Alter Ego #74 December 2007 (magazine review).

What is obvious when you look at this early issue of ‘Alter Ego’, the focus is on Stan Lee when he was aged 85 with a series of interviews. As editor Roy Thomas pointed out in his editorial, Stan has been interviewed so much over the years that it would be difficult to find anything that he hasn’t spoken about or shown he can’t remember of his life and work.

So, what we have here is a selection of rarer interviews taken over his career and I suspect most of you reading here haven’t been able to source. Oddly, when I was reading and familiar with Stan Lee’s voice, I was mentally using it. I’ll pick out the highlights.

The first is one of his earliest in 1965 conducted by Ted White in Stan’s office. There is the occasional interruption which White has kept in which gives some insights into what goes on in his work. I’ll mention a couple of things that if I’d come across before or hadn’t triggered on. The reason he had Jack Kirby do layouts for new artists was to get them into the swing of things than spending time over what he really wanted and the difficulty in finding good artists.

This is also the first place I’ve read about asking Stan about his Avengers and the British ‘Avengers’ TV series but as they were from different countries, he saw no name conflict.

I knew that Stan preferred to type standing up but didn’t realize he was a two-finger typist. Granted I’m a self-taught typist but did master using most of my fingers, mostly based on which are closest to the right letters but I also have a good finger memory co-ordination. If anything typing at a computer is a lot easier because the screen is larger and not looking down at the paper with the typewriter than what your fingers are doing.

An interview with Stan in 1974 by Jay Maeder examines his background and motivations with Marvel and the quality he chose to give and cultivate in his creative team. I came away from this piece thinking all the current suits and editorial teams at Marvel really need to be reminded of this and read it. There was also a reminder that some comments he made in other interviews have been expanded beyond context. Something which still happens today.

The piece about where Stan Lee appears in comics with examples hits on most of them and left me pondering on any significant ones missed. I remember the Impossible Man crashing the bullpen and a quick confirmation on-line to Fantastic Four # 175 where they were to save the Man from the irate alien.

For a change of pace, Michael T. Gilbert looks at pre-Silver Age comic-book characters that have some similarities to later Marvel characters. This time it’s an earlier Iron Man aka Bozo The Robot which started off as a robot in 1939 which looks like could have also influenced the Doom Patrol’s Robot-Man come to that. Will Murray looks at an early Thor. As mythology is copyright free, it’s hardly surprising that Thor pops up again in later decades at different companies.

Finally, back to the normal features and the Fawcett section. Here artist Marc Swayze discusses a newspaper strip, ‘Judi The Jungle Girl’, criticizing his early work and lack of shading before showing the complete thing. In many respects, this is just a female Tarzan with a dog rather than with apes and his samples are here to see.

As this ‘Alter Ego’ was released in December, there is a look at a yuletide story of ‘Captain Marvel’ where a department store is under attack, sort of, and the big red cheese wears a suit to go undercover.

As always, there is always something to learn from these magazines, so don’t miss out on early issues that pique your fancy.

GF Willmetts

July 2020

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82-page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 6.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 4.17 (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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