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May 07, 2007

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Siskoid

I remember staying with a title just to see if my letter would be printed, even if the series had gone south 3-4 months earlier, so I know that sweet, sweet joy well. It's now extremely painful to read what my teenage pen had to say on my 2 or 3 printed letters, but I still used them as blog-fodder. Nothing like self-derision, eh?

Evidence damning me:
Amazing Spider-Man #341
Hellblazer #67

Mark Engblom

Hah! Great letters, Siskoid! My letter that was published in Superman is a little more embarrassing than the Iron Man letter only because I'm gushing over it like a burst fire hydrant....but it's still great knowing I got in.

Wear your goofy fan letters with pride, my friend!

Siskoid

I have a feeling I had another one, but I can't for the life of me figure out when and where.

When I do, the blogosphere'll be the first to know!

Shelly

I was one of the lucky ones to get LoCs printed, mostly in Swamp Thing, Supergirl, and Titans. I was thrilled. Even more so because my last letter, to Titans, was a farewell/complaint about the direction of the book. It was printed, in full, and given a long, thoughtful response.

I loved reading the lettercols. I remember quite a few letter hacks from "the day," folks like Paul Levitz. Wonder what happened to him. heh. I guess he did all right for himself.

I wish they'd bring back the lettercols.

Mark Engblom

Siskoid-

You know, I sometimes think I might have had another one, too...possibly in the old "Shadow War of Hawkman" series. I may be wrong (have to check).

Shelly-

Cool to hear about all your printed letters...even cooler to get a thoughtful response.

My Silver Age collection has numerous letter pages featuring very familiar names, many of whom grew up to work in the comics biz. Some were regulars (like Martin "Pesky" Pasko), while others were just random, out of the blue letters....obviously just a kid who grew up to one day write or draw comics.

Shelly

Ah yes, Pesky Pasko. And I remember Guy Lilian III and a bunch of others. They were like celebrities to me back in the '60s and '70s and when I got some of my LoCs published, I felt like I'd hit the big time. I was "one of them."

Mark Engblom

That's definitely how it felt...like you were now part of some secret society. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it was pretty cool.

Oh...and by the way....I guess I got three letters of mine printed. I did some looking this evening and found that last one in Hawkman #4 (1986).

James Meeley

Yeah, the letters page is one fo the most awesome and unique things about comics. How many other forms of entertainment let you actually become a part of the finished product like that?

I also loved letters pages over the Interent, because it seemed like there were standards to see yourself get printed. Oh, sure, people knock them as "praise pages" and towards the end of their "hey day", that is what most letters pages became. Of course, they can only be as good as the letts people sned. Still, I always thought they were superior to blogs and the like, because saying "This book sux!!" would pretty much never get printed. The venomous ranting and raving a lot of comic commentators doing online today, would NEVER have meda the grade to be in a letters page (showing you just how worthless most of what is being said really is).

I myself was something of a mild letterhack, myself during the 90's. Nothing on the par of a Dale Coe, Melissa Page or "Uncle" Elvis, but if I were to list all the time my pen (or I should say keyboard, to be more accurate) stuck, there's be a list of a dozen and a half (or more) letters. But to give you all a nice taste of my best and brigtest, check out the letters pages of the following issues, next time you head to your local comic shop:

Azrael #6
Amazing Spider-Man #411
Batman #530
Iron Man #298
Mystic #16
Scion #17
Meridian #24
Amazing Spider-Girl #8 (Due out this Wednesday. That's right, I'm in a new comic that is coming out! The letterhack LIVES!!!)

Have fun check some of those gems out, everyone. And don't be too surprised if you see some in more added to that list in future comics....

Mark Engblom

Hey, James! Wow...that's quite a pedigree! Congrats on getting so many letters printed "back in the day"! It's also great to see a few titles still carrying on the tradition.

You said:

"The venomous ranting and raving a lot of comic commentators doing online today, would NEVER have made the grade to be in a letters page."

