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Alter-Ego #46
posted March 6, 2006
 

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Creator: Roy Thomas (Editor)
Publishing Information: TwoMorrows, 100 pages, $8
Ordering Numbers:

I believe the success of the TwoMorrows magazine efforts like Alter-Ego, Kirby Collector and Back Issue comes less from a desire to have corrective magazines that do things The Comics Journal and Wizard don't do but from a combination of the nostalgia market and the need to tell comics history through a variety of sources including first-draft reminiscence and interviewing. In a world where comics are increasingly available, the magazine format becomes increasingly attractive as a source for touching on the past because of the regularity and newness of publication, and the repetition allows for exploration of areas outside of the status quo. What these magazines have done is remind us the industry's a bit bigger than any individual memories of it, and where they've succeeded is putting back into circulation or adding to the general knowledge the first time perhaps less-than-grand, but still valueable interviews with lesser-known, but still valuable creators.

I received Alter-Ego #46 through the company's free magazine promotion on Free Comic Book Day. Of primary interest to me was the Bill Everett interview, Everett being an artist I think helped shape American mainstream comics in an interesting way despite his own relative lack of engagement with the work (especially when compared to artists and writers born after World War II). The interview reprinted, with Roy Thomas, is low on insights into Sub-Mariner or the comics in which he appears but provides several clues into how that character's creator thought about his chosen field. There's a series of charming dichotomies like that one that run through much of the magazine. The Alex Toth article here is far more revealing of Toth than the subject matter. The obituaries are fulsome but also reflect a kind of touching fealty to seeing the American comics industry through the lens of the big comic book companies and its movers and shakers. In the end, I remain unconvinced that any single issue of Alter-Ego is a satisfying package except as part of an ongoing dialouge between an industry then and now, but the constant production of so many valuable bits and pieces, that I can't criticize.