Alter Ego # 51 2005 (magazine review)

Editor Roy Thomas makes a valid point in his editorial in this early edition of ‘Alter Ego’ that he never intends to keep to recognised names but those who have been missed in other examinations. In this case it is Lew Sayre Schwartz (1928-2011), alive at the time when interviewed by Jon B. Cooke about his career, including ghosting Batman for Bob Kane from 1946-1953. It is also rather telling that in Kane’s own book about his career that his ghost artists are totally ignored. Schwartz was mentored by Milton Caniff and, as an adult, ghosted for him for a while. Don’t under-estimate the ghost-artist because, for them to be effective, they have to understand the artist’s technique they are matching, not just copying panels. Even so, Schwartz did move away from comics as they weren’t as recognised as good art at the time. Schwartz move into film production makes for a read all of its own, especially as he was helpful to Stanley Kubrick and ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and there was no pie fights in the war room.

Writer Michael Baulderstone has a look at the span of Australian comicbook heroes, mostly modelled on the American version but more on the likes of the Lone Ranger and the Phantom and even combining them both. It’s hardly surprising that the original Phantom stories are still popular there. In the back issues of ‘Alter Ego’, I’ve only come across a few times that countries foreign to the USA but they do point out different cultural differences and some surprises in their choices. This article is no exception and they were also deeply affected by Wertham’s report back in the 1950s.

The second part of Michael T. Gilbert’s ‘Mr. Monster’ piece about working with Will Eisner leaves a good taste in your mouth as he was always learning new techniques and wouldn’t we want to aspire to do the same thing.

Writer Bill Schelly continues his study of American comicbook fandom and interviews Glen Johnson who went on to edit ‘The Comic Reader’ for a couple years as well as teaching Native Americans using comics as the medium.

As always, the more early issues you pick up, the more you realise that the entire run is like some form of comicbook and creator encyclopaedia. Knowledge is power.

GF Willmetts

May 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4.99 (US))

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