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X-MEN TM & © MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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NEW MUTANTS CAPTAIN BRITAIN

X-MEN in the '70s and '80s ! X-FACTOR ! NIGHTCRAWLER ! LONGSHOT ! BEAST ! DC's Mutant, CAPTAIN COMET ! & More!


Volume 1, Number 29 August 2008

The Retro Comics Experience!

Celebrating the Best Comics of the ’70s, ’80s, and Today! EDITOR Michael Eury

BACK SEAT DRIVER: Editorial by Michael Eury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

DESIGNER Rich J. Fowlks

OFF MY CHEST: Claremont and Byrne: The Team That Made the X-Men Uncanny . . . .3 According to Al Nickerson, these were the X-Men’s MVPs

COVER ARTIST Dave Cockrum

FLASHBACK: The “Lost” Angel Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Chances are you missed these Angel solo tales—and Jerry Siegel’s rare Marvel work

COVER COLORIST Glenn Whitmore

FLASHBACK: The Beauty of the Beast: Marvel’s First Break-Out Mutant . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Hank McCoy’s jumping journey from bigfoot to furfoot

COVER DESIGNER Michael Kronenberg CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Bob Brodsky, Cookiesoup Productions PROOFREADERS John Morrow and Eric Nolen-Weathington SPECIAL THANKS Arthur Adams Roger Ash Simon Astor Terry Austin J. Ballman Mike W. Barr Alex Boney Jerry Boyd Bruce Buchanan John Byrne Glen Cadigan Timothy Callahan Dewey Cassell Rich Cirillo Don Cole Gerry Conway Brian Cronin Alan Davis J. M. DeMatteis Robert Diehl Scott Edelman Steve Englehart Tom Fleming Shane Foley Mike Gagnon Grand Comic-Book Database Jackson Guice Lawrence Guidry Bob Harras Allan Harvey Heritage Comics Auctions

R. Gary Land Bob Layton Stan Lee Nigel Lowrey David Mandel Kelvin Mao Dr. Hank McCoy Bob McLeod Marvel Comics William MessnerLoebs Al Nickerson Ann Nocenti Tom Peyer John Romita, Jr. Bob Rozakis Philip Schweier Jim Shooter Paul Smith Roger Stern Roy Thomas Mike Tiefenbacher Herb Trimpe Gerry Turnbull Mark Waid John Wells Alex Wright Eddy Zeno

PRO2PRO: Ann Nocenti and Arthur Adams Bet on a Longshot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 An interview with the happy-go-luck writer/artist duo, with ultra-rare Adams art! FLASHBACK: Mr. Smith Goes to Westchester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 A survey of Paul Smith’s short but significant X-Men run FLASHBACK: The Saga of Captain Britain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Marvel’s made-for-the UK hero and his up-and-down career SPECIAL FEATURE: Superman: The Power of Flight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Move over, mutants, as we wish the Man of Steel a big seven-oh FLASHBACK: Captain Comet: DC Comics’ Mutant Superhero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Go one step beyond with DC’s Man Out of Time GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD: Nightcrawler’s Two Dads and the Owl That Could Have Been . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 A behind-the-scenes look at X-storylines that fizzled FLASHBACK: The New Mutants: From Superhero Spin-Off to Sci-Fi/Fantasy . . . . . . . . .62 The mutating mutant team’s many metamorphoses FLASHBACK: Four Men and a Telekinetic Lady: The Birth of X-Factor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 The fab five’s reunion as mutant “mutant-hunters” INTERVIEW: The X-Traordinary John Romita, Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 A candid chat with the superstar artist about the X-Men and being a “legacy” GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD: The Secret History of All-American Comics, Inc. Woodchucks invade Bob Rozakis’ fantasy history

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BACK TALK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 Reader feedback on “Comic Book Royalty” issue #27 BACK ISSUE™ is published bimonthly by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614. Michael Eury, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: BACK ISSUE, c/o Michael Eury, Editor, 118 Edgewood Avenue NE, Concord, NC 28025. E-mail: euryman@gmail.com. Six-issue subscriptions: $40 Standard US, $54 First Class US, $66 Canada, $90 Surface International, $108 Airmail International. Please send subscription orders and funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial office. Cover art by Dave Cockrum. X-Men TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © 2008 Michael Eury and TwoMorrows Publishing. BACK ISSUE is a TM of TwoMorrows Publishing. ISSN 1932-6904. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING. M u t a n t s

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Dave Cockrum returned to the New X-Men on this variant cover for X-Men vol. 2 #100 (May 2000). Courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

PUBLISHER John Morrow


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Editor’s note: Many writers and artists have marched through the pages of X-Men, leaving their marks upon Marvel’s mutants’ mythos. But comics inker/commentator Al Nickerson believes that one creative team rules supreme, and he’d like to get his feelings off his chest… There was once a time when Marvel Comics published only one X-Men comic-book title. Hard to believe, huh? But, it’s true. Those were simpler times, when X-Men comics didn’t take up a whole wall of a comic-book store. Back then, the X-Men were outcasts. They were mutants—“feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect.” In the very late 1970s and early 1980s, reading an X-Men comic was a bit naughty, a bit rebellious. Those were the days of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men.

Al Nickerson

Classic X-Men

Claremont and Byrne made the X-Men who they are today. Their vision of the mutants is the vision that still exists. Their stories are the ones that had the greatest impact on the X-Men mythology. Where would the X-Men franchise be without the likes of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” or “Days of Future Past”? Where would the X-Men comics and other X-Men entertainment media be without the Hellfire Club, Alpha Flight, Proteus, or Kitty Pryde? Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men began with Jean Grey saving the universe from destruction. Soon after, Wolverine was duking it out with Vindicator before Mesmero captured the X-Men to appear in his circus. Things only got worse for the X-Men when they fought Magneto beneath a live volcano. The team made a trip to the Savage Land, stopped Moses Magnum from destroying Japan, and escaped from the conniving M u t a n t s

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The star-studded (literally) Claremont/ Byrne/Austin doublepage splash to X-Men #137 (Sept. 1980). Courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Arcade. The X-Men battled and destroyed the mutant Proteus. They saved Jean Grey from Mastermind and the Hellfire Club. Afterward, Jean Grey turned into the evil Dark Phoenix, and out of hunger consumed a star, which resulted in the death of an alien race. Such an act put Jean on trial before an extraterrestrial court, where she was sentenced to death. To save Jean Grey, the X-Men fought the Imperial Guard, lost, and watched Jean (Phoenix) commit suicide. Through their loss, the X-Men joined Alpha Flight to track down the beast Wendigo. They defeated the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants which, in turn, prevented an apocalyptic future (for mutants, anyway) from happening. Finally, Kitty Pryde wrecked the Danger Room while trying to survive an attack from an ugly monster. Sounds like a lot of fun comics, huh? But, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

MEET THE MUTANTS

The original X-Men were created by (writer) Stan Lee and (penciler) Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963). Along with their teacher, Professor Charles Xavier (a.k.a. Professor X), the team of mutants included Cyclops (Scott Summers), Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Iceman (Bobby Drake), Angel (Warren Worthington III), and the Beast (Hank McCoy). Never an A-list Marvel series, X-Men became a reprint title in 1970 and limped along for the next half-decade. With Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975), writer Len Wein and penciler Dave Cockrum introduced a new team of X-Men. The new members were Wolverine (Logan, later revealed to be James Howlett), Storm (Ororo Munroe), Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), Colossus (Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin), Banshee (Sean Cassidy), Thunderbird (John Proudstar), and Sunfire (Shiro Yoshida). One original X-Man, Cyclops, led the new group of X-Men.

© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

First Byrne X-Cover From Heritage’s awesome art archives comes the first X-Men cover penciled by John Byrne, from issue #113; inks by Bob Layton. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

The new X-Men’s adventures continued within the ongoing series as of X-Men #94 (Aug. 1975). Issue #94 happened to be Chris Claremont’s first issue as writer. Thus began a decades-long writing stint for Claremont on various X-Men comic-book series, spin-offs, and miniseries including The New Mutants, Wolverine, Excalibur, (the adjective-less) X-Men, X-Treme X-Men, Exiles, and New Excalibur.

