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FRANKENSTEIN FEAR-FEST WITH

BERNIE WRIGHTSON, DICK BRIEFER, & FIENDS

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1994--2004

5.95

$

In the USA

No. 41 October 2004

Art ©2004 Bernie Wrightson


Vol. 3, No. 41 / October 2004

M ™

Editor

Roy Thomas

Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash

Design & Layout

Christopher Day

Consulting Editor John Morrow

A Fiendish FRANKENSTEIN Festival

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 Bernie Wrightson Marc Swayze

Covers Colorist Tom Ziuko

And Special Thanks to: Heidi Amash Ger Apeldoorn Bob Bailey Richard Bealzley Alberto Beccatini John Benson Jackson Bostwick Jerry K. Boyd Chris Brown Gary Brown Frank Brunner Bernie Bubnis John Coates Howard Leroy Davis Al Dellinges Michael Dewally Roger Dicken & Wendy Hunt Jay Disbrow Michael Dunne Don Ensign Conrad Eschenberg Michael Eury Ed Fields Shane Foley Ray Funk Carl Gafford Janet Gilbert Donald F. Glut Ron Goulart Paul Gravett Chris Green Walt Grogan Jennifer Hamerlinck Jim Harmon Bill Harper Kyle Henry Greg Hunyager

Michael W. Kaluta Allen G. Kracalik Richard Langlois Marshall Lanz Mark Lewis Christy Lockstein Vatche Mavlian Mike Mikulovsky Sheldon Moldoff Brian K. Morris Frank Motler Peter Normanton John G. Pierce Bud Plant Virginia Provisiero Ed Rhoades Alex Ross Dorothy Schaffenberger David Siegel Robin Snyder Emilio Squeglio Mike Tiefenbacher Dann Thomas Alex Toth Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Dr. Michael J. Vassallo Mark Voger Pete Von Sholly Loston Wallace Delmo Walters, Jr. Jean Marie Ward Hames Ware John Wells Mark Wheatley Tom Wimbish Bernie Wrightson Mike Zeno

Contents

Writer/Editorial: “Lost in Darkness and Distance” . . . . . . . . . . 2 “A Lifelong Love Affair with Frankenstein” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Bernie Wrightson talks to Roy Thomas about those sensational 1970s-80s illustrations. Frankenstein in Four Colors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Don Glut spins an informal biography of Mary Shelley’s Monster in comic books. A Not-So-Spirited “Spirit of Frankenstein” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Michelle Nolan on the American Comics Group’s odd Adventures into the Unknown. Alex Toth Meets Frankenstein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 “A Tip of the Topper to Dick Briefer” from one of his greatest fans. Frankenstein: Monster in Tights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 When Dell Comics stitched together super-heroes and horror, by Stephan Friedt. Spawn Song . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Victor Frankenstein’s fearful fiend at DC Comics (1948-1994), by John Wells. Frankenstein in the Funny Pages? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Dick Briefer nearly pulled it off it back in the 1970s—in his own words and pictures! Happy 100th, FCA! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us! About Our Cover: What can we say, except—“a plethora of riches!” Bernie Wrightson generously gave us our choice of using any one of his fabulous Frankenstein drawings as this issue’s cover—and that’s when our dilemma began. Because there are literally a dozen of his 1970s-80s illustrations for Mary Shelley’s novel—spread over no less than two different books—any one of which would have made our day! We settled on this one, to avoid repeating the cover of the 1983 edition. Any complaints? We didn’t think so. [Art ©2004 Bernie Wrightson.] Above: Since this section’s twin spotlights are on the Frankenstein art of Silver-Ager Bernie Wrightson and Golden Age cartoonist Dick Briefer, here’s a favorite splash of ours by the latter, from the Prize Comics Group’s Frankenstein #1 (Summer 1945), courtesy of Al Dellinges. [©2004 the respective copyright holders.] Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: roydann@ntinet.com. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $8 ($10 Canada, $11.00 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.


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“A Lifelong Love Affair With Frankenstein ” BERNIE WRIGHTSON on Illustrating Mary Shelley’s Monster Conducted by Roy Thomas

Transcribed by Brian K. Morris

[INTRODUCTION: There will probably be very few readers of Alter Ego—especially of this issue of it—who will be unfamiliar with Bernie Wrightson’s work, in particular his art on DC’s Swamp Thing comic book in the early 1970s and his illustrations for a special edition of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, which was published in 1983—with an introduction by Stephen King, no less. This phone interview was conducted, in a rather impromptu fashion on Ye Editor’s part, on August 2, 2004. —Roy.] ROY THOMAS: How far back does your interest in the Frankenstein character go? BERNIE WRIGHTSON: Oh, Jesus. It goes way back to the 1950s, when I was a kid and Universal released their monster movie package to TV. Just seeing all the Frankenstein movies for the first time—who knows what a little six-year-old brain is going to latch onto? I just fixated on the Monster. That’s the guy that really grabbed me. I have friends who got really caught up in The Mummy or the Creature [from the Black Lagoon] and became fixated on those guys. Frankenstein was mine. RT: Before you did the illustrations for the novel, you had done quite a few Frankenstein drawings in your early professional work for various black-&-white comics, hadn’t you? WRIGHTSON: Oh, sure, sure. The character showed up again and again in stuff I did for fanzines and things like that. There were even several aborted attempts to do it as a graphic novel. It never went beyond a couple of pages of continuity. RT: When do you think was the first time you depicted the Monster in a story? Did you do anything in some of the Warren magazines or Web of Horror with him? Or was it when you did things like The Patchwork Man in Swamp Thing? WRIGHTSON: You know, that was probably the first time he showed up in any published work, like newsstand stuff. And there was a story in one of the Warren magazines. I can’t remember the title, it was either Creepy or Eerie, called “Muck-Monster,” which was a total Frankenstein rip-off and kind-of done in the style of the illustrations that would appear in the book. RT: So the first thing that you came out with, as regards the illustrations that were later printed with a special edition of Mary Shelley’s novels, was the first of the two portfolios you did? WRIGHTSON: Right. At some point, I kind-of decided that this was never going to happen as a graphic novel. You know, an adaptation to comic books. And I thought, “Well, I don’t think anyone has done a fully-illustrated edition of the novel.” I mean, there was the edition in the ’30s or ’40s…. RT: Lynd Ward? [NOTE: See illustration on p. 11.]

Bernie Wrightson (top left), in a photo from an interview done for Crescent Blue’s website—and the cover of the 1983 Dodd, Mead hardcover edition of Frankenstein which existed primarily to showcase Bernie’s exquisite illustrations. (He then spelled his first name “Berni.”) Bernie told Crescent Blue, a website presided over by Jean Marie Ward: “My mother took me to see a Frankenstein movie when I was really young, and it affected me very deeply… That led to seeing all the other Frankenstein movies, led to reading the book, and I developed a lifelong love affair with Frankenstein and anything associated with it. Illustrating the book had always been a dream of mine. I always wanted to see that story—Mary Shelley’s—illustrated faithfully.” In another recent online interview, with Christy Lockstein (which you can read at <Christy@sequentialtart.com>), Bernie related how Stephen King came to write the introduction to the volume: “When I did the comic book adaptation of [the film] Creepshow… I met with Stephen King and it turned out that he was a fan of mine. He had read Swamp Thing and a few other things I had done. I told him I was illustrating Frankenstein… I asked him if he would write an introduction to it, and he said that he would be happy to. It was like a favor.” Thanks to Tom Wimbish and Fernando Correa de Carvalho for their help in locating these two website interviews. [Art ©2004 Bernie Wrightson.]


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Bernie Wrightson on Illustrating Mary Shelley’s Monster

“[The Frankenstein Monster] showed up again and again in stuff I did for fanzines.” Here are two samples of same from the 1960s and early ’70s: an early Wrightson illustration with a very Karloffian look, and a single-page gag. This art was reprinted in Apple Press’ 1993 book Bernie Wrightson: The Lost Frankenstein Pages. That volume collected numerous preliminary sketches for the 1983 book, plus drawings the artist decided not to use, as well as examples of Bernie’s earlier depictions of the Monster. The Lost Frankenstein Pages is a worthy companion to the illustrated novel, and is available from publishers Michael & Hilary Catron for 9.95 a copy postpaid. Their address is P.O. Box 309, Greencastle, PA 17225—or you can e-mail them (Hilary, really, since she’ll be doing the heavy lifting!) at <hcatron@earthlink.net>. PayPal accepted. Do yourself a favor and pick up this one, as well as the illustrated novel! [Art ©2004 Bernie Wrightson.]

WRIGHTSON: Lynd Ward, yeah, with woodcuts, which was great. But I really wanted to do something that looked a little more archaic. My original intention was, I wanted the illustrations to look as though they could have been done at the time Mary Shelley’s novel was first published, given the printing process and reproduction techniques of the time. So I settled on something that would look like a woodcut or a steel engraving: all black-&-white, pen-and-ink and everything, and kind of old-fashioned-looking. RT: And the portfolios, I guess, were what—a way to finance things as you went along? WRIGHTSON: Yeah, that was early along in the process. Originally, I was going to self-publish, and the portfolios were to make the money to cover the printing costs for the book. And, of course, that never happened because I was young and I had no idea what I was getting into. So we sold the portfolios; they made quite a bit of money for the time. RT: They were classic portfolios. I think they’re some of the most valuable that came out during that era or after. WRIGHTSON: That’s what I hear, yeah, yeah. You know, there never were too many of them; I think maybe a thousand or so were made, but I wasn’t thinking about that. It’s just, “This is what I’ll do. I’ll make money from this, put it back into the book.” And, of course, all the money went to trivial, inconsequential things like rent. [laughs] And

then Marvel came along. RT: Well, wasn’t the original portfolio done in ’77? That’s the earliest copyright date I’ve seen on any illustrations in the edition that I have of the novel version. Some illustrations were copyright ’77, others ’78. WRIGHTSON: I remember it made its debut at Phil Seuling’s convention in Philadelphia. RT: Please forgive my ignorance, but I have the Dodd, Mead version. Which came first, the Marvel or the Dodd, Mead? WRIGHTSON: Well, they came kind-of simultaneously. What happened was that [Marvel editor-in-chief] Jim Shooter wanted to do a whole line of comic and graphic novels, illustrated novels he could put into bookstores. And I remember him telling me that he wanted to get it into airport bookstores, which was a pretty big venue at the time. And he saw Frankenstein and said, “Yeah, we’d like to do this and this would be our introduction into this venue. It’d be like our flagship book.” And by that point, I thought, “Well, I’m not going to publish this myself,” and here comes Jim. So I said, “Okay, sure.” So I signed the contract, and it never actually made it into the airports, as far as I know. But anyhow, they had a deal with Dodd, Mead for the hardcovers. RT: Ah, so Marvel led to the Dodd, Mead thing.