I don't know...some of those old letter pages printed some pretty blistering criticism as I recall. Sure, not as psychotic as the free-form screeds of the internet forums, but still surprisingly blunt complaints. As a whole, the letters pages were pretty balanced, both pro and con...yet, as you said, they were cherry-picking all of the positive stuff toward the end of the letter page era.

Personally, I would have loved to have gotten a letter printed in the late, lamented Starman title. That had one of the best letter pages of all time, due to writer James Robinson's active participation in it.

cinephile

Hey, I just think it's cool you got a response from David Michelinie! Not to say that the editor wasn't a nice person, but I've always thought DM was an underrated writer, particularly on those IM tales, which were a huge reason I got into comics collecting way back when (re-reading them today, they hold up remarkably well). Great letter!

Mark Engblom

You're right, Michelinie's run was fantastic. I have a number of issues from that run, and I'm considering adding the rest of 'em to my "want list". Can't say enough about Bob Layton's artwork, either. A real solid creative team, to be sure.

Makes me wonder even more where Marvel's head is at these days in regards to Tony Stark/Iron Man.

cinephile

Mark,
As you are the guru, you probably know this, but two brief parts of the two Michelinie-Layton runs have been collected, and were just reissued (amazon has them discounted): "Demon In A Bottle," the first stark alcoholism run (#120-128), and "Armor Wars", from the second DM-BL run in the late 80s (#225-#232, the last a wonderfully surreal horror tale penciled by Barry Windsor-Smith). The first collection is better than the second, but they are both worth grabbing (even if "Armor Wars" does have tony sporting a terrifying mullet, far more frightening than any of the supervillains in the books (:). Most of the rest of the #116-156 and #215-250 runs they did can be picked up relatively inexpensively at mycomicshop.com. I generally dislike sounding like an old fogey, as there are a lot of great writers and artists working on a variety of books today, but the last DM-BL Iron Man run really is a kind of great, final gasp of a more classical form of superheroic storytelling that marvel was once the master of. And like you, I have no idea what the character is like today, but that might be because he's gone through-- two? three? at least!-- reboots since Michelinie and Layton left. Wow, this is a long post, but here's one more nice link, since you mentioned liking his art:

www.boblayton.com

Mark Engblom

Cinephile-

Thanks for the heads up on the Iron Man TPBs! I'll definitely add 'em to my Amazon wish lists. I've always wanted to read the Armor Wars arc, but never had the interest in chasing all the individual issues down. Thanks for the Layton link as well!

Michael

I wish they'd bring back letter columns too. Iron Man was one of my favourite titles back in '80, #132, the Hulk one was my first issue. Sent a number of letters to US comics from Down Under here in New Zealand and got published in a few (X-Men # 161, Jonah Hex # 74). Such a thrill! Whatever happened to all those old LOC superstars? Maybe someone has a website somewhere to give them due homage?

Josh

Hey all, Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comic_book_letter_column, the Wikipedia article on the comic book letter column. Y'all might specifically enjoy the section on "Letterhacks," which even quotes the opening of Mark's entry!

Phil Carter

I had a fair number of letters printed in the early to mid-90s. There was a time when I could usually see at least one each new week I hit the comics shop -- most of them DC Universe books, but some Marvel and a few Dark Horse and indie books too. Hell, at one point I even had TWO letters printed in the same issue of "Catwoman" -- one of them was about the issue three/four months previous, and one was about that year's annual. Crowning triumph or sad nadir of hopeless geekery? You decide!

It was also gratifying to be sent advance copies of a couple of books (Dark Horse's "Ghost" relaunch, DC's "Supergirl" relaunch and a few others) because they wanted my opinion before the books went to press. THAT was pretty cool. I still have the advance copies around somewhere.

Alas, the comic book world has driven me away with repeated crossovers, reboots, and other such nonsense. I still read some books (Powers, Fables), but I wait for them to hit collected format. But I miss the days of letterhacking. :)

cheers,
Phil

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