Alter Ego (magazine)

Alter Ego is an American 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 and Silver Age of Comic Books.

It was founded as a fanzine by Jerry Bails in 1961,[1] and later taken over by Roy Thomas. 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, Alter Ego began regular bimonthly publication as a formal magazine with glossy covers. TwoMorrows Publishing is the owner of the magazine and it is headquartered in Raleigh, NC.[2]

Alter Ego
Alter Ego #99 (January 2011)
EditorRoy Thomas
Year founded1961
CompanyTwoMorrows Publishing
CountryUnited States
Based inRaleigh, NC

Volume 1

Alter Ego #1 (1961). Cover art by Roy Thomas.

Alter-Ego supported the superhero revivals of the era that Jerry Bails dubbed "The Second Heroic Age of Comics", popularly known as the Silver Age of Comic Books. DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz encouraged Bails and collaborator Roy Thomas, who would eventually become Marvel Comics editor-in-chief.

Bails contacted readers whose letters had appeared in DC's The Brave and the Bold #35, the first comic book to print readers' full mailing addresses in its letter column.[3] 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, 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.[4]

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.[4] The 22-page issue featured three JSA-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" story (Flash #123), previews of the upcoming Batman and Secret Origins annuals, and hints of the Atom revival slated for Showcase #34
  • "The Wiles of the Wizard, Portrait of a Villain"
  • "Reincarnation of the Spectre" — Thomas' proposal for a new version of the Spectre, 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"
  • "The Bestest League of America" — The first chapter of Thomas' Justice League of America parody.[4]

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-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.[4]

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) who edited issues #5-6. Thomas edited a further four issues, and issue #11 almost a decade later in collaboration with Mike Friedrich.[5]

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 and comics historian Bill Schelly met with TwoMorrows Publishing 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.[6] In spring 1998, Alter Ego volume 2 debuted as a flip-book with Comic Book Artist. This arrangement lasted for five issues, which have subsequently been collected into a book: Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (TwoMorrows Publishing, 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. 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.


In 2007, Alter Ego was nominated for an Eagle Award for Favourite Magazine About Comics, and won the Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication.


  1. ^ "A Brief History of Alter Ego". Bill Schelly. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  2. ^ "Contact Us". TwoMorrows Publishing. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Bails, Jerry G., "America's Four-color Pastime..." in Spicer, Bill, The Guidebook to Comics Fandom, Summer 1965
  4. ^ a b c d Schelly, Bill. The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, Hamster Press, 1995.
  5. ^ Roy Thomas, "The Altered Ego: An editorial of sorts" in Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (TwoMorrows, 2001), p. 7
  6. ^ Alter Ego vol 2 #1

External links

Alley Award

The Alley Award was an American series of comic book fan awards, first presented in 1962 for comics published in 1961. Officially organized under the aegis of the Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences, the award shared close ties with the fanzine Alter Ego magazine. The Alley is the first known comic book fan award.The Alley Awards were tallied yearly for comic books produced during the previous year. The Alley statuette was initially sculpted by Academy member Ron Foss out of redwood, from which "plaster duplications" were made to be handed out to the various winners.

Alter ego (disambiguation)

An alter ego is an alternate personality or persona.

Alter Ego and Alter Egos may also refer to:

Piercing the corporate veil, Alter Ego (judicial doctrine), a doctrine by which a court of law holds individual shareholders liable for a corporation's debts if the corporation is deemed to be nothing more than an "alter ego" of the corporation's owners

AlterEgo, a wearable silent speech output-input device developed by MIT Media Lab

Bill Schelly

Bill Schelly (born November 2, 1951, Walla Walla, Washington, United States) is an author primarily known as a historian of cinema, comic books, and comics fandom. He is also a portrait and comic book artist.

Bill Schelly has been a comic book enthusiast since 1960. He was living in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he heard about comics fandom in 1964. Upon seeing his first amateur publication about comics, a mimeographed fanzine called Batmania, Schelly decided to become a fanzine publisher himself. He launched Super-Heroes Anonymous in February 1965, the first in a string of magazines he edited and published until 1972.

