roy thomas joe giel laalex toth defines the ever-shifting goals of 1940s comic book artists....
Embed Size (px)
$6.95In the USA
Roy Thomas’PugnaciousComics Fanzine
JOE GIELLAJOE GIELLATHE FELLA WHO INKED
(AND SOME GOLDEN AGE, TOO!)DC’S SILVER AGE!
Alter EgoTM is published monthly by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344.Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA.Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: [email protected]. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues:$8 ($10 Canada, $11.00 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $60 US, $120 Canada, $132 elsewhere. All characters are © theirrespective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM ofRoy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada.
This issue is dedicated to the memories ofPaul Cassidy & Al Kurzrok
ContentsWriter/Editorial: “For He’s A Jolly Good Giella…” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2“Joe Giella Is Like Fine Wine—He Gets Better With Age!” . . . . . . . . 3The man who inked DC’s Silver Age, and lots more besides—interviewed by Jim Amash.
“Comic Artists Could Draw Better Than Anybody in the World!” . . . 331950s-70s artist Jay Scott Pike speaks with Jim A. about his years at Marvel & DC.
“I Was All Over The Place, And Enjoying Every Minute Of It!” . . . 46Martin Thall tells Mr. A. all about drawing comics in the 1940s and ’50s.
Comic Crypt: Remembering Will – Part Three . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57Michael T. Gilbert’s long association with Will Eisner—and The Spirit.
“Do The Best Damn Work Possible” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63Alex Toth defines the ever-shifting goals of 1940s comic book artists.
ATalkWithWriter,Educator,&ComicsFanaticGlen Johnson:PartTwo . 65A prominent 1960s comics fan talks to Bill Schelly about Russ Manning and more.
re: [comments, correspondence, & corrections]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71In Memoriam: Al Kurzrok & Paul Cassidy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) #110 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81P.C. Hamerlinck presents Marc Swayze, some Fawcett-to-Charlton footnotes, and a Brazilianencounter between Captain Marvel & The Human Torch!
About Our Cover: Jumpin’ Joe Giella drew this brand new cover especially for this issue ofAlter Ego, spotlighting the three DC super-heroes with which he’s most closely identified, and atrio of their most dastardly enemies. For the full story behind this knockout illo, see p. 19—andto learn who christened him “Jumpin’ Joe Giella,” turn to p. 28. Three guesses, and the first twodon’t count! [Art ©2005 Joe Giella; characters TM & ©2005 DC Comics.]
Above: And thanks to Joe yet again, for sending us this splendid illo of the hero he says he mostenjoyed drawing (or even just inking). [Art ©2005 Joe Giella; Batman TM & ©2005 DC Comics.]
Vol. 3, No. 52 / September 2005EditorRoy Thomas
Associate EditorsBill SchellyJim Amash
Design & LayoutChristopher Day
Consulting EditorJohn Morrow
FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck
Comic Crypt EditorMichael T. Gilbert
Editors EmeritusJerry Bails (founder)Ronn Foss, Biljo White,Mike Friedrich
Production AssistantEric Nolen-Weathington
Cover ArtistJoe Giella
Cover ColoristTom Ziuko
And Special Thanks to:Heidi AmashMichael AmbroseGer ApeldoornBob BaileyMike W. BarrTom BatiukAlberto BecattiniPhilippe BenoistBill BlackDominic BongoRay Bottorff, Jr.Steve BrumbaughJerry K. BoydBob CherryShaun ClancyJames ClinkDwight DeckerGerry DesrosiersMark EvanierAl DellingesRoger Dicken
& Wendy HuntMichael FeldmanShane FoleyCarl GaffordJohn GentilFrank GiellaJoe GiellaJanet GilbertMatt GoreRon GoulartArnie GrievesGeorge HagenauerJennifer
HamerlinckPaul HandlerMark HeikeDave HerringJonathan IngersollGlen JohnsonHenry R. KajawaSam Kujava
Mark LuebkerBoyd MagersDan MakaraBob MaisonJoe MarekSheldon MoldoffMatt MoringFrank MotlerMark MullerJose Carlos NevesJerry OrdwayJake OsterJohn G. PierceJay Scott PikeDonald A. RexEmir RibeiroEthan RobertsHerb RogoffSteven RoweLuiz Antonio
SampaioMark ShainblumRobin SnyderJoe StatonMarc SwayzeMartin ThallGreg TheakstonDann ThomasAlex TothJim Vadeboncoeur,
Jr.Dr. Michael J.
VassalloDelmo Walters, Jr.Hames WareRobert WienerTom WimbishJackie Wolf-
EnrioneRodrigo M. Zeidan
“For He’s A Jolly Good Giella...”ctually, despite the irresistible pun above (well, irresistible tome, anyway), this issue is a triple-decker in terms of interviews,covering a wide spectrum of comics from the 1940s through atleast the 1970s.
When Jim Amash and I confer by phone about all the material that’sstacking up in our drawers and PC files for Alter Ego—a considerableportion of which, of course, consists of the great interviews he does withcomic book artisans of the Golden and Silver Ages—we occasionally getjust this side of depressed when we think about how long some of it hassat on the cyberspace shelf, awaiting a berth in an actual issue of themag.
Recently we decided that, this month, along with an already-scheduled long interview with inking legend Joe Giella, we’d see if wecould squeeze in a couple of shorter confabs, as well. Since so much ofJoe’s career is bound up with DC Comics, from the Golden Agethrough the Silver and Bronze (whatever precisely that is), despite hisearlier and later work for Marvel, we wanted to complement hisinterview with a pair of shorter ones, featuring folks more identifiedwith other companies and characters.
Jay Scott Pike certainly fit the bill—for, even though he became amainstay of DC’s romance department in the 1960s, his well-craftedwork for Timely/Marvel’s adventure titles in the 1950s particularly
intrigued us. Besides which, there was that offbeat “Dolphin” one-shothe wrote and drew for DC in the late 1960s, whose circumstances arerelated herein.
And Martin Thall spent most of his decade in the comics fieldworking for just about everybody except DC, and likewise has somegreat yarns to spin.
So settle back and enjoy a well-rounded issue. DC—Timely/Marvel—Classics Illustrated—Hillman—ACG—Lev Gleason—MikeRoss—evenFawcett (and not just in the always-fascinating FCA section, either)—you’ll learn something about all those four-color dream factories, andthe artists and writers and editors who kept them humming.
All that—plus Bill Schelly talking to 1960s comics fan Glen Johnsonabout Russ Manning, Pete Morisi, et al.—Michael T. Gilbert’s visit withWill Eisner—and letters from talents as diverse as Alex Toth and Shelly(“Hawkman”) Moldoff—should make this issue of A/E worth anycomic fan’s money.
Okay, so maybe we had to start asking you for $1 more of it perissue… but we’re determined to earn it! And the subscription pricehasn’t gone up a penny!
It’s Our HELLZAPOPPIN’ HALLOWEEN ISSUE!
DRACULA! FRANKENSTEIN!MIKE ESPOSITO!
Edited by ROY THOMASSUBSCRIBE NOW! Twelve Issues in the US: $60 Standard, $96 First Class (Canada: $120, Elsewhere: $132 Surface, $180 Airmail).
NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SIX-ISSUE SUB, JUST CUT THE PRICE IN HALF!
[Art ©2005 Dick Giordano; Marvel Dracula TM & ©2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
• Direful all-new DICK GIORDANO Dracula cover!• Three Decades of Dracula—and CCoouunntting! Artist DICK GIORDANO, writer ROY THOMAS,& editor MARK BEAZLEY rap about the 1974-2005 dark genesis of Marvel’s undeadHalloween hit Stoker’s Dracula! With behind-the-scenes stories and art!
• DICK BRIEFER’s funny Frankenstein of the 1950s! A never-before-seen completely-illustrated story from that awesome artist’s proposed newspaper strip!
• Our Gallery of Gruesomeness! A hunk of Halloween comic art by GENE COLAN, BERNIE WRIGHTSON, MIKE MIGNOLA, FRANK BRUNNER, STEVE BISSETTE, MICHAEL W. KALUTA, RUSS HEATH, JOE MANEELY, BILL EVERETT, STEVE DITKO, ERNIE SCHROEDER, ESTEBAN MAROTO, ALFREDO ALCALA, and others!
• Fabled Golden/Silver Age inker MIKE ESPOSITO on his 1940s-50s work with peerlesspartner ROSS ANDRU on Mr. Mystery, Mr. Universe, Get Lost, Up Your Nose, etc.—with more amazing anecdotes than you can shake a Styx at—in the first part of a 2-tierinterview by JIM AMASH!
• Plus—FFCCAA with MARC SWAYZE, JERRY DeFUCCIO, et al.—BILL SCHELLY on “1966—the Year of the Three Comicons!”—MICHAEL T. GILBERT’s Comic Crypt on Little Lulu(pretty scary, huh, kids?)—& MORE!!
