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What the D'ast? The Letters Page

Posted By: Wonder Worlock
Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:14

(Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of irregularly-scheduled op-ed columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with the issues of today’s comic book world from the perspective of a 53-year-old and aging fanboy. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of Cosmic Book News. He welcomes both raves and opposing views in the CBNForum.)


picThe Letters Page.

One, and maybe even two generations of comic book readers may not even know what that is. Scary but true.

With the advent of the Internet where one can get and give opinions and responses about comic books three months from production and sometimes even talk directly with creators themselves, the dusty letters page that always occupied either the middle or the last pages of a great comic read are all but gone now.

When I first began reading DC again, tired of how my Marvel cosmic characters were and are being treated by the House of Ideas these days and excited for the cosmic mythos Geoff Johns has built, I was overjoyed right before the September DCU relaunch to see actual letters pages in Green Lantern and its sister books.

Here on the printed page, fans were sharing ideas about upcoming storylines or characters they wished would reappear. There was no sniping at creators or derogatory words about the product – I am sure magazine editors overlooked such, as I do on the ‘Net anyhoo – but a great community of creativity, some slices of life and a clue or two as to what may be coming around the bend beyond the online solicitations.

Even without computers, it always seemed Stan Lee and his Bullpen were in touch with what fans wanted and what made comic books fun – actually fun! Stan may not have been the best writer in the world, but you could not help but become excited if you read a Lee or Roy Thomas Marvel mag. And that last panel shocker – as appears this week in DC’s Green Lantern #3 (spoiler link) – always left you weak-kneed and wanting more. This week’s evidence shows it still does.

I remember back in the day when the only contact we had to our comic creators outside the letters page and Bullpen Bulletins (I honestly cannot recall if DC had something similar to Stan’s Bullpen?) was a fanzine called FOOM – Friends of Old Marvel. Subscriber-only, the fan-based product gave a real added jolt to those letters pages and even featured covers a month in advance! And of course FOOM had its own letters page as well.

Still, even into the early 1990s, it was the letters page that brought official word from DC and Marvel editors about the future of characters and what plot threads left untied may be returning. Rather than inane debates being tweeted to the ethersphere, by reading and writing those letters to the editor to my favorite mag that I was honing skills to be used in later life (although I did not know it at the time) and so I was. What skills will in the future come from tweeting or even emailing I have yet to realize.

True, I come from an opinion of printed material over digital. I like to hold it in my hands and know that when a technology becomes obsolete (and we have a guy here who watched records become cassettes become 8-tracks become discs become i-Pod downloads, etc.) my comic treasure will not vanish. Nothing but fire or maybe time can damage my long boxes!

So here is one vote for a return of the letters page to all comics, that most creative and intimate form of communication between creator and fan, fan and creator, because it is found in the book itself, a book for which you paid and a book to which you wrote your heartfelt letter.

And if and when it sees print? There is no greater feeling on God’s green Earth, laptop publishing be damned! (Editor's Note: I had my first letter printed in Spawn #11! - McFarlane fan Matt)

Bring back the Letters Page!