Roy Thomas’ 24- Carrot Comics Fanzine
2007 EISNER AWARD WINNER!
BEST COMICS-RELATED PERIODICAL
SCOTT SHAW! & ROY THOMAS ON CREATING
In the USA
CAPTAIN CARROT & HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW!TM
No. 72 September 2007
DICK ROCKWELL THE GHOST OF
Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, Starro TM & ©2007 DC Comics.
Vol. 3, No. 72 / September 2007 Editor Roy Thomas
Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash
Design & Layout Christopher Day
FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck
Comic Crypt Editor Michael T. Gilbert
Editorial Honor Roll Jerry G. Bails (founder) Ronn Foss, Biljo White Mike Friedrich
Production Assistant Chris Irving
Circulation Director Bob Brodsky, Cookiesoup Periodical Distribution, LLC
Cover Artist Scott Shaw!
Cover Colorist Tom Ziuko
With Special Thanks to: Rob Allen Heidi Amash Nick Arroyo Paul Bach Bob Bailey Rod Beck Frank Brunner Mike Catron Charles Chamberlin Mike & Carole Curtis Jeff Dell Michaël Dewally Chris Elliott John R. Ellis Charles Ettinger Michael Eury Mark Evanier Rex Ferrell Greg Fischer Shane Foley Janet Gilbert Stan Goldberg Tim Gordon Harry Guyton Jennifer Hamerlinck David Hedgecock Fred Hembeck Rick Hoberg Shawntae Howard Jeff Kapalka Denis Kitchen Richard Kyle Thomas G. Lammers
Robert Latona Scott LeMien Arthur Lortie Bruce Mason Fran Matera Jim McQuarrie Sheldon Moldoff Brian K. Morris Will Murray Jim Murtaugh Ken Nadle Dave O’Dell Jake Oster Mark Paniccia Barry Pearl Rubén Procopio Robby Reed Steven Rowe Scott, Judith, & Kirby Shaw! Keif Simon Bhob Stewart Marc Swayze Jeff Taylor Dann Thomas Dave Trimble Ken Van Court Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Michael Vance Dr. Michael J. Vassallo Greg Vondruska Hames Ware Mike Zeck
This issue is dedicated to the memory of
Don Christensen & Marshall Rogers
Writer/Editorial: Bringing Out The Beast In Me . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Rabbits And Turtles And Pigs—Oh, My! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Mike Curtis takes an affectionate look back at the Zoo Crew.
“Not Just Another Funny-Animal Comic!”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Scott Shaw! and Roy Thomas on the 1981 creation of Captain Carrot—and beyond.
Pens And Nadles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Ken Nadle on Golden Age DC humor-mongers Larry & Martin Nadle.
“The Drawing Board Is My Sanctuary” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Dick Rockwell talks to Jim Amash about drawing comic books and Steve Canyon.
Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt! Kooky Krossovers (Part 2) . . . 55 Michael T. Gilbert finishes off those tintinabulatin’ 1940s team-ups at MLJ & Quality.
Robert Schoenfeld, R.I.P. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Bill Schelly & Bob Latona salute the late-1960s editor of Gosh Wow!, et al.
Tributes To Don Christensen & Marshall Rogers . . . . . . . . . 68 re: [comments, correspondence, & corrections] . . . . . . . . . 71 FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] #131 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Marc Swayze on scripting and C.C. Beck on drawing—presented by P.C. Hamerlinck. On Our Cover: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! began life as a funny-animal version of the Justice League of America, so original CC artist Scott Shaw!—he of the exclamatory monicker—flawlessly executed this anthropomorphic homage to the iconic Mike Sekowsky/Murphy Anderson cover of The Brave and the Bold #28 (March 1960). ’Nuff said? [Characters TM & ©2007 DC Comics.] Above: One of Scott’s very first concept sketches of the good Captain—never before published! See pp. 12-25 for more of same! [©2007 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $9 US ($11.00 Canada, $16 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $78 US, $132 Canada, $180 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. ISSN: 1932-6890 FIRST PRINTING.
Bringing Out The Beast In Me A
ctually, I thought long and hard before I decided to do this issue of Alter Ego.
For several years now, cartoonists Scott Shaw! and Jim Engel and I have been discussing an issue of A/E devoted to funny-animal super-heroes like Supermouse, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny—and Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, the comic book Scott and I co-produced in the early 1980s. We may get around to it yet.
A few months ago, however, Scott e-mailed me that he’d just been asked to draw a revival of Captain Carrot—without me as writer. After both of us getting nowhere making individual proposals from time to time over the years for a revival of the title, we had agreed neither of us would make a separate approach to a DC editor again— but Scott hadn’t initiated this series; an editor had gone to writer Bill Morrison of Bongo Comics, then to Scott. While I remain virulently hostile to the idea that a new Captain Carrot series has been launched with one of the series’ two main creators cut out of the loop very much against his will—let there be no mealy-mouthed mistake about that!—I didn’t have it in me to ask Scott to turn down the opportunity to draw the characters again. After all, they’re a far larger percentage of his comic book legacy than they are of mine—and I’m keeping quite busy with the Marvel Illustrated series and work for TwoMorrows and Heroic Publications, thank you very much. So let me make it clear that I’ve no animosity toward Scott—or Bill—for taking the gig. As to those involved over their heads… well, don’t get me started. On the other hand, I was slightly (if only slightly) mollified to learn that, in conjunction with this revival, Captain Carrot #1-20—i.e., the
entire canon, except for the final 6 issues, which were put together as the three-issue mini-series The Oz-Wonderland War in 1985-86— were to be published as a 500-page Showcase volume. Moreover, I received a reasonably hefty royalty check for my work reprinted therein—and it arrived two months before the black-&-white book went on sale! You’ve gotta give at least a few points credit for that. So Scott and I decided we’d talk about the original Captain Carrot run for an A/E issue to come out around the same time as the new one—and I invited Mike Curtis, editor and co-publisher of Shanda Fantasy Press, to write a brief overview of the 1980s comic. By coincidence, I’d also recently invited Ken Nadle to write about his father, Golden Age DC humor-comics editor Larry Nadle, and his uncle Martin Nadle. The latter had been the 1940s artist of “McSnurtle the Turtle—The Terrific Whatzit,” a speedster terrapin who’d made a comeback guest appearance in an ’80s issue of Captain Carrot. That seemed like a perfect fit for the issue, as well. But we’ve also got plenty of goodies for readers who prefer their heroes, artists, and writers human—including an interview with the late Dick Rockwell, 1950s comic book artist who ghosted Milt Caniff’s newspaper strip Steve Canyon for more than a third of a century. We regret that Dick passed away a year or so back, not long after Jim Amash interviewed him… but we know his family, as well as many comics enthusiasts, are looking forward to reading the interview at last. Bestest,
# COMING IN OCTOBER 73 A HALLOWEEN TRICK-OR-TREAT
WITH BRUNNER, BIRO, & ALL THAT BUNCH! • Never before seen! A gorgeous FRANK BRUNNER painting of Dr. Strange and Clea hangin’ out at 177A Bleecker Street! • Formerly far-out FRANK BRUNNER annotates his own spooky art of Dr. Strange, Howard the Duck, Death, and the whole gruesome gang! • CHARLES BIRO—the “murderous maestro” of Golden Age comics like Crime Does Not Pay, Boy Comics, & Daredevil! A never-published interview—plus, JIM AMASH talks to BIRO’S DAUGHTERS about their fabulously talented and influential dad! • A Deadly Dose of REALITY! ROBERT GERSON tells RICHARD ARNDT about his early-’70s horror comic—as illustrated by MICHAEL W. KALUTA, BERNIE WRIGHTSON, JEFFREY JONES, & others! • Plus—MICHAEL T. GILBERT’s Comic Crypt—FCA with C.C. BECK, MARC SWAYZE— L. BING by JIM VADEBONCOEUR & HAMES WARE—& MORE!! Edited by ROY THOMAS
[Dr. Strange & Clea TM &
Inc.] ©2007 Marvel Characters
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Rabbits And Turtles And Pigs—Oh, My! An Affectionate Look Back At Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew!
ooking through the DC comics of the mid-1980s, one sees names that are still household words among comic fans today. Titles like Arion—Lord of Atlantis! Or Omega Men! Or I, Vampire! Sword of The Atom! Or even “How to Sell GRIT”!