COMING IN OCTOBERCOMING IN OCTOBER
TwoMorrows. Bringing New Life To Comics Fandom.TwoMorrows • 10407 Bedfordtown Drive • Raleigh, NC 27614 USA • 919-449-0344 • FAX: 919-449-0327 • E-mail: [email protected] • www.twomorrows.com
his year marks Joe Giella’s 60th in the comic book industry—and we want to offer our congratulations to him (and to theindustry) right up front! Joe was one of the most importantinkers of DC Comics’ Silver Age. Joe’s slick, clean line graced
the graphite etchings of many great pencilers, from Alex Toth toCarmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky, Gil Kane, and beyond. Luckilyfor us, Joe tells us about the people he inked as well as what theirpencil work was like—and the editors he worked for. From Hillmanto Timely/Marvel to DC to his newspaper strip work on FlashGordon, The Phantom, Batman, and Mary Worth, we also find outabout Joe’s other non-comics work, showing just how diverse histalents run. There’s a lot to the Joe Giella story, and we’ve tried tocover the bases as best we could. Joe’s been long overdue for coveragein Alter Ego, and thanks to Berndt Toast Gang buddy Stan Goldberg(who’s helped me out more times than I can count), we’re finally ableto remedy that situation. Thanks for sharing, fellas—and a specialthanks to Joe for delineating some of the best DC stories of mychildhood—and for being a good friend. —Jim.
“You’ll Never Make A Living Doing Artwork!”JIM AMASH: Okay, Joe—you get to answer my usual first questions.When and where were you born, and when did you know youwanted to be an artist?
JOE GIELLA: I was born June 27, 1928, in Manhattan, New York. Ihave three brothers and a sister, and I was the oldest. My love for artbegan in the late 1930s, when I was about 13 years old. We didn’t haveany drawing pads at the time, so I’d draw on anything I could get myhands on. My mother would come home from the grocery store, and I’dtear apart the bags and draw on both sides of them. I would draw every-thing—I’d doodle cartoons, you name it. And of course, my teacherswere constantly chastising me because I would sketch all over my books,and my parents were notified many times. I just liked to draw!
I was influenced by Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Tarzan, and AlexRaymond’s Flash Gordon. I was also reading comic books at the time,
and I wish my mother had kept some of them. [laughs] The Batmanwas my favorite—I felt he had the best-looking costume—but I reallyliked the Timely Comics characters: Captain America, The HumanTorch, and Sub-Mariner.
JA: Why did you prefer them?
GIELLA: As a kid, you fantasize about being The Human Torch orSub-Mariner... you feel like you’re that character. You live within thatcharacter. I couldn’t wait for the issues to come out. I loved thosecharacters.
JA: So who were some of your classmates at the School of IndustrialArts that we would remember today?
GIELLA: Well, Sy Barry—Tony Bennett the singer, who lived on myblock—Al Scaduto—Emilio Squeglio—Paul Winchell, the ventrilo-quist—and Rudy LaPick. Rudy had a great sense of humor, but I didn’t
Joe Giella & Friends(Left:) Joe (in light jacket and dark shirt) hangs out a few years back with
(l. to r.) “Archie” artist Joe Edwards, DC editor Julie Schwartz, and Joe’s son Frank.
(Right:) Joe must like these guys, too, ’cause he keeps drawing ’em! Wesuspect you may recognize them. [Art ©2005 Joe Giella; characters TM &
©2005 DC Comics.]
“JOE GIELLA Is Like Fine Wine––He Gets Better With Age!”The Man Who Inked DC’s Silver Age—& Part Of The Golden Age, To Boot!Interview Conducted by Jim Amash Transcribed by Tom Wimbish
hang out much with him. Tony Bennett—his real name is AnthonydeBennedetto—we used to hang out with him on Ditmars Boulevard inAstoria. We used to buy him hot dogs. Ditmars was the last stop inAstoria on the IRT line, and that’s where we hung out.
I never met Paul Winchell personally. He was a few years ahead of usat the School of Industrial Arts. So were Joe Kubert and NormanMaurer. Later, in the late ’40s, I went to the Art Students League withKubert and a fella called Mike Sekowsky.
An interesting story about Sekowsky: the instructor is going aroundthe class, and comes to me to critique my drawing and offer his advice—then he goes to Kubert and helps him. Finally he comes to MikeSekowsky and says, “What the heck is that?” Mike had completelyignored the model and had drawn a comic book figure. The instructorcouldn’t believe it. Mike was very insulted, and never came back.
John Romita and Les Zakarin also went to the school, but they didn’thang out with our group.
JA: Where did you get your start in comics?
GIELLA: My first job was a freelance assignment for Ed Cronin atHillman Publications. I penciled and inked a humor feature called“Captain Codfish.” I was 17 or 18. We were having problems at home
and I was the oldest, so I left high school three months before I wouldhave graduated.
Ed Cronin was a very nice gentleman; he spent a lot of time coachingme through my first job. I was a little nervous, but he put me at ease,and by the time I left Hillman, I felt pretty confident. I was concernedabout the deadline, but he said, “Take your time, there’s no problem.” Ionly did that one job for Hillman, because I was really looking for asteady assignment with a weekly paycheck. Freelance assignments aresporadic, and you never know when you’re going to get your next job.
My father was not too happy about my decision to be an artist. Hethought I would become a city worker like most of my family—a cop,or fireman, or sanitation worker—for security reasons, and the beautifulpensions they get. I broke the family tradition by becoming an artist,you see. He couldn’t understand that, so for a while we were on theouts: “You’ll never make a living doing artwork!” But let me tell you, Ihelped save that house; I really did. Eventually, he realized how serious Iwas about art, and then he supported me.
There was a period after Hillman Publications when I commuted bybus from Astoria to Englewood, New Jersey, to work on “CaptainMarvel” with C. C. Beck and Pete Costanza, though I never met them. Idid meet artist Nick Zuraw there, who I later worked with at Timely.
The Marvel Mystery Tour“As a kid, you fantasize about being The Human Torch or Sub-Mariner,” Joe recalls. He was eleven when The Human Torch roasted a police car’s tires in Marvel Mystery Comics #2 (Dec. 1939), and when Prince Namor commandeered the Statue of Liberty in #7 (May 1940)—with art and story by creators Carl Burgos and Bill Everett, respectively. That’s what we call getting in on the ground floor! Thanks to Robert Wiener for beautiful photocopies of
the former page; the latter is reproduced from photocopies of the original art. [©2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
4 The Man Who Inked DC’s Silver Age
I also joined the Naval Reserves in 1948, when I was 17 or 18 yearsold. This was right before the Korean War broke out, and I canremember everybody saying, “Where the hell’s Korea?” We joined theNaval Reserves because we were crazy: we wanted to visit differentcountries. Each year, we’d go on a two-week trip, or a three-month trip.Then the war broke out, and wow, everything changed. There we weredoing picket duty, looking for submarines, and going crazy worrying.We were in Puerto Rico the year before, and Cuba, when Battista wasthere. I was still able to do comics because, in the reserves, we’d go outon an annual cruise for two or three weeks, then come back to ourregular jobs. I’d just take a sabbatical from work for the amount of timethat I had to serve. I stayed in the reserves for eight years. We were onactive duty during each cruise, but I never had to do any fighting.
“All Of A Sudden, Mike Sekowsky Walked Into The Room”
JA: How did you get to Fawcett?
GIELLA: I didn’t work on staff at Fawcett; any work I did for themwas in a freelance capacity. I recall that they were sticklers for drawingCaptain Marvel in C. C. Beck’s style. I was mainly inking, but probablydoing a little penciling too. You’d have the style guide right there onyour desk, and that head had to be exactly the way they wanted it.
I only worked there for a short spell, maybe a couple of months,
because I wanted something closer to home. Commuting by bus to Beckand Costanza’s studio in Englewood was a trip and a half. That’s why Imade an appointment at Timely Comics, which was either in 1946 or’47.
The very first assignment that Stan gave me was a freelance job. I waslooking for a staff job, but they’d test you out first to make sure theyliked your work, and then they’d throw you in the bullpen. It wasterrific training for a young artist, because you would do a little ofeverything: penciling, inking, coloring, a little lettering. It really was agreat experience.
Anyway, Stan gave me my first assignment, which was a crimestory—probably a ten-pager—penciled by Mike Sekowsky. I took thestory home, and guess what? I lost it on the train. Nobody in myfamily—myself, my father, mother, and brothers—nobody slept thatnight, because we figured that was the end of the job. The next day, Iwent in and told Stan about it, and he hit the ceiling. He called the IRTand BMT line subways, and no luck. Then he called in Robbie Solomon,who was the production manager, but he couldn’t help, either. And Ithought that would be it for me at Timely.