ALONG CAME JOHN BYRNE

John Byrne came on board as penciler with X-Men #108 (Dec. 1977). Now, this wasn’t the first project that Byrne and Chris Claremont had worked on together. Previously, the two creators teamed up in 1975 on Iron Fist, beginning with Marvel Premiere #25. How did Byrne get the penciling gig on X-Men? “I was a big fan of Chris and Dave [Cockrum]’s work on the title,” Byrne explains. “Basically, I made it known around the [Marvel] office that if Dave ever left and the assignment didn’t come to me, the halls would run red with blood.” Byrne got his wish: Dave Cockrum left X-Men. “Unfortunately, since he was doing such a great job,” says Byrne, “Dave was simply unable to handle the demands of a monthly, and Marvel desperately wanted X-Men to go monthly.” Of course, taking over for an artist as great as Dave Cockrum can be a bit unnerving, as Byrne found out: “I was terrified about replacing Dave. I was and am a huge fan of his work. Plus, the book was really his book, even more than it was Chris’. When I got the assignment, I asked that Sam Grainger continue as inker, so as to ‘soften the blow’ for the devoted fans.” That idea was editorially rejected. Terry Austin became Byrne’s inker on Byrne’s first issue. Byrne and Austin’s collaborative artwork was a huge hit amongst comic-book fans. In fact, so great was the art of Byrne and Austin’s X-Men that it inspired me to become a comic-book inker. Anyway … I digress. There were many characters for Byrne to pencil in X-Men #108. He had to not only draw the X-Men, but also the Star Jammers and the Imperial Guard, as well. Was that much of a challenge for the new X-Men penciler? You better believe it! Byrne felt that drawing all of those characters was a “pain in the posterior! I was never a Legion of Super-Heroes fan, so I had no ‘feel’ for the [character-heavy, galactic] Imperial Guard, and the plot—which was still pretty detailed in those days—was such that I had to draw what seemed like 15 characters in every shot.” And so began Byrne’s steady run on X-Men. Well, except for a fill-in issue by Dave Cockrum, that is. Two issues later, X-Men #110 (Apr. 1978) was illustrated by Dave Cockrum and Tony DeZuniga. Why is it that Byrne and Austin didn’t illustrate that particular issue? According to Byrne, X-Men #110 “was an inventory issue that, for various arcane reasons, had to be used within a specific period. So what should have been my third issue became a fill-in.”

MAGNETO

In X-Men #112 and 113 (Aug. and Sept. 1978), things became very interesting for the X-Men when Magneto showed up. The X-Men battled the team’s oldest foe underneath a live volcano. Magneto slapped around the X-Men fairly easily—which wasn’t too surprising, of course. Magneto was superpowerful. Also, one of his mutant abilities was to manipulate metal, so what 4

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Dewey Cassell

Okay, “lost” is probably too strong a word. “Misplaced for a time” is probably a more accurate description. But amidst the myriad Marvel X-Men lore, there are a couple of solo Angel stories that are often overlooked. Nineteen seventy was a year of change for Marvel Comics. Jack Kirby left the House of Ideas for the Distinguished Competition. Marvel introduced new titles like Conan the Barbarian, but some of the old ones were struggling, among them X-Men. Issue #66 of X-Men would be the last with new, original stories until the book was re-launched with a new team in issue #94. In the interim, X-Men became a reprint book. Why didn’t Marvel just cancel the title? Former Marvel editor Roy Thomas, who was writing X-Men at the time, offers an explanation: “Though I wasn’t told the rationale for the continuation of X-Men as a reprint title, I believe it reflects the fact that the issues I did with Neal Adams (and for that matter, with Don Heck/Tom Palmer and Sal Buscema) sold better than what had come before by Werner Roth and other artists. So [publisher] Martin Goodman must’ve figured that X-Men was worth continuing, just not worth buying new stories for.” That didn’t mean, however, that there would be no new stories featuring the X-Men during the intervening five years. In fact, there were numerous stories that featured appearances by one or more of the X-Men between March 1970 and May 1975, including Amazing Spider-Man #92, Avengers #88, Amazing Adventures #11–17, The Incredible Hulk #150, and others. But the one that frequently gets left off the list was actually the first new, original X-Men story to appear after X-Men #66. It was a three-part solo story featuring the Angel that appeared as a backup in Ka-Zar #2–3 and Marvel Tales #30.

You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly With its author’s name misspelled in the credits, the Angel splash page from Ka-Zar #2 (Dec. 1970). © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

“In the Den of the Dazzler” Ka-Zar #3’s cliffhanger, by Jerry Siegel, George Tuska, and Dick Ayers. All art scans in this article are courtesy of writer Dewey Cassell. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Alex Boney

It’s hard to imagine that a character with such an inauspicious beginning would go on to become one of the most ubiquitous characters in the Marvel Universe. It’s also hard to believe that the character with the most prolific vocabulary in the Marvel Universe has also become one of the most popular and recognizable. But such is the case with Henry “Hank” McCoy, the Beast of X-Men fame. Beast has been many things during his 45-year history. He began as a very human-looking mutant whose large hands and feet were his primary distinguishing characteristics. But a decade later, his physical appearance had been so drastically altered that he could no longer pass as anything other than a mutant. Hank McCoy has been an intellectual, a hopeless romantic, a tragic hero, and a merry prankster. Beast has been a member of the X-Men (uncanny, astonishing, “x-treme,” new, and eponymous), the Avengers, the Defenders, and X-Factor/ X-Force. But he’s also managed to retain a sense of individuality, focus, and solitude that allowed him to find a cure for the dreaded Legacy Virus. Hank McCoy has been many things, but he has never been stagnant or nondescript. In fact, as the rest of his original team was fading from many readers’ memories, Beast emerged from relative obscurity as the most transformed, multi-layered personality on his original team. And it’s precisely this complexity and unwillingness to sit still that makes Beast the first truly break-out mutant of the X-Men legacy.

BESTIAL BEGINNINGS

Beast is most closely associated with the X-Men because that was the team with whom he first appeared. Along with Scott “Cyclops” Summers, Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, and Warren “Angel” Worthington III, Hank was one of the founding members of the original X-Men unit that first

The Beast Busts Loose Hank McCoy (seen in a panel from Defenders #131, contributed by Simon Astor) was the first X-Man to make it on his own. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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appeared. In X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963), Hank is already a member of the core group Professor X has assembled. The only new member added to the team in that first issue was Jean Grey. The X-Men are all teenagers, and they are portrayed as typical teenagers by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The boys act like boys; they play, tease, and compete with each other, and they’re all hormonally distracted when Jean joins the group. Each of the members has some sort of distinctive personality trait. Scott is sullen and withdrawn, Bobby is brash and petulant, Warren is aristocratic and aloof, Hank is bullish and verbose, and Jean is … well, the girl. (This was the early ’60s, after all. Further in-depth characterization was neither needed nor expected.) Scott is the outsider, while Hank and Bobby have an antagonistic relationship similar to that of Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four. But while Lee and Kirby (and the teams that followed them) tried to flesh out the characters throughout the first incarnation of the X-Men, the team never quite gelled. The team dynamics were, perhaps, a little too similar to the team dynamics in other, more successful Marvel books. And while each of the X-Men had clearly identifiable physical traits, they were often indistinguishable from one another when it came to action and personality. Although X-Men never quite captured readers’ imaginations during its initial 1960s run, the book did establish many of the elements that would make Beast a distinctive character in later years. In X-Men #8 (Nov. 1964), Hank becomes bitter after he and Bobby are attacked by an ungrateful anti-mutant mob. He decides to quit the team for reasons that would become a staple X-Men theme for decades to come: “I’m through risking my life for humans … for the same humans who fear us, hate us, want to destroy us! I think Magneto and his Evil Mutants are right … homo sapiens just aren’t worth it! … From now on I’ll use my powers to help just one person … Henry McCoy … yours truly! The human race can go fly a kite!” After a short-lived, failed stint as a professional wrestler, Hank rejoins the team to help them defeat the villain who bested him in the wrestling ring. Hank was rarely depicted as angry or reclusive, though. His departure in

Footsoldier Detail from the Jack Kirby/Chic Stonedrawn cover to X-Men #8, showing Beast’s pre-fur appearance. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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X-Men #8 would mark the last time he would walk away from a team out of anger or resentment. In fact, Hank was written as an extroverted, well-adjusted social creature from his earliest days. In X-Men #14 (Nov. 1965), Stan Lee writes a scene in which Hank and Bobby are hanging out, watching dancers, and listening to beat poetry at a Greenwich Village coffee shop they frequent named Coffee A-Go-Go. The scene shows that the teens are tapped into the social scene of their age, but it also shows Beast’s proclivity toward forming tight bonds with group members. He also has a tendency to form deep and lasting relationships with women. Four issues later, in X-Men #18, Hank begins dating a woman named Vera Cantor, who would last as an on-and-off girlfriend for years. As his origin story (serialized in 1968’s X-Men #49–53) explains, this social networking is nothing new for Hank. As a bookworm-turned-athlete who walks around with girls on his arms, Hank helped his high school football team turn around a losing season. But while Beast is the strongest, most acrobatic and agile member of the X-Men, he is truly an intellectual at heart. In his early years with the X-Men, Hank frequently used big words and lofty rhetoric to mask the insecurities he had about his physical appearance. In a telling scene from X-Men #31, Hank thinks to himself, “Special socks … over-sized shoes … this being a mutant isn’t all one might hope! Mutant! It’s only here that the word can be spoken without arousing fear—and hatred! Here—I’m a mutant … an X-Man! Out there, I’m nothing but a misshapen freak … or worse! So, I take refuge behind a vocabulary … and would give half my life if I could have been born … a mere Homo Sapiens!” Hank was the resident genius of the group—a Renaissance man who was not only a brilliant scientist and inventor, but also a deep thinker who appreciated the arts. He frequently referenced Shakespeare and used polysyllabic words as barbs of distraction during battles. While the budding romance between Scott Summers and Jean Grey and the frequent manipulations of Professor X provided most of the dramatic tension of X-Men, Beast emerged from the book as perhaps the most fully formed character in the series. Unfortunately, very few of the developments made by the creative teams during the first X-Men run took root. Even the scriptwork of Roy Thomas and Denny O’Neil and the artwork of Neal Adams weren’t enough to keep the book afloat amid slumping sales. X-Men #66 (Mar. 1970) was the last issue of new X-Men material for the next five years. But while many of his teammates stayed locked in the ignominious cycle of reprint limbo, it took only two years for Hank McCoy to be pulled back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe.