Well... I guess these names aren’t really so well remembered. But there’s one series which flourished during that decade and which still has a fan following today, even of advance of its return in the next few weeks—Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew! Captain Carrot certainly was an offbeat series, especially for a title published within that decade. DC had greatly expanded just a few years before, only to suffer the Great Implosion at the end of the 1970s, and the canceling of many of their titles—some of them about to go to press. In the ’80s, it was once again a time for new ideas. Some great talents came together for this spoof of super-heroes done in the funny-animal vein.
by Mike Curtis before. (The one exception to this will be discussed later.) The only “fly in the ointment” regarding this character was the later decision to call him Rodney, after Disney announced its forthcoming film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The good Captain became the iconic “Superman” of his anthropomorphic world and was attracted to teammate— ALLEY-KAT-ABRA, a.k.a. Felina Furr. In the world of furry fandom where I am most active, this doll still shows up in fan art and pinups, not to mention in erotic fan fiction. In my own Shanda the Panda, the characters sometimes take on lives of their own and “write” themselves. I suspect that this is what happened with Felina. The token magician of the group, her Mew Orleans background may have added to the feisty attitude she exhibited early on. On several occasions she seemed to be trying to make the Crew a duo of herself and Roger, although she has a semi-sidekick in her magical focus object, “Magic Wanda.” She also had an ongoing feud with the other female Zoo Crewer—
In the article that follows this one, Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! tell the tale YANKEE POODLE, a.k.a. Rova of their efforts on the creation of the Zoo Barkitt. Every group needs a patriotic Crew. But let me add that, at that time, So Zoo Me! character, and this is the only icon there was probably not a better creative The cover of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! #1 missing from DC’s Justice Society. While team that could have been assembled. (March 1982) was penciled by Scott Shaw! and Ross Andru, the the “USA” theme only extended to YP’s Scott Shaw! is still a legend in the furry latter drawing the Superman figure; inks by Bob Layton. costuming and powers, her abilities were community, although he rarely ventures Thanks to Bob Bailey. [©2007 DC Comics.] surprisingly innovative. Yankee used into comics these days. And Roy Thomas stars from one hand to repel and stripes could have used James Robinson’s title from the other hand to draw things toward her. In her secret identity, Pocket Encyclopedia as his own. At that time, other than his writing the Poodle was a Hollywood gossip columnist and friend to— tag-team partner E. Nelson Bridwell on Carrot, there was probably no one else more well-versed in comic book history than Thomas. And comic history played a large part in Captain Carrot. RUBBERDUCK, a.k.a. Byrd Rentals. The Plastic Man of the group, in real life he was a movie star, just as in our world, Burt Reynolds was But before we examine the adventures of the group, let’s look at the one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. Most of his character and dialogue individual members of The Zoo Crew. were pure Hollywood. He was probably the least developed of the group personality-wise. Unlike— CAPTAIN CARROT, a.k.a. Roger Rodney Rabbit. It was a brilliant stroke to make Roger (sorry, that’s what I’m going to call him) a comic PIG-IRON, a.k.a. Peter Porkchops. The muscleman (or musclehog) of artist and writer. This unique profession made him the perfect leader the band. He was an update of the 1950s DC comic star named above. for a team of super-heroes in a world that had never experienced them Here’s where both Roy’s and Scott’s love of the past came in. The only
An Affectionate Look Back At Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew!
not from the same sources as the rest of the team, but from ingesting a piece of irradiated lunar green cheese. Little Cheese was a hero in the tradition of the Silver Age Atom, as well as Quality’s Doll Man. The series was co-created by Roy Thomas, Scott Shaw!, and Gerry Conway, but the list of people who labored on these adventures could have had their own DC series called The Legion of Super-Talents! DC legend E. Nelson Bridwell did some scripting later, as did Shaw. The list of artists includes greats like Archie talent Stan Goldberg, Justice League of America’s Mike Sekowsky, and even famous Howdy Doody/Hoppy the Marvel Bunny cartoonist Chad Grothkopf. Hey, I even saw Carl Gafford’s name in there, and we (Shanda Arts) publish some of his stuff ourselves! One of my favorites on late Captain Carrot was underground cartoonist Carol Lay, who took over on the three-issue Oz-Wonderland War mini-series that followed the regular 20 issues of Captain Carrot. With so much DC history (and historians) behind the series, it’s no surprise that it definitely existed within the company’s regular continuity, right from the start. Carrot debuted as a 16-page insert in The New Teen Titans #16, with special guest star Superman. The cause of their origins and their first opponent was longtime JLA foe Starro the Conqueror. Basically, the Man of Steel grabbed a glowing meteor that was menacing Earth, and when it blew up into six pieces and he crossed over a dimensional barrier, those six pieces gave the original six members of the Zoo Crew their powers. Got it? Good. Sounds like something Mort Weisinger might have written. Oddly enough, in the first issue of their own comic (March 1982), there’s a “Batman” Hostess Twinkies ad featuring what would be recognized today as a fursuiter who is kidnapping dogs. In any case, Roger Rabbit (yes, that was the original name of Captain Carrot’s alterego-to-be), who has a super-hero costume left over from a costume party and dons it when the irradiated carrots in his window-box gave him powers, visits the other five recipients of the “Spawn of Superman” meteors, and together they rescue the Man of Steel.
In Comic Books No One Can Hear You Scream— They Have To Read It! Scott drew this cataclysmic crossover clash between the Zoo Crew and Alien for a website spoof. [Captain Carrot & Zoo Crew TM & ©2007 DC Comics; Alien TM & ©2007 20th Century-Fox or successors in interest.]
