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Fanzing Mailroom graphic by Jeremy Greene
 Well, I guess I bugged Michael and Bruce too often about the lack of letter columns in some of the recent FANZING issues, because guess who's been granted responsibility for it? "But I'm your fiction editor!" I said. "So make up the answers!" they replied. Ah well…

After cruising around on rec.arts.comics.dcu, I was feeling even more trepidation about the task, since the discussion generated by last month's Mark Waid interview is fast approaching a thousand posts. That means a lot of messages flooding FANZING''s box, too, right?

Well, apparently not. One bit of the r.a.c.d.c.u spilled over into an exchange between a reader and our editor, but there was only one lone letter sent directly to FANZING itself about the controversy. C'mon people, not every FANZING reader reads r.a.c.d.c.u. We like feedback here, too.

The exchange went as follows:

Wow. The interviewer was rude. Mark Waid was rude. Sheesh. Talk about negativity.
Drew Melbourne

FANZING Editor-in-chief Michael Hutchison responded:

Ummm…just to be fair to Bruce, I've always encouraged him to be blunt when asking questions of professionals. Otherwise you just get a brown-noser.

More to the point, I double-checked his questions and the only one which could really be taken as rude is the first one, just because he's being critical about Waid's most famous work. Hmmmm….probably a bad question to put in as the lead!

Or is there something else you noticed? If so, please do tell. We're always trying to improve at FANZING!

And Drew answered:

I thought his characterization of KINGDOM's art was a little harsh, too. And a lot of the questions came off as rather adversarial.

Not that I'm saying any of this is a bad thing. It made for a fairly interesting read. It's just not how I'd approach an interview, I guess.

Your thoughts are appreciated, Drew! Readers wanting the full reaction of the newsgroup community should do a Dejanews search of January's r.a.c.d.c.u. posts, but be prepared for a long read! Part II of Bruce Bachand's interview with Mark Waid is in this issue. Will it generate a similar reaction?

Despite all the buzz in the newsgroups, here's the only letter which came right to our mailbox:

Hello,

Just read the January issue and what can I say? I suppose saying that it's no better than any other issue doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but when you set a consistant standard of excellence what can you expect?

Enough compliments, while I loved the reviews and the articles, it was the interview with Mark Waid that stood out. I've long thought that Mr. Waid was one of the best writers going and it was great to be able to actually find out what he thinks - really thinks! Can you imagine Wizard ever publishing an interview of that depth? Me neither. And I totally agree with his comments that he shouldn't just have to 'take it'. As a student teacher I get told the same thing when people want to attack me with impunity. Well, I get that upset, too, and know exactly how he feels.

Keep up the good work, and is it really true that Mary/Gabriel/Hellblazer thing mentioned in the Elseworld/Bloodline thingy? I can't believe anyone would write that sort of rubbish.
See you in a month,
David Brunt

Thank you, David. I too agree that no one should have to take gratuitous insults, no matter what their profession, but I do believe most writers can and should expect critcism of their work. Certainly most of the fan writers here at FANZING welcome it.
As for rubbish, the "Teeny Titans" one-shot convinced me anything was possible…

Now, on to the non-Waid letters that have stacked up over the last few months.

Thoughts on the Art Challenge
    Great idea for the challenge. I personally think that the idea of a nationalistic category sort of goes against the spirit of togetherness however. I mean "kicking Saddam's butt" essentially means kicking Iraqi civilians' butts too and I find it somehow at odds with the spirit of the theme.

I only mention this because I think the page is so good otherwise.
I would be happy if you would consider this.

Thanks,
Seth Fisher
www.lllama.com

Michael replies:

I was thinking of all those great World War II promotional posters from the Golden Age and how to best evoke the same spirit. Saddam Hussein's the closest thing we have to a global meanie, hence the conclusion.

Actually, I'll go you one further: I not only care for the lives of foreign civilians but also of foreign armies. I've been one of the many people who'd rather see Ford's edict against assassination removed. It's ridiculous to kill 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and never remove the nut who's ordering them all to their deaths in a hopeless war. It's similar to the German situation in WWII; while many soldiers were Jew-hating, war-mongering Nazis, another large segment (possibly a majority, although we'll never know, considering how many would disavow the Nazi party later) were simply patriotic Germans eager to serve their nation. It's too bad that so many have to die in misguided causes because of their leaders.

Who knows? Maybe there'll be a contest entry of Deadshot infiltrating Iraq.

