Click here to load reader

Alter Ego #85

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


ALTER EGO #85 features CAPTAIN MARVEL VS. SUPERMAN—LILY RENÉE—and CENTAUR COMICS! Behind a new cover by RICH BUCKLER, A/E explores the earliest battles of the Shazamer and the Kryptonian (in cosmic space, in candy stores, and in court), and RICH BUCKLER on Captain Marvel. Also—an in-depth interview with Golden Age great LILY RENÉE (Planet Comics, Jungle Comics, etc.), plus an overview of Centaur, home of BILL EVERETT’s Amazing-Man, LEW GLANZMAN’s Shark, MARTIN FILCHOCK’s Mighty Man, PAUL GUSTAVSON’s Fantom of the Fair, FRANK THOMAS’ Eye, and other heroes from that odd early-1940s company. Plus MICHAEL T. GILBERT and Mr. Monster, FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America), and more! Edited by Roy Thomas.

Text of Alter Ego #85

  • $6.95In the USA

    No.85May 2009

    Roy Thomas CombativeComics Fanzine























  • 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: $88 US, $140 Canada, $210 elsewhere. All charactersare their respective companies. All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego isa 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 of

    Creig Flessel

    Contentswriter/editorial: Of Shazam!, Seorita Rio, And Centaurs . . 2Im Not Typical For Doing Comics, You Know! . . . . . . . . . . 3The understatement of the year from Golden Age artist Lily Rene, interviewed by Jim Amash.

    Centaur Spread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24The amazing story of the little-known but astonishing Centaur Comics Group, by Lee Boyette.

    Pow! Bam! Zap! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44Bob Rozakis spins Part 7 of his Secret History of All-American Comics, Inc.

    Comic Crypt: In Praise Of Picto! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51Michael T. Gilbert and Mr. Monster celebrate ECs Picto-Fiction magsand their most brazen imitator!

    A Tribute To Creig Flessel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59re: [correspondence, comments, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . 60FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America #144] . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65P.C. Hamerlinck presents Marc Swayze, DC vs. Fawcett, Rich Buckler& The Wall Street Journal!

    On Our Cover: Especially for this issue, Rich Buckler re-did his cover for the historic Superman vs.Shazam! tabloid-size comic of more than three decades agoonly switching the Superman andCaptain Marvel figures! For the full story, see this issues FCA section and its intriguing interviewwith Rich. [Superman & Shazam! hero TM & 2009 DC Comics.]

    Above: A powerful Lost World splash panel by Lily Rene, from Planet Comics #42 (May 1946),reprod from a copy as reprinted in Trina Robbins 2001 volume The Great Women Cartoonists.Thanks to Trina for her blessing in using this art. [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Vol. 3, No. 85 / May 2009EditorRoy 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 Productions

    Cover Artist & ColoristRich Buckler

    With Special Thanks to:Rob AllenHeidi AmashHenry AndrewsMatt D. BakerDennis BeaulieuJohn BensonJon BerkDominic BongoLee BoyetteRich BucklerSusan BurgosNick CardyDick ColeMark D. CotnamCraig DelichMichal DewallyBetty DobsonJim EngelMark EvanierJon R. EvansJean-Michel FerragattiMartin FilchockJim FitzpatrickShane FoleyJanet GilbertLew GlanzmanBob GreenbergerWalt GroganLawrence P. GuidryJennifer HamerlinckFred Hembeck

    Greg HuneryagerJay KinneyDominique LeonardDon MangusBruce MasonJake OsterBarry PearlLily Rene PhillipsNick PollackRubn ProcopioJohn James Pulaski, Jr.Ken QuattroMikhaela B. ReidBob RivardTrina RobbinsFred RobinsonSteven RoweBob RozakisJean SchanbergerJohn SelegueTed SkimmerFlo SteinbergMarc SwayzeJeff TaylorDann ThomasJim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.Vaughn WarrenRobert WienerMonte WolvertonAlex Wright

  • et once again, we bit off more than we could chew. We really oughtto be getting used to the taste by now.

    How do these things happen?

    Well, you start off simplyknowing its been a year since Alter Ego lastfeatured a double-size helping of Fawcett Collectors of Americaso youdiscuss one with FCA editor P.C. Hamerlinck, and between you, you evenline up a spanking-new cover by your old buddy Rich Buckler to go withits Captain Marvel/Superman theme.

    Next you talk with associate-editor-slash-indefatigable-interviewer JimAmash to be sure that his entry for the issue, the long-awaited talk withGolden Age great Lily Rene, will be ready in time for you to line up andarrange ample art to accompany it. It will.

    Then you recall that you have on hand this piece by Lee Boyette thatyou really want to get into the mag: an awesome overview of the fabledyet nearly forgotten (if thats not a contradiction in terms) CentaurComics Group and related companies of the late 1930s and early 40s,stretching back even before the Golden Age. And you decide youve justgotta squeeze that in, too.

    Well, when push came to shove, our shoehorn wasnt quite up to thetask. FCAs twenty pages are hereand the complete Rene interviewbut we had so much Centaur-related art on hand, thanks first andforemost to Lee Boyette and his pal Jon R. Evans, but also to several othergenerous souls, that we decided the only way to do Lees survey justicewas to serialize it, hopefully with no more than a couple of monthsbetween installments. So that, by the time its been totally printed, youllhave had an illustration-laden tour of the company that brought the worldAmazing-Man, The Eye, and Speed Centaur.

    Present and accounted for, naturally, for the 85th issue in a row, isMichael T. Gilberts Comic Crypt. Bob Rozakis faux history of All-American Publications is back, with its penultimate A/E chapterwhileBill Schellys Comic Fandom Archive will return next issue. And, withthat pulsatin preview, its time to charge aheadon centaur-back, ofcourse!


    Edited by ROY THOMASSUBSCRIBE NOW! Twelve Issues in the US: $88 Standard, $120 First Class

    (Canada: $140, Elsewhere: $210 Surface, $230 Airmail).NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SIX-ISSUE SUB, JUST CUT THE PRICE IN HALF!


    [Kurtzman self-caricature 2009 Adele Kurtzman;

    other art 2009 the respectivecopyright holders.]

    Furshlugginer full-color cover featuring art by Mad creator HARVEY KURTZMANand some of the eras greatest artists!

    The Mad wannabes of 1953-55when everybody in comics was aping ECs newsmash hit! Captain MarbleDrag-ulaMighty MooseFour-Flush GordonPrince Scallion20,000 Leaks under the SeaTick Dracysurveyed by GERAPELDOORN, with a sidebar on Harvey Comics horrific humor by JOHN BENSON!


    Plusa frank talk with Golden/Silver Age artist FRANK BOLLE (Crimebuster, RedMask, Dr. Solar, etc.)conducted by JIM AMASH!


    The Mid-1950s Color MAD ImitationsI.e., From SUPERDUPERMAN to NUTS!


    TwoMorrows 10407 Bedfordtown Drive Raleigh, NC 27614 USA 919-449-0344 FAX: 919-449-0327 E-mail: [email protected]

    TwoMorrows. Celebrating The Art &History Of Comics





    Of Shazam!, Seorita Rio,And Centaurs

  • NTERVIEWERS INTRO: Lily Renes comic book work wasmainly done for Fiction House during the 1940s on features suchas Seorita Rio, Werewolf Hunter, Jane Martin, and The Lost

    World. I must admit that, as much as I like her work, I have a greaterfascination for her biography. Born during the 1920s in Vienna, heryouthful struggles against the Nazis and the prejudices of the war-tornEngland populace are compellingly heart-wrenching. I admire Mrs. LilyRene Phillips for her bravery and strength in the face of troubled timesand unenlightened attitudes, and I imagine everyone who reads herstory will feel the same.Jim.

    Vienna Was A Beautiful CityJIM AMASH: Did you get a lot of support from your family? Howsupportive were people of you being an artist?

    LILY RENE: They were proud of my ability to draw. When I was sixyears old, a lot of things happened; in a way it was the high point of mylife. I had an art exhibition of my drawings, and also won a contest fora photo of me that my mother sent in. The prize for the contest was amovie contract, but my father was not letting his daughter enter showbusiness. At school I was chosen to dance the little rose in theSchubert song Heidenrslein. The head of the education departmentwas there and said to my parents he would see to it that I wasadmitted at the opera-ballet. Again my father would not let me join.

    JA:Were there art classes in school?

    RENE: Yes, my artwork from the exhibit was from my art class.

    JA: You say you were living a little bit in your own kind of fantasyworld.

    Im Not Typical For DoingComics, You Know!

    The Life And Times Of Golden Age Artist LILY RENE



    Seorita Rene(Left:) A recent photo of Lily Rene, which appeared with the too-shortarticle about her in Alter Ego #70. (Above:) A Fight Comics splash by

    Ms. Rene, as retouched and reprinted in AC Comics Americas GreatestComics #14 (2006). [Photo 2009 Trina Robbins; page 2009 AC Comics, Inc.]

