Letterers can be fun too, on FUNday!

No new comics this week! Oh, the agony, wait, this is not AGONYday, it’s FUNday! What to do… what to do… well, on FUNday, we just get out some of our old comics and read them, eh? How about this one :

Marvel Age #38
May 1986

Marvel Age was a monthly series featuring previews of upcoming comics, news articles about various subjects, advertisements, humorous pieces, and the occasional interview with creators and Marvel staff. Long removed from the Internet age, it was a great way (sometimes the ONLY way) to get news about what was going on in the world of Marvel Comics. Cartoon Puck appears in this issue on the back cover.

This issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #34 and solicited issue #35 in the section, “Marvel Coming Attractions”:

ALPHA FLIGHT #35~Puck confesses his love to Vindicator! The tormented Snowbird returns to Alpha Flight! Shaman begins his trial for power! The merciless Attuma captures Marrina! And that’s just the beginning! “The Child is Father to the Man” is written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Dave Ross and inked by Gerry Talaoc. 75¢.

In the Newswatch section, the Top Ten lists the ten best-selling direct Marvel titles for the month of November:

  1. X- Factor #2
  2. X-Men #203
  3. Secret Wars II #9
  4. Firestar #1
  5. Fantastic Four #288
  6. Marvel Universe #4
  7. New Mutants #37
  8. West Coast Avengers #6
  9. Amazing Spider-Man #274
  10. Alpha Flight #32

“Marvel Universe” in the number six slot is the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, which was referred to as just “Marvel Universe” back then. Alpha Flight had disappeared off of the top ten list for a bit, last seen three months prior when issue #29 was in the tenth position, although the 2nd issue of the X-Men/Alpha Flight Limited Series reached the number three position one month after that. For those of you who can’t stand the suspense, Alpha Flight would rebound to the number 3 slot with issue #33 in the following month.

The back page broke from the usual calendar format which was suspended for the 1986 year, since Marvel was publishing their own wall calendar that year. Instead, advertisements ran on most back pages that year. So what’s fun about that? This is supposed to be FUNday, after all! Well, this issue’s back cover was a 12-panel grid titled, “Alter Ego (the confessions of a comic book letterer)” by Rick Parker, who lettered Alpha Flight #4,15,16, and 18 through 28, and left with John Byrne to work on the Incredible Hulk in the creative team switch after issue #28. Puck appears in one of the panels repeatedly asking, “eh?”

Note: Although this back page wasn’t fully credited, it is likely to have been drawn by Rick Parker himself, not Ron Zalme, who had been the regular calendar artist.

Note: I wrote to Ron Zalme to check this, and he was kind enough to very quickly respond, saying, “I don’t recall ever doing art for a script by Rick Parker, a good friend of mine. I could tell for certain if I saw it… But, Rick is a fine artist in his own right and mostly illustrated his own ideas. I’m fairly certain that if the page you are referring to is marked “by Rick Parker”, then he probably wrote it and drew it himself.” How nice of him to correspond with Alpha Flight Collector!

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3 Responses to “Letterers can be fun too, on FUNday!”

  1. Allan Says:

    eh?

  2. Rick Parker Says:

    I confess! I’m GUILTY!! I did it!! It was my idea and I wrote it, and drew it. It was colored by whoever was on staff at that time as a colorist, probably Andy Yanchus or George Roussos, possibly Paul Becton. It was one of the very first pieces of my artwork to be published at Marvel if not the very first piece and because of a misunderstanding of the satirical intent resulted in at least one of the artists whose characters were being lampooned calling to the office in an attempt to get me fired. Some people just don’t have a sense of humor, and it’s often a problem when those people work in comics.

    • rplass Says:

      Hey Rick, thanks for stopping by and for clearing up the big 25 year mystery! Boy, I sure would love to hear the rest of the story about the “misunderstanding” about this otherwise harmless piece. Who was the artist who was so misled by the intent? Was it John Byrne?

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