As tweeted by Dave Gibbons, Pat Curley recounts the very beginnings of comics fandom — a historic confluence of Julius Schwartz, Jerry Bails, and Roy Thomas — and shows that even then the feedback loops of fandom and editorial were closely aligned:
And then a very odd and significant thing happened. Another young man wrote to Schwartz, also asking about back issues of All-Star. Schwartz referred him to Fox, who referred him to Bails.
Bails was so thrilled to discover that there was another adult out there who liked old issues of All-Star that he sent the second young man, Roy Thomas, duplicate copies of several of his issues. Over the next several months, Thomas and Bails wrote back and forth dozens of times.
Not long after this, Julius Schwartz resurrected the concept of a team of superheroes, this time named the Justice League of America. He incorporated the two superheroes he had relaunched thus far, the Barry Allen Flash and the Hal Jordan Green Lantern and rounded out the membership with three existing DC heroes, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter.
Bails and Thomas were enthusiastic, but they had seen that comic books come and go. Bails wanted the Justice League to last, and so, during a trip to New York, he suggested to Schwartz that he start up a little newsletter for fans of the JLA, to help market the comics.
OF course, Thomas would go on to become not only the first fan to ascend to writer, but one of the first outside writers to work on the Marvel Universe, as “Roy the Boy,” setting the scene for the continuity cop editor as line runner, a position later filled by Mark Gruenwald and today, of course, Tom Brevoort.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.