SOLO ACT

“It was Roy [Thomas]’s idea,” explains Gerry Conway. “We were looking to use one of the X-Men to fill a slot in Amazing Adventures, and Roy had a fondness for Beast because of his time writing him in X-Men. Beast was the most interesting character of all of them, and he probably had the most potential and the best chance of carrying his own book.” That potential would be tapped beginning with Amazing Adventures #11 (Mar. 1972), which featured not so much Hank McCoy’s reemergence as the Beast, but rather the


In 1985, Marvel published Longshot, a miniseries by a young team of creators, writer/editor Ann Nocenti and artist Arthur Adams. Longshot, and villains Mojo and Spiral, would continue to pop up in the X-books for the rest of the decade. Was this some grand scheme or just plain luck? Since Longshot’s powers are based on luck, I wouldn’t discount that second option. Since that time, Ann has moved on to the worlds of journalism and film, while Arthur has become a fan-favorite artist. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ann and Arthur about Longshot. It soon became apparent that the best thing for me to do was sit back and listen while these two friends joked and reminisced. And occasionally throw out a question to keep things moving. Oh, and laugh. We laughed through most of the interview. If you read something that makes you think, “How could they say that?,” it was probably a joke. – Roger Ash ANN NOCENTI: You want to know about this guy we created years ago. Long something? Short shot? Was that his name? ARTHUR ADAMS: Oh, be respectful. Shocked! I’m shocked by your behavior. [laughter] Are you done? NOCENTI: I loved Longshot. I still love Longshot. He bought me my first computer. ADAMS: He did not buy me my first computer. NOCENTI: Yeah, he did. ADAMS: Okay, then. Yes, he did. NOCENTI: He bought you a few toys. ADAMS: That’s true. It always takes me a while to get the sensible toys. NOCENTI: So what happened to Longshot? Does he still exist? ADAMS: I think so. I think he shows up every once in a while. People try to bring him back and they just don’t get whatever we had going on. I don’t even know if we knew what we were doing. NOCENTI: It was just this amazing synergy between the two of us because we were so stupid and so idiotic and so clueless that we created something that can only exist again when two equally clueless and idiotic people get together. ADAMS: I think you’ve actually found the answer. I don’t know if we should have given the answer away, though. NOCENTI: We tried to revive him once. I wrote a plot. You did storyboards. ADAMS: I remember I drew some extra stuff. NOCENTI: I wrote a ton of stuff. Piles of boring crap. Then you turned it into something. ADAMS: I don’t remember it being boring crap. I remember it being confusing crap. NOCENTI: Why is anyone interested in Longshot? He’s like, so, 5,000 years ago? ADAMS: Everything old is new again at some point. NOCENTI: Ah! Let’s see if Roger has any questions for us. ADAMS: That’s a good idea. [laughter]

Lucky Mutant Arthur Adams’ pitch art for the Longshot series, courtesy of David Mandel. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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ROGER ASH: What can you tell me about the creation of Longshot? ADAMS: It was actually my very first comic-book job. Ann had written the script. I guess it had something to do with how you could become an editor at Marvel. You had to have made up a character for Marvel. Was that it? NOCENTI: No. Not at all. Back then they encouraged the editors to write. They wanted us to know both sides of the fence, which is very smart. I do know that I wrote what they call a bible, which was a really confusing, over-written tome on the deep roots of Longshot. [Editor] Louise Jones [later Simonson] really liked the idea. Carl Potts was there at the time and he hated the idea. He was obsessed with “How do the powers work? Where do the powers come from?” I was like, “I don’t know, he’s just lucky.” I had to write up this whole thing. We had one of his eyes glowing and Carl was like, “Why does it glow?” I was like, “I don’t know. I just want it to glow because I have a cat with one eye. At night I see him in the dark and his eye glows.” ADAMS: You never said that before. That’s terrifying! NOCENTI: I was living in a loft on 26th and Sixth and we had a one-eyed cat. I’d go out at night and I’d see this one eye. I thought, “It would be cool for a superhero to have one glowing eye.” And Carl would say, “But how does it glow and why?” ADAMS: That sounds like Carl. NOCENTI: Didn’t we say it glows when he’s lucky? ADAMS: When he’s using his powers for good... NOCENTI: When he’s being good. When he’s being bad, it goes dark. ADAMS: Exactly. If he was going to do something bad with his luck, then he would have bad luck. NOCENTI: These are the things I don’t really remember because we wrote it all up, and then I don’t know if we ever used any of it. ADAMS: I think when it started out it was intended to be a series, but I was so darn slow that at some point we thought, “This is a miniseries.” NOCENTI: The last issues were so dense because we had to wrap everything up really fast. It’s like the end of The Big Sleep where they just stand around and explain all the plots for three hours. ADAMS: Yeah. I remember it was supposed to be tied in with another book called Spellbinder, and that never worked out. Again, because I was so darn slow. NOCENTI: I don’t even remember that. I do remember that we were looking for an artist. This I will never forget. We got these three pages of blue-pencils [from Arthur] and it was the Beast washing dishes with someone. Who was he washing dishes with? ADAMS: I can’t remember now. Iceman or something. NOCENTI: They were washing dishes and they were amazing. I’m not being some kind of ass kisser here, but they were amazing. As soon as Carl Potts, Louise Jones, and I saw them, we were like, “Oh my God, oh my God.” Then the smarter, wiser heads there were like, “But can he draw on deadline? Can he do more than three pages? How can we give this total unknown a series?” Louise Jones is amazing because she has some kind of power of hypnotism over people. She talks people into doing things like jump off bridges and they think they’re doing it because they wanted to. ADAMS: Not only could she talk someone into jumping off a bridge and tell them that it was good for them, it would turn out to be good for them.

Beginnings: Writer of “The Streak” in Marvel’s Bizarre Adventures #32 (Aug. 1982), with art by Greg LaRocque

Milestones: Writer: Longshot / Daredevil / Someplace Strange graphic novel / Kid Eternity Editor: New Mutants / Uncanny X-Men / movie journalism for Scenario magazine

Works in Progress: Screenplay for Patriotville / a documentary filmed in Baluchistan (see http://brooklynrail.org/2006/ 12/express/letter-from-baluchistan for an article Ann wrote about the experience) / writer/editor at Stop Smiling magazine / writer for Print, Heeb, Details, Filmmaker, and many other mags / a short comic coming next year in a literary journal called Kean Review

ANN NOCENTI

Beginnings: Farrah Foxette pinup in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew (1983)

Milestones: Longshot / Action Comics Annual and covers / Gumby’s Summer and Winter Fun Specials / Uncanny X-Men Annuals / Fantastic Four / Godzilla / Creature from the Black Lagoon / Monkeyman & O’Brien / The Authority / Jonni Future in Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales / Modern Masters vol. 6

Works in Progress: Covers for Incredible Hercules, Avengers Classic, and other series

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Philip Schweier

Usually, when a comic book undergoes an art change, there is a hiccup in sales, especially on bestselling titles. Artist Paul “Smitty” Smith’s time on the Uncanny X-Men during the early to mid-1980s was a fertile period for the Marvel Comics franchise. With the significant growth in the X-Men lore that was taking place at the time, lesser artists may have noticeably struggled to keep up. Now, over twenty years after Smith’s X-Men, the artist’s brief run is remembered as a significant period in the history of Marvel’s merry mutants. Though invited to be interviewed for this story, Smith declined, saying, “I’ve nothing new, pithy, or perspicacious to add. I’m beginning to think Ditko’s right. If the work doesn’t speak for itself then there’s nothing else to say.” Paul Smith began his career as an artist working for Ralph Bakshi on his 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. But in his younger days, Smith grew up on the like of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man and Neal Adams’ Batman. Entering the comic-book field seemed inevitable. Following a series of early 1980s fill-ins on various Marvel titles, including the final chapter of a fourpart X-Men story in Marvel Fanfare #4 (Sept. 1982), Smith was named regular artist for Dr. Strange beginning with #56 (Dec. 1982). However, after only two issues of Strange, he left the book to replace penciler Dave Cockrum on Uncanny X-Men, Marvel’s top-selling title, beginning with issue #165 (Jan. 1983). Smith’s tenure begins mid-arc, as the X-Men are in the midst of escaping from the Brood. Written by veteran scribe Chris Claremont, this is the storyline that introduces the bug-like aliens that have implanted the mutant team with eggs which will eventually turn them into Brood creatures. Wolverine’s healing factor kicks in, eliminating the egg from his body, though not without a great deal of torment. He manages to free his teammates from the Brood world, and the X-Men take the battle to their enemy in Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb. 1983) before returning home to Earth. This issue also introduces Kitty Pryde’s pet dragon, Lockheed. Smith’s rendering of the characters was very smooth and polished, with a minimum of line suggestive of his animation background. Character movement

