Alter Ego #92

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ALTER EGO #92 (100 pages, $6.95) presents Sword-and-Sorcery in the Comics, Part 3! Behind a fantastic painted cover by Conan the Adventurer artist RAFAEL KAYANAN, we shine the spotlight on DC’s Sword of Sorcery by O’NEIL, CHAYKIN, & SIMONSON and Claw the Unconquered by MICHELINIE & CHAN—Charlton’s Hercules by GLANZMAN—Gold Key’s Dagar the Invincible by GLUT & SANTOS—plus Marvel S&S art by BUSCEMA, KAYANAN, WRIGHTSON, et al.—and JACK KATZ on his S&S classic First Kingdom (interviewed by JIM AMASH)! Plus FCA, MICHAEL T. GILBERT, BILL SCHELLY, STEVE GERBER’s fan-creations (part 3)—and more! Edited by Roy Thomas.

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Roy Thomas’ Barbarous

Comics Fanzine











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Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344.Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA.Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected]. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices.Eight-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $85 Canada, $107 elsewhere. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © theircreators unless 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 DedicatedTo The Memory Of

Edd Cartier &Frank Springer

Vol. 3, No. 92 / March 2010EditorRoy 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

Cover PaintingRafael Kayanan

With Special Thanks to:Heidi AmashMichael AmbroseRichard ArndtDick AyersBob BaileyJean BailsTim BarnesAlbert BecattiniJohn BensonFrank BrunnerMike BurkeyGlen CadiganR. Dewey CassellMike ConroyLeonardo De SàMichaël DewallyJerry EdwardsMichael EuryMark EvanierMichael FinnShane FoleyMark FoyJanet GilbertSam GlanzmanDonald F. GlutWalt GroganPaul GulacyJennifer HamerlinckEric JansenJack KatzRafael KayananGene KehoeShirleen KingJim KingmanMike KuypersTristan Lapoussiere

Jim LudwigGlenn MacKayDarrell McNeilPeter MeskinPhilip MeskinClifford MethDavid MichelinieBrian K. MorrisMark MullerTony OlivaBarry PearlJohn G. PierceDonnie PitchfordKen QuattroDave ReederTrina RobbinsGary RobinsonHerb RogoffSteven RoweAdrienne RoyDr. Peter SchilderEvan ShellyCraig ShuttJim SimonJoe SimonAnthony SnyderDesha SwayzeMarc SwayzeJeff TaylorGreg TheakstonDann ThomasAnthony TollinDr. Michael J. VassalloHames WareJohn WellsSteve Younis

ContentsWriter/Editorial: The Shadow Of The Cimmerian . . . . . . . . . 2The Twelve Labors (And Thirteen Issues) Of Hercules . . . . . 3Charlton’s Conan precursor—plus Richard Arndt’s incisive interview with artist Sam Glanzman.

The Trials of Dagar, Prehistoric Warrior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Gold Key’s 1970s swordsman against swords, examined by co-creator Don Glut.

Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser—DC’s “Anti-Conans” . . . . . . . 18Fritz Leiber’s Sword of Sorcery heroes at DC, put under the microscope by Richard Arndt.

Claw The Unconquered . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23John Wells surveys David Michelinie & Ernie Chan’s horror-handed DC hero.

“I’m Trying To Prod People To Think” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37Part II of Jim Amash’s incredible interview with Jack Katz, writer/artist/creator of The First Kingdom.

Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt! “Dr. Lauretta Bender:Comics’ Anti-Wertham – Part 4” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59Michael T. Gilbert wraps up his study of comics’ most vital defender of the ’40s & ’50s.

Headline—And Beyond! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67“The Teenage Creations of Steve Gerber – Part III” by John G. Pierce.

Tributes To Artists Edd Cartier & Frank Springer . . . . . . . . . 72re: [correspondence, comments, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . 75FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79P.C. Hamerlink’s marvelous mixture of Marc Swayze and Captain-Marvel-inspired Superman sagas!

On Our Cover: This pulsating portrait of the quintessential mighty-thewed sword-and-sorcery herowas painted in the 1990s by Rafael Kayanan, primary artist of Marvel’s series Conan theAdventurer. Our thanks to Raf for allowing us to feature it as this issue’s cover. Oh, and you’ll find abit more of RK on p. 34. [©2010 Rafael Kayanan.]

Above: Is it sword-and-sorcery? Is it science-fiction? Nope, it’s artist/writer Jack Katz with his ownunique and powerful brand of fantasy—a scene from the 20th issue of his 24-book graphic novel TheFirst Kingdom, which has a special place in the history of the medium. [©2010 Jack Katz.]

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ard to believe it’s really been forty years (or will be this summer,anyway) since Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian slashed its wayonto the nation’s newsstands, to become, apparently for the rest

of my life, a major item on my résumé.

With yours truly, the Cimmerian seems to be an every-second-decadething. From 1970 till I left Marvel in 1980, I was knee-deep in HyborianAge hyperbole and derring-do. After which, for the next ten years, Ineither wrote nor read a Conan comic (though I did get involved with thetwo Schwarzenegger films, especially the ill-starred second one). Thenonce more, for most of the ’90s, I wound up scribing the Conan titlesagain, until such time as Marvel decided to let its license lapse. And so thefirst decade of the 21st century was another Conan-less one for mepersonally, although Dark Horse had brought the Cimmerian back by itsmiddle years.

As for this second decade of the century—well, we shall see what weshall see. Either way, I suspect Conan will squeak by... and so will I.

Meanwhile, a couple of years back, I conceived the notion of puttingtogether a history of sword-and-sorcery in the comics, with Conan as itscenterpiece, though not its sole star, of course. When various legal Hydra-heads got in the way of doing that, it seemed simpler to turn the projectinto an ongoing series in Alter Ego, though largely limiting coverage totitles that were launched by the mid-’70s (and, eventually, dealing withsome of my own post-Marvel forays into the genre).

So here we are at the third installment of “Sword-and-Sorcery in theComics”—the preceding ones having appeared in A/E #80 & #83. Thistime the spotlight is on Charlton’s pre-Conan the Barbarian/quasi-s&stitle Hercules, as well as Gold Key’s Dagar the Invincible and DC’s twomost notable post-CTB entries in the genre, Sword of Sorcery (starringFritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser) and Claw the Unconquered.

In addition, this issue also concludes Jim Amash’s fascinating interviewwith artist Jack Katz, whose 24-issue graphic novel The First Kingdom, bycoincidence, contained elements of sword-and-sorcery as well as science-fiction and other aspects of high adventure.

No, there’s not nearly as much about Conan, or about his creatorRobert E. Howard, in this issue as there was in the series’ previous twoentries. Still, the spirit of both that hero and his guiding light suffuse thisissue, as well, with their gladiatorial glow.

For they were both guys who cast a very long shadow.

And the end is not yet.


P.S.: Just as this issue went to press, a letter from Golden/Silver Age artistSheldon Moldoff, whose hospitalization we noted last issue, informed us thathe is home and recuperating from his illness. Welcome back, Shelly!

The Shadow Of The Cimmerian2 writer/editorial

Edited by ROY THOMASSUBSCRIBE NOW! Eight issues in the US: $60 Standard, $80 First Class

(Canada: $85, Elsewhere: $107 Surface, $155 Airmail).NEW LOWER RATES FOR INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS! SAVE $4 PER ISSUE!


[Super-heroes TM & ©2010 DC Comics;

other art ©2010 Carmine Infantino & Jim Amash.[

• Startling new cover by CARMINE INFANTINO (artist of Flash #123), inked by JIM AMASH!

• “Justice on Two Worlds!” Two Flashes—two Green Lanterns—two Atoms—two WonderWomen—one Spectre—& a whole lot more, analyzed and spotlighted by KURT MITCHELL& ROY THOMAS! Art & artifacts by INFANTINO • FOX • SCHWARTZ • KANE • ANDERSON• BROOME • DELBO • ANDRU • BUCKLER • APARO • GRANDENETTI • DILLIN, et al.!

• Part I of JIM AMASH’s monumental, never-before-published interview with Golden/Silver Age DC editor GEORGE KASHDAN—featuring lore & lowdown on the likes of such1940s-50s editors, writers, and artists as BINDER • ELLSWORTH • FINGER • KANE •KANIGHER • LIEBOWITZ • MILLER • REED • SCHIFF • SIEGEL & SHUSTER • WEISINGER,etc.! Lavishly illustrated with rare art by DC greats of 1939 and up!

• MICHAEL T. GILBERT’s Comic Crypt tells “The Truth about Comic Books” in 1953!—FCA presents MARC SWAYZE & those frantic Fawcett readers—& MORE!!


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

TwoMorrows. Celebrating The Art & History Of Comics.

The All-Star Companion, Vol. 3, Chronicled The JLA/JSA Team-UpsAnd The ’70s Justice Society Series!

Now Here’s The Rest Of That Twin-Earths Saga!

Beginning This Issue—Special 16-PAGE COLOR SECTION!

EARTH-TWO–1961 To 1985!


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ix years before Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, four years before Kull,and three years before Conan appeared—at least in comic bookform—what may well have been the first modern sword-&-sorcery

comic debuted from Charlton Press.

It was called Hercules.

Certainly Charlton’s effort wasn’t Hercules’ first bow in the four-colormedium. He had appeared dozens, possibly hundreds, of times inprevious comics, most notably in Fawcett’s “Captain Marvel” titles and,only two years prior to his Charlton debut, in Marvel’s “Thor” series inJourney into Mystery. It also wasn’t the first of what we might considermodern sword-&-sorcery tales to appear. Warren Publishing had done anumber of s&s stories in its black-&-white magazines, most of them illus-trated by Steve Ditko or Gray Morrow. Several amateur fanzines of theperiod had also done Conanesque stories in their pages. Still, Herculesappears to be the first regularly published example of what we todaywould call a sword-&-sorcery comic—the more so because its regularbackup feature, in all its baker’s-dozen issues, was Steve Skeates’ Beowulf-derived series “Thane of Bagarth” (which was discussed in A/E #80, aswell as by Skeates himself in A/E #84).

Unlike Marvel’s Hercules, who existed in the present day and wascaught up in the Marvel world mixture of super-heroes, science-fiction,and fantasy, Charlton’s Hercules prowled the ancient Greek world fromwhich his stories had originated. His adventures were also puremythology/fantasy from the get-go.

Based on the original myths, particularly on the twelve labors of theHercules legend, the first issue got off to a somewhat shaky start when thewriter gave the demi-god only nine labors (an error corrected in thesecond issue) and placed him in the historical times of Philip ofMacedonia and his son Alexander, several hundreds of years after theevents described by the myths. Still, it was a rousing adventure, ably illus-trated by Sam Glanzman, in which Hercules not only completed his firsttask, that of killing the Nemedian Lion, but also assisted Alexander inrepelling a invasion by another Greek city-state.

