950, she was owned not by Busy ArnoldsQuality Comics Group but by Will Eisner. Thecomic book stories were merely reprints fromWill Eisners Spirit Section, a newspapersupplement during the 1940s. Marchs biggestholiday is St. Patricks Day, says Alex Wright,and what heroine better embodies the luck ofthe Irish than Lady Luck herself? He couldntresist tossing in her chauffeur, as well. CaroleLombard couldve used some of that fabled luck,even after she became a movie star with 1940sOne Million B.C. Still, she was a pinup favoriteduring World War II, and in 1944 wrote the bookFour Jills in a Jeep based on one of her USO tours,and it was made into a movie that same year.[Lady Luck TM & 2008 Will Eisner Studios,Inc.]


    March2008 2008







    1815222930 31

    6 Third Times The Charm!

  • arvin Levys comics career wasnt overly long, but itsure took some interesting turns along the way.Starting out as an apprentice at the Harry A

    Chesler shop, Marvin also spent time in the Bernard Baily andLloyd Jacquet [Funnies, Inc.] studios, rubbing shoulders withluminaries such as Carmine Infantino, Mort Lawrence, and MacRaboy. Sandwiched around those stops, Marvin freelanced forHarvey Comics, Ziff-Davis, Spark Publications, Centaur, andStandard Publications, before leaving the field for advertising. I found Marvs recollections to be fascinating and occasionallyrevelatory, and I think you will, too. Special thanks to HerbRogoff (Marvins former Ziff-Davis editor and my good friend)for giving me the contact information for Marvin. Jim

    A Burnt-Out (Berndt-Out?) ChristmasMarv Levy, in a Dec. 1997 photo, views his exhibited workincluding art from theChristmas giveaway comic pictured belowas it hangs alongside that of fellowBerndt Toast Gang cartoonists at the Firehouse Gallery at Nassau County

    Community College, NY. The Berndt Toast Gang is the Long Island, NY, chapter ofthe National Cartoonists Society, named after artist Walter Berndt. Photo courtesy

    of Barbara Levy.

    (Left:) While still in high school, Marv writes, I drew this presentation pagefor the [Human] Torch in 1942. (Lloyd Jacquet rejected itobviously!) He notesthat three years later, after WWII service, I did lots of work for Jacquet [Funnies,Inc.]but not Torch! This previously unpublished page shows, actually, thatthe 17-year-old Levy would surely have developed into a good super-hero artist,had that been his inclination. A couple of nice touches: the Torch turning off the

    fire from his legs in panel 2 so hewont burn the floorboards, andToros comment in panel 5 thathell break my neck flaming offlike this some day. And besides,the artists name was Marv L.![Human Torch TM & 2008 MarvelCharacters, Inc.; other art 2008

    Marv Levy.]

    (Left:) One of a series of covers forChristmas comic book giveawaypremiums done by Levy between1951 and 1965. See details on pp. 38-41. The stores imprint

    would be added to thepublications front or back cover.The editor of Woolworths JollyChristmas Book, he reports, wasStella Rose. [2008 PromotionalPublishing, or successors in


    I Think I Always Knew IWanted To Be A CartoonistA Candid Conversation With Golden Age Artist MARVIN LEVY

    Interview Conducted by Jim Amash Transcribed by Brian K. Morris



  • See You In The Funny Papers!Three vintage newspaper comic strips that strongly influenced Marv Levy.

    (Clockwise from above left:)

    A 1929 daily from Sidney Smiths The Gumps, launched in 1917 and credited as the first strip to tell a continuing story. The domestic misadventures of Andy and Min were as closely followed as those in any later radio or TV soap opera. [2008 The Chicago TribuneNY News Syndicate, Inc., or

    successors in interest.]

    This undated drawing by George McManus, creator of Bringing Up Father, was used as a chapter heading in a 1973 collection of that name.

    [2008 King Features Syndicate, Inc.]

    In this panel from only the fourth Lil Abner daily by Al Capp, from 1934, the Yokums prepare to leave Dogpatch for the big city while Daisy Mae pines for Abner, as she would for several decades, till they were finally

    married. [2008 Capp Enterprises, Inc., or successors in interest.]

    I Think I Always Knew I Wanted To Be A Cartoonist

    JIM AMASH: You know what Im going to ask you first.

    MARVIN LEVY: When and where was I born? [mutual laughter] Iwas born February 21st, 1925, in Albany, Georgia. Actually, my parentswere living in Pelham, Georgia, at the time, but the hospital was inAlbany. We lived there until I was eight, when my parents moved toNew York in 1933. I think I always knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. Iwas inspired by the newspaper comics. I showed some talent, at least tomy teachers, in drawing. Thats where I began to feel that I wanted todo comics as more or less what I had seen in the newspapers, like TheGumps, Bringing Up Father, and some others. Later on, Lil Abnerbecame a big inspiration to me.

    At that time, there was one comic book which was not really acomic book. It was a giveaway by Gulf gas stations called The GulfWeekly. It was a folded-over sheet, a few times, and it was about thesize of a comic book. I remember my father would go to the gas stationand I would say, Dad, Id like to get a comic book. Thats when Ifirst saw the newspaper strip reprint comics, like Tip-Top Comics andFamous Funnies. I saw myself more as a humorist, rather than as anillustrator, because most of the super-heroes didnt come around untillater, after Superman.

    I started doing my own comic book on regular typing paper in 1933,right after we moved to New York. I was also very interested in flyingat that time, so I thought I would try writing and drawing a little waradventure story, rather than something funny. When I look back now, Irealize how juvenile they were. Of course, we had no television. Wehad radio, which was good for the imagination, and the movies. Mostof my inspiration came from the movies or from listening to the radio,the adventure serials at the time, or from the comic books of thatperiod.

    JA: You went to the High School of Music and Art from 1939 to 43.Did you know Dave Gantz?

    LEVY: Dave Gantz was ahead of me. He entered the school in, I think,the first year it opened. Music and Art was set up, I think, in 1936 or

    37 as a specialty school for talented children, either in music or art, andit was split up as a part of the parochial school in where it was locatedin upper Manhattan, around 135th Street. They only could take acertain amount of students and, of course, they figured that the so-called talented ones wouldnt be less in number than a regular highschool. So they gave tests for you to get in, and Gantz, I know, went toschool with Al Jaffee, Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin, and Will Elder.I didnt know these fellows at the time because [chuckles] when yourea freshman and theyre a junior, theres very little contact. [NOTE: SeeAlter Ego #13 & #35 for interviews with and photos of Dave Gantz,Al Jaffee, et al., in those days.]