It was for his fanzine Sense of Wonder that Schelly became known to the comics community. Begun while living in Pittsburgh, but mostly published after he moved to Lewiston, Idaho, in 1967, it began as a collection of amateur comic strips and stories. In 1970, while attending the University of Idaho, Schelly changed the format of Sense of Wonder to a "general fanzine" made up of articles and artwork about the history of comic books. By the end of its 12-issue run, Sense of Wonder had presented the first attempt to chronicle the whole career of comics innovator Will Eisner, as well as work by Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta and Stanley Pitt. It was discontinued after he graduated from college in 1973.

Schelly's first published book was Harry Langdon, a biography of the silent film comedian, published by Scarecrow Press in 1982. Schelly played a part in a revival of interest in silent cinema in Seattle at the time, and lectured on the subject at the University of Washington. The Journal of Popular Film & Television said of Harry Langdon, "William Schelly's remarkable first book ... should be relished by anyone who appreciates screen comedy and Langdon's unique approach to it."

In 1990, Schelly began researching the history of the classic era of comic book fandom. Eventually, his research culminated in a book-length manuscript called The Golden Age of Comic Fandom It was well-received, quickly sold out, and was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award. A revised and expanded edition was published in 1998, and another printing was done in 2003. Schelly followed The Golden Age of Comic Fandom with a series of self-published books on the history of comic book fandom which were distributed by Diamond Comics as well as sold directly from the publisher.

In 1997, Schelly organized a reunion of old-time comics fans during the Chicago Comicon, which drew 33 people including Jerry Bails, Howard Keltner, Maggie Thompson and Jay Lynch. Discussions at this comicon led to a decision to bring back Alter Ego in TwoMorrows Publishing's Comic Book Artist magazine. Schelly became associate editor of the endeavor, which proved so successful that it became its own magazine in 1999. He has contributed a series of Comic Fandom Archive articles to most issues. (Alter Ego passed its 150th issue in 2018, and has received an Eisner Award along the way.) TwoMorrows also published Schelly's own memoir of his time in fandom of the 1960s called Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Fandom (2001).

Schelly wrote and published the biography Words of Wonder: The Life and Times of Otto Binder (2003), about the principal writer of The Marvel Family and many Superman comics of the 1950s and 1960s. This book began the author's historical research and writing on the history of comics in general. (It was re-issued in revised form in 2016 by North Atlantic Books, with a new title Otto Binder, The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary.) Subsequently, he wrote a dozen introductions for DC Archives books.

In 2004, Schelly visited Joe Kubert and The Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey, and wrote Man of Rock, a biography of Kubert. It was published in 2008, and was followed in 2011 by the publication of The Art of Joe Kubert, a coffee table book consisting of examples of Kubert's best work from his 70-plus year career. Both were published by Fantagraphics Books. Schelly's revised and expanded biography of Harry Langdon, Harry Langdon - His Life and Films, appeared in 2008, this time published by McFarland.

When Comic-Con International established 2011 as the 50th anniversary of comics fandom, and made it a theme of their annual event in San Diego that year, Schelly was the catalyst for the fandom reunion which ended up being sponsored by the convention. Reunion 2011 drew some 140-plus members of fandom's past. He appeared on three panels: Founders of Comic Fandom, Fanzines of Fandom's Golden Age, and Spotlight on Bill Schelly. He received an Inkpot Award at Comic-Con 2011 for his efforts on behalf of fandom over the years.

Recent books have been Weird Tales and Daring Adventures (2012), Alter Ego: The Best of the Classic Fanzine, Vol. 2 (2013) in collaboration with Roy Thomas, and the American Comic Book Chronicles: The 50's (2013), which was nominated for a Harvey Award. Then came Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created Mad (2015), a biography of the originator of Mad (both the comic book and the magazine), Two-Fisted Tales, Frontline Combat, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, as well as Little Annie Fanny for Playboy. It won the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Comics-Related Book of 2015.

