Alter Ego #154 September 2018 (magazine review).

1940s comicboook artist Allen Bellman is now 95 and one of the last American comicbook artists of that era. This issue of ‘Alter Ego’ has a cover drawn by him of the characters he drew back then and he drew Captain America, the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner. As the interview with Dr. Michael J. Vassallo shows here, Bellman was friendly with a lot of the comicbook artists over the years and even with their grown-up children when they were gone. Vassallo was responsible for bringing Bellman out into the sunlight of comic convention appearances to which the artist found late fame. Once past the various thank you’s, you’ll learn more about his associate artists than anyone else. I love the fact and reminder that Kirby and Simon only did the first ten issues of ‘Captain America’ and that the majority of Cap’s early career was drawn by Syd Shores.

The next section is in four parts looking at the lady comicbook writers of the 1970s. The first of these is Linde Fete. I remember reading her featurettes back-up story of Marvel Girl explaining her powers as my first example of a lady writer in the medium.

The interview with Paty Cockrum gives insight into her own career and I hadn’t realised she actually drew a few comicbooks herself, although she became legally blind since 1999. She developed from being an extra-ordinary fixture in Marvel’s letter pages to working for the company and provides a lot of insights. I’d love to see the villains side of the chess-set she made for Roy Thomas. Any more chance of some more photos, Roy?

I didn’t know that Carol Seuling had developed Shanna The She-Devil for Marvel. Granted it was only a very short run but all things after came from her work.

‘Night Nurse’ is a short 4 issue Marvel comicbook series mostly written by Jean Thomas and drawn by former DC penciller Winslow ‘Win’ Mortimer that I knew of but never read and firmly educated by an interview with Roy Thomas here. It wasn’t one nurse but three, one of which appeared in the recent ‘Doctor Strange’ film.

The fifth part of comicbook writer John Broome’s memoirs literally looks at memory and his time in Japan.

Michael T. Gilbert’s look at Dan Atkins swiping finds the letter by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. who wrote about the subject originally and gets a current update from him on the subject which remains the same. I’m more amazed how an artist will spend time looking for a picture to copy when it would be quicker to draw it.

There are also obit memories for comicbook researcher Raymond Miller (1931-2017) and Martin Greim (1942-2017), both of whom specialised in the Golden Age of Comics. Also for inker Dave Hunt (1942-2017) who worked for the Big Two.

Mike Tiefenbacher completes his look at American copyright and trademark issues associated with the Tom Strong character and Ned Pines Popular Library who originally owned it. Reading all of this, you have to wonder why the USA didn’t adopt the British model of copyright ownership a lot earlier than milk it for money.

As per usual, ‘Alter Ego’ presents a useful glimpse into the past and is both an education and memory stirrer.

GF Willmetts

August 2018

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 98 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 9.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 8.46 (US))

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