  • RENE: Yes, I was, quite a lot. When my cousin Charlie came over,we always pretended our carpet was really a flying carpet, and wehad adventures in the exotic countries we visited. When I wasalone, my fantasy showed up in my drawings.

    JA:What was it like to live in Vienna back then?

    RENE: Vienna was a beautiful city with a lot of style. There weremany churches; the best known was a Gothic one with a very highspire called Stephans Dome, and the most beautiful onewhich Icould see from our windowswas Karls Kirche, which had acopper dome covered in green partina. There was a wide streetcalled The Ring, which circled around the inner city and had all ofViennas important buildings on it: the Opera, two museums, theUniversity, the Parliament, etc. We lived in the center of the city ina comfortable apartment. Life was less rushed than in New York. Alot of attention was paid to the preparation of food. I was an onlychild and often lonely. I started drawing at an early age, maybe atthe age of three. Later I read a lot, as well. I also enjoyed dancing.My Nanny took me to the Stadtpark [State Park], where she had topay for an iron fold-up-chair to sit on, and I would play with mydiabolo, or push my big wooden hoop with a little stick and runafter it. There were Do not step on grass signs everywhere.

    JA:What was your economic situation at the time of yourchildhood?

    RENE:My parents were well off; we lived comfortably, hadservants, and gave dinner parties. I had lots of toys but I was lonely.

    JA: Did you have any friends who were interested in art and near thesame age as you?

    RENE: No, but the grownups around me were interested in art. I wastaken to museums and art galleries, and through my parents friends I metsome artists.

    JA:What was it that you drew?

    RENE: I drew clowns, ballerinas, tigers, and scenes that depicted whatyou would see in theatres. My parents took me to the theatre, where I sawsome ballets, and I also went to dance classes. When I was older, I went tothe opera twice a year with my school.

    JA: During your teenage years, did you make a decision that you wouldmake a career in theatre or art?

    RENE: Yes, somehow I was convinced I would be involved in theatre orvisual arts.

    JA: You were a teenager when Hitler came to power in Austria. Whatwas it like for you?

    RENE:When Austria became a part of the German Reich, Jewish peoplelost all protection. A lot of people went to concentration camps. I wasntallowed to go to school, and it was just scary when walking out on thestreet. We always had to stand in line to get our documents stamped; andat one point, all the people who were standing in line were taken into asynagogue. The Nazis were standing all around us, and we were afraidthey were going to set fire to the synagogue. Nothing happened, but Idont know how long I stood in there. It was terrifying. I looked at one ofthese big men who was standing next to me. For some reason, I thoughthe was protecting me because I was a pretty girl. I looked at him, and Isaw this totally cold face, and it was such a shock, and then I knew I wascompletely unprotected. I think I was thirteen when this happened.

    JA: The people in the town: were they pro-Nazi or anti-Nazi?

    RENE: Apparently, the Nazis were welcomed with open arms by theViennese. It was awful. You have no idea. When they marched into

    Viennawell, they didnt march. They came mostly on motorcycles. I canstill hear the sound of the motorcycles in my mind: vroom-vroom-vroom-vroom-vroom.

    We were listening to the radio when the son of the people who lived inthe same house knocked on the door and said the Nazi headquartersneeded another radio. I couldnt believethis is how it startedimages ofthe helplessness. I remember my father walking over to the radio, pickingit up, and handing it to this guy. So we couldnt listen to it any more. Youhad to be there; otherwise, you dont know what it was like. Just trying toget out was very hard, because we didnt have any relatives in othercountries. We lived this way for about two years.

    Everybody was trying to get out, but without a passport that allowedyou to re-enter, other countries were not willing to let you in. We had tohave someone who guaranteed that we would never be a burden on thestate. That was hard to find if you did not have relatives in othercountries. I had taken English in school, and was given a correspondencefriend by the name of Molly Kealy in England. My parents had invited herto spend the summer with us the year before Hitler came to power, buther parents thought she was too young. Now we were asking them to senda visitors permit for me to come to England. It took almost a year for it toarrive. It helped me to get on one of the childrens transports(Kindertransport) for which England paid the Nazis for every child on it.

    I went to England late in 39. I had to say goodbye to my parents. Allthe parents were standing behind bars at the station, and the childrenwere waving to them. We had a cardboard square with a number on itaround our necks, and we were given food parcels. As soon as the trainstarted moving out of Vienna, everybody was eating.

    The Nazis were at the border and inspected our luggage. I had made aterra cotta figure which I was really proud of, and they took it out. It waswrapped in towels, and the guard stomped on it. He stomped on it andbroke it into pieces. The woman who was the head of the Kindertransportcame over to me because I was crying. She said, Dont cry, you can makeanother one. You are in one piece, and youre getting out of this.

    JA:When you were at the train station, were you afraid that youwouldnt ever see your parents again?

    Austrian Anschluss, 1938The German troopsthis one from an armored car unitreceived an enthusiastic

    welcome in Vienna. This photo is dated March 21, 1938. Lily says she mostlyremembers that many of them arrived on motorcycles.

    4 The Life And Times Of Golden Age Artist Lily Rene

  • RENE: Of course. All of us were; thats why we were eating. We wantedto be reassured. The youngest one was under a year old. I would say abouta hundred children were on this train, which was paid for by England.

    When I Came To AmericaJA: And what happened to you there?

    RENE:Molly was a lovely girl, but her mother thought by bringing meover she would get unpaid help in the household. I think I was a shock toher: too well-dressed and not trained in household duties. At home, I wasnot even allowed in the kitchen, since our cook did not like it. Anyway,Molly and her dad ate their main meals out, and Mollys mother would eatafter she sent me to the store for some groceries. The only meals I hadwere breakfast, and in the late afternoon when everybody was home forhigh tea.

    During this time I was trying to get my parents out of Austria. Englandlet people in if they had a domestic situation, meaning they could be acook or a butler. My parents were willing to do anything to get out of

    Austria. I was interviewed by two very nice families in lovely homes,where I described how my mother was a fabulous cook, and how myhandsome father was suited to be their butler. Both families backed out,saying that they would not feel comfortable with my parents as domesticsbecause they would be too much like their peers. They did not see that itwas a matter of life or death.

    Anyway, the war broke out, and we were cut off from Austria. Mollysmother thought she was stuck with me and said, You dont even know ifyour parents are still alive. After that, I knew I could not spend anothernight in that house. I walked into Leeds from Horseforth, a suburb ofLeeds, with no money for the bus fare, and went to an employmentagency, where I lied about my age and said I want to be a mothershelper. I got a job right away, since there were so many requests formothers helpers!

    JA: The situation with the wicked motherhow long did that last?

    RENE: Less than a month.

    JA:When did your parents get out?

    RENE: I did not know what was happening to them, since I wascompletely cut off. But they got an affidavit and came to New York about18 months after I left Austria. They wrote to Bloomsburg House, whichwas the agency that helped children who were on the Kindertransport,and asked for us to be united. Bloomsburg House wrote to me and toldme about my parents request, and that I was scheduled to leave forAmerica.

    Unfortunately, I had the worst listing as an alien you could haveenemy alien, because I had lied about not having a camera when I wasasked by a Scotland Yard agent. I was afraid they would take it away fromme, and it was a very good camera. Because of this, I was not supposed tomove and had to report every week to the police station. I decided not totell anyone, called my cousin in London, took a taxi to the train station inthe middle of the night, and went to London.

    JA:When your parents got to America, were they able to take anymoney with them, or did they just go with the clothes they werewearing?

    RENE:My father inherited two apartment buildings in Vienna, whichhe gave to the Nazis in order to get out. They were able to put theirfurnishings and china and all of that into what was called a lift. Youcould put all of your stuff on a wagon on the railroad. Unfortunately, thetrain was bombed in Holland, and everything was destroyed. They cameto America with nothing.

    JA: How did you get the money to come to America? Or did you need it?

    RENE: I came on another childrens transport that traveled fromEngland to America.

    JA: So you came to America

    RENE: ...on the Rotterdam. It was ironic, since it was a ship from theHolland-American line, of which my father had been the director inVienna.

    JA: Did you go to New York?

    RENE: Yes. We were supposed to leave in a convoy, but the sailor whowas trying to get the anchor up fell overboard, and we were unable toleave [at that particular time]. [Once we were on the ocean,] we sailed ina zigzag pattern. Everybody was seasick. A boy and I were the only oneswho were not seasick and could enjoy every meal. On its return trip, theRotterdam was sunk by a U-boat.

    War StoriesLily Renes artwork appeared in a good many war-oriented Fiction Housecomics, as in this copy of Rangers Comics #26 (Dec. 1945) whose Joe Doolin

    cover she autographed for collector Vaughn Warren. It contained one ofher Werewolf Hunter tales. Thanks to Vaughn and to John Selegue.

