Roy Thomas’ Legendary Comics Fanzine
In the USA Speci al DOUBLE-SIZE Bonus:
No. 3 WINTER 2000 Featuring Rare Art and Artifacts By:
Captain Marvel TM & © DC Comics, Inc. All other Characters TM & © Their Respective Companies
Volume 3, No. 3 Winter 1999/2000 Editor
Captain Marvel Section Background image: The Big Red Cheese in this detail from his first appearance in Whiz Comics #2. [©1999 DC Comics, Inc.]
With One Magic Word (Well… Maybe Two). . . . . 2
Writer/Editorial celebrating the 60th anniversary of the World’s Mightiest Mortal
Design & Layout Jon B. Cooke/ GREAT SWAMP GRAPHICS
“Let Their Past Be Their Past!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Alex Ross on the Shazam! series that almost was—with more unpublished art than you can shake a lightning bolt at!
Captain Marvel’s Mouthpiece. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
John Morrow Jon B. Cooke
Mr. Monster introduces a little-known 1953 interview with Fawcett’s greatest writer, Otto Binder! (With afterwords by Michael T. Gilbert and Roy Thomas)
The Cheese Stands Accused . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Legal eagle Bob Ingersoll’s guided tour of the decade-long courtroom battle between Captain Marvel and You-know-who!
Michael T. Gilbert
“The Power of Jerry Ordway!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) #62 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Jerry G. Bails, Ronn Foss, Biljo White, Mike Friedrich Alex Ross, Bill Everett (w/Carl Burgos)
Cover Color Alex Ross, Tom Ziuko
Rare and unpublished art from DC’s acclaimed Shazam! series of the 1990s— with commentary by Jerry himself! P.C. Hamerlinck presents a double-size edition of FCA!
“We Didn’t Know... It Was the Golden Age!” (FCA) . . . . . . . 30 The latest installment of artist Marc Swayze’s tales of the 1940s—from C.C. Beck to Bing Crosby to the Copacabana!
Russ Garwood, D. Hambone, Glen Musial, Ed Stelli, Pat Varker
The Real Captain Marvel (FCA) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
And Special Thanks to:
The Jack Binder Shop Days (FCA) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Mike W. Barr
Jon B. Knutson
John Adkins Richardson
Nat & Mildred Champlin
Helen de la Ree
Ron Goulart Martin L. Greim Ron Harris Dave Hunt
Kathy Voglesong Mike Vosburg Len Wein
Illustrated essay by Cap’s co-creator, Charles Clarence Beck!
Interview with artist Nat Champlin about the famous comic shop (no, not that kind) that created art and stories for Fawcett!
“My Years with Fawcett Were Happy Years!” (FCA) . . . . . . . . 42 An art-studded photo-essay, courtesy of editor Ginny Provisiero, of her decade as a Golden Age editor!
Marvel (Family) Memories... and Kurt Schaffenberger (FCA) . . . 46 Dave Hunt writes about his friendship with the artist who was equally at home with Captain Marvel and with Lois Lane!
Special Marvel Mystery Comics Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!
Our thunderstruck thanks to Alex Ross for giving us permission to print his powerful yet humorous illustration of Captain Marvel and his unfortunate sparring partners as our main cover this time. This artwork has never before been printed in color; even the black-&-white version has not been widely seen. As for who those guys are that Cap just mopped up the floor with: We’ll swear on a stack of Whiz Comics that we never saw any of ’em before in our lives! [All characters ©1999 their respective copyright holders.] Alter EgoTM is published quarterly 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $5.95 ($7.00 Canada, $9.00 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $20 US, $27 Canada, $37 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. Alter and Captain Ego ©1999 Biljo White. Aquaman, Billy Batson, Bizarro, Bulletgirl, Bulletman, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Mary Marvel, Captain Nazi, Ibis, Isis, Justice League of America, King Kull, Lobo, Mr. Scarlet, Pinky, Robin, Sandman, Shazam, Sivana, Spy Smasher, Superboy, Superman, Taia, Wonder Woman ©1999 DC Comics Inc.; Angel, Bucky, Captain America, Daredevil, Defender, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Fin, Ghost Rider, Georgie, Hulk, Human Torch, Iron Man, Jimmy Jupiter, Marvel Boy, Namorita, Patriot, Prince Byrrah, Punisher, Rockman, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Super Rabbit, Terry Vance, Thing, Toro, Vagabond, Venom, Venus, Vision, Whizzer, Wolverine ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.; Wonder Man ©1999 Bruns Publishing; Little Ug-Li, Trudy ©1999 Marc D. Swayze. Mr. Monster © Michael T. Gilbert. Nyoka ©1999 Bill Black. Miracleman, Spawn © Todd McFarlane Productions, Inc. Predator, Pinhead © their respective copyright holders. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING
“Let Their Past Be Their Past!” Alex Ross Conducts a Walking Tour of His Early-’90s Marvel Family Project—Revealing Awesome, Previously-unglimpsed Work! by Roy Thomas
lex Ross is, of course, one of the true phenomena on the contemporary comics scene—perhaps the one artist who has successfully married the super-hero and the art of painted storytelling (as opposed to merely covers).
I personally, for instance, am far from convinced that paintings and comics of any kind are generally a good marriage; the two often seem to me as if they are merely staying together “for the sake of the kids.” But when Alex Ross does it, it works. Thus, when FCA editor P.C. Hamerlinck and I were discussing possibilities for the first Captain Marvel-related cover on an issue of Alter Ego, Vol. 3, and Paul said he thought Alex Ross (whom I have
The Marvel Family— Cap, Mary, and Jr.— as visualized in 1991 by Alex Ross. See text on following pages for whom he used as models for this thunderous trio. [Art ©1999 Alex Ross; Marvel Family ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
“Let Their Past Be Their Past!”
Alex gives Captain Marvel a distinct “Steve Douglas” look in this image used as a color cover of FCA #59. [Art ©1999 Alex Ross; Marvel Family ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
never met, so far as I know) might have some Cap color art, my ears perked up. Paul told me Ross had been working on a Shazam! project in the early 1990s, while Jerry Ordway was preparing his own then-future (and recently cancelled) DC series starring the Big Red Cheese. Paul had been given permission to utilize one such painting as the cover of FCA #59, and one or two of Alex’s preliminary line-drawings had been printed in a Midwestern comic shop’s catalog—but that was about it. Soon I was speaking by phone with Alex Ross, who was gracious, friendly, and encouraging. He even sent me unpublished artwork of the Fawcett heroes which he had done at that time. Alex also agreed to talk with me about his abortive project. Unfortunately, I was unable to utilize my tape recorder that day, so I had to resort to taking notes. Still, I hope I caught enough of what he had to say to prove of interest to readers of A/E and FCA.
Thus, without further ado, A/E presents the Shazam! art of Alex Ross, with commentary by Alex as quoted and paraphrased by Yours Truly: Circa 1991-1992, while waiting for approval by Marvel of the Marvels series he and Kurt Busiek had proposed, Alex took a look at DC’s heroes, to see which ones he might especially like to draw and paint. He almost immediately thought, he says, of the Marvel Family, which at that time hadn’t been around in a regular series for several years. He knew, naturally, that fellow artist Jerry Ordway had begun work on his Shazam! graphic novel. In fact, pieces of art from it had been shown at comics conventions for some time. But the graphic novel still seemed far from completion, so Alex began work on his own version of the mighty Marvels of comics’ Golden Age.
Alex Ross on His Marvel Family Project
Art ©1999 Alex Ross. Captain Marvel ©1999 DC Comics, Inc.
Alex’s idea, which had no connection whatever with Ordway’s, was for a limited series— a reintroduction and revamping of old stories and themes—“enriching the original stories,” as he phrased it to me on the phone on October 6, 1999. He didn’t particularly want it to be “a ’90s book.” When it came to people to use as models for his version of the Marvel Family: Having read in the 1970s tabloid-size reprint of Whiz Comics #2 about how Captain Marvel himself might have been based on young Fred MacMurray (who already by
1939 had costarred in films with Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, and other top talent), Alex used that affable-appearing actor as the model for his Cap. (Though it’s long since been known that the infamous movie dream sequence of Fred MacMurray flying came out well after Whiz #2 went on sale in autumn of ’39, he might still have been utilized by original artist C.C. Beck as the basis of Cap’s face. But was he?)