problem was that Pig-Iron had a much more aggressive personality than Peter had. Then again, I suppose falling into a vat of molten metal would make you talk like Ben Grimm. And remember that previous super-hero on Earth C?— FASTBACK, a.k.a. Timmy Joe Terrapin. The only “legacy hero” of the group. Just as Barry Allen was inspired to become The Flash by reading about the adventures of Jay Garrick, Timmy had an uncle who had been a super-hero in the 1940s! One of the original funny-animal super-heroes, McSnurtle the Turtle, had once fought crime as the Terrific Whatzit. The Whatzit of 1942-46 issues of the DC comic Funny Stuff (see pp. 18 & 31-38) was not only super-fast, but could also fly and bend steel in his bare hands! He even took his costume from DC’s premier 1940s speedster. And, later on— LITTLE CHEESE, a.k.a. Chester Cheese. A latecomer to the team, this miniscule mouse first appeared in CC&HAZC #12. He later joined the team in their last issue (sob!), #20. He acquired his power
Issue #2 featured guest penciler Alfredo Alcala and was very much a semi-replay of The Avengers #2. The group is formed, but Pig-Iron isn’t interested at first. Super-heroes can’t just argue about their differences, so we get some fight scenes. This is where Felina first proposes a smaller group composed mainly of her and the Captain. I think it was love, or at least a mild interest, at first sight. In #3, we get a great gag lifted from Froggy the Gremlin involving the President. This is only fitting, since Frogzilla is the cover villain, and the behind-the-scenes baddie Brother Hood enlists three giantpowered animals to do his bidding. Former Funny Stuff stars Dunbar Dodo and J. Fenimore Frog (of “The Dodo and the Frog” feature) also reappear in the DC universe. There should be a reader warning noted here. Captain Carrot contained even more puns than the Richie Rich comics I used to write. In Issue #3 we also meet Jailhouse Roc and Kongaroo. Just so you know. DC’s Swamp Thing had been optioned for a low budget flick (and not much else was getting optioned besides Superman for film at the time). Therefore, issue #4 features a swamp thing of sorts—based more along the lines of JSA foe Solomon Grundy. There’s another scene where Felina urges Roger to forget those “other 4 losers” and take a trip with her. Man, was Roger dense or what? Movies are still a large influence as #5 features Oklahoma Bones and some very scarce scenes of the Crew in civvies. This marks the Crew’s first two-part adventure. Issue #6, the second half of the story, features an alien rabbit who resembles Bugs Bunny. In this issue, we also get our first solo adventure, when the Captain stars in a backup feature.
“Not Just Another FunnyAnimal Comic!” A Conversation Between SCOTT SHAW! And ROY THOMAS About The Creation Of Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew!—1981 Interview Conducted by Roy Thomas & Transcribed by Brian K. Morris Italicized Text by Roy Thomas
oy here—and, below, wherever italics are used in this piece. It was a tricky subject to cover: the creation of the Captain Carrot comic book for DC in 1981, and its subsequent development and handling over the years 1982-86 by Scott Shaw!, myself, and a handful of others. In May of 2007 Scott and I talked on the phone for an hour or so, with the intention that the resulting interview would be one section of this issue’s coverage of the series… and I’d do a text article that would precede it (since the concept’s roots predate Scott’s role in things, however essential he became to the mag later).
Man Of Steel, Bunny Of Bronze (Age, That Is) (Above left:) Roy T. figures you had your fill of photos of him in issue #70, so here’s a sketch of RT executed, for some unfathomable reason, by Mike Zeck, and sent to us by Barry Pearl. Thanks to both! [©2007 Mike Zeck.] (Above right:) Scott Shaw! and son Kirby, who’s named after The King. Special thanks to Judy Shaw. (Left:) The first that most of the world saw of Captain Carrot was on this interior “cover” of the 16-page Preview insert in The New Teen Titans #16 (Feb. 1982). Ross Andru penciled Superman, Scott Shaw! penciled everything else, and editor Dick Giordano inked the whole magilla. From the very beginning, like the topline said, Captain Carrot was “Not Just Another Funny-Animal Comic!” Repro’d from a scan of the original art, courtesy of Scott. Incidentally, all scans of Scott’s original CC art for this piece were made by Dave Hedgecock. Dave’s the editor/co-publisher of Ape Entertainment and the artist of Slave Labor’s Gargoyles comic, and cites reading Captain Carrot 25 years ago as a major influence on his becoming a cartoonist. [©2007 DC Comics.]
But that didn’t seem to work, somehow. So many things I’d want to say in my account would necessarily pre-empt and undercut matters Scott and I discussed, so that parts of our conversation would either have to be deleted as redundant, or else seem like mere footnotes. So I decided to take a slightly different tack. I’d start out by writing my own account of the creation, which antedates Scott’s involvement, dealing with events more or less in chronological order—then dovetail into and out of the interview with Scott. So that’s what you’ll find below…cribbed from my own and Scott’s memories (without time or space to seek out much input from the other writers, artists, and editors involved), with my own memory augmented somewhat by the text pieces I wrote for the first couple of issues of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! A word about the illustrations that accompany this hybrid piece:
A Conversation Between Scott Shaw! and Roy Thomas
Hare-Brained Sketches Sam Grainger’s concept drawings (late 1960s? 1970s?) for a potential “Super Rabbit” revival for Marvel. The heroic hare’s costume is similar to the one Captain Carrot would sport years later, but he has quite different physical proportions—suggesting that “Super Rabbit – the Marvel Bunny” (as Roy planned to christen the series) might’ve been in more of a kiddie vein than Captain Carrot. The red-and-blue coloring of the garb of the figure repelling bullets is reminiscent of both Superman and the original Super Rabbit; the yellow-and-red gear of the waving figure is closer to Mighty Mouse’s. From the personal collection of Roy & Dann Thomas. Photo of Sam Grainger from the 1969 Fantastic Four Annual. [Art ©2007 Estate of Sam Grainger; photo ©2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Because, in conjunction with its forthcoming revival of CC&HAZC, DC is also releasing a 500-page Showcase volume containing all 20 of the title’s regular issues (plus the Preview, of course), we’ve reproduced relatively few pages from the actual comics… though some which do appear have been repro’d from photocopies of the original art, much of which Scott still owns. I opted instead to feature preliminary sketches and the like, and other relatively rare and even unseen materials.
I. Captain Carrot B.S. (And No, It Stands For “Before Shaw!”)
with images of rabbits, in memory of the days in San Pedro, California, when Dann and I had as pets a number of bunnies, some of them indoor pets: long-eared quasi-rodents with names like Rumpole, Featherstone, Harriet, Captain (yes!), and an identical bunch of angora rabbits we couldn’t tell apart so we called them all collectively “Bob.” There, on one wall, among several pages of original art from Captain Carrot comics and a drawing of the Zoo Crew by animator Dave Bennett—and across from Chad Grothkopf’s original cover for Fawcett’s Animal Fair #1 (1945), featuring Hoppy the Marvel Bunny—are two framed, colored drawings of a cartoon rabbit sporting an outfit suspiciously like that of CC, plus an image of that hare-y hero’s civilian ID. In one pose, bullets are bouncing off the colorful critter’s chest—a chest which sports an image of a carrot, crowning leaf and all, much like the one that would embellish CC’s torso, a decade or more later.
While CC&HAZC artist and sometime writer Scott Shaw! could doubtless relate his own backstory as regards his earliest interest in funny animals in general, and in funny-animal super-heroes in particular, Captain Carrot was initially birthed out of my own love of both. There’d been funny animals in tights and capes since not too long after Superman started tossing cars around as if they were flapjacks in 1938. It started on the silver screen with Supermouse (soon altered into the much more enduring Mighty Mouse) and with another “Supermouse” in comic books (nor did this one have to change his name)—and over the ensuing years, many a species had its own variant of the Man of Tomorrow.
Though unsigned, both art and coloring are the work of Sam Grainger, a North Carolina commercial artist I met through the mail during my latter fanzine days, circa 1964. In early 1969, Sam spent a week in New York, at Marvel’s invite, getting a few pointers on art and inking John Buscema’s cover to The Avengers #66. It was probably at that time, or during the ensuing months when Sam was inking Avengers, that we discussed the idea of reviving Super Rabbit. Whether it was my idea or Sam’s to stick that carrot sigil on his chest is anybody’s guess; but if Sam didn’t come up with it on his own, then I would have anyway, since I was a big believer in chest symbols. All the better-dressed super-heroes had them.
Marvel Comics, for whom I was working when I got the notion of writing and editing a super-funny-animal title, had had its own “Super Rabbit” for several years in the 1940s; as a kid during that decade, I was quite familiar with it. He even wore a blue-andorange-and-red outfit not unreminiscent of a certain costumed Kryptonian! And, far as I can figure, I probably first thought of doing something fairly close to Captain Carrot in the late 1960s… though it could’ve been a bit later.
