Alter Ego (fanzine)

Alter Ego (fanzine)

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Encyclopedia
Alter Ego is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 magazine devoted to comic books and comic-book creators of the 1930s to late-1960s periods comprising what fans and historians call the Golden Age
Golden Age of Comic Books
The Golden Age of Comic Books was a period in the history of American comic books, generally thought of as lasting from the late 1930s until the late 1940s or early 1950s...

 and Silver Age of Comic Books
Silver Age of Comic Books
The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and commercial success in mainstream American comic books, predominantly those in the superhero genre. Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the...

.

It was founded as a fanzine
Fanzine
A fanzine is a nonprofessional and nonofficial publication produced by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon for the pleasure of others who share their interest...

 by Jerry Bails
Jerry Bails
Jerry Gwin Bails was an American popular culturist. Known as the "Father of Comic Book Fandom", he was one of the first to approach the comic book field as a subject worthy of academic study, and was a primary force in establishing 1960s comics fandom.- Early life :Jerry G. Bails was born June...

 in 1961, and later taken over by Roy Thomas
Roy Thomas
Roy William Thomas, Jr. is an American comic book writer and editor, and Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is possibly best known for introducing the pulp magazine hero Conan the Barbarian to American comics, with a series that added to the storyline of Robert E...

. Ten issues were released through 1969, with issue #11 following nine years later. In 1999, following a five-issue run the previous years as a flip-book with Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist was an American magazine founded by Jon B. Cooke devoted to anecdotal histories of American comic books, with emphasis on comics published since the 1960s...

, Alter Ego began regular bimonthly publication as a formal magazine with glossy covers.

Volume 1



Alter-Ego supported the superhero revivals of the era that Jerry Bails
Jerry Bails
Jerry Gwin Bails was an American popular culturist. Known as the "Father of Comic Book Fandom", he was one of the first to approach the comic book field as a subject worthy of academic study, and was a primary force in establishing 1960s comics fandom.- Early life :Jerry G. Bails was born June...

 dubbed "The Second Heroic Age of Comics", popularly known as the Silver Age of Comic Books
Silver Age of Comic Books
The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and commercial success in mainstream American comic books, predominantly those in the superhero genre. Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the...

. DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 editor Julius Schwartz
Julius Schwartz
Julius "Julie" Schwartz was a comic book and pulp magazine editor, and a science fiction agent and prominent fan. He was born in the Bronx, New York...

 encouraged Bails and collaborator Roy Thomas
Roy Thomas
Roy William Thomas, Jr. is an American comic book writer and editor, and Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is possibly best known for introducing the pulp magazine hero Conan the Barbarian to American comics, with a series that added to the storyline of Robert E...

, who would eventually become Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

 editor-in-chief.

Bails contacted readers whose letters had appeared in DC's The Brave and the Bold
The Brave and the Bold
The Brave and the Bold is the title shared by many comic book series published by DC Comics. The first of these was published as an ongoing series from 1955 to 1983...

#35, the first comic book to print readers' full mailing addresses in its letter column
Comic book letter column
A comic book letter column is a section of a comic book where readers' letters to the publisher appear. Comic book letter columns are also commonly referred to as letter columns , letter pages, letters of comment , or simply letters to the editor...

. Some of those readers were active in other fandoms, and helped spread word-of-mouth about Alter Ego. Schwartz loaned Bails his copies of the comics and science fiction fanzine Xero
Xero (SF fanzine)
Xero was a fanzine edited and published from 1960 to 1963 by Dick Lupoff, Pat Lupoff and Bhob Stewart. With a main focus on science fiction and comic books, Xero also featured essays, satire, articles, poetry, artwork and cartoons on a wide range of other topics.The articles and letter columns...

, and Bails wrote to everyone in their letter column as well. Soon, Bails was receiving two or three responses daily from people interested in subscribing.

The first issue of Alter Ego appeared in March 1961. Bails' wife Sondra typed out the contents, and the lettering was done with plastic lettering guides. The 22-page issue featured three JSA
Justice Society of America
The Justice Society of America, or JSA, is a DC Comics superhero group, the first team of superheroes in comic book history. Conceived by editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox, the JSA first appeared in All Star Comics #3 ....

-related articles, two columns, and an amateur comic strip:
  • A cover featuring the "Bestest League of America," a Roy Thomas parody of the Justice League of America
  • The editorial "A Matter of Policy"
  • "On the Drawing Board" — Four pages of news, including advance word of the forthcoming "Flash of Two Worlds
    Flash of Two Worlds
    "Flash of Two Worlds!" is a landmark comic book story that was published in The Flash #123 . It introduces Earth-Two, and more generally the concept of the multiverse, to DC Comics...