    As a matter of fact, comics were not the kind of thing that theschool thought too much about. Those of us who did go into it did iton the side. The great thing was that, after school, you could go downto the publishers, knock on doors, and maybe get an editor to look atyour work and give you a critique. Then you went home, fixed it up ordid it over, or added something, and then came back another day. Thatwas great. And if you were lucky enough, as I was, to find an editorwho would look at my work and critique it, I thought I was learningsomething. This was not known to the schoolteachers, because theyfrowned on anything like that.

    The teachers saw me as an artist, and I always got prizes and waspicked out as the artist of the school or that particular class, orwhatever it might be, so I had already been making a little bit of areputation for my industrious efforts.

    Harry Chesler Was Sort-Of A Learning Process

    JA: As far as I can tell, you started with Harry Chesler while still inschool.

    LEVY: Harry Chesler was a sort-of a learning process. In those days,there were quite a few ads for cartoonists under the Artists headingin The New York Times, and I would go down and show samples ofmy work. I may have been told by an editor, This is not the way wedo things, or Keep it up, you need a little more drawing experience,whatever it may have been. So that particular summer, when I was 16, Iwent to Cheslers. He saw some promise in the fact that I was

    I Think I Always Knew I Wanted To Be A Cartoonist 13

  • Original Art From Earth-22Earth-22 is the name Ye Editor uses as a catch-all (maybe we shouldsay, Catch-22) name for some parallel world on which the comics

    industry took a different turnas per this trio of previously unpublishedpages from a pair of stories Marv Levy (as Marv Lev) wrote and drew

    on spec in 1941 and 1942, respectively.

    The two pages above introduce Mann Mountain and Moal Hil, a pair ofAmerican aviators in a common mold of the day. Marv tells us it wasdone for Lloyd Jacquets Funnies, Inc., though never bought or used.

    The second splash page heralds the debut of the even more imaginativelynamed Bill of Rights and Liberty Bellethough he didnt say if it wasdone for Jacquet or Chesler. Here Marv was even more on target, if

    anything, as costumed heroes were the coin of the comic book realm in1942. It would be the following year before DC would launch its own quitedifferent Liberty Belle feature in the first issue of Simon & Kirbys BoyCommandos. If Marvs series had found a quick berth, Libby Lawrencemight never have been created, or would probably have sported a

    different monicker and look!

    While this pair of stories never appeared in an actual comic, its probablyas much by sheer happenstance as anything else. Theyre just the type offeature that the Chesler, Jacquet, and other shops were turning out for the

    comics companies during this era. [2008 Marv Levy.]

    18 A Candid Conversation With Golden Age Artist Marvin Levy

  • Very Few Writers Got Any RecognitionJA: So are there any other personal Bernard Baily stories?

    LEVY: When I entered the service, I found myself in the Infantryduring basic training. I wanted to transfer to the Air Force. I sawmyself as a glamorous cadet, flying. But to do this, I needed a statementfrom my former employer to attest to my character and reliability, andall this stuff. I wrote my mother, Can you go up to Bernard Bailysstudio and get a letter of recommendation? She went up there, and hesigned this form, and she sent it on to me. So I put in an application fortransfer to the Air Force. You had to take four tests, and I took threetests, one which each time I came to the bulletin board, and I passedthe first test, the second test, and the third test. The fourth time weresupposed to take a test, theres a notice saying, All transfers canceled.

    JA: Were things any different with Baily when you came back towork for him?

    LEVY: Baily had moved to a much larger office. It was in an elevatedbuilding on, I think, 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue. It was a corner

    building that had an elevator, and he was up on the fourth floor. It hada wide open windowed office like a dance or an art studio. He was in

    The Going Rates - 1946We should all thank our lucky stars that Marv Levy was such a packrat, in the bestsense of the word! Heres a 1946 list of comic book companies page rates, whichhes saved for more than six decades! Marv isnt sure who composed the list.

    30 A Candid Conversation With Golden Age Artist Marvin Levy

  • one big room and there were a couple of smaller roomscubbyholes,actuallyhe was the only one in that room. It was a big office that hewas in, like you had to walk 20 feet to get to his desk. He was at the farend of that room and yet there was not another soul that I rememberthere. I think there might have been one little art table on the side, butnobody sat there.

    In the other room, the one room that I saw, was Carmine Infantino.I had known Carmine from my brother who had gone to the HighSchool of Industrial Arts and had introduced me to him one time. I gotto know Carmine pretty well. He had a very distinctive bass baritonevoice. He was a strong presence and big.

    Baily had a writer that was working there named Jerry Galewhich, by the way, brings up a point that Ive always had a sort-of asadness about, the fact that very few writers ever got any recognition.

    JA: Youre right. I always try to fix that whenever possible. But theproblem is, since artists seldom signed their work and writers evenless frequently, its virtually impossible to know who wrote thestories.

    LEVY: Well, the reason I mention it is, probably a lot of the writerswent on to bigger and better things, and maybe they didnt want itknown they were doing comics.

    JA: Theres some of that, too... Mickey Spillane, of course, being anexception.

    LEVY: Well, hes the one. In fact, I have an original script of his.[NOTE: See next page.] I sent Spillane a copy of the script and henever acknowledged it. [chuckles] The reason I sent it to him is becauseI knew another mutual friend who worked with Mickey Spillane wayback when, and he thought that Mickey might be interested. I said,You know, its a funny thing that when the script came to me, it didntcome from him directly. It came from the editor at Lloyd Jacquets andit had Mickey Spillanes byline.

    JA: Who else was there?

    LEVY: Well, there was an old-time cartoonist who used to do anewspaper ad called Two-fer Nickel. I think it was for HostessCupcakes or something like that. I guess they were two for a nickel andhe had his character, Two-fer Nickel. I was introduced to the artist byCarmine Infantino, who happened to be there the day that I came up toBailys for something or other.

    Thats all the people I saw. It didnt look like he had a shop anymore. It just looked like it was his own art studio, with space arrange-ments where maybe the artist paid for a desk to have a location, maybelike Carmine did, to do his own work or maybe some work for Baily. Idont remember what Carmine was working on at the time. I dontknow if he was doing it for Baily or if he was doing his own work andrenting the space. [NOTE: Carmine states that he was working forBernard Baily, and not renting space. Jim.] Carmine was veryaffable and sincere. If he shook your hand and smiled at you, he wasglad to know you. He was a very pleasant guy. Over the years, wewould bump into each other and hed say, Hi, Marv, how are you?Hows your brother?

    JA: What do you remember about Jerry Gale?

