Hey, Bob.

I just wanted to add my personal spin to your recollection of the Amalgam books.

As I remember the whole DC vs. Marvel stunt was running very late (as always). You did the press ok on the first issue of the mini-series and I did the other two (or three).

I was up at Ronald’s in Montreal with then-Marvel employee Alison Gill doing the press okay for the third issue of mini-series where we were supposed to discover the outcome of each battle the readers voted on (Superman vs. the Hulk, etc.). That was another “secret” I wasn’t allowed to know (even though I was responsible for making sure each outcome was correct. Go figure). Thank God Alison had been let in on the “secret” and shared with me.

Each possible outcome was drawn and colored and the correct one was going to be stripped into the book at the 11th hour. We had discovered that NEITHER outcome of the Batman/Captain America battle was correct and literally pasted the results together by stripping one half of each page’s film together. Possible disaster #1 had been averted.

Alison was checking the bluelines to the Marvel Amalgam books (and I think even doing some of the press okays on them because Marvel’s books were running closer to schedule than DC’s). At that point, Angelo Messina of Ronald’s had suggested I stay the weekend and approve the DC Amalgams as they arrived because DC’s books were late. You were on vacation so I called our then-boss Pat Caldon to ask for approval to stay and insure that the books would be assembled correctly. (I had actually been let in on the “secret” about the fake ads.)

Pat decided the two thousand dollars or so to change my plane tickets and additional hotels, meals, etc. wasn’t worth the money and that I should come home. I attempted to point out that it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do but was pretty much ordered to come home.

Early that week is when we got the make-ready copies with the wrong ads in them. Pat came into my office and asked what I was trying to tell him when I asked to stay those extra days. I explained that I wanted to baby-sit the books. When he told me the ads were wrong, I explained to him that was a “catch” I knew to make.

That day the decision to THROW AWAY hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of comic books was made.

Can we say “penny-wise and pound foolish”?
— Rick Taylor


FROM THE EMAILBOX:
Is Chaos Comics done for good?
— Ernie (Revelez321@aol.com)

I seem to recall hearing recently that they were auctioning off the properties of the company, so I’d say yes.

[Ed’s Note: CrossGen currently has the rights to the former Chaos! Comics property Lady Death, and is currently publishing a series based on her medieval adventures.]

*****
emember reading a book from my high school library called “The Kryptonite Kid.” If I remember correctly, the book was comprised of letters written to Superman from a teen with schizophrenia. He fancied himself Superman’s sidekick, the Kryptonite Kid, and wondered throughout the book why Superman hadn’t come to save him from the hospital he was in. Have you heard of this book and, if so, do you know who the author is? I’ve been trying to track it down for years with no success. As far as I know, other than lending the license for Superman, DC Comics wasn’t involved. Thanks!
— Dave Hearn (dhearn@columbus.rr.com)

The novel was written by Joseph Torchia. Though it is long out of print, you can find used copies for sale at Amazon.com.

*****
I have THE BIBLE LIMITED COLLECTORS EDITION (Book One). I read it to my children but wish to continue.

At the end of this issue it says, “Don’t miss the next issue in our series of stories from the Bible.” Bob, how can we get the following issues?
— Fred Salati (fredsalati@hotmail.com)

You can’t. After LCE #C-36, no further volumes were ever produced.

*****
Maybe you can settle a bet. I suspect that Spider-Man’s uniform was originally red and black, as opposed to red and blue. (A friend disagrees.) What I think happened is, since many colorists in those days used blue to indicate the “highlights” in the black, over time those highlights just took over and the rest in history.

I came up with this suspicion after reading Byrne’s famous run on FANTASTIC FOUR. I thought the uniform’s Byrne introduced during that run were navy blue and white, but read in a later issue of the run that they were actually supposed to be BLACK and white (I was confusing the actual color with the blue highlights).

I know Steve Ditko’s hard to get in touch with, but do you think you can help?
— Jeff Pedigo (jpedigo@email.com)

It is possible that Spidey’s costume was going to be red and black, but only based on how he looked in AMAZING FANTASY #15. It is debatable whether the dark portions were intended to be black with blue highlights or blue with black highlights. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1, however, the costume is clearly depicted as blue and red.

By the way, those blue highlights were a big topic in numerous discussions of Superman’s hair. (No, he DIDN’T have blue hair!)

*****
Here’s a question I haven’t seen answered, and I would never have thought about it if someone hadn’t asked me if I knew the answer:

Back in 1978, DC and Marvel both ran center-spread ads for the Famous Clark Bar Superhero Sweepstakes — the grand prize involved a trip to New York, a tour of the publishers’ offices (presumably, there would be one Marvel winner and one DC winner) and the winner would get drawn into a comic.

Did anyone ever win? If so, who was it, and what comic did they appear in?
— Kurt Busiek (KurtBusiek@aol.com)

I have a vague recollection of someone being brought through the offices and introduced as the winner of the contest. I think he was drawn into a panel of one of the books, as a person in the background or some such, but he was not identified by name in the book.

