Sunday, November 16, 2008

Y'see kids, back in the dim and distant era pre-internet message boards and blogs, readers were often moved to comment on comics via the antiquated means of typewriter and paper and snail mail. And from time to time, some editor would be moved enough to earmark these missives for publication. It became kind of a thing for those of us who wanted to opine and have said opinions read, not to mention the attraction of seeing these opinions sharing actual physical space in the very same publications we were opining upon. Now some were more proficient at this than others, and therefore some were published more often of course- I was never in the same area code, literally and figuratively, as the T.M. Maples and Olav Beemers- but my brief career as a letterhack encompassed a period from 1974, in Brave and the Bold #116 (my first few were mostly one-or-two-line team-up suggestions) through sometime in the late 70's, either with a letter in Unknown Soldier #210, August 1978, or, in the only letter I ever had printed in a Marvel comic, Captain Marvel #57 (July 1978), in which (if memory serves) I complained about Pat Broderick's rendition of cornfields in Kentucky. After that, it just ceased to be a priority as I started working full-time and got married not long after...but I was moved enough, sometime early in 1984, to shoot off a missive to DC that saw print in the final issue, #12, of Thriller. The above image is one other that I had see print at about this time, in Batman Family #20 (cover date October/November 1978) and since I recently ran across a scan of the letters page, I thought I'd share, even though I kinda cringe at my choice of words in this one- Mike Golden has become a "mature artist"! Guess this means he shaves and everything! And the Man-Bat "strip". Uh, kid, this isn't a comic strip.

I can still understand, though, why I was so excited by Golden's version of the Demon- Golden was the first person that drew Etrigan in a different fashion than that which Kirby established; he accentuated the eyes, making them bigger on his face and emphasized the eyelids, and made the ears longer and more pointed..where Kirby's Etrigan looked pugnacious and gnomish, Golden's looked reptilian and evil, and it was such a radical change that I'm surprised Vinnie Colletta and Carmine Infantino let it pass. It excited me, I'll tell you that- Golden's art blew me away when I first saw it, and his Demon was icing on the cake. I look back at it now, and I'm not so wild about it; since so much time has passed and so many artists have been influenced by him and his contemporaries at the time, it has lost its radical edge and just looks kinda dumpy and stiff to my eyes now. I'm still fond of it in a nostalgic way, though. Golden's work these days is far more polished and streamlined, and as so often is the case is technically better, even if it lacks the spunk of the early stuff. At right is a Golden page from this issue, a conversation between Batman and his co-star in this issue, Ragman, with inks by Bob Smith. Click to see it bigger.

Anyway, this one was kinda exciting to me, as I recall, because I was a fan of the still-newish Ragman character, and was really digging the Batman Family book in general at the time, as it was featuring some good Batman & co. tales with art by Mike Golden, Jim Starlin, and others, and the Man-Bat feature, written by Bob Rozakis, was pretty good too. As it turned out, the promise of a Len Wein/Mike Golden Demon did came to pass, but not in the pages of Batman Family- it was a victim of the DC Implosion, and many of the scheduled BF stories ended up in Detective, I believe. I don't think that there were very many more Wein/Golden Demon stories all totaled, either. Oh well, water under the bridge.

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