Alter Ego #161 November 2019 (magazine review).

December 19, 2019 | By | 2 Replies More

No, this issue of ‘Alter Ego’ is not a tribute to Galactus but to Stan Lee, the man behind the big man or vice versa. It’s a size or initial thing.

On a 1975 radio interview conducted by Caroline Hemingway with Stan, we learn, amongst other things, the correct way to say ‘Magneto’ and ‘Sub-Mariner’ ie ‘Mag-knee-toe’ and ‘Sub-Ma-in-ner’. It’s the British way by the way. I love the ending when someone called ‘Jack from Thousand Oaks’ rings in and they both arranged to see each other later.

I hope someone in the film business remembers Stan’s comment that no one has used the Mary Jane phrase, ‘Face it, tiger, you’ve hit the jackpot’ in the ‘Spider-Man’ films yet. For the rest of you, I’ve always used the Stan spelling of ‘comicbooks’ with no space or hyphen and if you want to remember him use that in its spelling. I’m less sure as to doing the same with ‘super-heroes’ though because I’ve always enjoyed the hyphenated version because it looks stronger and who wants to see ‘supervillains’ because if you do one then you have to do the other?

Some interesting things popped up from various people in the industry’s memories. From David Anthony Kraft, Stan preferred to climb the stairs than wait for the elevator/lift and kept his office desk clear because he didn’t like leaving work hanging around. From Steve Englehart, Stan liked to write standing up which he thought added to his longevity. Of all of these memories, I think Jim Shooter’s from the Stan Lee Roast and then his added notes the most consistent insight and didn’t actually roast but expressed admiration. As a Brit, I never understood this roast thing. I mean, why go to a meal to be humiliated in a comedy way although Shooter avoided doing that, especially as he points out that the other speakers barely worked with Stan Lee in person.

A brief move away has Rob Kirby completing his look at the early format of Marvel UK under the Transworld Features Syndicate, Inc (not to be confused with Transworld Publishers that belonged to Bantam Books, Inc) that took over when Odhams’ Power Comics finally shutdown. Looking objectively, as I was already reading the American Marvels, the UK Marvel brand was probably a cheaper way for young fans to get the early tales before pocket money allowed them to move up to the colour version.

Just for a change of pace, Michael T. Gilbert’s ‘Mr. Monster’ feature points out Charles Biro as an early prototype Stan Lee with communication with fans.

We also have reminisces of the recently deceased comicbook artists Ed Silverman (1924-2014), Ken Bald (1920-2019) and the multi-talented Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019).

Then there are more various pros and fans giving their own memories of Stan Lee, many with some interesting insights of his generosity of time and good nature and laughed at jokes against himself. Then again, if you looked at the send-ups of himself he wrote with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck (the first two are available in the ‘Not Brand Echh! Collection’), that should have been obvious. Roy Thomas describes Stan as always being a 17 year-old and never forgot it.

Oh, one last thing. At the end of the letters pages, there is a discussion about the long-standing anecdote about Atlas/Marvel publisher Martin Goodman playing golf with National Periodicals/DC Comics co-publisher Jack Liebowitz in early 1961 and being told of the success of their ‘Justice League Of America’ and later urging Stan Lee to create a super-team. That resulted in the ‘Fantastic Four’. There’s still a matter of proof as to did this golf game happen in New York’s winter and which golf club? As they had to be members, if any of you Americans out there have access to any of the Long Island golf course membership lists then they need to contact ‘Alter Ego’ because it would be useful evidence.

With this issue of ‘Alter Ego’, it must have been a complicated affair sorting out what to include as a tribute to the life of Stan Lee. As such, much of this could be considered as a cross-section but it’s a choice one. I’m sure it will stir memories for any comicbook fan as to when they first discovered the early Marvel Comics and their continued interest. It’s a unique legacy that is not likely to ever be repeated and he will be missed but I doubt if he would approve of the word ‘sadly’ being added to that.

GF Willmetts

November 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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Category: Magazines, Superheroes

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 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.

Comments (2)

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  1. EamonnMurphy says:

    Good review except for the first sentence. Jack Kirby created both Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Stan knew nothing about either until the drawn and plotted artwork turned up at Marvel.

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