Page 1




Sheena TM & ©2003 Paul Aratow/Columbia Pictures




In the USA

No. 21

February 2003

Vol. 3, No. 21 / February 2003


Roy Thomas

Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash

Design & Layout

Christopher Day

Consulting Editors John Morrow Jon B. Cooke

FCA Editor

P.C. Hamerlinck

Comic Crypt Editor Michael T. Gilbert

Editors Emeritus

Jerry Bails (founder) Ronn Foss Biljo White Mike Friedrich

Production Assistant

Eric Nolen-Weathington

Cover Artists/Colorists

The Iger Comics Kingdom

Irwin Hasen Dave Stevens

And Special Thanks to: Heather Antonelli Dick Arnold Bob Bailey Jeff Bailey Jack Bender Frank Brunner Rich Buckler Lee Caplin Diego Ceresa Lynda Fox Cohen Bob Cosgrove Ray A. Cuthbert Al Dellinges Jay Disbrow Shel Dorf Ken Dudley Will Eisner Michael Feldman Jeff Fox Gordon Green Martin Greim George Hagenauer Paul Handler Merrily Mayer Harris Irwin Hasen Adam Hughes Andy Ice Ed Jaster Tim Lapsley Rich Larsen

Joe Latino Richard Lieberson Dan Makara Linda Long Lanny Mayer Simon Miller Fred Mommsen Jerry Ordway Robert Overstreet John G. Pierce Dan Raspler Trina Robbins Ethan Roberts Don Rosick Alex Ross Steve Schanes Carole Seuling Gwen Seuling Robin Snyder Dave Stevens Marc Swayze Joel Thingvall Dann Thomas Alex Toth Jim Vadeboncoeur Hames Ware John Wells Steve Whittaker Andy Yanchus Ken Yodowitz Ray Zone

Contents Writer/Editorial: The Iger Counter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 The Iger Comics Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Golden Age artist Jay Disbrow on Jerry Iger & his comic art studio—featuring art by some of the greatest talents of the 1940s and ’50s—and today!

A Footnote on the Eisner and Iger Shops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Which artists worked for Iger—and which for Eisner & Iger? Jerry Bails’ full listing! re: [John Buscema] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Special JUSTICE SOCIETY Section, plus FCA . . . . . . Flip Us! About Our Cover: In 1985 Dave Stevens, now celebrated as creator of The Rocketeer among his other artistic accomplishments, drew a stunningly sensuous cover featuring Sheena for Jay Disbrow’s book The Iger Comics Kingdom. Thanks to Dave for allowing us to use it as the cover of this issue, which reprints and revises that 1985 tome—and there’s more Stevens Sheena art on p. 43! [Cover Art ©2003 Dave Stevens; Sheena TM & ©2003 Paul Aratow/Columbia pictures.] Above: One of the shining artistic lights of the Iger Studios was Maurice Whitman, who did some of his best work on the Tarzanic “Kaänga” feature in Jungle Comics and in the hero’s own title. This splash page from Kaänga Comics #20 (Summer 1954—the final issue, alas) shows why his work is held in high esteem by collectors and fellow professionals alike. Reproduced from a photocopy of the original art, courtesy of George Hagenauer. [©2003 respective holder.] Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 elsewhere. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators 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. FIRST PRINTING.


Jay Disbrow’s cover painting for his 1985 book wasn’t used, except for the logo (which was joined with Dave Stevens’ Sheena cover art, which also appears on this issue of Alter Ego). We’re pleased to print Jay’s version for the first time, even if we couldn’t give it the color it deserves. [Art ©2003 Jay Disbrow; Doll Man, Black Condor, & Blue Beetle TM & ©2003 DC Comics; The Flame, Kaänga, & The Hawk (of the Seas) TM & ©the respective TM & copyright holders; Sheena TM!& ©2003 Paul Aratow/Columbia Pictures.]

with additional textual material provided by Steve Whitaker, Jerry Bails, & Roy Thomas

Introduction (2002) How This Book Came to Be Written Many will remember that the late Phil Seuling has frequently been called the “father” of the modern comics convention. From the 1960s through the early ’80s, he produced his famous Comic Art Conventions which were held each year either in New York City or in Philadelphia, on or about the 4th of July. Phil was the man who enabled me to contact Jerry Iger after many years had elapsed since I had been an employee at the Iger Studios. Thus were put into effect the conditions that led to my writing The Iger Comics Kingdom. Sometime prior to 1981 I came across one of Phil Seuling’s newsletters. In it he mentioned a telephone conversation he had recently had with Jerry Iger. This came as a shock to me, because I had erroneously assumed that Jerry had died. Nearly thirteen years had passed since I had last seen him, and he had been

Jay Disbrow in front of his home, July 2002. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Jay Disbrow

approaching age fifty at the time I worked at his studio in 1950-51! When I learned Iger was indeed alive, it occurred to me that it would be a great idea to call him and renew our acquaintanceship. But, of course, I had no way to contact him directly. I did have Phil Seuling’s phone number, so one Sunday afternoon I called him and mentioned his article on Jerry Iger. I explained that I had worked at the Iger Studios in 1950, and that I would like to contact Jerry again. Phil provided me with Jerry’s number, and I called him immediately. That was the first of a series of telephone conversations I had with Iger, and during the course of our discussion, he provided me with the address of L.B. Cole, the former editor and cover artist of Star Publications, for whom I had worked when I left the Iger Studios. (A few of my reminiscences of Cole will appear in Alter Ego a couple of issues from now.)

believed that I was equal to this task. The more thought I gave to it, the more I warmed to the idea. Jerry Iger in the mid-1970s, holding an advertising brochure he’d done—flanked by an autographed reproduction of same, and a sketch done at one of Phil Seuling’s comics conventions. Both pieces of line art courtesy of Ken Yodowitz; the photo is repro’d from the 1985 edition of The Iger Comics Kingdom, often abbreviated below as TICK. [©2003 the respective copyright holders.]

When I made contact with Leonard Cole, it was tentatively decided that all three of us would meet at a comics convention in New York City. Jerry Iger was amenable to this, and we arranged to meet at a predesignated destination. On the day appointed, I met again with the two comic book titans who had directed my early career in the comic art medium.

Leonard Cole was as gregarious as I had remembered from former years, but Jerry Iger was reserved and almost reluctant to partake of the conviviality that flourished at the convention. I later realized that this was because of his emotional makeup. If he could not dominate the situation he was in, he tended to pull back from it and did not fully participate. I recall that I gave a lecture at that convention on my experiences in the comic book industry. I was introduced by Gary Groth, editor and publisher of The Comics Journal. Both Iger and Cole were in the audience that day, and during the course of my presentation I asked them to stand up and identify themselves to the audience. When they did so, the applause was thunderous. The audience really appreciated these two giants of the comics world. I continued my relationship with Cole and Iger via the telephone in the months and years that followed. One day when I was talking to Jerry Iger, he began to reminisce about his long career in the comics. I was fascinated with what he was telling me. “Jerry,” I said, “someone should write your biography. It would make a very interesting story.” “Why don’t you write it?” he replied. For a moment I was stunned by his rejoinder. Jerry knew that I had written many newspaper and magazine articles, and apparently he

The greatest hurdle would be to obtain all the facts relating to his career, and to the career of his former partner, Will Eisner. But since the subject of the narrative was alive and well, I would obtain that information directly from the source. Little did I realize then how difficult that would be.

I made an appointment to meet him at his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, in New York City. I took my wife and a tape recorder and drove to his home. As I recall, I found his place without a great deal of trouble, and Jerry greeted us warmly.

I placed my tape recorder on the coffee table in his living room, and, after plugging it in, I began the interview. It all went well for a few minutes; then his mind began to wander. I found it difficult to keep his mind focused on the details of his career. He preferred to relate a series of disconnected incidents from his past, while I attempted to pull him back to the chronological details of his life story. After a couple of hours, this proved to be a bit frustrating. We finally broke for lunch, and the three of us walked to a nearby Wendy’s for our noontime meal. At the conclusion of the lunch period, my optimism began to rise. Surely the afternoon session would be an improvement over the earlier one. But as time went by, he continued to digress. He was having more fun telling isolated anecdotes from his past that were unrelated to his career. Finally, I was forced to conclude that the man was in his dotage. He simply could not fully concentrate on the task at hand. So I was forced to try a new tactic. Beginning with the information with which I was already familiar, I asked him about times and events of the people who had worked for him. I kept narrowing the questions to keep him on track. This proved to be more rewarding. I attempted especially to pin down the details of his professional relationship with Will Eisner. He had an obvious respect for Eisner’s talent as an artist and writer, and for his editorial and organizational skills. But it was clear to me that he had never really forgiven Will for failing to renew their partnership at the conclusion of World War II. The fact that Eisner had carved out a successful career on his own seemed to be a difficult thing for Jerry to accept. When I finally realized I had all the information from Iger I was likely to get, I packed up my tape recorder and my wife and I returned home. Every evening after work, I listened to that tape and took notes.