    [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Im Not Typical For Doing Comics, You Know! 5

  • EDITORS NOTE: The following article and its attendant listings were put together by Lee B. especially for this magazine.As it turned out, however, the amount of information covered on a subject about which relatively little has been writtenadded to the outpouring of scans of Centaur artwork from several enthusiastic collectors, on top of those provided by Lee andhis friend Jon R. Evanshas forced us to split the material into several parts, in order to be able to fully illustrate the piece.

    Our heartfelt thanks to Jon for helping expedite this survey in every way.

    Meet You In The Funny PagesBrimming with artists such as Rafael Astarita, Bill Everett, Jack

    Cole, Will Eisner, Basil Wolverton, Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, HaroldDe Lay, Tarp Mills, and Fred Schwab, and with a roll call of charactersthat includes Amazing-Man, The Eye, The Shark, Meteor Martin, TheArrow, Blue Lady, The Rainbow, Speed Centaur, LittleDynamite, Fire-Man, The Owl, and Mighty Manthe Centaur group of comics remains acomplex, baffling mystery mainly as tohow, and why, they managed to last for solong with such confusing issue numbers andtitles, while going through so manyrenovations (and re-issues) with so littlestyle, content, or quality!

    Joseph J. Hardies Centaur line beganwith March 1938 cover dates and ended

    with the May 1942 issues. But there are no less than three companies thatexisted before Centaur which have ties to it. Confused? Allow a longtimecomics researcher to elaborate:

    In early 1936, two ex-employees of MajorMalcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (founding

    publisher of National/DC)WilliamH. Cook and John Mahoninaugurated a new line ofcomics: The ComicsMagazine Company. Itsinitial offering was titledThe Comics Magazine and

    had a cover date of May 1936.

    It consisted mainly of one-to-two-pagestories of various types: humor, funny animal,Western, puzzles, text stories, and magic tricks

    Centaur SpreadThe Amazing, Keen, and Funny Story Of

    The CENTAUR COMICS GROUPby Lee Boyette

    The Beginning And The EndAmazing-Manthe classic hero and the best-known character to come out of any Centaur-related comics titleflanked by the earliest and latest covers dealt

    with in this multi-part article: The Comics Magazine #1 (May 1936) & the 1942 oddity C-M-O Chicago Mail Order Company Comics #2; cover artists of bothuncertain. Thanks to Jean-Michel Ferragatti for a scan of Sam Glanzmans cover for Amazing-Man #15 (Aug. 1940). Except where noted, all art accompanying

    this article was either provided by Lee Boyette & Jon R. Evans, or (in the case of a few covers, such as the ones above) are reprod from the Gerbersindispensable Picto-Journal Guide to Comic Books. [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Naturally, we regret that photos (or other images) of most of the publishers, editors, and other creative personnel mentioned are unavailable.

    A EA E//


  • Seeing StarsEven the guy on the smaller cover-within-a-cover of Star Comics, Vol. 1, #15(Nov. 1938), at bottom right is seeing starsand so, presumably, is the tinyfigure in that cover well, you get the idea of an infinity cover. Art by

    Martin Filchock. [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Clock Work(Left:) George Brenners hero The Clock graced the cover of the fifth issue of FunnyPicture Stories, dated Nov. 1936. He was the first masked modern-day hero in comicbooks. This issues story was recently reprinted in Fantagraphics excellent volumeSupermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, edited by Greg Sadowski.

    (Above:) For some long-forgotten reason, writer Jerry Siegel & artist Joe Shusters2-page series Dr. Occult appeared in FPS, Vol. 1, #1, with his name changed inmid-continuity to Dr. Mystic. The next month, Doc was back home in More Fun

    Comics. For the two preceding panels of this installment, see the forthcoming All-StarCompanion, Vol. 4. Thanks to Michael T. Gilbert, Bob Rivard, & Henry Andrewsall of

    whom sent us these scans. [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    some illustrated in color, some in black-&-white. Jerry Siegel andJoe Shuster, friends from Wheeler-Nicholsons company, provided a singletwo-page installment of Dr. Mystic, a Superman precursor. Othercontributors included Ellis Edwards, Matt Curzon, William Allison, JohnPatterson, future All-American Publications and DC editor SheldonMayer, and future Pogo creator Walt Kelly. Beginning with #2, theComics Magazine title was printed minuscule on the cover, above thefar larger phrase Funny Pages. With the fourth issue, the name becameofficially The Comics Magazine Funny Pages; and with #6 it wasretitled simply Funny Pages.

    (The course of comic book history would have been changedthoughin what ways, its impossible to say for certainhad Cook and Mahonpurchased Superman from Siegel and Shuster, which the writer-and-artist team had been trying to sell in one form or another since as early as1933, rather than a single installment of Dr. Mystic.)

    Cook and Mahon then added Funny Picture Stories, with a first issuedated November 1936, a sister comic with most stories running from twoto seven pages in length. George Brenners The Clock, the firstcostumed hero in comics, was cover-featured. FPS #4 (Feb. 1937)contains Will Eisners great Beau Geste-style adventure story TheBrothers Three. Color and black-&-white were also used here,ending with issue #7, dated June 1937.

    C&Ms next effortDetective Picture Stories #1 (Dec. 1936)is thefirst recorded comic book featuring a single themein this case, ofcourse, detectives and crime. Issue #4 of DPS (March 1937) containsEisners classic detective story Muss Em Up!, while #5, the final issue,has both Bob (Batman) Kanes first serious story, Case of the MissingHeir, and The Clock, who was cover-featured.

    Western Picture Stories #1 (Feb. 1937) is the first Western comic,continuing Cook-Mahons ground-breaking efforts. Eisners art appears inearly issues: Top Hand in #1, Sheriff of Caribou County in #2, and

    Centaur Spread 25

  • Even Giants Have ToStart Small

    Early Cook-Mahon work(clockwise from above

    left, with all art 2009 therespective copyright


    Future Spirit creator WillEisners Brothers Three,

    from Funny Picture Stories#4 (as reprinted in

    Amazing Mystery Funnies#2 for Sept. 1938) is

    juxtaposed with a 1941photo of Eisner whichappeared in the 1982

    Kitchen Sink book The Artof Will Eisner;

    An autographed pagefrom Eisners detective

    yarn Muss Em Up, fromDetective Picture Stories

    #4 (March 1937);

    Bob Kanes first attempt ata serious story, as

    opposed to a humorousone, from DPC, Vol. 1, #5(April 1938)flanked by aphoto of the artist after hehad co-created Batman

    for National/DC;

    Eisner againwith TopHand, from WesternPicture Stories #1 (Feb.

    1937), as reprinted in KeenDetective Funnies, Vol. 2,#6 (June 1939, actual #10).Shortly before his passing

    a few years ago, WillEisner was interviewed byJim Amash for Alter Ego

    #48; that issue, and othersmentioned in thesecaptions, are still

    available fromTwoMorrows, as per thead bloc at issues end.

    [Eisner photo 2009 WillEisner Studios, Inc.; pages

    2009 the respectivecopyright holders.]

    26 The Amazing, Keen, And Funny Story Of The Centaur Comics Group

  • Man Hunt in #3, all later reprinted by Centaur. Mostly stories were7 pages long, and were a mix of color and black-&-white.

    While these titles were being published, Harry A Chesler beganhis comic companys history, with covers dated Feb. 1937. Hepublished both Star Comics and Star Ranger. These were large-size(8 " x 11") and were in color. His Star Ranger #1 ties Cook-MahonsWestern Picture Stories #1 as the first Western comic.Chesler published 52-page comics, while Cook-Mahons were 64pages. Star Ranger #4 & #5 each have one-panel gags by Eisner.

    Young King ColeFuture Plastic Man creator Jack Coles first published stories appearedin the April 1938 Funny Picture Stories, Vol. 2, #7 (seen at left) and inthe same-date Star Comics #11. See A/E #25 for extensive coverage of

    this comics genius. The photo of Jack Cole appeared with a 1999article by Art Spiegelman in The New Yorker magazine, courtesy of

    JCs brother Dick. [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Centaur Spread 27

    A panel from DCP #4 (March 37) featuring a newsstand that displays Cook-Mahon comics (artist & writer unknown);

    This classic cover for DCP #4 (March 1937), which Lee Boyette IDs as the work of artist Rodney Thompson. It was seen in a reprinted version in the previous issueof Alter Egowhere it was identified as having been drawn by Gus Ricca. (Whichever is correct, its a strong image!)

    [2009 the respective copyright holders.]

    Too Many Cook-Mahons Spoil The Broth?Cook-Mahons Detective Picture Stories beat

    Detective Comics to the punch by four months (asper the cover of DPS #1, above left), but didnt havequite as much staying power. After that, from left to

    right, come images of:

  • hat if, instead of selling his share of All-AmericanPublications to National/DC co-publishers HarryDonenfeld and Jack Liebowitz in 1945, as happened in The

    World We Know, AA co-publisher Max Charles Gaines had insteadbought DC from them?