Mr. Monsterâ€™s Comic Crypt
Captain Marvel, Sivana ÂŠ1999 DC Comics, Inc. Mr. Monster ÂŠ1999 Michael T. Gilbert
Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt presents—Captain Marvel’s Mouthpiece!
The layout of this February 7, 1953 article from the Bergen Evening Record Week-end Magazine Section has been slightly rearranged to fit our format. Nothing has been omitted. [Captain Marvel ©1999 DC Comics, Inc.]
The Cheese Stands Accused!
The Cheese Stands Accused! A Look at the Superman/Captain Marvel Litigation by Bob Ingersoll
I. IT’S A WONDER, MAN! If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and flattery will get you nowhere, then there was a time when Superman was going nowhere fast. Soon after that first day in 1938 when the Man of Tomorrow appeared in Action Comics #1 and reshaped an industry in his image, everybody was scrambling to be the first to be second. Every comic book company wanted to put out its own version of Superman. The winner of this rather dubious derby was Bruns Publishing. Bruns had a comic book division known as Fox Comics, after publisher Victor Fox, and in May of 1939 Fox Comics released Wonder Comics #1, a magazine which featured the first appearance of Wonder Man. (The artist of Wonder Man was one “Will Rensie,” a name that should be familiar to all, even without resorting to a road trip to Mr. Mxyzptlk’s Fifth Dimensional land of Zrrrf. In other words, spell the last name backward, dummy.) Wonder Man was a colorful hero who had a civilian secret identity; wore a skintight costume under his street clothes; had super-strength, super-speed, flight (or something very close to it), and invulnerability; and tended to rip open steel doors, bounce bullets off his chest, leap between buildings, and generally make the world safe for the girl next door.
“Will Rensie’s” cover for the first and only appearance of Victor Fox’s Wonder Man. [Wonder Man ©1999 Bruns Publishing.]
The most important attribute of Wonder Man for our purposes was that Harry Donenfeld, head honcho at Superman’s publisher Detective Comics, Inc., thought he bore too great a resemblance to Superman. In fact, Detective Comics, Inc., did more than simply notice a similarity between Wonder Man and Superman; they filed a lawsuit in the federal district court in New York City against Bruns Publishing, claiming that Bruns and Wonder Man infringed on the copyrights that DC had in Superman. The battle between these publishing houses was fought in the district trial
Kurt Schaffenberger, who’s drawn them both, tries to play peacemaker between Cap and Supes. This special illo originally appeared in The Comic Crusader #15, 1973. [With special thanks to Martin L. Greim. Art ©1999 Kurt Schaffenberger; Captain Marvel and Superman ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
court and, well, to make a long story (as civil trials are wont to be) short, Detective Comics won. The judge ruled that Bruns and Wonder Man did indeed infringe on the Superman copyright. Of course, that didn’t end the war; Bruns appealed the trial court’s decision to the United States Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit. The decision of that case was written by Judge August Hand—and yes, that really was his name—and can be found in Volume 111 of the Federal Reporter, Second Edition, page 432. For those of you familiar with the legal profession’s shorthand form for case-citing, that would be Detective Comics, Inc., vs. Bruns, 111 F. 2d. 432 (2nd. Cir., 1940). Those of you unfamiliar with legal case-citing should remember what I just said; it will turn up again. In his decision Judge Hand acknowledged Bruns’ defense that Superman was based on the Hercules myth, that of a benevolent man of great strength who used his abilities for good, but disagreed with Bruns’ second point, that because Wonder Man was based on the same myths, he didn’t duplicate Superman. Judge Hand ruled that, despite Superman’s and Wonder Man’s joint classic origins, Superman’s stories were arrangements of incidents and literary expressions which were original and properly copyrightable. He found that incidents in Wonder Man’s stories were so similar to incidents in the copyrighted Superman stories that the Wonder Man stories infringed on the copyrights of DC’s Superman stories. Indeed, the major difference Judge Hand found between Superman
The Power of—
The Power of Jerry Ordway! Little-seen (and Never-seen) Art from the 1990s Shazam! Series Truly, our Captain Marvel cup runneth over this issue! The 1990s was, of course, the decade in which Jerry Ordway’s Power of Shazam! series ran its dazzling lifespan of just under fifty issues, following his 1994 hardcover graphic novel of the same name. For most of the regular series Jerry merely scripted the comic, leaving the art chores to Mike Manley and others, except for the beautiful covers he painted for each and every issue. Near the end, Jerry penciled the magazine, with the inking chores handled by Dick Giordano. As preparation for the graphic novel and later the monthly series, however, Jerry did a considerable amount of little-seen artwork of the World’s Mightiest Mortal— some of which has never been printed until now. Although Jerry had, months ago, generously offered Alter Ego permission to showcase that artwork, I was frankly a bit apprehensive about including it in an issue which would feature a painted cover and a mountain of Marvel Family conceptual drawings by Alex Ross, because in no way did I want it to seem that Jerry was playing “second fiddle” to Alex. It’s simply that, since Jerry had drawn that wonderful cover to A/E V3#1, I reasoned that I should wait a while before asking if he had anything we could use for a cover or interiors of our first issue spotlighting the Big Red Cheese and company. When I contacted Jerry with this mini-dilemma, however, I quickly learned I needn’t have worried. He e-mailed back: “I have no problem being in the issue with Alex! He’s my hero!” Although Jerry said he’d have to “dig around to find some good stuff,” it was only a week or two later that I was surprised and pleased to receive the following Power of Shazam!-related artwork, all of it both penciled and inked by Jerry. Thanks, buddy! At this point, I’ll bow out and let Jerry’s commentary, written in the margins of the artwork he sent, speak by and large for itself, keeping my bracketed remarks to a minimum. —R.T.
Above: “Drawing that graced my initial proposal for Shazam! graphic novel.” [©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
25 Left & below: “Truly unseen by the world at large!” [Jerry’s cover for a 1994 issue of DC’s internal magazine—preceded by his initial sketch for the drawing. —R.T. ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Below: “Lettering style I drew for ‘Fake Movie Poster shot’ in front of graphic novel. This is hand lettered.” [©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Right: “The cover of [distributor] Capitol City’s Internal Correspondence— also used as cover to Capitol’s calendar.”[©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Fawcett Collectors of America P.C. Hamerlinck's
Welcome to the new issue of FCA! For the 60th anniversary of Captain Marvel and Fawcett Comics, we present to you this issue a special, expanded edition of the FCA section. I hope you’ve been pleased with our coverage of the history of Fawcett Comics and related material here within the pages of Alter Ego. Roy Thomas, John Morrow, and I welcome your feedback. Write or e-mail us your comments. A new FCA website is currently under construction at Walt Grogan’s Marvel Family Web <http://shazam.imginc.com/> and will be ready soon. Enjoy the issue. —P.C. Hamerlinck editor, FCA
[From 1941 through 1953, Marcus D. Swayze was a major artist with Fawcett Publications. His ongoing professional memoirs have been an important part of FCA since issue #54 in 1996. Last issue Marc told how he visually designed the brand new Mary Marvel “Creating the original sketches of Mary Marvel and illustrating her first stories character in 1942, although the Fawcett editors meant little more to me than the satiselected to keep him primarily on faction of having been entrusted with Captain Marvel stories. Soon that responsibility.” But he’s still at it, afterward he was drafted…. thank Shazam, nearly six decades later! —PCH] Another 1990s Mary Marvel sketch by Marc Swayze. [Art ©1999 Marc Swayze; Mary Marvel ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Somebody had said there would be a lot of waiting at the Army Reception Center, and they were right. At Fort Oglethorpe I took along a paperback book and did a lot of reading, a lot of waiting… and a lot of thinking.
I went back over that part of my life spent as a staff artist with Fawcett Publications. Had anything been accomplished… for me… for my employers… for anybody? As far as advancement toward my personal goal was concerned—landing a contract with a newspaper syndicate—I had to chalk up a zero. Jango, the dog, and Lucky Bill, the American flyer, had both been stored away in an apartment building on West 113th Street, unfinished.
Isis by P.C. Hamerlinck—1997 painting. [Isis ©1999 DC Comics, Inc.]