The Iger Comics Kingdom

heroes done for Fox, Fiction House, Quality, and other lesserknown publishers. I sent them to Steve Schanes, but only two of them appeared in the finished publication. That was a disappointment, to be sure. I’m happy that more of those art pieces are included in this expanded edition of The Iger Comics Kingdom, and Roy Thomas assures me that the others will see print in future issues of Alter Ego.

This then-recent photo of (l. to r.) Jerry Iger, artist L.B. Cole, and Jay disbrow appeared in the 1981 edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, later in Alter Ego #14 (thanks to Bob Overstreet for permission to print it). In the early 1940s Cole had drawn for Holyoke, including this great Cat-Man #29 (1945) cover, a scan of which was sent to us by Jim Vadeboncouer. Jim, by the way, publishes the excellent magazine ImageS, which features fabulous reproduction of vintage art from the Golden Age of Illustration. ImageS #1-4 are available as a set for $60 from him at 3809 Laguna Av., Palo Alto, CA 94306, or call (650) 493-3841. Also available is the first 96-page Black & White ImageS Annual, for $23... or for $20 with issues #1-4. Check out the website at <>. [©2003 the respective copyright holders.]

This went on for several nights until at last I felt I was ready to begin the manuscript. As I wrote the Iger biography, there were times when I ran into blank areas of which I was ignorant of the details. When a situation such as this developed, I would telephone Jerry for clarification. Usually he could provide me with an answer, if his mind did not stray off course. Even as I continued composing the manuscript, I was troubled by the fact that I had no publisher to launch this effort. Then one day as I was nearing completion of the manuscript, I had a telephone conversation with Ray Zone (the 3-D comics master) from Los Angeles. Ray had a keen interest in the work that had been produced by the Iger Studios. When I told him about my project, he was delighted.

Blackthorne published the book in 1985, shortly after Columbia Pictures released its bigbudget production Sheena. Jerry loved the film based on his famous jungle character, and I think he was pleased with my biography of his life. About five years after the book was published, Jerry Iger passed from this earthly scene. He had lived a long and fruitful life, but as so frequently happens to elderly people, I believe he spent his final years in abject loneliness. This new edition of The Iger Comics Kingdom is sent forth with the hope that it will impart some additional enlightenment on this fascinating medium. As Roy explains in his editorial which immediately precedes this introduction, an attempt has been made to correct errors of fact which inevitably crept in. If there are still errors in the text (as there undoubtedly will be), I apologize herewith. But, based on the information given above, the reader will understand why such errors occurred.

Through his connections with the California-based Blackthorne Publications, Ray got my manuscript into the hands of Steve Schanes, Blackthorne’s publisher. Even at that time Blackthorne was publishing a series of reprint comics that had been produced by the Iger Studios in the 1940s and ’50s, so my project was given an immediate review. Within a few weeks, Ray called me to confirm the fact that Blackthorne would publish my book. I immediately prepared a series of black-&-white illustrations (close to thirty) of the famous Iger comic book


The published cover of the 1985 Blackthorne edition of TICK. [Art ©2003 Dave Stevens; Sheena TM & ©2003 Paul Aratow/ Columbia Pictures.]

In a letter I received from Will Eisner after he read the book in 1985, he indicated that the facts I presented were essentially accurate; but he also said that nearly a half century of time had blurred the memory of some of the details in his mind, as would be inevitable for any individual. So we send this book forth a second time, in the hope that it will rekindle an image of the Golden Age of Comics.


Jay Disbrow

Foreword to the 1985 Edition With the introduction of Superman in issue #1 of Action Comics in 1938, the so-called “Golden Age of Comic Books” was born. The Man of Steel proved to be such a success that he was immediately followed by a host of costumed heroes, endowed with extraordinary physical prowess and dedicated to the eradication of crime and injustice. A handful of businessmen saw the potential of this kind of comic book entertainment and were quick to exploit it for the profits it contained. It may seem incredible, after many decades of inflation, that 10¢ comic books could yield dividends in sufficient quantities to enable publishers to become wealthy upon their proceeds, but such indeed was the case. Less than four years after the advent of Superman, America was deeply immersed in World War II, and it was during this period (from 1942 to 1954) that sales of comic books rose to astronomical heights. They sold in the tens of millions, and there was scarcely an elementary or high school class that did not contain them by the hundreds, clandestinely brought in by eager readers who found comic book stories far more interesting than their studies. In 1943 the market was glutted with more than 500 individual titles that were released on bi-weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly schedules. With titles selling an average of approximately 400,000 copies, it takes little imagination to visualize the tremendously lucrative value these publications represented.

Some of the best-known comics heroes to come out of the Iger Studios, as drawn by Jay Disbrow for the 1985 edition of TICK, but not used therein. (On this page and the next:) Blue Beetle... Black Condor... The Flame... Phantom Lady... Kaänga... and of course Sheena! [Art©2003 Jay Disbrow; characters TM & ©2003 the respective copyright holders; Sheena TM!&!©2003 Paul Aratow/Columbia Pictures.]

Few people realize that, prior to the Golden Age, another comics age existed. Aficionados refer to this epoch as the “Platinum Age.” It ran from 1933 to 1938, and was characterized by both bold experimentation and blatant mediocrity. Much of the material this era produced was crude, both in terms of art and story structure. But some of the published efforts revealed genuine talent, serving as a springboard for the great era to follow. Most of those early comics consisted exclusively of reprints of newspaper strips from even earlier years. Since this type of magazine sold well, it appeared the course of comic magazines had been permanently established as a reprint vehicle. However, there were a few men of vision in that early period who recognized the value of publishing original material. Such a man was S.M. “Jerry” Iger. Jerry Iger had plunged into the medium with an abandon that astonished the less venturesome entrepreneurs already in the field. While others were content merely to get their feet wet, Iger went for the entire show. But if his methods at times appeared a bit brash, there was sound judgment behind all that he did. From the humble beginnings of his Manhattan studios in 1935, he laid the

The Iger Comics Kingdom


foundation of a comics empire that sprang to glittering fruition during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Many of the heroes he created or whose creations he oversaw have found niches in the comics Hall of Fame that exists in the American psyche. The most popular creation to come out of his studio was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, that vivacious blonde beauty of the African wilds. Numerous other comic book protagonists have also emerged from the fertile imagination of Iger and those who worked for him. Among them were Kaänga, The Blue Beetle, The Flame, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Wambi, The Ray, Tiger Girl, plus Wonder Boy and a host of others. In addition, a large number of the best and most famous artists of the Golden Age got their initial “break” at the Iger Studios. A mere sampling of names includes such stalwarts as Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Matt Baker, Bernard Baily, Bob Powell, Dick Briefer, Jack Kamen, John Celardo, Mickey Spillane, Mort Meskin, Lou Fine, Reed Crandall, and Bob Webb. The present writer also was fortunate enough to have gained entrance to the comics field by way of the Iger shop. For more than two decades, the Iger Studios produced a plethora of comics material that entertained the nation. In addition to comic books, Iger also owned his own newspaper syndicate, Universal Phoenix, which provided comic strips to hundreds of newspapers throughout the U.S. and abroad. The Iger Studios, although modest when compared to the giants like Walt Disney Studios, was nevertheless a corporation of considerable

magnitude. When one considers the sheer volume of comic book pages produced there, the imagination is staggered. When further consideration is given to all the prototypes and their spin-offs that resulted from that effort, the astonishment is heightened. Almost every American beyond the age of fifty has at least a passing acquaintance with the material from the Iger shop. For the younger majority, this book will hopefully open new vistas into a magnificent age that exists only in fond memory. This is the story of that era, and of a man who helped shape it. This is the story of the life and times of Jerry Iger: a man who founded a kingdom, the memory of which lasts to this day—The Iger Comics Kingdom.


Jay Disbrow

The Legendary Matt Baker!

African-American Matt Baker was one of the foremost “good girl” artists of the post-WWII period. This portrait of him by fellow Iger artist Aldo Robano was featured in the 1985 Iger Comics Kingdom. On these two pages we present a monumental montage of some of Baker’s most noteworthy nonPhantom Lady work—all ©2003 by the respective copyright holders:

Flamingo dances the fandango (or something) in A List Comics’ 1998 Flamingo. The “Flamingo” feature originally appeared in Holyoke’s Contact Comics in 1944. Script probably by Ruth Roche. [Flamingo TM & ©2003 Lee Caplin.]