“A Lifelong Love Affair with Frankenstein”

(Above:) A stunning scene from the published book: the Monster’s first confrontation with Victor, on the night of his creation. (Above right:) Yet another powerful Wrightson illustration that was not used in the 1983 edition. It appeared in the Lost Pages book, above a quotation from the Monster: “I will glut the maw of death… with… your remaining friends.” [©2004 Bernie Wrightson.]

WRIGHTSON: Yeah, Marvel was the conduit. It’s essentially the same book, just with hard covers. RT: You mentioned that an edition will be coming in the near future as a sort of anniversary edition. WRIGHTSON: Well, the 25th Anniversary [of its 1983 book publication] will be in 2008. So I want to put together an anniversary edition, which will be, essentially, the edition that it is, but with some additional material. You know, I have some of the original sketches that I did on notebook paper. I wanted to ink some of those, maybe in comparison with the original drawings. RT: Some of those may have been in that Lost Pages book? WRIGHTSON: Yes. But a lot of it probably has never been published. RT: So this will be the DVD version. (Right:) About time we showed you the cover of the Apple Press Lost Pages book, which utilized another of Bernie’s many self-rejected drawings done for the published version. Thanks to the Catrons. See p. 4 for info on how to get hold of a copy. [©2004 Bernie Wrightson.]

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Frankenstein In Four Colors An Informal Biography of Everybody’s Favorite Monster in Comic Books by Donald F. Glut

“Frankenstein Meets the Comics!” Author Don Glut as the Frankensteinian DC super-villain Solomon Grundy, at the 1971 Witchcraft & Sorcery Convention in Los Angeles—bookended by Dick Briefer’s cover portrait for Prize’s Frankenstein #23 (Feb.-March 1953), and Boris Karloff in that wonderful Jack Pierce makeup from the 1931 James Whale film. You tell us which of the three is the scariest! Glut photo by Allen G. Kracalik. [Frankenstein photo ©2004 Universal.]

[A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: Among his other considerable achievements, which include such cult films as Dinosaur Valley Girls and Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Bood and past comics creations such as Dr. Spektor and Dagar the Invincible for Gold Key, Don Glut is one of the world’s outstanding experts on and catalogers of the many appearances of the Frankenstein Monster in various media over the decades—no, make that centuries. This article has been abridged by Ye Editor, with Don’s permission, from a chapter in his still-in-print 2002 McFarland book The Frankenstein Archive, with beaucoup illustrations added. That chapter, in turn, made use of material by Don that had previously appeared in The Comic-Book Book (1973), edited by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson, and this writer’s All-Star Companion (TwoMorrows, 2000). A reprint of The Comic-Book Book is currently available from Krause Publications, while the revised edition of The All-Star Companion appeared this past summer. Oh, in adding some boldly-lettered division headings below, I’ve slipped in even more puns than usual—because Don is one of the few people I know who can dream up more and worse ones than Jim Amash and I put together! —Roy.]

A lightning storm raged in the bleak heavens as Frankenstein eagerly manipulated the controls of his laboratory apparatus. After the giant humanoid received the life-giving jolts of electricity, it sat up on the platform. Victor stared into the face of his living creation, oblivious to the ghastly features he himself had stitched together. Perhaps it was his plan to give this being a new face, someday. But with the absentmindedness of most such unorthodox scientists, he had overlooked that single detail. The face of this being was that of a hideous monster. The dead white flesh barely covered the contours of the misshapen skull. The bloodgashed forehead was high, with stringy black hair hanging in uneven lengths almost to the wide shoulders. The two bulging eyes rarely looked in the same direction. A skeletal stub, which Victor assumed to be a nose, was set up between those eyes. The lips were torn to reveal a set of ugly teeth. Despite the proximity of the wretched face, the scientist failed to recognize the potential horror he had created.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein stared at the giant white-skinned form stretched before him on a platform in his laboratory. The creature was at least 15 feet tall, assembled from parts of many corpses and covered with a sheet.

The actual blame for the creation of this Frankenstein Monster falls upon Richard Briefer. A previous appearance of the infamous Monster had been an adaptation of the Universal motion picture Son of Frankenstein in the premier issue of Movie Comics (April 1939), published by Picture Comics (now DC Comics, the publisher of Superman and Batman). But this was presented as a one-shot combination of retouched movie stills and artwork. It was Briefer who took the Frankenstein concept and, for the first time ever, developed it into a comic-book series.

In his enthusiasm, Dr. Frankenstein thought he had created a perfect man.

Seemingly Richard (later just “Dick”) Briefer was a fan of the novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, written by Mary

A Briefer History of Frankenstein


Frankenstein in Four Colors Wollstonecraft Shelley and first published in 1818, and of the series of Frankenstein movies (including the afore-mentioned 1939 Son of Frankenstein) then being made by Universal Pictures. Both seemed to have greatly influenced his comic book work. Before he actually utilized that concept of a scientist creating a monstrous living being, Briefer began to do his own experimenting. Briefer had already been writing and illustrating the “Rex Dexter, Interplanetary Adventurer” series in Mystery Men Comics, a four-color comic book published by Fox. Rex was kind of a poor man’s Flash Gordon who rocketed about the universe battling extraterrestrial menaces. In the fifth issue of Mystery Men (Dec. 1939), the space hero defeated a fiendish robot having a squarish head, sunken cheeks, straight black hair that hung in bangs, and a pair of electrodes protruding from its head. Obviously this robot was patterned after the Frankenstein Monster stalking through the Universal series; also, it was virtually the face of Briefer’s own future Frankenstein Monster. Taking the basic facial structure of Universal’s Monster (high forehead, straight black hair with bangs, scars, and powerful physique) and altering it enough to avoid any problems with copyright infringement, Briefer put his own version of the character into a comic strip and tried selling it professionally. Briefer was not one of the upper echelon of comic book writers and artists, nor would he ever be, occasionally “ghosting” for other talents on such features as the very popular “Captain Marvel.” His style was simply too loose and often unfinished-looking to compete with the work of some of the fine draftsmen then seeing their work printed. Therefore, Briefer took his intended series to Feature Publications’ Prize Comics (the title which gave that comic book line its name of the Prize Group), where he sold it under the title “New Adventures of Frankenstein,” supposedly written and drawn by “Frank N. Stein.” (Naturally no one believed that the pseudonym was a real name. Fans of “Rex Dexter” could immediately recognize Briefer’s style, which during the 1940s would be applied to a few more strips, including “Pirate Prince” in Silver Streak Comics and Daredevil Comics, published by Lev Gleason.)

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Dead Eyes on the Prize Prize Comics, which made its debut in March 1940, was one of the more successful magazines in the ’40s primarily featuring super-heroes. National, Timely, and Fawcett led the field in that area. Prize’s star characters included The Black Owl, who did his best to imitate National/DC’s Batman; Doctor Frost, who controlled coldness as kindof an opposite of Timely’s Human Torch; the Great Voodini, who seemed to have been a fan of Mandrake the Magician of newspaper-strip fame; and Power Nelson, a futuristic imitation of National’s Superman, who traveled to the 20th century to perform his super-heroics. Of course, none of the Prize heroes could compete with the original characters that inspired them. It would take an ugly anti-hero like the Frankenstein Monster to give the magazine its special distinction. Briefer’s “Frankenstein” strip debuted in Prize Comics #7 (Dec. 1940). When the Prize version of the Monster came to life in Frankenstein’s laboratory, its movements were sporadic. Inadvertently the creature knocked his creator unconscious; then he fled the castle to find his place in the world. As would be expected, the hideous being was persecuted wherever he went. He experienced happiness for the first time in his short life when he came upon the cabin of a blind man who fed and befriended him. When the blind man’s son returned to the cabin and found his father in the company of a 15-foot-tall horror, he blasted the creature with a shotgun. The Monster was driven away by an angry mob that attacked him with clubs and stones. Briefer adapted these first four pages from the plotline of Mary Shelley’s novel. The Frankenstein castle and fantastic laboratory reflected Briefer’s own interest in the Universal movies and were an attempt to present on paper what was already familiar to filmgoers. It should be mentioned, however, that at the time that Briefer produced his first “Frankenstein” comic book tale, he did not—unlike the many writers and artists of illustrated stories that would follow him—have the tradition of a long list of Frankenstein movies upon which to pattern his stories. In 1940, for example, Universal Pictures had filmed only three movies in its Frankenstein series—Frankenstein, Bride

(Left:) Perhaps the first print visualization of the Frankenstein Monster was this Chevalier illustration which appeared in the 1831 edition of Mary Shelley’s immortal work. (Center:) In the 1930s Spanish artist Nino Carbe did 46 definitely non-Karloffian drawings for an edition of the novel. (Right:) In the 1940s American artist Lynd Ward produced numerous wood engravings for yet another edition. Some of Ward’s other work has been posthumously hailed as forerunners of today’s graphic novels. [©2004 the respective copyright holders.]