P.S.: I want to recommend to you Golden Age Men of Mystery, published by AC Comics (Paragon Publications, P.O. Box 521216, Longwood, FL 32752-1216; website: <http://members.aol.com/GAReprints/reprints.htm>), featuring excellent reprints from the Golden Age of Comics. MOM #14 is an all-Fawcett issue spotlighting Commando Yank, Minute Man, Ibis the Invincible, Bulletman, Golden Arrow, and more. Check it out!
On the other hand, I was pleased at having established myself within the Fawcett offices as a writer. There had been no rejections among the Captain Marvel scripts I had submitted. Creating the original sketches of Mary Marvel and illustrating her first stories meant little more to me than the satisfaction of having been entrusted with that responsibility. The majority of my time, of course, had been spent on Captain Marvel… doing story art steadily from my first day on the staff and cover art on an increasing basis right up to my departure for the military. Although Marc Swayze drew the story in Captain Marvel Adventures #19 (Dec. 1942) which introduced Mary Marvel—a page of which was reprinted last time—it was C.C. Beck who painted the issue’s strikingly beautiful cover. [©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Fawcett Collectors of America
The Real Captain Marvel And the Wonderful Golden Age of Comics by C. C. Beck Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck [ED. NOTE: The following is taken from FCA’s C.C. Beck essay archives. It is previously unpublished, and was written in the mid-1980s. There will be Beck material in each issue of FCA, all previously unpublished. I plan on alternating C.C.’s Captain Marvel-related articles, such as his mini-history last issue of Fawcett Comics and the Marvel Family, with his crusty, opinionated essays. This article is a bit of both. —PCH] C.M. meets C.C.— drawing by Beck, 1975. [Captain Marvel ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
PART I. THE REAL CAPTAIN MARVEL Many books and articles about the Golden Age of Comic Books have been published in recent years, written by people who were children in the 1930s and ’40s or who were born after the Golden Age had ended. Almost without exception, the writers of these books and articles have dwelt at great length on the exploits of the great superheroes of the period, starting, of course, with Superman, and then going on to Batman, Plastic Man, Sandman, Hawkman, Bulletman, Hangman, The Arrow, The Hawk, The Claw, The Green Giant, The Blue Beetle, The White Streak, and many others now long forgotten. In Richard O’Brien’s The Golden Age of Comic Books (Ballantine, 1977), there are forty color reproductions of comic book covers, 39 of them showing costumed characters leaping, flying, fighting, destroying, glaring, snarling, or doing superhuman feats, and one showing a pleasant-faced young fellow standing with one hand on the shoulder of a young boy and smiling cheerfully at the reader (Whiz Comics #22, 1941). The pleasant-looking young fellow is, of course, Captain Marvel, the biggest-selling “...A pleasant-faced young fellow...” The cover of which C.C. Beck writes in this article belongs to Whiz Comics #22, Oct. 1941. [©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
comic character of the Golden Age, and the boy is Billy Batson, boy radio reporter whose accounts of Captain Marvel’s adventures were given in his newscasts over radio station WHIZ. Almost all writers about the Golden Age have dismissed Captain Marvel as “an obvious Superman lookalike” designed to join all the other Superman lookalikes in a frantic effort to take sales away from the Man of Steel. Why he succeeded, almost from the start, in outselling all the other comics on the stands is rather hard to explain— at least, Captain Marvel’s success has not been satisfactorily accounted for by any of the writers whose books and articles I have seen. Now, almost a half-century after Captain Marvel and Billy Batson first appeared in Whiz Comics in 1940, the reason for the success of the World’s Mightiest Mortal is becoming clear. People now in their late forties and early fifties write to me saying, “Reading Captain Marvel was like stepping into a brighter, cleaner, more cheerful and friendly world,” and “…in the Captain Marvel stories both the plots and the characters were better developed and more imaginative than in most other comics.” Some letter writers praise my style of illustrating the Captain Marvel stories, calling it
The Real Captain Marvel & The Wonderful Golden Age of Comics
“clean” and “uncluttered” and “deceptively simple” and so on, and giving me much more credit than I deserve for Captain Marvel’s success. I had started doing commercial illustration more than ten years before I found myself working on Captain Marvel, and after I had left the comic book field in 1953 I worked for many years as a commercial illustrator once more. Except for a few engravers and printers, who liked my work because it was easy to engrave and print, nobody ever paid any attention to me, and my name was so unknown that I usually had to spell it out letter by letter for the people who made out my checks in payment. My style of illustrating has been more a curse than a blessing, I have found. I am able, for some reason, to see past the surface of things to the underlying structure— or lack of structure—beneath. When a thing is cheap, shoddy, and of no value—as many commercial products are—I refuse to make a drawing of it, knowing that I’ll reveal to the world how worthless it is. This ability has not helped me in my career, needless to say. I am permanently barred from entrance at most comic publishing houses today, since their products are, as one fan has written me, “self-inflated bubbles of nothing.” When I looked at the first Captain Marvel story, which had been written by William Parker, a Fawcett editor, I knew at once that here was a story worth illustrating! It had a beginning, a carefully-constructed development of plot and characters leading to a climax and an ending, and nothing else. There was no pointless flying around and showing off, no padding, no “Look, Ma, I’m a super-hero!” Out of 72 panels, Captain Marvel appeared in 18, or C.C. Beck’s 1974 re-creation of the cover of Captain Marvel Adventures #7. one-fourth. The story was about [Captain Marvel and Sivana ©1999 DC Comics Inc.; from the collection of P.C. Hamerlinck.] Billy Batson and the ancient wizard Shazam, and told how the mad Captain Marvel and Billy took turns rescuing each other from tight scientist Sivana was thwarted in his evil attempt to silence radio stations spots; when Captain Marvel was faced with a task for which he was too all over the world. big and powerful, he changed to small, agile Billy, and vice versa. And In that first story Captain Marvel did not fly, he did not bounce bullets off his chest, he did not utter a single “Holy Moley” nor crack a joke. In succeeding issues he and Billy went into the past and the future and to other universes and they met monsters and ghosts and talking tigers and worms and dictators and presidents and evil emperors both real and fictitious.
usually, although few readers were aware of it, the stories were told by Billy, who never asked anyone to believe that Captain Marvel actually existed any more than Edgar Bergen asked audiences to believe that Charlie McCarthy was a living being or political cartoonists asked viewers to believe that Uncle Sam or their other cartoon figures were actual people.
Fawcett Collectors of America
The Jack Binder Shop Days An Interview with Nat Champlin, Conducted by P.C. Hamerlinck [ED. NOTE: Nathan L. Champlin was one of the artists from the famed Jack Binder shop in Englewood, New Jersey—actually a barn next to Jack’s house which was converted into an art studio. This studio produced a huge amount of material for Fawcett Publications, including artwork for Whiz Comics in 1942 and 1943. Many of the artists left the shop in 1942, after America’s entry into World War Two, either being drafted or volunteering for the armed services. I focused our interview, conducted by mail, on Champlin’s work published by Fawcett, and on his experiences at the Binder shop before the War broke out. —PCH.] P.C. HAMERLINCK: When did you start work for Jack Binder? What were your responsibilities at the shop? Do you remember which Fawcett features you worked on? NAT CHAMPLIN: Where Beck, Swayze, Mac Raboy, and Binder did the complete job on their respective cartoons (with the possible exception of lettering), my own work was piecemeal, to say the least. In some cases I would rough out a “board” or two, and in other cases I would do a good deal more on the boards. While I did ink backgrounds and secondary figures, I did not ink Captain Marvel himself. While I did work on Captain Nat Champlin, 1994. Marvel, Golden Arrow, and Photo by Mildred Champlin. others, the Ibis boards were the ones I came closest to completing. In one way or another, we all worked on Whiz or Captain Marvel Adventures. We worked on other projects, too, for other companies. PCH: Who were some of your fellow artists in the shop, their specific duties, and your impressions of them? Was there a standardized work flow procedure at the shop? CHAMPLIN: The boards in Binder’s shop carried on the back a checkoff list as follows: Pencil Rough; Pencil Tighten - Main Figures; Pencil Tighten - Secondary Figures; Lettering; Pencil Tighten Background; Ink Main Figures; Ink Secondary Figures; Ink Background. The artist doing any one or more of these tasks would enter his initials or name opposite the appropriate blank(s).
