Alter Ego #163 March 2020 (magazine review).

TwoMorrows has a habit of showing its covers long before issue release. The cover of Alter Ego # 163 was quickly recognized by me as originally on the 1975 cover of Foom # 10, although not in full colour like this but in two shades. As an illustration, it is still a powerful piece and points out Dave Cockrum’s preference for Nightcrawler and Colossus as his favoured characters.

The first quarter of this issue focuses on Dave and Patty Cockrum with snippets from an interview by Joseph Kramar in 2003 principally about the Legion Of Super-Heroes and the X-Men, not to mention the differences between DC and Marvel Comics, touching on the Comics Code. There’s also a selection of his art and constant desire to design new characters, which is how Mystique came about when writer Chris Claremont saw the sketch seen here.

Andy Yanchus originally worked for Aurora and recruited Cockrum for design work on their model range before turning colourist at Marvel. Cockrum had a passion for model-making and we get to see his work here.

The main section is given over to Paul Allen. Both he and Cockrum were in the United States Navy and from the looks of things never actually met. However, Allen was publishing ‘The Barsoomian’, an Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired fanzine and a favoured subject of Cockrum. As such, they exchanged correspondence and art for the fanzine. He kept the letters and they are shown here and also covers his move to professional status helped along by Neal Adams. Looking at examples of Cockrum’s early work looks pretty basic but considering the printing medium of fanzines from that period was probably taking that into account.

Former fanzine editor Peter Normanton goes over having the first British horror fanzine, ‘From The Tomb’ where ‘Adventures Into The Unknown’ was the only horror comic out there. Another part of writer John Broome’s autobiography looking at the mistreatment of primates. Michael T. Gilbert continues his comparison of the earlier Charles Biro with the latter Stan Lee making an interesting observation that comicbooks needed a face to connect to. From the looks of things, Stan ultimately looked out.

A memoriam to Malcolm Willits (1934-2019) was prepared by Bill Schelly before he died late last year. Willits distinction was forming the first American comicbook store in 1965. Reading here, it obviously became a prototype for all that followed.

Finally, Richard J. Amdt interviews writer David Drake about his friend and writer Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986), who as well as being a pulp novelist wrote for a dozen comicbooks in the 1940s-1950s.

A good mixture of material, supplemented by a good selection of art from an earlier time. What’s not to love?

GF Willmetts

March 2020

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 9.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 9.95 (US))

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