Alter Ego #36 May 2004 (magazine review).

I must confess, when I saw the cover of Alter Ego #36, I fully expected an interview with Joe Simon. Turns out, there isn’t one. Instead, we’re treated to an unused piece by Simon about his 1939 meeting with Carl Burgos, the chap who created and drew the original Human Torch. Simon also delves into his collaborations with Jack Kirby on Captain America and discusses the flop that was their Fighting American, all explored in a second article by Carol Kalish.

The latter failure I can attribute to the overly intricate costume design—honestly, who wants to draw that with a ruler in hand? The rest of the issue is a mixed bag, featuring an interview by Jim Amash with cartoonist Elmer Wexler (1918-2007) and a second part of Bill Schelly’s chat with South African writer John Wright.

In the Fawcett column, artist CC Beck weighs in on the challenges of naming a ‘hero’ and the problems of introducing heroines. Oddly, I recall a few years back there were plans in the US for a TV series called ‘Heroine’ with Eliza Dusku slated as the star. I don’t know if it was just my online ramblings, but I pointed out the title sounded like an illegal drug, and lo and behold, the title—and the series—were scrapped.

Flip the issue and you’ll find an exploration of early Canadian comic books. The Canadian scene really blossomed during WW2 when American comics were persona non grata. If you could draw passably and keep up with continuity, you were in! Many a teenager got their big break. Later, writer John Bell notes, Canada had its own Wertham movement, this time focusing not on horror but on crime comic violence, leading to the Fulton Act. Get this issue for a fascinating read; it’s a cautionary tale of how just one scandal can break an industry. And by 1955, when American comics made their return, the Canadian comic industry had evaporated.

The issue also features a reprint of an interview with comic book artist/illustrator Adrian Dingle (1911-1974) and his wife, offering an insider’s view of the Canadian comic book scene. Dave Sim then interviews artist/writer/painter Jerry Lazare (1927-2021), who astutely observes that swiping takes longer than original drawing.

To cap it off, Michael T. Gilbert’s Mr. Monster piece is, appropriately enough, about the original Mr. Monster—formerly known as Doc. Stearne. Created by Canadian Fred Kelly, Stearne later adopted the ‘Mr. Monster’ title for a few issues, although neither iteration looks particularly monstrous.

All in all, there’s much to uncover in early TwoMorrows publications, and this issue of ‘Alter Ego’ is no exception. I now feel somewhat acquainted with Canadian comic books, and you might too if you give it a read.

GF Willmetts

September 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing.  page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4.99 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=472


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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