    Just imagine a comic book industry in which (due to legal problemswith Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and Bob Kane, which resulted in there beingtwo competing versions of Superman and Batman on the nations

    newsstands in the late 1940s, with both versions eventually being cancelled)the AA characters Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wonder Woman hadinstead become the surviving Golden Age heroesstars of comic books,radio, movies, and TV? (Even so, in Our World, all art on the next 6 pagesfeatures characters trademarked and copyrighted by DC Comics.)

    Not a dream (precisely) not a hoax (because we tell you about it upfront)just an imaginary tale of an alternate universe we call Earth-22,and of

    Book One Chapter 7:

    Pow! Bam! Zap![NOTE: This chapters interview with Ted Skimmer, longtime All-American production man, has never been printed before.]

    BOB ROZAKIS: From the time DC was merged into AA, there wasntmuch change in the AA staff for a long time, was there?

    TED SKIMMER: You have to realize that throughout the 50s and muchof the 60s the comics business was a closed shop. The guys who hadstarted the business in the 1940s were pretty much all still there. Theleaner times had weeded out some, but for the most part, the faces youwould have seen in the AA offices in 1950 were the same ones, albeitolder, that were there in 1969.

    Even on the freelance side, there wasnt much change. Guys likeKubert, Infantino, and Toth, who were the kids when they startedworking for us a few years after the War, were only in their forties whenthe second generation started arriving. Mort Weisinger was only 55 whenhe retired in 1970.

    I guess you could say that Bill Gaines and Julie Schwartz weresomewhat responsible for the second generation of people getting intothe comic book business. Certainly they had tapped into something whenthey started printing letters from the readers in the books in the early 50s.E. Nelson Bridwell was one of their regular readersand letter-writersand he said that having his letters published in the books made him feelmuch more comfortable about asking for a job in the early 1960s.

    BR:Well, Nelson came to the company a lot earlier than my compatriotsand I did.

    SKIMMER: Nelson got hired as the result of one of Morts salary negotia-tions. At the time Mort was editing the whole line of Green Lanternbooks, so he had, what, six or seven titles? He somehow convinced Charliethat he was carrying a much heavier workload than the rest of the editors,so, in addition to wanting more money, he needed an assistant.

    Nelson had already moved from Oklahoma to New York and was doing

    some writingforKurtzmansMadmagazine atthe time,but he waslooking fora full-timejob. Wedidnt thinkhed last long, having to deal with Mort, but he did.

    BR: But how did Mort convince Gaines that he deserved an assistantwhen no one else did?

    SKIMMER: It was the popularity of the Annuals that Mort used toconvince Charlie. While the other editors were also producing a few,under the blanket 80-Page Giant title, it was the Green Lantern ones thatappeared most often. Nobody on staff, nor among the readers for thatmatter, seemed bothered by the concept that annuals were coming outtwo or three times a year!

    Nelson, as it turned out, was the perfect choice to handle these books


    The Other AA Editors Were GreenWith Envy

    when AA Green Lantern editor Mort Weisinger(seen in previous installments) acquired an

    assistant editornamely, E. Nelson Bridwell, theguy who really put together many of those 80-PageGiants. Hes seen here in a photo taken by MicheleWolfman for The ACBA Newsletter for June of 73;

    with thanaks to Flo Steinberg.

    Below, reprod from a photocopy of the originalart, is a panel from Green Lantern #39, penciled byCarmine Infantino, that was reprinted in one of theearliest 80-Page Giants. Thanks to Dominic Bongo

    & the Heritage Comics Archives.

    The Secret Historyof All-AmericanComics, Inc.

    by Bob Rozakis


  • for Mort. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the books, dating back to the 40s, and aremarkable memory. Mort would be talking about an old story, and Nelson would pull itout of the file of old issues in a matter of moments.

    The film negatives that AA would use to produce the reprint books dated back to theearly-to-mid-1950s. That there was only a decade or so worth of material did not appearto be a problem. At the time, the majority of the audience was boys ranging in age fromabout 10 to 14. With the audience turning over every four years or so, reprints from fiveyears ago would be new material for them.

    There was one other problem, though. Weisinger took full advantage of this readerturnover and would frequently reuse old plots. Sometimes the stories would start thesame way and go off in different directions; other times they would be almost identical.

    BR: I remember finding a couple of those.

    SKIMMER: [laughs] Only a couple? Afterthe first few months, Mort was lettingNelson handle the reprints by himself.Nelson would suggest something like GreenLanterns Greatest Foes, and Mort wouldjust nod and say okay. He might look at thestats of the stories or the cover, but mostlyhe didnt care. One time, however, Nelsonsuggested Secrets of Green Lantern, andMort said to him, Yes, I like that. Be sure toinclude that story where Alans friendaccidentally finds out hes Kid Lantern. SoNelson says, Which one? and pulls outthree different issues in which Mort hadused the exact same premise one from1952, one from 57 and the last from 62!

    BR: Oh, I know about Nelsons memory. Idbe talking about a plot point with Julie andsuddenly Nelson would say, You cant dothat. In issue such-and-such it was estab-lished that and then he would go to thefiling cabinet, pull out a twenty-year-oldcomic book, flip to the exact page, andpoint at a panel. Sometimes Julie would goalong, and sometimes hed just growl andsay, I dont care what it said in 1957!

    SKIMMER:Well, that was probably one ofthe reasons Mort treated Nelson so badly.Mort interpreted Nelson knowing aboutmultiple uses of the same plot as a way hisassistant was showing him up. But Nelsondidnt have a mean bone in his body; he wasjust doing what he thought Mort wanted.But Mort made no attempt to disguise hiscontempt for Nelson, and often referred tohim as that idiot.

    BR: Didnt he fire Nelson at one point?

    SKIMMER: Indeed he did. In 1965,Weisinger fired him and replaced him with

    Roy Thomas. However, Roy would not tolerate Morts abuse and left for Marvel after twoweeks. This forced Mort to grudgingly rehire Nelson, telling the staff that hed hadThomas fill in while Bridwell had taken a vacation.

    BR: Aside from adding Nelson to the staff, there was another big change in 64. How didJulie end up editing the Flash books again?

    SKIMMER: By 1964, sales of Flash Comics and All-Flash had fallen off substantially.Under Jack Schiff, the character had been reduced to battling aliens, being changed intobizarre forms like the Zebra-Striped Flash, or chasing the one-shot gimmick villain of the

    Sidebar:Editorial assignments at AA in 1964. Weisinger editedonly seven regular titles while each of his colleaguesedited eight.

    MORT WEISINGERGreen LanternAll-American ComicsDoiby DicklesCathy CrainKid LanternSensation ComicsComic Cavalcade

    JULIUS SCHWARTZSupermanBatmanFlash ComicsAll-FlashJustice League of AmericaAquamanGreen ArrowSugar & Spike

    ROBERT KANIGHERAction Men of WarG.I. CombatOur Army at WarOur Fighting ForcesCaptain StormStar Spangled War StoriesWonder WomanMetal Men

    MURRAY BOLTINOFFBlackhawkThe Brave and the BoldDoom PatrolHawkmanChallengers of the UnknownSea DevilsTomahawkRip Hunter, Time Master

    JACK SCHIFFStrange AdventuresMystery in SpaceWeird ScienceTales from the CryptFalling in LoveHeart ThrobsYoung LoveYoung Romance

    ROTATING EDITORSHollywood Funny Folks (Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope,Fox & Crow)

    Showcase80-Page Giants (reprints)

    A Thorny IssueA classic Julie Schwartz-edited issue of All-Flash (#185, Dec. 1967),

    featuring the return of The Thorn. Original art, which looks likeInfantino pencils, reprod from the collection of Lawrence P. Guidry.

    Pow! Bam! Zap! 45

  • [20


















  • In Praise of Picto!by Michael T. GilbertPity the poor sap who invested his life savings in an Edsel knock-off,

    certain it was going to be the nextMustang. Or the loser who just knewthat Beta Max was the wave of the future, and went broke building acheap copy. Thats pretty much the story of Myron Fass ill-fated attemptto jump on the Picto-Fiction bandwagon.

    Picto-Fiction began in 1955, as a last-ditch attempt to save Bill Gainesfailing Entertaining Comics line. After achieving critical and earlierfinancial success with titles likeWeird Science, Tales from the Crypt, andMad, EC was on the verge of bankruptcy, thanks to devastating publicityfrom a 1954 Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. The Senatorsseemed convinced that lurid crime and horror comics were hurting kids.To his credit, EC publisher Gaines volunteered to defend the industry oncamera, but his testimony proved disastrousa fact that his competitorsand distributors never forgot.

    Soon, a tough Comics Code was instated by most publishers. Magscontaining crime, horror, or terror (with the latter two nouns expresslyforbidden as part of a title) were clamped down on, effectively killing ECsCrime SuspenseStories, Vault of Horror, and an advertised fourth EChorror title, The Crypt of Terror. Gaines and Feldstein believed thisprovision was designed to destroy EC. If so, the plan worked.

