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Thread: Letters pages

  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Default Letters pages

    A thread for looking back on letters pages, which have been published in comic books as far back as the 1930s.

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    Astonishing Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    ^^^Excellent idea!

    For me, no discussion about old letters pages can be complete without a shout-out to...

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbr...lebration/amp/

    ...T.M. Maple.

    If letters pages were the old timey comic book message boards of their day, T.M. would have had one hell of a post count.
    As a kid, I was fascinated at seeing his letters in Marvel/DC comics from all different years. He somehow made the letters pages more “real” to me.
    And he didn’t just write in a lot, he wrote well thought out critiques that were also pretty damn funny and engaging.
    You could tell the comics pros who replied to him thought he was pretty cool, too.
    Even when he wasn’t in a letters page, others would often write in commenting on previous points he’d made, and man, everyone knew this guy was legit.

    Here’s to T.M. Maple!
    Last edited by Riv86672; 04-14-2020 at 05:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riv86672 View Post
    ^^^Excellent idea!

    For me, no discussion about old letters pages can be complete without a shout-out to...

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbr...lebration/amp/

    ...T.M. Maple.

    If letters pages were the old timey comic book message boards of their day, T.M. would have had one hell of a post count.
    As a kid, I was fascinated at seeing his letters in Marvel/DC comics from all different years. He somehow made the letters pages more “real” to me.
    And he didn’t just write in a lot, he wrote well thought out critiques that were also pretty damn funny and engaging.
    You could tell the comics pros who replied to him thought he was pretty cool, too.
    Even when he wasn’t in a letters page, others would often write in commenting on previous points he’d made, and man, everyone knew this guy was legit.

    Here’s to T.M. Maple!
    Oh no! I actually remember the name, "TM Maple"!

    Yeah, there was a time like every ish or 2 he had a letter printed.

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    Mighty Member babyblob's Avatar
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    I love the old letters pages. Those and those old ads for Xray specs and Hypnocoins were the best. Reading those old letters makes me understand the mind frame of the fans better. And I love that George R R martin had a letter published in Fantastic Four 20
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    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    The letters page was great for getting (some) answers that fans had about a story or powers.

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    Keeper of the Torch Ravin' Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixx9 View Post
    The letters page was great for getting (some) answers that fans had about a story or powers.
    Yep! I remember how someone asked how the Invisible Girl can see when she's invisible because she warps light around her so it doesn't reach her eyes. And Marvel threw open the answer to the fans to come up with the most scientific one, and a few Fantastic Four issues later, they did!
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  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babyblob View Post
    I love the old letters pages. Those and those old ads for Xray specs and Hypnocoins were the best. Reading those old letters makes me understand the mind frame of the fans better. And I love that George R R martin had a letter published in Fantastic Four 20
    As well as a letter partially published in Real Fact Comics #6 (January 1947, DC Comics) by Harlan Ellison, who would later go on to write for Star Trek: The Original Series and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream:


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    The difference between message board posts and letter writing is that, I only spend a few minutes on writing most of my posts--with some exceptions where I spend a lot of time on them. But I wrote my letters to the editor in long hand first then worked over my draft and tried to get it down to an economical composition (no more than three short paragraphs) and tried to come up with some hook to it, so it would catch the editor's interest. Then I would type that up. And then type that up again, because my first typed copy would always have errors. So that was a good day's work. And then the next day, putting enough postage on the envelope and mailing it off to New York. And then waiting months until finally, if by chance my letter did get published, it was usually cut down to a few sentences.
    🇨🇦

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The difference between message board posts and letter writing is that, I only spend a few minutes on writing most of my posts--with some exceptions where I spend a lot of time on them. But I wrote my letters to the editor in long hand first then worked over my draft and tried to get it down to an economical composition (no more than three short paragraphs) and tried to come up with some hook to it, so it would catch the editor's interest. Then I would type that up. And then type that up again, because my first typed copy would always have errors. So that was a good day's work. And then the next day, putting enough postage on the envelope and mailing it off to New York. And then waiting months until finally, if by chance my letter did get published, it was usually cut down to a few sentences.
    Huh, just looked at Sgt. Rock #337 (February, 1980):