All of a sudden, Mike Sekowsky walked into the room. I’d never methim before, and didn’t even know that he’d penciled the job. Mike said,“Don’t worry about it, Stan. I’ll take care of the kid.” Mike must haverecognized I had an urgent need for this job, so he re-penciled the story,and I inked it. Stan accepted it and gave me a staff position. I walked upto Mike and said, “Mike, I can’t pay you back right now, but I’ll take alittle bit out of my check every week to pay you back.” Mike said, “Nono no, forget about it.” And I thought, “Well, I’m not going to arguewith this guy—he’s 6'3".” When I didn’t get fired after losing the story,and after another crazy incident, I thought, “Well, Stan’ll never fire meafter this.”
Mike and I became very good friends, right until the very end. Heused to go out with an inker named Violet Barclay. She was a beautiful,voluptuous brunette—wow! But she preferred George Klein. So whenMike wasn’t with her, we would spend time going to Broadway playstogether, and to bars... we just had a really good time. Now you see whyI didn’t want to leave Timely Comics. I was very happy there. That wasmy home.
JA: Did you feel as if Mike took you under his wing?
GIELLA: Not exactly. Mike was a real tough guy, and he had a terribletemper, but he also had a heart of gold. He liked what I did to his work,
“Joe Giella Is Like Fine Wine ––He Gets Better With Age!” 5
Beck And ForthAlthough Joe doesn’t remember specific stories, he recalls working on theWorld’s Mightiest Mortal for Fawcett circa 1946-47. So there’s at least a
chance he may have worked with C.C. Beck and his studio on this tale fromCaptain Marvel Adventures #61 (May 24, 1946), one of four in the issue.
[©2005 DC Comics.]
Sekowsky By Winiarski?Artist Mike Sekowsky was caricatured (by fellow bullpenner Ed Winiarski?) ina mid-1940s Timely humor comic. In addition to drawing virtually every
1940s genre at Timely/Marvel, in late 1959 he became the original penciler ofDC’s “Justice League of America.” Thanks to Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. [©2005
Marvel Characters, Inc.]
and we became buddies. He had a good sense of humor. However, hedid have a bad temper, and he drank. When I worked with him atTimely, he was a social drinker. I would usually drink beer when wewent out together, but he drank the hard stuff, and I could see rightaway that this guy could put it away. When he got a little high, his truefeelings would come out... his opinions about people. It was a release; allthe venom would come out of him.
Many years later, I was working at DC Comics—mostly as aninker—but I also penciled and inked licensing work. One day, DickGiordano asked me to take one of Mike’s jobs and kind of redo it, fix itup. I looked at it, and thought, “Gee, there’s too much to work to dohere; I’m going to have to re-pencil everything.” You see, Dick had goneto California to recruit some artists. He stopped in to see Mike, andpromised him a lot of work. When Mike sent the job in, Dick was veryunhappy with it, so he gave it to me to try to salvage it. I made it clear tohim that this wasn’t an ink job, that it would have to be redrawn. Dicksaid, “Ok, go ahead and do it, Joe.” I had to redraw about 75% of thejob. That’s how much Mike had deteriorated. He was really drinkingthen.
But that wasn’t the end of it. I delivered the job, and wouldn’t youknow that the day I delivered it, Mike showed up at the office, all theway from California. The last guy I wanted to see that day was MikeSekowsky, because of our previous affiliation and the debt I owed him. Isaid, “Mike, what are you doing here?” And Mike said, “Dick Giordanopromised me a lot of work, but he didn’t come through, and I’m here totalk to him about it.” Then he asked me what I was doing there. Well, Icouldn’t lie to Mike; he was my friend. I said, “Mike, you’re going to beupset. They asked me to ink the job you sent in, and it was too rough. Icouldn’t just ink it; I had to rework a lot of it.” I thought he would hitthe ceiling, but he didn’t! After that, we just said goodbye; I don’t recallwhether we had dinner or drinks before we parted company. Later on,he called me up from California, looking for work. I think I was
working on Flash Gordon then,but I couldn’t put him on that,because the styles would conflict. Itwas so sad.
His first wife was Joanne Latta.When he met her, she was a writerin the magazine department atTimely. She was a tiny, good-looking woman with glasses, blondehair, and a nice figure. She lookedlike a schoolteacher or librarian.They lived in Levittown, NewYork, but Mike was probably notan easy guy to live with. I wish Iknew what caused their separation.Something must have happened thatwas deep and penetrating to him;something very bad. When she left,she took the two kids and moved toWashington state, and he wasn’table to see them.
I used to tell him, “Mike, I hopeyou’re saving your money, becauseat this rate, you’re going to getburned out.” And there he was,looking for work. He had probablyspent all his money, and he wasvery sick. And you know theoutcome. Toward the end of his life,he drank a lot. He used to drinkJack Daniels, and he’d drink aboutthree-quarters of a quart bottle a
day. He’d have a bottle on his taboret. I think he drank because ofJoanne.
People either liked Mike, or they didn’t like him. If you really knewhim, as I did, he would do anything for you. He would do anything forme. And Mike loved Frank Giacoia; he thought Frank was the greatest.
JA: I’ve heard that Mike had a cutting, devastating sense of humor.Does anything come to mind about that?
GIELLA: We used to work at Frank Giacoia’s house, and Mike wouldalways be coming up with jokes. His delivery was terrific; he knew howto tell a joke. We would discuss the other artists and editors, and makefun of this or that guy. But Mike would never discuss his personal lifewith us. He seemed happy after he married Pat, his second wife.
Mike had a heart of gold, though. I remember him lending money toFrank Giacoia. Any time you were in the hole and needed help, there hewas. He would never turn you down. But there were two sides to him.That’s what was so sad about Mike: he wasn’t happy with himself. Hewasn’t happy with his life. He loved the comics, really enjoyed it. Heloved the scripts, and would really dig into them. Comics was his life,and it’s just so sad. He was so myopic that he couldn’t see any further.
“Joe, Could You Pitch In On This Job?”JA: Getting back to how you started at Timely: why did Stan giveyou an inking job? Were you looking for inking work, or just anywork?
GIELLA: I would do any work that they offered. When I joined theTimely bullpen, I started out doing a little touch-up work, a littlebackground work, a little inking, redraw this, fix this head, dosomething with this panel... whatever. Later on, I assisted Syd Shores,who was drawing “Captain America” and a couple of other characters.
Hot Rods And Racing ArtistsBoth Frank Giacoia and Mike Sekowsky drew stories for Ziff-Davis’ “Hot Rod” King #1-and-only (Fall 1952). Matter offact, Giacoia has two signed tales therein. Since Joe says he helped Giacoia out on many of his art jobs, and also oftenworked with Sekowsky, could be there’s a bit of Giella in them thar panels, as well. The issue’s cover, incidentally,was a painting by pulp master Norman Saunders. For more about Ziff-Davis’ 1950s comics line, see Jim Amash’sinterview with Golden Age editor Herb Rogoff in A/E #43—still on sale wherever back issues are sold—like, on pp. 44-45 of this very issue. With thanks to Donald A. Rex for the scans. [©2005 the respective copyright holders.]
6 The Man Who Inked DC’s Silver Age
After about a year, I was mostly inking.
A lot of fellows like Frank Giacoia, Sy Barry, and myself went toinking for monetary reasons. None of us started out intending tobecome inkers; we started out penciling. I was inking two to three pagesa day, but I couldn’t pencil more than one. And you know, when youneed money, you kind-of lean toward the inking. I could bring home$90 a week instead of $40. And after a while, you kind-of get typecast.To this day, I’m still slow at penciling, and I make up the time on theinking.
JA: So you did “Captain America” several times in the ’40s, right?
GIELLA: I didn’t do a complete story. I was in production at first.They’d say, “Joe, could you ink these two pages?” Or, “Joe, can youtake care of the backgrounds on this?” Or, “Could you re-pencil this?”That was the extent of it.
JA: You were on staff at Timely for about two years. What featuresdid you work on?
“Joe Giella Is Like Fine Wine ––He Gets Better With Age!” 7
Timely’s Not-Quite-So-Big ThreeJoe recalls working on each of Timely’s three major super-heroes in the later 1940s,during their waning days—never doing a complete story, but inking a page here, re-penciling a panel there. For that reason, we’ve repro’d last pages, rather than splashes,from one such possible “jam” issue—Marvel Mystery Comics #86 (March 1948). The
“Torch” tale contains lots of nice moody blacks—and Ye Editor found himselfwondering if shadowy panels on some pages didn’t betray the work of a young GeneColan. The “Sub-Mariner” tale looks like pure Bill Everett, who often drew him wearingmore than just swimming trunks. Syd Shores was the main “Captain America” artist
during this era, and may have contributed to this outing. Oh, and there was a “BlondePhantom” story in the 52-page issue, as well. [©2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
GIELLA: “Captain America,” “The Human Torch,” “Sub-Mariner”...among others. I also did humor work.