    Needling The Comics Code(Above right & below:) Artist Jack Kamens cover and two pages from

    The Needle, from Shock Illustrated #1 (Oct. 1955), ECs first Picto-Fictiontitle. [2009 William M. Gaines, Agent, Inc.]

    52 Mr. Monsters Comic Crypt!

  • News venders refused to stock any comics (except for ClassicsIllustrated and the squeaky-clean Dell line) that didn't carry the ComicsCode seal, and most EC titles quickly died. A subsequent sanitized line ofCode-approved New Direction EC titles fared little better.

    The one bright spot on ECs horizon wasMad. Harvey Kurtzmansbrainchild had recently transformed itself from a 10 color comic into a25 black-&-white magazine, and was selling phenomenally. Better yet, asa magazine aimed at a supposedly older audience, it wasnt subject to theComics Code. So publisher Bill Gaines and editor Al Feldstein came upwith a brilliant idea: Why not convert all their titles to a similar format?

    With few other options available, it sounded like a good idea. Workingwith cartoonist Jack Kamen (and writers Dan Keyes and RobertBernstein), they set to work on Shock Illustrated #1 (Oct. 1955), theirfirst Picto-Fiction title. Though actually a variation of the old Big LittleBooks, Feldsteins intro in that issue describes this new form:

    SHOCK Illustrated is the first of a new series of magazines topresent a novel and revolutionary development in the art ofstory-telling. We at E.C. call this new form of adult enter-tainment Picto-Fiction. Picto-Fiction is a careful combi-nation of two arts: the art of writing and the art of illustra-tions.

    Fass Food(Below:) Two pages from Fass imitation, True Problems #1 (June 1956).

    [2009 True Problems Publications.]

    Im ShockedShocked(Right:) Contents page for ECs Shock Illustrated #1.

    [2009 William M. Gaines, Agent, Inc.]

    In Praise Of Picto! 53

  • reig Flessel, a pioneer artist of comics, passed away on July 17,2008, at the age of 96. He had recently suffered a stroke.

    Flessel was born February 2, 1912, in Huntington, Long Island, NewYork, the son of a blacksmith. He attended Alfred University in New York,which is where he met the future Mrs. Flessel, graduating in 1936. One ofhis classmates, he always noted with pride, was Charles Addams.

    His first job in comics was assisting cartoonist John H. Striebel on thenewspaper strip Dixie Dugan. This also brought him a career in adver-tising art, as Striebel was doing a lot of it at the time, mostly featuring thecharacters from the radio show Vic and Sade. Over the years, Flesselwould bounce back and forth between the two fields: when he wasntdoing comics, he was drawing for advertising, primarily for theJohnstone-Cushing art service. Over the decades, he did thousands ofmagazine ads and commercial storyboards, primarily but not exclusivelyin comic strip form.

    His non-advertising cartoons appeared over the years in publicationsas diverse as Boys Life and Playboy, but it was his work for the early DCComics that made the most history. His first work for them seems to haveappeared inMore Fun Comics #10, cover-dated May of 1936. He also dida strip in the first issue of the historic Detective Comics and drew thecovers for issues #2-17, as well as many other covers for early DC titles.His work also appeared inside many comics for the firm. He didnumerous stories of The Sandman in Adventure Comics, and he co-created a character named The Shining Knight, who was featured in thesame title.

    In 1940, DC editor Vin Sullivanmoved over to the newly-formedColumbia Comics, and Flesselbegan to freelance for him there, as

    well. In 1943 Sullivan founded his own company, Magazine Enterprises,and Flessel signed on as associate editor. He returned to DC from time totime, drawing for them again briefly in 1949, in the late 1950s (mostly asan inker on Superman-related comics), and then in the early 70s oncomics that Joe Simon was editing for the company, including Prez.

    All this time, he was primarily engaged in advertising art, though heoccasionally assisted Al Capp on the Lil Abner newspaper strip; and from1960 to 1971 he drew another strip, David Crane, which he took overfrom Winslow Mortimer. The National Cartoonists Society honored himin 1992 with its Silver T-Square Award for extraordinary service, and theCartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and Jeanne Schulz honored him in2007 with the Sparky Award, named for Jeannes late husband, CharlesSchulz, creator of Peanuts. Creig was also a nominee for the 2008 Hall ofFame Award at the Comic-Con International.

    In 2000 he and his wife Marie (yes, the spouse he met at AlfredUniversity) moved from the East Coast to a home in Mill Valley,California, to be closer to their son Peter and several grandchildren.(They also had a daughter, Eugenie, who followed in Dads footsteps bybecoming a successful illustrator.)

    Creig never stopped cartooning and was often a guest at comicsconventions, where I had the pleasure of interviewing him and chattingon many occasions. He was a delightful man who acted as if you weredoing him a favor by asking him for an autograph or posing somequestion about his long, long career.

    This tribute originally appeared in a slightly different formonMark Evaniers website,always an excellent source for information on comics andmany related (and unrelated) topics. Creig Flessel was thesubject of an in-depth interview in Alter Ego #45, and willbe prominently featured again in issue #88,which will center around National/DCfounder Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson andother early giants of that company.

    Creig Flessel(1912-2008)

    A Pioneer Artist Of Comicsby Mark Evanier


    Creigs Crowning Moments(Above:) A 1943 photo of Creig & Marie Flessel (theyd beenmarried in 37). (Left:) Two of the artists recent drawings:a color Sandman he drew for collector Dominique Leonard

    at age 93 and an illo he did in gratitude when he receivedthe Sparky Award, as noted in the tribute. The photo

    accompanied an interview with CF that appeared in ComicBook Marketplace #15 (July 1992). [Sandman TM & 2009DC Comics; Snoopy TM & 2009 United Feature Syndicate;

    self-caricature 2009 Estate of Creig Flessel.]

    In Memoriam 59

  • [Art






  • [FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a topartist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvel charactersketches came from Marcs drawing table, and he illustrated herearliest adventures, including the classic origin story, Captain MarvelIntroduces Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures No. 18, Dec.42); but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrateCaptain Marvel stories and covers forWhiz Comics and CaptainMarvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, andcontinued to do so while in the military. After leaving the service in1944, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art andstories for them on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. Therehe created both art and stories for The Phantom Eagle inWowComics, in addition to drawing the Flyin Jenny newspaper strip forBell Syndicate (created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton).After the cancellation ofWow, Swayze produced artwork forFawcetts top-selling line of romance comics, including Sweethearts andLife Story. After the company ceased publishing comics, Marc movedover to Charlton Publications, where he ended his comics career in themid-50s. Marcs ongoing professional memoirs have been a vital part ofFCA since his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue, Marcdiscussed his writing of Captain Marvel scripts while serving in thearmy during World War II. In this installment, he takes a look at actioncomicsthe Fawcett way.P.C. Hamerlinck.]

    here was once a mythical fancy thatwafted up and down the Fawcetthalls to the effect that it was

    distasteful to depict a clenched fistactually landing on its mark. Better, wentthe opinion, that the action be shownjust after, or just before, the impact.

    Busy with the first sketches of MaryMarvel at the time, I never went for thatcrap. Nor did Mary. When she deemed itdeserving that an obnoxious antagonistreceive such forcible combat, thatsexactly what he got a dainty smash,right smack in the snoot!

    The usual day at my desk in 1942 wasdrawing Captain Marvel, who had beeneased to one side temporarily to allowfor this interim assignment a younggirl about Billys age.

    Mac Raboy, a few tables over, washeard to mumble, There are just somany ways the human figure can bedepicted. Mac was obviously thinking ofthe character on his drawing board

    Captain Marvel Jr. but his remarkwas also appropriate to the one on mine.

    Even fewer, Mac, I responded, whenthe human figure is a female!

    It took only a brief study of the subject to reach the conclusion thataction, in our day, was an essential element of the comic book. Writers,artists, and editors knew it. Readers expected it and usually got it. Ifyour job was drawing a feature character, then youd better be able topicture him or her in all sorts of physical contortions. Thats whatMac was talking about. If you werent careful, before long youd berepeating yourself.

    The question with which I coped,still unsettled, was Marys costume.That skirt how would it behavewhen Mary went into action theextreme, frenzied type of actiondemanded of comic books in the early40s?

    As the work day came to a close,Reynold Andy Anderson, veteran ofthe Fawcett non-comics art staff,approached with a reminder of ourplan to attend a sports event thatevening at Madison Square Garden.The occasion was a tennis tournament and the ladies so expertlybrandishing the rackets out on thecourts provided a solution to theproblem Id left at the office. Thetypical brief but snuggly-fitting outfitsthey wore was an ideal suggestion forthe costume I hoped to have MaryMarvel wear in her future comic bookadventures.