As examples: Bill Ward did many of the rough pencil tasks; he was unbelievably fast, leaving a lot of work for the pencil tighteners who got his boards for tightening. “Memphis” Brooks was a fine figure tightener and did a good deal of work on Spy Smasher, calling it “Smy Spasher.” Jimmy Potter, among other strengths, was an outstanding background inker; he did one Captain Marvel cover—or was it the lead or first page in Whiz or Captain Marvel—that I would love to have: Marvel is in the air high above a harbor and “we” are at his eye level; below is Jimmy’s harbor spread out in all directions. (It was magnificent.) Vince Costello did the lettering, balloons, lightning blasts, and explosions. Ken Bald and Kurt Schaffenberger were among the really accomplished brush inkers.
The Jack Binder Studio (Shop)—basically a barn—with some of the Fawcett heroes whose adventures came out of it. Artwork by Kurt Schaffenberger for Amazing World of DC Comics #17 (listed in indicia as “Vol. 5, No. 16”), April 1978. The 1941 barn drawing appears to be the work of an “A. Duca.” [Art ©1999 Kurt Schaffenberger; Marvel Family, Mr. Scarlet and Pinky, Spy Smasher, Ibis and Taia, Bulletman and Bulletgirl ©1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Bob Boyajian did much work on Golden Arrow—but, as was the case with other artists, he worked on other comic boards. It goes without saying that not one of us got a byline, or credit, for the work he did.
PCH: You attended the Pratt Institute, along with other Binder shop artists such as Schaffenberger, Bald, etc. How was it that you all fell into producing comic books?
Fawcett Collectors of America
“My Years with Fawcett were Happy Years!” A Fawcett Photo-Essay by Virginia A. Provisiero, Fawcett Comics Editor, 1943-53 Virginia A. (“Ginny”) Provisiero was one of Fawcett Comics’ finest editors, first working for editor-in-chief Rod Reed, and soon thereafter Will Lieberson. At various times she was editor of Whiz Comics, Master Comics, Spy Smasher, Golden Arrow, Bill Boyd Western, Hopalong Cassidy, Rocky Lane Western, Tex Ritter Western, Six-Gun Heroes, This Magazine Is Haunted, and her personal favorite, Nyoka the Jungle Girl, whom she considered a strong and intelligent female role model for girl readers. I first interviewed Ginny for FCA #59 in 1998. She later shared with me the following photographs of herself and the Fawcett staff, along with some additional comments and a few artistic extras. Now it’s time for all of us to take a look back at the faces and the smiles of the talented individuals who created Fawcett comic books in the 1940s and early ’50s, courtesy of Ginny Provisiero. —P.C. Hamerlinck.
Above: “Late ’40s Fawcett Christmas party. [L. to R., front row:] Will Lieberson; myself; a female staff artist whose name I can’t remember; C.C. Beck, Otto Binder, Bruce (last name unknown—also a staff artist); Barbara Heyman. [L. to R., back row:] Kurt Schaffenberger, Ralph Carlson, Al Jetter, Wendell Crowley, Kay Woods (sp?), Bob Frankel.”
Left: “Editor Ginny Provisiero as Nyoka.” Photo taken outside on the roof of Fawcett offices—part of same session seen on the top of the next page.
Left: “Early-’50s Fawcett house ad. I enjoyed all the books I worked on. Nyoka the Jungle Girl was my favorite, as she did all the heroic things a man could do. My favorite western comic I edited was Hopalong Cassidy.” [Captain Marvel, Capt. Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, and Hoppy ©1999 DC Comics Inc.; Nyoka ©1999 Bill Black]
Ginny Provisiero Photo-Essay
“Outside on the roof of the Fawcett offices in New York City, 1946. We had fun dressing up when we performed a skit for an advertising convention.”
Above: “Writer Dick Kraus as a singing cowboy.”
Above: “Editor-in-chief Will Lieberson as a magician.” [EDITOR’S NOTE: He looks a lot more like Zatara than like Ibis the Invincible!] Right: “Captain Marvel editor, 7-foot-tall Wendell Crowley as the World’s Mightiest Mortal.” Photo taken during same shoot, above. Below: “4/12/53. [L. to R.:] Wendell Crowley, Dagny West, and C.C. Beck. Dagny and Wendy later married. C.C. Beck was always very nice to me, as well as being a great artist. Wendell Crowley was a fine editor who loved his work and loved Captain Marvel.”
Above: “My Fawcett 10-year anniversary party—4/12/53. [L. to R.:] Will Lieberson, myself, and fellow comics editor Al Jetter. Will Lieberson became my boss after Rod Reed left.”
Fawcett Collectors of America
Marvel (Family) Memories... And Kurt Schaffenberger by Dave Hunt [EDITOR’S NOTE: Here, comic book inker Dave Hunt reflects on growing up reading Fawcett comics and finally getting the opportunity to work on Captain Marvel, and with one of the Marvel Family artists from the Golden Age, Kurt Schaffenberger. Check out Dave’s website http://www.eclipse.net/caveart/.] When I was a young kid in the 1940s my father would bring home a comic book for me every Friday night. Sometimes, if I was lucky, it would be Superman, Batman, or a Donald Duck by Carl Barks. At some point, I came across Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family. I was hooked! Somehow, the cartoony house art style perfectly matched the unceasingly clever, creative storylines. Of course, anyone reading the FCA already knows the timeless, charming work that Fawcett seemed to produce so effortlessly. Roy Thomas’ article in FCA #58, 1997, about his boyhood relationship with the Fawcett books rang a bell with me. Roy is a year or two older than I, and was, incidentally, my first editor at Marvel Comics when I entered the business. Our early experiences with Cap were very similar. Roy made a subtle point about how certain panels, even details of panels, can leave indelible impressions on young minds. One panel that always gave me the creeps showed zombies screaming in pain as they fell into molten lava (Captain Marvel Adventures #141, Feb. 1953). These characters were
The Big Red Cheese as drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. [Art ©1999 the artist. Captain Marvel ©1999 DC!Comics, Inc.]
actually innocent dead humans reanimated by King Kull. During the ’50s, Fawcett occasionally went way over the line in its bid for the horror market. Another detail that sticks in my memory is some hairy-looking brains that Captain Marvel is inserting into duplicate Sivanas (“Plot against the Universe,” Captain Marvel Adventures #100, Sept. 1949). That book-long story has got to be one of Fawcett’s all-time best. I remember, at DC, when the late E. Nelson Bridwell was planning to reprint it in his book Shazam from the ’40s to the ’70s, I told him it was my favorite story, and I believe he said it was his, too. As I grew older, Captain Marvel had gone away somewhere; so had EC, and the Barks ducks weren’t as good as they used to be… so around my junior year in high school I put away comics as childish things. After a long, circuitous route, and working as a printer and designer, I took a job at Marvel Comics in the 1970s because I thought it would be fun.
Above: Dave Hunt’s creepy memories from “Captain Marvel Battles the Prehistoric Zombies,” Capt. Marvel Adventures #141, Feb. 1953. [Art by C.C. Beck; ©1999 DC Comics Inc.] Left: Kurt, New Jersey, May 1996—photo by Howard Bender.
Roy Roy T Thomas’ homas’ Legendary Legendary Comics anzine Comics F F anzine
In the USA
A 60 thAnniversary Tribute to
MARVEL COMICS and To
BILL EVERETT S
GIL KANE on The Golden Age of TIMELY COMICS!
No. 3 WINTER 2000
Featuring Rare Art BY:
Dick Ayers Dave Berg Jack Burnley Steve Ditko Don Rico Marie Severin Alex Schomburg and MORE! Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Human Torch TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Volume 3, No. 3 Winter 1999/2000
Marvel Mystery Section Background image: Flopped detail of Marvel Mystery Comics #9 cover featuring Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner and Carl Burgos’ Human Torch locked in mortal combat! [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Editor Roy Thomas
Associate Editor Bill Schelly
Design & Layout Jon B. Cooke/ GREAT SWAMP GRAPHICS
Consulting Editors John Morrow Jon B. Cooke
Contents Fire vs. Water. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 A writer/editorial about Marvel Comics #1 and the two guys who made it make a difference.
FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck
re: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Contributing Editor Michael T. Gilbert
Messages to (and from) the Editor.
