The world of comic books is made up of two separate but equally important groups: the people who work in comics and the fans who read them. Sometimes, members of the latter group cross over and end up working in the industry. And occasionally, in the letter columns of back issues, one can find fan letters written by these readers-turned-pros. These are their stories. (Apologies to Law & Order.)
First, we flash back to Incredible Hulk #214 (cover dated August 1977). The interior story and art — which pits the title character against C-list hero Jack of Hearts — are by Len Wein, Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan, but it also features a letters column. At the time, the Hulk lettercol was entitled “Green Skin’s Grab-Bag.” As you can see below, the logo for the lettercol is adorned with mirror images of the Green Goliath’s grimacing face — no doubt he’s pissed because people keep trying to grab his green bag.
This particular instalment of his grab-bag features comments about the story and art from Hulk #210, including one from an enthusiastic reader named Kurt Busiek — yes, the writer of Astro City and such other past titles as Marvels, JLA/Avengers, Untold Tales of Spider-Man and Arrowsmith. In it, he offers praise, advice, requests and even a little lust…
My favorite line (as evident from the title of this blog post) is “I loved the return of Maha-Hoohah.” I can relate. I’m a fan of all kinds of hoohahs as well. (Addendum: Kurt Busiek informed me on Twitter that “Maha-Hoohah” is actually a reference to an old villain named “Maha Yogi.” I’m pleased he touched base, because my Google search for “Maha-Hoohah” and “X-Men” turned up nothing. I’m sure the results would’ve been much more fruitful and… interesting had I dropped the “Maha” part.)
The next letter is appropriately from the letters column of a comic book based on a TV show. The reason it’s so fitting is that it’s penned by a fan who would later become a TV writer/producer and a comics writer, Marc Guggenheim. The Star Trek franchise may have its home in the world of comic books at IDW Publishing at the moment, but it’s jumped from publisher to publisher over the years — Gold Key, Marvel, DC, Malibu, DC/Wildstorm… the list goes on. The incarnation in question in this instance is the DC Comics run from 1984-1988, specifically Star Trek #46 (cover dated January 1988). The column was titled “Hailing Frequencies Open,” an appropriate if obvious choice.
Now, like the letters pages of newspapers, lettercols sometimes featured messages from readers who were responding to a letter by another fan in a previous issue. I can only surmise that’s what’s going on with this letter from Guggenheim, who appears to defend a recent story despite possible continuity issues…
I can’t specifically recall any major continuity glitches in his comics work, but if there are any, the letter would explain them.
Guggenheim has written such high-profile comics in recent years as Amazing Spider-Man and Superman/Batman, writes his creator-owned Resurrection for Oni Press and is about to debut later this month as the new writer on DC’s Justice Society of America. Of course, he’s blended his interest in comics with his work in TV and movies. He co-wrote the screenplay for 2011’s Green Lantern feature film and he’s a writer/producer on ABC’s new series No Ordinary Family, which offers a slightly different spin on the super-hero genre.
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