In the Brood Paul Smith’s original cover art to Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb. 1983), from the David Mandel collection. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Nigel Lowrey

Superheroes! They dominate the American comics industry but are rarely created in other countries, with US editions being licensed for translated versions instead. Perhaps the most successful superhero to debut outside of America was a distant cousin, Captain Britain! American superhero comic strips had been reprinted in the United Kingdom since the 1940s, but never really gained much popularity (with the possible exception of the original Captain Marvel, whose continued popularity led to the creation of Marvelman—later Miracleman— to fill the void when Fawcett ceased publishing new comic material), and Marvel’s superheroes were briefly licensed in the 1960s before dying a quick death. American editions had been available for years in the UK, but distribution was always very poor until the early 1970s, when Marvel and DC comic books began appearing alongside British comics with regularity for the first time. Marvel capitalized on this stabilizing market by expanding its growing British fan base and formed Marvel London (later Marvel UK) in 1973 to publish its own line of comics instead of licensing out their properties. Marvel UK was essentially a production house run by a skeleton crew (including future Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant), established to reprint American material in black-and-white, magazine-sized weekly anthologies. Editorial pieces, covers, and the occasional pinup were the only newly created content, and artists in the American bullpen even created many of those. While the first two launches, Mighty World of Marvel and Spider-Man Comic, enjoyed years of publication, most of the titles created later struggled to survive and were incorporated into other titles.

THE NEWEST—AND GREATEST— SUPERHERO OF ALL!

A major format shift was ushered in when Captain Britain #1 launched in 1976 (cover-dated the week ending Oct. 13th). The first issue included a cardboard Captain Britain (CB) mask as a free gift, novelty freebies being a tradition with British comic launches (a CB boomerang came with #2!). The comic had three unique selling points for the time: newly originated material featuring an original “homegrown” British superhero and mostly color interiors. Full-color Jim Steranko “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” strips and Stan Lee/John Buscema Fantastic Four stories (presented in black and white) were the backups for the main CB strip, printed in seven- or eightpage color instalments. These sections were created Stateside under the supervision of editor Larry Lieber before being shipped over to the UK for publication. Noted X-Men writer Chris Claremont was awarded scripting duties, allegedly because he had spent a few months in the UK as a child when his father was stationed there, and the art was initially split between penciler Herb Trimpe and inker Fred Kida, with Marie Severin coloring.

“A Good Egg” A Marvel UK house ad trumpeting the coming of Captain Britain. Courtesy of Gerry Turnbull. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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The Coming of Captain Britain (photo, left) Even Stan “the Man” Lee reads Captain Britain, as hyped in the fanzine FOOM #17 (Mar. 1977). (below left) The team of Claremont, Trimpe, and Kida continued Captain Britain’s origin in issue #2 (Oct. 20, 1976). © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Although there had been an earlier attempt a few years before to create a British superhero comic called Captain Britain by publisher IPC (which was ultimately aborted because British comic creators at the time couldn’t produce any material on a par with the American superhero fare), it was developed under a codename to fool rival publisher D. C. Thomson and had no comparison to the eventual Marvel version. The official Captain Britain himself came from the Captain America/Daredevil mold of heroes (while emulating Spider-Man’s cast of supporting characters), a normal person with enhanced agility and a non-fatal weapon, a red, white, and blue extendible quarterstaff capable of projecting force fields— it also provided CB with fast transportation by allowing him to pole vault into action! CB’s origin was spread over the first two issues and introduced blond-haired Brian Braddock, a Thames University physics student working between terms at Darkmoor Research Centre, researching nuclear alternatives to the energy crisis. When an industrialist named Joshua Stragg attacks the center and his armored henchmen begin killing all the staff, Braddock escapes on a motorcycle but comes off the road, tumbling down a hillside and finding himself facing the apparition of the fabled Merlyn and his raven-haired daughter Roma, who loom over a ring of Neolithic stones. This area is the Siege Perilous, a magical nexus under the control of Merlyn, and one central stone has a necklace (the Amulet of Right) hung around it, while another has a blade (the Sword of Might) embedded in it. Merlyn commands Braddock to choose one with the fate of all life on Earth depending on his decision. As he is not a killer, Braddock chooses the amulet over the sword and is transformed into Captain Britain. Garbed in red spandex emblazoned with a yellow lion chest emblem and sporting a mask trimmed with the union flag (which is technically only the union jack when hoisted above a ship, pedantic ones), CB quickly takes down Stragg (who pulls the sword out of the Siege Perilous and is transformed into the armored Reaver) before accepting Merlyn’s offer of becoming his champion against evil. So begins Captain Britain’s superhero career. He fought such enemies as the turbinepowered criminal Hurricane and the illusionist Dr. Synne, who was powered by Mastermind, a machine built by CB’s late father in the bowels of the Malden, Essex, family home, Braddock Manor. With #11 (Dec. 2, 1976), writer Gary Friedrich replaced Claremont, who had managed to introduce CB’s love interest Courtney Ross and superhero-hating J. Jonah Jameson-like Inspector Dai Thomas in #3, as well as CB’s blonde sister Betsy in #8 and older brother Jamie in #9. The strip officially joined mainstream Marvel continuity when Captain America arrived in #16, closely followed by the Red Skull and Nick Fury. Thirty years on, Herb Trimpe has only distant memories of the strip, which was just another assignment for him. “It was extra work and I did it for the money,” recalls the artist, also famous for his 1970s Hulk run. “For me, eight pages of CB was two days work and that was it. I was mostly doing tight layouts, which could be done fairly quickly. I learned at the feet of 3 6

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Eddy Zeno

THE POWER OF FLIGHT

As depicted in early drawings and paintings, angels, or mythological figures such as Daedalus and his son Icarus, tended to have wings and were generally seen fluttering and floating. An illustration of a man “flying” by dropping through the air with a parachute appeared in the 1470s, slightly before Leonardo da Vinci made a similar drawing. In the late 1920s, authors E. E. “Doc” Smith and Philip Francis Nolan’s characters, the Skylark of Space and Buck Rogers, were depicted with nuclear belt and jet pack, respectively. Because external devices were levitating these fellows, they could hold down a button or simply relax in order to be propelled. Originally able to leap only an eighth of a mile when Superman first appeared in 1938, it wasn’t long before he gained the ability to ascend through the heavens under his own power. A new language in art was demanded as the hero had to solely use his body to make the notion of flight seem plausible. A flowing cape helped as arms extended overhead and ankles pointed toeward. Though early artists showed the pioneering Man of Steel jumping, running, or swimming through the air, angles gradually began to change and perspectives were heightened. With a desire to make the storytelling more dynamic, experimentation with images continued during the Bronze Age of comics and beyond. Superman’s ability to soar is celebrated by various artists who worked on the hero from the 1970s to the end of the 20th century in this 70th birthday tribute to the Action Ace. Curt Swan was associated with the character longer than any other illustrator, but his contemporaries like Kurt Schaffenberger, Jim Mooney, Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, Gil Kane, and George Tuska also spent notable stints with the Man of Tomorrow (and other members of the Superman Family) during their later careers. José Luis García-López first drew the Caped Kryptonian in 1977 and was a forerunner of those who ushered in a new era, beginning with John Byrne in 1986. Jerry Ordway followed in January 1987, trailed by Kerry Gammill, Dan Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove, and a host of others. With an increasing diversity of styles, a painter named Alex Ross and the manga-influenced Ed McGuinness were two who helped close out the 1990s and moved the hero into the new millennium. Images which span three decades highlight the similarities, the influences, and the magic of these gentlemen’s work. Though a handful of the following illustrations were created after century’s end, each artist’s initial impact on the Man of Steel occurred prior to that. If there are separate inkers, they are listed after the pencilers. Many thanks go to the fine folks who sent scans or sent copies of the originals to make this article possible (with special thanks to original-art dealer Tom Fleming at Fanfare Sports & Entertainment, Inc.). Finally, apologies are extended to the numerous Superman delineators of years past whose works could not be featured. Superman and related characters TM & © 2008 DC Comics. Wizard TM & © 2008 Wizard Entertainment. Beetle Bailey TM & © 2008 King Features Syndicate.

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A 1983 Bob McLeod Superman commission.

LEAP-FLIGHT, LIKE THE OLD DAYS (below) Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, panel from page 7, second story, Action Comics #393 (Oct. 1970).