“Bill Everett Was a Friend of Mine” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Jerry G. Bails, Ronn Foss, Biljo White, Mike Friedrich
Cover Artists Alex Ross, Bill Everett (w/Carl Burgos)
Cover Color Alex Ross, Tom Ziuko
Russ Garwood, D. Hambone, Glen Musial, Ed Stelli, Pat Varker
And Special Thanks to: Marty Arbunich
Mike W. Barr
Jon B. Knutson
Roy Thomas on the creator of The Sub-Mariner—and on the good times (and the bad) he shared with Wild Bill in the 1960s and ’70s.
Postcards to Wendy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Bill Everett’s daughter saved the art-laden postcards the artist sent her in the 1950s—and now she shares them with us.
Carl Burgos—Marvel Mystery Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Focus on the creator of The Human Torch—and some of his finest art, even when it covered up somebody else’s!
“Stan Was the Prince”—Gil Kane on Timely Comics . . . . . . . 34 The Golden/Silver Age artist talks about Marvel before it was Marvel— Timely Comics in the 1940s
It Started on Yancy Street! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Bill Schelly on the first and foremost Marvel fanzine of the 1960s.
Our Salute to Captain Marvel’s 60th Anniversary . . . . . Flip Us!
John Adkins Richardson
Nat & Mildred Champlin
Helen de la Ree
Ron Goulart Martin L. Greim Ron Harris Dave Hunt
Kathy Voglesong Mike Vosburg Len Wein
Our heartfelt thanks to original art dealer (and collector) Albert Moy for sending us a copy of a pencil-&-ink drawing Bill Everett did for Ye Editor back in the ’60s. See the rest of the magazine for the story behind this awesome illo. The Human Torch (a detail from Carl Burgos’ story, “The Mystery of the Disappearing Criminals,” from The Human Torch #1) was digitally manipulated into the slugfest by designer Jon B. Cooke, and the entire piece colored by Tom Ziuko. [Sub-Mariner, Hulk, and Human Torch ™&©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.] Alter EgoTM is published quarterly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919) 833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: email@example.com. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $5.95 ($7.00 Canada, $9.00 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $20 US, $27 Canada, $37 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. Alter and Captain Ego ©1999 Biljo White. Aquaman, Billy Batson, Bizarro, Bulletgirl, Bulletman, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Mary Marvel, Captain Nazi, Ibis, Isis, Justice League of America, King Kull, Lobo, Mr. Scarlet, Pinky, Robin, Sandman, Shazam, Sivana, Spy Smasher, Superboy, Superman, Taia, Wonder Woman ©1999 DC Comics Inc.; Angel, Bucky, Captain America, Daredevil, Defender, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Fin, Ghost Rider, Georgie, Hulk, Human Torch, Iron Man, Jimmy Jupiter, Marvel Boy, Namorita, Patriot, Prince Byrrah, Punisher, Rockman, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Super Rabbit, Terry Vance, Thing, Toro, Vagabond, Venom, Venus, Vision, Whizzer, Wolverine ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.; Wonder Man ©1999 Bruns Publishing; Little Ug-Li, Trudy ©1999 Marc D. Swayze. Mr. Monster © Michael T. Gilbert. Nyoka ©1999 Bill Black. Miracleman, Spawn © Todd McFarlane Productions, Inc. Predator, Pinhead © their respective copyright holders. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING
Panel detail from Marvel Mystery #8 (June ’40) [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Martin Goodman was born lucky.
nothing could happen to them.
Working backward for a moment:
(A few years ago I turned the original photostats over to Marvel. Nobody there remembered that they had them, until editor Tom Brevoort contacted me about writing an introduction to the first Golden Age of Marvel trade paperback and I told him about them; he promptly located them. Though mostly still unpublished, these pages comprise at least a few of the stories which Tom has reprinted in the two volumes printed thus far.)
In 1961 he plays a round of golf with DC’s co-publisher—Jack Liebowitz brags about the sales of Justice League of America—and, while neither Goodman nor they would probably ever have guessed it in advance, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stand poised to do the best work of their lives and thereby salvage his entire comics company. In late 1940 Goodman wants a “patriotic” super-hero for his line, and Joe Simon (in conjunction with Jack Kirby) comes up with Captain America— who wasn’t quite the first stars-and-stripes hero, but was certainly the best. In 1939 Goodman decides he’ll branch out from pulpmagazine publishing and put out a line of comic books—and in walks Lloyd Jacquet, with a couple of guys named Carl Burgos and Bill Everett in tow. Yeah, Martin Goodman was born lucky. The one that started it all: Marvel Comics #1. Though it was officially known as Timely Comics, many readers referred to Martin Goodman’s line as “Marvel Comics.” [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
He was also born smart, in his own schlockmeister way, but that’s another story.
This issue’s story is a tale of two heroes—The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner, created by the aforementioned Burgos and Everett for Goodman’s fledgling company which would soon become known as Timely Comics—and by the mid-1960s as Marvel Comics. I don’t have a lot of startling revelations to toss at you about either heroes or creators, so I’ll have to content myself with spinning a few personal reminiscences—both my own and those of Bill’s daughter Wendy—and with showering you with loads of Golden Age art, reproduced from black-and-white photostats of the original art which I found in a Marvel warehouse circa 1970 and hauled home so that
But this issue isn’t all about Golden Age art. There’s also some fine work done by Bill Everett in his final decade at Marvel—and by Marie Severin on a few special occasions (one of which was more sad than special)—and by one or two others. I was also fortunate to get my old friend Gil Kane to spin a few yarns and memories about Timely/Marvel back in the 1940s. We had a good time talking about those days, and we hope it shows. And, just to top things off, Bill Schelly dug into his Comics Fandom Archives and came up with the full, unfettered story of The Yancy Street Journal, the first and foremost comics fanzine ever done about Silver Age Marvel Comics. As for myself, I’m particularly happy to get a chance to write what I hope is my ultimate tribute to my colleague and sometime roommate, Bill Everett. I wish I’d had the foresight to have had someone take a photo of the two of us together, during those years from 1965 through the early ’70s when we were friends and occasional sparring-partners. But—my main regret about this issue? That Bill isn’t around to read it.
Our cover image: Here’s Bill Everett’s Subby versus Greenskin piece with the artist’s inscription to Ye Editor intact. [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
“Bill Everett Was a Friend of Mine”
A Very Personal Reminiscence of the Creator of The Sub-Mariner by Roy Thomas [INTRODUCTORY NOTE: Although there’s a fair amount of biographical and auto-biographical material below, this is definitely not an attempt at a biography of William Blake Everett. I hope that, one day, his daughter Wendy—either on her own or with someone else— will chronicle that story of soaring talent and of eventual triumph over self-imposed adversity. [This piece is simply my own hopefully ultimate take on a man who at various times in my life was admired artist-writer, sometimes troublesome roommate, good friend, and professional colleague. [Sometimes he was all four at once. [What follows is a story of success, and of failure—perhaps sometimes of my own, as well as Bill’s. [So let’s get on with it:]
PREFACE A few years back, when some new Sub-Mariner stories were published which I suspected Bill Everett would have disliked intensely, I was sorely tempted to send the writer-artist a short letter parodying a famous exchange from the 1988 Vice-Presidential debate: “I knew Bill Everett. “Bill Everett was a friend of mine. “And you, pal, are no Bill Everett.” I didn’t write that letter, of course. And it’s just as well. Because, though quite a few comics pros—including Yours Truly, more often than most—have taken a crack at writing and/or drawing the exploits of Prince Namor, none of us has ever been as good at either aspect as Bill Everett at his best was at both. Which shouldn’t really surprise us. For, as has often been noted, in one sense The Sub-Mariner was Bill Everett, right down to his facial features and reddish-brown hair color in the early issues of Marvel Mystery and other Timely comics.
I. PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN ANGRY YOUNG MAN The facts of Bill Everett’s colorful life aren’t always easy to come by. As his daughter Wendy told Mike Friedrich in an interview in Comic Book Artist #2, Bill had a tendency to change those “facts,” depending on whom he was talking to. She related, for instance, how her father once told an interviewer he had named a character Bob after his brother—only Wendy knew she didn’t have an “Uncle Bob.” Thus, it’s
likely that no published account of Bill’s life to date is entirely accurate. Still, call it a hunch, but I suspect that one version that comes as close to the truth as any is a letter he wrote to Jerry DeFuccio in 1961, and we thank Jerry for his blessing in quoting from it below. Bill was undoubtedly aware that the associate editor of Mad magazine was working (still is, in fact—and I hope he finishes it soon!) on the ultimate anecdotal comic book history; and for that reason Bill might have been likely to take DeFuccio’s queries a bit more seriously than most. Besides, in ’61 he hadn’t been quizzed about his life nearly as often as he would be in the following decade-plus. Here’s what Bill Everett wrote to Jerry DeFuccio on May 19, 1961:
You seem to have pegged the old comic book industry pretty well, from the few simple facts you stated in your letter. It’s true that Carl Burgos and I started in the game at its very inception, somewhere back in 1936 or ’37, when the going rate was $2.00 per page—believe it or not! I think my very first strip was “Skyrocket Steele,” but shortly after that came The Amazing-Man, which enjoyed a short but popular life. Then there was “Dirk the Demon,” and several others of short duration, whose titles I can’t even recall at this date. Of course, our biggest enterprise was “The Sub-Mariner” and Carl’s “Human Torch,” both of which carried us along successfully for many years. I was associated with Lloyd Jacquet, as you probably know, at Funnies, Inc., from about 1938 until the war, when I went into the service. The Sub-Mariner carried on at the hands of Carl Pfeufer and a few others in my absence, and it was not until late 1946 that I picked it up again. He was finally dropped as a feature title. You might recall that at Funnies we had such writers as Mickey Spillane, Ray Gill, and John Compton. Bob Wood started with us, then joined forces with Charlie Biro to produce crime comics for Lev Gleason. I guess you know what happened to Bob. Charlie, I understand, is still quite active with the National Cartoonists Society. Background: Bill’s unique signature, emulating painter’s palette and brushes.
Bill Everett circa 1939, when he was the writer-artist of Amazing Man Comics—juxtaposed with an inset of a far later drawing of The Sub-Mariner, revealing the strong resemblance between creator and creation. [Art courtesy of Dennis Beaulieu; Sub-Mariner ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Bob Davis was, indeed, one of my best friends. He met his death on his way home to Tarrytown, when he apparently went to sleep at the wheel of his car (a sedan, not a sports car) and plunged into a shallow pond off the Saw Mill River Parkway. As I recall it, he did not drown, but died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. What made his untimely death so poignant to us was the fact that it occurred after an afternoon and evening of frolic and fun with Carl, myself, and a couple of others from the Funnies gang. I remember that Bob kept calling his wife, Ruth, to tell her he’d be home shortly, and we finally persuaded him to leave about 7:00 p.m. That was the end. To go back a bit, here is a brief resume of my experience in the publishing and related fields: My first job out of school was with the Boston Herald-Traveler, on the Retail Advertising art staff—at an underwhelming salary of $12.00 per week. I quit that job when they put me on the night shift, and went to work as a draftsman for The Brooks System, civil engineers in Newton, Mass. I got fired because I refused to chauffeur one of the partners, whose rancid cigar smoke made me ill.
From there I went to Phoenix and on to L.A., job-hunting, but with no success. Finally, I returned to New York, and got a job on the Herald Tribune, once again doing retail advertising work. That job led to another, as Art Editor for Radio News magazine, Teck Publications, Inc. Teck eventually sold out to Ziff-Davis, and I went to Chicago to become Assistant Art Director to Herm Bollin. Unfortunately, Herm and I didn’t get along, and I was too big for my britches. I got canned. I came back to New York, all set to take the world by its heels—and wound up on the unemployment insurance breadline. I was still drawing compensation when I stumbled onto the comic book field, then brand new. I can’t even recall how it happened—wait… Now I remember. A fellow by the name of Walter Holze had worked with me at Teck, and when Teck sold out went with a small publisher, whose name I can’t recall. John H——, something. Anyway, Walter got in touch with me, and told me this guy was doing comics, and was I interested? I was. I was interested in anything at that point. So I went to see him, and that’s when I met Lloyd Jacquet and Carl Burgos. Later, Lloyd split with John, and offered me and a fellow by the name
“Bill Everett Was a Friend of Mine” You may know of Steve Douglas, former editor of Famous Funnies. He’s had quite a career, and would make interesting material for your book. He and I have been friends for many years. While with Lloyd and the others, I also did a great deal of work on the World’s Fair of ’41 [sic], for the Electric Utilities Corp. of New York. Interesting, but brief. Our biggest client, as it turned out, was Martin Goodman. We produced many different comic titles for him, until about 1940, when he dropped our contract and decided to set up his own production staff, with Arthur Goodman in charge. Both Arthur and Stan Lee were just kids then, and gave us considerable trouble. I guess we were all feeling our oats at that time. We gave them trouble, too. Anyway, Lloyd and I weren’t getting along too well at that period, and there was dissension between Lloyd and John Mahon. John left, and Frank Torpey went to work for Martin. Lloyd was carrying on with Jim Fitzsimmons when I left to go into the service. I married while in the army—a girl named Gwenn Randall, from Nebraska, who was working for the Ordinance Dept. in the Pentagon. I met her in ’42 when I was attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, and married her when I returned from the European Theater in ’44. Our first child, a daughter, was born just before I was shipped out to the Pacific. I was in the Philippines when the war terminated, and returned home in February ’46.
Bill makes a point—in this pin-up done for a reprinting of Gene Colan Prince Namor stories (Sub-Mariner King-Size Special #1, Jan. 1971). [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
of Max Neill a chance to go in with him and two other guys, John Mahon and Frank Torpey, on a fifty-fifty basis. We took a small loft office on 45th Street, and started an art service. One of our accounts was Martin Goodman, who was just entering the comic field. Another was Famous Funnies, Eastern Color Printing Co., for whom I did a rather successful strip called “Hydroman,” plus several one-shots.
I’d come into a little money when my great-uncle died during the war, so I sort of loafed around for a while after I got home, traveling around a bit, and finally settling in my wife’s home town, Fairbury, Nebraska. This was when I renewed my association with Martin Goodman, working by mail on a freelance basis, picking up the Sub-Mariner where I’d left off four years ago.
Things got rough about 1949, and I felt it advisable to pack up and move back to New York. I left my family (two kids by now) in Erie, Pa., with my sister and her family, and came to N.Y. by myself. I picked up comic accounts with Quality Comics, Eastern Color, and, of course, with Stan Lee. Things finally began to look good in ’50, and my family joined me (four of us lived—and worked—in one tiny room in a midtown hotel for six months!), and we eventually moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where I bought a small house.
Postcards to Wendy
Postcards to Wendy Drawings Sent from a Father to his Daughter—Only the Father Was Bill Everett! by Roy Thomas
real treasure trove, which we present along with such comments of Wendy’s—and Bill’s—as we were privy to.
s related earlier, I met Bill Everett’s effervescent daughter Wendy once or twice in the 1960s. From time to time over the years, and even more so after Alter Ego returned as part of Comic Book Artist magazine in 1998, I thought of trying to get in touch with her, to see how she was doing. But nothing ever came of it. Even Mike Friedrich, who in the late ’60s and early ’70s had been both a comics writer and a friend of hers and Bill’s, had no idea where she was.
In Comic Book Artist #2, Wendy told Mike Friedrich:
Yet it was in that same year of ’98 that Mike learned through an employee at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco that Wendy had recently been a docent (volunteer) there. The initial result of their getting back in touch was his three-page interview with her which appeared in CBA #2, complete with several previously unpublished Everett photos and drawings (as well as Mike’s own reminiscences of his friend Bill). Through Mike, Wendy and I likewise re-established contact, and we’ve exchanged a number of chummy e-mails since. When Alter Ego spun off from CBA, I told Wendy that an early issue would feature extensive coverage of her father. She responded with the drawings on the next few pages, as well as the indicated photos and artwork from the preceding article. Wendy also told me that for 25 years she’s been in possession of some later journals of her father’s, and she hoped to present edited excerpts from them in A/E. However, she later decided they were a bit too personal, and too little related to his comics work, for her to feel A studio portrait of Bill Everett comfortable about sharing them in his early twenties. with A/E’s readers; and we [Courtesy of Wendy Everett.] respect her opinion. Still, Wendy has given us a
“Another one of the things about being the kid of an artist— and one that is so prolific and talented—is that he’d create art for us all of the time. When I was young and went to camp, every week he would send me one of those old Manila postcards and draw these fabulous cartoons that would depict what happened at home that week. So one would have a swimming pool with my brothers in it, and he’d put the dog in the middle. You know, no one in camp ever got anything like that and, of course, because they were postcards, everyone else at camp got to read [them] before I did.” Wendy sent me a total of sixteen of these hand-colored cards, all but two of which are postmarked 1956 (the other two being from 1957). Most of the cards are addressed to “Miss Wendy Everett, Camp Nokomis, Bear Island, Lakeport, New Hampshire.” Some were postmarked at New York City’s Grand Central Station. At first, since Wendy herself was on extended travels in London and Florence, Italy, and didn’t have the opportunity to write her own additional comments on the postcards as she’d hoped, I intended to print only the two or three which were at least vaguely comics-related. But then I decided, “What the hell? This is vintage artwork by Bill Everett, and if I don’t publish them, who is going to?” (Besides, Wendy can always add her own commentary in a later issue, if she wishes.) Thus, throwing caution to the winds, we present Bill Everett’s loving postcards to his young daughter, from those wonderful years 1956 and 1957.
