Alter Ego #17 September 2002 (magazine review).

Sometimes I think I must be conspiring with the sugar plum fairy with my luck as I acquired a bunch of out-of-print ‘Alter Egos’ at auction recently. Getting this issue with an interview with Arnold Drake, who created, amongst others, the Doom Patrol. Interestingly, the cover is based off a design he sketched out and seems to have been a regular occurrence. Drake wasn’t pro-quality but he could at least express what he would like to see. His frank chat with Marc Svenson for video, transcribed by Christopher Irving, about rates of pay and a lot of dishonesty over pay at DC Comics from the 1950s-60s is very illuminating.

He also recognised what needed to be changed there for them to compete with Marvel, writing for the then today’s children than what they grew up with and we get to see some of the original documentation about it. His Doom Patrol artist, Bruno Premiani, also missed being ever photographed. Also of note is actor Sebastian Cabot being the visuals for the Chief but I have to wonder if his voice was also an influence. Lots of goodies if you can lay your hands on a copy.

Doom Patrol’s Robotman wasn’t the first character of that name. I remember reading the ‘All-Star Squadron’ when the original was re-introduced with its hasty explanation. Here, Roy Thomas reprints his 1965 article as told by ‘Paul Dennis’, Robotman’s pseudonym as his original Bob Crane body had been killed and his workmate, Chuck Grayson, transplanted his brain into a robot body. Comparing the two, the earlier version was closer to humanoid proportions and could wear a mask to masquerade as human when he needed to and had an entirely robot Robert the Robotdog for a time.

Michael Gilbert’s ‘Mr. Monster’ pages as a look at ‘Mad Magazine’s artist Jack Davis and George Davis. Alas, there is then reminiscences by Jim Amash for comicbook artists Dave Berg (1920-2002) and Vince Fago (1914-2002). Two decades ago now, grant you, but lives remembered.

The Fawcett Collector is more extensive with the highlight being an interview with E. Nelson Bridwell originally done by John Pierce for his own fanzine, ‘The Whiz Kids’, going a bit beyond his work on Shazam! for DC Comics.

Flipping the magazine over, Jim Amash explores the life of comicbook artist Lou Fine (1914-1971) through his offspring. Fine got his start at Will Eisner’s studio and ultimately influenced not only him but Jack Kirby with his pencil and inking techniques as he himself learnt how to do continuity. Seeing samples of his comicbook work here from the Black Condor and Doll Man, Fine made good use of his techniques taking advantage of poor paper quality when he did newspaper strips as well. He didn’t stay primarily in comicwork but went onto advertising to make money.

Murphy Anderson also goes over Lou Fine’s influence, having been there with him at the Eisner studio and gives insight into a lot of the other artists that were there at the time.

Lots of surprises here and both interesting covers.

GF Willmetts

July 2022

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated magazine. Price: I pulled a copy at auction for about £8.00 (UK). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4.99 (US))

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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.

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