For whatever combination of reasons, the idea of a Super Rabbit comic never really went anywhere at Marvel—and I can’t for the life of me remember if I ever even mentioned the concept to Stan, let alone showed him Sam’s sketches. So the idea languished.
And now, without further ado (or even “a-don’t,” as we used to say in Not Brand Echh and maybe even in Captain Carrot):
The reason I say this? All you’d need to do is look at the kitchen walls in the Thomas homestead—which is decorated in large part
Fast-forward to 1981. Having signed a writing contract with DC Comics in late ’80, I was eager to add to my quiver of Thomascreated titles such as All-Star Squadron and Arak, Son of Thunder—partly because, unlike at Marvel, at DC I could own a piece of anything I co-created, and partly because I wanted to avoid
“Not Just Another Funny-Animal Comic!”
writing any more Superman, Batman, and/or Legion of SuperHeroes, all of which had been foisted upon me in my first days there. So I pitched DC the idea of a funny-animal super-hero. His name was—Thunder Bunny. No, no, I’m not about to claim that I came up with that concept and name before my 1960s comics fandom colleague Martin Greim, who in the 1970s had created a “Thunder Bunny” series in which a human boy turned into a super-funny-animal the size of a man. What had happened was simply that I had read a story or two of Marty’s that utilized the character, had forgotten (on a conscious level) that I’d ever seen them, and had then invented my own character and christened him “Thunder Bunny” with no waking knowledge that there’d ever been a hero with that name before. Naturally, somewhere along the line, the truth would have dawned on me and we’d have changed the name prior to publication, but that’s neither here nor there in what follows. My idea was a sort of follow-up to the What If? title I’d conceived a few years earlier, and answered the musical question: “What If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Had Created a Funny-Animal Super-Hero?” Both the setting and cast were going to be animatedstyle beasts, but the tenor of the series, as I “sold” it to the powersthat-were at DC, was to be nearly as “serious” as an issue of Green Lantern—or Thor, the ultimate inspiration of the concept as it first emerged (what little I recall of it). Think of the thunder god turned into a rabbit, and just far enough removed to avoid a lawsuit, and you’ve pretty much visualized my initial idea. It wouldn’t have been a “funny animal” comic book in the usual sense—my Thunder Bunny would’ve been closer to the spirit of a normal Bronze Age series, but with stylized animals rather than humans in the lead roles. And who was going to be the artist of this Thunder Bunny comic? None other than Happy Herb Trimpe—who was anything but happy at Marvel at that particular moment in the early 1980s. I don’t recall if Herb and I had ever discussed “Thunder Bunny”
When Thunder Had Long Ears Martin Greim’s one and only Thunder Bunny. One of that halcyon hero’s first appearances was in MG’s excellent Comic Crusader Storybook, circa 1977. In the page above, drawn by future pros Gene Day (pencils) and Jerry Ordway (inks), young Bobby Caswell becomes a cottontailed super-hero by making like Captain Marvel—the one drawn by Gil Kane in 1969-70. In the 1980s, Thunder Bunny starred in a number of comic books for Archie. [Thunder Bunny TM & ©2007 Martin L. Greim.]
The Incredible Hulk And His Amazing Rat Crew? Far as we know, the closest Herb Trimpe came to drawing funny animals during his long and successful run on The Incredible Hulk was this story in #154 (Aug. 1972)— and that ain’t too close! Inks by John Severin; repro’d from Essential Incredible Hulk, Vol. 4. Photo from the 1975 Mighty Marvel Comic Convention program book. [Hulk art ©2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
during my latter days under contract to Marvel, but I did know he was less than pleased at being stonewalled concerning raises—and he had agreed to jump ship and come over to DC to draw Thunder Bunny and doubtless other features for the older company. I don’t recall if Herb ever actually drew any sketches—seems to me he may have, at some stage—but everything was set for his move to DC. Then, just as Herb was about to announce he was leaving—maybe Jim Shooter got wind of it, or maybe Herb gave them an ultimatum—Marvel suddenly gave him the long-sought-after raise. And that was the end of “What If Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe Created a Funny-Animal SuperHero in the Tradition of Lee and Kirby?”
A Conversation Between Scott Shaw! and Roy Thomas
RT: It didn’t work out as well as we’d have liked, but it was worth a shot. Chad’s “Hoppy” was a big influence for me on Captain Carrot, even more than The Terrific Whatzit or, say, Mighty Mouse. I don’t remember why we ended up doing a takeoff on Indiana Jones in the mag, but it was a good idea, I guess. After all, the movie was new and popular. SHAW: It’s funny—there’s a kid that both Sergio [Aragonés] and I have mentored over the years named Manuel Carrasco, and he’s a big deal now in video games. He told me the other day that he loved Oklahoma Bones so much that he drew two or three “Oklahoma Bones” stories himself. [Roy laughs] RT: Of course, if we’d done more stories with Oklahoma Bones, we’d have had trouble from Spielberg and Lucas. Besides Peter Porkchops, we also brought in other old DC funny animals. The one I remember best was Frogzilla, who was J. Fennimore Frog. “The Dodo and the Frog” was a feature I always liked even better than “The Fox and the Crow.” I didn’t know it then, but Gardner Fox was one of the main writers of “Dodo and Frog” when it started.
Beauty And The Beasts DC publisher Jenette Kahn was, for a time, Captain Carrot’s biggest fan—after Roy and Scott, of course. The 1982 poster at right (utilizing art from #1) promoted the comic’s debut. Jenette (seen with Superman on the Jan. 1984 cover of Savvy magazine) clearly had eyes for the Kryptonian’s furry rivals. Her support helped get the series optioned for TV—but she wanted to see it done in live-action, as per the Superpup kiddie-TV show proposed in 1958. Thanks to Mike Curtis for the still, which shows Superpup (alias Bark Bent) and Pamela Poodle, as portrayed by Billy Curtis & Ruth Delfino. [©2007 DC Comics.]
RT: Well, we still own a piece—you and I and, for that matter, Gerry Conway. We’ll all come in for money if anything ever happens. It’s only been 25 years, after all. I know that one of our original aims was that, every issue, we would parody a different character or genre. Were there any that you feel you were especially interested in doing, of those we did? SHAW: I always liked the “His Name Is Mudd!”— RT: The “Heap” homage. SHAW: —because I’ve always been a fan of swamp monsters. It was also interesting because Chad Grothkopf inked it. He was a tremendous inker, but I think he wasn’t used to inking someone else’s stuff, because he would change things around. I’ll never forget, we got one issue back where I think Pig-Iron is in a subway, and Chad suddenly decided to draw him like out on the street. I remember, at the last minute, we got it back and I had to patch that stuff up. But, with him having done Hoppy the Marvel Bunny and Howdy Doody and all those great things, it was kind-of cool to have him on.
“Not Just Another Funny-Animal Comic!”
The Dodo May Be Dead—But He Died A Winner “The Dodo and the Frog” was an original DC feature that mimicked the popular “Fox and the Crow”—except that Crawford Crow occasionally bested Fauntleroy Fox in their series loosely based on Columbia movie cartoons, while J. Fenimore Frog always lost out to Dunbar Dodo—always! So JFF was determined to triumph as “Frogzilla”— but he didn’t, of course. The “Dodo and Frog” house ad at right appeared in comics dated May 1947; the writer and artist are unknown, but Flash/Hawkman/Dr. Fate/JSA co-creator Gardner Fox wrote many of the 1940s stories. The cover, below right, of CC&HAZC #3 (May 1982) is by Shaw! & Smith. Thanks to Bob Bailey. [©2007 DC Comics.]