    LEVY: Jerry was a fast thinker. I was on furlough, and came up to sayhello to Bernard Baily; Jerry was there. I had just done a sample humorpage to get my hand back into the style of things. Baily said, We havean idea for a comic book that were going to be putting out. I think itwas going to be published by Feature. [NOTE: That company wasalso known as Prize and/or Crestwood. Jim.]. It was WonderlandComics. He said, We could use a story on a character Jerry wrote

    called Fantastic Ferdy, a little medieval Jack the Giant Killer kind of acharacter. I want you to work up a page. I went home and drew apage. A couple days later, I went back and Bailey said, That looksgood. What do you think, Jerry? And Jerry said, I think its great.Why dont I write the story around that?, because I had just made upa little situation for a story. Jerry wrote a story around it, incorporatingthat page.

    We did five stories of that feature. Howard Post was the key artiston that magazine. He did the covers and stories. Howie went to Musicand Art with me, and he left after the third year because he had aproblem with his family. He had to help support them and he had tofind a way of getting work quickly, so he became an animator and thena director of animation for Famous Studios in New York. The funnything was, we had been in touch before I went into the service, andthen one day while I was overseas in the hospital, I received a rolled-upcomic book and it was his first comic book that he had work init wasPrize Comics. He had sent me his first comic book just to show howfar he had made it in comics, as well as the fact that hed been inanimation.

    During the war years, a lot of comic book companies were fly-by-night operations. One of the key issues was the matter of who got thepaper. Paper was rationed, and if you were a bigger publisher like DCand Timely, then you got your paper quota. If you wanted to come outwith something and you were not in the publishing business, then youhad a problem.

    How Do You Get To Wonderland? Clearly, During A Gale!The splash from the 6-page Fantastic Ferdy tale in Wonderland Comics #3

    (Feb.-March 1946), produced by the Bernard Baily studio for FeaturePublications. The writer, Marv says, was Jerry Gale. [2008 the respective

    copyright holders.]

    I Think I Always Knew I Wanted To Be A Cartoonist 31

  • The Evolution Of A Comics Feature(Left:) The first page of a script written in 1945 by the late MickeySpillane (seen in photo), creator of the world-famed Mike Hammer.It was done for the Funnies, Inc., feature Smarty Pantsbut thatname has been crossed out at top left, and it has been rechristened

    Jackie the Slick Chick.

    (Below:) Marv Levy retained copies of the original art of these two splash pages of 5-page Jackie stories, done for

    Lloyd Jacquets shop in 45. He has no idea if either was everpublished. [2008 the respective copyright holders.]

    (Below left:) A letter to Marv from Funnies, Inc., editor Irv Weinsteinre the name change, 1945. Note the fi symbol on the letterheadand the once-familiar Special Delivery stamp on the envelope.

    32 A Candid Conversation With Golden Age Artist Marvin Levy

  • axwell Elkan? You may believe youve heard that namebefore, but youre probably not sure where. Well, as aGreat Unknown, Elkan is easily the most traveled of any

    that weve featured to date, so it could have been in relation to any ofthe major comic book companies: Quality, Fiction House, DC, EC,Standard, Fawcett, Dell, Hillman, or Aceas well as many of the not-so-major ones. He even signed a story here and there over the years. Sowhy is he so obscure?

    Years ago, Hames ran a myriad of comic book artist names pastlongtime Fawcett editor Wendell Crowley. In that list, he included thename of one of the many obscure artists whose work he had found tohave that something special that made it unique and distinctive:Maxwell Elkan.

    MAXWELL ELKANThe Hard Luck Unknown

    Fawcett Editor Wendell Crowley Never Revealed WhyHe Called The Artist That, But

    by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. & Hames Ware


    46 The Great Unknowns Part V

    From Sappiness To SagebrushWhat? You were expecting maybe a photo of one of the subjects of Jim andHames Great Unknowns series? What kind of Unknowns would they be if

    we knew what they looked like!? (Not that we wouldnt be delighted ifsomeone out there suddenly sent us a photo of the esteemed but obscure Max

    Elkan, you understand.)

    This pair of images, however, clearly demonstrates the artists versatilityaone-page gag filler for Standards Real Life Comics #41 (Sept. 1947), and thecover of Avons Western Adventures #2 (Dec. 1948), featuring The ross-DrawKid, whose unusual way of wearing his pistols (back-to-front in the holstercheck it out) doubtless owes something to B-movie star Wild Bill Elliott, who

    did the same thing even in his Red Ryder Saturday afternoon oaters.Incidentally, the scripters of all art used with this article are sadly even more

    unknown than Max Elkan! [2008 the respective copyright holders.]

  • Elkan hadnt really done that much at Fawcett, so it was surprisingwhen Wendell actually nodded his head and replied, Good artist...who had some hard luck.

    One manifestation of that hard luck seems to be that he neverstayed very long in any one place and never became associated with anyone company. Yet he seemed to make an impression on many of hisfellow artists. Beyond Wendells cryptic musing, other personalmemories came from Rudy Palais and from Louis Zanskys widow.

    Palais, who rarely, if ever, collaborated, recalled having done sowith... Maxwell Elkan. This was at the Iger Shop where solo work wasthe exception, but all those years later Rudy Palais remembered Elkan.

    And at Ace, Elkan made such an impression on Zansky (whoprobably deserves his own Great Unknowns column) that even hiswidow remembered the name.

    Another unsung but dynamic collaboration occurred in 1948 withRay Willner, when they worked together on early issues of BlazingWest at ACG, on Western Adventures at Ace, and on Dale Evans atDC.

    To see the contrast an artist like Maxwell Elkan could bring to afeature, just take a look at Dale Evans #1 at DC, a company whereElkan worked anonymously on a number of features over the years.

    Study Elkans vivacious Dale and supporting cast, then look at the ho-hum work by succeeding artists who finished out and finished off acomic that had started off with zest and stylethanks to Max Elkan(and perhaps the able assistance of the brilliant Ray Willner).

    Elkan rarely signed, but his creativity was clear from the outset, ascan seen on Lightning and Tom, Dick, and Harry in JumboComics at Fiction House, as well as simultaneously on Samar inFeature Comics at Quality (where it is possible that collaborative workwith Reed Crandall influenced his sparkling style). The very earliest wecan confirm his art is in Feature #47 (Aug. 1941), where he looks to bejust another young Crandall-inspired Iger Shop artist. In issue #48, thelast panel is initialed MDEalbeit not so clearly. (For years thissignature was interpreted as MOE, and the art thought to be byClare Moe.)