Wunder. Dick Tracy was still involved in acts of derring-do, and in the early part of ’47 the New York News Syndicate launched the adventures of Hopalong Cassidy, based upon the western motion picture hero. Burne Hogarth, fresh from his Drago experience at the Hall Syndicate, was bringing Tarzan to new heights of glory. Also at United Features, a new and very talented artist-writer named Warren Tufts was doing the outstanding western strip Casey Ruggles. Al Capp was still producing his wonderful Li’l Abner, and a new cartoonist named Ray Gotta was beguiling readers with his whimsical comic strip about a hillbilly baseball star called Ozark Ike. In 1947 we were also introduced to a new full-page Sunday comic from King Features Syndicate. It was called Dick’s Adventures, written by Max Trell and drawn by the well-known story illustrator, Neil O’Keif. The comic strip was drawn in the same format and general layout as the Prince Valiant page.

A “Wonder Boy” page done for Quality’s National Comics during the 1940s, repro’d from a photocopy of the original art.

While many people have thought of comic books as the “stepchild” of newspaper comics, it would be a mistake to assume that comic books have never been an influence on syndicate strips. Quite the contrary is true. Many features that had their genesis in comic books went on to achieve syndication and newspaper appearances. But, in addition, syndi-

The Iger Comics Kingdom


A magnificent example of Baker’s pen-and-ink styling of “Flamingo”—and a promotional piece for the Flamingo daily comic strip, as seen in the 1985 TICK. [Flamingo TM &©2003 Lee Caplin.]

Matt Baker’s cover for Seven Seas Comics #5 (no date, but ’46 or ’47), a comic apparently at least co-published by Iger’s Universal Phoenix Features... repro’d from a photocopy of the original art, courtesy of Ray A. Cuthbert.

cated comics often lifted ideas that originally appeared in comic books. The format may be different, but the medium is the same. In 1948 Fiction House launched a new comic magazine called Indians Comics. Jerry Iger and company created a new leading character for the book: a white woman with long red hair. In fact, her tresses were the primary characteristic of the feature, and served as the strip’s title: “Firehair.” This leading lady captured the fancy of comics readers, for it was not long before the sales of Indians began to rise sharply. The other Fiction House titles were also doing well, as were the publications for Fox, Ajax/Farrell, and a new client, Gilberton Publishing Company. In 1949 Gilberton, publisher of Classics Illustrated (till 1947, Classic Comics) approached Jerry Iger with a request for a comic book adaptation of Mary Shelley’s horror masterpiece Frankenstein. They wanted a version that would be both “different” and “better” than what they had been receiving from freelance sources. Jerry turned the project over to Ruth, who researched the story and wrote the script. The script was given to Bob Webb to pencil. The finished product was a classic adaptation of a classic story. Gilberton was delighted with it, and comic book readers reveled in its marvelous reproduction. [See p. 33.] In September of 1949 Jerry Iger had an opportunity to move his studios from their East 44th Street location to a more centralized location further uptown. He rented a two-story building on West 53rd Street and moved his staff and equipment into its more spacious facilities. It is fortunate for the author of this book that he did so.

Chapter VII

The Kid from New Jersey Arrives January 3, 1950, will always be a day of special significance to me. For it was on that day that I was hired as a staff member of the S.M. Iger Studios. Of course, I had heard about the Iger establishment a few years before this, but I had never known precisely where it was located. When I had been given his precise address, I hastened to it with all dispatch. It turned out to be a two-story apartment building on Manhattan’s West 53rd Street, near Eighth Avenue. There was a brilliant red door on the street level that gave entrance to the studio. I opened the door and found myself in an ample corridor which led to a large paneled room containing several desks, filing cabinets, typewriters, and bookcases. And there I met the man himself: Jerry Iger. I cannot say I was greatly impressed by his appearance. He was not a tall man, nor was he especially charismatic. But he had a rather intense demeanor which was apparent in all he did. I sat down in a plush chair beside his desk and opened my portfolio. I withdrew several of my original comic book pages and handed them to him. He examined them with great interest, then rose from his desk. “I’m going to take these upstairs to show to my art director,” he said. Then he strode up a flight of stairs located at the rear of the room.

The Eisner & Iger Shops


A Footnote on the Eisner & Iger Shops by Roy Thomas

G. Bails, in conjunction with others, has amassed a detailed and reasonably comprehensive list of the two shops’ personnel, based in large part upon responses from the artists and writers themselves, back when so many more of them were still amongst us. He has made this painstaking research from his online version of Who’s Who in American Comic Books available to Alter Ego—for which we humbly thank him. If there are any suggested corrections or additions to this list, please contact A/E at <>—or contact Jerry at <>. In addition, you can visit Jerry’s information-filled Who’s Who website at <>. Also helpful was Howard Keltner’s monumental Golden Age Comic Books Index (1935-1955): The Revised Edition.

(utilizing the contributions of Jerry Bails and Steve Whitaker) While many of the artists, writers, and production people who worked for the Eisner & Iger, Ltd., shop, or later the S.M. Iger Studios, are mentioned by name in the course of Jay Disbrow’s The Iger Comics Kingdom, as reprinted this issue in slightly revised fashion, the 1985 book made no attempt to feature a full listing of the two shops’ personnel between the late 1930s and the mid-to-late 1950s when the Iger shop was finally dissolved, or a few years later when the last of its inventory was used up. To some extent, indeed, a truly complete listing of Eisner/Iger’s cast of characters may well be beyond the possibility of human accomplishment at this late date, the more so since some creators worked for one or both shops on some sort of freelance basis, rather than being on staff. However, since he began his researches in the early 1960s, Jerry

Jay Disbrow’s tribute to Will Eisner’s “The Hawk,” which would resurface later as “Hawks of the Seas.” For a “Hawk” panel, see p. 12... and see the 1986 Kitchen Sink volume Hawks of the Seas for the later version. [Art ©2003 Jay Disbrow; character TM & ©2003 Will Eisner.]

Eisner & Iger Shop According to JGB’s Who’s Who, this shop was also called at one time Syndicated Features Corporation, and at various times between 1937-39 produced work for at least the following: Wags magazine (U.K.), Okay Comics Weekly (U.K.), and the comics lines of Quality, Fiction House, Fox, and Harvey. Features created in the shop during this period include “Hawks of the Seas,” “Yarko,” “Sheena,” “Spencer Steel,” and others. In the listings below, a question mark (?) after a creator’s name means that whether or not he worked for the shop in question is unverified at present.

Eisner & Iger Shop Personnel Vince Alascia (artist)–c. 1938-39 Jack Alderman (inker)–1939 Gerald Altman (lettering, backgrounds) –c. 1938-39 Larry Antonette (artist)–1939 Stan Aschmeier (artist)–1939 Rafael Astarita (artist)–c. 1939 Bernard Baily (artist) –1937-39 Winnifred Belefant (secretary) –c. 1938-39 Alex Blum (artist)–1938-39

Toni Blum (writer)–1938-39 (later married to Bill Bossert) Bill Bossert (writer)–1939 George Brenner (artist) –1936 (pre-Eisner & Iger) Dick Briefer (writer/artist)–1937-39 Ray Burley (artist)–1939 Nick Cardy (then Nick Viscardi) (artist)–1939 Arthur Cazeneuve (artist) –1939 Grieg Chapian (artist) –1939 Reed Crandall (artist)–1939 (continued on next page)

Whether it was Ruth Roche or someone else who wrote the adaptation of Homer’s Iliad in Classics Illustrated #77 (Nov. 1950), the combined script and Alex Blum art had such a powerful impact on Ye Editor, then just turning ten, that after reading it he located an abridged version of the original, and soon followed that with Samuel Butler’s 19th-century prose translation. It became his favorite work of pre-20th century literature... even though Blum drew Ajax the Greater and Ajax the Lesser, two distinctly different heroes, as if they were twins when they stood side by side! [©2003 the respective copyright holder.]




In the USA





Art ©2003 Irwin Hasen; JSA TM & ©2003 DC Comics

Art & Artifacts by An

No. 21

February 2003

Vol. 3, No. 21 / February 2003


Roy Thomas

Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash

Design & Layout

Christopher Day

Consulting Editors John Morrow Jon B. Cooke

FCA Editor

JSA/All-Star Squadron Section

P.C. Hamerlinck

Comic Crypt Editor Michael T. Gilbert

Editors Emeritus

Jerry Bails (founder) Ronn Foss Biljo White Mike Friedrich


Production Assistant

Eric Nolen-Weathington

Cover Artists/Colorists Irwin Hasen Dave Stevens

And Special Thanks to: Heather Antonelli Dick Arnold Bob Bailey Jeff Bailey Jack Bender Frank Brunner Rich Buckler Lee Caplin Diego Ceresa Lynda Fox Cohen Bob Cosgrove Ray A. Cuthbert Al Dellinges Jay Disbrow Shel Dorf Ken Dudley Will Eisner Michael Feldman Jeff Fox Gordon Green Martin Greim George Hagenauer Paul Handler Merrily Mayer Harris Irwin Hasen Adam Hughes Andy Ice Ed Jaster Tim Lapsley Rich Larsen

Joe Latino Richard Lieberson Dan Makara Linda Long Lanny Mayer Simon Miller Fred Mommsen Jerry Ordway Robert Overstreet John G. Pierce Dan Raspler Trina Robbins Ethan Roberts Don Rosick Alex Ross Steve Schanes Carole Seuling Gwen Seuling Robin Snyder Dave Stevens Marc Swayze Joel Thingvall Dann Thomas Alex Toth Jim Vadeboncoeur Hames Ware John Wells Steve Whittaker Andy Yanchus Ken Yodowitz Ray Zone

Writer/Editorial: The Magnificent Sevens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 “Them Justice Guys” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The awesome artists of All-Star Comics #33-41—“the best of the best”! Triumph of the “Will” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Still more amazing artwork from that “lost” 1940s Justice Society adventure! A Conversation with Shelly Mayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Jim Amash’s 1991 phone talk with the editor/co-creator of the JSA. About Irwin & Shelly & Us!!! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Master artist Alex Toth—who was there—writes about Hasen and Mayer. Comic Crypt: Nuts and Bolts! The Gardner Fox Scrapbook, Chapter II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Michael T. Gilbert examines the detailed records of the JSA’s other co-creator.