Here’s Mudd In Your Eye! Scott’s cover for CC&HAZC #4 (June 1982)—“His Name Is…Mudd!”—repro’d from a photocopy of the original art. Inks by Bob Smith. [©2007 DC Comics.]
SHAW: And then we did that time travel story. RT: Yeah, that was one of my favorites. I seem to recall coming up with the name of the villain, The Time-Keeper. If you’ve got a minute—he’ll take it and keep it! SHAW: I look at that now, and see that I overwrote it so much that all the characters looked hunchbacked. [mutual laughter] But I loved it, because I had a good collection anyway, and I bought as many old DC funny-animal books as I could, because I was always looking for new stuff to incorporate—and I discovered “Nero Fox, the JiveJumping Emperor of Ancient Rome.” RT: Right, and we had “The Three Mouseketeers.” And we included The Terrific Whatzit from Funny Stuff’s “McSnurtle the Turtle” strip and put him in World War II because he’d been in comics that were published during that period. In that story, we utilized a bunch of funny animals who actually were pre-existing DC properties from different periods of history. It was a lot of fun to do. One thing I liked later was where we took the Wolfie from Peter Porkchops
Pens And Nadles Golden Age Humor-Mongers LARRY & MARTIN NADLE
by Ken Nadle
cerry Bails, late founder of Alter Ego and the world’s #1 JSA fan, would have loved to read the following article! Ken Nadle, a photographer by trade, is the son of Larry Nadle, who was editor of DC’s humor comics (both human and funnyanimal variety) from the mid-1940s through the early 1960s—and the nephew of Martin Nadle (who also spelled his name “Naydel”), artist both of DC humor and of the “Flash” and “Justice Society of America” series during the mid-’40s. When I established contact with him online, I invited him to write a memoir of his father and uncle for A/E, and I’m delighted that he accepted my offer. All photos were sent to us by Ken; two of them, as noted, were forwarded by him from Martin’s son, Jeff Dell. —Roy.
When I was seven, my father, Larry Nadle, showed me a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer strip (he was the ghost writer for Robert L May, and Rube Grossman did the art) in which Santa yells from his sleigh, “Hurry, Rudolph, we’ve got to get this present to Kenny’s house!” I was that Kenny. But I didn’t really understand what my father did for a living until he took me to visit his office. It was sometime in the early 1950s, and National Periodicals [DC Comics] had just moved from 480 to 575 Lexington Avenue. I must have been nine or ten at the time. This is one of the earliest memories I have of him in connection with his work as an editor of comic books. He was born Lawrence Malcolm Nadle in Manhattan on Sept. 29, 1913, the middle son of three. His older brother by two years was Martin, and his younger brother by two years was Henry. They had one sister, Jean, but this story is really about the three brothers, and in particular, about Larry. Larry distinguished himself as being a good writer
when he was just nine. He won a story-writing contest and had his picture in the newspaper. He never went to college. Instead, he teamed up with his best friend, Jack Arnold (who later directed the movies The Mouse That Roared and The Creature from the Black Lagoon), and they performed an acrobatic/tap dance/comic routine in vaudeville. I think Larry was embarrassed about not having gone to college, but he shouldn’t have been. He could spell any word in the dictionary. When we went riding in our car, he would often point out misspelled words on storefronts. He wrote everything in capital letters, and every Sunday would finish the New York Times puzzle with his black ballpoint pen in less than an hour. Sometimes, as a game, I would sit with a dictionary in my lap and randomly pick some fancy words for him to spell—and sure enough, he’d get them right. He married very young. My mother was sixteen, he was eighteen. They eloped, and when they returned from their honeymoon, she went back to stay with her mother and he returned home to his parents house. The need to get a place of their own may have been his motivation to get a job outside of show business. His father Joseph was a children’s clothing buyer, and my father became a buyer of men’s clothing.
A Family Affair (Left:) The Nadles in the family car—a photo taken circa 1914 depicting (l. to r.) Joseph (father), Martin (brother), Anna (mother), & Larry. Below: the splash of the “McSnurtle the Turtle – The Terrific Whatzit” story from Funny Stuff #9 (May 1946), as edited by Larry and drawn by Martin. [Art ©2007 DC Comics.]
Golden Age Humor-Mongers Larry & Martin Nadle
The Nadle Brothers And Their Four-Footed Friends (Above, left to right:) Henry, Martin, & Larry, on ponyback, c. 1916… and (at left) the cover of the 1950 edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the first issue). This once-a-year DC comic book is probably the Rudolph “strip” of which Ken Nadle writes, and was scripted by his father Larry. Art probably by Rube Grossman. [©2007 the respective copyright holders.]
my mother, cruel to Larry. I tell this as something my mother told me, but having two brothers myself, I understand how such things happen. One example was the time Martin tricked Larry into going out onto the roof of their apartment building without a coat in a snowstorm and then locked the door. A neighbor finally heard Larry’s shouts and let him back in. Another time, they were climbing up the fire escape and Martin, who was in the lead, tried to close their apartment window before Larry could get in. In his haste not to let this happen, Larry lost his balance and fell several stories, luckily hitting the first floor fire escape, which broke his fall, and he ended up
Soon after I was born in 1943, his job relocated us to Louisville, Kentucky. We lasted a year down there. Back in New York City, my father started to write and edit the clothing industry’s union newspaper, and I guess it was this work that led him to take writing seriously. My uncle Martin was also young when he displayed his talent for drawing. He was also, as I have been told, a temperamental artist. Once, when he was doing a drawing in his parents’ apartment, he made a mistake and, in anger, smashed a bottle of India ink against the white living room wall. He was, according to
Stop, Look, And Listen Martin Nadle and his cover for the sleeve of the 1941 Listen-Look Picture Book recording “The Three Little Pigs.” There was at least one other record in the series, “Little Black Sambo.” Thanks to Martin’s son Jeff Dell for the photo. [©2007 the respective copyright holders.]
“The American Sherlock Holmes” Martin Nadle earned a real place in comic book history as the writer and artist of The Adventures of Detective Ace King, the 1933 one-shot which became one of the earliest comic books, period—as well as one of the earliest devoted to a single subject, namely a detective. It and another 1933 one-shot, Detective Dan, beat DC’s Detective Comics out of the starting gate by four years! [©2007 the respective copyright holders.]
Pens And Nadles
Nadle Observatory A potpourri of Martin Nadle/Naydel’s comic book artwork. (Clockwise from above left:) The “McSnurtle the Turtle/Terrific Whatzit” splash page from Funny Stuff #7 (Winter 1945)… the “Flash” splash from Comic Cavalcade #11 (Summer 1945)… a “Flag Facts” half-page filler from All-Star Comics #50 (Dec. 1949-Jan. 1950)… a “Pencils the Clown” half-pager from All-Star #53 (July-July 1950)… and a montage of the Comicode daily panel he tried unsuccessfully to syndicate as “Martin Dell.” Thanks to Jeff Dell for the Comicode art, and to Jeff Kapalka for the “Whatzit” splash. The scribe of the 15 “McSnurtle the Turtle” stories is unknown, but may well have been Naydel himself, since he seems to have scripted Detective Ace King in 1933. Note that, on the “Flash” story, though writing co-creator Gardner Fox’s name remained on the feature (whether or not he wrote this particular entry), the name of longtime artist E.E. Hibbard has been removed. For Naydel’s mid-1940s “Justice Society” art, including several “Flash” chapters, see The All-Star Companion, Vol. 1-2, still on sale from TwoMorrows… and, of course, DC’s All Star Archives, Vol. 6 & 7. [McSnurtle, Flash, Flag Facts, and Pencils the Clown ©2007 DC Comics; Comicode ©2007 Estate of Martin Nadle.]
