Alter Ego #159 July 2019 (magazine review).

After four issues where Michal T. Gilbert aka Mr. Monster has been giving us the correspondence of comicbook artist/writer Pete Morisi (aka PAM) that he had with the now late Glen D. Johnson, we get a mass of it this time.

As Johnson never kept copies of what his own letters were, we only see the replies Morisi gave. He worked chiefly for Charlton Comics and although the page rate was one of the worse, it also gave the least editorial interference. Morisi would do everything himself from story to pencils to inks and when it came to ‘Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt’ began to miss deadlines simply because he wanted to do his best.

He worked solely in comicbooks until the mid-50s bad comicbook publicity. Then, to ensure he fed his family, he joined the New York Police Force where he worked for 20 years and moonlighted on his work for Charlton on the understanding that he wouldn’t disclose his real name, hence the PAM moniker and deadline problem. What comes from these letters is insight into what it was like working for Charlton, his editor Dick Giordano and fellow artists and friends like Al Williamson. You also get some thoughts on the comicbook industry at the time which is always insightful. It’s when you get to the checklist of the companies that Morisi worked for that you realised he worked for more than Charlton and the jigsaw comes completely together.

Reading the next instalment of the late comicbook writer John Broome’s memoirs is more interesting this time as he does anecdotes about some of the people he knew. I shouldn’t be surprised at that. Storytellers have to have some level of raconteur in them in the first place.

That was even more so when I turned to the next article and seeing editor Roy Thomas was dressed in prison orange. No, the law hadn’t caught up with him, just a delay in being able to report his cameo appearance in the Marvel/Netflix ‘Daredevil’ series. His adventures in getting there and back gives a marvellous insight.

Bill Schelly continues his tour of now older comicbook fans with Bart Bush from Oklahoma. Reading how he easily got the early Marvel Comics should make a few of us oldsters have a good gulp. Mind you, back then, who knew what was about to take off. You can also a glimpse into the Oklahoma fanzine scene.

Of course, we have some memoriams, this time for comicbook artist Jay Scott Pike aka Jim Pike (1924-2015) and Pat Lupoff (1937-2018). She has the distinction of being one of the first female fanzine editors and cosplay, dressing as Mary Marvel back in the 1960s. The aforementioned Glen Johnson edited ‘The Comic Reader’ for sometime and that was how he got to know Peter Morisi.

Finally, Bill Schelly interviewed comicbook writer/scriptwriter/novelist William Woolfolk (1917-2003) for his book on Otto Binder but there was also enough left over on his own career making the interview here.

As always, ‘Alter Ego’ is full of surprises and insights and if you need your nostalgic kick for early American comics, then you’ve found the right place.

GF Willmetts

July 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 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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