    This early phase of his career lasted for two years and probablyended with service in the military during World War II, which mayexplain why we dont see his style again until 1946. In that year hereturned to Quality and began his series of short stints with a variety ofhigh-profile publishers:

    A Master Of Comic ArtThis is the one piece of Max Elkan art in this article that weve run before: a Nyoka the Jungle Girl splash page from a late-1940s issue of FawcettsMaster Comics, as restored and reprinted in AC Comics Jungle Girls #10

    (1992); see ad for Bill Blacks All-Old comics company of vintage reprintson p. 11. Fawcett editor Wendell Crowley once referred to Elkan to HamesWare as a little guybut then, Crowley was nearly seven feet tall!

    [Retouched art 2008 AC Comics.]

    Happy Trails To YouAn Elkan-drawn page from Dale Evans Comics #1 (Sept.-Oct. 1948).

    Jim V. and Hames suspect fellow artist Ray Willner may have had a hand in this work. During this period, as weve mentioned, it wouldve taken

    a three-company teaming to have movie co-stars Roy Rogers, his wife Dale,and comedy sidekick George Gabby Hayes in the same comic book, sincetheir comics were then published by Dell, DC, and Fawcett, respectively.

    [2008 DC Comics.]

    Maxwell ElkanThe Hard Luck Unknown 47

  • You Can Hide A Lot Of Things In That JungleFoliage

    Note the MDE signature in this final panel of the Samarstory in Qualitys Feature Comics #48 (Sept. 1941). In case youcant tell, Samar was a Tarzan wannabe. [2008 the respective

    copyright holders.]

    The Fight Club(Left:) Two

    pulchritude-packedElkan pages from Fight

    Comics #55 (April1948). [2008 the

    respective copyrightholders.]

    Tom, Dick, AndHarry

    (Above:) Elkan mayhave been no betterknown than any Tom,Dick, or Harry when itcame to his mostly-

    unsigned artworkbutthat was the name ofthe aviation-adventurefeature he drew in

    Fiction Houses JumboComics #32 (Oct. 1941).[2008 the respectivecopyright holders.]

    48 The Great Unknowns, Part V

  • [Avengers cover \2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.;other art 2008 the respective copyright holders.]

  • Twice-Told Marvel Heroes!(Part Three)

    by Michael T. Gilbert

    n the previous two issues, we explored some unusual Golden Agesuper-heroes that bore an uncanny resemblance to some familiarSilver Age heroes, starting with Daredevil in A/E #73.

    In #74, we discussed Qualitys Bozo the Robot, often referred to asIron Man. This Iron Man was a flying robot controlled from within bytwo-fisted adventurer Hugh Hazzard. Bozo began his 41-issue careerin Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939).

    That same year, Foxs Weird Comics #1 depicted another familiarsuper-heroThor, God of Thunder! This time, Grant Farell (a delicateblond fellow) was granted all the powers of Thor by the thunder godhimself. He fought crime for five issues with his mighty hammer.

    Sound familiar? Its not surprising, since these early heroes areremarkably similar to characters Stan Lee co-created for Marvel in theearly 1960s.

    Which is not to suggest anything questionable on Stans part. Farfrom it!

    Most of the characters shown here date from 1941 or before, andStan only began his comic book career at Timely in that year, decadesbefore he started the 1960s Marvel revolution.

    Its possible Stan saw these obscure heroes as a teenager and that atiny seed was planted, waiting to sprout decades later. However, itsmore likely that he never saw them at all.

    In any event, with hundreds of heroes out there battling evil, therewas bound to be a little duplication. But just how many precursors ofStans original Avengers were there? Weve already checked off IronMan and Thor. Next, lets take a look at...

    The Golden Age Giant Man!What do you get when you graft Stans size-changing Goliath with

    Tarzan, king of the jungle? Why, you wind up with Kalthar, MLJs ownGiant Man!

    As told in Zip Comics #1 (Feb 1940), Kalthars father died saving atribe of savage natives from Arab slavers. In gratitude, the Ugarnasraised the boy, and named him Kal-Thar, or God-son.

    When the youngster reached manhood, the natives made him chief.The tribes witch doctor, Ta-Lo, whipped up some magic grains,allowing Kalthar to grow fifteen feet tall and to shrink back to normallater. This was two feet taller than Marvels hyphenated Giant-Man inhis first Silver Age appearance.

    Rubbing Out Super-HeroesAnt-Man got super-sized in Tales To Astonish #49

    (Nov. 1963). Art by Don Heck. This must be the month inAlter Ego for villains to erase super-heroes! See p. 68.

    [2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

    Big Man In The JungleThe splash of the first Kalthar tale, from MLJs Zip Comics #1 (Feb. 1940).

    [2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]


    52 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt!

  • n Sunday, August 12, 2007, Michael Wieringo died of a heartattack at the far too young age of 44. Mike was in excellenthealth. A few years ago, he started having back problems, thanks

    to the many hours spent hunched over his drawing table. So he startedworking out, and from then on he went to the gym several times aweek. And Mike was a vegetarian, though that decision was made fromhis love for animals and his desire to never cause another living,thinking creature harm. The health benefits were merely an addedbonus.

    Mike also loved comics. At an early age, Mike knew he wanted to bea comic book artist. In 1991, he finally got his chance withMillenniums Doc Savage: Doom Dynasty mini-series and two back-up stories in Justice League Quarterly. And then came... The Flash.

    In teaming upwith Flash writerMark Waid, Mikefound a kindredspirit. For Mikenot only lovedcomicshethought theyshould be fun.And amidst thestorm of post-Watchmen, post-Dark Knight Returns grim and grittycomics, Mark and Mikes run on The Flash shone like a beacon of hopethat, in fact, super-heroes could still be fun. Mike held that beacon highthroughout his career, whether he was drawing Robin, The SensationalSpider-Man (written by his best friend, Todd Dezago), or Fantastic

    Four (again with Mark Waid), with penciling full of energy andemotion.

    But it was with Tellosthe series he created with ToddDezagothat he found his greatest joy. As much as Mike lovedthe super-heroes he had grown up with, creating his ownstories with his own characters was his greatest desire. All themore tragic, then, that he passed away just when he was he wasclose to being able to fulfill that desire again. A Tellos moviedeal had been struck, which would have allowed Mike andTodd to return to the world of their own making for theforeseeable future.

    When Modern Masters, Vol. 9: Mike Wieringo wasannounced, I saw many doubters on the Internet questioningthe decision. Whats he really done? Has he done enough tojustify it? Im sure Mikewho seemed to be everywhereonline, making friends wherever he wentsaw them, too. Anda large part of him probably doubted his qualifications, as well.When I first asked him about being part of the series, hisresponse was, Why would you want to do a book about me?And that was not false modesty on his part... that was how hetruly felt.