Carl Burgos: Marvel Mystery Man by Roy Thomas
ill Everett and Carl Burgos.
Carl Burgos and Bill Everett.
No matter the order in which they’re listed, these two names are forever entwined in the history of comic books, because these two writers/artists’ heroes, The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner, made their debuts in the same epoch-making first issue of Marvel Comics in the summer of 1939 (cover date: October, with a second edition published with a November cover date). To me and to many other comics aficionados, Burgos has always been the “mystery man” of the pair… simply because so few interviews with or photos of him seem to be available.
The one-page text accompanying this caricature in Human Torch #1 “revealed” how Burgos got the idea for his hero on “a beastly hot day”; see the 1990 “reprint” of Marvel Comics #1.
Indeed, it seems that, even when longtime pros do talk about him, their comments seem to be limited to a general impression, rather than to many specific memories. (Witness, for example, Gil Kane’s spare comments in his interview in this issue—or the quoted remarks below from Joe Simon.)
The biographical accounts by Jim Steranko (in the first volume of his groundbreaking The Steranko History of Comics in 1970) and by Jerry Bails in The Who’s Who of American Comic Books are still as definitive as anything gets concerning Burgos. Both Steranko and Bails had personal contact with Burgos in the 1960s, and thus got their information straight from the horse’s mouth—not that that’s always 100% reliable in the Wonderful World of Comics, or anywhere else. Burgos was born in 1917, and in his youth briefly attended the National Academy of Design. “I quit after one year,” he is quoted by Steranko as saying, “because I couldn’t learn enough.” ’Twould seem that, at age seventeen, while working for the Franklin Engraving Company, he first encountered original comic art prepared by the Harry A Chesler comic shop. By 1938 he was drawing his first strip for Chesler: “Stoney [or was it Rocky?] Dawson,” which was published by the Centaur Comics Group. Ere long he was working directly for Centaur, on such strips as “The Last Pirate,” “Air-sub DX”—and “Iron Skull,” his first herocreation, and likewise the first of numerous android heroes he would develop over the decades to come. A year later he, entrepreneur Lloyd Jacquet, and a young artist he had met at Centaur—Bill Everett—left Centaur and formed a comic shop to produce entire issues of comic books for various publishers. As Bill told me circa 1970 in an interview (published posthumously in 1978 in Alter Ego, Vol. 1, #11): “We were the nucleus of what was later to become known as Funnies, Incorporated. And one of the members of the organization was the sales manager, Frank Torpey, Talk about rare finds! This 10" x 51/2" watercolor by Carl Burgos, dated 1939—with “M.M #4” written on the back—also once featured some ling-erased lettering: “To Lloyd, Hi, I’m the New Human Torch.” Lloyd was most likely Lloyd Jacquet, head of Funnies, Inc., which produced the early issues of Marvel Mystery Comics. The original was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 1991-92, and showed a more human-looking version of the Torch which was briefly in vogue. [Human Torch ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc. With thanks to Jerry Boyd.]
—Marvel Mystery Man!
who had a friend Martin Goodman, who was in the publishing business, and Frank talked Martin into going into publishing comics, as I recall. It was through that contact that Mr. Goodman started in the comic field and we sold him the first package deal.” This was in ’39. Goodman, of course, christened his first entry into the burgeoning new four-color field Marvel Comics, because up to this point he had published pulp magazines, one of which was titled Marvel Science Stories—and would even be called first Marvel Tales and finally Marvel Stories before it was discontinued in 1941. There has always been some puzzlement over the fact that, with its second issue, Goodman changed the comic’s title to Marvel Mystery Comics, with the word “Mystery” hand-lettered very small in a box superimposed on the word “Comics.” And, indeed, there are a lot of mysteries associated with Marvel Comics #1. To wit: 1.) Which came first—The Human Torch or The Sub-Mariner? (Some years back, that particular mystery seemed solved by the discovery of a movie theatre giveaway, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, in whose first and only distributed issue the first eight pages of Namor’s origin appeared in black-&-white. However, there is some dispute about the matter, and since it doesn’t concern the Torch, we won’t go into it here. That way lies madness.) 2.) Was Marvel Comics #1 produced over one long, hectic weekend by Burgos, Everett, and company? (In a recent issue of Comic Book Marketplace, editor Gary Carter recalled members of Sotheby’s AACC Splash page from Human Torch #3. [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc. All illos from HT #3 accompanying Grading Committee, a few years back, this article were reproduced from b&w photostats of the original art.] poring over a so-called “pay copy” of drawing of The Human Torch—done by pulp artist Frank R. Paul, not Marvel #1 and relating the tale of how the entire issue was put together creator Carl Burgos? in a few frantic days by Lloyd Jacquet’s gang. But when Bill Everett told me that story a time or three back in the ’60s, I got the impression— (My own theory has always been that publisher Goodman decided, rightly or wrongly—that he was talking about one of the lengthy Torchprobably correctly, that a man on fire made for a better cover than a Namor fights circa 1940-41. The AACC/CBM account also has Bill pointy-eared, wing-footed guy in swimming trunks—and that Paul, drawing away in the bathtub that weekend—a bit too “on-the-nose” already a staple on his pulp mags, would do a more commercial cover for the creator of The Sub-Mariner—when Bill wrote Jerry DeFuccio in than relative newcomer Burgos. Evidently it didn’t bother Goodman 1961 that it was writer Joey Piazza in the tub. So, unless someone comes that the Torch on his cover looked very little like the one drawn inside up with proof that it was Marvel #1 that was produced that way, I’ll by Burgos.) continue to look on the issue as unresolved, at best… though, whichever issue it was, the story is a fascinating one.) In any event, Marvel Mystery Comics endured for the next decade, through issue #92 (June 1949), after which it transmogrified into a 3.) Why did Bill Everett produce a color cover rough of Namor for horror comic called Marvel Tales. Marvel #1—a minor masterwork still in existence, and auctioned off in recent years for big bucks—and yet the actual cover ended up being a
The Torch, as everyone knows, wasn’t really human at all, but was
“Stan Was the Prince…”—
“Stan Was The Prince...” Gil Kane on Timely Comics The Golden/Silver Age Artist Talks about Marvel Before It Was Marvel! Interview Conducted & Edited by Roy Thomas Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson [INTERVIEWER/EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever since his keynote speech at a Phil Seuling comics convention in New York and his first major interview, in the pages Early 1940s Timely logo. of Alter Ego (Vol. 1) #10, both in the late 1960s, artist Gil Kane has been widely recognized as one of the most outspoken and articulate of comic book professionals. Recently Ye Editor, who has been proud to call him both collaborator and friend for some thirty years and counting, suggested to Gil that they conduct a series of interview/conversations, each
