We have three more features, all with Spidey, so each will get its own review. First is Valentines!, written by Roy Thomas with pencils by Ron Foss and inks by John Verpoorten. Like Bill Dubay, Ron was a fan artist assisted into a Marvel mag by Roy, who says, in Alter Ego #95, July 2010, “Ronn Foss had been one of the best fanzine artist of the early ‘60s, though somehow he’d never managed to make the jump to pro-dom that we’d envisioned for him at the time. He, his friend Richard ‘Grass’ Green, and Biljo White were three of the best fan artists of that era…and I wanted, if possible, to give each of them their day in a Marvel mag. Ronn’s drawings were nice, if a trifle unpolished; John Verpoorten tightened them up when he inked. Ronn, who passed away a few years ago, was always grateful that, at least for a few pages, he’d had a chance to appear in a pro comic. (A page of Biljo White art later appeared in an issue of The Invaders - and I once sent Grass my synopsis for the Alamo-based series that later became ‘The Renegades’ in Western Gunfighters #1 (1970), but no Grass Green art ever quite made it into a Marvel mag, alas.)” Roy also notes that “Ronn was the second publisher/editor of the original volume of Alter Ego in 1962-63…and the guy who took the hyphen out of its name.”
Valentines! features seven poems constructed as Valentine cards. They are caustically written to certain character types but the gimmick here is that the types then correspond to certain Marvel characters. This was a thing in pop items of the 60s, as I recall. Products such as Topps’ Wanted Posters
disparaged personalities or professions, sometimes in verse. Spidey only appears as a background character in the last of these poems but the whole set has enough bite to include a couple of others.
To a Self-Appointed Super-Patriot illustrated with Captain America slugging an elderly man with a cane who has hammer-and-sickle armbands:
You see yourself as ol’ C.A.
Defending every freedom
Each July 4th, parade away
As if you’d just decreed ’em!
For Flag – for Mom—for Apple Pie --
We hear your cheers most rousing:
Why don’t we hear your voice so high
When the subject’s open housing?
To a Self-Styled War Hero with Sgt. Fury leading the charge; his gun says “Matell” on it, his dog tag says “4F.”
You talk of war, while drinks you mix;
Your exploits rivaled Sgt. Nick’s!
You saved the day when things looked bad
At Normandy, Bulge, and, uh…Stalingrad!
We’ve seen your medals by the ton;
We’ve heard their stories, every one
But we all know -- ’Cause we’re not slow, ducks
You bought ‘em on sale at Sears and Roebucks!
“And now, last, but not least (But then, again --),” as Roy puts it:
To A Poor Man’s Superhero focuses on Forbush-Man who is surrounded by Tiny Tim, Dr. Doom, the Frankenstein Monster, Daredevil, Churchy La Femme (from “Pogo”), Pogo (who holds up a sign that reads, “I Go Irving”), Iron Man, Aunt May, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of the NBC news’ Huntley and Brinkley Report, the Lizard, Marcia and Arthur (two kids from the comic strip “Miss Peach”), Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Dennis the Menace, Adolph Hitler, Hawkeye, MJ or just some flower girl holding up a sign that reads, “Love,” and, of course, Spidey.
You fancy you’re a Way-Out Wonder --
And idol known both here and yonder;
You don a Union Suit vermillion
And think you’ve fans now by the zillion!
But it takes more to prove your mettle
Than long-johns, cape and Teflon kettle --
So till you show some push and more push,
To us you’re just…a nut named Forbush!
There’s a “Next Ish” blurb at the bottom, which tells us that you can “Send your Mom one of Brechh’s fabulous, far-out Mother’s Day Cards,” but next ish never came to fruition.
Roy is right about Ron’s artwork; it is a “trifle unpolished,” but has the feel of the Topps Krazy Little Comics: The Amusing Spider-Guy which, after all, was penciled and inked by Gil Kane and Wally Wood. Roy’s poems are lots of fun, particularly the first two I reproduced. The others (“To a Slightly Soggy Sunk-Mariner,” “To a Tough Guy,” “To a Self-Proclaimed Champion of Chivalry,” and “To a Would-Be Femme Fatale”) are not on that level but have moments of their own.
Roy is at the top of his “tongue-in-cheek” game here and Ron’s “little comics” fit into this nicely. Human nature what it is, these little poison-penners still resonate today. Four webs.
Next: One page gets one review. Not Brand Echh #13 (Story 11).