“The Drawing Board Is My Sanctuary” DICK ROCKWELL On Being The 36-Year Ghost Of The Great Milt Caniff Interview Conducted by Jim Amash
he late Dick Rockwell, whom I interviewed in December 2004, has two of the most interesting claims to fame a former comic book artist can have. He was the nephew of the great Norman Rockwell, whose Saturday Evening Post covers were among the most important reflections of 20th-century life. He was also the long-time assistant to the legendary Milton Caniff on the Steve Canyon newspaper strip. He spent a few years in the comic book field, both before and after the Canyon years; and, while he doesn’t remember a lot about those particular times, you’ll find his observations about Caniff—who was one of the most influential artists comic books ever had—particularly fascinating and revealing. Special thanks to Scott LeMien for putting me in touch with Dick Rockwell—Scott did all of us a very great favor. —Jim.
“I Just Always Knew I Was Going To Be An Artist” JIM AMASH: When and where were you born? DICK ROCKWELL: I was born in Mamaroneck, New York, on December 11, 1920. My father was somewhat of an artist, a model builder, and so forth. My uncle was Norman Rockwell, and the house, of course, always had Norman’s paintings. And I could draw and took a great interest
Maybe Crime Doesn’t Pay—But Comics Do! Dick Rockwell (ab0ve) with one of his court sketches—juxtaposed with images from the two comics-related phases of his career: a comic book splash page done for the legendary Charles Biro, for Crime Does Not Pay #121 (April 1953)… and the Steve Canyon comic strip daily for July 26, 1957. Thanks to Mark Evanier’s newfromme.com website for the photo, and to Mike Catron for the art. [CDNP page ©2007 the respective copyright holders; Steve Canyon strip ©2007 Field Enterprises, Inc., or its successors in interest.]
Transcribed by Brian K. Morris
Dick Rockwell On Being The 36-Year Ghost of Milt Caniff
in it. My father did a lot of drawing, and, after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, became a toy designer and designed educational toys for preschool kids. In school, I drew for the school papers and things like that. I just always knew I was going to be an artist. As a matter of fact, after the war [World War II], I went to Pratt Institute, but, after about a year and a half there, I had to get out. We had the first child of our marriage, and I had to begin to make some money, although I was the super of an apartment house, so I had a free apartment in Brooklyn. So I had all these full-color painted illustrations, and I was out in the countryside, looking for opportunities—and the first opportunity that came up was comic books. And I met this one guy in mid-Manhattan, and he sent me to Stan Lee. JA: The date I have for you starting comics is 1949. Would that be right? ROCKWELL: Either that or 1948. The feature was “Blaze Carson, Sheriff of the West.” The problem is that the comic book days didn’t last that long. It was ’48 to ’52. Then I started on working with Milton Caniff on Steve Canyon. But I did some comics off and on through that period, and then the second big thing I did for myself was courtroom illustration.
JA: Did you see much of Norman Rockwell, growing up? ROCKWELL: Not a great deal, because we lived in Rye, New York, until the Crash in ’29. Right after the Crash, because of the expenses and everything, my father elected to move to Rochester, NY, where he was going to try to continue to be a bond salesman, though his business in Wall Street was completely gone. After a very brief period in Rochester, probably a year and a half, he had made contact with an outfit in Kane, Pennsylvania. Kane was kind of an industrial town and had this woodworking plant, which became the whole Gate Toy Company. My father designed the toys. So we moved away from Norman, who had moved by this time to Arlington, Vermont. And then Norman moved down to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, so we were almost a thousand miles apart all the time. But I did see him on occasions and, of course, when I returned from the war, the first thing I did was—I was still in uniform—visit him in his studio. JA: So then he really wasn’t an influence on you when you were young. It sounds like your father might have been more of an artistic influence. ROCKWELL: Well, the influence was, I sold Saturday Evening Posts when I was a little kid to the neighborhood. I remember when the Post cost 20¢. Norman was a member of the family, and we had these genuine oil paintings on the wall. I admired the work and studied it, and sort-of knew every painting he made. So he was my education, and the figure drawing, and the empathy... which is something you understand—that, when you’re drawing people in action, you assume the action yourself, mentally, in a physical way. You can see that in Norman’s paintings; the tension in the bodies, for instance.
“I Was In The Normandy Invasion” JA: What branch of the service were you in? ROCKWELL: I was in the Army Air Corps, and I learned to fly down in Lubbock, Texas. Primary school was Sikeston, Missouri, and Basic Training was in Independence, Kansas, and Lubbock, Texas, was where I graduated. I became a pilot in the Troup Carrier Command, C-47s; we dropped paratroopers, and towed ladders, and that sort of thing. And I was in the Normandy Invasion. JA: At the initial landing on D-Day [June 6, 1944]? ROCKWELL: Yes, although my first flight was not at midnight, but in the morning. We crossed over. In the morning daylight, you could see the whole action of the Normandy coast there. You know, left to right, bombs and all that stuff. I think our first mission was paratroops. We dropped the paratroopers, and then, the second mission, we towed in gliders and so forth. JA: How long were you in the service? ROCKWELL: Early ’42 ‘till ’45. And then I think I started at Pratt Institute in January of ’46. I was a First Lieutenant when I was discharged. JA: And you were happy to get out, I’m sure. [mutual laughter]
Over Land… Over Sea… Though Dick Rockwell was a member of what Tom Brokaw has christened “The Greatest Generation,” and even took part in the D-Day invasion of July 1944, he did not draw stories set in that era until the ’80s, when he illustrated this Mark Evanier-scripted back-up story in Blackhawk #260 (July 1983). Thanks to Bob Bailey. [©2007 DC Comics.]
ROCKWELL: Oh, yeah. I was thrilled, because I went to Norman and he said, “Well, everybody is sending their kids to Pratt Institute.” So I went to Pratt Institute, and I remember Mr. Boudreau, who was the chairman of the Illustration Department, announced to the auditorium that [dramatically] “even Norman Rockwell is sending his nephew to this school.” [mutual laughter] As I melted into the seat.
“The Drawing Board Is My Sanctuary”
“I Was Recommended To Stan Lee” JA: So you went to Timely Comics. Did you have an appointment with Stan in advance? ROCKWELL: Yes. I was recommended to Stan Lee by… oh, I can’t remember… by someone I had gone to see, an art director who said he knew a guy that I would want to see, and who gave me Stan’s name. Stan immediately put me in the Bullpen with the rest of the guys for about two months; and then, because they needed the space, they said that anybody who wanted to work at home could do that and still get a weekly check. JA: Do you remember how much you got paid as a staffer? ROCKWELL: I don’t know, but it seemed the cost of things was very—[laughs] well, I know we had a duplex apartment in St. James Place in Brooklyn. When I went down to get the job with Stan Lee, I called home to announce that I had the job. My first wife Ellen immediately announced that we were going to take an apartment down the street, and I would no longer be the super, and we would pay $65 a month for a duplex apartment. I had a studio and everything in that house, with a backyard. We paid $65 a month, so you could figure that if I was making, you know, $100 a week, I was doing very well. JA: You started out doing “Blaze Carson.” ROCKWELL: Yeah, I could draw horses because, when I was ten
A Blaze Of Glory? Splash page from Wild Western #5 (Jan. 1949). Wonder if he was any relation to Sunset Carson? Thanks to Doc V. [©2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
years old, we moved to Rochester, New York. The kids in the neighborhood all rode at a stable that was just south of the neighborhood, right in the woods there just below. So I began to ride with them, and I just loved horses and got to drawing them. So there was no problem in drawing horses when I drew Westerns. Of course, in those days, they had the pulp magazines on the newsstands, full of drybrush illustrations. That was the thing then, black-&-white drybrush. And those guys could draw horses! I loved drawing horses, so that’s why Stan gave me a Western. JA: Timely, at the time, had several editors under Stan. Was he the only editor you worked for? ROCKWELL: I remember other people and things. You came in, and there was a little desk there, and Stan’s office was behind that desk, though he was often seated out front, talking to you, and then going back in. And then you went into the large room where all of the drawing boards were. Stan was really running the whole operation there. I can’t remember if there were other editors. JA: As far as you were concerned, Stan was giving you the assignments, though. Is that right?