Yes, I'm being flippant about a serious subject. In any case, no one has yet sent in a contest entry of that nature; if any did, they'd probably just be pro-American, harking back to the days when Superman could pose beside an American flag without being politically incorrect. :-)

Noted Comics Professionals Praise FANZING!
In the category of "Professional Recognition" we have two letters, the first a response from Tom Mandrake to Michael Hutchison's column on the Martian Manhunter (FANZING #12).

Michael,

I just got done reading the overview and review you did on the Manhunter. I have to say you have a much better grasp of the convoluted history of MM than I do, and you got it down in a form even I could follow.

I must disagree with your point about John making changes just to put his stamp on the character, however. John has always tried to be fair to past continuity on all his projects. On MM we found ourselves with a character already possessing, as you point out yourself, several contradictory origins. Do we try to reconcile other peoples continuity? That would force us to do too much background work. What about sticking with one already established origin. All those seem to be out of line compared to current JLA continuity. I think its fair to give us the chance to tell our version of this story.

Thanks for the glowing report on my artwork. I'm finding I'm not being as easily accepted (by the fans) on this project as my last two. I've been getting two kinds of reactions, It looks too much like the Spectre and it doesn't look enough like the Spectre. You are right, I always love to see fan artwork and the pieces on your article were great stuff. Was the color piece done on a computer?

Thanks.
Tom

Michael replies:

Thank you!

I don't think I challenged John's right to tell the story his way (all writers do so, and it is currently HIS character). However, I was just expressing my love of the 80s origin and wished that more of it had been allowed to remain intact; I don't feel John needed to contradict that origin in order to add the elements of his own. While there were contradictions by a few later writers and a few gaps that needed filling, I didn't have any problem comprehending MM's current history. In fact, it seems fairly straightforward to me. But that's me; maybe I just have a knack for this that comes so naturally that I can't understand when others have problems with it.

It is sometimes harder for fans to realize that the comic creators don't necessarily read all of the past appearances and make a cohesive chart of all past adventures. (Fans have the time to do that, while writers are writing and artists are drawing!)

As for the artwork, I think it may be more about style than talent. I'm sure most of these critics aren't implying that you are any less talented than you were on previous books. The atmospheric nature of your art style (and I'm sorry that my art vocabulary doesn't allow me to be more descriptive) worked fine on the ghostly character of the Spectre. Perhaps people were expecting more of a crisp, straightforward approach to a musclebound superhero? You know, Image-y? :-) Frankly, the mystical nature of J'onn and the noir-ish detective feel are both brought out by your art; it's a different approach, but it suits the character for me!

I'm betting the color piece was done on computer. Christian Moore's art always has that look. I think he scans in his pencils and then colors by computer.

There are many more examples of artwork of J'onn J'onzz in the FANZINGarchives. In fact, the following page has our animated versions of Martian Manhunter AND the Spectre: http://www.fanzing.com/archives/issue08/fanzing/feature2.shtml
(Spectre is also on the background wallpaper. And a sketch of the Suicide Squad is at the bottom!)

Again, I'd be happy to interview you and/or John Ostrander for our magazine, should you ever be willing. Best of luck to you. And when I say that your magazine has replaced Chase on my comic book buying list, I hope you'll realize that that is quite an honored place. Chase was my favorite book!

The second comes from Tim Truman.

Just dropped in to check it out, and had no idea that this was a DC fan site! Someone at Comicon.com mentioned you on the bulletin board there. Hey, have you guys reviewed Hex or Guns of the Dragon? I looked but couldn't find anything.

Scot Eaton and I are working on a superhero/sci-fantasy series Creature Commandoes. Rest assured that it won't be the rather cheesy WW2 monsters of the '70's. Remember when X-men was fun, and very science fictional? Well, Creature Commandoes still is! Scot Eaton turned down some pretty high profile work in favor of Creature Commandoes.

We feel really good about it! We think it's going to surprise a lot of people. I'm really hoping DC pushes the book a little. The marketing department there seems to concentrate only on JLA, Superman, and Batman titles. However, I'm going to meet with them personally next month to make sure they give Creature Commandoes some attention by showing them the incredible character sheets and sketches that Scot's worked up. Hopefully he'll have some pencils done at that time, too.

Anyway, enough shameless self-promotion. However, as DC fans, I thought you might dig knowing about the project and being on the "advance look/insider" list!

I'll be back! Again, nice site.

Timothy Truman

Michael replies:

Thanks so much, Tim! It's always thrilling when a comic pro approaches us. We haven't really looked at non-superhero titles enough in FANZING,an oversight we'll correct in an upcoming "genre" issue which will focus on DC's Western, War and Sci-Fi titles. I'm sure Hex will be covered in that issue, given that he's both Western AND Sci-Fi!