Preview –––of a Coming Attraction! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Roy Thomas continues the backstory of the 1980s All-Star Squadron. FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) #80 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Cap’s artist Marc Swayze, exec editor Will Lieberson, and “little brother” Cap Jr.! The Iger Comics Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us! About Our Cover: See the story behind this section’s colorful Hasen quasi-re-creation on the next page! [Art ©2003 Irwin Hasen; JSA & Alchemist TM & ©2003 DC Comics.] Above: The Justice Society enters the world of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm—and the results were nearly very grim, indeed! “The Invasion from Fairyland” in AllStar Comics #39, written by John Broome and illustrated entirely by Irwin Hasen, is the only issue from the classic run of #33-41 that hasn’t ever been reprinted. All Star Archives—what’re you waitin’ for! [©2003 DC Comics.] Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $8 ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 elsewhere. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators 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. FIRST PRINTING.


by Roy Thomas

“Them Justice Guys”

“Them Justice Guys” The Artists of All-Star Comics’ Pinnacle Issues

Although the title of this piece is a quote voiced by a hoodlum in AllStar Comics #6 (Aug.-Sept. 1941), anyone who’s read The All-Star Companion or my prefaces to DC’s All Star Archives knows that I consider All-Star #33-41 (1947-48) the quality high point of the 55 original tales of the Justice Society. Fellow JSAficionados Jerry Bails and Craig Delich concur in this view, as do others. Consider these foes and themes: Solomon Grundy, The Wizard, Per Degaton conquering time, guest stars Superman and Batman, the Injustice Society, the “deaths” of all six male JSAers, an invasion from Fairyland, a special issue on juvenile delinquency—and a second Injustice Society! What’s more, all three Golden Age “JSA” writers worked on that year-and-a-half’s worth of epics—Gardner Fox (#33-34), John Broome (#35, 39-41), and Robert Kanigher (#37-38)—and one or more of them probably scripted the enigmatic #36, as well. Just as outstanding as the concepts and writers were the artists— especially those who represented the “new blood” coming into National/DC at that time.

Thus, with seven of these nine primo issues reprinted in the recent Volumes 7 & 8 of the All Star Archives, and the remaining two doubtless slated for Vol. 9, let’s take a fast look at the “lucky 13” artists who penciled—and in some cases inked—the interior artwork of AllStar #33-41. (Win Mortimer drew #36’s cover, but no verified interiors.) Here they are, in roughly the order in which their artwork appeared in the issues, starting with:

Irwin Hasen

(#33-37, 39, 41) Recently, Irwin re-created his splash art for All-Star #35 for collector Dan Makara; thanks to both gents for sharing it below. This scene echoes the very first JSA cover (All-Star #3), with the heroes sitting around their meeting table. This splash was unique in using the Justice Society’s emblem as the story logo. To contact Irwin about commission work, write to him at 68 E. 79th St., NYC, NY 10021, or phone (212) 861-6879. [Art ©2003 Irwin Hasen; JSA TM & ©2003 DC Comics.]

The Artists of All-Star Comics


Joe Kubert (#33-37)

Editor Shelly Mayer gave several pages of original 1945-46 Kubert “Hawkman” art to replacement Chet Kozlak as reference; this one’s from “The Land of the Bird People” in Flash Comics #71 (May 1946). Probably written by Gardner Fox, it introduced Feithera, birthplace of Northwind of Ye Editor’s later group Infinity, Inc. Thanks to Joel Thingvall and Al Dellinges. [©2003 DC Comics.]

Stan Aschmeier (as “Stan Josephs”) (#33)

“The Revenge of Solomon Grundy” marked “Stan Joseph’s” final appearance in All-Star... at roughly the same time as this tale from All-American Comics #84 (April ’47) heralded his last “Dr. Mid-Nite” art. Apparently he later taught at the University of Minnesota, among other accomplishments; Ye Editor met him circa 1970 through the good offices of Marvel inker Vince Colletta. [©2003 DC Comics.]


Triumph Of The “Will”

Triumph Of The “Will” Still More Art from the “Lost” 1940s Adventure of the Justice Society

Installment No.

by Roy Thomas

Yes, amazingly, yet another piece of art from the never-published 1945-46 Gardner Fox “JSA” story “The Will of William Wilson” has surfaced. But first: Recently, Gordon Green of Williamsville, NY, wrote us: “As much as I enjoyed Michael Gilbert’s rendition of the All-Star cover for ‘The Will of William Wilson’ [seen on A/E #14], I wondered what the actual cover might have looked like. Enclosed is my rendition, based on similar themes from other issues.” Gordon sent us the intriguing artistic amalgam below, to show what 1946 readers might have beheld on the newsstands if “Will” had been published in All-Star Comics #31, as once intended. He combined artist Martin Naydel’s six “impossible things” (labeled here “the impossible crime,” but that hardly matters) from the existing splash of “Will” with JSA figures from the splash of All-Star #25 (Summer 1945)...

Part IV

A nice bit of work! Still, one thing did nag at us: Gordon had combined Naydel’s artifacts with JSA figures mostly drawn by a different artist, Joe Gallagher. Had a “Will” cover been done in ’46, Naydel would have done the whole thing. So we asked our good buddy Al Dellinges—no stranger in A/E’s pages—to assemble an all-Naydel cover, juxtaposing the JSA from the cover of All-Star #32 with the artifacts from Naydel’s splash. And here ’tis, with Wilson’s last will and testament tossed in for good measure:

[JSA © &!TM 2003 DC! Com ics.]

ics.] [JSA © &!TM 2003 DC! Com

Thanks, Gordon and Al! You’ve given us a window into an alternate Earth, where “The Will of William Wilson” was indeed published in 1946!


Shelly Mayer

A Conversation With Shelly Mayer Conducted and Introduced by Jim Amash [NOTE: This brief interview originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Robin Snyder’s The Comics! Thanks to Robin for giving his blessing to present it here.] Sheldon Mayer wasn’t there for the very beginning of the modern comic book in the mid-1930s, but he didn’t miss it by much. He was one of the earliest cartoonists who drew material for Dell and National (later known as DC Comics), a teenage writer/artist who understood the ins and outs of the fledgling medium from all angles. His important contributions range from that seminal work, to being the editor for publisher Max C. Gaines at All-American Publications (later sold to National/DC by Gaines), to carving an influential niche for himself in the humor genre. Personally, I think Mayer’s greatest contribution to comics was his editorial stint for Gaines. It was then that he guided the most important magazines of the Gaines line, as well as many writers and artists. Among others, Mort Meskin, Irwin Hasen, Joe Kubert, Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Carmine Infantino, Lee Elias, and my particular favorite, Alex Toth, all became stars under Mayer’s sometimes less than velvet touch. Most of his creative people remember him fondly as a great artist, editor, and teacher. He also helped create the first super-hero team in comics in AllStar Comics. DC thought so much of Mayer that in the late 1940s they gave him a lifetime contract. Like many other people interested in comics history, I always wanted to talk with Shelly Mayer. Alex Toth and I spent many hours discussing Mayer’s career and personality. In 1990 I had Bill Gaines (EC publisher and son of M.C. Gaines) as a guest at one of my comic book conventions, and we discussed Mayer at some length. Gaines informed me that Mayer was something of a recluse, but that if I dropped his (Gaines’) name, he might speak with me. Bill was right. I called Mayer on June 11, 1991. Mayer declined a formal interview, but I wasn’t about to miss the chance to talk to him. Funny thing was, in the course of the conversation, he told me a lot of the things I would have asked him anyway, without prompting from me. We had a great time talking for two and a half hours. As soon as I got off the phone, I typed up everything I could remember that pertained to comics history. Then I called Alex Toth and told him about the phone call. I remember Alex’s comment about Mayer giving me advice on art: “That’s the same thing Shelly told me when I was a kid.” Well, if the advice was good enough for Alex Toth, who was I to argue? Shelly Mayer: writer, artist, editor, and teacher. Comic books still feel his influence today. That’s his legacy. We’d all be a lot poorer if he hadn’t passed this way. Here, with some rearranging by Robin Snyder from their lone appearance in his monthly newsletter The Comics! Vol. 12, #12, Dec. 2001, plus a bit more tinkering since by Roy Thomas and myself in the interests of clarity, is what I wrote down concerning that noninterview with Shelly Mayer: MAYER: If Bill hadn’t said it was okay to talk to you, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Bill Gaines is one of the greatest men on Earth, and if he likes you, then you’re okay by me. But I hate interviews. Mayer’s mother was Austrian; his father was Hungarian. His