    But that was what made him such a terrific artist. He wasalways striving to be better. He was never satisfied.

    More importantly, its what made him a terrific person. Healways put the needs of others ahead of his own. He wasselfless, supportive of other artists regardless of their level oftalent, and he had a great laugh that he loved to share withothers. He was the type of person we should all strive to be.And I am proud to have been his friend.

    Eric Nolen-Weathington is the editor of TwoMorrowsModern Masters line.

    Mike Wieringo(1963-2007)

    He Was Always Striving To Be Better

    by Eric Nolen-Weathington


    58 In Memoriam

    Wonders By WieringoThe pencil illo at left was done for the program bookof the 2006 Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC. Photoby Todd Dezago. [Superman TM & 2008 DC Comics;Captain America TM & 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

  • Art by Alex Ross.[Shazam! characters TM & 2008 DC Comics.]

  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was atop artist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvelcharacter sketches came from Marcs drawing table, and he illus-trated her earliest adventures, including the classic origin story,Captain Marvel Introduces Mary Marvel (Captain MarvelAdventures #18, Dec. 42); but he was primarily hired by FawcettPublications to illustrate Captain Marvel stories and covers forWhiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote manyCaptain Marvel scripts, and continued to do so while in the military.After leaving the service in 1944, he made an arrangement withFawcett to produce art and stories for them on a freelance basis outof 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,including Sweethearts and Life Story. After the company ceasedpublishing comics, Marc moved over to Charlton Publications,where he ended his comics career in the mid-50s. Marcs ongoingprofessional memoirs have been a vital part of FCA since his firstcolumn appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue Marc looked back athis very first syndicated comic strip attempt, Judi the Jungle Girl. Inthis installment he joins in on this issues theme by reflecting on thedemise of our favorite hero in red. P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    dont know how the others in this game took it, but my memoriesof the characters I wrote and drew in the Golden Age linger on asthough they had been real people each representing a distinctperiod in the career.

    Flyin Jenny, for instance, is remembered as having been the meansof my getting into comics to be employed by a seasoned pro whoseunending encouragement began that very first day when my assistancewas hardly more than sweeping the studio floor.

    Mary Marvel was the opportunity to create graphically a newfeatured character that was to continue in popularity and eventuallyhead up her own book.

    Absolutely unforgettable is Mickey Malone, the Phantom Eagle,with whom was spent a most spacious span of the career, during whichwas realized a home, a family, and a very pleasant life style all forwhich I am truly thankful today.

    Most memorable among those people I knew so well stands theWorlds Mightiest Mortal you know Captain Marvel. It is he whois fondly recalled as having dislodged me from a comfortable seat in theSouthland and replaced me high over Times Square in the heart ofManhattan where, the advice had been, I ought to be in the swim ofthings.

    [Art & logo 2008 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2008 DC Comics]




    Flying Into ComicsMarc Swayzes first job as an artist wasassisting Russell Keaton, creator of thesyndicated newspaper comic strip Flyin

    Jenny. Years later, Marc became thefeatures artist of record. [2008 the

    respective copyright holders.]

    Sisterhood Is PowerfulThe original sketches of Mary Marvel camefrom Marcs drawing board, and he drewher first two stories, in which she guestedin Captain Marvel tales before spinning off

    into her own series in Wow Comics.[Shazam! heroes TM & 2008 DC Comics.]

  • And I am thankful for that.

    Was I disturbed in the early 50s, at the report that Captain Marvelwas to be discontinued forever? Of course not. I simply refused tobelieve it. Captain Marvel was not one to be rubbed out with a singlesweep of the eraser! And Fawcett, not an organization to permit it!

    But they were. And he was. We learned that later. And I wasdisturbed by it. Captain Marvel was one of those fictional friends Iknew best. To be perfectly frank about what happened to him Imsorry. Who wouldnt be?

    I never followed those later attempts to revive the super-hero. Aglimpse now and then told me it was not the jovial guy we had knowndown the street. My preference was to remember him just as I haddrawn him and written him in the Golden Age, always easily seen atthe end of the pencil or pen in my hand.

    And we know hes out there yet, somewhere, dont we? Waiting tocome to the rescue if we need him. And all we have to do is utter thatmagic word, SHAZ: you know!

    More of Marc Swayzes memories of the Golden Age will appear in our next issue.

    Memories Pressed Between The Pages Of My MindMy preference was to remember him just as I had drawn and written him in the Golden Age. A rare Captain Marvel illustration by Marc

    Swayze. [Shazam! heroes TM & 2008 DC Comics.]

    Captain Marvel Was Not One To Be Rubbed Out With A Single Sweep Of The Eraser

    Or maybe he wasat least on C.C. Becks cover for Captain MarvelAdventures #97 (June 1949). [2008 DC Comics.]

    Endurance FlightMickey Malone, the Phantom Eagle, was Marcs regular assignmentduring the mid- and later 1940s, up till the day the Wow Comicsfeature was cancelled. It was his longest ongoing assignment in

    comic books. [2008 the respective copyright holders.]

    68 We Didnt Know... It Was The Golden Age!

  • 69

    urses! cried the Worlds Maddest Scientist as theWorlds Mightiest Mortal hauled him off to jail. The firstcurse inflicted upon Captain Marvel, the best-selling comicbook character of the Golden Age, wasnt the scornful words

    of his nemesis Dr. Sivanabut the years where lawyers bickered backand forth before a bored judge during a contentious courtroom circus.Fawcett Publications decision to stop the bleeding from that battle andsacrifice any further production of stories of Captain Marvel andThe Marvel Family at least enabled the company to get on with itslife of publishing profitable magazines and paperbacks.

    Despite a desperate-appearing move to incorporate then-trendyhorror themes late into its run, VP/circulation manager Roscoe Fawcettonce assured me that sales of Captain Marvel Adventures were stillvery healthy and profitable (Fawcett Companion, p. 12) in 1953,before the company determined that the super-heroes better days werelong gone and that the ongoing expense of fighting for the Marvels incourt would have wiped out their publishing empire.

    Captain Marvel, once one of the most popular comic bookcharacters in America, became a mostly forgotten figure of fiction ... afolklore hero exiled to Brazil, cursed to lie dormant for years in hishomeland as precious time slipped away wherein he could have beendeveloping, growing, and maintaining his legendary iconic status. Yet,hindsight later revealed that Captain Marvels greatest curse was causedby his own proverbial revival conducted in 1972. Caps well-inten-tioned but ultimately flawed false start subsequently caused a vast,repetitious chain of unfortunate fumbles and outright failures whichhave spanned the course of 35 years (over twice as long as the originalFawcett run). These foibles have resulted in the character being unableto regain even a slight slice of his once widespread popularity.