All you FANZING followers will be happy to know that, following this e-mail, Tim and I have arranged to do an interview AND give you a sneak peek at the upcoming Creature Commandoes! Look for it to appear shortly.

Readers Respond to AIR FORCE TWO
    Wow! Great story! It took me long enough to read it all, but it was well worth the time spent. The characterizations were excellent and extremely detailed. You reminded me of several things that I had forgotten in comics history and even introduced me to a few that I had never heard of. Always a pleasure to learn something new and exciting. I was a fan of the Suicide Squad in the beginnings, but lost interest later on - but you really hit the mark on their days of glory, when developing and deploying a 'Mission Impossible' task force was fun to watch. I really enjoyed the use of the ex-Leaguers, like the Atom, Blue Beetle, and the Elongated Man. Although I really do agree with Morrison's current 'epic' direction of the Justice League, at the same time I feel that these supporting cast characters who used to play such a vital role in Leagues of yesterday get left behind in the dust all too often.

My only criticism of the work would be that I am a huge Atom fan and he got such a small part (no pun intended -- well, maybe just a little). And also that the Mighty Mite has been un-de-aged(?) since the demise of the almost latest incarnation of the Teen Titans several months ago. Not that that would have changed the story in the least, but it would have been noted at the end of the story in the notes where you claim that he is still a teenager.

Regardless, job well done. After reading this, it makes me want to take a stab at writing one of these myself…

Scott Fulkerson
dsfulker@juno.com

P.S. I also maintain a few pages on the Atom, so I'll throw in an unabashed plug for my site here.. If you like, you can visit my Atom's Homepage at www.geocities.com/Area51/Zone/1383/atom.htm.

Michael replies:

Thank you SO much! I've gotten almost no feedback on this story, and after the slavish hours I put into it I'd really hoped for some commentary.

Re: The Atom. I hadn't heard anything about Atom's re-aging until I read the DCU Heroes Secret Files last night. Glad to hear about it, though. I know, Atom didn't do too much. Frankly, he's more a "cosmic" character than you'd think. I mean, in a normal fistfight his size-weight ability is limited to a few moves; what can he really do besides the moves I used (and the "leap into the air light as a feather and then slam on his full 180 lbs" move which I tried to avoid because it's SO cliched). But put him up against someone cosmic like Darkseid and he can come in very useful in dozens of ways.

But that's just my viewpoint. I'm betting you've put a lot of thought into your favorite character the same way I've studied Elongated Man, and thus you might come back with some list of what he could have done. If it's any consolation, Atom did save Al Gore!

As Fiction Editor (hey, this is my lettercol, after all,) let me just add that, Scott, if you're inspired to contribute, go right ahead!
LFD

Well, I see you've finally got your epic up on the site. And wow, what a story! Very nice, great action, smart plot. Great dialog; a lot of very funny lines. It was pretty heavy-handed on the Clinton stuff (heck, I threw in a Clinton reference as well, but only one -- the cigar line by Deadshot had me cracking up, though) and on Sue Dibny, but still a great story… especially with the "Pinky and the Brain" twist ending.

Keep up the good work!

Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

Thanks, Chaim! You too! -LFD

"Quote of the Month" Archive request
    I am a fairly new reader to your site, about 5 months now, and I must say it is excellent. The stories are first rate, and so is the art work. Since I started reading your site, I have also started reading YesterYear and DCFutures regularly, so you guys definitely have a good thing going.

Anyway my question/request is where and how do you pick out your Quote of the Month? I love them, and I think you should add an archive for them. Of course this is just my opinion, but I like to think I'm not alone.

Thanks for a great site,
Mike Zinkowsky

Editor's reply:

A "Quote of the Month" archive, eh? Well, in the time since this letter was sent in, I've put all 12 of the previous issues in our Archives; you can view them from beginning to end. But a page where each quote is listed and can be read is also a good idea. Don't know how soon I'll get it done, but we'll try to make it soon.

As for how they're picked out…generally, it's from memory. I remember a great moment from a comic, grab it out of the collection and jot it down. The reasoning is that if it's good enough that I can remember it years later, it's a great quote. Now, the thing is, these aren't necessarily the greatest comic book moments ever; a quote collection of that nature would include such things as "My ward is a *choke* junkie!", "You've done considerable for the blue skins and the green skins but what about the brown skins?", "Nothing less than a bursting shell could pierce his skin" and the all-time greatest comic book quote ever, "Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot." I'm not trying to do an authoritative book of quotes. In fact, I'm hoping to reveal some of the lesser-known great moments from books that you may not have read. I'm glad you're enjoying them!

