Monday, June 09, 2008

Challenging Letters

Perhaps surprisingly, I never was much of a comics letterhack. Oh, I wrote my first letter to GREEN LANTERN in 1966 when I still had to have my mother write out what I wanted to say for me. My first published LOC was in ADVENTURE in '68. Unless I'm misremembering at the moment (and I've been over all this before here at the Library so feel free to check yourself) my only other published letters were in LOIS LANE and (under a pseudonym) in VAMPIRELLA circa 1972. Both of those latter two were rewritten in-house to give whoever responded the chance to plug something that I never even mentioned in my original. I was disillusioned and probably gave up after that. Still it's always fun to read through old letters pages and find familiar names!
I regularly bought CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, a Kirby-created title that was, for years, churned out with entertaining but unspectacular stories and art by Arnold Drake and Bob Brown. Drake's plots were good if not always original and his dialogue (especially during the "camp" phase that all comics seemed to go through thanks to the BATMAN TV series) was often an unhip person's version of "hip." Brown--who would later become known for SUPERBOY and a good run on the pre-Miller DAREDEVIL--was a dependable if decidedly unflashy craftsman. (One of the two pieces of original art I actually posess is by Bob Brown...with Wally Wood inks but still!)
Anyway, there is a good chance that I MIGHT have written to CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN but if I did, nothing was published. Here, however, on this letters page from 1968's issue 61, we find not one but TWO familiar names to us bloggers! Mark Evanier and Tony Isabella! Interestingly enough, at the bottom of the page is also a letter from a Ronnie Wilson. Anybody know if this could be RON Wilson who would become known as a definitive seventies/eighties artist on THE THING? Throw in Irene Vartanoff (I used to think that name was fake for some reason!) who was published in just about EVERY DC mag of the day and who would, herself, go on to work there behind the scenes a decade later and this one is just chock-full of future talent!


Steven Rowe said...

I'm about 45 miles north of Sumter SC and I suspect that if Ron Wilson was from around here, I would have heard of it
(Sam Grainger was 30 miles north of here, and I heard of that).
on the other hand, Sumter is the home of an air force base, so he could have been here and gone real quick.....

Anonymous said...

In the '60's The Justice League
was obviously tops but I always
had a special affection for the
good ol' Challs. They seemed more
like regular guys, chiding each
other like a bunch of working buddies (even though they always
had each other's backs!) and occasionally wetting their whistles
after an arduous mission with bottles of cold beer! Now THAT I
could relate to, growing up in a town filled with saloons, taverns
and other gin joints.
You just can't imagine the JLA keeping a fridge stocked with cold
Pabst Blue Ribbon, but The Challs
were regular guy heroes who worked
up a honest sweat battling their outrageous gallery of super-villains.
At least that's the way I remember it!

Sam Kujava