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An Informal Biography of Everybody’s Favorite Monster in Comic Books

of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein. Thus far the Universal version of the Monster had not yet met such other horror stalwarts as the Wolf Man and the vampire Dracula. This forced Briefer to be more original in his story ideas, and his character’s encounters with such familiar horror figures as werewolves, vampires, and zombies would not occur until much later. Readers of the Shelley novel had been led to believe that the Frankenstein story was set in an earlier century, in the wilds of various places in Europe. But those who read the Prize version might have been surprised to learn that the Frankenstein Monster had been created not far from Manhattan... in 1940! After the Monster committed the cardinal sin of throwing two children into a lion’s cage, the fiend caused some more destruction, then climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Obviously, Briefer was also drawing on the popular images created by past monster movies. Anyone who had seen King Kong ascend New York’s Empire State Building could not help making the association. Atop the Statue of Liberty, the Monster snatched people from the giant crown and dashed them to their deaths. Luckily, with a coincidence typical of the comic books, Victor Frankenstein was in the vicinity with his fiancée Elizabeth. Victor reached the crown and then leaped upon his murderous creation. He missed the Monster, however, and landed in Miss Liberty’s left hand. Surprisingly, instead of crushing his maker, the Monster gently placed him within the Statue’s crown. After the police aimed their guns and opened fire, the bullet-ridden giant plummeted—again, like Kong—to an apparent death beneath the waters off Bedloe’s Island. Later, Victor wondered why the Monster had saved his life. Suddenly there was a crash of glass and the giant fiend threatened through the broken window: “I spared you to live—to live in misery also—to watch

(Left:) Even though proto-DC’s Movie Comics #1 got to Franky first in terms of comic books, it was only when Dick Briefer wrote and drew his first “Frankenstein” story for Prize Comics #7 (Dec. 1940) that Mrs. Shelley’s creation truly entered that wondrous new world. Scan by Don Glut. (Right:) Seven years earlier, King Kong had climbed the Empire State Building— so Briefer’s Frankenstein scaled the Statue of Liberty, a year or so before Nazis and Robert Cummings would do so in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 film Saboteur. Do you suppose maybe—? Naaah! (Incidentally, this page was painstakingly traced by Al Dellinges—and, except for the lettering, it almost perfectly reproduces Briefer’s art line.) [Comic art ©2004 the respective copyright holders.]

and see the suffering and grief that I, your creation, will cause the human race. You will chase me, but never get me! I go now, always haunting and tormenting you!” Victor was still brooding over the horror he had unleashed upon the world in Prize Comics #8 (Jan. 1941). Realizing that such misery was the result of creating a soulless being, Frankenstein resolved to destroy his Monster in the most practical way he could devise. He would build another! And this second creation would be even less human than the original. This monster would have the head and paws of a giant crocodile and the brain of a madman! (By now, Frankenstein should have known better.) The reptilian horror and the Frankenstein Monster fought atop New York’s Radio City. Although the crocodile-man should have been the winner of their battle, the Monster killed his foe and escaped via an elevator shaft into a subway excavation. Apparently Victor had not considered the consequences had the reptile-man and not the Monster won. The Frankenstein Monster had become the greatest super-villain in Prize Comics. As the Prize super-heroes were occupied with their own, usually lesser, adversaries in their own features, someone was needed to battle the Monster on more equal terms. Victor Frankenstein was, by then, becoming so neurotic over the Monster’s every new crime that


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A Not-So-Spirited “Spirit of Frankenstein” The American Comics Group Meets Mary Shelley’s Monster—or Does It? by Michelle Nolan

The American Comics Group’s Adventures into the Unknown was the first regularly-published “horror” comic. Above is the cover of issue #1 (Fall 1948); cover artist uncertain. The Spirit of Frankenstein never appeared or was even mentioned on any AITU cover. [©2004 the respective copyright holders.]

One can only shudder at the verbal horrors faced by young readers who might have tried to make sense of the “Spirit of Frankenstein” series in seven early issues of Adventures into the Unknown. This series did for logic and the English language what the original Dr. Frankenstein did for body parts while trying to stitch them together. The “Spirit of Frankenstein” debuted in AITU #5 (June-July 1949) and also ran in # 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12, before the final installment in #16 (Feb. 1951). The art is average, at best, but the stories are one of the strangest mishmashes of horror and pseudo-science in the history of comic books. The series actually had nothing to do with Frankenstein or his classic monster. Instead, the seven stories detailed the adventures of a scientist, his girlfriend, and a quasi-lifelike robot he created, as he put it, “in the spirit of Frankenstein.” The Frankenstein name, no doubt, was simply used as an evocative tag to grab the attention of the kids. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the series appeared during the time when Crestwood’s versions of Frankenstein were temporarily on hiatus. The 17th and last issue of the original series from Crestwood (Prize) was dated Jan-Feb. 1949, and artist Dick Briefer’s series did not pick up until #18 (March 1952). So the only Frankenstein in comics— aside from the occasional reference in other horror comics—was the endlessly reprinted Classics Illustrated version of Frankenstein, which had debuted in Classic Comics #26 (Dec. 1945). Perhaps, then, editor/writer Richard Hughes and his tiny American Comics Group felt they could fill a need with “Spirit of Frankenstein.” After all, Universal’s original cycle of “serious” Frankenstein films ran from 1931-45 before the monster temporarily bowed out in 1948 in the ludicrous Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Of course, Universal’s Frankenstein films were re-released and re-shown many times, first in theatres and then on television. I saw and loved them all. Even so, the character was missing from original films shown in America until returning in 1957 in the superb The Curse of

In the splash from the very first “Spirit of Frankenstein” story, in Adventures into the Unknown #5 (June-July 1949), the incurably ill Lambert Parkway fumes at being referred to in a newspaper photo caption as “an unidentified assistant.” The android who harbors the “spirit” of Frankenstein stands in the foreground. Thanks to Michelle Nolan. Incidentally, researcher Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., informs us that “both Frank Belknap Long and Manly Wade Wellman [pulp writers who also scripted comics for a time] were early contributors to Adventures into the Unknown, so one of them might have written it.” [©2004 the respective copyright holders.]


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Alex Toth Meets Frankenstein

[Art ©2004 Alex Toth.]

“A Tip of the Topper to DICK BRIEFER” from One of His Greatest Fans

[A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: A bit of a change of pace this time—as we let comics legend Alex Toth’s art pretty much speak for itself… after a few words of our usual erudite intro, at least. It seems that in the early 1990s, Toth/Briefer fan Al Dellinges intended to publish an entire special edition of his fanzine Near Mint dedicated to Dick Briefer’s art—and Alex, who had been in touch with Briefer himself through Al, agreed to do a drawing to be used on the cover. We’ve printed it below—with Toth’s salute to Briefer’s Frankenstein, and a Dellinges tracing of a head of another Briefer hero, Rex Dexter of Mars. Toth art ©2004 Alex Toth; Dellinges art ©2004 Al Dellinges. —Roy.]


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Frankenstein: Monster in Tights When Dell Comics Stitched Together Super-Heroes and Horror by Stephan Friedt It must have been difficult working at Dell in 1962. Dell, with their partner Western Publishing, had been the epitome of niche comics publishing since 1938… with licenses to publish new and adapted stories from the stable of characters from Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Edgar Rice Burroughs, every major newspaper comic, every cowboy you can think of, the favorite TV shows, and almost any movie you can name. In the late 1940s, Dell was the largest comic publisher in America. And they did it all without a stable of super-heroes. 24 years later, in 1962, their travel down the road of success hit a major pothole, when Western Publishing took their lucrative licenses, split off, and formed the new company of Gold Key. Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Tarzan, along with a host of others, now had a new home. Dell stayed afloat until 1973 with a smaller dose of TV and movie adaptations. The most successful of these were a string of Universal Pictures monster movie adaptations. In 1962 they issued Dracula, The Mummy, and The Creature (as in, from the Black Lagoon). In 1963 they followed this up with Frankenstein and The Wolfman. The adaptation of Frankenstein, titled “The Monster Lives,” has been described as “loosely” based on the Universal film. That is an understatement. The Monster and his creator escape from the villagers in the Balkans. Using hypnotism to control the Monster (a technique predating Hammer’s 1964 film The Evil of Frankenstein), the good doctor puts his creation on a boat and sails to America to plead his case at a conveniently-timed medical convention. Of course, the Monster breaks free, shocks the gathering of physicians, and is chased to the harbor where, in the best Murphy’s Law tradition, he climbs on board a ship filled with explosives that catches fire. Dr. Frankenstein watches helplessly as his creation is pulled out into the harbor aboard the burning, explosive-filled ship to its inevitable end…vowing of course to one day raise him back up again. The cover of Dell’s Frankenstein #1 (1963). Evidently no great shakes as movie adaptations go—but the cover painting ain’t bad.

Skip ahead three years… it’s 1966. Super-hero comics are again all the rage.

“This looks like a job for… FRANKENSTEIN!” Our cross-genre hero goes into action in Frankenstein #3 (Dec. 1966). Just for the record, Frank had a green face and neck (plus white hair), yet his exposed arms were Caucasian-flesh pink. His blouse and tights were red, his belt blue—with a big blue “F” on his yellow belt buckle. No, no, don’t thank us—it’s the least we could do. All art in the series is by Bill Fraccio & Tony Tallarico; all scans for this article courtesy of Stephan Friedt. [©2004 Western Publishing, Inc.]

Marvel is taking the world by storm. Batman begins his run on TV and will soon appear on the big screen in Batman: the Movie. Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland is on every magazine rack. And Dell is publishing Mighty Mouse, Alvin the Chipmunk, and comic versions of Bewitched and F-Troop. Somebody at Dell must have thought: “What can we do to jump on the craze? Hmmm… Monsters are popular… super-heroes are popular… What if we mix the two?” So, under the watchful eye of editor Don Arneson, out pop superhero versions of Frankenstein in September of 1966, Dracula in November, and Werewolf in December. (The film title “The Wolf Man” was a name trademarked by Universal, while the novels Frankenstein and Dracula were in the public domain. We’ll save Dracula and Werewolf for another time, though you can see covers of both magazines in Alter Ego #36.) Frankenstein #2 (#1 was a 1964 reprint of the 1963 movie “adaptation”) claimed to be introducing “The world’s greatest and strangest super hero!” with “The origin of the New Frankenstein.” We open with a splash of a European castle that somehow has existed untouched near a “great American Metropolis” (named, conveniently enough, Metropole City) for “over a hundred years.” Murphy’s Law, once again, brings a bolt of lightning into the castle to strike a cadaver


Frankenstein: Monster in Tights

35

The cover and a pair of “origin” pages from Frankenstein #2 (Sept. 1966). [©2004 Western Publishing, Inc.]

(conveniently dressed in a red jumpsuit) that has also gone untouched for 100 years. And thus awakes our hero! After two months of wandering the castle, and sneaking out at night to witness “the dark world that surrounds him,” our hero dons a plastic mask and takes his new name from a chunk of stone with the letters FRANK carved on it. “Frank Stone” is born!