    " story (Flash #123), previews of the upcoming Batman
    Batman
    Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

    and Secret Origins
    Secret Origins
    Secret Origins is the title of three American comic book series published by DC Comics.The title began in 1961 and for one issue, all reprints. The title Secret Origins of Super Heroes went onto a second series, also reprints, which ran for seven issues from 1973-1974...

    annuals, and hints of the Atom
    Atom
    The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

     revival slated for Showcase
    Showcase (comics)
    Showcase has been the title of several comic anthology series published by DC Comics. The general theme of these series has been to feature new and minor characters as a way to gauge reader interest in them, without the difficulty and risk of featuring "untested" characters in their own ongoing...

    #34
  • "The Wiles of the Wizard, Portrait of a Villain"
  • "Reincarnation of the Spectre" — Thomas's proposal for a new version of the Spectre
    Spectre (comics)
    The Spectre is a fictional character and superhero who has appeared in numerous comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in a next issue ad in More Fun Comics #51 and received his first story the following month, #52...

    , as a man divided into two characters representing good and evil, ego and id: the Spectre and Count Dis.
  • "Merciful Minerva: The Story of Wonder Woman
    Wonder Woman
    Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 . The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986....

    "
  • "The Bestest League of America" — The first chapter of Thomas' Justice League of America parody.


Alter Ego also sponsored the Alley Awards, a series of comic book awards that lasted until the end of the 1960s. By the awards' third year, the number of ballots received had become so overwhelming that Bails called for a fan get-together at which votes could be tabulated by group effort. This gathering of Midwestern fans, held in March 1964 at Bails' Detroit, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

-area home of Bails, was dubbed the "Alley Tally", and its success provided inspiration for the organizing of comic-book fan conventions that began soon afterward.

The original run of Alter Ego lasted 11 issues, spread over 17 years. Ten issues were released between 1961 and 1969, with issue #11 following nine years later, in 1978. Bails edited and published the first four issues before turning it over to fan-artist Ronn Foss (and, initially, Foss' wife Myra and his friend Grass Green
Grass Green
Richard Eugene "Grass" Green was an African American cartoonist notable for being the first black participant in both the 1960s fan art movement and the 1970s underground comics movement...

) who edited issues #5-6. Thomas edited a further four issues, and issue #11 almost a decade later in collaboration with Mike Friedrich
Mike Friedrich
Mike Friedrich is an American comic book writer and publisher best known for his work at Marvel and DC Comics, and for publishing the anthology series Star*Reach, one of the first independent comics...

.

Some material from the original Alter-Ego was collected into trade paperback by Bill Schelly as Alter Ego Best Of Legendary Comics Fanzine (Hamster Press, 1997) ISBN 0-9645669-2-3.

Volume 2


In 1997, at a reunion of comics fans, Roy Thomas
Roy Thomas
Roy William Thomas, Jr. is an American comic book writer and editor, and Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is possibly best known for introducing the pulp magazine hero Conan the Barbarian to American comics, with a series that added to the storyline of Robert E...

 and comics historian Bill Schelly
Bill Schelly
Bill Schelly is an author primarily known as a historian of cinema, comic books, and comics fandom. He is also a portrait and comic book artist....

 met with TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing is a publisher of magazines about comic books, founded in 1994 by John and Pam Morrow out of their small advertising agency in Raleigh, North Carolina...

 and agreed to bring back Alter Ego as a component of TwoMorrow's Comic Book Artist magazine. Thomas reprised his role as editor, with Schelly becoming associate editor. In spring 1998, Alter Ego volume 2 debuted as a flip-book with Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist was an American magazine founded by Jon B. Cooke devoted to anecdotal histories of American comic books, with emphasis on comics published since the 1960s...

. This arrangement lasted for five issues, which have subsequently been collected into a book: Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing is a publisher of magazines about comic books, founded in 1994 by John and Pam Morrow out of their small advertising agency in Raleigh, North Carolina...

, 2006) ISBN 978-1-893905-59-7.

Volume 3


Alter Ego became its own magazine again in 1999, again with Thomas as editor, and formatted as a glossy magazine. It is published by TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing
TwoMorrows Publishing is a publisher of magazines about comic books, founded in 1994 by John and Pam Morrow out of their small advertising agency in Raleigh, North Carolina...

. FCA, the Fawcett Collectors of America fanzine, is published as part of Alter Ego. Schelly has contributed a series of Comic Fandom Archive articles to nearly every issue, as well as a column that usually focuses on notable fans of the 1960s and 1970s.

Awards


In 2007, Alter Ego was nominated for an Eagle Award
Eagle Award
There are several distinctions and recognitions known as the Eagle Award.*Eagle Award, the highest rank of the Zambia Scouts Association*Eagle Award, the highest award given to a civilian by the National Guard of the United States...

 for Favourite Magazine About Comics, and won the Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication.

External links