Comics Pro Mailbag 10

For the tenth installment of the Comics Pro Mailbag, we present a Special Double-Sized Issue featuring two letters from the man who was perhaps the first comics “fan” to become a pro, Roy Thomas. Just a few years after this young high school English teacher from Missouri sent the following fan letters, he would get a job at Marvel Comics and begin answering the fan mail sent to him.

Roy Thomas is perhaps best known for his celebrated runs writing X-Men and Avengers, though he scripted nearly all of Marvel’s major series at one time or another. He also created series such as The Invaders and Marvel’s pioneering adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s properties such as Conan the Barbarian. In the 1970s he did work at DC Comics, indulging his love of Golden Age superheroes in series such as All-Star Squadron and its spin-off Infinity, Inc.

The first letter comes from the “Flash-Grams” page of Flash #120 (May 1961), in which he makes no secret of his devotion to all things Golden Age. Interestingly, however, Mr. Thomas urges editor Julius Schwartz to create the same sort of deeply-interconnected continuity that would later become the hallmark of the Marvel Universe, which did not even exist at the time he put his thoughts to paper. DC was not interested in going in that direction, but clearly Marvel filled a need in the fan community for just such an approach.

In our second missive, found in “The JLA Mail Room” of Justice League of America #18 (March 1963), Mr. Thomas proves that he just can’t NOT refer to Golden Age comics, which have always been his abiding obsession, before getting down to brass tacks. With his detail-oriented discourse, he once again proves himself an über-fan and is commended by Julie Schwartz as a “JLA expert.”

Whatever one thinks of Roy Thomas’ merits as a comic book writer, there is no denying that, through his letter-writing and work on the fanzine Alter Ego, he set out to show comics fans everywhere how fandom is done.



At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Jay Thomas said...

Personally I am a huge Roy Thomas fan. As much as I liked his superhero work I think it is utterly overshadowed by his Conan. His original 1970s 100+ issue run on Conan the Barbarian and 60+ issues of Savage Sword of Conan are the greatest take on the character outside of RE Howard. They also remain some of my favorite comics of all time.
In my opinion roy Thomas's legacy would be secure even if he had written nothing else.
Not only are the stories superb in their own right, but Roy Thomas's decision to tell Conan's story in real time (one year of stories in the original Conan comic equals one year of Conan's career) and his almost scholarly attention to detail in fleshing out the Conan time line adds a lot to this series. They are the closest a mainstream Marvel comic has ever come to a telling the story of a man's life. Of course all that was cheerfully thrown overboard when inferior writers took over the series following Thomas's departure...

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Tony said...

As a writer, editor, editor-in-chief, and "creative kibbitzer," Roy Thomas' influence on the world of Marvel Comics cannot be overstated.


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