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Alter Ego #100: Centennial: March 2011 (magazine review).

October 26, 2020 | By | Reply More

The 100th issue of ‘Alter Ego’ back in 2011 really had a special squarebound treatment and 28 more pages and now you can buy it cheaper. Hardly surprising that its own editor, Roy Thomas, comes under an interview by Jim Amash over his time at DC Comics after leaving Marvel in the 1980s. It’s an interesting perspective and fills in a lot of gaps and opens several more. The most obvious one is how DC Comics office politics affected the creative talent.

I did learn a bit more about editor/writer control and can understand Roy Thomas’ concern that the editors weren’t doing their job as they should. We see an escalation of that today where the writers are now second-tier with even less creative input. Strong control tends to come from the top and there holding the reins contrasts between Marvel and DC doesn’t appear to provide much of a middle-ground. It would have been interesting to have a bigger picture of how American office businesses are run.

When creative companies play it the way of careers, then people want to hold on to their positions and show their worth when really editors are supposed to control the flow of things and ensure deadlines are reached on time. I could go on with details on the Roy Thomas interview but it is a nugget that you should read for yourself.

Roy Thomas goes over the correspondence between himself and Jerry Bails and their contact with DC Comics that led to the creation of ‘Alter-Ego’, when it first had a hyphen and then a copy of its first issue. Back in the early days, the printing process was mimeograph in America which had an upper limit of 200 issues with its own limits before being worn out in 1961. As such, text and illustration was pretty limited. I know when I did fanzine production back in the late-70s, production values were still transitory and photocopies could then do reduction which I took advantage of for APAs. The evolution of fanzine production is also that of small print processes.

It’s rather interesting reading tributes to Roy Thomas, not only as a comicbook writer and editor but as editor of ‘Alter Ego’ by people 9 years ago and realising how many are no longer with us. The emphasis, though, is a reminder that ‘Alter Ego’ is essentially a fanzine and pointed out the third from the 1960s and the first to be devoted to super-heroes.

As with the above and a more recent issue, we see an earlier Jim Amash interview about his growing up, working as an inker and interviewing early comicbook creators, often months before they died.

Oddly, although I’ve been reading Michael T. Gilbert’s ‘Mr. Monster’ section in the later issues, I wasn’t totally up on his background and here he gives his fan background that led to his professional life.

Now here is an interesting curio. Back in 1964, Bernie Bubnis did the first super-hero calendar mixing fan and pro-art on mimeo masters. Even better, we get to see the results that included Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and Russ Manning. Interesting, Alan Weiss was still back then but his art was still a match to the pros.

Under the auspices of Fawcett Collectors of America (FCA) section, artist-writer Marc Swayze goes over his career, including his work as a professional musician. John C. Pierce examines the use of Shazam! Captain Marvel in ‘All-Star Squadron’ while DC Comics didn’t fully owned the character and so could only do limited appearances. Finally, just to prove nothing is new under the sun as P.C. Hamerlinck shows back in the 1940s-50s, Fawcett had their own brand of ‘Spider Men’. A lot of them actually, relying on people’s fear of spiders to make them enemies. I wonder if that will ever change?

OK, a rather unusual issue of ‘Alter Ego’, looking not only at its own origins but also of its contributors who were fans, then pros in the industry and then combining the two aspects together. Along the way, you get a lot of information. People do have a habit of centennial editions, so I expect to see this one sell out.

GF Willmetts

October 2020

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: $19.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. ISBN: 978-1-60549-031-1. Direct from them, you can get it for $11.97 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=969

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Category: Magazines, Superheroes

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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