The cover of The Amazing World of DC Comics #5 (March 1975) heralded this combination of a Shelly Mayer self-portrait and the cover art from Comic Cavalcade #23 (Oct.-Nov. 1947). The three super-heroes were by Alex Toth, while the kids (from Harry Lampert’s “Cotton-top Katie” feature) were drawn by Mayer himself. [©2003 DC Comics.]

mother’s family came over to America more than one hundred years ago. He told me that he started doing opaquing in 1934 for animation [at the Fleischer brothers’ studio]. He’d get an idea, scribble it down instead of doing his job. One day, he was caught doing this. MAYER: They told me that I had a lot of good ideas, so why didn’t I go home and do them. That was fine by me, because I had confidence in myself. [He was getting 75 cents a day at age seventeen.] I thought that was good money at the time. He was working for the McClure Syndicate when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster brought “Superman” in. McClure rejected it, but Mayer took it to M.C. Gaines [Bill Gaines’ father]. Gaines asked if Shelly liked it. MAYER: “Sure. It’s going to be big.” Gaines gave it to DC publisher Harry Donenfeld. That was so the presses could keep running. Times were bad then. Gaines once told the printer that if they’d print his books, all he would ask for was a percentage of what he sold. MAYER: Well, that was a great deal for them. Wouldn’t you accept it? Shelly pasted up the “Superman” strips into pages and did some lettering, too. MAYER: I recognize the lettering as my own. It was terrible. Siegel and Shuster said that Joe did it, not Shelly. MAYER: They denied me that credit. They didn’t want to acknowledge any other person’s involvement because they were suing DC. But they have said that I was partly responsible for

Alex Toth


“About Irwin & Shelly & Us!!!” ALEX TOTH on SHELLY MAYER and IRWIN HASEN [EDITOR’S NOTE: When I mentioned to Golden Age giant Alex Toth that two others of his species—namely 1940s DC/All-American editor Sheldon Mayer and Green Lantern/Justice Society artist Irwin Hasen—would be touched on in a JSA-related issue of A/E, he responded with a seven-page handwritten note on these talented gents, accompanied by several intriguing sketches. I’ve retyped his words below, preserving as much as possible his precise pacing and punctuation (for, as my friend and Fitzgerald/Hemingway scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli says, “To change an author’s punctuation is to change his style”)—and I hope Alex will forgive me for tossing in a bit of actual comic book art to illustrate the points he makes. —Roy.]

Self-portrait of Alex Toth done for the 1972 San Diego Comic-Con program book. Thanks to Shel Dorf. [©2003 Alex Toth.]

I met one because of the other—yup! I loved Irwin Hasen’s wonderful ‘Wildcat’ series art—yes, it was early on, ’42 or ’43, so Irwin’s simpler style— Canifflike, and echoes of Willard Mullins’ sports cartoons’ figural boldness therein, posterlike simplicity prevailed, nice black-spotting, Wildcat’s black body, cowl, etc.—so like his earlier ‘The Fox’ series (for MLJ? not sure, sorry)—I was Irwin’s dedicated kidfan of 14 or so—and I wrote him a fan letter, not knowing Irwin was already drafted into the Army, “special services,” and, if I’m correct, was in hospital, recuperating from surgery (?), and my letter, via Gaines’ 225 Lafayette St./NYC/NY/editorial offices, and noted by editor Shelly Mayer there, did reach Irwin at Fort Dix/NJ, or (?). I did get nice reply from him, and it made my visit to the Gaines/Mayer offices possible— with my meagre godawful sample comic pages and cardboard portfolio in hand, I met Shelly, the marvelous generous wonderful loud and effusive funny maddening crafty brilliant guy, mentor, who, like Irwin, formed my attitudes, disciplines, studied explorations and revelations and assessments about the yay and nay, yin/yang, fun and fury, sweat and joy, inner satisfactions of the medium I grew to love ever more through the decades of my peculiar career! Shelly, then 30, 31, was a cartoonist! Created and produced his ‘Scribbly’ backup short 4, 5, 6 page series for All-American Comics and was editor, too—9 to 6, 5 days a week! Innovator he, Shelly created the novel new Movie Comics—short-lived—in which he adapted current hit movies to color comic book format, via use of foto-stills, much-cropped, with captions/dialogue balloons further crowding scenes/panels, in very abbreviated versions of said films—a couple, three (?) per issue—and somehow managed to run Ben-Day screens of color dots over the

screened fotos—without (as I recall) the moiré patterns such combinations produced—no doubt, Shelly used solids of primary colors, and little dot-screened tints, to pull it off! But he did it! I think a Bela Lugosi movie serial, too, was running feature, issue to issue (?). Anyhoo, Shelly was quite an original thinker—and he, too, very much fancied Irwin’s work—we, of kindred spirit, tastes, affections, hit it off—I was made to feel welcome— he critiqued my few penciled and inked page samples—I can’t recall his tone or words—but he stressed that I should learn to do all of a job myself! That meant pencil/ink/and—ouch—lettering!!! Somehow, writing, and coloring, wasn’t cited—and I wish writing had—’cuz I came to it very late in the game—and I wrote only sporadically, when asked to/expected to/had to/wanted to/etc.—so I never quite got the hang of it—thus couldn’t accept the label! Shy sneaky generous Shelly, during our quite long chat, had spoken

Irwin Hasen’s Wildcat, from Sensation Comics #1 (Jan. ’42), as reprinted in the 1990 hardcover The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told. Words by Bill Finger. Irwin must’ve liked animals, since in the early days he also drew Holyoke’s “Cat-Man” and MLJ’s “Fox.” [©2003 DC Comics.]


“About Irwin & Shelly & Us!!!” [daily-and-Sunday] strips! Too, Art Sansom of ‘Drift Marlo’ space/sci-fi strip fame, created ‘Born Loser,’ a marvelously simple gagstrip—great gags—and art!!! ‘Knowing what to leave out!’ as Sol Harrison, DC Comics’ mentor, too, for many of us greenhorn tyros, kept stressing to me, a lot, and others—‘Fine, Alex—’ essaying a just-delivered job—but you still don’t know what to leave out!!!’ Ohh, the weight of it pained me for decades—echoes of his critiques, and Shelly’s, always rattling and booming around in my thick Hungarian head, every time I sat with my lapboard and blank sheets of bristol to fill—blessed ‘toughlove’ nudges—Thank God they cared!!!

Shelly Mayer in the 1940s—and an early’40s “Scribbly” page from All-American Comics, repro’d from a photocopy of the original art, courtesy of Joel Thingvall. Photo courtesy of son Lanny Mayer & Jon B. Cooke. For more extended coverage of both Shelly and Alex Toth, grab hold of a back issue of Comic Book Artist #11 from TwoMorrows! [Art ©2003 DC Comics.]

to a staff member about something I wasn’t meant to hear— buzzbuzzbuzz, etc.—he got back to me, my work, Irwin’s work—I cited Irwin’s li’l 2-page ‘O’Malley’ series in one of Shelly’s/Gaines’ books—yes, it was a hoot—about a li’l guy (like Irwin), private eye, I think, with a big delightfully-chubbyfatfunny secretary, a mama-figure (?)—who helped him greatly. While we bounced from topic to topic, unbeknownst to me, things were happening—made to happen—by Shelly’s prior buzzbuzzbuzz—yes, Caniff, Robbins, Andriola were great—he cited a fact of interest—Caniff was originally more the gagtype-bigfoot-simple-cartoony cartoonist— who made the transition into illustrative adventure strip stylized realism—and was all the better for it, too—because his gag style’s economy/simplicity/clarity advantaged him thru his ‘straight’ career, stressing always those very necessary ingredients to wordpicture storytelling—and Shelly said it’s much harder, reversed, for such an illustrative adventure stripper to get the hang of economy, etc., and convert to the simple gag/bigfoot style! Re bigfoot to straight adventure strip stylings, and vice versa—exceptions to Shelly’s rule are: Leslie Turner, who, illustrator for slicks, was converted to ‘licketysplitbangboom’ freestyled-cartooning by his friend/tutor/boss Roy Crane, learning to ghost for him, so damn well, too, adding his own novel twists and great skills with doubletone Craftint art on ‘Wash Tubbs’/‘Captain Easy’ and inherited the strip(s) when, in ’43, Roy Crane left NEA for KFS [King Features Syndicate], and his new ‘Buz Sawyer’/’Roscoe Sweeney’ d/S