Rebirth of Frankenstein,” Frank dedicates himself to serving good: “The Doctor was a brilliant man. His visions of the future I can now construct. The devices will enable me to fight the evil intentions of those men who cannot learn to live peacefully in this world.” Contrary to his statement, he never does use an arsenal of devices.

Frank’s first act of heroism is most fortunate: he comes upon a car wreck, saves the wealthy financier inside (the financier's father had been the business partner of the late Doctor!), becomes his companion, and inherits his fortune. Bruce Wayne never had it so easy! Plastic-faced millionaire by day, green-faced super-hero in a red jumpsuit by night!

Over the next days Frank tests and perfects his powers. He extends his jumping power from thirty feet to fifty feet from a standing start. He lifts thirty times his own weight… and “can throw it as easily as a baseball.” He can run faster than a leopard, and his body can take “more punishment than an elephant,” he says as he smashes through a stone wall. His disguise is kept folded in a small package tucked in his belt…mask and full business suit, no less. Super-herodom’s “unstable molecules” had nothing on this guy! We’ve got a super-hero, his trusty butler, a noisy female acquaintance… all we need now is an arch-enemy!

Very little of the movie Monster’s character is retained in this story. His brainpower is now “50 times greater than the average human”… rather than the abnormal criminal brain he started with in the Universal movies, or whatever precisely Mary Shelley’s hero placed inside his skull. His countenance is striking (green skin, white hair), but hardly what you would call ugly. His size is unusual: “Get a load of that other guy… he’s bigger than both of us!” according to the first people to see him… the ambulance drivers. His talents quickly make themselves evident. His next heroic act is saving Miss Ann Thrope (great name!) and gains him the required blonde female character. He discovers his strength is “greater than fifty normal men.” In the story’s second chapter, “The

Gorilla 1—Frankenstein ZERO. From issue #2. [©2004 Western Publishing, Inc.]

Our next introduction is to his foil…a diminutive mad scientist named Mr. Freek, who rides around on the shoulders of Brute, “the largest gorilla in the world,” and is aided by a pro-wrestling reject named Kilo. Mr. Freek’s goal is unstated… other than to get attention. Only a trip to the United States will do it!


38

Spawn Song

Frankenstein’s Fearful Fiend at DC Comics––1948-1994 by John Wells Monsters Mundane and Mirthful Her supple body supported by her hands, Rachael arched backwards, the pink curves of her bare leg and thigh contrasted alluringly against her black dress. Leaning against the freshly-dug grave of her husband, she vowed that she’d destroy the creature who took his life. Everyone grieves in his or her own way. Okay, you have to expect some melodrama when spinning a tale of one of the classic monster icons. To be frank, though, DC’s short-lived “Spawn of Frankenstein” strip was actually pretty decent and, over-the-top characterizations notwithstanding, the company’s first attempt at playing Mary Shelley’s classic creation straight in some time. Mike Kaluta’s gorgeous cover for Phantom Stranger The purported “True Story of Frankenstein” had #25 (Aug.-Sept. 1973) featured the green-tinged been recounted in Detective Comics #135 (May Spawn of Frankenstein—the shadow of the Phantom Batman and Robin met a formerly-gentle 1948), part of the long-running series of adventures Stranger—and a breathtaking blonde. Not necessarily giant in Detective Comics #135 (May 1948). in which Professor Carter Nichols drew Batman in that order. Thanks to Bob Bailey for the scan. Art by Jim Mooney? Thanks to Don Glut for and/or Robin [©2004 DC Comics.] the scan. [©2004 DC Comics.] (only as Bruce Wayne and/or arms over descriptions of Frankenstein as the “world’s scariest monster” Dick Grayson) (a footnote pointed out that “through misuse, the term ‘Frankenstein’ back in time to has grown to mean the monster itself”) and terrorized an actor playing investigate Frank along with an entire film studio before Superman convinced his historical imperfect duplicate that he had nothing to worry about (Superman mysteries. In this #143, Feb. 1961). episode, readers were informed that, in the early 19th century, an accident had left Baron Frankenstein’s hulking (but human) assistant Ivan temporarily susceptible to control by the evil Count Mettern. Horrified by his own unrestrained violence, Ivan killed himself and Mettern by destroying the Frankenstein castle. Convinced no one would believe the fantastic events she’d just witnessed, Mary Shelley decided she’d be better off identifying her inevitable book as fiction.

By the 1960s, though, the Frankenstein Monster and the other horror icons had become the fodder of humor, thanks in part to the late-late show revival of many of the classic films. On DC’s Bizarro World, where the movies were literally viewed as comedy, Bizarro #1 was up in

The 1961 “Bizarro Meets Frankenstein” was reprinted in Superman: From the 30’s to the 70’s. Script by Otto Binder; art by Wayne Boring & Stan Kaye. Thanks to Carl Gafford’s wonderful resource work This Month in Comics: Jan. 1958-Dec. 1972 for the writer and artist IDs. [©2004 DC Comics.]


Spawn Song

39

A Monster Is “Spawned” But serious horror began making in-roads in the early 1970s as the Comics Code relaxed standards on what could appear in mainstream comics. Where Marvel quickly rolled out a burgeoning line of monster series, DC remained primarily committed to the episodic horror stories with which they’d found success beginning in the late 1960s. The most prominent supernatural series in the DC line-up was The Phantom Stranger. That title had been revised as a fusion of two 1950s series— one involving an enigmatic mystical figure, the other a professional “ghost-breaker” who debunked supposed paranormal phenomenon— but the running feud between the two men inexorably grew stale, and Dr. Thirteen was returned to his own series in the back of the book. The decision relieved Terry Thirteen of the burden of playing an often unsympathetic foil to the star of the book; but, despite a solid, often outstanding run of stories, it also made him more disposable.

Don’t call him “Frankenstein”! A page from writer Arnold Drake and artist Bob Oksner’s The Adventures of Bob Hope #102 (Dec.1966-Jan. 1967). [©2004 DC Comics.]

And so, despite two completed episodes resting in inventory, “Dr. Thirteen” was given the boot—but in a most inspired way. The eightpage back-up in The Phantom Stranger #23 (Jan.-Feb. 1973) opened with the Arctic exhumation of “The Spawn of Frankenstein,” the subject of a five-year quest on the part of a Clairmont, Maine, college professor named Victor Adams. Unfortunately, that half-decade obsession seemed to have taken its toll on Vic, whose academic colleagues took a dim view of his plans to resurrect the creature of legend. Terrified of what her spouse might do, Rachael Adams called an old friend, Marie LeRoux, and begged for the professional services of her husband—Terry Thirteen.

And the final issues of The Adventures of Bob Hope (#95-109, 196567) included the faculty of Benedict Arnold High School, who bore an uncanny resemblance to folks like Dracula and the Wolfman. The towering green-skinned P.E. teacher was one Franklin N. Stein, who nearly popped the bolts from his temples whenever someone pointed out his similarity to you-know-who. Even Egor, the not-quite-seen companion of the Three Witches who was played for laughs in the Giordanoand early Boltinoff-edited issues of The Witching Hour (#1-11, 13-16, & 21, 1969-72), was clearly meant to evoke the monster, even being referred to as a “Frankenstein reject.”

On pp. 1-2 of the Wolfman/Kaluta story in The Phantom Stranger #23 (Jan.-Feb. 1971), the Monster was found encased in ice (just where any good fans of the Mary Shelley novel would place him) and brought to civilization. [©2004 DC Comics.]


45

Frankenstein In The Funny Pages? Yep! It Could’ve Happened Back in 1970-Something—Courtesy of DICK BRIEFER! by Roy Thomas, with special thanks to Al Dellinges

poster-size sheets that the printing company he worked for at that time made up for him to use as promotional guides. I still have those sheets, but I never did have Dick’s original art they were made from.

Sometimes you get more than you bargained for—and this is one of those times. As a longtime fan of the several different incarnations of the Frankenstein Monster written and drawn by the late Dick Briefer for the Prize Comics Group from the early 1940s through the mid-’50s, it was with delight that I arranged to reprint Don Glut’s “Frankenstein in Four Colors” article in this issue, with its emphasis on Briefer’s work. But it’s also been known for some years—including by Don, who was in touch with the artist in the 1970s and commissioned two painted recreations by him—that Briefer didn’t write and draw the Monster only for comic books.

Dick Briefer circa the late 1970s (left) and Al Dellinges in 2002 (right). Briefer is holding up copies of three issues of his Prize Comics Frankenstein. (Center:) Around that same time, just for kicks, Al toyed with the notion of a knock-down drag-out fight between Briefer’s Frankenstein and another four-color monstrosity, Solomon Grundy, who between 1944-47 appeared in four “Green Lantern” and “Justice Society of America” tales. Naturally, as a fan of both Briefer and his fellow artist Irwin Hasen, Al composed this art spot, combining elements of the covers of All-Star Comics #33 (Feb.-March 1947) and Frankenstein #21 (Oct.-Nov. 1952). Maybe that battle happened on “Earth-F” before the Crisis on Infinite Earths? [Art ©2004 Al Dellinges; Solomon Grundy TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

Back in the ’70s, comics fan/historian Al Dellinges—hardly a stranger to the pages of Alter Ego—published his own fanzine, which was titled Near Mint. And, when I started to think about having a “Frankenstein” issue of A/E, I remembered that at least one issue of Near Mint reprinted 36 never-sold humorous Frankenstein daily comic strips by Dick Briefer, who at that time was still very much alive. I even recalled that some of those strips adapted one of my favorite stories in Prize’s Frankenstein #4 (Sept.-Oct. 1947), in which Stanley the Sorcerer tries to ruin Franky’s “birthday party.” So, naturally, I contacted Al and learned that—well, I’ll let his return letter speak for itself:

Roy, There were two [comic book] versions of the Frankenstein “Birthday” story done by Dick Briefer. The one I used in Near Mint #35 was the first one, and it originally consisted of 25 daily strips, but I used only the first 15. I have, however, enclosed for you in this package all 25 daily strips that you may use as you see fit. These 25 dailies were sent to me by Dick in the form of large