More Responses to our Holiday Issue…
    Great Star Hawkins story! I'm enjoying the stuff you all put out every month - takes me back to my younger days….
Raphael Laufer
rlaufer@spa.com

The Hanukkah springboard was great. Part of the reason for any religious ritual is the sharing of experiences, and this story would capture that quite well. Much better than the Batman one that ran last year in DCU Holiday Bash II and didn't even flow properly as a story…
- Jason Tippitt

Hi. Loved the annotated J.L.A. Let's see some again soon. One thing though, the line the big yins may well be a reference to Yin/Yan, but as the Mirror Master (and G. Morrison Esq.) is Scottish, it may mean something else. In Scots Dialect 'Big Yin' means 'Big One' so Big Yins probably just means the 'Big Ones' and who could be bigger than the new team? Comedy fans may know that Billy Connelly is known as the "Big Yin."
Keep up the good work,
David Brunt
Leigh, Lancashire, England.

Thanks for the info! -LFD

Hey folks! While I loved the J'onn J'onzz article, there was one small error, namely that Professor Erdel isn't dead in the newest origin. J'onn believed he was dead at the time there. Ostrander has announced he has plans for Erdel later on. BTW, I am a writer for the faux-DC fanfiction project. Would you guys like some of our work to post in FANZING?
TJB

Michael replies:
Thanks for the comments. I apologize for the lateness of my reply. What is the Faux-DC project? I'm certainly interested in hearing about it.

I was skimming through you guys' Holiday issue (mostly marveling at the impressive Plastic Man picture in Sector 2814) when I noticed Bruce's comments in reply to my old pal, Jason Tippitt.

We'd LOVE to get some female writers at the DCF! We only have one now -- and she only writes half a book! (That would be Carey Davis of Wonder Woman: DCF fame.)

Jason has demanded I attempt to get Louise to write for us… but she won't respond to my pleas (I'm sure this is merely because she's discussing options with the paying customers.)

At any rate, in closing let me make one thing PERFECTLY CLEAR. I do not, nor have I EVER worn women's clothing.

On purpose, anyway.

Keep up the good work, one and all!
Erik Burnham
DCF Guy

Erik, I'm immensely flattered by the offer, but you're quite correct, I do have several irons in the fire that I'm hopeful will soon take the form of paying gigs. (More on this when details are more firmly worked out!) Between that and my FANZING duties, I do not have time to give a DC Futures series the time it deserves. Best of luck with your site, though and we're always happy to plug other DC-related projects here! -LFD

…And to January's!

Dear Rob,

I loved your story regarding your memories of JLA #200, I liked it so much I bought the issue. I grew up reading Marvel Comics (yeah, I know) but have always wondered when did Dick Grayson tell Batman that he quit being Robin?

Hope you have an answer

Keep up the good fight with your site.

Best,
George
Vandaly6@aol.com

As long as letters like yours show we are drumming up some business for DC (from a Marvel reader, no less!), the fight shouldn't be too hard, George.

As for your question, I went to my trusted and reservoir of Bat-Titan trivia, Marilee Stephens. She says, "A lovely scene in Batman #368, cover-dated as February, 1984. It opens with Jason and Batman trying to come up with a new super-hero name for Jason, since he can't go as Robin. In walks Dick and he basically gives Jason the Robin name and costume. (Bruce actually thanks Dick for all his years of service as Robin). After Dick leaves, Bruce talks to Jason about the name Robin, how Jason has a standard to live up to due to what Dick had done with the name and all that. It really was a nice scene."

Post-Crisis, I'm afraid it was Batman who told Dick that he couldn't be Robin anymore. For further details, I'll direct you to my "Robin's Revamps" Vanishing Point, Issue 10 in the FANZING Archives.

And speaking of Marilee, she writes:

Looks good, though I don't agree with all the reviews. Does FANZING have any sort of forum for rebuttals (outside the letters page, that is)?
Marilee Stephens

Michael replies:

A forum? You want a forum, eh?

Aside from that thing on the home page of FANZING that says "Forum" in big letters, no, we don't have anything of that nature.
:-)

Ahem. What our harried chief is trying to say is, in addition to writing to the FANZING lettercol (which you are certainly welcome to do, hint, hint…) there is an online message board, the FANZING Forum, maintained by Assistant Editor Bruce Bachand, and accessible on our homepage at www.fanzing.com. Finally, we welcome thoughtful reviews of all types. If you have a strong opinion on a comic, new or old, good or bad, that you think differs from a FANZING writer's or the public at laarge, we'd be pleased to hear from you!
LFD.