Perhaps that winning person is among the readers of this column and can give us a better answer?

*****
Who decides what will appear on the cover of a comic. Is it left up to the artist to draw whatever he wants, or does the writer have a say?
— Joe Collins (jcollins001@earthlink.net)

Once upon a time, the covers were drawn before the stories were written, and it was usually the editor who came up with the ideas.. That was back when the idea was to attract a reader’s attention with an interesting puzzle or event on the cover.

Nowadays, covers often have nothing at all to do with the material inside, but I suspect it is still the editor (or a cover editor) who at least okays what the artist is going to draw or paint.

*****
Any info with or about the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 or Qward universe?
— kal-el jr.52268 (june1938manfromkrypton@yahoo.com)

They are completely destroyed in the first installment of JLA/AVENGERS, but I guess it will be up to the continuity cops to tell us whether that counts in the “real” DCU.


FEEDBACK DEPARTMENT:

I’m enjoying your columns as always. “Jim” in a recent column mentions a story in which Batman broke one of the bat-ears on his cowl and utilized a small torch therein. I’m pretty sure that was in the Two-Face story in BATMAN #258.
— Frank Balkin (fbalkin@paradigm-agency.com)

*****
I’m not Dave Cockrum, but I can tell you that he’s been out of the hospital for a while now and that he maintains a message board at http://www.nightscrawlers.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?fid=13 where he posts as Dark Bamf. He’s also got the >b>Dave Cockrum Treasury coming out from Aardwolf Publishing and did the cover to the upcoming Legion Companion from TwoMorrows Publishing. If people want to get a hold of him, his message board is their best bet.
— Glen Cadigan (gcadigan@legiononline.net)

*****

The “For Mature Readers” label came aboard a few years before the Vertigo line. It started with Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, which was first labeled “sophisticated suspense.” I don’t remember exactly when the “For Mature Readers” label started to appear (I distinctly remember it on Rick Vietch’s run – which ended abruptly with ST #88.), but it was definitely before Vertigo (the first ST in Vertigo was #128 or 129).
— Harry Tzvi Keusch (htkeusch@yahoo.com)

You’re right. The “For Mature Readers” line began appearing on SWAMP THING covers with #57, in 1987.

*****

Last week’s column made note of the Jason Todd phone-in vote. Some questions regarding that affair: What were the messages that callers received when they dialed each number? Was it a simple “Thank you,” or was there any kind of message confirming their choice of vote?

I’ve seen a BW copy of the alternate page where Batman finds Jason and declares that he’s alive. If I recall correctly, the discovery was approximately halfway through the issue. Was that single page the only one different? Or was the entire second half of the book different for each version? If so, do you think they will they ever see print?
– William Black (william_black@hotmail.com)

I believe that the response was simply a “Thank you for voting.”

Only the one page, which was near the end of the book, was different; the following pages did not make any reference to the outcome, one way or the other.

*****

In response to someone asking if there were any alternate names suggested for Firestorm when he was created, I can answer that. As the editor of the original series, the answer is “no.” That was Gerry Conway’s original name on his original presentation of the character. However, he had no idea about the original costume, except that it had to be something that a young teen might imagine a super-hero costume ought to look like since it was coming from the mind of young Ronnie Raymond. Artist Al Milgrom and I sat in my office for an hour or two coming up with different variations. When we came up with the one with the flaming hair, billowing sleeves and wraparound atomic symbol, we broke up laughing. We were shocked when that was the one the powers-that-be actually selected. I remember Al moaning, “I’m going to have to draw this thing in every panel!” Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of Al’s other Firestorm costume ideas survived (although you might want to check with Al; maybe he saved them.) My own wish was for them to make an action figure out of Firestorm that was actually a cigarette lighter so when you flicked him, his head really would catch on fire!
–Jack C. Harris (JCHARRIS66@aol.com)


THE DEPARTMENT OF SILLY QUESTIONS (AND/OR ANSWERS):

Are you accepting submissions?
— Sam (poohbear1025611@juno.com)

For what? This column? I guess it depends on what you’re submitting.

*****

I wanted to know if bats see better or hear better.
– Kristen (Pacbubbacat@aol.com)

“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…” Oh, wait, I think you wanted me to quote that other famous line about them. “Blind as a bat!” You decide if they see or hear better.

*****

Is SANDMAN #19 hard to find?
— Greg (philosophy187@wmconnect)

Depends on where you look for it. Probably not too many copies lying around your local bakery…

*****

Who is Hush?
— Glojo (GlojoPSU@yahoo.com)

Oh, yeah, like I’m gonna tell…!

*****

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
– Elei (xxsweetygurlxo@aol.com)

I think only that Tootsie Pop bear knows the answer…and he’s not telling.


While you are testing your Tootsie Pop to see what the answer is, click on over to my daily Anything Goes Trivia and test your comics knowledge as well. And don’t forget to join me here again next week.

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