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    Yes, but that Jim Kelly was not me. I actually started writing letters before him (in the early 1970s), but not always using my own name. However then he came along and had much more success getting his letters in print. After that I sometimes signed my letters as "The One True Jim Kelly." But I admired the other Jim Kelly for his success. The great ones like The Mad Maple and Uncle Elvis had to work really hard to get so many letters published. It's not an easy thing to do. For every one letter that got in the letter column, you could count on ten not getting in.
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  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    Yes, but that Jim Kelly was not me. I actually started writing letters before him (in the early 1970s), but not always using my own name. However then he came along and had much more success getting his letters in print. After that I sometimes signed my letters as "The One True Jim Kelly." But I admired the other Jim Kelly for his success. The great ones like The Mad Maple and Uncle Elvis had to work really hard to get so many letters published. It's not an easy thing to do. For every one letter that got in the letter column, you could count on ten not getting in.
    Ah, would any of these happen to have your letters then?:

    https://www.comics.org/search/advanc...ishing_format=

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    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    I only got the nerve to write to the letters pages a couple of times. One was printed in the Fantastic Four run of Waid/Wieringo. The first time I was quite young and wrote one to Super-Villain Team-Up. It didn't get printed but Bill Mantlo sent a post card thanking me for writing. I wish I had kept that but lost it over the years.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    One of the earliest prominent letters pages, from Target Comics #11 (December 1940, Novelty Press):


  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixx9 View Post
    Oh no! I actually remember the name, "TM Maple"!

    Yeah, there was a time like every ish or 2 he had a letter printed.
    He was incredibly prolific!

    Quote Originally Posted by babyblob View Post
    I love the old letters pages. Those and those old ads for Xray specs and Hypnocoins were the best. Reading those old letters makes me understand the mind frame of the fans better. And I love that George R R martin had a letter published in Fantastic Four 20
    I loved the olds ad, too! And in house ads, and the one page Hostess ads...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The difference between message board posts and letter writing is that, I only spend a few minutes on writing most of my posts--with some exceptions where I spend a lot of time on them. But I wrote my letters to the editor in long hand first then worked over my draft and tried to get it down to an economical composition (no more than three short paragraphs) and tried to come up with some hook to it, so it would catch the editor's interest. Then I would type that up. And then type that up again, because my first typed copy would always have errors. So that was a good day's work. And then the next day, putting enough postage on the envelope and mailing it off to New York. And then waiting months until finally, if by chance my letter did get published, it was usually cut down to a few sentences.
    Another difference (imo) is the amount of respect shown by writers over posters.
    I mean, it was pretty much a given that profanity laden rants wouldn’t get published (though I have to think many were still submitted). Letters required you to state your opinions and grievances in a certain way.
    Posting does not.
    When I first started posting (at WizardWorld in ‘00) I went into things thinking letters page etiquette applied.
    I found out pretty quickly, it did not!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    Ah, would any of these happen to have your letters then?:

    https://www.comics.org/search/advanc...ishing_format=
    I'm not sure, a couple might.

    When I first started writing, I'd go on for pages and rant about stuff. But those letters would never get published. But I must've decided to get serious about it, at a certain point, because I subscribed to some titles (circa 1973)--which meant I would get them early enough that I could then respond in time for the editor's deadline for letter columns. I had realized that, living in Canada, I was getting my comics just a bit too late at the store to reply in time. The only letters I could hope to get published were those about general topics.

    I know that I got some lines published in SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES--when it was edited by Murray Boltinoff. But he would often just pull lines from a bunch of letters and put them together in a salad of comments. I used different names for myself, because I didn't want to get inundated with letters from people. Which in fact happened--I got a bunch of unsolicited stuff in the mail--so I had to write at the bottom of each letter, "please don't publish my home address."

    I kept at letter writing on and off into the 1990s. And after that, they started to pull stuff off the DC message board and use that for their letter page--and some of my comments from there appeared on a few comment pages.
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