Alter Ego # 39 August 2004 (magazine review)

This early ‘Alter Ego’ is devoted to comicbook artist/writer Jerry Robinson (1922-2011) and a two-part interview, some 60 odd pages, conducted by Jim Amash. The fact that part one is on the flipside means make you pay attention to which side you start on, although I presume the digital version has all the pages the right way up.

Jerry Robinson was the first ghost artist at the age of 17 on the ‘Batman’ comicbook when it first took off. Although Bob Kane was the credited creator, much of the best ideas came from writer/co-creator Bill Finger and Robinson, the latter creating Robin and the Joker. When Kane wouldn’t raise their pay, both of them went to National Periodicals/DC Comics and were taken on as staffers with better pay to do the same job. As Robinson notes, the main reason they moved on later was to get credited work under their own names, although both were already freelancing to other companies to make more money. Part One deals with his time at DC Comics in their bullpen and about the other artists he was friendly with there. If you’re a fan of the Batman and want to know more about his real roots this is the ‘Alter Ego’ to get. Robinson is a fair assessor of his own career and only really started in comicbooks to pay his university journalist tuition fees, initially drawing/inking/lettering at night.

For part two, in the 1950s, Robinson taught night school at the School Of Visual Arts how to tell a story in pictures and amongst his pupils were Steve Ditko, Jack Abel, Don Heck and others you can look up, who he got their breaks into the business when jobs turned up. His time with other cartoonists visiting military bases doing art on stage and in VA hospitals got call-backs, only hindered by them all having to get ahead on their day work before being off for a month. A lot more details are given as how Robinson helped with Neal Adams in getting Siegel and Schuster compensation from Warner Brothers/DC Comics over Superman but also in helping dissident political cartoonists in Russia and Uruguay. Jerry Robinson really packed a lot into his career. This is a must-read if you want to see an extensive career across comicbooks and newspapers.

Of the rest of the material, the second part of the interview with Al Feldstein by Michael T. Gilbert, longest term editor of ‘Mad’ magazine centres on Wallace Wood’s growing alcoholism and missing deadlines and then returns to what he did once retired.

This issue encases so much American comicbook history, especially on crucial elements that you’ll never underestimate single issue interviews. I do think it was more effective like this than being spread over two issues.

GF Willmetts

June 2024

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 104 page illustrated magazine. Price: varies. ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4399 (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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