JA: In 1947, Stan Lee wanted to update “The Sub-Mariner,” and heasked Lee Elias to draw a couple of stories. Stan didn’t like theresults, and had some bullpen guys rework the stories.
GIELLA: I probably was one of them. I don’t recall ever getting anentire story to ink, though, and I don’t remember who I might haveinked on “Sub-Mariner.”
JA: What was it like to work on those characters when, just a fewyears before, you were buying their comic books?
GIELLA: What a feeling! I was ecstatic! I was working on thesecharacters that I had loved, enjoyed, and fantasized about. What adream! I think they started me at $60 a week, and then it worked up toninety. That was a lot of money back then. I’d get one check a weekfrom Magazine Management, and I used to give my mother $50 out ofthat.
JA: Was Stan Lee the only editor you worked for at Timely?
GIELLA: I worked for Al Sulman and Al Jaffee, but it would have beenin the same capacity as for the other editors. They would ask me, “Joe,
could you pitch in on this job?” Most of the time,I would.
JA: Who oversaw the bullpen?
GIELLA: The editor that you were working for.There weren’t too many people in the bullpen.
There was a humor bullpen in another room, but Iwas in the “adventure” bullpen with Syd Shores,Vince Alascia, Al Sulman, Al Bellman, and afeisty little fella named Bill Walsh. Nobody wasreally in charge of the room. An editor—maybeAl Sulman—would come in and say, “Joe could
you work on this?” And I’d say, “Gee, I have tofinish this first,” or “I’m doing this for Syd.”
I have a story about Al Sulman. Al invited me to the Yale-Harvardfootball game. When we sat down, I noticed there was an empty seat,which was for Al’s girlfriend. And then we heard on somebody’sportable radio that there had been an airplane crash. It turned out thatAl Sulman’s girlfriend was on board the plane, and she died in the crash.I think it was a year before Al came back to work.
JA: Al Jaffe described Al Sulman as not having much of a sense ofhumor. Describe him for me.
GIELLA: Yeah, he was serious. He had black hair, horn-rimmed glasses.He was a little on the chunky side. He wasn’t interested in athletics, andhe ate a little too much.
JA: At the time, Al Sulman was editing Captain America, some of theadventure comics, and maybe Westerns, too. So Stan was like theüber-editor (for want of a better term), and Sulman was a full editorworking under Stan, right?
GIELLA: Right. Stan very rarely asked me to do anything directly; itwas usually through another editor. I’d see Stan every day, though. He’dcome into the room and look at what I was doing, and maybe look atwhat someone else was doing. Then maybe he’d blurt to one of theartists, “Can I get Joe on this other story?” And the artist might say,“No, he’s got to finish this first, Stan.” And maybe later that day Stanwould come into the room and joke about something, or critique thework being done. Other times, Stan and Syd Shores would discussfuture titles they would be putting out.
Syd later became a taxi cab driver; that was so sad. I happened to seehim while I was on jury duty back in the early ’70s, and he told me hewas driving a cab because he couldn’t find work. Of course you knowthat he passed away many years ago.
JA: Bob Deschamps said you guys used to make fun of Syd’s toupee.
GIELLA: Not me, but the others used to.
“What Do You Remember About…?”JA: What were your impressions of Stan Lee at this time?
GIELLA: I looked up to him. He had a sense of humor, and as Imentioned earlier, he didn’t fire me when he could have. We becamevery good friends. I went to see the first Superman movie with Stan. Wewere walking toward the theatre and I said, “Stan, what the heck are allthese cops on horseback doing here?” And he said, “Gee, I don’t know,Joe.” So we walked into the theatre and sat down. Then Stan said to me,“Joe, y’know why all the cops were out there? Look ahead of us.” Acouple of rows in front of us were Mayor Koch and Governor Carey.
I saw Stan at San Diego when they gave me the Inkpot Award, and hejokingly said, “Joe, I should have fired you that day you lost that job onthe train.” [laughter] He’d never forgotten it. I also used to see him at
8 The Man Who Inked DC’s Silver Age
The Merry Marvel Marching Society – 1947 EditionWe’ve previously printed this caricature of Stan Lee, which appeared in his
1947 book Secrets behind the Comics, but since Joe mentions him soprominently, here ’tis again—alongside a page of the archetypal dumb blondeMy Friend Irma, drawn by Dan DeCarlo. This 1950s TV/radio-licensed Timelytitle is the earliest place Roy T. recalls seeing the name “Stan Lee” as a kid.Repo’d from an Australian black-&-white reprint mag, with thanks to MarkMuller. [Caricature ©2005 Stan Lee; Irma page ©2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
f you want a story with beautiful women in it, look no furtherthan a Jay Scott Pike tale. Scott, as he prefers to be called, delin-eated breathtaking women for romance comics and for titles like
Lorna, the Jungle Girl and Jann of the Jungle. His attention to junglefoliage heightened the reality of their environment and was always apleasure to look at. And, though sadly he wrote and drew his late-’60screation “Dolphin” only once, she remains a cult favorite amongcomics fans. As far as we’re concerned,Jay Scott Pike ranks high on the all-time list of classic “good girl” artists;and if you want further proof of that,then check out his eBay auctions forexamples of his current work, orcontact Marianne Ohl Phillips atwww.moppinup.com. But please waituntil you’ve read our whole interview!You’ll find plenty of evidence on viewthere, as well. —Jim.
“I Just Wanted To Draw”JIM AMASH: We can’t get away withnot asking this question, so I’ll ask itfirst: when and where were you born?
JAY SCOTT PIKE: Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, September 6, 1924.
JA: I was born in Altoona, PA.
PIKE: Oh yeah, where the coal mines are. I went to the University ofPennsylvania for one semester before I went into the Marine Corps. Iwas on the Freshman football team, and just about all the guys on theteam were from the Pennsylvania coal fields. Boy, were they tough!
JA: Oh, I know it! So you were a football player. What got you inter-ested in cartooning?
PIKE: Like most professional cartoonists, I liked to draw and drew allthe time. I remember when the movie Snow White and the SevenDwarfs came out. It was being played all the time, and it fascinated me.I got so that I could draw all the characters in the movie. I just wantedto draw.
I graduated from high school in Morristown, New Jersey, and wentto college, as I said. I enlisted in the Marines in December 1942.
JA: So you volunteered. Did you have a deferment because you werein college?
PIKE: I don’t think they had college deferments then. I actually triedeight times to get into the service before they took me. They wouldn’ttake me because I’m color blind—well, not actually color blind, but Ihad trouble seeing colors. Finally, on my last try, the Corps man turnedme down, but there was an old chief on the other side of the room, who
said, “Awww...let him in.” [laughs] That’s how I got into the MarineCorps.
I got out in ’46. I was discharged in San Diego, and tried to get intocollege there, but they were only taking California residents. I did get intothe Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. I got married in 1948, andafter living in Indiana for a while, we came down to the Ringling Schoolof Art in Sarasota, Florida. I went to school there for a year and a half, and
“Comic Artists Could Draw BetterThan Anybody In The World!”Artist JAY SCOTT PIKE Talks About His Days At Timely/Marvel & DC
Interview Conducted & Transcribed by Jim Amash
Beauty & The BeardJay Scott Pike (in a self-portrait done a decade or two back)—and a
drawing of his heroine Dolphin which he did especially for interviewer Jim Amash. Scott’s the one on the left. [Portrait & art ©2005 Jay Scott Pike;
Dolphin TM & ©2005 DC Comics.]
Hartley WorkingAl Hartley, a Timely/Marvelmainstay for many years onhumor comics, was still
drawing Patsy & Hedy in 1964when this photo appeared inMarvel Tales Annual #1. Thesetwo “Kollege Kapers” pagesare from issues #1 & #2,respectively, of B&I
Publishing’s The Kilroys in1947, an early and funny
Archie imitation; they displaya slightly different style of
Hartley art than seen in PatsyWalker, et al. Thanks to JoeMarek, Steve Brumbaugh, andBob Bailey for all sending
copies of the photo of Al—andto Ger Apeldoorn for the
comics pages. [Photo ©2005Marvel Characters, Inc.; art
©2005 the respectivecopyright holders.]
learned about all they were going to teach me, so I went to Manhattan,thinking the world was waiting for me to be a straight illustrator.
“Al Hartley…Got Me Into Comics”JA: Is that where you met Al Hartley?