Anyhoo—Shelly’d been comics editor/A.D. [art director] since he was 19! Then 30-31, he said, the only difference, 19-31, was that his salary was much greater!!! He was still, essentially, a cartoonist! I wanted to be only that, ‘ached to just do what you guys do’—but, I noted, tho 9-6 editor, etc., ‘Scribbly’ was his way of ‘doubling the brass’—no?—the best of both worlds!— no?—‘No, not really, kid—no’—I was puzzled by the sum of it— Back to Irwin—he was shaping up well—into a helluva good cartoonist—boosted by Shelly, he’d always have work at M.C. Gaines— his ‘Green Lantern’ added to Irwin’s chores—and he made it all fun to study and read! Shelly cited use of a ‘reducing glass,’ to look at my panels/pages thru one, to really see how my work would reduce and hopefully reproduce on ol’ letterpress printing on newsprint! Point made, winding-down my/our long office visit—and filled with Shelly’s encouragements—and warnings, too—yes, 14/15 yr old me was told, seriously: ‘Y’know, kid, at your age, I’d rather see you muscling boxes in a stockroom somewhere for a few years, instead of getting into this business too early—and burn out too soon, too young!!!’ That was grim—but it dovetailed into memories of a visit to Lloyd Jacquet’s Funnies, Inc., 67 W. 44th, I think it was. Louis Ferstadt was editor/A.D. (?) and was very kind to me, too—graciously gave me a one page teen-gag page to do—I did it—my first and last gig there— it had to be awful!!!

By Comic Cavalcade #21 (June-July ’47), Irwin Hasen’s “O’Malley” had switched from private eye to the regular police force. [©2003 DC Comics.]

But while there, I met a ‘Gill’ (Tom? Ray? dunno). Anyhoo, he sat me at an art table, inking or



Comic Crypt

Nuts and Bolts!

The Gardner Fox Scrapbook, Chapter II by Michael T. Gilbert Gardner Fox was a seasoned professional, and an incredibly prolific writer. By his own count, before his death in 1986 he had written well over 4000 comic book stories in a career spanning six decades. With a workload like that, inspiration doesn’t always come easy. Even the most facile and productive writer sometimes suffers fallow periods. Unfortunately, Fox’s grueling schedule didn’t allow very much “downtime.” As a result, he devised a number of writer’s tricks to jump-start the creative flow when the Muse was on vacation. In the second half of our Gardner Fox Scrapbook (Chapter I appeared back in A/E #14), we’ll see some of those “tricks of the trade.” In the process, we hope to give you a small taste of the more mundane aspects of the writing business. And now, without further ado....

st of honor at Phil Gardner Fox was the gue vention in New York Con Art ic Com Seuling’s 1971 Seuling & Heather en Gw City. Photo courtesy of the 1972 program book Antonelli, from a copy of Mommsen. Fred by ed provid

A. Fox was always trying to perfect his craft. Over the years, he put together numerous folders and notebooks—some filled with arcane facts that could be used later in stories, others with writing tips culled from many sources. Plotto and The Plot Genie were two popular books of his day that offered mechanical formulas for writing stories. At right on this page is an example of one of those “how-to-write” formulas—followed (on the opposite page) by Fox’s using it to diagram a 1942 “Sandman” story. P.S.: If you want to see the point of these exercises, read the first letter of each paragraph on the “General Comic Plot Synopsis.”

Our thanks to Lynda Fox Cohen and Jeff Fox, and to Linda Long, head of the Special Collections at the University of Oregon at Eugene, OR, for permission to reprint material from the Gardner Fox Archive.

All-Star Squadron Chronicles



Part V

Preview–Of A Coming Attraction!

by Roy Thomas [WRITER/EDITOR’S NOTE: Sheesh, as Stan Lee used to say—still does, as a matter of fact! To date I’ve written four installments of the “All-Star Squadron Chronicles”—for A/E #6, 8, 12, & 14—and we’re still muddling through the preliminaries, and the “Special Preview” prepared for Justice League of America #193 (Sept. 1981). This time we’ll finish up discussing that section, at least. Hey, you knew we had to get to the actual first issue of All-Star Squadron sometime in this millennium, right? —Roy.]

Cover Story The Special All-Star Squadron Preview was to be 16 pages— a “signature,” as they called it in the parlance of the time—one big sheet of newsprint that became 16 pages of a comic book. I only had to worry about 14 of them, however. Len Wein, as editor of All-Star Squadron, elected to put together the interior “cover” to the section, and the final page (which would advertise issue #1), with no input from me. Naturally, I’d have preferred to be involved, since I’d been used to being my own editor for years, but that’s the way things were at DC (and Marvel) now. Besides, I knew Len would do a good job... Actually, he did a superlative one. I’m a bit hazy on details, mainly because I never knew them in the first place, but Len had penciler Rich Buckler prepare two cover drawings, both of which would be inked by DC editor (and artist) Dick Giordano. One depicted Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and The Atom hunching over a table laden with “photos” of DC-owned super-heroes, with additional “photos” on the wall behind them. The other was your basic “Charge!” layout, with the entire late-1941 membership of the Justice Society (except Starman) rushing at the reader, with the Capitol Building and a looming American flag in the background; this grouping included honorary JSAers Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and The Flash, plus nearfuture member Wonder Woman.

To publicize the forthcoming All-Star Squadron series, Rich Buckler penciled and inked

this drawing of seven JSAers for the 3rd issue of Amazing Heroes fanzine (Aug. 1981). My understanding, later, was that the photos-on-table scene [Art ©2003 Rich Buckler; JSA TM & ©2003 DC Comics.] was originally intended as the interior cover of the Preview, while the “Charge!” shot was to be the cover of All-Star got to work on my plot for the former. Therein I needed to get most of Squadron #1, but that Len elected to change them. That may not have the JSA (plus newcomer Wonder Woman) captured by super-villains been true, however, since each illo really only fit the place where it from future eras, so they’d be out of action during the first few issues of eventually ended up: ten of the 13 JSAers in the group drawing would All-Star Squadron. appear only in the Preview, and in #1 the Hawk/Doc/Atom trio would I had only 14 pages total to (a) account for 13 heroes, counting the be assembling non-JSA heroes to replace those who’d vanished. In any three who would elude capture by a quintet of baddies; (b) insert cameos event, the cover of Squadron #1 by Buckler and Giordano became one of several people who were destined to help form the Squadron; and (c) of my favorites among all the many covers on comics I’ve written over establish some of the historical backdrop of the storyline. the years... and I had nothing whatever to do with designing it!

The Plot Thickens...

Need I tell you that I reworked that synopsis several times before I mailed it in to Len?

By this point I had decided on the basic story for the Preview and the first three regular issues and had run it by Len in broad outline, so I

Ordinarily, at Marvel, my plots had consisted of either a telephone conversation (often followed by my mailing out copies of a Robert E.

Preview––of a Coming Attraction

33 knew somebody who’d give those three superheroes “a run for their money,” would be enough to clue in readers familiar with DC’s Golden Age reprints over the years that Mr. Chambers was secretly none other than the company’s other 1940s speedster, Johnny Quick. If they hadn’t seen those reprints or had forgotten them—no matter. They’d be filled in in All-Star Squadron #1. (This “page 1,” actually the second page of the Preview, was reprinted from the original art in A/E #14.)

