As I’ve noted in other recent features as of late, I’ve been delighting in deals on Bronze Age comics that have allowed me to flash back into comics history, and one thing I always check out in those decades-old back issues are the letters columns. While we still see the occasional letter-col in modern comics, those missives printed in the backs of pre-Internet publications strike me as being a little more special, given it requires greater effort and even a little expense for readers to offer feedback to comics editors.
Another reason I love perusing those old-school letter-cols is the names one finds occasionally at the bottoms of those letters. Case in point: the letter-col from Jonah Hex #63, published April 1982 (though cover dated August 1982)…
The first letter in that issue’s letter-col (titled Via Pony Express) came from a source that will be familiar to many comics readers.
Terry Beatty refers to Ms. Tree, a private-eye character he co-created with crime writer Max Allan Collins — a character that would eventually make the leap from small-press publisher Eclipse Comics to DC Comics, ironically enough. Collins and Beatty brought her to Ms. Tree Quarterly under the DC banner for eight issues from 1990-92.
Of course, Beatty is probably best known in comics as the co-creator (along with Collins again) of Wild Dog, who was revived recently in Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye (part of DC’s Young Animal imprint) and who’s been adapted for the small screen as a vigilante pupil of Green Arrow on Arrow, airing on the CW.
Beatty is now the writer/artist on the long-running, syndicated “Rex Morgan, M.D.” comic strip, and he’s also an acknowledged authority on comic art. He rails on Facebook against fake comic art, often exposing poor forgeries listed on eBay. It’s interesting to note that in the above letter (commenting on material from Jonah Hex #59) that even in the Bronze Age of comics, he was setting the record straight about and in pop-culture history in the early days of his career. Also, one has to give credit to letter-col editor Nellie Rooke (whom I assume was an assistant editor on the title) for including the correction and allowing Beatty to set the record straight.