    Carmine Infantino, artist-turned-editorial-director-turned-publisher,initiated the acquisition for one of his old personal favorite characters.Since The Creeper and the like werent exactly penetrating MarvelComics dominance of the marketplace, Infantino turned instead toobtaining ancient properties in an attempt to rejuvenate the DC line. Asirony played itself out, the very people who helped give CaptainMarvel a ride to the cemetery would be the inevitable Dr. Frankensteinsto plunder his grave and raise him from the dead (thanks to the olddecree stating that Fawcett couldnt do anything with Cap without theconsent of Supies publisher). A unique licensing deal between the twocompanies was struck, and Cap would soon emerge into the 1970s.

    However, DC didnt foresee the perils of handling a character fromthe past ... and moreover, one that had been so sharply written with itsown individualized style. Thus began a long series of multi-layeredcurses profligated upon the character.

    One of the accursed judgment calls from the early planning stages ofthe revival was that, instead of going with their initial gut instinct todevelop an updated Captain Marvel for the modern 1970s audienceone that would fit snugly next to a Curt Swan Superman (Make WayFor Captain Thunder! in Superman #276, June 74, reveals that suchan approach would have stood a good chance of succeeding)DCchose instead to travel down memory lane. The nostalgia crowd wasgoing to pull this book so they thought and hopefully grab newreaders along the way with a funny, light derivative of the Captain.(The majority of readers at that timesmall children to collegestudentshad no idea what Shazam! meant or stood for.) The decisionnot to mature Cap after all those lost years, but rather to keep him as athrowback from another era, waiting to be plucked out of suspendedanimation, ultimately became the foundation that cemented a curse forfuture generations. The original Captain Marvel of the Golden Age wasbeautifully perfect but to survive in modern times, a new strike oflightning was needed to successfully transform him into todays world.(In contrast, Captain America seemed to better acclimate himself afterhis 1960s defrosting.)

    Additionally, another setback occurred because the new magazinecouldnt bear as its title the name of its main character! DC wouldprobably have titled the comic Captain Marvel (whether they hadstarted with a #1 or had picked up Fawcett's old numbering sequencefrom Captain Marvel Adventures), but the ever-astute Marvel Comics,insuring that no else could use that Marvel-ous name, had already inter-vened when rights to the CM handle had lapsed by trademarking thename for themselves in 1967, and launching its own Captain Marvel, aKree warrior created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. DC editor JuliusSchwartz suggested Shazam! as a compromise title, and unfortunately,from then on, Captain Marvel has been cursed by being referred to alltoo often by the name of the old Egyptian wizard who gave him hispowers. Even Schwartz stamping With One Magic Word... above thetitle wasnt enough to assist the already-confused public.

    Another cursed decision had christened Julie Schwartz as Shazam!editor. Even his editorial assistant E. Nelson Bridwell bemoaned thefact that Schwartz (already with a string of several successfully resur-rected DC heroes under his belt) wasnt a Cap fan, as ENB himself

    The ShazamCurse

    The Post-Fawcett False Starts & Fizzles

    Of The FabulousMarvel Family

    History And Opinion by P.C. Hamerlinck

    Curses!Just in case you doubt our word that Dr. Sivana actually did spout theabove epithet on occasion, heres Exhibit A, a panel from what is

    considered by many to be one of the best-ever tales of the Big Red Cheese:Captain Marvel Battles the Plot against the Universe! from Captain

    Marvel Adventures #100 (Sept. 1949). [2008 DC Comics.]


  • Past Perfect?(Right:) An unused cover drawn by Charles Clarence Beck for

    Shazam! #8 (Dec. 1973). The four scenes within the circles werePhotostatted from Fawcett comics of the 1940s and 50s. They wereused on the published version, but with a new Beck drawing of

    Captain Marvel alone. [2008 DC Comics.]

    Make Way For Captain Thunder!(Above:) In Superman #276 (June 1974), penciler Curt Swan and inkerBob Oksner rendered a promising hero who was the original CaptainMarvel in virtually everything but name and a couple of costume

    details. Script by Elliot S! Maggin. [2008 DC Comics.]

    (Above right:) Since 1986, Captain Thunder has meant the super-herocreated by Roy & Dann Thomas. He and son Blue Bolt have returned oflate, as per original CT&BB artist Dell Barras cover for Champions #38(Aug. 2008), with two more issues since and more in preparation.

    Theyre available for $4 each from Heroic Publishing, [Captain Thunder & Blue Bolt TM & 2008

    Roy & Dann Thomas; Huntsman TM & 2008 Heroic Publishing.]

    70 The Post-Fawcett False Starts & Fizzles Of The Fabulous Marvel Family

  • was, and may never have really had a vestedinterest in the character. Schwartz added acurse of his own to the mix by assigningtwo of his favorite writers to the book:Denny ONeil and Elliot Maggin, neither ofwhom had ever read a single issue ofCaptain Marvel Adventures before spear-heading the project.

    Many wondered: If C.C. Beck was beingbrought back as artist, why not also writerOtto Binder, author of over half the tales ofthe Captain Marvel mythos during theGolden Agea scripter who had evenpreviously worked for DC (includingalongside Schwartz and Bridwell) from themid-1950s until he retired in 1969. But thetragic death of Ottos daughter Mary hadtaken its toll on Binderand his havingonce joined a movement petitioning DC forimproved benefits hadnt exactly endearedhim to management or encouraged furtherassignments from them. In addition, in aninterview published in FCA #5, Oct. 1974(reprinted in the book FawcettCompanion), he told Matt Lage that hewould never begin to try to recapture thewhimsy and gaiety we used 30 yearsbefore.

    DCs 24-page format at the time of Caps revivalideal for anexciting book-length talewas definitely a curse if one is trying tocram three stories into one issue, as DC tried to do. (Well, at least oneof the stories was a Fawcett reprint.) While longtime fans were thrilledto see their beloved Captain Marvel again in new storiesillustratedby Beck, his chief artist and co-creatorit wasnt long until thenostalgic novelty of it all grew immensely thin. The shortcomings ofwriters ONeil and Maggin in handling Captain Marvel, andSchwartzs limiting 3-stories-per-issue format, had reared their uglycomposite head. The Shazam! characters were never given anythingvery exciting to do in their brief stories. Even though Golden Agewriters like Otto Binder, Bill Woolfolk, and others had been able to

    produce well-crafted, fulfilling scripts in 8or fewer pages, the new writers wereworking in an era where longer stories,prolonged fights, and deeper characteri-zation were emphasized. With theiringrained formulaand with fewer pagesin which to construct anything inter-estingthe new stories had to be slicedand diced to the bare bones, leaving onlytrite and trivial matters standing. It becamepainfully obvious early on that theShazam! writers were cursed never toconstruct anything resembling a well-developed plot.