Now, the second version consisted of 36 dailies of totally different artwork by Dick, but also based in part on the “Birthday” theme. Dick sent me these originals, which I used to make up a promotional booklet that could be sent to prospective clients for possible syndication. I have enclosed one of these booklets for you. The printing quality is poor, but I have much sharper copies if you ever want to use them. Anyway, nobody bought the strip, so Dick asked me to try to sell his artwork, and after several ads, not one was sold, so I returned all his

original artwork to him. Sometime later, I asked him if I could try to sell the strips again. He said fine, but a few days later he died, and it was after his passing that I began getting inquiries about his artwork. I let his wife Lee know about it, she thanked me for the info, and I never heard from her again. Al On reading this note, I was flabbergasted! Somewhere along the line, although I’d seen them, I’d forgotten that there were two sets of Dick Briefer Frankenstein dailies—apparently 61 strips in all—with some overlapping of general storyline, but no precise duplication of script or art! And, Al informed me, Briefer had given him permission to reprint the strips anytime he wanted… though of course they are still copyrighted in the name of Briefer’s estate. When I perused the earlier 25-strip version in beautiful photocopies made by Al, I discovered that roughly half of them retold the


46

Yep! It Could’ve Happened Back in 1970-Something––Courtesy of Dick Briefer

“Birthday” story which are also in the 36-strip version—plus an adaptation of still another favorite Briefer story of mine, a werewolf tale from that selfsame 4th issue of Frankenstein. Evidently, Briefer and Yours Truly had similar ideas about which of his “Frankenstein the Merry Monster” work was his best! Since we couldn’t squeeze all 61 strips into this issue, it was decided to run the earlier 25-strip sequence. As for the other 36 dailies—well, the last time we heard, there was gonna be a Halloween in 2005, too—so you never know! But first—before we print those dailies, we figure you should know a bit more about the guy who wrote and drew them.

As it turns out, The Menomonee Falls Gazette, Vol. 5, #213 (Jan. 12, 1976), a magazine which printed comics news and comic strips for some years, printed an article by Roy’s and Al’s old fandom associate Howard Leroy Davis which was a combination of Briefer’s own words, plus Howard’s commentary. Howard formed the article out of excerpts from Briefer’s letters, and his own remarks are rendered below in both brackets and italics [like so!] to avoid confusion with the few places where Briefer himself used italics. I’ve included (and labeled) a few pieces of info of my own, where advisable. So here is the article, which is ©2004 Howard Leroy Davis:

With Pen and Brush by Howard Leroy Davis

[On initially writing Dick Briefer, I told him that my favorite work of his was the horror “Frankenstein”; second choice, “Black Bull,” with the humorous “Frankenstein” the least-liked.]

I’m more alive through my work now than I was when I was doing it. No one asked me for interviews then, and no one mentioned me in research books on comics.

BRIEFER: You shouldn’t have said it! ... that your “least-liked” work of mine was the “comic Frankenstein.” But since you see merit in other things I’ve done, all, or mostly all, is forgiven.

But to become specific about my non-specific answers to your query—“Frankenstein” in Prize #7 [1940] was the beginning. I had a hard time convincing the publisher that it was in public domain, and the only thorn in my side when it was running was their idea to include a [costumed, continuing] hero such as Bulldog Denny. I don’t remember any of the stories I did. In fact, your bringing up Bulldog Denny was a disturbing memory that escaped me all these years.

I have no recollection whatever of “Black Bull” western [stories]. But I don’t dare deny having done it, because others who delve into the nostalgic mire of comic magazines have sent me stats of work I’ve denied doing, and by gosh, there’s my name or a recognizable nom de plume that proved me wrong. Biographically, I was born in 1915, and I can’t believe I’m 60 actual years, because I don’t feel any different than when I was 20 or 30. My work and hobbies have kept me feeling young. Married way back in 1938—two children—a son and his wife and son living in Milford, New Jersey; married daughter living in Portland, Oregon.

The original serious “Frankenstein” ran until about 1945. By then, I found I had been sneaking in little comic touches, and evolved the new Chas. Addams-type monster and friends. I really enjoyed the new funny “Frankenstein.”

Born in New York City, went to NYU [New York University], also Art Students League when I left the comic field in 1954. I went into advertising art in Miami, became Art Director for small agency in Coral Gables for three years. Enough of that, I went into portrait painting, which gave me the most satisfaction in all my art endeavors. Been living here in Hollywood, Florida, since 1947. When you give me specifics like “Prize #15, Frankenstein #5, Prize Western #69,” etc., all I can do is give you unspecific answers. There’s very little of my work that I saved. For some collectors, it’s a mistake when they lose an issue—for me, it was like a mistake to save any. Like why didn’t I save those Green Lucky Strike flat fifty-cigarette tins? Or why didn’t I save my 1937 Packard? Or why didn’t I save silver dollars? Or why didn’t I buy six lots at $400 when I moved to Florida in 1947? Time does funny unanticipated things—

I wrote all my own scripts (as I did on the horror Frankenstein), and now when I look at the few magazines I have, I marvel at the good drawings and stories I came up with. Of course, it wasn’t always consistent; some art was sloppy, some plots just got by, but I had fun and pleasure even when that Debbil deadline came around. Incidentally, some of the sloppiness can be attributed to my going to same size original art! [Dick went to originals of published page size on the funny Frankenstein near the end of its run.] Filling in the actual-page-size blank bristol board was less nerve-racking than twice-up at deadline time.

Back in the 1970s, Dinosaur Don Glut (as we used to refer to him then in Marvel letters pages) commissioned two cover re-creations from Dick Briefer… one horror, one humor. The former re-created the scene from the cover of Prize’s Frankenstein #18, the comic book version of which appears on p. 16 of this issue—the latter, the cover scene for Frankenstein #4, the very issue from which two 1946 stories were adapted for the 25 dailies on the following pages. Thanks to Don for photographing it for us. [Art ©2004 Estate of Dick Briefer.]

Funny Frankenstein lasted till about 1950 or so, then died. A bit later, the publishers revived the horror version. I improved in drawing generally [over the years], but the attitude was different, the fun was gone. The revived Frankenstein was just a means of collecting some money, and when that folded with the arrival of anti-


Frankenstein In The Funny Pages?

And to me Degas is tops. I am in no way trying to hide my former comic magazine work, but I have no nostalgia for it.

horror groups, I gave up the comic field entirely and went into advertising art nearer home. You probably didn’t know that I did many Jughead pages! And I did a stint at romance comics; there was no resemblance to anything else I did. My different styles abound. I feel I was more successful at that [varying styles] than most artists.

When I started comics work, I was a drop-out from New York University PreMed School! Then while I was doing the first “Frankenstein” and other strips, I went back to NYU for two more years and got my B.S. in art education. If there is one regret in my life, it is that I didn’t follow up art teaching. A position in a small college would be ideal... maybe not, though. So school and comics were going on at the same time in or about 193940.

Talking about work done for people other than M.R. Reese [Maurice Rosenfeld] of Prize Comics, one interesting feature was in Crime Does Not Pay, [Lev Gleason, publisher, Biro & Wood, editors]: it was the only comic [fiction] story amongst the “true” crime ones—ran about 6 pages. I made up crazy whodunits and got my friends into them most of the time—the list is now formidable—Jimmy Durante, Gary Moore, the crew of the Durante radio show (my uncle was a writer), and one where Leonard Bernstein was the criminal!

In 1945, I went into Todd Shipyard as a sheet metal helper to avoid getting killed in the wars. It was rough on the comic work then because of having to start on it only after I got home at night after being up at 5:30 a.m. But it was only about six months, and when the bomb fell in August 1945... I ran out of the shipyard lickety-split.

I also remember “The Pirate Prince”—a swashbuckling pirate hero. I think this was in Daredevil Comics. I liked that one.

Somehow I never saved anything much. I did save all the wrong stuff. You can go through life two ways. Save nothing—or save everything! Both ways you’ll be unhappy, but in one you’ll have a clean house.

Somewhere along the line I did two issues of Andy Devine Comics for someone, from their script. And a couple of good features in Joe College Comics, published by Hillman (I think), Ed Cronin Editor. I never assisted anyone, nor did I ever have assistants. I wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, erased all my stuff. Only exception to this was with Hillman comic group, where they put in the lettering mechanically. Also, scripts were given me on the aforementioned Andy Devine comics.

47

Marvel wanted me to revive the old funny “Frankenstein,” but I just can’t get myself into that routine again. This development came in the past year [1974] for a new book they put out [Crazy]. Here is a Dick Briefer promotional drawing, created to be sent to newspaper syndicates along with his dailies. Reprinted from Near Mint #35. [Art ©2004 Estate of Dick Briefer.]

I sent the old samples I drew up for prospective daily syndication to three syndicates and got two rejections. Maybe one will like it if I contact others— it’s more appropriate today than it was when I first tried them 15 years ago.

I broke into comics through a want ad by Eisner & Iger. I did the cover for one of their first comic books they did, WOW Comics [NOTE: Actual title = Wow – What a Magazine! —Roy.] My first strip was a free adaptation by me of The Hunchback of Notre Dame using the old Lon Chaney character. This was back in about 1935 or 1936.

I don’t remember my kids’ attitude [toward my work when I was a comic artist]. Recently I gave my daughter on one of her infrequent visits a pile of “Frankenstein” stories to read and she split a gut. That was nice.

At the same time, I did “Rex Dexter of Mars” for Mystery Men Comics, V. Fox Publisher, Eisner & Iger studio. I never worked in a bullpen.

I am probably what you call a “sketch artist”—I am set up in [a shopping] mall, right out in the middle, doing mostly profile portraits in pastel in 20 minutes—full faces in about an hour. They’re cheap, but financially it has been good to me—except this year is running lousy. The work I do here is not like most other sketch artists—it’s good.

Bernard Baily and Bob Kane also gave them features. We got $5.00 a page if we did all the work, and all the work I was doing for E & I netted me a fat $15.00 a week. Then Bob Kane cornered me one day and said he found a place that would pay $10.00 a page!! I always played it “safe” and held on to my $15.00 while he went somewhere else and came up with “Batman.” Later I dealt with V. Fox and did other strips I can’t remember. At the same time I went over to the Prize Group, did “Biff Bannon of the Marines” under the pseudonym “Remington Brant.” Some others, then “Frankenstein” under my own name! All through my life, I have known or associated with very few of my [comic art] colleagues. I studied under Robert Brackman at the art Students League in New York (1936-37). I consider him a fine portrait painter but not truly a “fine Artist.” I wish I had thought of Thomas Hart Benton’s style before he did.