Hercules’ twelve-labors storyline, which would run through the entirelength of the series, began in #2 with a teen-aged Hercules asking his

father Zeus to be allowed to live in Olympus, following the death ofHercules’ mother. Zeus refused, telling him that, as he was only a demi-god, he simply wasn’t good enough to enter and live in the home of thegods. Zeus informed him that he had to prove his worthiness byperforming twelve labors. Hercules agreed and set out to do so.

He was somewhat the Rodney Dangerfield of heroes. Brawny,possessed of the strength of a hundred men, he was still regularly mockedby the mortals around him, who openly scoffed at his claim to be thebastard son of Zeus. One man described him as “brawny between theears.” His half-brother Mars (another technical error, as the Greek god ofwar was named Ares—Mars was his Roman equivalent) despised him,while his father’s wife Hera did her best to kill him at every opportunity.Family get-togethers always ended in a brawl of some sort. Even theGreek gods that helped him usually did so secretly, and more to expresstheir hatred of the dominating Hera than because they liked or respectedHercules or regarded him as worthy to walk among them.

The comic wasn’t above poking sly fun at rival companies, either. In#5, his labor was to travel to the land of the Amazons, there to stealHippolyta’s gold belt, which she used to control the minds of the femalewarriors. In myth, one of Hercules’ labors was indeed to obtain that beltfrom the Amazon queen, although there was no comics-style mind

3The Swords And The Sorcerers part five [continued from Alter Ego #80 & 83]

Hercules The Four-Color HeroSam Glanzman’s cover for Hercules #1 (Oct. 1967). Probably coincidentally,Marvel had drafted its own incarnation of the mythical son of Zeus, who

had battled Thor in 1965-66, into a super-group in The Avengers #38 (March’67). Charlton’s hero was originally beard-free, though Glanzman opted to

give him one a few issues later… while Marvel’s Hercules started outbearded and later shaved it off! Thanks to Michael Ambrose, publisher of

the excellent Charlton fanzine Charlton Spotlight (see ad on p. 10).[©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

The Twelve Labors(And Thirteen

Issues) OfHerculesCharlton’s Conan Precursor—Plus An Incisive Interview With

Artist SAM GLANZMANby Richard J. Arndt


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control involved. In the DC Universe, of course, Hippolyta/Hippolyte isthe mother of Wonder Woman—and, in certain panels, the Charltonversion of Hippolyta bears a strong resemblance to Wonder Woman. Tomake matters worse, Hippolyta was even more evil than Hera, perfectlywilling to jealously slow-roast a maiden whom Hercules had rescued overan open fire, if he refused to become Hippolyta’s consort. She issued thisdemand while lolling on a bed, leaving little doubt as to what she actuallywanted! The same issue also showed some interesting ways to circumventthe Comics Code’s ban on Amazon bondage scenes, which had once beena regular occurrence in DC’s “Wonder Woman” titles. Charlton simplyshowed the chains, the ropes, the girl, etc., but didn’t actually show herwith her hands chained. It looked a little silly, but—problem solved!

Another thing notable about Hercules was the violence factor. Unlikemost heroes in the 1960s, this son of Zeus actually killed people. In #1, hewas clearly shown using a flail to crack soldiers’ heads while various bitsof debris (but no blood) were shown flying into the air. Curiously, in thosebattle scenes from #1, he was not drawn front and center in the panels.Alexander was, with Hercules’ actions relegated to the background andoften depicted in silhouette.

Scripts for the series were credited to Joe Gill (#6-13, and possibly #1)and Denny O’Neil (#2-5), the latter under the pseudonym SergiusO’Shaugnessy. Although Charlton regular Gill is generally credited withthe script for #1, there remains a possibility that Carl Wessler wrote thefirst issue’s lead tale. The present writer recently obtained a copy of theone-shot 1968 Charlton black-&-white Hercules magazine, and its titlepage lists Wessler as well as Denny O’Neil and Joe Gill. The latter pair areboth credited on the original splash pages for the second and third“Hercules” epics in the b&w, but #1, also reprinted there, didn’t havecredits. Thus the first “Hercules” adventure, the one that ascribed ninelabors to the son of Zeus, may have been written by either Gill or Wessler.

The scripts for the series were generally good, with amusing and oftensly twists and droll dialogue. While there’s a lot of hoity-toity god talk, atone point Mars offers to give Hercules a fat lip. Hera spared no oppor-tunity to insult and demean our hero, reminding Hercules that his“human grossness makes even… lovely thing[s] ugly!”

Characterizations are good, also, both in the scripts and the art.Despite the fact that he was the mightiest god of all, Zeus was also theultimate henpecked husband, so determined not to upset his prickly wifethat he never confronted her directly. Instead, while Hera openlycampaigned and plotted against his son, Zeus’ response was almost alwaysan indirect one, done behind her back. Mars clearly despised his half-brother and did as much as Hera to thwart Hercules’ desire to live inOlympus. His failures in this regard made him increasingly frustrated asHercules, “the muscle-bound idiot, blunder[ed] to victory in the mostincredible situations!” After one of Hercules’ victories, Mars summed uphis attitude towards his younger brother by voicing to his mother, Hera,the following classic Greek line: “Gee, Ma, I hate that kid.” KingEurystheus, Hercules’ cousin and the human who set out the labors thatHercules had to undertake, was depicted as a vain, spindly man. Youknow he’s vain because he’s balding, but, like Donald Trump, undertakes ahuge comb-over to conceal that fact.

The artwork for the entire series was provided by the amazing SamGlanzman, whose work underwent a sea change as the series progressed.The early stories are standard Glanzman, which is to say pretty darnimpressive, but in #3 the artist redesigned Hercules, slimming him downby about 30 pounds while aging him a few years and giving him a beardand a profile that could have come directly off an ancient Grecian urn.

Glanzman’s artwork also became more stylized as the series continued,with figures appearing to ape ancient Greek artwork while still remainingfluid and dynamic. Panel borders and lettering began to show stronggraphic design elements, similar to what Jim Steranko and Neal Adamswere doing at roughly the same time. One page depicted a violent dinner

scene in a full-page panel that was shaped like a chalice. The stem of thechalice separated Zeus and Hera from each other and highlighted theiropposing opinions as to the ongoing situation. Another page featuredHercules testing weapons and slapping his half-brother Mars around, withthe ironic panel design appearing to follow the shape of a rectangularpeace symbol. In yet another panel sequence captions were enlarged tentimes larger than usual, with the words and caption shapes appearing ashuge billows of steam as our hero prepared to bathe.

By the end of #11 Hercules had completed his twelve labors, but, in anattempt to delay his ascension to Mount Olympus, Hera demanded thathe present his qualifications and describe his adventures before all thegods at a dinner party. However, Hercules was such a boring speaker thatmost of the gods fell asleep listening to him! Seeing that, Mars started abrawl with the demi-god and defeated him, hurling him back to Earth.Since the assembled gods never heard the end of Hercules’ accomplish-ments, his acceptance to dwell on Olympus was delayed. Forever, as itturned out, since #13 marked the final issue of Hercules’ adventures, withthe hero still waiting to sit side-by-side with his father.

4 Charlton’s Conan Precursor—Plus An Incisive Interview With Artist Sam Glanzman

Amazons In AustraliaHercules faces Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. The “Hercules” tales fromthe 5th and 6th Charlton issues were printed, along with two “Thane”

installments, in this 3rd issue of an black-&-white reprint comic, publishedby Murray Publishers, a.k.a. Planet Comics, of Sydney, Australia.

Regretfully, Ye Editor is uncertain which of his several valued Australiancorrespondents sent him this copy, some time back. Cover art by Sam

Glanzman. (Inset:) Writer Dennis O’Neil, 1969; photo courtesy of Jean Bails.[©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

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The Trials of Dagar,Prehistoric WarriorGold Key’s 1970s Swordsman

Against Sorceryby Donald F. Glut

This article has been reprinted, with minor editorial emendations, from Jurassic Classics,Don Glut’s 2001 book on dinosaurs and popular culture. Thanks to Brian K. Morris forretyping this piece.

ost of my professional writing output of the 1970s consisted of scripts writtenfor various comic book companies. As a longtime comic book fan, actuallyworking in the industry was, for many years, a real dream come true.

Of course, it was only natural that dinosaurs, cavemen, and other things prehistoric wouldfrequently be featured into these scripts. I worked for most of the major comic bookcompanies during those years—Warren, Marvel, DC, Archie, Charlton, and others—with agood percentage of my writing done on assignment for Gold Key, the comics line of WesternPublishing Company.

Dagar, the mercenary-warrior hero I created for Gold Key’sDagar the Invincible, was not a prehistoric hero per se—at leastnot in the same sense as was Joe Kubert’s Tor the Hunter. Dagarwas not an ax-carrying caveman like Tor, but a relatively civilizedsword-carrying hero of the descriptively named “sword and sor-cery” genre, which had arisen basically in the pulp magazines of

11The Swords And The Sorcerers part six [continued from Alter Ego #80 & 83]


Is That A Dagar That I See Before Me?Don Glut, writer/co-creator of Dagar the Invincible, is flanked by actressMonique Parent and by Dagar artist/co-creator Jesse Santos, in a pic takenat the 2007 Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. Moniquestarred in the Frontline Films horror flick Blood Scarab, which was scripted

and directed by Don.

The photo, in turn, is flanked at top of page by the cover of what it and theindicia inside technically hailed as Tales of Sword and Sorcery DAGAR THEINVINCIBLE #1 (Oct. 1972)—and, at left, by the splash page of Dagar #1,as scripted by Glut and drawn by Santos. The cover is by George Wilson,

according to Steven Rowe & Mark Foy; the latter collects the original paintingsof Wilson, who did many excellent covers for Western/Gold Key. According

to Don Glut, Jesse Santos took over the Dagar covers beginning with issue #13,and had done rough layouts for some of the earlier covers, as well.

[©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

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earlier decades and was currently enjoying a new life in numerouscomic books featuring burly warriors, particularly Marvel Comics’highly successful Conan the Barbarian.

But Dagar certainly lived in a prehistoric time period, albeit amythical one that was never discovered by archaeologists or paleontolo-gists, in which early civilizations were based upon and governed bymagic and sorcery rather than science and industry. In this very ancientrealm that never was, Dagar would encounter and often have to fightcreatures that had survived from the previous age of clubs and stone-headed axes, including sabertooth cats, mammoths, giant ground sloths,dinosaur-like dragons and reptiles, even enormous serpents.

