Alter Ego # 19 December 2002 (magazine review)

This nineteenth issue of ‘Alter Ego’ notes itself as going monthly from this point on. It also features one of the original Batman artists, Dick Sprang (1919-2000), who died a couple years before this issue came out. I have to confess looking at the cover art, I did wonder what happened to their necks. However, with an opening 1988 interview with him there is a scattering of his artwork. His Batman is far more cartoony but had to follow the Bob Kane template but he showed exceptional work in the ‘normal’ tradition that should make you stand up. Oh and he designed the Riddler.

Also of particular note is a 1989 comicbook convention where Dick Sprang and his Batman inker Charles Paris have their only guest moderation taken by Ike Wilson, giving some insight into how they worked but never actually met until more recent years. Sprang also gave some insight in how he stayed on the right side of Mort Weisinger by just being a good artist on always reliable on deadlines. I did wonder at this but not sure if I totally agree with him that all other artists had deficiencies mostly because Sprang rarely visited the DC offices so didn’t see any other side to him or any changes over time. Forgetting that, this was a really informative interview.

I did like Marc Swayze explaining how he and CC Beck couldn’t tell each other’s art apart except in the fine detail which might be an approach for additional clues for comicbook identification hounds for other unknown artists. We need to develop a new generation of artist identifying hounds.

Flipping the issue over, we see a cover by comicbook artist Fred Ray (1920-2001), most significant for his run at DC Comics, principally for his ‘Superman’ covers and his run on ‘Tomahawk’ and his attention to detail. If you’ve ever seen the picture of Superman with an eagle on his arm, that was done by Fred Ray. Back in the day, DC Comics rarely credited their creators and Fred Ray himself is described in his only interview with Charlie Roberts as pulling teeth to get answers. However, looking at his art and his attention to detail on later projects clearly showed he let his art speak for him.

Comicbook artist Mort Leav (1916-2005) gives his own account of his career and seeing his costings for food and such amongst other things should make you raise an eyebrow, even in the USA. He also co-created Sky Wolf and the Heap, the latter being the forerunner for Swamp-Thing and Man-Thing. Looking at his art samples here, one can’t deny he was a good designer in various styles.

Bill Schelly looks over the career of Richard ‘Grass’ Green (1939-2002), shortly after he died. One of the early black comicbook artists although largely from fanzine routes to his ‘Xal-Kor The Human Cat’ stories, which was put together as a collection shortly before his death and a quick check on-line doesn’t seem to show for sale anywhere twenty years later although google his art samples.

Michael T. Gilbert’s Mr. Monster looks at the time when Wallace Wood ghosted on the ‘Flash Gordon’ 1957 ‘Cyberia’ newspaper strip, principally doing a tech-looking city which should please his fans to see the material here.

As you should tell from my enthusiasm here, I like digging up early copies of TwoMorrows magazines to fill in gaps in my comicbook history. This issue really was full of surprises, even twenty years later. I’m probably cutting off my own foot saying this but if you prefer paper to digital, then pay attention to the auction sites on-line as there are always bargains popping up.

GF Willmetts

August 2022

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated magazine. Price: I pulled my copy auction for about £ 8.00 (UK). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=488&zenid=vioajkidvbhhuq7atshcostr73


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.