Comic Book Artist #4 Spring 1999/Alter Ego vol 2 no. 4 (magazine review).

Back in 1999, TwoMorrows Publishing had a habit of sharing two magazines in the same issue giving one of them a chance to build a readership and then released in its own right. The shared magazine in this instance is ‘Alter Ego’. More about that further in.

First we have ‘Comic Book Artist’ proper and their first nervous step into having a cover not using a super-hero as they delve into the Warren Publication empire.

The late Archie Goodwin’s account of Warren Magazines moving into the horror media shows it came at the right time to get the right artists before they moved on to more profitable ventures. The biggest smile was how publisher Jim Warren wanting to beat another company to the name of ‘Eerie’ in print did a slight con to the distributors with 200 copies of # 1 to convince them he had his version out first and had the name.

The interview with James Warren (1930- ) by Jon B. Cooke made me realise how little I’ve read from his perspective. Even TwoMorrows’ ‘The Warren Companion’ is long out of print and hard to come by so this is really my first close encounter. This 25 page interview shows how the young James Warren Taubman (he legally dropped his surname much later) created his own comics, enlisting in the army where a blast destroyed much of his hearing and had to rely on hearing aids ever since.

There’s also a picture of the original design of Vampirella by Trina Robbins which I thought I would never see. The fabric is a little wider but it certainly was unique. I think the biggest insight into Jim Warren is his love of the comicbook medium, his excitable nature which actually mirrors Stan Lee’s which did surprise me and probably him if he ever reads this, and the serious illness for 4 years that finished his company off because he wasn’t there to run things.

David Roach explored how the various Spanish artists worked for Warren, most of them getting there after working for British companies.

The interview with Warren editor/writer Bill Dubay (1948-2010) showed a real gift for raconteuring. His story of meeting Barbara Leigh, who was to play Vampirella, is priceless.

The other interviews here fill in a lot of background detail from artist Bernie Wrightson and some samples of his pencil work before being inked. Anne T. Murphy explores her late husband, Archie Goodwin’s time as editor/writer at Warren. I think the interview with editor Louise ‘Weezie’ Jones Simonson and how she had to convince Jim Warren that a woman could edit horror magazines was delightful and also gives some insight into how you rise up through the ranks in the American work culture.

The same also applies to Flo Steinberg. Will Eisner accounts for how he let Warren reprint ‘The Spirit’, more so as he never thought it would have a fan following after 20 years. Saying that, there still is no explanation as to why the stories were reprinted out of order. Writer Bruce Jones came to Warren principally because he saw DC and Marvel targeting a more junior audience than who he wanted to write for and got his break with ‘Jenifer’ and then Louise Simonson took anything he sent in when she became editor.

His description on the collaborative process and not to be too precious with your own material is a lesson to us all. The interview with artist Russ Heath was fairly short but insightful in how he got into the business. Bearing in mind this magazine is over 22 years old now and many of the people here are long gone, this makes this issue very important if you can lay your hands on it.

The chances of coming across a paper edition of this ‘Comic Book Artist’ is fairly low but a lot higher than coming across a copy of TwoMorrows’ ‘The Warren Companion’. The font size was slightly smaller back then so really loads a lot into each issue making for a long read.

A lot of the Warren material has been reprinted in recent years, although it is getting easier to get the original issues. I pulled a copy of Creepy # 1, much to my delight last year because I loved the cover. I suspect if you can read this issue, you’ll get a similar desire to hunt down some of this material.

Flipping the magazine over and we have the 4th issue of ‘Alter Ego’ and gives the reason why I tend to seek out the older issues when I can get them in paper format. Editor Roy Thomas explains that he needed to correct some things in the previous issue’s interview with Neal Adams about the time they were on the ‘X-Men’ together and had been told it would have to be in this successive issue. Still means I have to track down the previous issue. I do suspect a lot of it is down to foggy memories. After all, who documents talks over lunches and so forth? I did wonder who Simon Trask was and realised he meant Larry Trask’. There’s still a lot of insight here and just goes to show how much their ‘X-Men’ issues are still revered today. I was surprised to discover that the cover introducing Havok was supposed to have him in blue than that psychedelic orange which has been accepted over the years. Considering Adams taste for arranging for odd colours, especially in the Sauron story, I tended to think it just fitted the pattern at the time than using the traditional black.

Michael T. Gilbert shows us the kind of letters writer Garner Fox received about the comics he wrote and not all of them were complementary. It does give some insight that you do have to wonder how much they vary to fan mail these days.

A brief rare interview with Steve Ditko by Bob ‘Keith’ Greene gives some insight into his preference for inking and liking people who are doers. Fascinating.

Roy Thomas goes over the Kree-Skrull War in ‘The Avengers’ and how it was constructed with side-plots along the way. The added bonus was seeing some Neal Adams pages in their original pencils.

As I commented above, this is an exceedingly heavy text issue but worth every word, more so if you need some formal reading on Warren Publications.

GF Willmetts

January 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2004. 116 page illustrated magazine including a colour insert. Price: I pulled my copy off an auction website . Direct from them, you can get a digital copy for $ 5.99 (US))

check out websites: and

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.