Wonder Woman wins the race, in a panel based (again, whether the readers knew it or not didn’t matter) on the front cover of Comic Cavalcade #1, which would actually have a Winter 1942-43 cover date—but hey, photos can be taken a year before they’re printed, right? We quickly learn that Flash and GL have only just met the Amazon princess, whose American debut in Sensation Comics #1 had been cover-dated Jan. ’42 (and thus on sale in autumn of 1941), and that she perhaps won because the Fastest Man Alive underestimated her for a split second. Wonder Woman would very soon join the JSA, after a fashion—so This plug, with figures by Buckler and Ordway, appeared in the 4-page comics store giveaway though she wasn’t really a member yet, I wanted DC Coming Attractions #55 for June 1981, behind a front page depicting the covers of to get her “out of the way” with most of the All-Star Squadron #1 and Arak, Son of Thunder #1. For one brief shining moment, it was others in the group. The winner’s trophy is handed “Roy Thomas Month” at DC. Roy even wrote the Superman and the Fortress of Solitude out by a fourth costumed hero, Wildcat, standing special advertised therein! [©2003 DC Comics.] in for heavyweight boxing champion Ted Grant (who, numerous readers would have known, Howard short story for adaptation in one of the three Conan mags I’d secretly was Wildcat). To avoid autograph seekers and so they can get been writing), or a typed synopsis of from one to several pages. As had better-acquainted, the three racers prepare to split. (This “page 3” was been the case for a reasonably successful decade and a half, only rarely reprinted in A/E #14.) were those plots broken down even into blocs of several-page action (e.g., “pp. 18-20”). DC generally wanted a bit more pacing by the writer. To many 1981 readers, the fact that the race was held to benefit the I felt no desire to change my method of working, since Marvel by then March of Dimes would have meant little or nothing. But in the 1940s was considerably outselling DC, so the “Marvel style” method was that was one of the most famous of charities, formed to fund the search obviously working... but I did what I had to do. for a cure for the dreaded disease known as polio or infantile paralysis. The March of Dimes had a high profile partly because President In the Preview, in truth, I quickly realized I would have to break the Franklin D. Roosevelt had himself been stricken with polio years earlier; synopsis down into page-by-page action, or else risk the penciler pacing and while few people realized how wheelchair-bound he was because of the 14 pages quite differently from what I felt was needed. So I did a it, the illness was feared and loathed in all quarters. The “dimes” part of very detailed plot, saying what was to be drawn not in each individual the equation was meant to encourage children to collect pocket change panel, but at least on every page. Penciler Rich Buckler was certainly for the cause; the charity’s name probably owed something to The free to pace out things a bit differently, but my breakdown would help March of Time, a series of news-related short subjects produced for him know what had to be done. It also forced me to visualize each page showing in movie theatres from 1935-51. Nowadays, I almost even feel a in my head in a very detailed fashion, far more than I ordinarily did need to explain what “short subjects” were—but I won’t. (and, I believe, far more than a writer usually needs to). Jerry Ordway mentioned in A/E #12 that he was often asked to redraw entire panels that had been penciled by Rich or by later layout artist Adrian Gonzales. In the Preview I probably asked Jerry to change a costume detail or two (with Len or myself sending him photocopies for reference), but I doubt if I asked him for more—except in one notable instance, which I’ll get to later.

March of Crimes I elected to start off by asking for a handful of panels showing two shadowed figures trying to contact the JSA—with the buzzer in the group’s meeting-room going unanswered. A caption would establish the time as 10 p.m. on a night in 1941, but would give no further hard information. Cut to Los Angeles, where it’s three hours earlier and a twoman movie newsreel team is filming a charity race between The Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman in a packed stadium. By the last panel on the page, we’d learn that one of the newsreelers is named Johnny Chambers—and that, plus a thought balloon hinting that he

(Not that I expected the reader to know all the above. My job was to tell a good story, which would give a reader whatever he/she needed to know as the tale rolled along. Ernest Hemingway wrote famously that everything a writer knows about a subject is like an iceberg—and what he writes is just the tip of that iceberg, all that shows above the water— i.e., in the story. What’s important is that the rest of the iceberg is there, just beneath the surface, giving a solid basis to what is written. As a student and sometime teacher of history, I intended to impart information about the WWII period in All-Star Squadron, whether the series lasted one year or thirty... but I hoped to do it in a sugar-coated way. Quite a few letters at the time, and folks I’ve encountered in more recent years at conventions and through this volume of Alter Ego, accepted my little “history lessons” in that spirit. To those who didn’t—well, the hell with ’em.) But onward... Over pages 4-5 and part of p. 6, the Flash/GL/WW trio, during an impromptu picnic in L.A.’s Echo Park, are attacked by Solomon

No. 80

WILL LIEBERSON “It’s What Goes Into The Balloon That Counts!”


and MARC SWAYZE’S“We Didn’t Know... It Was The Golden Age!”


Marc Swayze department—Ed Herron, Rod Reed and Will Lieberson— assured a continued creative freedom that hadn’t been expected. Then there was the unusual long-distance, long-term freelance arrangement with editorial director Ralph Daigh… a dream of a deal! So why leave it?


[Art & logo ©2003 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel © & TM 2003 DC Comics]

[FCA EDITOR’S NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a top artist for Fawcett Comics. The very first Mary Marvel character sketches came from his drawing table, and he illustrated her earliest adventures, including the classic origin story, “Captain Marvel Introduces Mary Marvel (CMA #18, Dec. ’42); but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrate Captain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, and continued to do so while in the military. After being discharged, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art and stories for them on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he created both art and story for The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics, in addition to drawing the Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip for Bell Syndicate (created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation of Wow, Swayze produced artwork for Fawcett’s top-selling line of romance comics. When the company dropped its comics line, he moved over to Charlton Publications, where he ended his comics career in the mid-’50s. Marc’s ongoing professional memoirs have been FCA’s most popular feature since his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue, Marc discussed some of his Captain Marvel work. In this issue, he touches upon why he left comic books for good in 1956. —P.C. Hamerlinck.]

I always tried to keep the audience in mind. “Audience” may not be the correct term to use… we’re talking about those folks out there who were expected to see and read the stuff that came from our drawing boards and typewriters. “Readership” might be a more accurate term. “Audience,” though, has sufficed a long time for the theatre people, so let’s go with it.

A couple of questions that came my way more than once have been: “Did you become angry with the comic books? Why did you leave that career?” Angry? I loved comic book work! The great majority of it had been in affiliation with Fawcett Publications, and the cordiality shown by the people of that company, from the very start, went far beyond just welcoming a new guy. The respect and confidence expressed by art director Al Allard and the successive executive editors of the comics

A montage of fabled Fawcett creators. Clockwise from top left: Marc Swayze, Paramount Building, Fawcett Publications, NYC, in 1941... Al Allard, Fawcett Publications Art Director... Rod Reed, early Fawcett Comics editor and writer... Ralph Daigh, Fawcett Publications editorial director.

I watched the comic book audience shift and slide with the times… from reprints of the old Sunday funnies to the superheroes and -heroines… pre-war, wartime,

post-war… romance, human interest… on around the cycle back to the funnies. I don’t see how anyone could truly enjoy, or even understand, drawing or writing comics without a sincere consideration of the audience. Who’s gonna see it? Who’s gonna read it? Are they gonna like it? Looking back from the mid-’50s on all that, I felt I was something of an expert on the subject of the comic book audience. The only conclusion I could reach,

Will Lieberson


“It’s What Goes into the Balloon That Counts” Fawcett Executive Editor WILL LIEBERSON Remembered by P.C. Hamerlinck [Special Thanks to Richard Lieberson.] Richard Lieberson, the son of the late Fawcett Comics executive editor Will Lieberson, is not really an old comic book enthusiast or collector, although he read them as a kid. Occasionally he’ll have some contact with the world of comics through his collecting of vintage paperbacks and through his father’s association with Fawcett Publications during the 1940s and ’50s. Richard was born in 1949, and thus was still just a toddler when Fawcett folded its comics line in 1953. Richard says he doesn’t believe his father ever regarded the comics as a unique art form or anything special. Will Lieberson viewed comic books as “just another job,” just as he did working on “girlie” magazines, or being the cartoon editor of True magazine (his first job at Fawcett), or—in the post-Fawcett years—publishing TV Junior (a TV

Comics may understandably have been “just another job” to Will Lieberson (right), but not every job leads to posing in a Captain Marvel sweatshirt with a cardboard cut-out of the World’s Mightiest Mortal! That’s editor Wendell Crowley on the left. Photo taken at Fawcett Publications office, NYC, 1947; courtesy of Richard Lieberson.

Guide-like publication for children) or Sunday supplements to military papers such as Military Life. Will Lieberson’s real interest and love was always the theatre. Later in his career, Will became heavily involved in many Broadway productions as a director. However, during his eleven-year tenure editing Fawcett comics, he was always committed to producing them with excellence. Richard vaguely recalls the time his father disclosed to him that he had never read a comic book before becoming executive editor of Fawcett’s famous line, which included Captain Marvel Adventures, Marvel Family, and Whiz Comics. “An exaggeration, I’m sure, but perhaps not far from the truth,” Richard reflects. Will Lieberson believed editing comics was a social responsibility, and he was always ready to do battle with those who felt comics were polluting the minds of our nation’s children. Lieberson had once debated the very issue with Judith Crist on a radio program. (Crist, who was the first person to present to the public the views of Dr. Frederic Wertham, later became movie critic for the New York Post and for TV Guide). “One time when I was a kid, I told my father I preferred ‘Superman’ over ‘Captain Marvel’ because it was more realistic, or something like that,” Richard recalls, “and he disgustedly replied that ‘Superman’ took itself too seriously.” A rare Fawcett Comics inter-company flyer/memo prepared for the editorial staff; precise date unknown. That must be Don Winslow of the Navy with the Marvels. From the files of Will Lieberson; courtesy of Richard Lieberson. [Marvel Family TM & ©2003 DC Comics; Don Winslow TM & ©2003 the respective copyright holder.]