Rockwell Goes There Rockwell depicted Korean War action in Combat Kelly #2 (Jan. 1952). With thanks to Dr. Michael J. Vassallo. [©2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
ROCKWELL: Yes. When they let us work at home, I started working for “Busy” Arnold at Quality, too, and I did go to that office for a while.
“The Drawing Board Is My Sanctuary”
Give ’Em Hillman Though he doesn’t mention it in this interview, Dick did a fair amount of work for Hillman Periodicals, as per this quartet of splashes provided by Rod Beck. (Clockwise from above left:) Dead-Eye Western, Vol. 2, #2 (Feb-March 1951)… the odd quasi-romance radio-spinoff title Mr. Anthony’s Love Clinic, Vol. 1, #1 (Nov. ’49) (that’s the mustachioed host behind the desk)… Romantic Confessions, Vol 1, #1 (Oct. ’49)… and Western Fighters, Vol. 1, #7 (April-May ’49), with its “true story” of an outlaw who devised a bulletproof vest—as per the panel shown from a later page. Thanks to Rod Beck for the scans. [©2007 the respective copyright holders.]
[ÂŠ2007 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt!
Kooky Krossovers! (Part 2) by Michael T. Gilbert Crossovers? You want ’em, we got ’em! Last issue we presented the first part of a most unusual “Dotty and Ditto” tale, in which little girl Dot falls asleep reading a lethal combination of Archie and Black Hood comics. She wakes up to find another MLJ character, Super Duck, peering through her window. Talk about creepy! Then that daffy duck hands her a saddle for the night-MARE (as in horse!) that pops in seconds later. Her nightmare tosses Dotty far into space, where the poor girl starts hurtling towards a planet beneath her! Luckily, The Shield, MLJ’s reigning super-hero, shows up to catch Dotty in the nick of time. “Imagine being in the arms of The Shield!” sighs the smitten lass. “If Ah’m dreamin’, don’t wake me up!” We wouldn’t dream of it, Dotty! In the story’s conclusion, reprinted here, Dotty and The Shield discover the ultimate fanboy’s dream-come-true—an entire castle made out of comic books! Once inside, Dotty has a Kooky Krossover with some other MLJ comic book characters, including Suzie, The Tweedles, Wilbur, The Shield (again), Super Duck, plus Archie and Jughead, of course! At the (Right & below:) The final three pages from Pep Comics #58 (Sept. 1946) by Bill Woggon. Archie, Suzie, The Shield, and The Tweedles also had stories in the issue. [©2007 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
Comic Fandom Archive
ROBERT SCHOENFELD, R.I.P. A Tribute To The Late-1960s Editor Of On The Drawing Board & Gosh Wow!
by Bill Schelly
only talked to Bob Schoenfeld two or three times, way back in the summer of 1967, so I can’t claim to have been a friend. I was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which seemed a universe away from St. Louis, Missouri, where Bob made his home. Instead, I thought of him as a respected colleague, another fanzine publisher who was doing an excellent job at the helm of one of fandom’s most central publications.
In late 1966, Bob Schoenfeld came out of nowhere, and suddenly burst into fan-prominence as editor of On the Drawing Board, a magazine founded by Jerry Bails back in 1961. Bob came out of nowhere? Well, that’s how it seemed at the time, at least to those of us who weren’t part of the burgeoning comics scene of the Gateway City. I’m sure members of the Golden Gate Comic Art Fan Club knew Schoenfeld before he leapt to national prominence. What was soon clear to all of us was that Schoenfeld had the energy, ability, and motivation to keep that important fanzine flying high. Former editors of OTDB (as it was often abbreviated), beginning with founder Jerry Bails, had found the frequent deadlines required of a news-oriented publication extremely demanding. Glen Johnson, who took over from Jerry, has also been voluble in his recitation of the litany of problems that plagued him throughout his editorship of The Comic Reader (as it was alternately titled). Since On the Drawing Board served as the “official” instrument of the Academy of Comic Book Fans and Collectors, its editor had a tiger by the tail. After New Mexico-based Johnson ended his tenure in 1965, Derrill Rothermich had taken over the reins, and quickly realized the demand for copies required photo-offset printing. (Ditto masters could produce at most 250 copies, and demand for the zine easily topped 300 at this time.) Rothermich, an engineering college student at the School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla, Missouri, published some excellent issues of TCR through late 1965 and 1966, and then was drafted into the Army. From him, presumably because he knew the St. Louis fans, the magazine passed to the Gateway Comic Art Fan Club. One of its most active members, it turned out, was a slender, dark-haired teenager named Robert Schoenfeld.
THUNDER On The Right (& Left!) Bob Schoenfeld (on the right in photo) with artists Wally Wood and Vaughn Bodé (the latter seen from behind) at the 1968 SCARP Con in New York City— and Wood’s dynamic Dynamo back cover for the second issue of Bob’s fanzine Gosh Wow! [Dynamo TM & ©2007 John Carbonaro.]
Bob jumped into the “lion’s den” and soon proved his mettle as editor, perfecting the photo-offset look of OTDB at a time when professionally printed fanzines were few, and often bore a rudimentary appearance. In the editorial in On the Drawing Board #53 (Oct. 1966), he wrote, “This is the first issue of OTDB to be completely in the hands of the Gateway Comic Art Fan Club, and we are very anxious to know your feelings [about] our effort. There are three people to thank for this. The first is Glen Johnson, who supplied us with his old TCR subscription file, the second is Dave Kaler and the Academy for
Comic Fandom Archive
From The Drawing Board
supplying the funds necessary to finance this, and the third is Ray Fisher, a club member who is doing our printing.” He ended his first editorial by exhorting comics fans to expend more energy documenting the history of the medium. “The real superheroes are the artists and writers and their lives in the world of comics,” Bob wrote. “We have to wake up today or we may find the past forever lost to us! Or, worse yet, persons only casually interested in comics may be producing the books we should be researching and working on right now!” Over the next year, Bob saw to it that On the Drawing Board appeared near-monthly, and was a pulpit for many of the most active and vociferous comics fans. David Kaler, who had become Executive Secretary of the Academy of Comic Book Fans and Collectors, often contributed news of the New York pros, as well as Academy updates. Others such as Bill Spicer, Bob Latona, John McGeehan, and a cadre of letter-writers kept the pages of the news-zine lively, and its circulation topped 500 copies per issue before long. True, Bob’s grasp of spelling was often tenuous, and a lot of the material about the Academy was of marginal interest to some of the readership, but there was always plenty of news and information about pro comics to justify the price of 25¢ per issue (though this would go up) to any fan. Also, many of fandom’s emerging new crop of amateur artists found a showcase in its pages; that’s where folks like Alan Hutchinson, Jim Sullivan, Jim Gardner, Ken Keller, Rich Buckler, and others gained prominence in the fan firmament. Schoenfeld also published his own general interest fanzine called Gosh Wow!, which was more or less to fill the gap left when Alter Ego was on hiatus. (A/E had last appeared in 1965.)