    To further add salt to the wideningwound was the new reduction of originalart page size, which prevented Beck fromusing too many panels or very much detail.Beck was certainly one of the mediumsmajor proponents of simplicity in story-telling art, but with Shazam! he appearedto be creating work that was too simple ...literally vacant of backgrounds (quiteunlike the deceptively simple yet stylizedartwork he had done for Fawcett). While

    Beck has beencriticized forthe highlysimplistic stylehe used in thenew stories, hewas flying soloon Shazam!(just as he hadthe previousdecade onMilfordsFatman; hencethe stylisticsimilarity ofthe two),workingwithout hisformer assis-tants who hadhandledbackgrounds,inking, andlettering. When

    I once asked Beck why his Shazam! artwork was simplified so much ascompared to his Golden Age work, he said the art merely reflected theinfantile tone of the stories he was given; drawing more-realisticartwork wouldnt have made any difference or improved the stories.

    That same year also saw another per-issue page reduction at DCthis time from 24 to 20 (it would drop three more pages even after that,allowing additional room for revenue-raising advertising). Yet Schwartzstill stuck with the insufferable 3-stories-per-issue format. (Even a 10-page Marvel Family reprint had to be continued into the next issue.)

    Becks being driven away from Shazam! by insipid scripts andSchwartzs editorial tactics has been well-documented over the years inthe pages of FCA and elsewhere. Dave Cockrum also begrudgingly leftthe book after drawing only one Captain Marvel Jr. story, which hehad to re-draw after Schwartz complained that it wasnt modern-

    My Salad Days, When I Was Green InJudgment

    A panel from the infamous (among vintage Fawcett fans,anyway) story The Invasion of the Salad Men from

    Shazam! #10 (Feb. 1974). Art by Bob Oksner (p) & VinceColletta (i). Script by Elliot S! Maggin. [2008 DC Comics.]

    At His Beck And CallBecks art in Shazam! was far simpler and more cartoony than his workon late Fawcett tales, which was often done in concert with Pete Costanza.He maintained the new art merely reflected the infantile tone of the

    stories. Still, Beck drew himself into this panel in Shazam! #4 (July 1973).[2008 DC Comics.]

    Off On A BinderBeck caricatured his old Fawcett colleague Otto O. Binder(rhymes with cinder, not finder,) in the first story in

    Shazam! #1 (Feb. 1973). [2008 DC Comics.]

    The Shazam Curse 71

  • The Death Of A LegendThe Final Funeral Of A Fawcett Fable

    by C.C. Beck

    Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck

    [In 1987, two years prior to his own death,artist C.C. Beck wrote this obituary of thecharacter he had co-created with Bill Parkerback in the Golden Age. This previouslyunpublished 1987 essay was unearthed fromthe vaults of PCHs Beck estate files specifi-cally for this issues theme. PCH.

    he news that the legendary CaptainMarvel, one of the most successful andbest-loved characters in comic books, hasshuffled off the mortal coil comes as a

    shock, but not a surprise. After all, he wasknown as The Worlds Mightiest Mortal, notimmortal. He had been in failing health forsome time, and his end, when it came, was ablessing. Now, as was said at AbrahamLincolns deathbed, he belongs to the ages.

    A myth had grown up during CaptainMarvels lifetime that he had been the firstsuper-hero to use comedy in his stories. Thismyth was without foundation. Captain Marvelwas not a super-hero; he was simply a large,powerful man. The super-heroes were a grimlot, stern faced and solemn. Captain Marvel wasan amiable young fellow, and was drawn incartoon style, not in the heavy-handed, realisticstyle used in the super-hero comics. He couldsmile, laugh, and enjoy a good joke now andthen, just like any other mortal.

    But Captain Marvel was not a wisecrackingbuffoon, spouting one-liners and making a foolof himself, as many supposed. There washumor in the Captain Marvel stories, but itwas situation humor, not standup-comic stylehumor. Captain Marvel himself was not funny, but he got into somelaugh-provoking situations at times.

    The basis of humor is incongruity. Two of Captain Marvelsdeadliest enemies were Sivana, The Worlds Maddest Scientist, andMr. Mind, The Worlds Wickedest Worm. Sivana was old, bald, andabout five feet tall. Mr. Mind was an armless, legless worm who woreglasses and spoke through a loudspeaker hung around his neck. Justseeing either of these villains in the same panel with Captain Marvelwas laugh-provoking, because the sight of a small, feeble villain and alarge, powerful hero about to engage in mortal combat was soridiculous that it was laughable. It was the David and Goliath taleturned upside down!

    Because the Captain Marvel stories were drawn in comic stripstyle, secondary characters could be cartoon-like, with shoe-buttoneyes and potato noses and other outlandish features. They could beinhuman: there were talking tigers and crocodile men and a whole

    menagerie of other-than-human characters in the stories. Because thefeature was drawn unrealistically, anything could happenand did,usually in a funny way.

    There is no need to cite examples; everyone familiar with theoriginal Captain Marvel stories published in the 1940s can find themfor himself. Those who knew the Worlds Mightiest Mortal only fromthe comics of the 1970s and 1980s (when he was under the control of adifferent publisher and was sometimes called Shazam) will findexamples of what the new editors considered to be humor but wasreally the worst kind of non-humor, because the new editors andwriters were under the impression that Captain Marvel had been afunny super-hero who cracked jokes and acted like a clown.

    Although humor is based on incongruity, merely saying or doingthings that are unexpected or out of context will not automaticallybring laughs from an audience. Wearing a silly costume and makingfunny faces, running around knocking things over, doing pratfalls, andtossing off puns and stale jokes is not amusing when there is no reason

    Four Decades And A FuneralIn Captain Marvel Adventures #88 (Sept. 1948), Charles Clarence Beck (with the aid of Pete Costanza)drew a story titled Captain Marvels Funeral! In his 1987 article printed here, he felt that funeral had

    come about under somewhat different circumstances nearly 40 years later. [2008 DC Comics.]



