From Fanboys to Pros

Comics, Geek

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.

Check out “From Fanboys to Pros” here ->>

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…

0 thoughts on “From Fanboys to Pros

  1. I’ve got letters in Bizarre Heroes and also Rare Bit Fiends.
    I’m no one though… not yet at least. Yet, when I do become someone, it probably won’t be in the comics industry.
    Actually I wonder about letters from someones not in the music industry.
    A young David Bowie in some old issue of David Bowie?
    Letters from Michael Chabon?
    That would be awesome to see.

    1. someones/no ones
      most of the letters i’ve collected here are far less interesting than those from simple readers, let alone the famous letterhacks of that era like “t.m. maple.”

  2. I’m not a published creator – yet – but I remember seeing a letter printed that I wrote to DAREDEVIL. It went something like this: “I like it when Daredevil fights ninjas. But when did he learn to catch arrows?” The editor responded (!) “He always knew how, he just never got the chance!”
    That’s me, droppin’ the science from a very young age.

  3. My favorite comics letter-writer
    … is B.N. Duncan. He seems to write to *everyone*, is amazingly long-winded, sometimes insightful, and often bizarre. I had no idea who he was until this Friday, when I read this essay about him in Bob Levin’s new book. He has a couple of dopplegangers in the poetry world, but whereas he’s kind of a mix of interesting/perplexing, the poetry world guys who do this are totally *frightening*.
    Gary Sullivan

  4. Re: My favorite comics letter-writer
    is b.n. a comics lettercol correspondent? i don’t recognize the name… and who’s bob levin? i’m out of it and confused. :->

    1. Re: My favorite comics letter-writer
      Hi Josh,
      B.N. Duncan is a comics artist who has lived in Berkelely, CA, for decades. He also has published a number of magazines feature the work of people living on the street in Berkeley. He even did a show at one point of art by people who were homeless. Anyway, you can see his letters in back issues of, like, Peepshow or Optic Nerve. Other places, too–I remember seeing his name a lot in various cartoonsts’ letters pages.
      Bob Levin wrote The Pirates and the Mouse, which is a book about the Air Pirates of the 60s-70s, the guys who got in trouble with Disney for using Mickey Mouse, etc. His new book, which Fantagraphics just published, contains essays about Dori Seda, Rory Hayes, S. Clay Wilson, Justin Green, and numerous others, including B.N. Duncan … both of these books are pretty entertaining!
      –Gary Sullivan

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