With the seventh anniversary of the Dojo, let me take a moment and talk about the comic book which in many ways inspired this blog -- Judomaster. This site makes it most plain that I have a great affection for that little concoction of Dick Giordano's he dubbed the "Action-Heroes", of which Judomaster is a part despite being set during World War II. The comic produced by Frank McLaughlin under the editorial auspices of Pat Masulli and Giordano had a distinctive character which set it apart from everything else on the stands. All the "Action-Heroes" had that, something Giordano strived mightily to create in order to find some level of sales success. It didn't work but not for lack of trying.
|(Dick Giordano (far right) holds court in the 60's with writers O'Neil and Skeates)|
Letters pages have disappeared in the modern day, losing out to the internet where fans yak incessantly about their favorite comics (this website a case in point of course). But once upon a time they were important, really important in building what we take so much for granted today, real sense of community among comics book fans, a group that often shared isolation and a degree of loneliness all their own.
Here are the letters pages from Judomaster...all of them.
In this one we meet Judomaster's creator and the artist and writer of the lead feature Frank McLaughlin.
This letters page features a missive from Bill Schelly, a regular contributor and a man who has since gone on to document much of what was happening in the fan press of the time.
This is the only two-page letters section in the comics run, but it was the first issue I ever encountered and so I just assumed two pages was the norm, and was disappointed when I only found one. The candid talk about prices and distribution was fascinating. Dick Giordano was an artist before he became editor and the value of having artists write as well as draw the feature is discussed.
Letters pages were always great places for cross promotion and Pat Boyette's Peacemaker gets a push in this installment.
I get the sense that Stan Lee is getting a mention here in the discussion of dialogue and attempting to get a natural feel. Stan's loquaciousness would seem to be the counter to what is mentioned. Sarge Steel fans really miss that comic and since he's the back up in Judomaster a lot of the page time is devoted to him.
The Action Hero line up is in full swing and you really get a sense that we are talking about a line and not just a single comic book. Giordano really was on to something.
But it didn't last, just like the Action Heroes themselves the letters pages went away and were replaced by the durable one and two-page text pieces which had decorated Charlton comics for many many years. It's a shame really. With the lapse of the letters page the company lost a crucial connection with their fan base and lost an ability to reinforce a sense of a distinctive voice. But for a short time, a sweet moment in comic history they had the lightning in a bottle and were making the most of it.
I hope to explore more about Judomaster, Charlton and other such things as the Dojo enters its eighth year. Glad you're here, thanks for showing up, and I hope you hang around for what's to come.