    Comics executive editor Rod Reed,describing the original Mary Marvel

    [Art & logo 2009 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & TM 2009 DC Comics]



    Right Smack in the Snoot!Despite a Fawcett opinion opposing excessive brutality, when

    Mary Marvel deemed it deserving of a foe thats exactly whathe got. Panel from Captain Marvel Adventures #19 (Jan. 1943),The Training of Mary Marvel. Art & script by Marc Swayze.

    [2009 DC Comics.]

    So Many Ways, SoLittle Time

    There are just so manyways the human figure canbe depicted! was the 1942remark from Fawcett artistMac Raboy. Even fewer

    when the human figure is agirl! responded Swayze,busy at his board with the

    first drawings of MaryMarvel. The above Raboy-drawn Capt. Marvel Jr.panel appeared in MasterComics #25, April 1942.

    [2009 DC Comics.]


  • 69

    n 1953, following twelve years of protracted, aggressive, near-exhaustive litigation which ultimately proved fatal to one of its

    combatants, Fawcett Publications, the lawsuit in which National ComicsPublications claimed that Fawcetts highly successful Captain Marvelcharacter was in effect a copy of its predecessor Detective Comics, Inc.s,earlier-created Superman character, was finally resolved.

    Reams of carbon paper, miles of typewriter ribbon, countless hours oflawyer, administrative, and go-fer time, scorch the earth evidence-gathering, a trial to verdict, a pivotal appeal, and tedious preparation foranother almost-trial later, it was over. Fawcett agreed to pay $400,000 anddiscontinue publication of Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family.

    [Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, & Shazam! heroes TM & 2009 DC

    From CarbonCopy To DigitalDuplicationNational Vs. Fawcett

    Through a 21st-Century(SPAM) Filter

    by Jean Schanberger

    Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck

    Illustrations by Rubn Procopio


  • As a practical matter, this was the catalyst for Fawcetts decision to exitthe comics business almost entirely. The details of this grisly legal battle,which may have germinated the term Bet the Company litigation, havebeen thoroughly, lovingly, and entertainingly documented in these andother pages, and will not be comprehensively repeated here.

    Rather, lets take a then and now look at the legal dynamics of thelawsuit as it occurred throughout the Golden Age of Comics, and explorea hypothetical situation: What would happen today? Join us in ajourney bringing the Superman/Captain Marvel dispute into modernday!1

    Protecting The TurfFor starters, lets assume youre Assistant General Counsel at Wannabe

    Comics. This means youre a mid-level in-house lawyer whose job is tokeep the business people out of trouble. On this day, you nosed yourleased 5-series BMW into your reserved parking space and, carefullybalancing your Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte on your briefcase,ducked into the garage elevator as it closed, catching the eye of one ofyour frequent internal clients, Antonio Optimisto, the Creative Directorfor Wannabe.

    Hey, hows it going?

    Great. You?

    Good. Hey, I got some stuff I need to show you. You around thismorning?

    And so it innocently began. Your days are filled with Can we Wewanna Whadya think about and Can you take a look? requestsjust like this, all asking you to walk the sometimes extremely fine linebetween what the business wants to do and whether or not it is legal.There are few yes or no answers; rather, your advice and recommen-dations are based not only on your law school degree and legal training,but your experience-based understanding of your clients business goalsand risk tolerance.

    An hour later you stick your head into Optimistos crowded office,which looks like a cross between a childrens playroom and a newsstandwhere an explosion has occurred. Youre always glad to be asked there,hopefully while theres still time to give advice and head off any really bigproblems.

    Before they hired you, at least one thing got past the lawyersa

    character that comic book empire BG Big GuyComics felt was too much like one of its flagshipcharacters, SuperDude. After BG sued, Wannabestopped publishing its new character after just sixissues. BG was well known for protectingSuperDudes turf; just last year it had won a lawsuitagainst another smaller comic book publisher whopublished only one issue including an allegedlyinfringing character.2

    Glancing at the art proofs laid out onOptimistos worktable, everything looks good untilan illustration of a clean-cut, broad-shouldered,muscular, super-heroic character in a form-fittingred suit and yellow boots with a cape and alightning bolt emblazoned on his chest catchesyour eye. There is something vaguely familiar

    Whos this character and whats his story? youventure guardedly.

    Oh, thats Captain Marvel. Hes a new super-hero. His alter ego is a boy, who meets a wizard,

    who gives the boy the power to transform into Captain Marvel with a boltof magic lightning he creates by saying Shazam.


    Its an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, uh, some othersTheres about a half dozen different villains in the works, and werethinking well create a Marvel Family around him, too.

    You dont think he looks a lot like SuperDude?

    Optimisto takes a moment to re-establish eye contact with you. Well,sure he does, but the storys pretty different. Besides, what can you reallydo these days thats truly original? Practically every one of these books hasa guy in tights who can save the world against evil. SuperDude cant bethe only guy at the trough. Bob told us, Give us a SuperDude, only havehis identity be a 10- or 12-year-old boy rather than a man.3

    Isnt that different enough?

    Is It Different Enough?Is it different enough? What if its not? Whats at stake? These are the

    questions at the heart of copyright infringement claims, both in the 1940sand today. Lets take a comic book-sized look at the structure of copyrightlaw:

    The Copyright Act of 1909 was the operative law in Superman andCaptain Marvels day, and remains so now. For National to have prevailed

    70 FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America)

    [Superman & Shazam! hero TM & 2009 DC Comics.]

    1 For purposes of this excursion, we request that you suspend yourreality-based belief that this dispute wouldnt arise today becauseDC Comicsformerly Nationalnow owns the rights to bothSuperman and Captain Marvel.

    2 Fawcett aficionados will recognize this history from National Comics1940 lawsuit against it over Fawcett Publications Master Man (Theboy becomes the strongest man on earth!), the lead character ofMaster Comics, as well as Detective Comics successful caseagainst Fox Comics for the sole appearance of Wonder Man in itsMay 1939 release of Wonder Comics #1, the first copyrightinfringement lawsuit in comic book history. Will Eisner reportedlycreated Wonder Man under protest of his instructions to make aSuperman-type character.

    3 This infamous Captain Marvel-era quote is attributed to FawcettVP/Circulation Manager Roscoe Kent Fawcett, and extracted fromP.C. Hamerlincks 1997 article, The Fawcetts Could Do It As Well, orBetter, Than Anybody: The Roscoe K. Fawcett Interview, laterreprinted in the 2001 TwoMorrows book Fawcett Companion.

  • against Fawcett, or BG against Wannabe, the copyright holder mustshow:

    (i) Ownership of a valid copyright in an original work expressed in atangible medium;

    (ii) Actual copying by someone who had access to the copyrightedwork, resulting in striking similarity between the copyrighted workand the alleged copy; and

    (iii) Misappropriation of the work such that the intended audiencewould see substantial similarities between the two works.

    How similar is substantially similar? The standard is somewhatvague and extremely fact-specific. Two methodologies are used toanalyze it: the subtraction approach, which blacks out unprotectedelements of the work, then assesses whether or not the balance hassubstantial similarity to the protected work; and the totality approach,which compares the works overall concept and feel to the correspondingcopyrighted work.

    The creator may have a defense to an infringement claim if it can beshown that the work was created independently without access to thecopyrighted work, if the copying is so minimal as to be trivial, or if itqualifies as fair use (available in very limited, typically non-commercialcircumstances).

    If copyright infringement is proven, the copyright owner may beentitled to several types of damages. Depending on the facts of the case,these may include any ill-gained profits made by the infringer throughthe infringing work, punitive damages to punish the infringer for thewrongful conduct, losses to the copyright owner including lost licensefees and profits, statutory damages that are pre-established by law todeter infringement, and attorneys fees.

    Beyond paying damages, the infringer may be required to stop usingor selling the infringing work, and may be required to deliver or destroythe infringing work so that it may not be sold.

    Another SuperDude RipoffNow, flash forward three months to a skyscraper on the other side of

    town. Put yourself in the high-end Italian loafers of the Associate GeneralCounsel, Intellectual Property, for BG Comics. Just as you stepped off theelevator this morning onto the seventh floor, a discrete tone sounded inyour iPhones Bluetooth headset.


    Malone, get the hell in here. Frequent caller Joe Hurley, Senior VicePresident of Marketing, gives you his usual morning greeting.

    Be right there. Within five minutes you stick your head into hisspacious, lavishly appointed corner office, the Manhattan skylinecomprising its rectilinear background like a painted animation cel. Hey,Joe. Whats up?

    Hurley picks up a comic book from his desk and slams it down in frontof me. What the hell is this?

    The colorful cover of one of BGs competitors, Wannabe Comics,practically leaps off the desk at you, sporting a SuperDude-like, All-American-looking, masculine hero character in a red suit with yellowaccessories. On his chest, where your eye is fully accustomed to seeing theSuperDude S, there is a lightning bolt.