In May 2017, Fantagraphics Books published Schelly's John Stanley, Giving Life to Little Lulu, a combined biography and coffee table book dedicated to Stanley's stellar work in comic books from 1942 to 1970. North Atlantic Books published the author's memoir Sense of Wonder, My Life in Comic Fandom - The Whole Story in April 2018. It is made up of a re-written version of his 2001 book with almost the same title, and adds a brand new Part 2 of equal length, continuing the story of the original book to the present day.

In 2018, several books reprinting earlier works by Schelly were published by Pulp Hero Press. They include a re-issue of the book Founders of Comic Fandom, and two volumes of Bill Schelly Talks with the Founders of Comic Fandom, which mainly consist of his past interviews from Alter Ego magazine. A third volume will be published, as well as The Bill Schelly Reader, which will reprint his prose articles on comic books and comic fandom. Fantagraphics Books will publish Schelly's biography James Warren, Empire of Monsters in March 2019.

Comic Art Convention

The Comic Art Convention was an American comic book fan convention held annually New York City, New York, over Independence Day weekend from 1968 through 1983, except for 1977, when it was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and 1978 to 1979, when editions of the convention were held in both New York and Philadelphia. The first large-scale comics convention, and one of the largest gatherings of its kind until the Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, it grew into a major trade and fan convention. It was founded by Phil Seuling, a Brooklyn, New York City, teacher, who later developed the concept of comic-book direct marketing, which led to the rise to the modern comic book store.

The New York Comic Art Convention's growth in popularity coincided with the increasing media attention on comics that had been building since the mid-1960s, feeding off the then novel notions of comics being a subject worthy of serious critical study and collectibility.

Harris Levey

Harris Levey (August 13, 1921 – August 18, 1984), whose pseudonyms included Lee Harris, Leland Harris, and Harris Levy, was a comic book artist for DC Comics primarily in the 1940s. He co-created the Golden Age superhero Air Wave, who has continued, in new permutations, into the 21st century.

Idaho Comics Group

Idaho Comics Group (ICG) is an independent comic book publishing company from Boise, Idaho that was founded in 2014, which publishes the officially licensed Tarzan and the Comics of Idaho anthology and Idaho Comics. The anthologies benefit the Boise Public Library and to bring attention to comic book writers and artists from the state of Idaho.

John Stanley (cartoonist)

John Stanley (March 22, 1914 – November 11, 1993) was an American cartoonist and comic book writer, best known for writing Little Lulu comic book stories from 1945 to 1959. While mostly known for scripting, Stanley also drew many of his stories, including the earliest issues of Little Lulu and its Tubby spinoff series. His specialty was humorous stories, both with licensed characters and those of his own creation. His writing style has been described as employing "colorful, S. J. Perelman-ish language and a decidedly bizarre, macabre wit (reminiscent of writer Roald Dahl)", with storylines that "were cohesive and tightly constructed, with nary a loose thread in the plot". He has been compared to Carl Barks, and cartoonist Fred Hembeck has dubbed him "the most consistently funny cartoonist to work in the comic book medium". Captain Marvel co-creator C. C. Beck remarked, "The only comic books I ever read and enjoyed were Little Lulu and Donald Duck".

Linda Germanis

Linda Germanis is an Italian international United Nations Volunteer, economist and an author. She is a certified yoga teacher, founder of YOGA FUSION and current head of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme in Bangladesh.

Marc Swayze

Marcus Desha Swayze, known as Marc Swayze (July 17, 1913 – October 14, 2012), was an American comic book artist from 1941 to 1953 for Fawcett Comics of New York City.He is best known for his work on Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family during the Golden Age of comic books for Fawcett Comics. He was the co-creator of Mary Marvel, along with writer Otto Binder. The first Mary Marvel character sketches came from Swayze's drawing table, and he illustrated her earliest adventures, including the classic origin story, "Captain Marvel Introduces Mary Marvel" (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Dec. 1942).

Marcia Snyder

Marcia Louise Snyder (sometimes spelled "Snider") was a comic book artist and newspaper cartoonist who worked for the Binder Studio, Timely Comics, Fawcett Comics, and Fiction House during the Golden Age of Comic Books.

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