SIMILARITIES, INFLUENCES

(above left) Alex Ross, pencil preliminary, Superman: Peace on Earth graphic novel (Jan. 1999); and (above right) Kurt Schaffenberger, Superboy commission, circa early 1980s. (far left) Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, panel from page 1, Action Comics #544 (June 1983); and (left) Paul Ryan and Tom Simmons, page 5, first story, Superman: Secret Files and Origins # 2 (May 1999). (below left) Kurt Schaffenberger, panel from page 9, The New Adventures of Superboy #32 (Aug. 1982); and (below right) Jose Delbo and Sal Trapani, page 5, panel from The World’s Greatest Superheroes daily newspaper strip (Aug. 6, 1983). (bottom left) Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, panel from page 7, Action Comics #505 (Mar. 1980); and (bottom right) Jon Bogdanove and Bob McLeod, page 5, panel from page 19, Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (Nov. 1992).

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John Wells

He was the pinnacle in human evolution, the standard by which humans of the future would be measured. Small wonder, then, that Captain Comet was disappointed by how little mankind had evolved when he set foot on Earth’s soil again in 1976. Mutants—men and women born with strange abilities—have long been a science-fiction staple, typified by 1940s DC characters like Alfred Bester’s reality-warping Albert Zero (Green Lantern #15) and Gardner Fox’s Evart Keenan (All-Flash #11, 23; Flash Comics #52). So Professor Emery Zackro knew what he was talking about when he identified amazing college student Adam Blake as a mutant and confirmed that the comet that burned across the sky on the night of the young man’s birth had been prophetic. Unlike Keenan (with powers of a man a million years hence), young Adam only had the abilities of a man destined to exist 100,000 years in the future but that was more than enough. A bright red costume. A thwarted alien invasion. Captain Comet was up and running in Strange Adventures #9–10 (June–July 1951). Captain Comet’s 38-issue run in Strange Adventures— 25 of them as the cover feature—is one of the great pleasures of DC’s early-1950s output, an oasis in an era all-but-devoid of superheroes. Created by writer John Broome and artists Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs, the strip will forever associated with the artist who took over with #12—Murphy Anderson. Under Anderson’s polished pen, Captain Comet appeared through #44 with final episodes appearing in #46 and 49 in 1954. From Guardians of the Universe and evil super-apes to phantom prizefighters and cosmic chessboards, the adventures of the so-called Man of Destiny were a glimpse into the future of the DC Universe, a virtual microcosm of concepts that editor Julius Schwartz and company would bring to fruition in the 1960s.

Feed Me, Seymour! DC Comics’ most famous mutant began his career in the 1950s, fighting aliens and, sometimes, plants gone bad, as on this cover to Strange Adventures #44 (May 1954), drawn by the incomparable Murphy Anderson. TM & © 2008 DC Comics.

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MAN OUT OF TIME

In Cap’s absence, the periodic mutant—some plausible, most silly—popped up in later DC comics (such as Batman #165, Challengers of the Unknown #43, Aquaman #23 and 38, Doom Patrol #115 and 116, and Superman #248 and 265), with reprints of old Captain Comet tales interspersed among them (in 1968’s Justice League of America #60 and 1971’s Superman #244 and World’s Finest #204). It took Marvel’s X-Men in 1963 to cement in readers’ minds the notion of someone being born a mutant. A year after the latter were revitalized in Giant-Size X-Men #1, their DC counterpart staged his own return (neatly sandwiched between reprints in DC Super-Stars #4 and 6). Like Captain America and then-recent DC revival Captain Marvel, Adam Blake was a man out of time, having left Earth twenty years earlier. “He was so far beyond mankind intellectually,” it was explained, “he felt lost on our world and so he went starward, seeking his destiny and ultimately, himself.” Whether or not he succeeded, Cap returned to Earth in 1976, discovering his mid-1950s fashions were no longer in style and that there was now a plethora of costumed heroes and villains to contend with. The hook in Secret Society of Super-Villains #2 (July–Aug. 1976, co-written by Gerry Conway and David Anthony Kraft) was that Comet didn’t know which was which and he unwittingly helped two SSOSV members defeat Green Lantern. (If it seems odd that Cap had never heard of the Green Lantern Corps, recall what Douglas Adams once said: “Space is big.”) The Society, augmented by Gorilla Grodd’s telepathic shielding, imagined they had a prize dupe in Captain Comet. The hero’s own mental abilities soundly trumped the super-gorilla’s, though, and he played them before shifting from double-agent to implacable foe in issue #5.

© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

The Golden and Silver Ages of DC Mutants Two of DC’s other little-known mutants: Evart Keenan, from All-Flash #11 (July–Aug. 1943), and Governor Andrew Warner, who mutated into “The Man Who Quit the Human Race!” in Batman #165 (Aug. 1964). TM & © DC Comics.

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“I felt—rightly or wrongly—that the readers needed an heroic rooting interest in a book that otherwise would have focused exclusively on the bad guys,” Gerry Conway explains. “In retrospect it might have been fun, and an interesting departure, to see things entirely from the villains’ point of view, but in 1976 that wasn’t really an option. (I’d like to think I’d do it differently today.) I chose Captain Comet as the resident good guy because he didn’t have any other attachments in the DC Universe, and theoretically that meant I could develop the character however I wanted. I had a pretty extensive collection of Strange Adventures at the time, so I was pretty familiar with the character as he’d appeared before.” For drama’s sake, Cap’s powers were reduced from 1950s heights that included extraordinary strength, stamina, invulnerability, intangibility, and adaptation to any physical threat thrown at him. With just one-tenth of Superman-level strength, Comet’s telepathy and telekinesis, at least, remained at the forefront of his abilities. Still, he now had one power never evidenced in his original series: Cap could fly, leaving a trademark comet trail in his wake! His Cometeer rocketship remained for long-range space travel, but he could now throw a bubble of air around himself to breathe in the vacuum. Visually, Comet’s costume was tweaked as well, including the addition of a comet icon to his chest. “We wanted to update it to the current style of superhero costume design (getting rid of the suspenders in particular, and giving him some kind of chest symbol),” Conway recalls. “I don’t recall who did the actual design. At that time I often drew primitive sketches for new characters myself, so I might have done it. But I’m guessing it was probably Al Milgrom; he and I worked on quite a few projects together during that period.”


by

Timothy Callahan

When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963), they surely didn’t have any idea that an intricate—some might say nearly impenetrable—web of relationships would form around the concept of a school for superpowered youngsters. The small original group (Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Marvel Girl) has expanded to hundreds of combined members in groups like X-Men, Young X-Men, X-Force, X-Statix, X-Factor, and even X-Babies. With such a diverse cast of characters spread across time zones, timelines, and alternate realities, it’s inevitable that some of the characters would find out that they have more in common than just the letter “X” in front of their team names. Out of all the X-Men, though, none has led to as much speculation about parentage as the swashbuckling teleporter known as Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler “BAMFed” onto the comics scene in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975) as a self-professed “carnival freak” named Kurt Wagner, chased by an archetypal, torchwielding mob through the streets of Winzeldorf, Germany. Visually, a creation of artist Dave Cockrum— and one that Cockrum had intended to use, in a slightly different form, during his earlier run on DC Comics’ Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes series—Nightcrawler was the most exotic addition to the “All-New, All-Different” team. Other new characters featured strange accents (Russian! Canadian!) or non-Caucasian skin-tones (African! Native American!), but none combined the two into a more bizarre, unheroic-looking form as the blue-skinned, two-fingered, pointy-tailed Nightcrawler. Fans couldn’t help but wonder if there was something mysterious about Nightcrawler’s past. He certainly looked less human than the other mutant characters—even the furry, blue Beast started out as a relatively normal-looking, if extra-bulky, character—and Nightcrawler’s strange feet (were they hooves?) and appendages (what kind of superhero has a demon tail?) seemed to suggest that he was more than just your average mutant from the wild streets of Germany.

NIGHTCRAWLER’S DREAMY DAD

John Byrne, the artist who succeeded Dave Cockrum as penciler on X-Men, indicates that speculation about Nightcrawler’s parental origins was not restricted to the minds of the readers. Apparently, writer Chris Claremont, who took over from Len Wein after the first appearance of Nightcrawler, had his own theories about who might have spawned a mutant as outright weird-looking as Kurt Wagner. 5 8

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Who’s Your Daddy? Mike Deodato, Jr.’s BAMF-a-rific take on the creepy-crawly X-Man, from 2004. Courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.


© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

© 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

“And not too long after,” Stern adds, “I did become the X-Men editor and was able to make sure that didn’t happen for long enough that Chris eventually changed his mind.” Stern claims that during his tenure as X-Men editor, no plan existed for revealing Nightcrawler’s parentage. “Not at all,” Stern emphasizes. “Nightcrawler’s parentage simply wasn’t that important to us then,” he adds. Since Stern took over as editor on the title only a couple of years after Claremont began writing, Claremont must have concocted the Nightmare-asNightcrawler’s-father scenario relatively early on. And, as Stern indicates, Claremont didn’t immediately move on to a new concept of Kurt Wagner’s parentage. If not for Stern’s adamant and repeated refusal, Claremont would have certainly revealed that Nightcrawler was a product of the Dream Dimension. Alas, we can only speculate on the stories that might have arisen from that strange and fertile ground.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED On a Frequently Asked Questions post on the Byrne Robotics Forum (www.byrnerobotics.com), Byrne explains, “At one point Chris wanted to ‘reveal’ that Kurt’s father was Nightmare.” Nightmare—the pale-skinned, greenclad, horse-riding ruler of the “Dimension of Dreams”— was going to be revealed as Nightcrawler’s father. Nightmare, as a character in the Marvel Universe, had been around even longer than the original X-Men. Nightmare’s initial comic-book appearance was in the very first Dr. Strange story, originally published in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Even in that first story, Dr. Strange refers to Nightmare as his “ancient foe,” and the evil ruler of the Dream Dimension seems to revel in the knowledge that he will one day bring about the death of the Master of the Mystic Arts. Presumably, Claremont made the Nightmare/ Nightcrawler connection to provide Kurt Wagner with a suitably evil and demonically supernatural parent (to explain Nightcrawler’s physical appearance), and perhaps the Marvel analogue of Satan, the character known as Mephisto, would have been too obvious a choice. Or maybe Claremont wanted to explain a connection between Nightcrawler’s teleportation abilities and travel to the Dream Dimension. Or maybe Claremont just thought of Nightmare because both he and Nightcrawler have pointy ears. We’ll never know what stories could have been told when it was revealed that Nightmare was the true father of Kurt Wagner, because, as John Byrne adds on his forum, “Roger Stern, as editor, put the kibosh on that one.” Roger Stern, who became X-Men editor with issue #113 (Sept. 1978), remembers the timeline a bit differently: “Actually, I put a stop to the Nightmare connection before I became the X-Men’s editor,” says Stern. “It happened when I was the writer of Dr. Strange, back when writers were still occasionally listened to. Chris had come up with the latest of several crazy ideas and declared that Nightcrawler’s father was Nightmare. And I replied with something like, ‘No, he’s not. I’m not going to let you appropriate one of my character’s major villains.’ As I recall, Len Wein crossed the room and shook my hand.

Thwarted in his attempt to give Nightcrawler an appropriately unusual paternal history, Claremont set his sights on a new, and even more bizarre, use of a character as a parent for Kurt Wagner. He attempted to link the blue-eared elf with another azure-skinned character— one who had recently become an important part of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery: Mystique. Mystique, a character created by Claremont for Ms. Marvel in 1978, was a shapeshifting mutant whose natural form was that of a red-haired, blue-skinned woman with a miniature skull attached to the base of her widow’s peak. Based on a design by Nightcrawler’s creator, Dave Cockrum, Mystique (a.k.a. Raven Darkholme) began as a behindthe-scenes manipulator—a character who could use her powers to infiltrate government agencies on behalf of her own secret agenda. By 1981, she had begun to appear in Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men, this time as the leader of an all-new, all-different (almost) version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants featuring characters like Destiny, Avalanche, Pyro, and the Blob. “When Mystique first showed up in the X-Men,” says Roger Stern, “I was long gone from editorial. My only [earlier] connection to Mystique was as the editor of Ms. Marvel, where she was just one of many villains.” Perhaps with Stern no longer as an obstacle, Claremont could have returned to the idea of using Nightmare as Nightcrawler’s father, but by then he had a different plan. And what was bizarre about it wasn’t that he decided to reveal that Nightcrawler was the son of another blue-skinned character like Mystique, but, rather, how he planned on explaining their relationship. As Byrne explains on his forum, “Chris decided Kurt’s mother was Destiny—and his father was Mystique.” Mystique’s shapeshifting wouldn’t have restricted her to the role of mother. She could switch sexes as easily as she could change her hair color, and a relationship with the precognitive mutant female known as Destiny was just as likely as anything else in the Marvel M u t a n t s

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TM

Mutants were a hot commodity in comics by the early 1980s. The Uncanny X-Men had become one of Marvel’s flagship titles, routinely ranking at the top of comics sales charts and drawing critical acclaim for its intricate plots, complex characters, and political undertones. However—as hard as it may be to believe in the era where literally dozens of Marvel titles feature mutants—Uncanny was the company’s one and only mutant book at the time. But given its success, a spin-off book seemed inevitable. Enter The New Mutants. Like the flagship Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants featured a diverse team of mutants at Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The new title was scripted by Chris Claremont, the longtime writer on Uncanny X-Men. But the new book had plenty to distinguish itself from the original title as well. As the name suggests, the New Mutants were teenagers who were just learning to use their mutant powers. The X-Men, on the other hand, were adults in full control of their abilities. The new team also had a different role to play in fulfilling Professor Xavier’s dream of a world where mutants and humans could coexist peacefully. The X-Men were superheroes who traveled the globe battling evil—they were full-fledged adventurers. The New Mutants were students. Not only were they being trained to use their powers, but the comic also showed them tackling more mundane subjects like computer science and ballet. Of course, they ran into more than their share of trouble, but usually, that trouble found them, not the other way around. The concept for the New Mutants had much more in common with the original X-Men of the 1960s than the Uncanny X-Men of the 1980s. Comprising the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby team were mutants who were being trained by Professor X to use their powers for good. They also wore identical uniforms, which later were adopted by the New Mutants. In fact, Stan Lee’s intended original title for the X-Men comic was “The Mutants,” so the title New Mutants is in many ways tribute to those Lee/Kirby roots. The five original members of the New Mutants were: Psyche/Mirage—Danielle “Dani” Moonstar was the classic Chris Claremont heroine—tough, resourceful, and rebellious. She was frequently at odds with Professor X, but was intensely loyal to her teammates. Danielle, a Cheyenne Indian, had the ability to tap into another person’s mind and pull out three-dimensional images of their greatest dreams and worst fears. 6 2

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X-Men in the Rough The penciled version of the cover to Marvel Graphic Novel #4, premiering the New Mutants. Drawn by Bob McLeod, currently the editor of the BACK ISSUE spin-off magazine Rough Stuff. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.


Cannonball—Despite being one of the oldest members of the team, Sam Guthrie was easily the least confident and most self-conscious of the New Mutants. Sam grew up in a poor mining family in Kentucky and had been forced to become an adult long before he was ready. Cannonball’s mutant powers allowed him to fly, although when the series started, he could barely control his abilities. So it was a good thing that he was impervious to injury when flying! Sunspot—In many ways, Roberto Da Costa was the diametric opposite of Cannonball. This 13-year-old Brazilian came from a wealthy family and was supremely self-confident. Not surprisingly, his confidence often got him in trouble. Sunspot drew his powers from the sun, converting its rays into super-strength. Take him out of direct sunlight, though, and he quickly exhausted his power supply. Wolfsbane—This redhead from Scotland was raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian environment. So she considered her mutant ability to transform into a wolf (or a transitional half-wolf/half-human form) to be a curse, not a gift. As a member of the New Mutants, Rahne Sinclair had to learn to become comfortable in her own skin. Karma—The oldest and perhaps most mature member of the team, this Vietnamese teenager, whose real name was Xi’an Coy Manh, lived through that nation’s war-torn past as a child. She generally served as the level-headed member of the team. Karma had the mutant power to possess other people’s minds, giving her control of their actions. She was also the only member of the original New Mutants to predate the team, as she first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #100 (Dec. 1980), written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller. In an interview with Mile High Comics, New Mutants co-creator and original artist Bob McLeod discussed his approach to drawing the characters: “I always liked Cannonball the best. I tried to give all

The Buscema/ McLeod Team From New Mutants #4, page 15, as laid out by our pal Sal Buscema (above left) and finished by our buddy Bob McLeod (above right). Courtesy of Mr. McLeod. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

the mutants distinct body types and characteristics, and with his big ears and lanky frame, he was just the most fun to draw. I tried to make all the characters individuals and fun to draw, though. I made Rahne short and full-figured, and Dani taller and more flat-chested. Roberto was short but muscular. As for villains, I did love drawing the Sentinels. They let me design a somewhat new armor, and it was fun to draw them because they’re so huge.” Robert Diehl has reviewed every issue of The New Mutants for the Mutanthigh.com website, a popular site devoted to the X-books, and has written extensively about the team. Diehl says the character interaction was a major part of the comic’s appeal because, mutant powers aside, the New Mutants of the Claremont/McLeod era acted like real teenagers. “As kids, they were insecure (especially Rahne), and impulsive (especially Roberto), and awkward (especially Sam),” Diehl says. “They went to movies and parties, they fell in love and puppy love, they argued with parents and teachers and each other and had a rival school (the Hellions), and they learned and grew (especially Sam and Dani).” M u t a n t s

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Cyclops! Angel! Iceman! Marvel Girl! Beast!