Dagar the Invincible enjoyed a healthy run, being published formost of the decade in a series spanning 18 issues, two of which werereprints of the first issue. In addition to this “official” series, Dagar alsoappeared in Gold Key Spotlight and made brief guest appearances in myfellow Gold Key titles Tragg and the Sky Gods and The Occult Files ofDr. Spektor.

This article about Dagar the Invincible, originally titled simply “TheTrials of Dagar,” was written for the fifth [July-Aug. 1973] special sword-and-sorcery issue of Comixscene, a tabloid periodical published andedited by innovative comic-book writer and illustrator, and formermagician and escape artist, Jim Steranko.

* * *

Dagar, a young mercenary warrior living during a mythical prehistoricera of monsters and magic just following the Stone Age, battled his waythrough a number of issues of Gold Key’s sword-and-sorcery comic bookDagar the Invincible. He continued to fight evil forces despite the oftenpoor distribution of Gold Key titles in some major cities. And althoughthere may be relatively few comic book collectors who had even heard of(let alone actually seen and read) an issue of Dagar the Invincible [cover-dated Oct. 1972], his first issue outsold every other Gold Key title for thatmonth, with further adventures having been scripted up to a full year inadvance. Somebody must have been buying the magazine, which madethis author, the creator and writer of Dagar, quite happy.

Dagar’s comic-book origin was that of a young, blond-haired orphanboy, living at a time when many creatures—mostly strange mammals, butalso an occasional monstrous reptile like the giant spike-backed lizardthat he slays in his second-issue adventure [Jan. 1972], and the likewiseslain, corpse-eating “earth-lizard” in the eighth issue [July 1974] from theStone Age—still lived. Dagar witnesses the genocide of his entire nation ofTulgonia (an “in-joke” name that the publishers never seemed to catch, aswhen I first began this book the stories were published without a byline)by the hordes of Scorpio, a powerful evil sorcerer. The boy’s grandfather,once a great warrior, saves young Dagar from the massacre so that hemight be trained in all manner of combat and someday avenge his people.Later, standing by his grandfather’s deathbed, the adult (and by now quitecynical) Dagar, representing his nation personified, vows to become amercenary warrior, bearing as he does no love for his fellow men, and todestroy the fiend Scorpio.

That was Dagar’s official origin.

Dagar’s real beginningsgo back nearly six monthsbefore his “birth” at GoldKey. During the spring of1971, I had written a swordand sorcery comic-bookscript entitled “Castle of theSkull,” featuring a one-shotbarbarian hero namedShaark. The story had beenfirst submitted by my agentForrest J Ackerman to theline of black-&-whitehorror-comics magazinesissued by the WarrenPublishing Company, towhich I had sold manyscripts before. It waspromptly rejected by then-story editor J.R. Cochran.The story immediately gotrecycled to Skywald, anotherpublisher of black-&-whitecomics magazines, whichreturned it with a note thatthe story was acceptable, butthat the backlog of scriptsflooding their offices hadnecessitated that it be resub-

A Glut On The Market(Above:) Dagar of Tulgonia battles one of the surviving giant reptilians thatinhabit his era, in issue #2 (Jan. 1973) of the quarterly comic. Art by JesseSantos. Don says his editors never realized that “Tulgonia” is his last namespelled backwards, with an “-onia” tacked on. (Or maybe they did, and

just never let on!) “Glut,” by the way, is pronounced “gloot”—so the pun inthis caption’s heading works only visually, not aurally.

(Right:) Using magical jewels, our hero brings to life a statue of a giantwarrior in Dagar #6 (Jan. 1974). Script by Don Glut; art by Jesse Santos.

[©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

12 Gold Key’s 1970s Swordsman Against Sorcery

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mitted the following winter. That was too long for me to wait.

About that time (the early 1970s) I had begun writing horror andscience-fiction scripts forMystery Comics Digest, a new publication fromGold Key, a division of the very large Western Publishing Company. Oneof my early submissions to the Digest was a story titled “Lizard Sword,”which featured Daggar, yet another one-shot barbarian hero I’d named.The Gold Key editors were surprised and a bit confused by the story andits hero, the “sword-and-sorcery” genre being an entirely alien concept tothem. Wisely, they bought the script but, perhaps just as wisely, requesteda new and better title, which I changed to “Wizard of the Crimson Castle.”The story then went into a stack of scripts waiting to be drawn by thecompany’s new artist “discovery,” Jesse Santos.

Jesse had been one of the top artists in his native Philippines, workingas a staff illustrator for the Halawak comic magazine and chief artist onParaluman magazine. In 1967 he had been elected vice-president of theSociety of Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonists (SPIC), and in 1970 hebecame a member of the Society of Western Artists. Jesse worked in penand ink, water color, oil paints, tempera, pastel, and acrylic, and hadalready earned an enviable reputation as a fine and much in demand por-trait artist. Seven of the comic books he drew in the Philippines had beenmade into motion pictures, some of these in the popular “James Bond”spy genre.

In 1971, just before I became a freelancer for Gold Key, Jesse Santosbegan getting art assignments at that company, handling both pencils andinks. Jesse started drawing the Brothers of the Spear feature when thatstrip was awarded its own magazine. Because of his rugged style, Santoswas the artist chosen to illustrate “Wizard of the Crimson Castle.”

However, before “Wizard” was shipped out to Jesse at his studio in SanJose, California, I submitted a second sword-and-sorcery tale to Gold Key.It was entitled “Demon of the Temple,” and again starred the characterDaggar. At first the editors, Del Connell and Chase Craig, frowned on theidea of using the same character again in a new story, disliking any kindof heavy continuity in their books, arguing that no reader would see bothstories. After much effort, I finally managed to convince the editors that itdidn’t matter, really, since each story stood up as an individual tale,neither relating directly to the other. With both scripts in their hands,however, Connell and Craig began to see this new (to them) kind of storyas a possible series. I made a presentation, complete with an origin, andsubmitted it as “Daggar the Invincible.” Soon afterward, Western’s NewYork office made the final decision to proceed with the new book. Wewere in business.

Getting the old “Castle of the Skull” script back from Forry Ackerman,I set out revamping it, altering the hero from Shaark to Daggar, at thesame time giving the character more of a personality and altering him tofit within the more severe restrictions of Gold Key’s self-imposed andquite rigid censorship policies. The script was approved with the excep-tion of the name—Daggar, the editors contended, was too much of a punon the word “dagger.” Indeed, I had purposely given the hero a dagger touse in the premier story, when he slays an attacking prehistoric sabertoothcat (who leaps upon him on the second page of the initial story), to tie inwith the weapon. Although I wanted to title the magazine with the hero’sname as is the custom, Del Connell preferred the less dynamic, in myopinion, Tales of Sword and Sorcery. Perhaps both “swords” and“daggars” spelled out on the same cover was simply too much deadlyweaponry for a usually rather tame company like Gold Key!

What followed was perhaps one of the most difficult phases of comicbook writing—creating a new name. “Dragar” was suggested; but I arguedagainst this to avoid future jokes about our new hero wearing a dress. Delmade up a dummy cover with the name “Zagar”; but that was abandonedwhen I showed them a Skywald Publishing Corporation comic book fea-turing the jungle hero Zangar. I knew that if Gold Key didn’t like Daggar,

they certainly wouldn’t care for my original Shaark.

Eventually everyone settled on “Dagar.” I was pleased, still pro-nouncing it with the short “a” as in “dagger.” But most of the Gold Keystaff—and, as it turned out, the buyers, too—pronounced it “Day-gar,”with the long “a,” which I for a long time did not like, perhaps fearing itmight offend our Italian readers. (Not until after our third issue waspublished did I learn of an old comic book called Dagar, published byFox during the 1940s, about a desert sheik hero.)

Tales of Sword and Sorcery #1 was shipped out to the printers, withart by Santos and with a two-part story bearing the separate titles “TheSword of Dagar” and “Castle of the Skull.” In this tale Dagar is pittedagainst Scorpio’s inhuman minion Ostellon, a villain with mystical controlover bones. Among the supernormal threats Dagar must face is Ostellon’sresurrection and animation of the entire articulated skeleton of a giantwooly mammoth, which he sets upon the sword-carrying hero. Swinginga primitive mace and chain, Dagar reduces the skeletal prehistoric threatto a pile of inanimate bone fragments.

When this first issue was released featuring a non-Santos painting re-creating the mammoth-skeleton sequence on its cover, I was happy to seethat the title had been changed to the more dynamic (and commercial)Dagar the Invincible, almost my original choice. The cover, not surpris-ingly, featured the attacking mammoth skeleton.

Is This A Zagar That I See Before Me?This “dummy cover” for a “Zagar the Invincible” comic was preparedby Gold Key editor Del Connell in Los Angeles. Thanks to Don Glut.

[©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

The Trials Of Dagar, Prehistoric Warrior 13

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In Search Of Nehwononan the Barbarian had not been an immediate hit forMarvel Comics when it debuted in 1970, but by 1972 thebook was certainly doing well enough for other comic

companies, particularly DC, to take notice.

Since most of Robert E. Howard’s stories and characters weretied up legally by Marvel, DC went looking for the other best-selling sword-&-sorcery characters on the paperback racks, namelyacclaimed science-fiction and fantasy writer Fritz Leiber’s jadedadventurers Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Like Howard’s Conan, Leiber’s red-headed giant Fafhrd andthe small, dark Gray Mouser had made their literary debut in the1930s—in their case, in the magazine Unknown, a rival to theWeird Tales pulp that had spawned the Cimmerian. And, alsolike Conan, while the stories were greatly appreciated by fans offantasy prose stories, their real surge in popularity came withtheir paperback appearances in the 1960s. It would have takenDC no great effort at research to discover this.


Fritz, Fafhrd, AndFriend

Author Fritz Leiber,juxtaposed with the coverof a paperback edition ofthe adventures of Fafhrdand the Gray Mouser.Cover artist uncertain.[©2010 the respectivecopyright holders.]

The Boys Who Cried “Ironwolf”—And/Or “Fafhrd”!(Left:) “Ironwolf” splash page from Weird Worlds #10 (Oct.-Nov. 1974). Half

science-fiction and half sword-and-sorcery, “Ironwolf” by writer Denny O’Neiland artist Howard Chaykin was also a precursor of Stars Wars—indeed, it waslargely because of “Ironwolf” that Star Wars director George Lucas told Marvelin 1976 that he’d like Chaykin to draw the adaptation of the upcoming film.Scipter/editor Roy Thomas was only too happy to oblige. Thanks to Bob Bailey

for the scan. [©2010 DC Comics.]