PIKE: Actually, I grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and when wemoved back north, we lived in Morristown for a year or so. Al Hartleywas living in Washington Valley, which was real close to where I lived.He was the one who got me into comics, in 1950. My hope had been towork at home and find high paying illustration work, but I couldn’tseem to get any work. At that time, I didn’t want to commute to NewYork City, so a friend of mine suggested I draw comic books. I didn’twant to do that, because I thought comic books were the bottom of thebarrel, and I didn’t know much about comics at all. But I was soimpressed by Al Hartley’s lifestyle, because he was making a lot ofmoney, and he was fast. He was really cranking the work out.
I penciled stuff for Al for about two weeks, but our styles were reallynot compatible, and we both realized that. Because of that, we sort-ofgot irritated with each other. By then, I had gotten to know Stan Lee. Iremember the first story I did was a 3-pager about a professional golfer,though I can’t remember his name. Then Stan started feeding meWesterns, and if you’ve done Westerns, you know how long it takes todo a story. All those horses, costumes, gun belts... they take time. I didthem... I did all kinds of things. At that time, I was... and I still am, Iguess... pretty much against war. I did a few war stories before I decidedI didn’t want to do any more of them. Stan Lee was very understandingabout it. Maybe the stories I did weren’t gory. I got into doing horrorstories, and drew The Black Rider for a long time.
“I Always Found [Stan Lee] Easy To Work With”JA: Did you work at home or on staff? And what do you rememberabout Stan Lee?
PIKE: I worked at home. I liked Stan Lee a lot and always found himvery easy to work with. When my wife and I moved back to Florida,Stan always gave me two or three scripts at a time, so when I finished astory, I could jump right into another one. Personally, I hardly ever sawhim, though we talked on the phone a lot.
As soon as I realized I could keep busy doing comics and live where Iwanted, my wife and I moved back to Sarasota, Florida. In the secondhalf of the 1950s, the comic book business went to hell, so I wasstranded down in Florida without any visible means of support. I did allkinds of things, like portraits. I did them in pastels. I also did paintingsin the bottom of swimming pools, architectural renderings...anything tomake a buck. I also worked for several agencies, but two of them wentbelly-up, owing me about $18,000, which did us in. That was in 1960, sowe moved back to the New York area so I could get some decent kind ofwork.
JA: Since you lived in Florida for most of your Timely career, youmainly talked to Stan by phone. I’m surprised he had the time,considering how busy he was. Was Stan the only one you talked to orwas there another editor you worked with?
PIKE: No, I always talked to Stan. There was one time that I got a callfrom a secretary or an assistant. She said, “Do you have to wrap thosepages up like you do? They’re wrapped like a bomb.”
JA: Yeah, but the first time pages came in damaged, you’d have heardabout it. Now, you said you did Black Rider. You happen toremember who the writer was?
PIKE: It might have been Bob Bernstein, but I’m not positive. I don’tthink Stan wrote many of the stories I worked on, but he sure did a lotof writing. Stan told me that when he was in the Army, he’d get aweekend pass, get a hotel room, and write stories. He said he couldmake a thousand bucks over the weekend, and I was impressed by that.But I really don’t remember the names of the writers.
34 Artist Jay Scott Pike Talks About His Days At Timely/Marvel & DC
“I Liked Doing The Female Jungle Features”JA: You also drew Kid Colt, Lorna the Jungle Girl....
PIKE: Oh, yeah, I drew a lot of Lornas. I drew Jann of the Jungle, too.
JA: You also drew stories for the crime and adventure comics, likeAll-True Crime. Did you have a favorite genre?
PIKE: I really liked the romance stories because I could draw themfaster. I could draw a close-up of a woman’s face with a tear coming outof her eye. That was easy.
JA: You really had a great gift for drawing pretty women.
PIKE: Yeah, that was my strongest point, and still is. The stuff I sell oneBay is all girly drawings. I liked doing the female jungle features—thepretty women and all that foliage. I was doing Lorna when the ComicsCode came into being. That was the only time I ever got any work back.One of the nice things about comics was that I did the work and neversaw it again. There wasn’t anyone nitpicking my work.
But they sent two stories back to me. I had to reduce Lorna’s breastsize. There were scenes when she was swinging on vines above theground, with her skirt flying up. I had to redraw the skirt down aroundher knees, even though she was flying upwards. [laughs]
JA: In a case like that, did they call you and tell you the work wascoming back, or did a package just show up with a note attached tothe art?
PIKE: I guess Stan called me first. I don’t remember him being upsetabout it. It was just the way things were. Comics got a lot of badpublicity, thanks to EC Comics. That Johnny Craig cover where theman was holding up the severed head! That was too gory and got us intotrouble. Congress got involved, and that gave them a chance to be self-righteous.
“I Didn’t Feel Bad About Doing Comics”JA: Well, you weren’t particularly proud of being in comics anyway,were you? You wanted to be an illustrator.
PIKE: I did want to be an illustrator, but I knew a few, and I wasmaking more money than they were. You don’t generally get rich doingcomics, but I was doing well then.
JA: When the Senate Investigations were going on, were you embar-rassed to admit you were doing comics?
PIKE: I remember people asking me about it. I said, “Listen, thepublishers I work for are pretty doggoned straightlaced.” I can’tremember either Timely or DC coming out with stuff that I thought wasbad. I didn’t feel bad about doing comics.
JA: Then you didn’t feel bad about drawing horror stories.
PIKE: I wasn’t good at doing horror stories, so I got out of doing them.Stan simply didn’t give me those, because he realized they weren’t mystrongest area. Once I got into romance, that’s pretty much all I got. Idid like doing Westerns, but they took me longer to do. I took littleshortcuts, like when a posse’s running into town, they kick up a lot ofdust, so I didn’t have to draw the feet of the horses. I did like drawinghorses, though it wasn’t easy for me.
“Stan Would Call Me…Would I Take A Rate Cut?”JA: How fast an artist were you?
PIKE: Back in the ’50s, I could average $25,000 a year. I was gettingabout $35 to $40 a page, pencils and inks. To make 25 grand, I’d have toaverage $500 a week, so I had to be cranking out two pages a day.
JA: Did you letter your stories?
“Comic Artists Could Draw Better Than Anybody In The World!” 35
That Was Lorna—But She’s Only A Dream“I drew a lot of Lornas!” recalls Scott. Here, courtesy of collector Bob Cherry, are two Pike splashes and an action page (from the second story) from Lorna, the Jungle Girl #22 (Dec. 1956). Even Sheena never looked more gorgeous in a jungle setting! And, like Jim Amash says, the foliage ain’t too shabby, either.
(That’s “trees,” for you guys with dirty minds.) [©2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
“I Was All Over The Place, AndEnjoying Every Minute Of It!”
MARTIN THALL On Drawing Comics And Witnessing Comics History In the 1940s & ’50sInterview Conducted by Jim Amash Transcribed by Tom Wimbish
artin Thall’s comic book career lasted a little less than adecade, but in that time, he managed to partner himselfwith guys like Wally Wood, Ross Andru and MikeEsposito, and George Evans. Martin also did quite a bit
of work on his own for companies like Timely, Fox Features, and St.John Publications. If he didn’t make his mark on comics the waysome of his contemporaries did, he still says, “I witnessed a lot ofhistory.” Thanks to “fellow defense attorney” and author DavidHajdu, I was able to coax Martin to step into the witness box and tellus a few stories about his comic book years. Now you get to judgewhether or not Martin made a good witness. This entertaininginterview stands as our verdict. —Jim
“Jack Kirby Was My Mentor”JIM AMASH: When and where were you born?
MARTIN THALL: Brooklyn, New York, on November the 30th, 1930.It was a very good year.
JA: You were born Martin Rosenthal, right? Why did you changeyour name?
THALL: That’s an interesting story. When my grandfather came to thiscountry from Poland, his name was Schmael Colycka. I think that’sYiddish: “Schmael” means sloppy, and “Colycka” means cripple. He
came here in 1906 or 1907. At that time, there was no TV or radio, butthe newspaper boys would take to the streets and yell out, “Wuxtry,wuxtry!” And the headlines were, “Herman Rosenthal captured!” Thenshortly after that, “Herman Rosenthal on trial!” Then, “HermanRosenthal convicted!” When my grandfather first came here, the firstname he heard was Rosenthal, so he took it.
Thall Or Nothing At All(Left:) In May, Martin Thall sent Ye Editor a proofsheet of what he called
“some recent reasonable facsimiles of myself. Pick one.” Hey, we like ’em all,Martin, so…!
(Above:) The year 1951 saw Fawcett publish 6 issues of Captain Video, based onthe early TV hero, all with art credited to George Evans—so since Martin says hedid inking and backgrounds for Evans on that mag, we figure this page mayjust show their work together. Repro’d from a black-&-white 1950s Englishreprint of Captain Video #2 (April 1951), courtesy of Roger Dicken & Wendy
Hunt. [©2005 the respective copyright holders.]
Coincidentally, about 40 years later, I got into a cab, and the cabbie’scard said that the driver’s name was Herman Rosenthal. I told him thestory, and he said, “The gangster who gave your grandfather his namewas my grandfather.” Small world.