    This character is demonstrating his apparent superhuman strength bysingle-handedly hurling a large vehicle into the distance, its drivertumbling from an open door. The strong mans cape swirls around his

    shoulders, reflecting the motion of the effort. You quickly fan through thepages.

    Your eyes meet Hurleys as you take a breath. Well, it looks like theboys at Wannabe are getting clever with another SuperDude rip-off.

    I should say so. Listen, this has got to stop. Theres just too muchinvested and too damn much at stake for us to keep fooling around withevery Tom, Dick and Harry who dreams up, or thinks he dreams up, thenext iteration of SuperDude. Were not talking kid stuff here, weve gotlicensing deals, movie deals, merchandise, Internet, action figures, DVDs,graphic novels, TV shows, video games, ring tones, and God knows whatscoming out next week. This is a billion-dollar franchise, and I wont standfor them trying to cut into it. We gotta nip this in the bud. Now. And if itputs em out of business, thats just too damn bad.

    Number CrunchingWhat would make Wannabe risk publishing Captain Marvel, almost

    certainly realizing that their cross-town rival BG, home of SuperDude,would be watching their every move, litigation talons at the ready? Well, ifthe character and comic book avoid infringing and find an audience,theres a lot of money to be made, even in a media-saturated world.

    In North American comic book sales during 2008, the monthly list oftop 300 comic books includes about thirty publishers.4 Marvel and DCconsistently dominate both the top 25 books and the list as a whole, with

    [Superman & Shazam! hero TM & 2009 DC Comics.]

    From Carbon Copy To Digital Duplication 71

    4 Golden Age competitors included DC, Marvel, Fawcett, Quality,Standard, ACG, Lev Gleason, and Fiction House.

  • he contemptible comic book outfitknown as M.F. Enterprises (named afterits notorious publisher, Myron Fass), and

    their embarrassingly amateurish and unimagi-native body part-splitting android character(created by Carl Burgos) that briefly desecratedthe Captain Marvel name, were the subject of aNov. 13, 1967, newspaper article nestled,remarkably, within the renowned and presti-gious pages of The Wall Street Journal.

    That article, pertaining to MFEs lawsuitagainst Marvel Comics Martin Goodman overthe ownership of the name Captain Marvel,not only cited quotes from Fass and Goodman,but also breezed through a brief history of theunfortunate fate which had bludgeoned FawcettPublications original Captain Marvelincludinga quote from Fawcett editorial director RalphDaigh (labeled in print as a Fawcett vice-president and co-creator of the original CM).

    As many recall with great disdainand stilldream they could eternally eradicate from theirmemorythe MFE Captain Marvel shoutedSplit! to have his body parts separate and thenexclaimed Xam! (presumably pronouncedZam!) to call them back. The sheer loath-someness of MFE resulted in more blatant thievery and insipid manipu-lation of other established characters, making theWSJ articles report thatthe public purchased an average of only 100,000 copies (of 250,000printed) of each issue of MFs Captain Marvel a bit surprising, if notdisturbing.

    The article was written by A. Kent MacDougall, a former newspaperreporter with theWSJ and the Los Angeles Times, whose articles over theyears had sometimes reflected a left-leaning agenda. Now retired and aprofessor emeritus of journalism at the University of California Berkeley,MacDougall had actively marched in Viet Nam War protests whileemployed as aWSJ stafferthe same era during which he penned theCaptain Marvel article.

    Alter Ego editor Roy Thomas recalls being startled to see a seriousmention of comic books in a major newspaper like The Wall StreetJournal, the more so because it was about [the] business, not the usualBam! Zow! Bap! stuff that made up most newspaper articles on comicsfor many years and still rears its head way too often.

    The Dark Knight film producer Michael Uslan noted fly-by-nightcomic book companies headed by Myron Fass, Isadore [Israel] Waldman,and their ilk had sprung up in post-Golden Age years, surfacing again infull force during the 60s as numerous speculators attempted to cash in onthe success of the Batman TV show.

    Waldmans Super Comics and I.W. Publications, without any authori-zation, reprinted old comic stories with new covers [including suchGolden Age stalwarts as Doll Man, Plastic Man, Sheena, Torchy, and evenThe Spirit] until receiving cease and desist letters, if not the actualsummons and complaints, Uslan said. Waldman would pop back up in

    SPLIT! XAM! AndThe Wall Street Journal

    The Day That Dueling Captain MarvelsHit The Headlines

    by P.C. Hamerlinck



    We Need An Atlas!(Above:) Myron Fass exulting in a 1970s moment.

    (Left:) A year or two before his CaptainMarvel, Super Comics, Inc. (run by Fass oldpartner Israel Waldman), had reprinted the

    origin of a CM imitatorAtlas, Man ofMightin Daring Adventures #18. Its lead

    story was a retread from Great ComicsPublications Choice Comics #1 (Dec. 1941). Theyouth destined to grow up to be the humanAtlas received the secret of strength fromAtlas, Greek god of strengthone of the

    same pantheon, of course, from whom the BigRed Cheese had derived his powers. The 1964cover was penciled by Ross Andru and inked

    by Mike Esposito. Writer and artist of theinterior story unknown. [2009 the respective

    copyright holders.]

    How Much Wood Would A Junior Woodchuck ChuckMichael Uslans photo and bio as printed in Amazing World of DC Comics #2

    (Sept.-Oct. 1974). [Text 2009 DC Comics.]

  • the post-TV Batman 1960s with a companyreprinting the worst of old pre-Code horrorcomics, and a R-rated magazine called Hell-Rider under the company banner of Skywald.He was the Wald and Sol Brodsky was theSky. I wrote a two-part satire of comic bookpublishers like Waldman and Fass and theircompanies in my back-up stories for Stan LeesJust Imagine Superman and Just ImagineFlash with Kyle Baker and Sergio Aragons.

    My Fly-By-Night Comics Group wasinspired directly by Fass rip-off press thatbrought us [his] Captain Marvel. The legaltheory was that Fawcett had constructivelyabandoned the trademark on Captain Marvelby failing to use it since 1954. But not only didFass attempt to hijack Captain Marvel, but healso grabbed the names Dr. Fate, Plastic Man,and The Bat (the latter [was] just close enoughto sign his own legal death warrant, courtesy ofDC Comics). When I first went to work at DCin the early 70s and Sol Harrison assigned meto clean out The Closet (which was similar tothe last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark), Ifound and read all the companys cease anddesist letters sent out to the likes of Victor Fox,Fawcett, Archie Comics and Fass. With onemagic word (Lawsuit!), The Bat became TheRay and Dr. Fate and Plastic Man becameother duck-and-cover alternatives. Uslansummarized Fass Captain Marvel ascontaining awful stories and sub-par art andbeing the final insult to the memory and name[of] Captain Marvel.

    Uslan viewed theWSJ coverage of the legalincident as a rarity from an era where comicbooks were just beginning to claw their way torespectability in mainstream society andpressas evidenced [a couple of years later] bySgt. Rock making the cover of The New YorkTimes Magazine section in an article coveringGreen Lantern/Green Arrow and the Age ofRelevancy in comics.

    Roy Thomas and Alter Ego have arrangedfor FCA to re-present theWall Street Journalpiece in its entirety, complete with the threeillustrations that originally accompanied it, onthe facing page (with thanks also to Barry Pearlfor reminding us about it some time back). Thearticle, like the logo of The Wall Street Journalreprod above, is 1967, 2009 Dow Jones &Co., and is reprinted by permission.

    SPLIT! XAM! And The Wall Street Journal 77

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1967


  • NTRODUCTION: A 1978 DC Comics house ad called it TheBattle Nearly Four Decades in the Making! The oversizedSuperman vs. Shazam! (more formally, All-New Collectors

    Edition #C-58) comic book, marking Superman and Captain Marvelsfirst true co-starring adventure, is now over 30 years old. While time hasflown by faster than a speeding bullet or the speed of Mercury, the bookstill remains as fun and dynamic as when it first appeared, thanks toGerry Conways script and the multi-faceted artistic abilities of RichBuckler (in collaboration with supreme inker Dick Giordano). Richspowerful layouts effectively collided the two worlds of the Man of Steeland the Worlds Mightiest Mortal together. One of the comics industrysmost prominent artists during the 70s and 80s, Buckler has drawnvirtually every Marvel and DC super-hero at one time or another duringhis career. He is best remembered for his work on Fantastic Four in themid-70s, co-creating Deathlok with writer Doug Moench, and pencilingearly issues of All-Star Squadron. My interview with Rich, conducted inlate 2008, focuses primarily on that memorable late-70s epic Superman vs. Shazam!

    P.C. HAMERLINCK: Rich, you were born in 1949. Fawcett Publicationshad ceased publishing Captain Marvel in 1953. How or when did youfirst become acquainted with the character?