[As to what Dick Briefer is doing at age 60:]

[I saw some samples. Dick is being factual, not exaggerating.] I’m busy, I enjoy it. I don’t move around from place to place—I’ve been here going on seven years, and when this peters out and/or I get tired of it, I’ll do something else— Thank You, DICK BRIEFER [And there you have it. A self-portrait in words of a talented, quick-witted man who gave us comic enjoyment from 1936 through 1954 before going on to other things. —HLD]

[A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: And now, about those 25 comic strip dailies, courtesy of Al Dellinges and ©2004 Estate of Dick Briefer…]


48

Yep! It Could’ve Happened Back in 1970-Something––Courtesy of Dick Briefer


1

1994--2004

The 100 th Issue Of

No. 41 October 2004

5.95 In the

$$

In the USA USA

Center art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Nyoka TM & ©2004 AC Comics; Captain Midnight & Tom Mix TM & ©2004 the respective copyright holders; Captain Marvel & other heroes TM & ©2004 DC Comics.


Vol. 3, No. 41 / October 2004 Editor

Roy Thomas

Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash

HAPPY 100th,

Design & Layout

Christopher Day

Consulting Editor John Morrow

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 Marc Swayze Bernie Wrightson

Covers Colorist

Writer/Editorial: Turning On the Fawcett!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 “Fawcett Knew How to Do It Better Than Anyone Else!” . . . . 3 Golden Age artist Emilio Squeglio tells Jim Amash about his days with Captain Marvel.

Tom Ziuko

And Special Thanks to: Heidi Amash Ger Apeldoorn Bob Bailey Richard Bealzley Alberto Beccatini John Benson Jackson Bostwick Jerry K. Boyd Chris Brown Gary Brown Frank Brunner Bernie Bubnis John Coates Howard Leroy Davis Al Dellinges Michael Dewally Roger Dicken & Wendy Hunt Jay Disbrow Michael Dunne Don Ensign Conrad Eschenberg Michael Eury Ed Fields Shane Foley Ray Funk Carl Gafford Janet Gilbert Donald F. Glut Ron Goulart Paul Gravett Chris Green Walt Grogan Jennifer Hamerlinck Jim Harmon Bill Harper Kyle Henry Greg Hunyager

Contents

Michael W. Kaluta Allen G. Kracalik Richard Langlois Marshall Lanz Mark Lewis Christy Lockstein Vatche Mavlian Mike Mikulovsky Sheldon Moldoff Brian K. Morris Frank Motler Peter Normanton John G. Pierce Bud Plant Virginia Provisiero Ed Rhoades Alex Ross Dorothy Schaffenberger David Siegel Robin Snyder Emilio Squeglio Mike Tiefenbacher Dann Thomas Alex Toth Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Dr. Michael J. Vassallo Mark Voger Pete Von Sholly Loston Wallace Delmo Walters, Jr. Jean Marie Ward Hames Ware John Wells Mark Wheatley Tom Wimbish Bernie Wrightson Mike Zeno

Comic Crypt: Twice Told Tales. . 11 Michael T. Gilbert says Victor Frankenstein wasn’t the only guy who made things live twice!

Rocke Speaks! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Artist Rocke Mastroserio shares art and opinions— via Bill Schelly & Gary Brown.

re: [comments, corrections, & correspondence]. . . . . . . . . . . 21 FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America ) #100 . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 P.C. Hamerlinck fields tributes to 30-plus years of FCA from Fawcett alumni Marc Swayze,

Shelly Moldoff, Virginia Provisiero, and many others.

Golden Age Section (“The Titans of Timely/Marvel,” Part II). . Flip Us! About Our Cover: When P.C. Hamerlinck took over publication of FCA with issue #54, his first and happiest addition to the “staff” was none other than Marc Swayze, who had drawn Captain Marvel, The Phantom Eagle, and other features for Fawcett from 1941 until the Superman-wielded axe fell in 1953. Marc contributed the cover of that 1996 issue, so we felt it was high time that it finally be rendered in color, with other Fawcett art added in the background by PCH. [1996 art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel & other characters TM & ©2004 DC Comics and the respective trademark & copyright holders.] Above: A vintage Mary Marvel from the sketchbook of her visual co-creator, Marc Swayze. [Art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Mary Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: roydann@ntinet.com. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $8 ($10 Canada, $11.00 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.


3

“Fawcett Knew How To Do It Better Than Anyone Else!” A Talk with Artist/Production Man EMILIO SQUEGLIO

Interview Conducted and Transcribed by Jim Amash

Emilio Squeglio, circa 1949-50, juxtaposed with a recent drawing of Captain Marvel and Billy Batson he drew especially for interviewer Jim Amash. Emilio writes: “This photo is of me at my drawing table in the Advertising Dept. of Fawcett, working on ads and sometimes on unfinished comic pages and drawings for the court trial. I still have the drawing table in the photo, in my studio.” [Art ©2004 Emilio Squeglio; Captain Marvel & Billy Batson TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

[INTERVIEWER’S INTRODUCTION: Emilio Squeglio may be a name unfamiliar to most of you, but you certainly won’t forget him after reading this interview! Emilio worked in the production department at Fawcett near the end of their comic book publishing days, before moving on to magazine work and then book design. However, this charming, funny man has interesting tales to tell us about his time at Fawcett. His Berndt Toast Gang buddy, the great Stan Goldberg, gets special thanks for putting me in touch with him. As payment for Stan’s generous help, we’ll start off with a few words about him, before Emilio digs into his own checkered past. Hey, Stan — that’ll teach you to be our friend!! Oh, and unless otherwise noted, all photos and art were provided by Emilio—with enough left over that one of these days he’s bound to pop up in FCA, as well! —Jim.]

”What Are You Gonna Do with That Stuff?” JA: Since Stan Goldberg was the one who alerted me about your comic book career, we ought to get a few words in here about him. EMILIO SQUEGLIO: What can I say about Stan? He’s the most wonderful man you’d ever want to know. He’s kind, he’s generous, and exceptionally talented, as you know. Above everything, he’s a good friend. I’m very proud to have him as a friend.

JA: Are there any stories we can blackmail Stan with? SQUEGLIO: Unfortunately not, but I could invent one! [mutual laughter] There is one I can tell. Every month at the Berndt Toast Gang meetings, an artist shows his work. One month, it was John Buscema’s turn. John brought in a bunch of pages and spread them out on a table. I sort-of sauntered over there, and Stan was walking over from the other side. We both stood there, looked at these great drawings, and said, “What the hell?” [laughter] Stan faked a disgusted look on his face and said, “What are you gonna do with that stuff?” And we walked away. That was such a hilarious thing to do, because John Buscema was just an amazing artist. I was proud to know him. I miss him. Stan can cut up when he wants to, but generally he’s a quiet man. Some guys make a big deal about the work they do, but not Stan. He lets his work do the talking. And that’s powerful enough. JA: Okay, Emilio—that’ll hold Stan for a while! [laughter] SQUEGLIO: It should! Seriously, there’s nothing bad that can be said about Stan Goldberg. You know, I’ve read a few of your articles lately. My friend John Romita gave me a couple of issues. JA: So you know John Romita?


4

A Talk With Artist/Production Man Emilio Squeglio Two recent photos of Emilio and friends. [Left:] At the October 2003 meeting of the cartoonists’ get-together known as the Berndt Toast Gang, Emilio is flanked by veteran Archie/Millie the Model artist Stan Goldberg (left) and (right) classic DC inker (now longtime Mary Worth artist) Joe Giella. [Below:] Every June, Bunny Hoests throws a party for cartoonists at her Lloyd Harbor home. Here, from summer of 2003, we have (left to right): Al Scaduto (who succeeded Jimmy Hatlo on the famed panel They’ll Do It Every Time)—cartoonist Valerie Constintino—Sy Barry (major artist of The Phantom, who was interviewed in A/E #37)—Joe Giella—and Emilio Squeglio.

him crazy. Some of the guys trapped some pigeons and put them in his closet. He opened the closet and the pigeons flew out into the room. Now, Mr. Magon started trying to catch them. It drove him crazy! By the way, ventriloquist Paul Winchell was in our class. So was Tony Bennett. Paul drove us crazy. This was a tight building we were in. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but it once was a Civil War hospital. In fact, Mr. Rose, our anatomy teacher, found a skeleton in the cellar. It was the skeleton of a Civil War veteran. Paul would walk ahead of us as we’d go up the stairs to class and throw his voice to the girls. They’d turn around and

SQUEGLIO: Do I know John Romita? Let me tell you something: there are four people in my life whom I’ve known since high school. They are John Romita, Al Scaduto, Sy Barry, and Joe Giella. We went all the way through high school together and are still good friends. JA: That’s a good group of guys to have as friends. But let’s start at the beginning. When and where were you born?

“We Were All Clean-cut Guys” SQUEGLIO: I was born in Brooklyn, May 19, 1927. I started at a Parochial school, and in the last two years at grammar school, I was taught by Christian brothers. One of the brothers was very influential in my life. He knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. When I graduated from grammar school, he found that the only school in Brooklyn that had an art class was Grover Cleveland High School. I attended that school for one year, and one day, after school, I found this brother waiting for me at home. He had found a high school in Manhattan that taught art: The School of Industrial Arts. He had the applications all filled out and ready for me to sign. He helped me transfer to SIA, where I studied for the next three years. That’s where I met John and the gang. JA: What were you guys like in school? SQUEGLIO: Well, we were clannish; we always had lunch together. We were all clean-cut guys. We were never rowdy. John worked on the school newspaper. Sy Barry is one of the most wonderful guys you’d ever want to know. So is Al Scaduto, who’s the wildest of the bunch. He is so witty that you can’t sit across from him when you’re eating. I tried to do that and got sprayed every time. [laughter] Al did a strip for the school paper, and you know, that guy never changed. He was always fun to be with. Joe Giella was always a very quiet, deep thinker; a generous, wonderful guy. I was recently in the hospital and they came up regularly to see me. We all get together for lunch and at cartoon meetings. We used to have snowball fights in school—and I mean inside the school. One time, we had such a big snowball fight that snow covered the ceilings and walls and floors. When the teacher came in, we just sat down like angels and acted like nothing had happened. In the meantime, these snowballs were sliding off the walls. The teacher looked around and thought we were crazy. Another time, in puppet class, our teacher, Jerome Magon... he was a short guy. He looked just like Dr. Sivana. [mutual laughter] We drove

get mad at us!