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Allan Harvey

These five legends were the original students of Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. In reality, of course, the school was merely a front for Professor X’s real mission: the tracing and training of mutants. Still a major force in the Marvel Universe today, mutants represent the next step in evolution, each possessing at least one superpower that places him or her above the merely human. Scientifically labelled Homo Superior, they continue to be feared and ostracized by a society that doesn’t understand them. In order to address this wrong, Professor X sought out mutants from all over the world (although these initial five were American) and put them through a rigorous training regime in order that they might better control their powers. Thus trained, the newly christened “X-Men” led the fight against those of their mutant peers who would rather use their powers to subjugate mankind and seize control of the planet. Professor X’s ultimate dream was the integration of human and mutant, working together for a better future. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the realworld background to the X-Men story was a growing awareness of—and panic about—the civil rights movement in ’60s America. Over the years, the plight of mutantkind in Marvel comics was used as a metaphor for all sorts of causes, from racial and religious tensions to homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic. Co-created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, X-Men #1 first appeared in September 1963. It’s fair to say it was one of Lee and Kirby’s lesser ideas, and treated as such for the most part. By X-Men #20 (May 1966), both creators had left the book. Roy Thomas, Werner Roth, and, later, Arnold Drake took up the reins and steered the original mutant heroes through ever-decreasing sales and reader apathy. In 1969, in a final attempt to inject some life into its fatally ailing book, Marvel assigned promising new artist Neal Adams as regular penciler. Although Adams’ work was brilliant and reinvigorated writer Thomas, sales didn’t significantly improve and, after less than a year, X-Men was canceled with issue #66 (Mar. 1970). Like a phoenix from the flames, however—and that’s an image future X-Men writers would come to adore— Marvel’s merry mutants would rise again. Following five years as very minor players in a smattering of guest spots throughout the Marvel Universe, the X-Men were revived, with a mostly all-new team, in 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1. Writer Chris Claremont soon arrived to see the new team graduate to their own book, and the rest is history. While Cyclops and Marvel Girl found a place in the new X-Men, Angel, Beast, and Iceman remained something of a loose end. Angel and Iceman spent some time in the short-lived group the Champions, while Beast, after having transformed into a literal beast-like state, went on to become an Avenger. Later still, all three wound up as members of the Defenders, Marvel’s famous “non-team.”

Return Engagement Back in action, the original X-Men, in X-Factor #1 (Feb. 1986). Cover art by Jackson Guice. © 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

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AN X-MAN REUNION

Enter writer and artist Bob Layton. Following his great success co-writing and inking Iron Man, and writing and drawing a Hercules miniseries, in the early to mid1980s Layton was looking for a new assignment. With Marvel beginning to capitalize on the success of the parent X-Men book by launching a new series featuring brand-new young students for Professor X to teach, The New Mutants, perhaps it was time to think up ways to further exploit that success. Why not bring back the original mutants? Layton suggested the idea to Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter, who approved. Layton then hooked up with artist Jackson Guice to develop the idea further, design outfits, and plot the original X-Men’s return. Fortuitously, events in the X-Men titles made things a little easier. In Uncanny X-Men #200 (Dec. 1985), after being badly wounded Professor X left Earth to spend time with his alien sweetheart Lilandra. In a surprise move, he asked reformed mutant arch-villain Magneto to take over the School for Gifted Youngsters, a request Magneto accepted. With things thus shaken up at the school, Cyclops fought Storm for the leadership of the X-Men—and lost. He left to be with his wife, the Jean Grey-lookalike Madelyne Pryor, and their child. So Cyclops was available. And, as it had been decided to cancel The Defenders, Beast, Angel, and Iceman were also available. Four down, one to go. Unfortunately, there Layton had a problem. Jean Grey, a.k.a. Marvel Girl, was dead. During her time with the new X-Men, Jean had become much more powerful and re-christened herself “Phoenix.” Phoenix initially had similar powers to Marvel Girl—telepathy and telekinesis—but vastly boosted. As the new X-Men’s story unfolded, it became clear that the Phoenix power was a corrupting one. Ultimately, Phoenix turned completely evil and committed planetary genocide. Captured by the Shi-ar Empire, Jean eventually managed to regain control, but fearful of once again becoming Dark Phoenix, she committed suicide and died in the arms of long-time boyfriend Cyclops. [Editor’s note: For more on this subject, and the fate of Phoenix, see this issue’s Claremont and Byrne article, beginning on page 2.] At this point in comics history, death was still final (boy, would that change in the years to come!), so Bob Layton would not be able to use Jean Grey in his X-Men revival. Instead, he turned his sights on Dazzler— Alison Blaire—a mutant who had been around the Marvel Universe for a few years and had recently had her title canceled. She seemed an ideal candidate to fill

Available … for a Price (right) The Summers family won’t be a family for long; the splash page to X-Factor #1 is courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions. (left) From issue #1, X-Factor’s mutantbusting carries a hefty price tag. Art by Guice and Layton. © 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

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the “babe” slot in the revived team. The Beast appeared in the final issue of Dazzler (#42, Mar. 1986) and mentioned the new team. It was around this time that early publicity material began to appear. Titled “X-Factor,” the new series was announced in comics news magazines such as Amazing Heroes. Images of the team tended to feature a blank space, or an anonymous silhouette, where the female member was intended to be. Layton and Guice also produced several ultimately rejected covers for X-Factor in this vein. With Dazzler present alongside the four male X-Men, Layton had his team. And then… Enter Kurt Busiek. Several years eariler, then-comics fan Busiek had concocted a plan where a revived Jean would be innocent of the Phoenix’s crimes. Busiek’s notion was relatively simple: Jean Grey had never been Phoenix. The entity that emerged in X-Men #101 (Oct. 1976) was a copy of Jean given form by the Phoenix force. Jean herself was still in suspended animation at the bottom of Jamaica Bay where the X-Men’s space shuttle had crashed in that fateful issue. At a comics convention Busiek got to chatting with scipter Roger Stern and mentioned his idea. Stern liked it and passed it on to his friend, writer/artist John Byrne. On hearing that Layton was planning X-Factor, Byrne offered up Busiek’s idea as a method of bringing Jean Grey back. Soon the idea was editorially approved, and Layton was pleased that he was now free to use all of the original team. In order to aid Layton with his plans, Byrne and Stern proposed a crossover between the books they were currently working on. Stern would have the Avengers find something odd in Jamaica Bay in Avengers #263 (Jan. 1986) and call in the Fantastic Four to investigate further. That same month, in Fantastic Four #286,


by

Mike Gagnon

In the early ’80s, Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men had become a huge industry phenomenon. From 1983–1986, John Romita, Jr. was a part of that phenomenon, contributing artwork on almost every issue of Uncanny X-Men, beginning with issue #175 (Nov. 1983) and concluding with #211 (Nov. 1986). Those are still remembered today as some of the most prolific and groundbreaking works in the X-Men mythos. Romita was involved with the infamous Kulan Gath storyline that saw Spider-Man brutally murdered, he gave us our first glimpse of the bloodthirsty Marauders, introduced us to the comic-book version of Firestar, and more. Romita’s work was complemented by talents such as writer Chris Claremont and inker Dan Green. Their X-Men stories played a pivotal role in creating a cohesive comics experience that fans still fondly remember today. Despite Romita’s modesty about his contributions to the history of the X-Men Universe, many fans would find it hard to picture a world in which fan-favorite characters such as Forge and Nimrod had never been drawn into the world. – Mike Gagnon MIKE GAGNON: Your run on Uncanny X-Men lasted from 1983 through 1986, correct? JOHN ROMITA, JR.: Yes… GAGNON: Tell me how you got the gig—was it something you actively pursued? ROMITA: As I remember, it was something was interested in, but no, I wasn’t actively pursuing X-Men. I was working on Spider-Man, and doing well at that. Paul Smith was on Uncanny X-Men at the time, but he was leaving for another project, I don’t recall which. [Writer’s note: It was Doctor Strange.] The editors wanted someone to fill the gap temporarily until they brought in another regular artist. They thought I could handle it from my previous

That’s Right, We Bad! You’d be ticked off, too, if you were involved in the “Mutant Massacre” storyline. The cover to the penultimate issue of John Romita, Jr.’s first Uncanny X-Men run, #210 (Oct. 1986), inked by Bob Wiacek. Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Mike Gagnon. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Beginnings: “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977)

Milestones: Iron Man / Contest of Champions / Amazing Spider-Man / Dazzler / Uncanny X-Men / Star Brand / Daredevil / Punisher War Zone / Punisher/Batman / Thor / Hulk / Gray Area / Ultimate Vision / Eternals / World War Hulk

Works in Progress: Kick-Ass (with writer Mark Millar) / Amazing Spider-Man

Cyberspace: JRjr site: www.geocities.com/romitapage/home.htm Original art: www.theartistschoice.com

John Romita, Jr. © 2008 John Romita, Jr.