I legally changed my last name to Thall in 1953. I used to be veryvain, and I was thinking about signatures. “Rosenthal” just didn’t seemto go well, but “Martin Thall” seemed to be a good signature. I triedother names, such as “Emrose” and “Martin Rose,” before deciding on“Martin Thall.” Everybody had a signature: Milton Caniff, Bob Kanewith a big “O.” I wanted a new signature, so I registered my name asThall.
JA: Tell me about your experiences with Jack Kirby.
THALL: Jack Kirby was my mentor. He was wonderful; I saw himevery day after school. He worked at DC Comics. This was right after1945. At that time, all the cartoonists at DC didn’t work at home; theyworked at the publisher’s. I went over to DC, and there was Jack Kirby.Joe Simon was still in the service, and hadn’t gotten out yet. They didn’tlast much longer at DC. I went to the High School of Industrial Arts inthe daytime, and the Cartoonists and Illustrators School at night, and Iused to visit Jack Kirby in between. He would look at my work, and say,“You’re too realistic; you draw things that any human body can do. I
don’t pay attention to that.” When Jack drew a guy throwing a punch,his body twisted in a way that the human body couldn’t manage. Hefreed me up, and he showed me how he laid out his figures. When JackKirby laid out a page, he worked on illustration board rather than thesoft board, and he blocked out his panels before doing the actualdrawing.
One scene he did had a pirate ship coming alongside some kind of seavessel, and the pirates were raiding the vessel. He had a cast of thousandsin the shot. When Jack put down a line, it was there. He sort-ofvisualized the whole thing; he was able to see what was going on in hismind, and model that. He could do eight pages a day, and he nevererased; it was incredible. It was almost like he was tracing on paper whathe saw in his mind.
One Christmas, in 1945, I bought him a box of White Owl cigars—that’s the cheapest cigar in the world; no cigar smoker will go anywherenear them—and he was very touched by it. Jack chain-smoked cigars. Iwas on a school break, it was Christmas vacation, and he said, “Let’shave some coffee.” We went to the Waldorf-Astoria, which was onlythree blocks away from DC’s office at 480 Lexington Avenue. He tookme to the Wedgewood Room, which was an elegant place, about fiftyyears old, and bought me dinner. I had my first shrimp cocktail there; heordered it for me. Then he took me across the street on Park Avenue toan art supply store called Irving Berlin. I was just looking around whilehe was ordering stuff, and then he gave me this huge package. It was adrawing pad, pens, ink, brushes, all kinds of supplies. He was a reallygreat guy to me.
I used to hang around at DC Comics. I knew everybody there, all theeditors, but I never worked for the company.
JA: When you watched Jack Kirby work, was he writing the stories,too?
THALL: I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so. I was so fixed onhis boards that I don’t recall seeing a script. I should have noticed that.
I did a terrible thing to Jack once. After he left DC, he and Joe Simonhad their own studio. The letterer was Howard Ferguson. Bob Henryand Steve Brodie were inkers there, but Joe Simon did most of theinking. Anyway, they would stack their pages, and were working so fastthat they would pass them around. Jack would pencil it, hand it on to beinked, then another guy would rule the panel borders and letter it. Theywould just go in circles. They were knocking them out so fast that it wasfascinating.
Anyway, the pages were stacked on end on the floor between BobHenry’s taboret and his drafting table. Bob Henry dropped his pencil, orsomething like that. I reached for it, knocked over a bottle of ink thatwas on the taboret, and it spilled all over the pages that were donealready. Jack said, “Should we lynch him?” Then he said, “You’d bettergo.” I had damaged three pages. They had to be done all over again. Isaid, “Are you gonna let me come back?” and he said yes. They were sogracious about it that it was incredible. I felt terrible.
It was fascinating watching Will Eisner pencil, and watching him inkwith a Japanese brush. That was in 1950, I believe. I used to go upwherever artists were drawing. It was easy to find them after World WarII, because they were all working at their publishers’ facilities. Thecompanies had large bullpens for all of them.
JA: What do you remember about Joe Simon?
THALL: Very little. He was a nice guy, and he lived on Long Island.Simon and Kirby had an extension line in their office, so I could talk tothem at the same time. I’d call them in the evening while they wereworking, and they’d chat with me about everything and anything in theworld. They were terrific.
That’s Quite A Stunt, Man!“When Jack [Kirby] drew a guy throwing a punch, his body twisted in a waythat the human body couldn’t manage!” And he made it look good, everytime—as in this Simon & Kirby-produced Stuntman page, repro’d here fromPure Imagination’s The Complete Jack Kirby – March-May 1947, and used by
permission of Greg Theakston. [Retouched art ©2005 Greg Theakston;Stuntman TM Joe Simon & Estate of Jack Kirby.]
“I Was All Over The Place, And Enjoying Every Minute Of It!” 47
“We Met At Fiction House…”JA: You also spent time at Fiction House. Tell me about that.
THALL: Fiction House Publications had all their artists working in thebullpen. It was one large room with Charlie Sultan, John Celardo,George Evans, Bob Lubbers, and a woman named Francis. I got toknow Charlie Sultan very well, and Maurice Whitman, too. Sultan camethere after the war, as did most of the other guys. Then he startedworking at home. In 1956, he stopped cartooning—he wasn’t doing verywell as a cartoonist in the later part of his life—and went into publishing.He called me up in 1958 and said, “Do you want to work for me?” Isaid, “Sure.” He was publishing a racing magazine and an adventuremagazine. I was the art director. I was there for less than a year.
JA: I’ve heard that he was cross-eyed. Is that true?
THALL: Yeah. Maurice always said that he “drew crooked,” and he did.One eye didn’t match the other eye. It was strange.
JA: What were you doing at Fiction House? Were you just visitingthere?
THALL: Yeah, that was before I broke in. I never got any work fromFiction House.
JA: What can you tell me about Maurice Whitman?
THALL: He was a great artist, and a very good illustrator. He had aterrible marriage, and near the end of his life he was very fat. There wasa beautiful young girl working at Fiction House, and she was in lovewith Maurice. I think they finally got together in the end. At that time, Iwas sharing space with Charlie Sultan. I wasn’t working with him, but Iwas sharing space with him.
JA: How large was Fiction House’s office?
THALL: They had a huge office. The artists’ room had about 20 peoplein there. There was an old guy named Joe Doolin, who did many of thecovers. He spent about a week doing a cover; he was very methodical.None of his covers had anything to do with what was going on inside.
Fiction House FavoritesIn the 1940s, Martin Thall reports he shared studio space with noted comic book artists Charles Sultan & Maurice Whitman.
(Left:) Fiction House collector Paul Handler ID’s this Charles Sultan-drawn splash page, repro’d from photocopies of the original art, as coming from RangersComics #37 (Oct. 1947). Pay no attention to that byline “R.W. Colt.” The company’s comics and pulp magazines were full of fictitious “house names”—maybe
that’s why publisher T.T. Scott named it “Fiction House”!
(Right:) Maurice Whitman often drew “Kaänga” (officially always by “Frank Riddell”). This splash page was retouched by Bill Black and his merry AC Comicscrew, with gray tones added, for his black-&-white collection Golden Age Greats, Vol. 14 – The Comic Book Jungle. It’s still available; check out AC’s full-page ad
in this issue’s FCA section. [Retouched art ©2005 Paragon Publications/AC Comics.]
48 Martin Thall On Drawing Comics And Witnessing Comics History In The 1940s & ’50s
My Visit With WillFor as long as I can remember, I idolized Will Eisner. We began
corresponding in 1978, and in 1982 I met him at the School of VisualArts in New York, where he was teaching cartooning.
Over the years Will and I would occasionally touch base, chatting fora few minutes at comic book conventions and such. In the years sinceI’d first met him, Will and his wife Ann had moved from New York tosunny Florida. In January 1997, I visited my parents in West Palm Beachand made arrangements to stop by Will’s studio in West Tamarac, aboutan hour away.
If my wife Janet and I were expecting the great Will Eisner to workin some fancy-schmancy office complex, we were in for a rudeawakening. The address Will gave us led us to a strip mall located in aworking-class neighborhood. His office was in a nearby building. Thearea reminded me of a low-rent district in New York, the perfect spotfor a no-nonsense businessman like Will.
Eisner’s studio was clean, neat, and efficient. It wasn’t huge, but bigenough for him to work comfortably. Will introduced us to his brotherJulian (known as Pete), his business manager. As I recall, Pete’s officecontained a beautiful piece of original poster art from Will’s Army days.Another wall displayed dozens of original drawings sent to Will by hisadmirers.
Will’s desk was at the far end of the room, surrounded bybookshelves stuffed with graphic novels, mine included. An impressivedisplay of plaques and awards from various countries lined the walls.Nearby was a drawing table, complete with layouts for yet anothergraphic novel.
