$5.95In the USA$5.95In the USA
THE ATOMwas CREATED by:
A) Gil Kane
B) Gardner Fox
D) Jerry G.Bails
E) All of the Above
Dont answer Till you read this issuesExtensive ExEgesis of the Tiny Titan--&
Mike W. BarrsAwEsome Addendum!
A Surprise-FilledInterview with
LarryLieberFirst scripter of THOR,IRON MAN, et al.!
A Rare Photo Gallery
FandomsFAN-tasticPast!From the 60s to the 90s!
PLUS RARE ART BY:
Michael T. Gilbert
And much more!
Mr. MonsterPresents a Never-Reprinted
SPIRIT story byWill Eisner!
Roy Thomas Legendary Comics Fanzine
Roy Thomas Legendary Comics Fanzine
SILVER AGE-- GOLDEN AGE--
C o n t e n t sSilver Threads among the Gold (& Bronze, & Beyond!) . . . . . . . . . 2Our Only Writer/Editorial This Ish.
Splitting The Atom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4Roy Thomas Tells All (We Hope!) about the 1960-61 Origins of the Tiny Titan, starring Gil Kane, Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox, and Jerry Bails.
Splicing The Atom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Mike W. Barrs Fearless Footnote to the Previous Piece.
Stan Made Up the Plot... and Id Write the Script . . . . . . . . . 18A Conversation with Larry Lieber, Spidey Comic Strip Artistand One of the Most Important Scripters of the Silver Age.
Mr. Monster Introduces The Spirit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33Michael T. Gilbert Presents an Ultra-Rare 1966 Spirit Story by Will Eisner.
Hark, The Herald Tribune Sings! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38Ye Editor Examines an Extraordinary Issue of the Tribs New York Magazine.
Fandoms FAN-tastic Pastfrom the 60s to the 90s! . . . . . . . . . . . . 41Bill Schellys Guided Tour of Photos and Other Artifacts of the Early Movers and Shakers of Comics Fandom.
Golden Age Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flip Us!Our sincere thanks to Gil Kane for giving us his blessing to print as our cover the little-seen, undatedillustration of himself and The Atom. Thanks also to Mike Barr for making us aware of it, and JohnDacey at Hi-De-Ho Comics in Santa Monica, California. [Atom 1999 DC Comics, Inc.]
Alter EgoTM is published quarterly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. Phone: (919)833-8092. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: Rt. 3, Box 468, St.Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: email@example.com. Send subscription funds toTwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $5.95 ($7.00 Canada, $9.00 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $20 US, $27 Canada, $37 elsewhere. All characters are their respective companies.
All material their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & DannThomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Alter and Captain Ego 1999 Biljo White. The Atom, Batman, Billy Batson,Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Doll Man, Dr. Mid-Nite, The Flash, Green Lantern, Infinity, Inc., JSA, Mary Marvel,Mr. Mind, Rex the Wonder Dog, Robin, Rose & Thorn, Shazam, Sivana, Starman, Steamboat, Superman, Wonder Woman1999 DC Comics Inc.; Ant Man, Captain America, Captain Britain, The Hulk, Iron Man, Mr. Morgans Monster, RawhideKid, Spider-Man, Thor, Wasp, Watcher 1999 Marvel Characters, Inc.; The Destructor, Tiger-Man, Warhawk 1999 AtlasComics; Xal-Kor 1999 Grass Green. Mr. Monster Michael T. Gilbert. The Spirit 1999 Will Eisner; The Eye, The Eclipse1999 Bill Shelly; The Viper 1999 Ronald E. Foss. Printed in Canada.
Silver Age Section
Background image: The Silver Age Atom dukes itout with the G.A. Atom in this cover detail by GilKane from The Atom #36. [1999 DC Comics, Inc.]
Volume 3, No. 2Autumn 1999
Editor Roy Thomas
Associate EditorBill Schelly
Consulting EditorsJohn MorrowJon B. Cooke
FCA EditorP.C. Hamerlinck
Contributing EditorMichael T. Gilbert
Editors EmeritusJerry G. Bails, Ronn Foss,Biljo White, Mike Friedrich
Cover ArtGil Kane, Jack Burnley
Cover ColorTom Ziuko, Jack Burnley
Design & LayoutJon B. Cooke/GREAT SWAMP GRAPHICS
Mailing CrewRuss Garwood, D. Hambone, Glen Musial, Ed Stelli, Pat Varker
And Special Thanks to:Neal AdamsMike W. BarrJack BurnleyErnie ColonCraig & David DelichAl DellingesWill EisnerNancy FordRon GoulartGrass GreenMark HanerfeldRoger HillGil KaneRobert KanigherDavid Anthony KraftStan LeeLarry LieberRuss MaherasLou MouginWill MurrayJerry OrdwayJon E. ParkJulius SchwartzJ.E. SmithMarc SwayzeDaniel TesmoingtJoel ThingvallMarv Wolfman
by Roy Thomas
LAST YEAR AT RASHOMON DEPT.: Back in A/E V2#2, YeEditor offered the classic 1950 Akiro Kurosawa film Rashomon,whose theme is the impossibility of ever knowing the whole truth aboutany event, as a template for comics (or any other kind of) history. Thentheres New Wave director Alain Resnais 1961 masterpiece Last Year atMarienbad, in which the male protagonist confronts the heroine again andagain to insist the two of them had an affair last year at Frederiksbad,perhaps at Marienbad. In its own way, the French film plays with truthand memory every bit as much as does Rashomonwhich, believe it ordont, brings us to the creation of the Silver Age Atom.
