When I was a teenage cartoonist, my greatest ambition was to make it to the big time, as a penciler for Teen Titans or X-Men. The next best thing, though, was to get a fan letter printed in either of those books. Back then, the letter pages allowed fans to share their thoughts, not only about the comics but about their own lives. Much like today’s online forums, the lettercol were vibrant communities that made readers like myself feel more connected to the characters — and creators — we followed each month.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that many industry veterans — folks like Kurt Busiek, Todd McFarlane, Dave Sim; and even alt-comix names like Eric Reynolds and James Kochalka — got their start as “fanboys” too. Over the years, I’ve put together a sampling of real letters to comics’ mailbags from comics professionals during their amateur letterhack days. It’s a long page, and true to my obsessive tendencies, is both chronlogical and alphabetical. Look for your favorite (or most hated) creator, and click on their name to find the comment in question. The letters make for amusing/informative reading, especially given the work many of these later-to-be pro’s ended up doing themselves.
The letters are mostly culled from my own collection, as well as a few contributions from outside sources. So if you’ve got a letter I don’t have, feel free to email it to me and I’ll add it to the collection.
P.S. As I got older, I lost interest in crafting superhero tales, but I did have the satisfaction of getting a couple of letters printed, in “Titans Tower” — not that I had anything particularly insightful to say…