After showing us around, Will drove us to a nearby golf course forlunch. At 79, Will was in great shape (he played tennis every day!), andvery sharp. We reminisced about our days in New York. He chuckled asI described feeling like The Spirit every time I went down into NewYork’s gloomy subway system.
I reminded him of our meeting at the School of Visual Arts yearsearlier and he told me he loved teaching those classes. Janet and I werestunned to learn Will flew to New York each week for years to teach atthe school even after he’d moved to Florida. He said it was worth thetrip just to inhale that wonderfully polluted New York air!
Will also described a large mural he’d designed, painted on the side ofa building in Copenhagen. It featured The Spirit and one of his favoritecharacters, Gerhard Shnobble, the poor schlubb who could fly like abird (though no one knew it!). By coincidence, Janet and I wereplanning a trip to Copenhagen that September and made a note to lookfor it. Months later, we finally tracked it down after tromping throughhalf the city. Luckily there were ample pastry shops to sustain us alongthe way.
After I returned, I pitched couple more ideas for The New
Michael and Will in 2001, at Will’s studio in Tamarac, Florida. Wonder whodrew all those nifty cards in the background?
Part Twontroduction: Last issue featured the first part of my conversationwith Glen, a former editor of The Comic Reader who wrotesome of the better articles on comics history for the early fanzines
(Comic World, Alter Ego, Heroes Illustrated, et al). Glen alsopioneered the use of the sequential art format to teach English as asecond language on Indian reservations in the 1960s. We spoke bytelephone on January 16, 2005.
In this second half of our long-overdue talk, we discussed whyGlen left his editorial/publishing post at The Comic Reader, the“fanclave” he attended at artist Russ Manning’s house in May 1964,his views on current comics, and more. Special thanks to Brian K.Morris for his usual fine transcription effort, and to my friend andcolleague Jeffrey Kipper for editing the interview down to final form.
BILL SCHELLY: Getting back to the period when you were editingThe Comic Reader, I understand that Ronn Foss not only did somefan art for you, but actually dropped by so you could meet in person.
GLEN JOHNSON: Yes, he and his sister Beverly came by when wewere on the reservation while they were traveling west. It was veryunusual for me to have a fellow fan visit. They stayed with us for acouple nights. Beverly brought her Joy Holiday outfit and put it on forus. We got some pictures of her wearing it and then my wife tried it on.[laughs] That was really the first time I had met a Big Name Fan. Ronnwas very knowledgeable, and I’ve always been surprised he neverbecame a professional comics artist, full-time. His drawing style was acombination of Kubert and Kirby.
BS: He did make a living off his artwork in later years, but not in thecomics field, per se. I think he certainly had the ability, but I don’tthink he had the drive. He was one of the most popular artists infandom, and he loved Golden Age comics, especially those from the’50s. What was your reason for stepping down from publishing ofComic Reader?
JOHNSON: It was a lot of monthly work. I put out about 12 pages perissue. Also, I printed it on ditto machine at the school where I worked. I
wasn’t really supposed to be using that machine for cranking out a comicbook newsletter. I had to go to the school on Sundays or late at night tosneak the publication of my fanzine.
BS: You did it for quite a long time; then, when you passed it on toDarrell Rothermich and Jim King, they published it via photo-offset.I’ve thought of this stuff many times when writing my columns andbooks on comics fandom, but you probably haven’t talked aboutthese events in a long time.
JOHNSON: Not in a long time…
BS: Were you also interested in newspaper comic strips, as well?
JOHNSON: Yes. I clipped them and saved them. I don’t think I wascollecting strips when I lived in New Mexico. It was later, after I movedto Utah, in 1967. I subscribed to the Asbury Park Press and then apaper from just north of Seattle that carried Tarzan. Russ Manningstarted doing Tarzan, and I was lucky to save the complete run that hedid for the Sunday page, along with other good strips.
I spent four years on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. At thetime, there were a couple of dozen off-reservation Indian schools andthe one in Brigham City, the Inner Mountain Indian School, wasprobably one of the largest and best known. I actually lived about 400miles from the reservation. The school was just an abandonedgovernment facility that was converted into an Indian school.
BS: On the topic of your article-writing for fanzines in 1963, youwere pretty tied up with Comic Reader, and it seems like you really
Just A Society of AmericansFan-artist Ronn Foss (with his ever-present pipe) visits Glen Johnson and hiswife Maizie in New Mexico in 1965—juxtaposed with Biljo White’s re-creationof the cover of All-Star Comics #24 (with Starman and Sandman replacingGreen Lantern and The Flash) which accompanied Glen’s article on the JSA in
Alter Ego [Vol. 1] #8 in 1965. Photo probably by Beverly Foss; all photosaccompanying this interview are courtesy of Glen Johnson. [Art ©2005 Estate
of Biljo White; Justice Society TM & ©2005 DC Comics.]
A Talk With Writer, Educator, & Comics Fanatic
GLEN JOHNSONby Bill Schelly
Title 65Comic Fandom Archive
burst forth after that with the publi-cation of articles for Comic World andalso Alter Ego. With regard to AlterEgo, did you have a pretty goodfriendship and correspondence with RoyThomas?
JOHNSON: I did. Roy and I startedcorresponding in 1961. He wantedsomething about the JSA in each issue,and yet he wanted a view other than hisown, so he asked me to write articlesabout the JSA.
BS: The first one you wrote was “TwoCases of Conscience,” for Alter Ego #8.It must have been written towards theend of 1964 or early ’65. At the end ofthe article, there’s a photo of youlooking very urbane, with a pipe.[NOTE: See previous issue.]
JOHNSON: Yes, I smoked a pipe. I quitsmoking about 20 years ago. In fact, I gotthat idea from Ronn Foss. He did that foran article. [laughs] He was holding apipe, and he looked very distinguished.My wife took that picture of me.
BS: It’s the “man who readsPlayboy” sort of look. Did Roysuggest the specific subject for thearticle?
JOHNSON: He did. I think hesuggested both articles, the one in #8and the one in #9. I’ve always hadlike 20 or 25 really worn-out issuesof All-Star to work from.
BS: Alter Ego went out to justabout everybody. So, let’s face it,Glen, you were a Big Name Fan.
JOHNSON: I was!
BS: [laughs] You published TheComic Reader, you were publishedin the top fanzines…
JOHNSON: I was also a chartermember of CAPA-Alpha. Ipublished an apa-zine called SmallTalk for years. I don’t have thoseCAPA-Alphas any more. After Idropped out of the apa, somebodyoffered me a fabulous amount ofmoney for my collection.
BS: It’s not too surprising that you’dend up in that very famous photowith Russ Manning, Bill Spicer,Richard Kyle, John McGeehan, andRick Durell in a meeting in May of1964 at Manning’s house. You werethe guy who kind-of sparked thatmeeting, weren’t you?
JOHNSON: We were going out toCalifornia, and Russ Manning and I
corresponded quite regularly. I told himI’d like to come by and visit him. Andhe says, “Well, if you’re going to comeby, there are a number of other fans thathave been wanting to come by also. I’lljust make the whole day a sort of a fanget-together.” And so that’s whathappened. My wife and my son Caryjoined us, too. My wife visited withRuss’ wife.
One of the highlights was that Russgave everybody four pages of originalartwork from a Ben-Hur comic bookhe’d drawn. Russ got very little artworkback from Western or Gold Key, but hedid get the Ben-Hur story back.
BS: That’s interesting, because I haveone of those Ben Hur pages now. Ithink it was a gift to me fromHoward Keltner shortly before hepassed away. What was Russ like inperson?
JOHNSON: I really enjoyed RussManning. He was very friendly and
open. He was almost humble over the fact that people enjoyed hisartwork so much. He did have lots of fans. I enjoyed his Tarzan even
more than Hogarth or Foster,because his version was so muchlike what Burroughs put down onpaper. He also did an excellent jobof incorporating science-fictioninto the Tarzan comics. He justhad a little studio, an outbuildingnear the house. It held his comicbooks and reference material. Heworked out there with his drawingboard.
BS: The photos show you sittingoutside, like on his back porch.What was the general gist of theconversation?
JOHNSON: We talked about ourfavorite artists, who Russ Manningliked, how he got his start in comicbooks, and things like that. Wewere there from 1:00 till 9:00. I feltlucky that an artist of Russ’ caliberwould spend all that time with us.
BS: It was certainly one of theearliest fan meetings of any signif-icance. The first New York ComicCon, such as it was, didn’t happenfor another couple of months.Your visit with Russ was in May,so this was one of those fan-meets,probably the first significant onein California, that led up to thecomicons. Did people bring thingsto show to each other?