JA: The late Les Zakarin went to school there, too. Did you know him? SQUEGLIO: Yes. He was a wild man! Lester was crazy! JA: How was he crazy? SQUEGLIO: He was nuts! JA: [laughs] Okay. Give me an example! SQUEGLIO: When he got out of school, he got into the comic book business. He got people to draw stories for him—like John Romita—and put his own name on them. [laughs] That was Les! In my second year at the school, I met Chic Stone— right before he went into the Army. He was helping a friend of mine. I wrote to Chic while he was overseas, and made little drawings on my letters. He’d correct them and send them back to me.

“We Have a Problem Right Now with the Comic Department” SQUEGLIO: [cont’d] A month after I graduated from school in 1947, Chic called me up. He was home from the service by this time. Chic asked if I was interested in a job, and told me that there was an opening at Fawcett Publications. He said, “Although I’m a little teed off at them for not giving me my job back, it might be a good start for you.” Before Chic went into the Army, he was told his job would be waiting for him when he returned. But when he came back, Fawcett was mainly using freelancers. Chic demanded that they give him his job back, but it wasn’t there anymore. He was very angry about it. Anyway, I took his advice, went up there, and made an appointment to see the art director, Al Allard. He said, “We have a problem right now with the comic department. They got wind of the court case.” Fawcett was being sued by DC over Captain Marvel. Allard said, “I don’t know how long we’re going to last.” Al Allard was a wonderful man—very honest and fair. He said, “You can have a job if you’d like,” so I took the job. I’ll tell you, Jim, the


“Fawcett Knew How to Do It Better Than Anyone Else!”

5

A Triptych Carved in Stone (Left:) A 1944 drawing by “Pvt. Chic Stone” for a service publication. The accompanying prose piece, “Silent Glory,” told of the 35th Infantry’s hard-won victories at St. Lo, France, in the weeks after D-Day—then in “the blood-red soil of Mortain” and “the muddy bog of Lorraine”—and “in the bitter white snow of the Ardennes,” in the wintertime clash immortalized as the Battle of the Bulge. Thanks to Ed Fields for sending us this sombre gem. (Center:) Private Chic Stone, in uniform, with Richard Loesel, a friend who introduced Emilio to Chic. This photo was taken in “one day [in 1944] when Chic was home on furlough from the Army. He soon left for overseas duty. It was at this time that I [Emilio] communicated with him, would send him cartoon drawings, and he would correct them and send them back for me to study.” (Right:) “A Jack Kirby pencil re-creation by Chic Stone,” as Chic himself signed it when he drew it in 1995. The pose is from Tales of Suspense #59 (Nov. 1964). Stone inked that issue’s Kirby-drawn “Captain America” tale, and quite probably the Cap/Iron Man cover, as well. Thanks to Michael Dunne for the copy. [Art ©2004 Estate of Chic Stone; Captain America TM & ©2004 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

place was in complete ruin—it was mayhem. There was so much work to do and that was already done, that all I did was make art corrections, clean up pages, do a little inking here and there—draw a figure here and there. I never really did a complete story or even a complete page. Things were in such a state of disarray.

them argue with each other. In fact, when C.C. Beck was on the witness stand, he really stood his ground. He wasn’t going to let Nizer get the best of him, because Beck knew that Fawcett was in the right.

I did this until 1953 and finally started getting fed up with it. Finally, one day, we were told that Fawcett was going to stop producing comic books. We hadn’t been doing any new books, and even the western comics were going down the tubes. JA: So you were in the production department? SQUEGLIO: I was in between the production department and the bullpen. I worked a lot with Wendell Crowley, Edna Hagan, and Ginny Provisiero. And Will Lieberson was wandering around in a daze, because his baby was going away. When the axe finally fell, Al Allard told us that he’d try to find other jobs for us in the company, if we wanted. He offered me a job with the advertising art department, working with Al Pauly, who was the art director of the advertising promotions department. While the lawsuit was going on, I did some artwork for the lawyers. I did life-size cut-outs of Captain Marvel and Superman to show in court. What the lawyers did with them, I’ll never know. I hand-delivered them to the lawyers in the court room, and then they told me to get lost! Jim, you have no idea of the amount of material that those lawyers asked for! DC had this lawyer—Louis Nizer—I didn’t like him. I was in court a couple of times, shuttling stuff back and forth, watching Nizer kill the thing we loved the most. He asked so many stupid questions, and I don’t think he even understood what he was asking. Lawyers do that; they ask a lot of questions, which is why I love to see

An intentionally C.C. Beckish Captain Marvel looks on as Emilio leaves the Fawcett building at 67 West 44th Street, after his first day at Fawcett Publications. “My first job,” says Emlio. So who’d you get to take the photo? No matter—we’re glad you did! [Art ©2004 Emilio Squeglio; Captain Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]


Covers Š2004 DC Comics

11


12

Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt

Twice Told Tales! By Michael T. Gilbert In any artistic field, it’s fascinating to see creative ideas recycled and reinterpreted. Sometimes just a single image or paragraph will inspire an original piece of art or writing. Sometimes the complete work is lifted wholesale to save time or money. The comic book field is notorious for such recycling of art and stories. “Back in the day” it was assumed that comics were mainly for kids, with a whole new crew of readers appearing every few years. So what was the harm of cribbing a successful story—or at least part of it? “None!” was the general consensus at the time. If the kiddies didn’t care, why should anyone else? This creative recycling often resulted in some very unusual Twice Told Tales. What’s a Twice Told Tale? For this occasional series, I’ll be using the term rather liberally. Swiped cover? Twice Told Tales! Two different artists drawing the same script? Twice Told Tales! Reused plot? Twice Told Tales! For instance, let’s look at a clever yarn Stan Lee wrote in June 1953 for the Atlas title Menace. “The Madman” featured a sweet young nurse newly-employed in an insane asylum run by decrepit old Dr. Brimm. Later, one of Brimm’s fruitcakes claims the creepy doctor is really a four-armed creature from an underground world planning to take over our world. He begs her to warn the authorities before it’s too late. Nurse Jane scoffs, but... could it be possible? Hmmm...

Wild Bill Everett illustrated both “The Madman” and its accompanying 1953 Menace cover. The cover blurb changed the story’s title to “The Four-Armed Man.” The Tales to Astonish remake (on facing page) changed it yet again, to the similarly-titled “The Four-Armed Men!” [©2004 Marvel Characters, Inc.]


Title Comic Fandom Archive

17

ROCKE SPEAKS!

Ace Artist ROCKE MASTROSERIO (Creepy, Captain Atom) Shares a Plethora of Opinions about Comic Books and the Comics Industry by Bill Schelly Rocke Mastroserio—and the cover of Charlton’s Space Adventures #40 (June 1961), on which Rocke inked the “Captain Atom” pencils of Steve Ditko. This was more than a year before the first Ditko-drawn “Spider-Man” story in Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15. [Captain Atom TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

Mastroserio Facts Rocco Mastroserio was born June 8, 1927, on Staten Island. In 1941, he began attending the School of Industrial Arts, where he became friends with another future artist, Joe Orlando. At 17, he was working in the comics industry, for All-American and others, and was later drafted into the Marine Corps. After that, Rocke studied under Burne Hogarth at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. From there he freelanced, then joined the staff of Charlton Comics.

Dear Gary— When I interviewed Gary Brown for Alter Ego (see issues #38 & #40), he briefly mentioned that he and artist Rocke Mastroserio had corresponded with some frequency in late 1966 and much of 1967. Never letting a potential feature slip through A/E’s grasp, I inquired with alacrity whether Gary had kept Rocke’s letters. He had! Would he allow us to print excerpts from them? He would!

Received your fanzine this morning and I appreciated the compliment that came with it. To you, and some other readers who have commented on my recent work I have this to say: Pat Masulli, Dick Giordano and Joe Orlando have been very instrumental in any professional headway that I’ve made:

This reminded me that Rocke had corresponded with my fanfriend Marshall Lanz at about the same time. In that case, the kindhearted artist had critiqued some of Marshall’s artwork, and demonstrated suggested inking techniques. In Gary’s case, the New Yorker’s letters seemed to comprise almost a stream-of-consciousness series of news, opinions, advice, and self-examination. There were probably others whom Rocke bequeathed a portion of his time—time that could have been spent working on artwork for pay.

Dick, for giving me free rein, letting me try anything and everything at least once.

I never met Mr. Mastroserio, but I’ve always felt he was underrated, partly because he did the lion’s share of his work for Charlton, the lowest-paying publisher in the comics industry. Of necessity, he had to work quickly, yet I always felt that he had a confident hand, and a solid understanding of graphic story-telling. At Charlton, Rocke gained his most attention when he inked Steve Ditko’s revived “Captain Atom.” In the following excerpts, you will find out just what Rocke thought of Steve, as a person and as an artist. Even when praised for his detailed work in Creepy and Eerie, Rocke Mastroserio remained remarkably humble, always wanting to improve his work. In my book, that’s a sign of a real artist—someone who is continually striving, never fully satisfied with his art. Rocke was that, and much more, as you will see in the excerpts below. (All of what follows is Rocke “speaking” to one of his fans. The words are his; the choices of what to include are mine.)

Pat, for showing me a new direction, constructive criticism and general dissatisfaction of [sic] the work I was doing.

Joe, who is a marvelous instructor, and a rotten gin rummy player. To these three, among others, I’m very grateful. However, in spite of this testimonial, I feel this line could apply to me: “He rose from relative obscurity to complete oblivion!” I’ve got a long way to go! *** With regard to a controversy at the time when it was discovered that Wally Wood was signing work that had been done with considerable help from assistants:

I got a little more info on the Wood beef, and as a pro, can readily understand using pencilers, b.g [background] men, inkers, what have you, for the variety of reasons that pop up. And then signing the whole smear. There again, for a variety of reasons. As far as I’m concerned Woody could outdo anyone on all or any of the phases of art anyway. There is no practical way for him to indicate he had help on a job … but because I’ve seen his pencils (which were terrific!) I’d cast my vote for him anyway.


18

Comic Fandom Archive moderation. I guess I’m not “all business” at that. ***

Witzend [is] great. Wally Wood has solicited some of my work but nothing suitable has come up yet. Steve Ditko is going to do something wild, I’m sure. Incidentally, I’m not scheduled to ink the next Captain Atom. I’m just too bogged down with work. If I were editor, I’d have Steve ink it for that ‘special look’ of his work. But he’s overloaded so that’s out. As for Ditko, I for one can’t get over his imagination. There just isn’t anyone that I can think of who can match it. His version of Blue Beetle is a sure winner! And … he’s a very nice person. A good Joe! A pair of wondrous Warren splashes—“Monsterwork!” from Eerie #3, and “Gnawing Fear!” from Eerie #4, both 1966. [©2004 Warren Publishing, Inc.]

***

I hope you can use the enclosed sketch. I may be able to do a small job or two for you in the future but with an open deadline! I’m doing more work than you know about and I’m sorely tempted to do nothing at all when I do get a free moment…. ***

***

I’m on a Warren assignment now. All the mistakes will be mine—all mine! Heh heh heh! [NOTE: Rocke is referring to “The Frankenstein Tradition!” in Creepy #16, the same issue which contained a short biography on him. —Bill.] The story, or subject matter [of a comic book story], are—to me—more important than the artwork. A good artist will enhance the script, but without a good script in the first place, it’s a waste. That’s

I’m seriously considering leaving Warren for many reasons. One, for instance, is the monetary compensation that is lacking for the time and talent required. I actually make more an hour working for Charlton. I suppose there is the spiritual kick derived from the work and circumstances, but recently there’s been a drop in quality, heavy ads, reprints, etc., and I simply don’t feel the same pride I had before. *** On doing work for fanzines:

I haven’t been troubled too much. As long as the work requested is moderate, I’ll go along. Most people writing to me have been courteous and interesting. I actually enjoy making new friends, but [in]

Two more Warren pages by Mastroserio: the splash of “Dr. Griswold’s Fate” from Eerie #5 (1966) and a werewolf page from Eerie #8 (1967). [©2004 Warren Publishing, Inc.]


[Art ©2004 P.C. Hamerlinck; drawn in C.C. Beck style; Captain Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]


26 The drawings were of Mary Marvel. The approved original character sketch had been returned to me and was there, with the typed pages of her first story. And there were other drawings.

By

[Art & logo ©2004 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel © & TM 2004 DC Comics]

[FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a top artist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvel character sketches came from Marc’s 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 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 leaving the service in 1944, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art and stories for the company 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, including Sweethearts and Life Story. After the company ceased publishing comics, Marc 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 No. 54, 1996. Last issue, Marc discussed some of his drawing techniques; he stays on the subject in this issue’s installment, with the focus shifting to drawing the female figure… specifically the famous heroine he originally designed, Mary Marvel. —P.C. Hamerlinck.] “Hot for the female body, are you?” I don’t remember exactly who asked the question. Might have been Pete Costanza. Wasn’t Ray or Bob (Harford or Boyajian) ... nor Chic (Stone). Wasn’t Beck ... nor Raboy (C.C. nor Mac). Could have been Harry Taskey, one of the more entertaining jesters in the art department. Or Eddie Hamilton, co-composer of “No Balls.” Eddie, whose fiendish sense of humor could heckle you insane ... if you let it. I believe it was Eddie. At Fawcett in ’42 there was no “coffee break,” as the custom is known today… where at a given moment everyone jumps up and scampers for the urn and restrooms. Anytime you wanted a cup of coffee, you got up and got it. Then, if so inclined, you visited around among the drawing tables. So it was with the questioner behind me, leaning forward now, as though for a closer look at the work on my board. “Kinda fond of the girlie torso, eh? Sketch them frequently?” Hamilton, or whoever it was, was after me ... I could see that. Kidding, of course. He was my friend. They all were.

In the first days of our acquaintance, C.C. Beck and I had laughed about how we both sought to convey an element of weight, or heaviness, in drawing the figure of Captain Marvel. I was amused when Beck described it as “like concrete in his boots.” Now, as I drew Mary, the goal was completely different. I imagined Mary Marvel as a lightweight ... light of spirit, of action ... light of heart. The sketches at hand were humble, personal efforts to convey that lightness by the way her costume reacted under various circumstances. How in the world could my visitor with the coffee cup have made anything else of them? In my modest studies of the history of art it was impossible not to become aware of the frequency with which one particular subject appeared ... the female nude. Over and over, on cave walls, on canvas, in stone or bronze, there she was ... the bare lady. And so much special emphasis on it in art training. You’d have thought that once capable of drawing that one subject, the student could draw anything. Schools where it would least be expected have for years offered classes where someone clothed in swimsuit, if anything, sweated under hot lamps for bored sketchers. When I worked in New York City, I couldn’t help but notice the number of little “art schools” up and down the Manhattan streets. They existed, I have since suspected, solely for businessmenstudents who might have thought Titanium and Permalbos White were two sisters in show business. “I thought of Mary as light of heart…light of step….” Sketches of the “Shazam girl.” [Art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Mary Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]


29

HOLY MOLEY! A HUNDRED ISSUES OF FCA !

Editor P.C. HAMERLINCK Presents a Look Back at a “Century” of Fawcett-Related Wonderment

Marc Swayze’s sketch of Billy Batson pondering this issue’s 100th-issue celebration. [Art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Billy Batson TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

[NOTE: Since we announced that the 100th issue of FCA would appear in this edition of Alter Ego, we’ve received myriad congratulations and well-wishings… so we’d like to share a few of them with you. Accompanying these messages will be a sampling of art from the previous 99 issues along with previously unpublished art and photos— a panorama of Fawcett-related fantasy and photos—plus a few extras. And whom better to start with than the Golden Age artist who has been a part of each and every FCA since #54 back in 1996! —PCH.]

Marc Swayze [Golden Age Fawcett Artist] Before Bernie McCarty distributed the first issue of his Fawcett Collectors of America, he understood the importance of an identifying symbol, a logo, to represent his brainchild. His logo contained the major features upon which many of the world’s greatest trademarks have been based ... sincerity, clarity, brevity, and distinction. That was Bernie’s style. The distinctive characteristic was provided by three large capital letters, evidently borrowed from a type catalog. The logo remained unchanged until, after eleven issues, greater control of the publication was turned over to retired Captain Marvel artist/cocreator C.C. Beck, who had been assisting Bernie through correspondence. The three ornate caps in Bernie’s logo were combined, enlarged, across the top, followed by the wordage, then, in italicized hand letters “plus S.O.B.” The new title, Some Opinionated Bastards, was likely rushed into, as others counted on to participate were unwilling to include themselves under that classification. FCA/SOB, first issued early in 1980, went on a regular bi-monthly schedule and, for the first time, paid subscriptions were solicited. With

(Above:) P.C. Hamerlinck’s pencil/watercolor portrait of Marc Swayze, a photo of Marc—and a Swayze Phantom Eagle page from Wow Comics #67 (June 1948). [Portrait ©2004 P.C. Hamerlinck; Phantom Eagle TM & ©2004 the respective copyright holders.]


30

Editor P.C. Hamerlinck Looks Back at a “Century” of Fawcett-Related Wonderment The front and back covers of FCA #1. The former sported two Fawcett covers and a photo of founder Bernie McCarty—the back featured A.J. Hanley art and an ad for the Old Comic Book Club to which McCarty belonged. [Material ©2004 the respective copyright holders; Captain Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

Beck as editor and McCarty as publisher, distribution continued through 19 issues, ending with number 30, May-June 1983. The logo, after one or two issues, was altered to read, simply, in bold, black type, FCA/SOB. It remained unchanged until the final one or two issues where the “SOB” half appeared in gray halftone, thereby diminishing in comparison to “FCA.” There may have been a quiet phasing out of that part of the name underway.

The cover of FCA #41 (a.k.a. FCA & ME, TOO! #5), published by the Harpers, boasted a Beck caricature of founder McCarty, and added coverage of comics published by Magazine Enterprises. [Art ©2004 Estate of C.C. Beck.]

The “SOB” disappeared completely when, due to the failing health of C.C. Beck, Bill and Teresa Harper merged the publication with their own. Both title and logo became FCA & ME, Too! The logo was arranged with “FCA” above, in straight caps, followed by an accentuated ampersand, then “ME, Too!” in type, size and style same as “FCA” The logo bore slight if any change through issue number 17. There was little evidence of “takers” on the horizon when the Harpers saw the need to leave FCA. When at last a hand was raised in support of Bernie’s brainchild, it was that of a Minnesota commercial artist and advertising specialist, a resident of the homeland of Capt. Billy Fawcett, the homeland of C.C. Beck, Paul C. Hamerlinck. Paul was more than just a “Fawcett collector” and fan. He had spoken, met, and corresponded with the retired Beck and was later to meet the members of the Fawcett family. The publication today reflects the experienced Hamerlinck hand in art and writing, his selectivity with interesting material from the vast collection of the past, his interviews with contemporary Hollywood stars associated with the related subjects. And that special attention and respect paid to the FCA logo... still, as in the beginning, based upon such qualities as sincerity, clarity, brevity, and distinction... the McCarty way. The Hamerlinck way!

Marc Swayze’s cover for FCA #54. Look familiar? [Art ©2004 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

(Left:) A 1980 self-portrait of Captain Marvel co-creator (and longtime FCA editor) Charles Clarence Beck—and a 1973 drawing of the Big Red Cheese done for founding FCA editor Bernie McCarty in 1973. [Art ©2004 Estate of C.C. Beck; Captain Marvel TM & ©2004 DC Comics.]

Alter Ego #41  

Covers by BERNIE WRIGHTSON (Frankenstein) and MARC SWAYZE (Captain Marvel)! A special focus on Frankenstein: BERNIE WRIGHTSON on the 25th an...

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