Richard adds, “Another time, when my father saw I was reading a novel by Patricia Highsmith, he mentioned that

Captain Marvel Jr.


Captain Marvel Jr.: The Post-War Years by Don Ensign Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck Part III

Horror, Science-Fiction–And Human Interest [NOTE: In our past two issues Don discussed the artists and several themes of the “Captain Marvel Jr.” tales in Master Comics and his own title (though not in The Marvel Family) in the years after World War II, including the bound-and-gagged motif, super-villains, various types of crime stories, plus mad and/or evil scientists. This time he moves on to other themes which became popular between 1946-53. —PCH.]

The Horror! The Horror! Occasionally the “CMJ” writers scripted a story containing elements of the then-popular supernatural/horror genre. In “Capt. Marvel Jr. Haunts the Ghost Vigilantes!” (CMJ #38, May 1946) Junior encounters ghosts who are the former inhabitants in an abandoned western town. After his fists prove ineffective against the phantoms, Junior tricks thems into leaving the town to its new living human inhabitants. A macabre atmosphere pervades “Capt. Marvel Jr. Faces a Grave Situation” (CMJ #40). Freddy Freeman, as a Newsboys Club initiation rite, takes a walk through a local cemetery at night and falls into an uncovered grave. He climbs out, only to find another open grave. Both graves belong to deceased bankers. A greedy sculptor called “The Great Bernardo” has been exhuming bodies and dipping them in molten copper to make life-like statues to sell to their wealthy widows! Freddy is eventually knocked in the head (twice!) and gets bound and gagged. But when Bernardo starts pouring the hot copper over him, it burns his gag away, allowing him to call out for Cap Jr. Rather than be captured, Bernardo dives into the vat of molten metal. This story is uncharacteristic in that it takes place mostly at night, with dark blues and purples predominating in the color scheme. Heavy spotting of blacks is also used; normally Junior’s artwork has bright daytime colors. The cemetery setting and the digging up of dead bodies give the story an eerie feel; this was several years before horror comics were to become popular. [See splash in A/E #19.]

It’s not just in the U.S.A. that Captain Marvel Jr. was a super-popular hero for many years. In Brazil, as we’ve mentioned before, the adventures of the Marvel Family were published in new Portuguese-language stories for several years after Fawcett discontinued its comics line in 1953—and Cap Jr. was so ~ Marvel Magazine with new art and well-liked that, as in this issue of Capitao stories, his story was printed in the front of the comic, while Cap’s tale brought up the rear! Note that Brazil had its own Comics Code! Thanks to John G. Pierce. [Captain Marvel & Capt. Marvel Jr. TM & ©2003 DC Comics.]

In “The Ghost of Captain Marvel Jr.” (CMJ #71) two ghosts try unsuccessfully to kill Junior—because the ruler of good ghosts, the merciful Queen of Shades, believes only he (as a ghost) could defeat “the Evil One”—a Pan-like disgruntled ghost. Junior learns from the ancient wizard Shazam that his foe “wants to spread evil in the world by killing all the good people.” Shazam temporarily changes Junior into a ghost, and his phantom defeats the Evil One, who is forced to sign a contract to only do good thereafter.

A classic movie monster confronts the World’s Mightiest Boy in “The Werewolf of London” (CMJ #117). This story of international spies plays up the horror aspect, when a panel shows Baron Drakis change into the giant werewolf, accompanied by such captions as: “The Baron’s body grows taller, stronger, and a thick mantle of fur envelops him! Teeth become fangs, and the contours of his face change into an expression of horror!” This 1952 story was clearly trying to fit into the then-popular horror genre.


Horror, Science-Fiction––And Human Interests

Science-Fiction While science-fiction elements are common in the “Captain Marvel Jr.” canon, actual s-f stories are fairly rare. This seems odd, as CMJ chief writer Otto Binder was a well-known pulp science fiction writer. “The Warlords of the Moon” (CMJ #71) begins with Freddy Freeman visiting the famous Mt. Palomar Observatory—which is suddenly torn from its foundation by a huge cable attached to a rocket ship. Cap Junior saves astronomers dropping from the airborne structure, but the building vanishes and he can’t find it anywhere on Earth. The scene switches to the moon, where the observatory is being used by three brilliant but evil scientists who plan to use the telescope to aim huge bombs at the Earth. Junior sees their dummy test-bomb crash and calculates its trajectory; he then flies to the moon and defeats the scientists. In CMJ #92 Captain Marvel Jr. visits the various planets of the solar system during an effort to stop a cosmic dust storm that is sweeping toward Earth. He discovers tree creatures on Pluto, rock creatures on Uranus, cave men on Saturn, and plant creatures on Mars. He finally constructs a gigantic magnet to attract the storm away from Earth and hurls it into the sun.

We kinda jumped the gun by repro-ing art from some of Cap Jr.’s horror and science-fiction tales in our previous two installments, but here are some panels from Junior’s chapter in the time travel story from Marvel Family #10 (April 1947), with art by Bud Thompson. [©2003 DC Comics.]

Time travel is featured in “The Tunnel to the Future” (CMJ #99, Aug. ’51). A cave explosion sends Junior into the far future of 4,000,000 A.D., where he encounters small green men who are human descendants. The explosion has given Freddy temporary amnesia, but through a series of adventures he regains his memory and calls on Cap Jr., who convinces the council of the future men to send him and another displaced 20th-century man back to their own era. This story contains little green men, time-dimension overlaps, telepathy, meal pills, pacifier guns, and other common science-fiction concepts. Extraterrestrial visitation is the theme of “Capt. Marvel Jr. and the Lost Space Ship” (CMJ #117—April ’53, two issues before the end of the series). Gas station owner Red O’Riley tells Freddy that, via his ham radio set, he has made contact with “a spaceship that’s approaching Earth!” The aliens say they are from the planet Elluria. Flying upward, Capt. Marvel Jr. can’t find the spacecraft, but he does rescue a reporter in a punctured hot-air balloon. He returns to Red’s service station in time to extinguish a fire in one of the gas pumps. At first they think the accidents were caused by hoodlums, but Junior eventually realizes the spaceship is tiny, and the aliens are intelligent insects who’ve crashlanded in Red’s window box! At story’s end, Freddy holds up newspaper headlines reading: “Space Insects Get New Home in Museum”: “We’re trying our best to make them feel welcome here on Earth, folks! One thing’s for sure! They won’t need much room!” The concept of a tiny alien spacecraft had been seen previously in a classic 1951 EC science-fiction tale, “Chewed Out!” and in a later Mandrake the Magician comic strip storyline.

Funny (And Not So Funny) Animals A number of Captain Marvel Jr. stories featured animals as significant thematic elements. Some of these stories were humorous, and some were very serious.

In “The Return of the Antbear” (CMJ #35) a rare striped panda is donated by an explorer, J. Billings, to a private zoo and is caged with an antbear (giant anteater). Rival explorer Sherman Shootum sends henchmen to steal the panda for his collection. Junior uses the antbear (“the world’s dumbest animal”) as a bloodhound to track the thieves to Shootum’s home, defeats them, and rescues the panda. Billings presents the antbear to a bewildered Cap Jr. as a reward at the end of the tale. (The antbear had first been seen in CMJ #33.) More humorous animal antics are seen in “Monkey Shines!” (CMJ #36). Freddy Freeman examines his fan mail, looking for the right name for his pet monkey. A man named Jess Wall uses his own pet monkey to commit a murder—and pins it on Freddy’s pet! Later, captured, bound, and gagged by Wall, Freddy is freed by his monkey, and Junior lifts a car to dislodge the fleeing Wall. Some of the panels in this yarn could easily have been used in a funny animal comic of the period. At the end of the story Freddy names the monkey “Jeep”—a bit ironic, since the Jeep vehicle was itself named after a fictitious animal in the Popeye comic strip. Freddy also names several readers who sent in the monicker chosen. While the comic book had no letters page, Freddy, in the story itself, acknowledges the importance of its readers. Good-natured humor is continued in “The Dumb Dodo” (CMJ #96). Junior saves Freddy’s fellow boarder Prof. Edgewise, who has climbed Mount Trespass to retrieve a giant dodo egg, which he then helps to hatch. An envious local zoologist, Prof. Brugge, flattens the absentminded scholar and makes off with the dodo. After a series of humorous escapades, Junior rescues the bird and apprehends Brugge. So, at least in the pages of Captain Marvel Jr., the dodo was no longer extinct! “Revenge of the Beasts” (MC #68) presents a far more serious perspective on animals. Freddy and his friend Bill Morton go to a party at the home of “World’s Sportingest Big Game Hunter” Prof. Ransom, on an estate where wild animals such as mountain lions and bears roam

Alter Ego #21  

ALTER EGO #21 headlines THE IGER COMICS KINGDOM of the 1940s-50s and the Golden Age JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, with covers by DAVE STEVENS...

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