This art from On the Drawing Board #53 & #61 (1966-67) was drawn, respectively, by fan-artists Alan Hutchinson and Rich Buckler. The cover of #53, the first “official” issue of OTDB published by the Gateway Comic Book Club, depicts Harvey’s short-lived heroes Spyman, Pirana, and Jigsaw—and The Spirit, whose adventures Harvey was then reprinting. A young, pre-pro Rich Buckler of Detroit drew Green Arrow in a Kirby mode for the cover of OTDB #61 (July 1967). [Harvey heroes TM & ©2007 Lorne-Harvey, Inc., or the respective copyright holders; The Spirit TM & ©2007 Will Eisner Studios, Inc.; Green Arrow TM & ©2007 DC Comics.]
Bob’s interests went beyond comic art. In On the Drawing Board #63 (Nov. 1967), one of the last issues of the zine published by Bob, his love of rock and roll music emerged. He wrote, “Off the subject here, I’d like to talk about something of personal interest—popular music. I’ve been a ‘more or less’ fan of rock & roll music for some time, but as of late I’ve gained a much more serious interest in view of several exciting (to me) events. To make it even more interesting I’ve discovered that many comic fans share my interest…. Mayhap a column or zine could be produced to cater to comic fans with this interest. I wouldn’t mind hearing from other R&R enthusiasts, but be warned, if you’re a Monkees fan you’d best forget it. Oh, yes, every rock & roll fan should be a regular reader of Crawdaddy—a magazine I’ve found to be the best for the rock-fan.” Though Bob (actually the Golden Gate Comic Art Fan Club) stopped publishing On the Drawing Board in 1968—it was revived as The Comic Reader that year by Mark Hanerfeld—he did publish the second issue of Gosh Wow! that summer, and attended the SCARP Con in New York City. That 1968 comicon, which stretched over five days, was the most impressive and well-attended gathering of comic fans yet, and Bob was in evidence in many of the photos taken there. The following summer saw Schoenfeld’s last comics fanzine, Gosh Wow! #3, which was comprised mainly of an article with lots of photos of the 1968 SCARP Con, and a lengthy “Moondog” strip by George Metzger. It was a slim 36-page issue, but a fine capstone to Bob’s three years as a prominent fanzine publisher. Apparently, Bob’s interest in
[Art ÂŠ2007 DC Comics.]
“Faulkner”? Yes … young member of the local Blanks family back home … pal of mine … left-handed shortstop with the Pine Street Tigers. My story, for sure!
[Art & logo ©2007 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel © & TM 2007 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 (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Dec. ’42); but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrate Captain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, and continued to do so while in the military. After leaving the service in 1944, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art and stories for them on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he created both art and story for The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics, in addition to drawing the Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip for Bell Syndicate (created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation of Wow, Swayze produced artwork for Fawcett’s top-selling line of romance comics, 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 a vital part of FCA since his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue, Marc presented another one of his syndicated strip tryouts. In this installment he discusses writing scripts for Captain Marvel.
The title of that 12-pager was “Captain Marvel and His Country Cousin” (CMA #26, Aug. 1943). By the time it appeared in print I was nestled in a Ft. Oglethorpe barracks and never certain who did the art. I’ve always thought, though, I saw in it the sense of humor and gifted hand of Ed Robbins, who was with the C.C. Beck studio in New York about that time, and later did the syndicated Mike Hammer strip. Whoever it was knew how to cartoon … and his portrayal of the two gangsters, “Number 27” and “Number 32,” was excellent. So also was the work on Captain Marvel, parading around in comical attire as a second country cousin. It wasn’t the first time he had been seen in such ridiculous array. In “Henry’s Grandmother” (CMA #14, July 1942) I had him scampering through 5 or 6 pages in a long, flowered dress! Captain Marvel was a pretty serious fellow when I first met him …
hen I was drawing Captain Marvel and had begun to toss in a story now and then, I found that, whereas it was easy to recognize your own artwork when it appeared in print, the writing was another matter. The stories, in print, were so difficult to recall that as far back as 1941 I began to tinker with little devices that might stir the memory.
An example was to include something familiar … personal … like, in one story, a street address, which had once been that of a musician pal (Captain Marvel Adventures #19, Jan. 1943 - “The Training of Mary Marvel”). A weird little urge I couldn’t resist was tacking unlikely … but familiar … names on the hoodlums. In another story … and I can’t remember which it was … I had a trio of mobsters contemplating a dangerous descent from a high perch … the leader growling to a henchman: “You go first, Woodrow!” “Woodrow” … a classmate with whom I had biked to school each day in the fifth grade! There was another story not recognized until I came upon a panel wherein lurked a pair of zoot-suited gangsters plotting to do away with Captain Marvel and friend. One furtively whispers to a crony: “Git yer blackjack out, Faulkner!”
“186 Desiard Street” Mary Marvel’s destination in her second appearance, “The Training of Mary Marvel” in Captain Marvel Adventures #19 (Jan. 1943), was in reality the address of one of Marc’s old musician pals. Script & art by Marc Swayze. [©2007 DC Comics.]
Originality In Art Essay by C.C. Beck [A previously unpublished essay from 1986 by Captain Marvel’s cocreator and chief artist—from the vaults of PCH’s Beck estate files. Since he was described and dubbed by many as a “crusty curmudgeon,” you’ll find Beck’s thought-provoking observations either hopelessly conservative … or delightfully worthwhile. —PCH.]
any years ago, when I used to go around to grade schools giving illustrated talks on comic book work, I met a teacher who told me that she wouldn’t allow her pupils to draw established comic characters but insisted that they create their own. “I insist that they learn to express themselves, not just copy other artists’ work,” she declared.
I didn’t bother to explain to this teacher that even grown artists with many years of experience have extreme difficulty in creating their own comic characters, and that children could hardly be expected to come up with new, wonderful characters which the world would welcome with open arms. There are a lot of things about art that are not worth explaining to teachers, who don’t realize what a cold, cruel world professional artists face. There are two reasons why originality in art— “expressing one’s self,” as the teacher put it—is not the great thing that many think it is. The first reason is that almost anything that anyone can come up with in art has probably been done before. As in securing a patent, originality is almost impossible to establish; somewhere, at some time or other, somebody else has probably come up with the same idea. Some ideas, like buttonholes and safety pins, are centuries old; others are like trick vegetable-slicers and electric toothbrushes, which are more trouble than they’re worth. In the field of art, airbrushes are a new invention, although their basic idea is thousands of years old. In caves studied by archeologists there are paintings and designs which were made by blowing powered pigment through a straw. When I was young, fixative was applied by blowing through a little tin apparatus we stuck into a bottle of shellac. Today’s spray cans and airbrushes are only mechanized versions of the caveman’s
Kids And Coloring Books (Above:) Two photos of Charles Clarence Beck’s “illustrated talks” to grade-schoolers, given August 23, 1979, at the Fort Meade, Florida, library. Photos scanned directly from Beck’s clippings scrapbook. (Right:) All art that accompanies this article—and the cover of this FCA section—consists of Beck’s illustrations from Fawcett Publications’ 1941 Captain Marvel Coloring Book, from pages that had previously appeared in its comics. [©2007 DC Comics.]
Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck
FCA (Fawcett Collectors Of America)
[Art on this page ÂŠ2007 DC Comics.]