Wake Up Call Logan drops in on Mariko on page 4 of Uncanny X-Men #176 (Dec. 1983), Romita’s second issue on the title and first full issue (#175 was penciled by both Paul Smith and John Romita, Jr.). Inks by Wiacek. Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Mike Gagnon. © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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work at Marvel and asked me to be the fill-in. I filled the gap and ended up staying on for a pretty lengthy run. Not that there wasn’t some tension or angst. I remember that I wasn’t the writer’s favorite choice. GAGNON: You’re saying that you weren’t necessarily Chris Claremont’s favorite choice when you first got assigned to X-Men? ROMITA: No, no, that wasn’t the term, “not necessarily,” it was true! GAGNON: Why weren’t you Claremont’s favorite choice? ROMITA: That’s something you’d have to ask him … and he might deny it, but it was just a plain fact that there were so many guys better than me, that’s simple. Paul Smith was just getting into his stride, and of course Chris had worked with John Byrne and now Paul Smith, and Dave Cockrum, and I was relatively inexperienced compared to these guys. I’m sure Chris, without any malice in his heart, just preferred other people. It’s funny, but now that Chris and I are friends I don’t think of it in any bad way. I’m sure at the time I probably gritted my teeth a little bit, maybe took an extra shot of whiskey at night. [laughs] GAGNON: Okay, so what was your working relationship with him like at that time when you were first on the book? ROMITA: Simple. He sent me this gigantic “tome” of a plot, and I worked from it. GAGNON: You stated you felt that Chris Claremont would have preferred someone like Paul Smith or John Byrne. Do you think Smith would have been his favorite choice if it had been up to him? ROMITA: I don’t know. That’s who was working on the book before me. He probably would have preferred Byrne because Byrne was just at the top of his game in those years. So he might have preferred Byrne, but Paul Smith was the most recent. I can’t really tell you who he preferred, but those are two great artists before me. GAGNON: So when you say that he may have disliked your work, that’s just speculative? ROMITA: I don’t know about “dislike,” that’s too harsh of a word. He just may have preferred someone else. GAGNON: Did you realize how big X-Men would get? How important it would be for your career? ROMITA: No, I had no idea that it was going to be on par with my experience working on Spider-Man. Daredevil has been by far my best experience work- and career-wise, but Spider-Man and my work on The X-Men have also been up there. While I was still on the title [Uncanny X-Men], I was told not to get excited and informed that my work was not the reason for the book’s success. GAGNON: Who informed you of that? The editors? ROMITA: No, fellow colleagues, other people in comics. There’s always been some resistance to my presence in the industry. I was often reminded, “You’re an interchangeable part.” John Byrne once said to me, “Be careful, you’re going to burn yourself out working with Claremont.” GAGNON: How long had you been in comics at that time? ROMITA: Five or six years. Five years if you count from when I went full time in ’77, six if you count a fill-in I did in ’76. GAGNON: What characters were you involved in creating with Chris Claremont? ROMITA: I don’t remember, not many. There were too many pre-existing characters at the time. I’m just not sure. I may have been involved in creating Nimrod. [Writer’s note: Romita, Jr. illustrated the first appearances of Forge in Uncanny X-Men #184, Freedom Force in #199,


Without Max Charles Gaines, it is unlikely that comic-book history would be what it is. From the earliest magazines collecting reprints of newspaper comic strips to the dawn of the Golden Age, and throughout the heyday of comic-book popularity in the 1940s, Charlie Gaines (as he was generally called by those who knew him) was a driving force. At the beginning of 1945, Gaines split officially with National/DC and began issuing the adventures of Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern, as well as Funny Stuff, Mutt & Jeff, and his favorite project, Picture Stories from the Bible, under the All-American Publications banner, with an “AA” symbol replacing the previous “DC” sigil on covers. According to a notice in the Dec. 1944 issue of Independent News, the trade publication of Independent News, the distribution company basically owned by the same folks who owned National/DC, Jack Liebowitz was officially Gaines’ co-publisher on the new AA line. [For details, see The All-Star Companion, Vol. 3.] The AA venture was short-lived, however—lasting only about eight months—and sometime in 1945 Gaines sold his company entirely to his DC partners Liebowitz and Harry Donenfeld, and soon launched EC (Educational Comics, a.k.a. Entertaining Comics) to publish Picture Stories and other, new titles. But what if things hadn’t turned out quite that way? Bob Rozakis, longtime writer and production director for DC Comics, has imagined a distinct version of what Alter Ego’s editor Roy Thomas likes to call “Earth-22”—combining the notions of Julius Schwartz/Gardner Fox and Catch-22 author Joseph Heller—a parallel world on which events took a different, yet quite possible, even logical turn. After all, in The Mad World of William M. Gaines (Lyle Stuart, 1972), the official biography of M. C. Gaines’ son, who became famous (and infamous) as the publisher of EC’s Tales from the Crypt, MAD, et al., author Frank Jacobs writes: “[A]ll was not roses within the new partnership, especially after Donenfeld, in one of his typically impulsive gestures, gave his half of the All-American group to his accountant, Jack Liebowitz. Suddenly, Max found himself partnered with Liebowitz, and they didn’t get along. Bill remembers that every afternoon his father would take a taxi to the uptown offices, where he, Liebowitz, and Donenfeld would scream at each other for two hours. Something had to give and that something was Max’s patience. In early 1945, he hurled out his ultimatum: ‘You buy me out or I’ll buy you out.’ They bought him out.” But what if he had bought Donenfeld and Liebowitz out, instead? In this installment of Book Two of a new series which is being divided between the pages of BACK ISSUE and its TwoMorrows big-sister mag Alter Ego, the author explores an alternate reality and reveals—

Great Scott! Reprints! Promoting GL’s book to monthly status (from eight times a year) occasionally put a strain on the creative team, resulting in an all-reprint issue like this one. By including stories from the Golden Age, AA was able to give even long-time fans some material they probably had not seen before. Cover by Neal Adams and Shane Foley. (Unless otherwise noted, logos and characters in this fantasy history are © or based upon characters © DC Comics.)

The Secret History of All-American Comics, Inc. The Story of M. C. Gaines’ Publishing Empire Book Two – Chapter Two: Woodchucks!

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by

Bob Rozakis


It’s Puzzle Time! Creating puzzle pages was what got Bob Rozakis his first work for AA Comics. “I was still coming up with them after I had the staff job,” he says. “A lot of the stories we were reprinting had only 2/3rds of a page of art at the end, so we had a lot of 1/3rd pages to fill. I started making up smaller puzzles and games to fill those spots. I would use press-type and stats of old artwork from the files to put them together.” The puzzle shown here, from Bob’s files, was never published. Theodore Paul (“Ted”) Skimmer worked in the editorial and production departments of All-American Comics from 1944 through 1997. During his 53-year career, he had a front-row seat for the history of the company, a history he has agreed to share with me … and you. – Bob Rozakis BOB ROZAKIS: Let’s talk a bit about what was going on in the company just before I was hired. TED SKIMMER: You and the rest of your pals. What did you call yourselves—Chipmunks? ROZAKIS: Woodchucks. But we can talk about that later. What prompted the hiring of a whole crew of assistant editors? SKIMMER: Going back up to 48 pages from 32. Even though most of the extra pages were being filled with reprints, the editors all had their workloads increased by 50%. They needed help and, at the time, the only assistant editor was Nelson Bridwell. By rights, Nelson should have been made a full editor by then. He’d been with the company for eight or nine years and had spent the first six as Mort Weisinger’s whipping boy. But Nelson never asserted himself; he was a quiet sort. So even after Mort left, he just went on being in charge of the reprints in the Annuals. ROZAKIS: So, whose idea was it to go back to 48 pages? SKIMMER: Billy’s. That was one of the major sources of arguments between him and his father. Even in the early ’50s, when Billy was only working as a consulting editor, he argued for raising the price rather than cutting the page count. Everybody else raised prices when their costs increased— even the rest of the publishing business. But for some reason, the comic-book publishers were stuck on that 10¢ price. ROZAKIS: So raising the price to 12¢ in 1961 must have been traumatic. SKIMMER: Oh, there were some major shouting matches between Billy and Charlie over that one. There was no way we could maintain the 32-page package for a dime by then. But rather than consider raising the price, Charlie had us mocking up other variations of the package. First he wanted to cut the books to 24 pages. ROZAKIS: Which probably wouldn’t have saved any money, given the configuration of the presses to produce 16page sections. SKIMMER: Exactly. So then we mocked up books that didn’t have glossy covers. Charlie even got a few local shops and newsstands to put them on display to see what would happen. They tanked. If nothing else, without the covers, the newsprint insides got crapped out really fast. Finally, Charlie had to give in and raise the price to 12¢ and leave the 32-page package as it was. You would have thought it was the end of the world.

House Fanzine Another of Sol Harrison’s brainstorms was having the “Woodchucks” put together an AA-sponsored fan magazine. A mix of exclusive interviews, unpublished artwork, and up-to-the-minute (well, as close as one could get in the age before the Internet!) news, the magazine was available only by mail. Cover art by Curt Swan and Rich Fowlks. M u t a n t s

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Back Issue #29  

LEN WEIN, DAVE COCKRUM, and ROY THOMAS dusted off the B-list X-Men in 1975 and elevated it to A-list status, and BACK ISSUE #29 (100 pages,...

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