Ray Palmer wasnt the first DC hero called The Atom, of course.The original one appeared from 1940-1951 in All-American Comics,
Flash Comics, Comic Cavalcade, and All-Star Comics.The Mighty Atom, as he
was called in his origin in All-American #19 (Oct. 1940), was
a short, red-headed CalvinCollege student named AlPratt who had been trainedto physical perfection. Until1948 this Atom had no super-powers, just a rather odd,leather-girdled outfit with a
full face mask. Then, still earlyin the Atomic Age, DC decid-ed a crimefighter with so
timely a name needed powersto match; soovernight,with no expla-nation, hegained atom-ic strength
and, soon afterward, a new costume with a stylized atomemblazoned on its tunic.
The first Atoms last Golden Age appearance was inAll-Star #57 (Feb.-March 1951).
A few facts about the creation of the second Atomare pretty much set in concrete:
Scripted by GardnerFox, penciled by Gil Kane(with Murphy Andersoninks), and edited by JuliusSchwartz, he debuted inNational/DCs Showcase
#34 (cover-dated Dec. 1961, but actually on sale several months earlier).After appearing also in #35-36, he graduated at once to his ownbimonthly magazine, The Atom (#1, June-July 1962).
Alas, almost everything else about theorigins of the six-inch stalwart is up for grabs.
Fact is, a study of The Atoms less thanimmaculate conception is a textbook exampleof how difficult, if not downright impossible,it is to reconstruct comics historyeven whenmost of the people involved in a particular cre-ation are still alive. Maybe especially then,because its harder for anyone to make sweep-ing assumptions without someone else arisingto vociferously deny them!
Offered for your consideration:
The Silver Age versions of Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman,for all the science-fictional trappings which set them apart them fromtheir 1940s forebears, were still basically revivals, as DC editors andfans alike called them back then.
However, the star of Showcase #34 was destined to have virtuallynothing in common with the old Atom except his name. The new herosmain schtick would be that he fought crime while shrunk to a height ofsix inches. For the first time, DC would take one of its revivals off ina radically different direction from the original, making him in effect atotally new character.
Ever wonder why?
In attempting to reconstruct the creationof the Silver Age Atom, we must examinethe potential contributions of four princi-
pals. In alphabetical order:
Jerry G. Bails, in 1960 ayoung associate professor ofnatural science at Wayne StateUniversity, Detroit, and soon
to become the firsteditor/publisher of Alter
Ego (Volume 1) and afounding father of
Gardner F. Fox(1911-1986), writer/co-creator
of the Golden Age Flash,Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Justice
Society, among otherswho by late 1960 had likewise co-createdthe Silver Age Justice League, Hawkman, and Adam Strange;
Gil Kane, a professional comics artist since 1942, best known inlate 1960 as the illustrator of the Silver Age Green Lanterna perennial
Splitting The Atom 5
Splitting The AtomMore Than You Could Possibly Want to Know about the Creation of the Silver Age Mighty Mite!
The original, non-super-powered Atom,in a 1945 page drawn by Jon ChesterKozlak. [Art courtesy of Jerry Bails;
Atom 1999 DC Comics Inc.]
The first Mighty Mite gained atomicstrength in 1948: a detail from the cover
of All-Star #52 (April-May 1950) byArthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs. [Atom
1999 DC Comics Inc.]
Jerry G. Bails, circa1960-61. [Reprintedfrom Alter Ego V1#5by way of the 1997
trade paperback TheBest of Alter Ego.]
Background image:Jerry Bails 1960 con-cept of The Atom
like the one that eventually appeared
in this panel fromShowcase #35calledfor a hero who shrank
from 6 tall to 6![Original artwork by
Kane & Andersoncourtesy of Mike W.Barr; Atom 1999 DC
talent who remains active in the field eventoday;
Julius Schwartz, in 1960 the editor and defacto co-creator of comics starring the newFlash, GL, JLA, and Hawkman, and a DCeditor from 1944 untilwell, I was about tosay