This is the first issue of FANZING that I've read--excellent! I especially congratulate ya'll on a fine piece of editorializing re:retcons. Most of them seem pretty silly, especially for someone like myself who grew up with comics. I read Crisis on Infinite Earths in the '80s and promptly stopped buying comics, especially after the deaths of Flash and Supergirl.

Today, I approve of Wally West taking over the mantle of the Flash, but I am highly disgusted with the "protomatter matrix" who is passing herself off as an "angel on earth." Perhaps the editorial staff at DC should watch the Superman Adventures animated series and meet up with the animated Kara/Supergirl--now she's a little bit more of what I remember Kara Zor-El was like: a little girl with a lot of courage and twice as much heart!

Oh, before I forget: I'm really enjoying the Nightwing story. It's interesting to see Dick Grayson meeting up with his Earth-2 counterpart and seeing the slight difference in the relationships of the BatFamily over there. I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle he meeting with his Earth-1 doppleganger--the Nightwing/Dick Grayson whom I shall always
consider as the "real" one!
Syl

That's coming up in this very issue, Syl! -LFD

Time Keeps On Slippin'… Into the Future
    Hi.

I'm sorry, but I find myself disagreeing with Bruce Bachand on almost every point in this article. At least every point that matters.

Personally I don't remember the whole multiverse fondly. Quite the contrary, I found it tiresome, bothersome, stupid and unnecessary. And I still do.

As for Mark Waid's comments: "YOU DON'T HAVE TO USE IT. It's there as a tool, NOT AS A RULE.", this shows an almost (but not quite) touching naivety on Mr. Waid's behalf. Does he really, for an instant, really believe that this won't lead to an overflow of stupid, pointless stories from "the hypertime"?

Maybe, if Mr. Waid was in sole control of the DC-universe, but (as we all know) he's not.

As for "The Kingdom"-story itself, I think Alex Ross said it best.
Peder Dukefos
Norway

Thank you,everyone who wrote! We welcome feedback, positive and negative. That's not to say positive isn't preferred, though!

Thanks for FANZING from Bolivia

I'm a Bolivian fan of the DC Universe. I found your web site a few months ago, and I liked so much that now I'm one of your regular visitors.

I've been surprised to read very good fan fiction just as the recent "A Crown To The Aged" that I liked as much as "Kingdom Come" series.

Congratulations to you and your staff for a job very well done.
Your friend: Gary A. Valenzuela H.
La Paz City - Bolivia

Dear Gary,

Thank you very much for writing… it's wonderful to know we have readers from that far away. I'm especially glad that you liked "A Crown to the Aged" Are you a fan of the Titans?

Beyond that, there's not much to say,except, "Muchas gracias y espero que tu visitaras muchas veces!"
Our final letter…

I have a confession to make. I don't usually enjoy comic book fan publications. It's nothing personal, but a lot of comic book fans tend to have some very different ideas about how their favorite characters should be handled. Overall I've found a lot of fan fiction publications to be fun, but not as enjoyable as reading professionally done comics.

Until someone told me about DC FANZING

Since I first started reading FANZING, I've been continually impressed by the quality of the work you've been putting out. So much so, that when I picked up the Halloween issue of Impulse I was bitterly disappointed. Unlike DC, FANZING had published Louise Freeman Davis's "Who Disguised As…" on time for Halloween. And, between the two FANZING had published the better story. The "official" DC story was just one big senseless romp whereas Louise Freeman Davis's version --especially the scenes of Bart and his friends at the party and Impulse's visit to Gotham-- held my interest far better than the DC issue about characters I have no real interest in.

And, it doesn't stop there either.

The current Crisis issue of FANZING may very well be the best issue to date! All of the New Blood stories were excellent. It was obvious that the writers really took the time to research such obscure characters and write compelling, interesting stories. And with the recent Kingdom event at DC, Marilee Stephens' "Choices" was a pristine example of all the glorious possibilities left open by the introduction of Hypertime into the DCU. And, as usual, FANZING published a fun multiverse-inspired story blending old and new characters BEFORE DC.

For that matter, I've ALWAYS found the quality of the stories in DC FANZING to be comparable to (and often better than) the comics actually being produced. It's sort of ironic, because this month's quizlet asks "What can be done to save the comic book industry?" The answer is simple. The fans just need to write to DC and recommend that they hire some writers from FANZING!
Tony Smith

Offhand, I can't think of a better way to end this catch-up letter column! Now that all past issues of FANZING are available in the Archives, I hope our readers, new and old, will go back and browse through. We're always glad to hear from vistors to our site. Until next month, then, (and we really mean it this time…)
This is your FANZING letter column!
Louise Freeman Davis

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