    RICH BUCKLER: I first became acquainted with the Captain Marvelbooks from articles in fanzines during the early stages of organizedcomics fandom. It was then that I met Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas. Jerrywas in the process of putting a huge amount of Golden Age comics onmicrofilm, and I had the opportunity to read and peruse rare books that Icould not afford to buy from comic book dealers. I was 17 or 18 yearsoldbut at that tender age I knew I was going to become a comic bookartist. I delved into the world of fanzine publishing; I started out as apublisher before I became a professional artist. The Golden Age of Comic

    SUPERMAN VS. SHAZAM!The Rich Buckler FCA Interview

    Conducted by P.C. Hamerlinck

    Bucklers Battle Royal(Left:) Rich Bucklers surrealistic self-portrait, 2001. The painting appeared

    on a poster for his successful solo exhibition in Paris that same year atGalerie Natalie Boldyreff, a French art gallery owned and operated by

    Russians. Visit to view more of Richs paintings.[2009 Rich Buckler.]

    (Above:) The Rich Buckler/Dick Giordano cover for the 1978 tabloid-sizedAll-New Collectors Edition #C-58 a.k.a. Superman vs. Shazam! Julius

    Schwartz was the editor. Rich reversed the main figures for the cover of thisissue of A/E. Scan courtesy of Walt Grogan. [2009 DC Comics.]



  • Books lived on in Alter Ego, Rockets Blast-Comic Collector, and PaulLevitzs Comic Reader. I contributed to just about every fanzine I couldfind, and then published a few myself. Those were the days before theInternet, so all of our networking was done by mail and telephone. Awhole world had opened up to me in my discovering what came before Iwas born. My mom remembered a lot of these books from her childhood.Captain Marvel was one of her favorites. It wasnt long before I purchaseda few dog-eared Golden Age comics via mail orderCaptain Marvel andCaptain Marvel Jr. among themand he became one of my favorites too.

    PCH: Some of your friends involved in fandom at the timeRoyThomas, Alan Weiss, Arvell Jonesof course all went on to becomecomic book professionals themselves (and, incidentally, would all gettheir own shots on Captain Marvel). Before and during your work in thefanzines, were you only involved in comics as an avocation and for theescapism aspect, or did you have serious aspirations about joining theprofessional ranks?

    BUCKLER: I had already decided I wanted to be a comic book artist,even before I got involved in fanzine publishing. I took this all veryseriously from the beginning. I was thoroughly convinced that I couldlearn how to do it by meeting other professionals and studying andpracticing. I did have trouble early on with other people not taking meseriously. I would get challenged by friends and new acquaintances. Italways went something like this: You want to be an artist? Okay, youdraw a lot, but you never went to school for it. How are you going to do

    it? I would argue back, Hey, these guys never went to comic book artschool. If they can do it, so can I! Of course, it wasnt that simple. Butthere were no comic book art schools in those days, so that wasnt evena choiceand it was true that I had absolutely no formal art education.Everything I knew about art and drawing was from studying books andpracticing. It was stubborn resolve and a certainty that I was born be anartist that kept me going. That, and the two people who believed in methe most: my mother and my sister. I met Arvell Jones during my fanzinepublishing days. He and I collaborated on a lot of publishing projects, andwe became close friends.

    One day I visited Jerry Bails, and he wanted to hire me to do a wrap-around cover for one of his publications. I think I was 19 years old at thetime, and the assignment paid $50 (which was a lot, then). It was my veryfirst professional work as a comics artistand it was [drawing] GoldenAge charactersfrom the old MLJ comics I was thrilled! Jerry was veryencouraging and inspiring. But at that point I was still years away fromactually breaking into the comic book field. That would take several tripsto New York, and eventually moving therealong with a whole lot ofluck! Alan Weiss I knew from correspondence and telephone conversa-tions. He contributed to my fanzines (and just about everybody elsesfanzines), and we exchanged ideas and encouraged each other. Alansdrawing was always so much better than minethe guy was (and is)amazing. In terms of overall drawing skill and finesse, I havent caught upto him yet.

    Knockin Em On Their AxisIn 1969, Detroit fan Rich B. drew this wraparound cover for Jerry G. Bails Collectors Guide: The First Heroic Age. Rich recalls it as being MLJ heroes, though

    besides The Shield there were several more from various companiesand note which Fawcett hero made the front page! [Captain Marvel Jr. & The SpectreTM & 2009 DC Comics; The Mighty Destroyer TM & 2009 Marvel Characters, Inc.; The Shield TM & 2009 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.; Skyman TM &

    2009 the respective copyright holders; other art 2009 Rich Buckler.]

    80 FCA (Fawcett Collectors Of America)

  • PCH: Lets fast-forward to Superman vs. Shazam! While there hadbegun a series of Superman-versus-somebody tabloid-sized comics,do you know who specifically conceptualized the S vs. S book? Itswriter, Gerry Conway, told Michael Eury in an interview that it wasanother Roy Thomas-influenced story (S vs. S was released priorto Roys 1980s association with DC). Other reports claim DickGiordano originated the idea for the bookor that it was the idea ofits editor, Julie Schwartz, who had spearhead DCs tabloid-sized booksto begin with, though he considered his Shazam-related projects to below-lights of his career.

    BUCKLER: Im not sure if it was Roys idea, but it does sound like him.I got the assignment from Dick Giordano. Dick was thinking, at the time,that I could be groomed to be the new regular Superman artist; CurtSwan was planning on retiring. I was more than happy to get a chance todraw a Superman book (I learned to draw the human figure, originally, bystudying and imitating Curt Swan from the comics).

    PCH: According to Julie, the tabloid-sized comics were created as amarketing tool to get DC books prominently displayed and sold in storesoutside of the usual venues at that time. But by 1978the year S vs. Swas releasedthe over-sized comics were on their tail end after asuccessful run.

    BUCKLER: Yeah, they were a bit of a novelty. I knew they wouldnt last.But they sure were cool.

    PCH: After Giordano assigned S vs. S to you, were you intriguedabout illustrating a larger-sized, potentially higher-profile book?

    BUCKLER: I remember thinking, This has got to be the biggest andmost intimidating assignment I have ever gotten! How the hell am I goingto do it? Remember, this was around the same time as the Neal AdamsSuperman vs. Muhammed Ali bookthat was what I had to measure upto! I better hurry up and start on it before they change their minds andfigure out that Im not up to it and give it to somebody else!

    PCH: Did you work with Julie on the layout of the S vs. S cover? Didyou have to submit various cover concepts, or was the final version thefirst and only layout you came up with?

    BUCKLER: The cover idea was a one-off. I just came upwith it at the office. Almost all of the covers I did for DC andMarvel were done like thatfirst thing that came to mind, Iwould sketch it out, and that was the one.

    PCH:Would you purposely try to channel other artistsstyles for certain jobs? Its obvious that you successfullytapped the Neal Adams approach for the S vs. S book.Adams had only previously drawn Captain Marvel for a1976 calendar and a couple of other merchandising pieces.Had you seen, or were you inspired, by any of those? Wasthere an official editorial decision made for you to incor-porate the Adams look for the book?

    BUCKLER: I wouldnt say channelthats not accurate atall. I didnt become possessed or anything like thatjust theopposite, actually. Im a stubborn individualist. I never, everdrew anything that I didnt want to draw. I would alwaysthrow off any and all restrictions. Somebody recentlyremarked in a trade magazine that I have a quirky and

    complicated personalityor somethinglike that. Well, my main quirk is that I dowhatever I want, and nobody could everforce me to think or act otherwise. If thatscomplicated, I dont see how. I love comicsand I have a whole lot of favorite characters.When I drew Fantastic Four, I drew myversion of my favorite FF comics, whichwere drawn originally by Jack Kirby. So, Itried to evoke Kirbys dynamics and sensi-bility in the new work I produced for thattitle. Same with Superman: Curt Swan forfoundations, Neal Adams for flash anddynamics. I was coming from a super fanmentality, if you will. Give me Nick Fury,Agent of SHIELD and I probably wouldhave done my version of Jim Steranko. Thiswas pure fun for me (and it still is).

    At the time, DC was evolving a NealAdams look for Superman. I did a lot of commercial comics work forDick Giordano, and Dick was scheduled to ink the Superman/Shazam!book. What style to use? For me, it was a no-brainer. With any comicsassignment, first andforemost was thestorytelling. That hasalways been mystrong point. You getthat right and thepublisher (at thattime, anyway) didntcare which styleyou chose to workin. Whatever I drew,

    Red Punch(Above:) Battle panel from Superman vs. Shazam! Buckler remembered

    thinking beforehand, This has got to be the biggest and most intimidatingassignment I have ever gotten! (Right:) Scripter Gerry Conway, caricaturedby Dave Manak in Amazing World of DC Comics #14 (March 1977), not long

    before the project was launched. [2009 DC Comics.]

    Hero-HunterFrom Mars

    The books eyeballearring-wearing

    nemesis, Karmang,enlisted

    Superman/CaptainMarvel adversariesQuarrmer and Black

    Adam to do hisbidding . [2009 DC


    Superman Vs. Shazam! 81