Dr. Oyola: I have been reading some 1977 Marvel Two-in-One issues for a project I am working on for my own blog, but came across this letter, which got me thinking about letters pages. I recently focused on some letters in Howard the Duck (for the 5th installment of my “If it WAUGHs Like a Duck” series), so I guess I had letters on my mind.
|(Your editors apologize for some miscommunication that resulted in our leaving out the letter in question! Here it is in all its glory!)|
This particular letter in MTiO #37 is notable not only for its critique of the series in general, but for saving its most scathing remarks for the treatment of Alicia Masters, and the accusation the reader makes about the use of cheap gimmicks and how such gimmicks are what hacks resort to. He even writes, “This cancerous waste of supporting characters must be stopped!” Tough words! But even more amazing is the response by the editor. (I assume Marv Wolfman is answering the letters since he is writer/editor on the series at the time). He basically admits the issue in question was substandard and lays the blame on the hurried conditions under which the recent issues had been put together (in case of the issue in question, #31, literally overnight!). He goes on to say, however, that “Hopefully a rushed original effort is preferable to a repeat story,” which reminds me of our recent discussion here on Bronze Age Babies about reprints vs. filler issues vs. late publication. I find it quite shocking that the editor would admit to deadline troubles and that a comic story was substandard, but I am not shocked that readers complained about cheap gimmicks, hack work and treatment of beloved characters, since I think those kinds of things plagued superhero comics since the Silver Age, and the complaints about “comics today” don’t feel any different, it is just that the scale of the gimmicks has ballooned to cosmic proportions.
So, that’s today’s topic. Letters. Letters pages. Responses to letters. The kinds of things you think letters should be written about. What kinds of responses have you seen?
Has any of our Bronze Age Babies regulars had a letter printed (or sent in, but not)? Have a copy of it you can share or give us the gist of it? Any particular favorite letters columns or just memorable letters?
For example: I remember loving the letters in Amazing Spider-Man during the early 80s Hobgoblin saga, with folks doing their best to predict who the hobgoblin really was, using various clues from the issues to explain their guesses. If I remember correctly, Ned Leeds, Lance Bannon and Flash Thompson were frequent guesses. They used the last one as a red herring and those who deduced it was Leeds were either right or wrong depending on the ret-con. I even remember a letter predicting the correct Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, over a decade before it’d be ret-conned to be that character (as Roger Stern originally planned).
So let’s hear it, BABers! Tell us about your experience and feelings about letters.