  • [Alex Ross has made a career out of rekindling hischildhood enthusiasm, beginning with his part as theartist/painter of the 1990s series Marvels, which has sincebeen followed up by such DC series as Kingdom Come. Itis no exaggeration to say he is today one of the best-known people in the comics field. As both a long-time fanof the original Captain Marvel and something of amodern-day advocate for that heros rightful andprominent inclusion in high-profile projects, he continuallyreinterprets the Worlds Mightiest Mortal for todaysworld. While others have essentially buried the Beck-inspired version, with the recently rejected/ignored pitchof Ross Say My Name Shazam!, unveiled here for thefirst time, the artist reveals that he still shares with manyothers the hope that a classic rendition of Captain Marvelwill soon return. P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    n early 2005, many changes werebouncing around the DCUniverse, particularly around thecontinuity-redefining Infinite

    Crisis series. As part of this, therewould be many characters killed,rebooted, and/or created from wholecloth. (Earlier in the year, fan favoriteBlue Beetle was murdered for the sakeof just such a reboot.)

    I was working at the time on mylargest project to date, the 12-issueseries Justice. Maintaining a veryfocused work schedule of painting 14pages a month (a bi-monthly comic book) didnt allow me muchtime to collaborate on other projects. It was around the timeleading up to my books, and then Infinite Crisis, release, that Iwas contacted about Shazam! DC was looking for a costume

    The 2005 Proposal To Bring BackThe Real Captain Marvel

    by Alex Ross

    Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck

    Father To The Man(Left:) Alex Ross at work. (Above:) Concept drawings of Billy Batson and Captain Marvel done by Alex Ross to accompany his proposal for

    Say My NameShazam! And yes, the above title logo for this piece was also designed by Alex. When hes enthusiastic, hes enthusiastic!

    [Shazam! characters & phrase TM & 2008 DC Comics.]



  • redesign as well as enlightening me of the idea of Captain Marvel Jr.taking over in the lead role. Moving the players around, as JerryOrdway had suggested in future-based stories that Captain Marvelwould ultimately take over for the wizard Shazam, was an immediateroad that DC wanted to take. As anyone can now be aware, theposition of red-costumed lead did go to Junior (Freddy Freeman), aswell as the actual name Shazam, for the obvious reasons of having theword most people associate with the character finally be his actualname. Upon hearing this plan, I was aghast at the possibility of it andargued passionately against the complete change-over of my favoritecorner of DC Comics library. Charged by that love of the characterand his mythos, I began contemplating a pitch to save Captain Marvel.

    Much like Roy Thomas and many other creators, I always haddesigns on how I thought the Marvel Family characters could besuccessfully interpreted for a modern audience. Also like Roy, I had myhand in a number of uses just short of an extended series. When I wasfirst working on the four-issue Marvels series, I had done a certainamount of planning and designing for a post-Crisis (the 1985 one)Shazam! re-presentation series intended for the bookshelf format.Jerry Ordways Power of Shazam! graphic novel and eventual follow-up ongoing series pre-empted the possibility of my plans coming tofruition. Captain Marvels appearance as a threatening counterbalanceto Superman in the Kingdom Come Elseworlds series was a fairlyvisible use of the character, making the kind of impact I wished to makewith him, as well as a chance to associate myself with the Fawcettheroes. My creative road led to a series of oversized one-shot graphicnovels where Captain Marvel was featured on a short list withSuperman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, indicating his historic and

    creative equality to those icons. In later works, Ive always tried toincorporate him more strongly in the classic Justice League, giving hima substantial role in the recent Justice series.

    At one time, all of this seemed like enough for me, even though Ihad many recurring delusions of a traditional comic book run that Iwould somehow do with Shazam! DC awoke a passion in me that wasalways there, lying dormant. DCs letting me know that they wereeffectively destroying the Billy Batson/C.C. Beck-style/FredMacMurray-inspired lead hero I had always loved was too much tobear. I was self-assured that I could somehow save Captain Marvel.

    Well, I was wrong. But heres what I came up with to try to changetheir minds. First, I thought through how one might touch up theclassic Captain Marvel outfit without really changing anything.Previously, both Jerry Ordway and I had simultaneously channeled ourlove of the original buttoned-jacket design back from his more militarydress uniform inspiration. I additionally adopted the sash and goldfabric look featured in the 1940s Tom Tyler movie serial TheAdventures of Captain Marvel. These details served the purpose ofreturning Marvel to his roots but not necessarily to my first point ofcontact with him: Jackson Bostwick, whose portrayal of CaptainMarvel on the mid-70s Shazam! TV series was the formation of mylove for the character.

    I had always toyed with doing a rebooted design that hearkenedback to that inspiration. If one is trying to sex up a costume, twothings come to mind: enhancing the naked muscular form of the humanbody, and showing off its power. If the Marvels are sired by magicallightning, then why not let electrical tendrils dance around them,accompanying their look? Letting the classically-colored-yellowcostume parts glow with an unearthly light that sparks off additionalenergy was the driving force of my new design. Why should The Flashbe drawn with these little lightning accents of power, and not CaptainMarvel? Embracing the 70s era of letting his hair down, I lengthenedthe Captains hair, but had it spiking upward as if he had his ownpersonal wind machine that he sat on top of, creating an impish, horn-haired appearance. Artistically I imagined the leaner body shape, butmore exaggerated muscular definition, of Neal Adams style. By havinga glowing chest emblem, his face could appear constantly up-lit; and,adding to this, lightning power is seen within his eyes.

    The overall look from all of these effects combined in a very Sub-Mariner-like dark hero quality. Aging Billy Batson up to a 16-year-old modern long-haired kid ( la Michael Gray, TVs Billy Batson)enhances his ability to relate to modern teens, as well as to the idyllicage many readers fondly recall. These visual points of inspirationopened the door for my storyline, which intended to fulfill part of thegoals for which DCs various Shazam! series had strived.

    DCs wish was (and has been) to have Freddy Freeman rise up tomultiple tasks that mirror the Twelve Labors of Hercules to win backthe powers of Shazam (thus the name The Trials of Shazam!). My ideafocused on teenaged Billy Batson, de-powered following their Days ofVengeance saga, begrudgingly drawn to reclaim the Shazam power,letter by letter, from different individuals who acquired these gifts ofthe gods. Presumably the various powers were scattered across theEarth following the events in DCs plan to shatter all magical forces.My plans little wrinkle was that each Shazam gift empowered a fully-developed character, each based on only one-sixth of the magic word.This idea provided six new super-humans, including:

    For Solomon (wisdom): A cosmically aware young African-American man who spreads his will like a virus.

    For Hercules (strength): A gawky, Hispanic teen who becomes adistorted, hulking powerhouse.

    But Have You Ever Seen Them Together On TV?Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel and Michael Gray as Billy Batson, fromthe 1974 Shazam! CBS-TV series. That program was Alex Ross introduction

    to the Big Red Cheese. [2008 DC Comics.]

    82 Alex Ross 2005 Proposal To Bring Back The Real Captain Marvel