Alter Ego # 141 August 2016 (magazine review)

This issue of ‘Alter Ego’ has a picture of a certain cyborg called ‘Deathlok’ on the cover, so it should hardly come as a surprise the first major interview is with his creator, Rich Buckler’. I had dropped out of comics in the early 1970s and it was ‘Deathlok’ that drew me back in. After all, here was a character that was outside of the Marvel Universe (at least until the ‘Marvel Team-Up’ appearance) in the near future and was closer to Science Fiction than super-hero and somewhat ugly as well. I’m getting ahead of myself. Much of the interview covers Bucker growing up in Detroit and moving to New York where he worked for Warren, DC and Marvel, ultimately drawing many of the latter two’s covers a for an extended period as well as drawing the latter’s team books. All of this helped along with his ability to draw well and fast.

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I think the strongest lesson you get from his interview is Buckler’s ability to get on with people and that helps in any industry. About the only thing I would disagree with is that Deathlok was the first character in comicbooks called a cyborg. Previous to him, there was an AIM character with that name in Captain America # 124 in 1968. I remember it well as it was in Gene Colan’s run on the title.


Picking out unusual but lost artists comes up in ‘Alter Ego’ from time to time. This time, it is Rafael Astartia (1912-1994), sometimes comicbook artist and illustrator, seen from two different perspectives. As Hames Ware and David Saunders point out, Astartia took over the art chores from Will Eisner and Lou Fine on ‘The Hawk Of The Seas’ and you have to be good to follow them. Seeing the samples here, you can see how Astartia developed, varying his technique for colour and black and white. For a self-taught artist learning from books, I’m sure this is common for many current novices as well so it’s hardly a new technique but it kept Astartia in work.

An article on the issue ‘Fatman The Human Flying Saucer’, with a promise of more next issue, is clearly bizarre and in many respects you’ll be glad to hear there is no revival. The continuing look at the history of US fandom’s ‘The Rocket’s Blast-Comicollector’ looks like its reaching its end of its GB Love’s tenure.

The final look at the original artists who worked on Fawcett’s ‘Captain Marvel’ is with Marc Swayze, who oddly only saw it as a small part of his career, despite being the first artist to draw Mary Marvel.

Finally, there is a memoir to comicbook artist Nat Champlin (1919-2015), formerly of Fawcett before branching out.

With magazines like ‘Alter Ego’, the history and knowledge of American comicbooks is assured.

GF Willmetts

July 2016

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it for (US))

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