focusing on a different specific subject, Late ’40s logo (used spottily). company, or period, which would give him a chance to reminisce about his experiences in different areas over the years. [Gil graciously concurred with this plan, and this past Summer we spoke by phone for over an hour on the ostensible topic of “Timely in the 1940s.” To no one’s great surprise (least of all ours), the actual subjects discussed ranged far and wide, and occasionally were only dragged back to the topic at hand with great difficulty. Conversation relating to nonTimely topics, which ran the gamut from All-American Comics to Ziff-Davis, will see print in the near future, most likely with additional material added. For the purpose of this issue’s coverage of Marvel Comics #1, mostly it’s the parts of the conversation dealing with Timely that have been retained—but even there, other comments have often been kept to give the piece context. [Since Gil—like myself, as questioner—was acting from memory, I later checked a few facts out with A/E’s ever-generous founder, Jerry G. Bails, afterward often referred to by his initials “JGB.” I’ve presented that information in italicized notes between brackets, where appropriate. Now, awaaay we go… and I hope you have as much fun reading this interview as I had doing it with Gil.—R.T.] ROY THOMAS: For a couple of years there, Gil—’43, ’44—you worked for Timely. GIL KANE: Yes. Mostly, I was hired by Don Rico. Norman Podhoretz worked there too. I think his son is an editor at the New York Post now. [The son] started out as a liberal, and later he and this guy Bill Kristol became the leaders of neo-conservatism. At that time Stan was the editor, but it was Rico who was the line manager, handed out assignments, made criticism and everything else, and just provided stuff. RT: Stan didn’t go into the Service until ’44 or so, did he, because he was, after all, still pretty young. KANE: He must’ve gone in around ’43. Stan is three years older than I am, so he would have been in the available range, and I know he went overseas to England. Vince Fago took over as editor. The thing is, in those days they used to hand out pages at such volume! Not compared to nowadays, but they were equipped for what they had to do. So they used to hand us two or three pages at a time for inking or penciling. Somehow or another, they sequenced it all in. A mid-’40s house ad for Marvel Mystery Comics—though that’s not 100% clear from the copy. [©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
—Gil Kane on Timely Comics RT: They must’ve kept meticulous, careful records so they’d know where everything was. KANE: You’d meet a lot of people, and it’s just a day-by-day thing. Mort Lawrence was one of the artists in Bernie Bailey’s shop. In fact, he took over The Sub-Mariner. And this friend of mine, Clem—I can’t think of his second name—took over Captain America. You needed more than one guy to do Captain America stories at that time, but Clem was the lead artist, and when I would come in on furloughs, he would give me some pages to bring down, Captain America pages. Occasionally I would come in, and I once got a Captain America story from Harry Shorten. [NOTE: JGB tells us “Clem” must be Clem Weisbecker, who worked at Marvel circa 1942-44, though his specific assignments aren’t known. He also lists Mort Lawrence as a Sub-Mariner artist only from 1944-47, so perhaps that 1942-43 Namor was Carl Pfeufer! —R.T.] RT: Where was Timely located when you came to work there? KANE: They were in the Empire State Building by that time, and they were doing a lot of animation. Chad [Grothkopf] had started there. He and Stan started the funny animals. RT: Chad also did the Hoppy the Marvel Bunny stories for Fawcett at that time. Hoppy came before Timely’s Super Rabbit. KANE: Yes. The Marvel Bunny became very big for a while. It was Stan who wrote the first funny animal material at Timely, and Chad who drew it. RT: Super Rabbit was a very big character for a time. KANE: I remember. As a matter of fact, Mike Sekowsky was working with us there, and there was a guy named Kin Platt, who ultimately went into children’s books. They had a couple of good guys—like George Klein—and they were all kept very busy. They had an enormous output—enormous for that time. You have to realize that they weren’t equipped to turn out a hundred books a month, but they were busy. Al Jaffee worked there… Dave Gantz… RT: You came there just about the time the funny animal work was competing with the super-heroes. KANE: Yeah. Ultimately the different companies began to specialize. But Marvel never let go of their animation, through the end of the war. George Klein and the rest of these guys developed techniques that were really appropriate for it. Sekowsky got to be a better penciler with what he learned from Simon and Kirby influences—you know, more “teenage decorative” stuff. His stuff was always decorative. I remember, ultimately, immediately after the war, Frank Giacoia came out of the service, and he and Sekowsky did some teenage stuff, some Patsy Walker, and all of that stuff began. So they were generating all sorts of possibilities. The only thing is that the super-heroes started failing. RT: [Artist/editor] Vince Fago said in Les Daniels’ Marvel book that Sekowsky “drew as if it just rolled out of his fingers.” Was he always that facile? KANE: Yeah. As a matter of fact, Mike
was making $10,000, $11,000 a year. That was a lot of money then. RT: He seems to have been almost the ultimate adaptable artist. First he was a good (and fast) super-hero artist—then he went to funny animals, and became a major star there—and then teenage comics. No matter what came along, Sekowsky was right there, ready to adapt his style to it. KANE: He had a great natural facility. It was crisp as hell, it had an abstract quality. Even what he couldn’t draw well, he drew attractively. That’s a big thing, you know. Most guys who didn’t draw well or think well didn’t draw attractively, either. There was a crispness, always something very appealing, about Sekowsky’s work. He was a very bright guy. Toward the end, in the ’70s, A rare 1970s sketch by the late Don Rico, he started to have problems, who at various times was both a Captain probably because there was a America artist and a Timely editor. certain intuitive quality to In 1976 he, Sergio Aragones, and Mark his work, and ultimately his Evanier co-founded the Comic Art Professionals Society in Los Angeles. intuition failed him. He [©1999 Marvel Characters,Inc.] couldn’t elaborate a picture, he couldn’t do vistas; there was a whole range of things he couldn’t do, and the things that he could do weren’t as useful to him any more. It’s a situation where we’re in there for a while—sometimes we have a passion to go on, even to challenge—even though there’s no possible way of winning.
Chad Grothkopf’s Hoppy the Marvel Bunny debuted in Fawcett’s Funny Animals #1 (Dec. 1942); his and Stan Lee’s Super Rabbit hard on its heels in Comedy Comics #14 (March 1943). [Marvel Bunny ©1999 DC Comics Inc.; Super Rabbit ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
It Started on Yancy Street!
It Started on Yancy Street! Marty Arbunich, Bill DuBay, and the First 1960s Marvel Comics Fanzine by Bill Schelly INTRODUCTION
I. THE WAY IT BEGAN!
Much has been written about the part Julius Schwartz and the DC hero revivals of the late 1950s played in the formation of the comics fandom movement of the 1960s, which began with the publication of Alter Ego and Comic Art in spring of 1961.
The Yancy Street Journal, the first fanzine focused solely on the comics published by Martin Goodman (Timely, Atlas, Marvel) was the product of a friendship between two teenage comics fans with remarkable enthusiasm, energy, and talent: Marty Arbunich and Bill DuBay.
Just as important was the rise of Marvel Comics, beginning with the debut of The Fantastic Four later that same year. It wasn’t just the fact that Marvel ushered in hero revivals à la DC, with the return of The Human Torch and Sub-Mariner, but that the new characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others burst on the scene with instant appeal to the older, more articulate fans. Very likely, the comics fandom rocket would never have reached lift-off without the F.F., Spider-Man, Iron Man, et al. With Marvel taking fandom by storm, and the number of fanzines increasing exponentially in 1962 and 1963, it was merely a matter of time before a magazine devoted exclusively to the output of Stan Lee and company made the scene.
Pals since first grade, they lived in the same San Francisco neighborhood and attended the same schools. Arbunich and DuBay were among the second wave of fans to join comicdom in the wake of a spate of plugs in DC and Marvel comics letter columns. Recently, Marty and Bill reminisced about those innocent, early days of fandom.
In 1964 Bill DuBay and Marty Arbunich launched The Yancy Street Journal, fandom’s first fanzine devoted to Marvel Comics. [photo from the collection of Bill Schelly]
“I heard about it before Marty,” DuBay recalls. “I sent for a copy of Alter Ego #5. When I got that in the mail, it blew my mind. I thought, ‘Wow, there are old comic books and super-heroes! There’s more than just what meets the eye today.”
While unrelated to The Yancy Street Journal per se, this double-page spread (21” wide!) by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott was commissioned by the then-hip Esquire for their Sept. 1966 “College Issue,” attesting to the enormous mainstream popularity Marvel Comics were achieving. [All characters ©1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Behind color covers by ALEX ROSS and BILL EVERETT, editor ROY THOMAS takes a look back at the 60-year careers of the HUMAN TORCH and SUB-MAR...
Published on Oct 5, 2013
Behind color covers by ALEX ROSS and BILL EVERETT, editor ROY THOMAS takes a look back at the 60-year careers of the HUMAN TORCH and SUB-MAR...