Marvel Two-in-One Letter Issue #40

I complain a lot about never being published, but that actually isn’t true. My words were first put into print when I was a wee gaffer in June 1978.

I was an avid comic reader in those days and followed three comic books with regularity: Iron Fist and Power Man, Marvel Team-Up featuring The Amazing Spiderman and Marvel Two-in-One with The Thing. I especially enjoyed Marvel Two-in-One because I had followed the series since its inception in 1974 and it featured a wiseass superhero who essentially was a giant pile of rocks. (Interestingly enough, I went on to collect rocks for much of my life.) I connected to The Thing because he offered witty rejoinders (“How cum nobody wants me around for my good looks?”), an excellent catchphrase (“It’s clobberin’ time!”), chomped on cigars and spoke often of his isolation from humanity. Spiderman, Iron Fist and Power Man were great too, but they weren’t as much the black sheep. Anyway the point is that I really liked Marvel Two-in-One.

And then along came Issue #34 in which The Thing and Nighthawk battle a monster from outer space. Or so it seemed.

I was mortified by everything in this issue. The monster wasn’t a monster. There was no battle. Nighthawk and The Thing didn’t do much of anything. In fact, the monster never battles The Thing nor Nighthawk because it isn’t a monster at all, but a highly empathetic creature from the great beyond which focuses its energy on saving children trapped in burning hospitals.

How the fire got started was the worst thing of all.

No attempt is made to explain why Margaret pulls the plug from the wall nor is there any justification for the fire being started as a result of her doing it. (She, of course, is the last one saved from the blaze by our monster from outer space.)

Nighthawk completes this painful issue by beating both the reader and the assholes who shot the misunderstood creature over the head with the moral of the story.

I was incensed. The writers had done a hack job and needed to hear about it. I penned a four- paragraph letter detailing much of the above, along with comments about the weak drawing and sent it off to Marvel Comics Group on Madison Avenue in New York City.

Four months later, my letter finally appeared in Marvel Two-in-One #40 featuring The Thing and The Black Panther.

Regrettably my first experience in publishing was also my first experience with an editor, who decided to reduce my passionately erudite salvo to the following:

Author’s note: Don Gibson is my birth name

Yes, Stan Lee and his bitter cohorts had edited my full-page letter to ten lousy words. They didn’t even cite the issue in question, making it sound like I hated everything about the comic, including The Thing himself! As stupid as it sounds, it was upsetting. I thought about writing another letter but realized that they would just edit that too. And so I have waited until now, 42 years later, to set the record straight.

Marvel Two-In-One #34 needs a severe dousing! The Thing would clobber anyone responsible for this whatchamacallit. Fires aren’t caused by little girls pulling electrical cords out of the wall; they’re started by readers burning stuff like this. Who’s the real monster, Stan! Who?! Yers truly and all, Phed

Publishing Dream

I had a publishing deal. That was the dream. Or almost. It was a dream, but it wasn’t quite a deal. It was a letter from an agent who had expressed interest in the past and had replied again. That was something. And then I blew it. I complained to her about my years in publishing hinterland – or Neverland – never having published a thing. I searched through my old titles. I couldn’t even remember what they might be about. But they did intrigue. I only needed them in print, with well designed covers and just the right font. And so I had a short series run, gave copies to my family and friends, and told one about complaining to this agent who had interest, but he was on the phone, or there was an event, and he forgot to even take the book when he left. That was the dream. Not publishing anything, just writing, like now, this.