SFcrowsnest

Alter Ego # 140 June 2016 (magazine review).

I have to confess that there are still some gaps in my knowledge regarding the Golden Age of comics. With National Periodicals/DC Comics, this was hardly helped with the lack of credits. However, if you have read comics from this period then you will certainly have come across the late artist Irwin Hasen’s work. He drew the Justice Society, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and created the Wildcat amongst others. When fired from them when they were seeking new artists, he co-created and illustrated the newspaper strip, ‘Dondi’, about an Italian precocious orphan coming to the USA for some thirty years. Obviously, that was never seen in the UK. Dan Marara did a film about Haslan’s life and has transposed it into an illustrated document here. It’s rather interesting seeing how Haslan’s art developed and how dialogue heavy his early material was. It’s no wonder that the artists left so much space and compressed their art. Hasen’s cartoons and newspaper strips shows a good sense of depth and far better work. Even so, his early cover designs for the likes of ‘All-Star Comics’ have been resurrected and used again over the years showing how iconic he actually was. A real learning experience and a reminder at the end that any writer/artist partnership, get it in writing.

Following on from last issue, Michael T. Gilbert presents a piece about Wallace McPherson, who back in 1941 won a competition in Pep Comics # 22 had his character ‘Black Jack’ realised as a comicstrip for a year.

I missed the three earlier parts looking the Rocket’s Blast Comicollector (RBCC)’s history, this time focusing on Gordon Belljohn Love and his assistant, John Ellis. I only ever saw a few of their much later issues when young but this gives an insight into American fandom and their access to the comicbook creators.

There are also a couple remembrances for artists Murphy Anderson (1926-2015) and Leonard Starr (1925-2015). If you don’t know who at least one of these people are, you shouldn’t be reading here.

To end with, the second part of a look at Fawcett artist Ray Harford. Something of note is for World War Two, several of the artists when called up for war got seconded into the Camouflage Battalion where they created fake tanks and so forth to fool the enemy. Afterwards, finding work back at Fawcett was a lot harder for Harford and only had six months work before switching to commercial art.

As always, ‘Alter Ego’ is a delightful read and a learning experience. Their letters pages even sorted out some errors regarding the ‘Tarzan’ comics that was made in # 129. How often do you see that these days, especially from other pros, although you do have to wonder at 11 issues passing. However, when looking at the house ads, issues are mostly prepared at least six ahead all the time if the covers are anything to go by. The future looks promising.

GF Willmetts

May 2016

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=1234