(Above:) This photo of three rising stars of the comics world, all of whom hadillustrated material for the 1973 Sword of Sorcery series: (l. to r.: Bernie

Wrightson, Howard Chaykin, & Jim Starlin) was taken at Phil Seuling’s 1976New York Comic Art Convention. Clearly, they got into the spirit of the con’smasquerade—or maybe just got into spirits? With thanks to the Golden Age

Comic Book Stories website.

18The Swords And The Sorcerers part seven [continued from Alter Ego #80 & 83]

Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser—DC’s “Anti-Conans”Fritz Leiber’s Sword Of Sorcery Heroes

by Richard Arndt

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DC also had to be aware that nobody on their regular staff of artistswas going to attract the new audience fan base for sword-&-sorcerycomics that Conan artist Barry Smith (now Barry Windsor-Smith) wasattracting. So they went looking among the “Young Turks” enteringcomics in the early 1970s—and they found Howard Chaykin.

They didn’t have to look far. Chaykin, who had debuted with work incomics fanzines only two years earlier, was already doing his own strip forDC: “Ironwolf,” which appeared inWeird Worlds. For the times, it was anodd feature, combining the appeal of a far-future world with the dynamicsand swordplay of an old Errol Flynn historical swashbuckler. “Ironwolf,”and his 1974 reincarnation “Cody Starbuck” in Mike Friedrich’s early indycomic Star*Reach, clearly anticipated the frantic arrival and appeal ofStar Wars a few years down the road.

Still, in 1972 “Ironwolf ” was not doing particularly well, so Chaykin, aswell as “Ironwolf ” editor and scripter Denny O’Neil, became theeditor/writer-artist team on Sword of Sorcery. No doubt, the generic titlewas selected both to alert sword-&-sorcery fans to a comic aimed directlyat them, and because Fafhrd the Barbarian and the Gray Mouser wouldhave made a long, cumbersome, and hard-to-pronounce title. Even so, DCitself was probably quite aware of differences between Leiber’s style of s&s(and let’s just use “s&s” instead of typing out “sword-&-sorcery” everytime, shall we?) and Howard’s more straight-ahead, balls-to-the-wall style.

Leiber was certainly the more literate of the two writers, establishing inhis fantasy world of Nehwon (“Nowhen” spelled backward) a considerablydecadent style and two main characters who actually liked to talk to eachother. A lot! Compared to Conan, these fellows were regular jabberjaws.Physically they were quite different, as well. Fafhrd was a tall, red-headedgiant with muttonchop whiskers and a certain amount of clumsiness. TheGray Mouser was short, dark, and quick, with a sharp tongue and asharper knife.

In Howard’s Hyborian Age, Conan’s barbarian gods rarely interfered inthe everyday dealings of men. Leiber’s gods, particularly the GrayMouser’s patron Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Fafhrd’s patronNingauble of the Seven Eyes, constantly stuck their noses into storylines.There’s a lot more sex and sex-talk in the Leiber stories, too. Andalthough Fafhrd is called “the barbarian” in the tales, he’s considerablysharper and smoother in his approach to women, crime, and barroombrawls than Conan ever was. There’s also a great deal of humor in Fafhrd& the Mouser’s adventures, which may have been off-putting to the youngConan readers of the time.

Here Are The Swords—The Sorcery Comes Later(Left:) A preliminary pencil sketch by Howard Chaykin of Fafhrd and theGray Mouser. With thanks to Tim Barnes. (Above:) The second story pageof Sword of Sorcery #1, by O’Neil (writer), Chaykin (penciler), and TheCrusty Bunkers (which generally consisted of Neal Adams and varioustalented young artists who happened to wander into his studio that

week). The cover and splash page of the first issue were seen in A/E #80.[©2010 DC Comics.]

Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser—DC’s “Anti-Conans” 19

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Claw The UnconqueredDavid Michelinie & Ernie Chan’s Horror-Handed Hero

by John Wells

Nature Red In Talon And Clawowever rocky his birth may have been, by 1974 Conan theBarbarian was king of the Hyborian Age of Comics, andMarvel Comics was riding high. This success had not been lost

on rival DC Comics, whose efforts at conceiving a viable sword-&-sorceryseries of their own had thus far met with no success, despite some fineefforts. If distinctive features like “Nightmaster” (which had preceded theConan comic) and the licensed Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser had failed tocatch on, DC seemed to reason, perhaps something a bit more visuallyon-the-nose was in order. A brawny shirtless soul with long black hairand a sharp sword in his hand. A barbarian drawn by a man who already

had Conan’s adventures on his résumé. And a rhythmic name/descriptionlike… Talon the Untamed.

Or not.

DC editor Joe Orlando’s search for an s&s hero had begun with writerMichael Fleisher, his go-to guy for features as diverse as the Simon &Kirby-revived “Sandman” and a hard-edged take on “The Spectre” withartist Jim Aparo. In 1973, Denny O’Neil and Howard Chaykin had createdan energetic political space opera called “Ironwolf ” in 1973’sWeirdWorlds #8 & 9, only to have it abruptly cancelled as a consequence of anationwide paper shortage. The already-completedWeird Worlds #10 waspublished in the summer of 1974, and Orlando believed its title charactermight work in a different environment.

23The Swords And The Sorcerers part eight [continued from Alter Ego #80 & 83]


Jawbonin’(Above:) The sword-and-sorcery hero Iron Jaw was created for DC editor JoeOrlando by writer Michael Fleisher… but when Orlando elected not to publishthe series, it wound up at Martin Goodman’s Atlas/Seaboard Comics as IronJaw #1 (Jan. 1975), with art by Mike Sekowsky & Jack Abel. Back in the ’40s, of

course, the original Iron Jaw had been one of comics’ great villains, therelentless nemesis of Crimebuster in Charlie Biro’s Boy Comics. From YeEditor’s personal collection. [©2010 the respective copyright holders.]

Claw Is Coming!(Above:) This house ad, with strong art by Ernie Chan (then known as ErnieChua), appeared in DC comics in early 1975 to promote the launch of Clawthe Unconquered. All art accompanying this article was supplied by John

Wells, except where otherwise identified. [©2010 DC Comics.]

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“I decided to try Michael on a sword-&-sorcery series,” Orlandoexplained in the DC-produced fan-magazine Amazing World of DCComics #6 (May-June, 1975), “so I had him read the ‘Ironwolf ’ books andcome up with a sequel. He came in with ‘Iron Jaw’…. He wanted a JonahHex type attitude on the part of the hero, and I wanted strange worlds anda feeling of fantasy. The end product was unlike what either of usexpected, and although I bought it, I told Michael that I wouldn’t use it. Igave him the choice of trying it on another market, and he did—taking itto Seaboard [better known as Martin Goodman’s Atlas Comics], wherethey published it as Iron Jaw #1.”

Orlando next turned to David Michelinie, another young writer, whoseprovocative work on non-super-hero features like “The Unknown Soldier”and Swamp Thing was already earning him a good reputation. InMichelinie, the editor found someone more simpatico with the type ofcharacter and series he envisioned.

Visually, as noted, their tanned hero had the build and hair of Conan,but with points of distinction that included a white fur loincloth and amatching swath worn around his neck with a gold necklace. Mostimportant, though, was the metallic red glove on his right hand thatconcealed a grotesque gray-furred dragon’s paw with webbing between thefingers. The man born as Valcan would wander the land of Pytharia andfight unearthly threats sent his way by the evil King Occulas of the YellowEye (so named for his jaundiced left pupil).

Completing the creative team was artist Ernie Chan, then known asErnie Chua due to a transcription error when he had emigrated to theUnited States from the Philippines. A strong storyteller with a rough-hewn inking style, Chan was a perfect fit for the project. Indeed, PaulLevitz noted in Amazing World of DC Comics #3 (Nov.-Dec. 1974) thathe brought “a wealth of experience from inking a Certain OtherNoteworthy Adventurer (Not published by us)” in 1973—specifically,Conan the Barbarian #26-36. Chan ultimately penciled and inked thefirst seven issues of the new DC title, save for #3 & 4 (which were inkedand lettered by Pat Boyette).

Plans for Talon the Untamed #1 were well underway when word of theproject reached artist/writer Jim Steranko. That comics legend had longsince announced a projected series starring a barbarian hero of his ownnamed “Talon,” first previewed in 1968’s witzend #5, and later covered inMarvel’s Savage Tales #3 (Feb. ’74). Under threat of legal action (asreported in The Comic Reader #112, Nov. 1974), Talon the Untamedabruptly became Claw the Unconquered. He was part of a wave of newDC fantasy titles that included Paul Levitz & Wally Wood’s Stalker and

Michael Uslan & Ricardo Villamonte’s Beowulf adaptation, each of whichlikewise featured sword-&-sorcery overtones.

Clawing His Way Into ComicsOn sale in February of 1975 (and dated May-June), Claw the

Unconquered #1 doled out a degree of backstory. Years earlier, whileplotting the murder of his own father, then-Prince Occulas had beenadvised by the blank-eyed court wizard Miftung that an unspecified figurewith a clawed hand would threaten his dreams of conquest. Learning thata woodsman named Kregar possessed such a hand, Occulas arranged forhis assassin Zedon to murder the man and his wife. But the killer failed tonotice the couple’s infant son Valcan—who possessed a claw just like hisfather’s. After Zedon stalked off, a snow-white hand reached down tosoothe the tot, and a voice pronounced him uniquely suited to completingspecific tasks in the years ahead.

Believing his future unimpeded, Occulas poisoned his own sire andclaimed the throne of Castle Darkmorn. Was it the guilt concerning thedestitute, subjugated people of Pytharia that filled Occulas’ sleeping mindwith dreams of the dreaded clawed man? Not according to Miftung,whose crystal ball finally disclosed the existence of Valcan, now a tanned,muscle-bound wandering savage who was called Claw.

Claw had no answers. His lone memory was of the stranger’s visitationfollowing his parents’ murders. “I know only that I have a gnawing senseof fate,” he told a barmaid. “A feeling that I am to play a vital role in thefuture of this world.” Appropriately, Valcan often called on Pytharia’s godof chance, the seven-bearded Soth.

The barbarian’s survival instincts and strong sword arm ensured thathe didn’t fall prey to the constant attacks on his person. A pretty face wasanother matter, and the aforementioned barmaid soon lured him into atrap set by Miftung. Using an ancient crimson jewel, the assassin Zedonsummoned a Lovecraftian plant-god called Kann the All-Consuming.Wrapped in one of Kann’s many tentacles and reeling from its piercing yetsoundless scream, Claw managed to plant a makeshift spear in thecreature’s “eye” (or was it a brain?) and proved that “even a god can die.”Zedon could die, too, and did, having unwittingly sacrificed his life force

Buscema & Chan—A Conan Team SupremeJohn Buscema became the most popular “Conan” artist of the 1970s, taking

over the color comic with #25 (April 1973). Seen at left is a barbarian sketch hedrew for a collector in 1979; with thanks to Mike Burkey.

[Art ©2010 Estate of John Buscema.]

The team of Buscema and Ernie Chan was born with John’s second Conan theBarbarian outing, in #26 (May ’73)—in which the Cimmerian discovered thegrim secret of the Living Tarim. Script by Roy Thomas. Thanks to Tony Olivaand Barry Pearl for the scan. [©2010 Conan Properties International, LLC.]

24 David Michelinie & Ernie Chan’s Horror-Handed Hero

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to summon Kann. The fact that this was the man who had killed hisparents was unknown to the barbarian.

Against his better judgment, Valcan agreed to take the pleadingbarmaid with him as he resumed his wandering and was nearly repaidwith a knife in the back. Leaving her stranded in the desert, the barbarianassured her she need not worry about being alone. The jackals wouldcome out at dusk. “I’m sure you’ll feel quite at home with them.” And herode away alone as the poster that had caught the ill-fated barmaid’s eyefluttered in the breeze: “Reward: 10,000 dreknars for the head and righthand of Valcan the Claw.”

The hits kept right on coming in issue #2 (July-Aug. 1975),where the green-robed Gofflok of the Slender Blade tried to killthe sleeping Valcan. When a pack of glowing hell-hounds boredown on them, the duo declared a truce and desperately leapedfor the rope that conveniently dropped out of the sky. They werewarmly greeted by the gold-skinned grand-priestess Myrallya ofK’dasha-Dheen, a glorious floating city that existed betweendimensions, via a spell sustained through periodic sacrifices ofgodly beings. Due to a dearth of the latter, Myrallya decided Clawand his sycophantic companion would suffice. But the barbarianrefused to die quietly, even when faced with a giant slug thatsported unicorn-like horns on both of itsheads. Claw goaded it into stabbing one of itshorns into the brain of the other head. Thenhe and Gofflok escaped while the flesh of thecity’s inhabitants faded to gray, “assuming theconsistency of curdled cream as it [dissipated]into time’s waiting maw.” K’dasha-Dheen wasno more.

Not resting on sentiment, Gofflok immedi-ately tried to stab Valcan in the back, only tohave the barbarian’s gloved hand thrust theblade into the blackguard’s heart. Claw wasless shaken by the betrayal than by the factthat the attack had caught him genuinelyunawares and that his unearthly hand hadreacted of its own accord to save him.

Further betrayal awaited Claw in issue #3 (Sept.-Oct. 1975), when asilver-haired centauress named Elathia convinced him to scale a wizard’stower to recover the runespear called Kyriach, with which her truehuman form could be restored. In fact, the wizard was Miftung, and whathe’d really told her was that he’d undo the supposed spell if she killedClaw. To no great surprise, the centauress was killed by the runespearwhile Valcan defended himself. As she succumbed, Elathia rejoiced thatat least her true shape would manifest upon her death. But her corpseremained the carcass of a centaur.

Lo, There Shall Come A Quest!After three issues of episodic fare, Claw #4 (Nov.-Dec. 1975) reached

for something bigger—introducing a genuine ally for Claw, revealing afar greater plane of existence beyond Pytharia, and inaugurating thatgrand tradition: the quest.

In his latest scuffle with reward-seeking swordsmen, Valcan wasjoined by Ghilkyn, the self-described Prince of the Thousand Hills, a

fighter equally adept with a slingshot and a curved blade—and sportingdemonic horns on his forehead. There were, Ghilkyn explained,numerous planes of reality, and he was born on an utterly boring onecalled Awadaka. Dabbling with mystic forces beyond his control, he hadaccidentally thrust himself across dimensions and picked up his horns inone hellish realm before landing in Pytharia.

Elsewhere, Occulas revealed that Claw endangered his rule of his ownkingdom, and of fifteen worlds across the parallel realities that he plannedto conquer (which, three issues later in Claw #7 he would refer to as the

Multiverse, the first useof that term in a DCcomic book). The kingurged Miftung tosummon the gargantuanN’hglthss the Damnedfrom one of the sevenhells to use its deathtouch on Valcan.

Claw, meanwhile,was stunned to learnthat the crimsongauntlet on his hand hadbeen meant to be joined

The Twin Talons Of ClawThe cover of Claw the Unconquered #1 (May-June 1975)—and the hero’screators, writer David Michelinie (center) and artist Ernie Chan. Davidsent us a photo of himself at the wedding of comics artist Bob Layton…

while Ernie was snapped at a comics convention not long ago.[Claw art ©20101 DC Comics; Chan photo ©2010 Atomic Romance.]

Claw The Unconquered 25

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Worms Of The Earth(Left:) Ernie Chan’scovers for Claw #2-3.[©2010 DC Comics.]

You’ve Gotta Hand ItTo Claw

(Above:) The baby Valcanwas marked for greatness

by someone—or something—while, years later, an over-eager barmaid discoveredthe grown-up Claw’s

terrible secret. From Clawthe Unconquered #1, byDavid Michelinie (writer)and Ernie Chan (artist).[©2010 DC Comics.]

26 David Michelinie & Ernie Chan’s Horror-Handed Hero

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“I’m Trying To Prod PeopleTo Think”

The Conclusion Of Our Intriguing Interview withGolden & Silver Age artist JACK KATZ

Conducted by Jim Amash Transcribed by Brian K. Morris


ast issue, Jack Katz talked about his friendship (dating from theirdays together at the High School of Industrial Arts) with fellowfuture comic book artists Alex Toth, Pete Morisi, and Alfonso

Greene, as well as about their relationship with legendary newspapercomic strip artist Frank Robbins. In some of his earliest days, Jackworked at the Chesler, Sangor, and Iger comic art shops, later in theproduction department at King Features Syndicate. Then, after drawingfor a time for Standard/Nedor Publications alongside Toth and MikePeppe, Jack moved on, in the mid-1950s—to the studio of comics’ ultra-team, Joe Simon & Jack Kirby…. —Jim.

“I Learned To Ink [From Jack Kirby]”JIM AMASH: How did you get started with Simon & Kirby?

JACK KATZ: This was before I went to Timely. Jack Kirby took alook at my stuff, and he spoke to Joe Simon. I started working withthem, and right next to me was Mort Meskin. There were aboutseven desks there, and for the most part, people came in to workthere. Very few people took the stuff home except Marvin Stein,and Marvy was a machine like I’d never seen before. He barelypenciled anything. He did most all of his drawing with the brush.

JA:Was there a receptionist?

KATZ: No, there was nobody there.

JA: Did Simon and Kirby work out in the open with the others?

KATZ: Jack would work at his own desk there, and Joe wouldcome in during the morning, and subtly stare at us. Then Jackwould go to lunch, and when he came back, Joe would leave forday. I think he was looking for financing, I’m not sure. You knowhow I learned to ink? Jack sat me down one day. He said, “This iswhat you do.” He took one of my drawings, and he inked it with a


…And The Last Shall Be FirstJack Katz (on left) with fellow artist Jack Kirby in the 1970s—and the

cover of the first issue of his 24-book magnum opus The FirstKingdom. Thanks to Jack for the photo, and to Jerry Edwards for the

comic book cover. Jack Katz currently does commission drawings, andcan be reached at (510) 237-1779. [©2010 Jack Katz.]

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brush. I’d never seen inking that good in my life. I said, “Jack, if you couldink so good, why do you let—?” He said, “I don’t have the time.” I wish tothis day I could have stolen those pages and kept them. He did anamazing job.

He said, “This is what I want you to do. You apply the blacks like this.This is what you do with your camera angle to make sure that thebackground, if you have a background, will stand out.” Sometimes, whenthere was one figure I had in a hallway, Jack would fill the scene with allkinds of black areas in the background. As an inker, I don’t think therecould have been anybody better if he had just done his own stuff byhimself. Unfortunately, there was just no way he could do this.

JA: Did he talk about holding lines? Did he talk about line weights?

KATZ: Yes, he did. He showed me how to apply all of that to figures andobjects. He said, “You have to make it three-dimensional. What you do is,you just make sure you have a black area behind a line, always a darkbehind a line. It could be feathered, it could be this, it could be that.” Oneof the things they had in that office was the Sunday Hal Foster Tarzanstrips, almost from its inception from 1931. They also had almost all ofFoster’s Prince Valiant Sundays, and everybody in the office was usingthem for swipes.

JA: Did you ever see Kirby use swipes?

KATZ: No, never. I’m being very straight about that one. If he did, itwould have just been for reference. I never saw him erase anything, either.

JA:When Jack was talking to you about inking, what did he say aboutlight sources?

KATZ: He said that the light sources were extremely important toemphasize dramatic scenes. He put away the pages, and showed me twodifferent ways of showing light. He said, “If you bring the light in behinda figure, on the right hand side, you have to make sure that the other sideis carefully outlined. But if you want to show real drama, sometimes youhave to have the light source come from the top so that the eyes are inshadow, and the mouth is in shadow, and the neck is in shadow. If youwant to make a real ghoul”… and he turned the page over, and drew aquick face. He showed me how the light comes from underneath,highlighting bone structures. He showed me a lot of these things.

He looked at my stuff and said, “You know what your problem is? Youcan’t tell the difference between wood and clothing,” and he showed mehow to vary my textures. He didn’t like the way I had drawn curtains, andsaid, “Curtains should kind-of look delicate,” and he showed me how todo that with his brush. He used the brush almost continually. He likedsome of the dramatic shots that I had, like this guy was waking up out ofthe bed and looking at this door that was barely open. Kirby said, “Keepthat in the dark! If you want, you can make two little white eyes, but makesure the door is open to a point where you don’t know who the hell isbehind it.”

He said that the line had to be strong enough so that it would stand upto reproduction. In those days, the reproduction was not good. Jack saidthat the trouble with Lou Fine, and he knew I loved Lou Fine... everybodyloved Fine. He had some work of Lou Fine’s, and he said, “Look at thesedelicate lines, and look at the reproduction that came out. Nothing cameout. You have to have remember, in comic art, no matter how important itseems to you, you’re not doing a Rembrandt. If you’re doing comics,you’re working for reproduction.” Then he showed me a Hal Fosterdrawing. Jack said, “Look at the economy of line, and yet it does every-thing that it needs to do.” Jack was very involved and very, very knowl-edgeable where I was concerned. Then I said to him, “Inking is problem-solving.” He said, “No, inking and drawing is decision-making. Theproblem-solving, you do that in your head. But when you put those linesdown, you’ve made a decision.”

“You’re Overthinking It!”JA: Did he talk about drawing figures?

KATZ: Yes, and this is where we had the beginning of the end for me.Kirby said, “Jack, why are you putting the anatomy underneath theclothing? You’re going to drive the inkers crazy.” As a matter of fact, hegave one of my stories to Mort Meskin, and Mort handed it back, saying,“I want to ink. I don’t want to think.” Kirby said, “What do you mean youhave to think?” Mort says, “I don’t like it. I want clean lines. It’s much toodetailed. It’s too much work.” Another time, Kirby said, “Jack, you’re justslowing everything up. You’re doing wonderful anatomy. You drew ananatomy book in this story, but we don’t have that kind of time. We’ve gotto get this stuff out.” And I did not do complete stories. Nobody did.Everybody did piecemeal work. It was like a sweatshop. Sometimes,several people worked on one story. I don’t think I ever did a completestory for Jack, and there was another guy who was tall and thin—a littleolder than me—and he never did a complete story. Jack would go overpeople’s pencils, and redraw things. As long as you got the figures in theright place and stuff like that, Jack would jump on that, and so would JoeSimon.

JA:What did Jack tell you about camera angles?

Fighting For SurvivalAlthough the mid-’50s would see the official end of the 15-year Simon-&-Kirby partnership, it was also the period during which Joe & Jack would dosome of their best work together, such as this splash page from FightingAmerican #3 (Aug.-Sept. 1954). Repro’d from the 1989 Marvel hardcover

reprinting. [©2010 Joe Simon & Estate of Jack Kirby.]

38 Interview With Golden & Silver Age Artist Jack Katz—Part II

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Top: Lewiston, Idaho, where YoungLauretta lived from 1902-1909. And thereshe is on the far left in all her finery!Next, a studious Lauretta, date unknown.And above, she takes a moment to enjoynature. [Photos ©2010 Peter Schilder.]

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Dr. Lauretta Bender: Comics’Anti-Wertham - Part 4

Introduction by Michael T. Gilbert

ast issue we featured the first selection from Dr. Bender’stestimony before the 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearings intoJuvenile Delinquency. As her testimony continues this issue, we’ll

see rare glimpses of the inner workings of DC Comics during the GoldenAge.

But first, a little background on Dr. Bender. Though we’ve focused onher comic book credentials, her comics work was a tiny asterisk in a verysuccessful career.

Lauretta was born in Butte, Montana, on August 9, 1897, to attorneyJohn Bender and his wife Catherine. She had two younger brothers, Jackand Carl. Lauretta spent her childhood in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, andCalifornia. She earned a B.S. degree from the University of Chicago in1922, and was awarded her M.A. in pathology a year later.

Dr. Bender was best known for developing (in 1923) the Bender-Gestalt Visual Motor Test, a neuropsychological exam that has become aworldwide standard. She spent many years researching the cause ofchildhood schizophrenia and was responsible for studies on child suicidesand violence. In 1926, she earned her M.D. degree from the University ofIowa Medical School. This was followed by overseas study, an internshipat the University of Chicago, a residency at Boston Psychopathic Hospital,and a research appointment at the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic ofJohns Hopkins Hospital. While there, she fell in love with a colleague, Dr.Paul Schilder, who was married and eleven years her senior. According toson Peter, “When Lauretta Bender and Paul Schilder first met sheinstantly fell in love. They worked together at JHH. In the early 1930sthey moved together to NYU-Bellevue. They married and had threechildren.”

She became a staff member at the hospital, and later was senior psychi-atrist in chargeof the Children’sServices, a postshe held for 21years. Ironically,the man whodirectedBellevue’sMental HealthClinic was Dr.FredricWertham, whose1954 best-sellerSeduction of theInnocent wouldfuel the anti-comicsmovement andinspire theSenate hearings.

Laurettamarried PaulSchilder in 1936and they hadthree children,Michael (in

1937), Peter (in 1938),and Jane (in 1940).While she was in thehospital following thebirth of her daughter, acar struck Paul, killinghim. This left LaurettaBender to raise thechildren alone. “Thisshe did very successfullywhile continuing tomake major contribu-tions to the concepts ofbiological childpsychiatry.” says PeterSchilder. “She remainedat NYU-Bellevue asChief of ChildPsychiatry. Many of herco-workers and traineesserved as surrogatefamily to the Schilderchildren. Through mostof this period the familylived in a ‘beach’ housethat Paul Schilder hadbought as a present forLauretta. It was in LongBeach, NY; Laurettacommuted on the LongIsland Railroad six daysa week to get to work.”

Peter remembers his mother fondly. “She was always upbeat andenergetic. She did household projects such as finishing furniture. Shedecided it would be nice to have a fireplace, so she had one built in spiteof warnings that it might damage the structure of the house. We had a redwagon and would collect driftwood from the beach, often large enoughthat it would stick out into the living room.

“She was very flexible and adaptive; willing to listen to any suggestions.She came home from work one day to discover that I had an automobileengine hanging from the porch railing. Her comment was ‘If the porchfalls down you will have to put it back up.’

“Her involvement on the Advisory Board of DC Comics was a naturalextension of her pioneer work in Child Psychiatry. The basic approachwas a positive non-judgmental belief that children either mentallydisturbed or healthy benefited from honestly presented material.”

In 1955, Dr. Bender was appointed principal research scientist in childpsychiatry, a new post in the State Mental Hygiene Department. Shecontinued working with the state until 1973, when she moved toAnnapolis, Maryland. Dr. Bender taught at the University of Marylandand was a consultant to the Children’s Guild, Inc. (a group that workedwith the emotionally disturbed) and similar organizations. She wonnumerous awards, including New York State’s Medical Woman of the Yearin 1958. Fittingly, she also received New York University School ofMedicine’s Paul Schilder Memorial Award in 1977.

She remained single until 1967, when 70-year-old Lauretta wed HenryB. Parkes, a marriage that lasted until his death in 1972. Lauretta Benderpassed away on January 4, 1987, at age 88, leaving behind a rich scientificlegacy and a lifetime of service to children.

And now, let’s find out what she had to say about comic books in parttwo of her 1954 Senate testimony….

Lauretta and 2nd husband Henry B. Parkes (nicknamedMichael) at their family home in Long Beach, Long Island,

August 1971. [©2010 Peter Schilder.]


Lauretta and Paul Schilder on a California tripin the ’30s. [©2010 Peter Schilder.]

60 Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt!

Page 19: Alter Ego #92

1954 Senate Testimony of Dr.Lauretta Bender, Part Two

Mr. Beaser: You are on the editorial advisory board of the SupermanComics?

Dr. Bender: That is right.

Mr. Beaser: I gather you were in the courtroom today and heard thediscussion?

Dr. Bender: I was. By the way, I am not in any way connected with theChild Study Association. That was implied and it was a mistake. It ismerely that Josette Frank interviewed me for one of her articles.

Mr. Beaser: You were one of the resource persons?

Dr. Bender: I was one of the resource persons from which she gotexpert testimony, let us say, and wrote the article. It is true now, I aman editorial adviser of the Child Study Association. That is another oneof my jobs that I do not even get a dollar a year for.

Mr. Beaser: What I cannot understand is that with all the listings of theassociations you belong to you must be pretty busy. How do you gettime to read the comic books of the National Superman?

Dr. Bender: I don’t read them all.

Mr. Beaser: You read what?

Dr. Bender: I read the ones which look to me to be of some interest. Igive the rest to the children at Bellevue and let them read them andtell me what they think about them. I give them to the teachers,psychiatrists. I take them home to my children.

And if there is any question about one, and frequently there is—forinstance, about two years ago one of the psychiatrists wrote me in dismaysaying that he had picked up a comic his daughter brought in, in which apsychiatrist had been abused in his opinion and found my name on theadvisory board and wondered how I could justify such a thing.

In this particular comic the storywriter had thought up a new formof what might be called shock treatment, in which a wife, who wasjealous of her husband, had been exposed by the husband, at theadvice of his psychiatrist, to actual situations which could be inter-preted as indicating that the husband was wanting to do her harm.

But then it ended up with thehusband explaining everything andthe psychiatrist coming in andexplaining everything and the wifeand the husband reunited in theirmutual understanding and love andthe psychiatrist going home. Helived next door. The husband playedchess with him, or something.

Well, this didn’t look very bad tome. I said I was not even sure it wasnot a good idea, it has some goodideas in it. Maybe if we actually didtry to portray some of the delusionsof patients and showed we couldexplain, that might be a way ofexposing disillusionary ideas. Ishowed them to the children in theward because they do have disillu-

sionary ideas. The children in the ward thought that was a good storyand they thought it was a good idea, it was like the kind of treatmentwe were giving them, which I had not thought of in that fashion. Theycertainly thought it was a good way to cure the sick woman.

Mr. Beaser: But you saw this after the comic book had been on thestands?

Dr. Bender: That is right. I am not responsible in any way whatsoeverwith what is published.

Mr. Beaser: And your duties as a member of the editorial advisoryboard consist of what?

Dr. Bender: My duties on the editorial advisory board are to beconsulted by them whenever they choose to consult me and to givethem advice about matters which many think are problems in just theterms that you are trying to deal with today, and in the beginningwhen I worked with them, I also helped them work out their first code.Whenever they have asked for my advice I have always made animmediate study as carefully as I can, have given my advice and, tomy knowledge, it has always been followed.

Mr. Beaser: How often does the board meet?

Dr. Bender: It meets very irregularly and in the last six months I thinkwe have not met. As a matter of fact, we don’t function as a boardusually. Now and then we do. We have, sometimes in the past, beencalled together, as a board, to take up certain questions.

The Chairman: Are the members polled? For example, you have aproblem come before you, submitted to you. Do they poll all themembers on that problem?

Dr. Bender: I gather they do, because Mr. Dybwad, just ahead of me,told you about a letter which the Child Study Association got and theadvice that they had given in regard to this copyrighted article fromone of the comics, and I am sure it is the same letter I got and I gavethe same advice and I thought they were following my advice, but,obviously, they were not following all our advice. [A/E NOTE: Mr.Dybwad was Executive Director of Child Study Association ofAmerica, a parent education group, from 1951 to 1957.]

The Chairman: Are the board members compensated?

Dr. Bender: Yes. I received $150 a month.

Mr. Beaser: I suppose each one of the members received the samecompensation?

Dr. Bender on the roof of BellevueHospital. [©2010 Peter Schilder.]

Dr. Bender’s name was prominently displayed in DC comics of the ’40sand early ’50s. [©2010 DC Comics.]

Dr. Lauretta Bender: Comics’ Anti-Wertham — Part 4 61

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“CFA” EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: Inthis final chapter of John Pierce’s look backat the late Steve Gerber’s fanzine Headlinefrom the early 1960s, you’ll find an inter-esting litany of the challenges that besetfanzine publishers of the day. The glow ofnostalgia can sometimes cause us to forgetthat editing and publishing even the humbleamateur magazines of yesteryear were notwithout their stresses, their disappoint-ments, and their outright snafus. Thisrealization can only serve to heighten ourappreciation of those fans—such as SteveGerber—who managed to shepherd theirfanzines from an idea to a finished product.The road was often bumpy!! —Bill Schelly.

n earlier articles, I have recounted thestory of Steve Gerber’s childhoodcreations, as well as the first two issues of

his fanzine Headline. In this final chapter, we’lltake a look at the third issue of that seminal,oft-overlooked zine.

In 1964, more than a year after the 1963publication of #2 (that had also been theapproximate time-span between #1 & #2), thethird issue appeared. Headline was, admittedly,published irregularly, as were most fanzines ofthe early days, but it might as well have beenlabeled an annual.

Following a Superman cover, “Ye Olde Print Shoppe”—again labeled“Editorial Comment,” although presumably the readers knew that bynow—bears reprinting here, if for no other reason than a look at Steve’searly writing style:

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Bails, I’m forced to say thatthis will be the last issue of Headline under my editorial eye. I’mturning the chores over to Steve Grant, fellow U. Citian, childprodigy, and the biggest braggart since yours truly. With Steve atthe helm, you can be sure that HL will continue under its originalmotto—“Open mouth, insert foot”….

[R]ather than the standard sob-story, I think I’ll devote this lasteditorial to a re-hashing of the “behind the scenes” story of thisfanzine. If you think you’ve been reading incredible fiction,wait’ll you dig into this!

It started with Alter-Ego #2. In that issue, Jerry Bails (yes, hedid publish A-E once) offered his #35 duplicator for sale. The twoA-E issues had given me the fanzine bug, and I immediatelywrote to him about it, and I happened to mention the possibilityof a zine devoted to original hero creations. Jerry, too, wasenthused about the idea—though probably more because hethought he could unload his duplicator than because he liked theidea. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: I think perhaps Steve was selling thelate Dr. Bails a bit short here. It is my impression that the Father

of Comics Fandom wasglad to see it flourish inmultitudinous forms,and almost certainly apublication with sucha focus would havebeen welcomed byhim. —John.]

Nonetheless, the two of us exchanged correspondence prolifi-cally, discussing the duplicator, the fanzine, and the money. Andthen, when I finally decided to buy the duplicator and put outone whammo of a fanzine—Jerry sold it locally.

Undaunted, I searched about and finally located an outfitcalled Standard Duplicators. I checked, and found a great usedmodel for $45, bought it, and things began looking up a bit.Slowly but surely, the articles were compiled. This was aboutNovember of 1961. Jerry had put me in contact with a number ofteenage writers, and almost all of them graciously contributed toHL. Somewhere along the line, Paul Seydor joined the crew asco-editor. And it was his excellent art that graced the cover ofHeadline #1 when it debuted in May of 1962.

But between November and May there was one heck of awinter, and it was no fun for this editor! S.G. Ross had written theLittle Giant story, to be our illo’d strip in #1, around a plot whichdidn’t satisfy artist Ronn Foss. I agreed, and so S.G. and I plottedthe actual tale which appeared in HL. This script was admittedlyrather crude, but Ronn managed to turn it into a strip whichbrought raves from every reader! Then he quit! But that comeslater.

Now wait. All this sounds fairly simple. But LG was never evenintended for HL at first! Paul Seydor was going to do “The Falconand Electricman,” but pulled out because he felt the strip “just


Comic Fandom Archive

Two Super-StarsFrom the vantage point of a latertime, Steve Gerber contemplatesfan-artist Ronn Foss’ cover forthe third issue of the former’sfanzine Headline. Art sports forthis chapter have been suppliedby John G. Pierce and/or Bill

Schelly. [Superman TM & ©2010DC Comics; other Headline coverart ©2010 Estate of Ronn Foss.]

Headline – And Beyond!Part III Of “The Teenage Creations of Steve Gerber”

by John G. Pierce

Page 21: Alter Ego #92

didn’t have it.” It was only then that S.G. Ross and Ronn Fossturned up to further complicate my life. But wait—here comes theclincher!

HL was almost ready to roll. Then, I realized I’d lost my tracingof the Flash Comics #1 cover!!! I wrote to Douglas Marden whohad loaned me the book, sighing with relief because I knew hewould trace it for me... OH YEAH? The book was out on loan!Fortunately, I knew Nick Debelo, the fellow to whom theprecious volume had been entrusted, so I quickly wrote to him,sent masters, and Nick came through in grand style.

Finally, the zine was run off, stapled (aagh), and mailed. It wasonly the seventh fanzine out. Only Alter-Ego, Comic Art, Xero,Rocket’s Blast and Spotlite were around at that time, a far cryfrom the 39 fanzines of today. (That’s the actual number.)

The reviews ran so-so. Almost everyone liked the idea.(Witness the many copies and imitations of HL scattered throughfandom.) The Black Hand by John Pierce fared rather well, andthe Flash #1 cover (along with Marden’s excellent article) was anovelty and was received as most ‘firsts’ are. Sadly, the Guard,my comedy story, and Original Creations of Yesteryear reallydidn’t do as well as I’d hoped.

Next issue rolled around. By now I had a little idea of what toexpect in editing a zine, so this one was somewhat easier—but

not much. Through John Pierce, I’d met Mel Herbers and he camethrough with an All-Star review without a hitch. A few readershad the courage (some had the gall) to write letters, so thatcolumn filled up nicely. And then—DISASTER!! After a beautifullydone origin, John Pierce’s Black Hand took a wee bit of a plunge.John and I went over the story at least three times and we stilldidn’t get what I—er, we—wanted. I called in S.G. Ross, who hadevidently been reading my mail from then-co-editor Seydor. Herecalled that Paul had mentioned that both the Hand and DeathSpirit, his foe, were the proud owners of rather mysterious faces,Hand’s being invisible and Death Spirit’s being shrouded indarkness. He proposed a ‘duel of the faces’ in which the twoadversaries would use the powers of their strange faces in an epicbattle. That new angle was incorporated into the story and at lastit was complete. But this new aspect eliminated the usefulness ofa couple of pictures Seydor had drawn for the original story, so itwas back to the old ditto masters for him! [AUTHOR’S NOTE:Years later, as I re-read the line about a “battle of the faces,” itmakes even me want to crack up a bit, but really, it wasn’t a badidea. —John.]

This time, Paul came through with The Falcon (although whatbecame of Electricman is probably the comics’ greatest mystery)and the Black Hand picture we couldn’t use in the story ended upas a colorful back cover. And now comes this issue’s first bigmish-mash. Jerry Bails (remember him?) had sent me a packageintended for Paul. (I guess I’m not the only one in fandom whocan goof.) These were the original art drawings that appeared inthe Original Heroes of Yesteryear section in #2 . I wasn’t sureexactly what was going on at first, but after another pile of lettershad been exchanged, Paul got the drawings, traced them, andwrote the article... after a long hassle over which of us should doit! (Chee...) As if this weren’t enough, the Superman-TV article byGeorge Paul was put on masters and set to go when TheComicollector printed a letter accusing him of being a thief!! (Thevalidity of this charge is still a mystery. I have no proof eitherway.) Finally, after typing and rejecting a half-dozen editorials (atleast) I managed to get that portion into good order and set it onmasters, at last.

So, at last, the issue went to press. It was only after the 250thcopy of the last page came rolling off the presses that I realized—no doubt with the greatest expression of horror in recordedhistory—that I had omitted (sob) a full-page ad!! I first thought ofprinting in inside the front cover. But a screw was loosesomewhere—probably in my head—and all I did was ruin 250beautiful covers!! Needless to say, I re-ditto’d all of them (I don’tthink Paul ever forgave me for that blue blotch in the middle ofthe cape), and placed the ad elsewhere. Then, after more stapling,more stamping, and more aggravation, I took them to be mailed.It was at this point that I became somewhat disenchanted withthe US Post Office Department. The fellow at the post office toldme that HL #2 would cost eight cents to mail—it cost TEN!! Andafter stamping them with 250 8-cent stamps, I had the unpleasantchore of dragging the whole lot home from the post office, to add2 cents postage to each one. The zine went out, though, as what Ifelt was a fine effort. So what did I get? A 2.71 rating on the AlleyAwards Poll. Actually, that was probably due to the fact that therewas a full year between the time the issue came out and thevoting. And the fact that only 65 (out of 250) readers voted. (Sigh)That’s reader appreciation for you!

There was more, but this pretty much gives the picture. It was notuncommon in those days for editors to turn their publications over toother fans for continuation. At the end of this parting editorial, Steveturned control over to Steve Grant and Steve Wyde, who then took overfor a page (“The New Print Shoppe,” still subtitled “Editorial Comment”).After listing #3’s contents (a relatively worthless activity, since the readers

Four By FossRonn Foss was as important to the history of Headline as he was to the

original hyphenated edition of Alter-Ego, which he was destined to inheritfrom Jerry Bails and publish in 1963-64. These “Original Creations of

Yesterday” pages of his from Headline #3 showcase several of the artist’sown earlier hero concepts. For a photo of Ronn, see our previous issue.

[©2010 Estate of Ronn Foss.]

68 Part III Of “The Teenage Creations Of Steve Gerber”

Page 22: Alter Ego #92







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[FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a topartist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvel charactersketches came from Marc’s drawing table, and he illustrated her earliestadventures, including the classic origin story, “Captain MarvelIntroduces Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Dec. ’42);but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrate CaptainMarvel stories and covers forWhiz Comics and Captain MarvelAdventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, and continuedto do so while in the military. After leaving the service in 1944, he madean arrangement with Fawcett to produce art and stories for them on afreelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he created both art andstories for The Phantom Eagle inWow Comics, in addition to drawingthe Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip for Bell Syndicate (created by his friendand mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation ofWow, Swayzeproduced artwork for Fawcett’s top-selling line of romance comics,including Sweethearts and Life Story. After the company ceasedpublishing comics, Marc moved over to Charlton Publications, where heended his comics career in the mid-’50s. Marc’s ongoing professionalmemoirs have been a vital part of FCA since his first column appearedin FCA #54, 1996. Last time, Marc explained the importance of“doodles.” In this issue, the artist speaks of his love for dogs, and revisitsone of his unpublished newspaper strips. —P.C. Hamerlinck.]

aybe it’s just the imagination working overtime, but itseems that we’ve had a dog or two around ... ever since Iwas a kid. I love dogs. It stands to reason, then, that one of

the first comic strips I ever attempted featured a dog.

It was not a new thing. Dogs had been appearing in comic strips ...

about as long as people had. But mostly they were funnydogs ... and I wanted mine to be different. We were in anera of humorless comics at the time, and the gracefulshepherd dog I had in mind was not intended to befunny.

Nor was he meant to carry on oral conversations withthe strip’s human characters ... or the reader.

I had by this time met with sufficient syndicateopinion to be convinced that a fixed demand amongthem was that an original feature, such as mine, was notto begin with people talking. As one was quoted: “Neveropen with a bunch of promises of things to come. Havethe action already here ... in that first episode on thatvery first panel!”

I remembered that ... yet, I began the story at hand with twounimportant characters ... talking. Then there followed more vocalexchanges, and inactive panels, and temporary characters ... this timeJudge Bentley. In the final panel of strip one, Jango appears. Not muchaction there!

Nor in the next strip ... but the plot thickens a bit. Jango becomesaware of the presence of a dangerous forest denizen nearby ... a panther!And strip by strip a story unfolds ... three weeks of dailies ... and Jango hasa new friend... an injured war veteran ... and a new world of adventures.

Jango never made it to the printing press. Like many others, he was avictim of the massive postwar switch in reader interest ... from thedramatic ... back again to the funnies of yore.

And ... Consequently ... he was stashed away ... Here ... where he istoday.

And we still have dogs. Matterof fact, a couple are curled up atmy feet at this very moment.

And I love ’em!

Marc Swayze will return nextissue with more anecdotes aboutthe Golden Age of Comics.MM

[Art & logo ©2010 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel © & TM 2010 DC Comics]


80 FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America]

Dog Gone(Above right:) Marc recalls always having “…had a dog or two around …” Sure enough, one such four-legged friend is nearby as he inscribes the FCA editor’s

copy of Captain Marvel Adventures #19 on Memorial Day, 2005. Photo by Jennifer Hamerlinck.

(Directly above:) A Jango daily, circa 1954, when Swayze pitched the strip for syndication … about a dog, without a co-star (although later in the story, Jangoteams up with a war vet). The Jango character was actually created around 1941 as a canine companion to Judi the Jungle Girl, another syndicate strip attempt

by the artist which, like Jango, never made it to the printing press. [©2010 Marcus D. Swayze.]

Page 24: Alter Ego #92

Super-MarvelsCaptain Marvel-Inspired Superman Stories

by John G. PierceEdited by P.C. Hamerlinck



t is generally conceded that Captain Marvel started his life as a delib-erate imitation of Superman. Actually, that doesn’t make him all thatunique, by itself, anyway. In a general sense, virtually all super-

heroes, even those (such as Batman) who were merely non-poweredcostumed heroes, were in one way or another imitations of Superman.Some, such as Fox’s Wonder Man or Fawcett’s Master Man, were a bitmore obvious.

But it is hard to deny the order came down from on high at FawcettPublications to “create a character like Superman” (see PCH’s ’98 RoscoeK. Fawcett interview, reprinted in the book Fawcett Companion),although that mandate could simply have meant something on the orderof “not a character like Mickey Mouse” or “not a character like FlashGordon.” Be that as it may, Captain Marvel did bear an undeniablesimilarity to the Man of Steel. Later on, when DC sued Fawcett overalleged copyright infringement, each company had teams of workersporing over stories and panels looking for similarities—which werelocated, but going in both directions, with some sequences having beendone in “Captain Marvel” stories before they appeared in Superman’sadventures.

Well, we all know how that story ended, and further elaboration is notthe task at hand. Instead, it is to focus upon a certain set of “Superman”stories which were inspired by Captain Marvel—not imitations of him,necessarily, but owing their existence (or at least certain story elementstherein) to his prior existence.

Zha-Vam The InvincibleOne such three-part Silver Age tour de force was found in Action

Comics #351-353 (June-Aug. 1967). In a series of stories, readers wereintroduced to a villain with the suspicious-sounding name of Zha-Vam, amere two letters and a hyphen removed from that of the old wizard whosepowers gave birth to The Marvel Family, viz., Shazam. It might come asno surprise that the tale was written by Captain Marvel’s erstwhile headwriter, and by this point head writer for the Superman family, OttoBinder. Still, it’s hard to tell where the idea actually originated, as editorMort Weisinger was, in Otto’s own words, “an idea man,” though MW wasalso notorious for taking ideas from one writer and force-feeding them toanother under the pretense that they were his own creations. But here,given Otto’s history with the Marvels, we might be more inclined to creditOtto himself with having generated the idea—or, if nothing else, perhapsit was Mort’s knowledge of Otto’s past association with Fawcett which gavehim the thought, instead.

WhizzedAction Comics #351 (June 1967)marked the first installment

of former “CaptainMarvel”/”Marvel Family”scripter Otto O. Binder’s

“Zha-Vam” trilogy (cover artby Curt Swan & George Klein).

Residing next to it is are-creation of the cover—

with a Captain Marvel twist—by artist Eric Jansen

([email protected])and assembled by Walt

Grogan (marvelfamily.com).[Action art ©2010 DC Comics;Superman & Shazam hero TM

& ©2010 DC Comics.]


Page 25: Alter Ego #92

The “action” begins when Zha-Vam intrudes on a meeting ofcriminals—the United Crime Syndicates—who are in need of a newleader, given that Superman has jailed their previous one. Zha-Vampresents his impressive résumé for the job: the lightning bolts of Zeus, thestrength of Hercules, the invulnerability of Achilles, flame breath fromVulcan, magic bow and arrows from Apollo, and the speed of Mercury.

One right away notices some similarities to Captain Marvel’s pantheon,and some differences. Here, Zeus is given a specific ability, that ofthrowing thunderbolts, rather than the vague “power of Zeus” (oftenconsidered to be the source of CM’s invulnerability). The strength ofHercules is not only the same as with Cap, but in the same spot in thename.

Then there’s Achilles, who gives Captain Marvel courage, rather thaninvulnerability—though it’s tempting to think that anyone with invulnera-bility would have a built-in advantage in that department. (Still, keep inmind that the early CM was not totally impervious to harm or pain.)

Vulcan and Apollo, of course, are specific to Zha-Vam, as are theattributes they convey. Finally, Mercury, as with Cap (and in the same tail-end spot), gives speed, which obviously includes flying ability. (Mercuryapparently was a bit stingier when he gave his speed to Wonder Woman,as that gift did not include flight—at least, not until George Pérez tookhold of the character in the mid-’80s.)

Anyway, after a quick demonstration of his abilities, Zha-Vam easilyconvinces the crooks to accept him as their leader, and they start off onwhat criminals do best: committing crimes. An attempt on Fort Knox (alocation which turned up more than once in Silver Age “Superman” tales)brings the Man of Steel into action, and up against Zha-Vam for the firsttime. But, although the villain is able to knock Superman around, he can’tquite defeat him. Even Apollo’s magic bow, shooting arrows made fromZeus’ lightning (an interesting combination), doesn’t really affectSuperman. (Yes, yes, I know he’s supposed to be vulnerable to magic justas he is to Kryptonite. Does magic have rules?)

It is then that Zha-Vam unveils his reserve powers, in the form of hisbelt with various buttons, each with a different letter. When he touchesthe ‘T,’ he gets the power of Titan, and grows to be 100 feet tall. Thechapter ends with Superman’s defeat, and a written message of defiance toSuperman on a Fort Knox wall. (The fort’s gold, however, presumably theobject of the invasion, was not taken but rather simply melted down byZha-Vam’s flame breath.)

The Victory Of Zha-VamThe second Zha-Vam tale demonstrates once more how Silver Age

writers were able to pack more plot into 14 pages than most modernwriters can do into several issues. It begins with a charity exhibition inwhich Superman tosses, smashes, and otherwise cavorts with full-sizedreplicas of the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramid, and the EiffelTower. (This was supposed to be taking place in Metropolis Stadium,which had to have been one huge place to accommodate all thosefacsimiles.) The crowd is suitably wowed by the spectacle, until Zha-Vamshows up to challenge the Man of Steel.

His challenge? An invitation to Superman to push one of his beltbuttons. Superman chooses “G,” which turns Zha-Vam into a Gorgon,who immediately turns Superman to stone. But, being the sporting sort,Zha-Vam gives our hero a clue before he flies off: “A lucky horseshoe canset you free!”

Meanwhile, those first-degree voyeurs, the Phantom Zone villains, arelooking in on the events. Concentrating their thoughts, they sendSuperman a mental message: “We figured out Zha-Vam’s clue, and it’sattractive! That’s a clue of our own... if you can guess it!”

As if all that weren’t enough, Superman remembers that Clark Kenthad promised Lois a story for her woman’s-page feature, and he’s worriedthat if he doesn’t deliver soon, she’ll get suspicious. But then he gets aflash of brilliance. “Lucky horseshoe means a horseshoe magnet, whichhas an attractive force. Zha-Vam turned me into lodestone, which is anatural magnetic material!” And conveniently, of course, a thunderstormcomes up, so Superman’s lodestone body is able to attract a lightning bolt,which “temporarily charged my thought-waves with electrical energy!”(The Silver Age: There’s nothing quite like it!)

So then Superman uses his concentrated mental energy to operate thekeys of an electric typewriter in the Daily Planet office, thus poundingout a story for Lois to find, and divert her suspicions—for now, anyway.(This trick, which in various forms has been used more than once, can betraced to the 1950 Columbia movie serial Atom-Man vs. Superman,where Lex Luthor trapped the hero in what was called “the Empty Doom,”an obvious forerunner of the Phantom Zone.) Meanwhile, Superman hasmanaged to attract a barrage of lightning bolts, “which are smashing theiron magnetite atoms and turning me back to living flesh!”

Later, Clark gets a report about strange temple being built in Greece.Investigating, he finds that, surely enough, it’s the work of Zha-Vam, whohas proclaimed himself “King of Earth” (in English lettering on thetemple; one wonders why no Greek letters were used … a missed oppor-tunity to teach readers a little something worthwhile). In the ensuing

InsuperableAction #351’s Zha-Vam splash page, drawn by artist Wayne Boring. Otto

Binder’s “Zha-Vam the Invincible,” and the two subsequent stories featuringthe character, copiously contained slight (and not-so-slim) deferences to theoriginal Captain Marvel. Scan courtesy of Darrell McNeil. [©2010 DC Comics.]

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