JOHNSON: I came such a greatdistance, I didn’t bring anything,
Manning The RampartsThe “famous photo” of the fan-meet at artist Russ Manning’s
home in May 1964. (Top:) Glen Johnson, Richard Kyle, Rick Durrell.(Bottom:) John McGeehan, Bill Spicer, Russ Manning. So who
snapped the picture?
A page of Russ Manning’s art for the Dell comic adaptation of the 1959 filmBen-Hur, reproduced from the original art in Bill Schelly’s collection.
[©2005 the respective copyright holders.]
66 Comic Fandom Archive
[Captain Marvel, Shazam
& Billy Batson TM & ©2005 DC Comics—from
an original cover done for a Brazilian com
OTE: In Alter Ego #39, 40, 42, & 43,British fan Frank Motler presented adetailed study of how, in the early to mid-1950s and later, Charlton Publications,
often known as CDC for its Capitol Distributionarm, took over both the titles and often inventory ofseveral comics companies which were leaving thecomic book business. Chief among these wasFawcett, which folded its four-color tents in late1953. Inevitably in a work of this scope, errorswould sneak in, and additional information wouldbecome available from people who saw the articleand had knowledge of particular areas or details.Below, Frank has listed, under the heading of eachof the four issues of A/E in which his piece wasserialized, the corrections and additions known todate of his study. A number of these were sent byBoyd Magers, while others are based on Frank’sown researches during the past year. It is hoped thatanyone else having additional information willcontact Frank directly or through Alter Ego. —Roy.
A/E #39:P. 49: The last sentence of the bottom caption
should read: “Cover art for Romantic Story #25 (Aug.1954) is by Leon Winik & Ray Osrin.” The artist ofRomantic Secrets #17 (Aug. 1958) remains unknownto me, but long-time collector Steven Whitaker thinksit is Dick Giordano.
A/E #40:P. 46: TNT Comics (Feb. 1946) was published by “Carlton
Publishing Co.,” not “Charlton Publishing Company.”
P. 47: Burton N. Levey is the name given as that of the co-owner; itwas not misspelled, as the accompanying “[sic]” notation implied.
P. 49: There is an error in the text and accompanying caption.Charlton published Maco Toys (1959) on behalf of the toy company; ithad nothing to do with Blue Bird, a shoe-store chain, or with thecomics published by Charlton on their behalf. On Dec 16, 2004, BoydMagers was kind enough to write to Alter Ego and confirm certainfacts, whilst pointing out some errors in this third installment of myarticle. Boyd is an acknowledged authority on Western films & theirstars. He has also written several books on Western movies, consultedon many others, and hosted film celebrity panels, and is the publisher ofWestern Clippings magazine for more than ten years. I am happy tocorrect these errors here.
P. 52: “Tim Holt” did not appear in Six-Gun Heroes, or any otherCharlton comic. He was a Magazine Enterprise star (later, as Red Mask)and more recently has appeared in Bill Black’s AC Comics title Best ofthe West. This was my error, confusing “Monte Hale” (who did appear
Charlton Was A RealSweetheart
Since we showed the otherCharlton romance coverscovered in this mini-articlein earlier issues, here’sanother scan Frank sent us at the time: the cover of Sweethearts #46
(Dec. 1958), which was a continuation of the
popular Fawcett romancecomic for which MarcSwayze drew numerous
stories. This coverspotlighted popular 1950ssinger Jimmie Rodgers,whose hits “Honeycomb”and “Kisses Sweeter ThanWine” led to his long-running “Spaghetti-Os” ad on TV and his own TV series. [©2005 the respective
The Case Of The Clueless ComicsIt didn’t take Scotland Yard or Sherlock Holmes—both of which starred in their own Charlton seriesin 1955-56, as witness these first-issue covers—to correct the handful of errors and omissions in ourfour-part “Fawcett-Charlton Connection” series. All it required was a bit of sleuthing by Frank
Motler himself, and by Western film expert Boyd Magers. [© 2005 the respective copyright owners.]
“…And Then There Were None!”—The Corrections
The Sequel To “Charlton And The Remnants Of The Fawcett Comics Empire”by Frank “Capitol” Motler
y discovery of Brazilian comics, in the early 1980s,remains one of the highlightsof my fannish life. Andamong the most astounding
of the Brazilian lore would have to be thecontinued existence, through 1968, ofCaptain Marvel and his Family, with thefirst installment of a tale reprinted here ofparticular note.
Inter-company crossovers were stillrelatively new at the time I discovered thisstory. The first Superman Vs. Spider-Manbook had appeared only a few years earlier.They’ve become somewhat “old hat” bynow (yet one more example of how thecomics field often manages to deliver toomuch of a good thing), but back then, theywere still a novelty. So to discover that acrossover had been published in 1964 waseven more amazing—and that it hadfeatured two characters who by 1964 hadbeen defunct for quite a few years was evenmore so.
It is important to remember, however,that for Brazilian readers at the time, it wasnot an inter-company crossover at all.Rather, both characters, along with manyother features, were appearing in comicsfrom the same publisher. The idea of theteam-up was probably a novelty—and asfar as I know, there were no others in anyway comparable to it—but it was not, forthem, an inter-company teaming. (Theexception, naturally, would be thoseBrazilian readers who were knowledgeableabout US comics.)
But, though I’ve written about thathitherto-unknown team-up of Fawcett’soriginal Captain Marvel and Timely’soriginal Human Torch before (includingback in FCA #60/Alter Ego V3#1, 1999), English-speaking fans haven’thad the chance to actually read it. Now, at long last, two of its pages arebeing presented—translated into English—in the pages of AlterEgo/FCA. We hope to show you more such pages in the near future.
Is the story up to the standards of the two features from which it isdrawn? Hard to say. I’ve read no more than a handful of stories of theoriginal Human Torch, and based on that, I’d say that the storyprobably equals or surpasses many of them, except, of course, for his
early classic battles with the Sub-Mariner. As for Captain Marvel, there’sno comparison. Cap’s stories were soclever, so out of the ordinary for super-heroes, that there’s no way that thisparticular tale can come close. Remove theHuman Torch and the notion of acrossover, and it seems rather routine. Butit is, I think, a fairly entertaining story, andof course, for us, the novelty more thancompensates for any defects the script andart might have.
Thanks are due to many people. First ofall, Dwight Decker, who first put me intouch with Brazilian collector JoseJefferson Barbosa de Aquino, and who,incidentally, also urged me to write aboutmy discoveries for fanzines, starting withAmazing Heroes. Brazilian correspon-dents, including the late “Jeff” (as hepreferred to be called), along with LuizAntonio Sampaio, Jose Carlos Neves, andEmir Ribeiro, among others, have proveninvaluable, not to mention exceedinglygenerous, in supplying me with Braziliancomics. A/E editor Roy Thomas and FCAeditor P.C. Hamerlinck are to becommended for their interest in the subjectmatter. Finally, a big thanks to the trans-lator, Mark Luebker, whose knowledge ofPortuguese easily surpasses my own, andwhose translation is presented here.
All of us involved hope you enjoy thisfirst presentation of a comic book first.
Credits for “Return of a Great Hero”:
Appeared in: Almanaque do O GloboJuvenil
Published in Brazil - 1964
Illustrated by Rodriguez Zelis
Translation, Lettering, 1950s Fawcett Title Page Adaptation: MarkLuebker
Art Restoration and Gray Tones: Matt Moring
Additional Art Restoration (page 11 & up): John Gentil
Special Thanks: John G. Pierce, Rodrigo M. Zeidan, Matt Gore
The cover of the 100-page comic which showcased theCaptain Marvel/Human Torch team-up. Among other
features, it also reprinted what seems to be a Fawcett “LashLaRue” story, and a tale starring “Aguia Negra,” whoappears to be the circa-1960 Australian super-hero “Sir
Falcon,” who was covered last issue. [©2005 the respectivecopyright holders; Captain Marvel TM & ©2005 DC Comics;Lash LaRue, Sir Falcon, Robin Hood, Billy the Kid, & Wyatt
Earp TM & ©2005 the respective copyright holders.]
CAPITAO MARVEL MEETS LA TOCHA HUMANA
When Titans Clashed—In BrazilIntroduction by John G. Pierce
90 When Titans Clashed ––In Brazil
ALTER EGO #52JOE GIELLA on the Silver Age at DC, the Golden Age at Marvel,and JULIE SCHWARTZ, with rare art by INFANTINO, GIL KANE,SEKOWSKY, SWAN, DILLIN, MOLDOFF, GIACOIA, SCHAFFEN-BERGER, and others, JAY SCOTT PIKE on STAN LEE andCHARLES BIRO, MARTIN THALL interview, ALEX TOTH, MR.MONSTER, BILL SCHELLY, and more! GIELLA cover!
(100-page magazine) $6.95(Digital Edition) $2.95
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW,CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS
ISSUE IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT!