Friday, October 02, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 1)

Well, since my trivia quiz didn't go live as I planned (at least I don't think it has, I haven't been getting any emails from commenters on it; can someone tell me if it posted on the 1st?), here's something else I had planned while I'm waiting to get access to this blog again.

Part 1 of a series.

For those of you who are old enough, remember what it was like up to the late 80s/early 90s? Pre-internet, pre-Previews, into the early Direct Market. You might have had some fanzines or magazines (like Amazing Heroes) to tell you what was coming, but usually you just went to the drugstore every week and picked up whichever books came in. You didn't know what was coming up in the next three months, and there was nobody to talk to about your comics except your neighborhood friends. And the letters pages, of course. That's where organized Legion fandom came from in the early 1970s, those who created the Legion Outpost and Interlac APAs. But the Adventure letters pages were filled with notes about who they wanted to see next, suggestions for future stories, and bits of Legion lore as explained by "Ed" (Mort Weisinger, editor).

One of the unique things about the Legion is that the readers actually had input into what the writers wrote, from the voting on leader elections (Superboy beating Wildfire, Dream Girl, Element Lad's continual runner-up state, etc.) to the suggestion for new characters. "Bits of Legionnaire Business" was a section of the old "Smallville Mailsack" (and later the "Legion Outpost") in which readers wrote in with ideas for new super-powered people. Quite a few were used; I counted the characters and/or powers of over 30 future Subs, Legionnaires, Heroes of Lallor, villains, and rejects. In the next few installments I'll be reposting the Bits sections from the letter columns with some commentary. Note how "Silver Agey" all the names and powers will sound, relics of a simpler time dating back to the dawn of the Marvel Age. (Remember, the month that Galactus attacked in the pages of Fantastic Four, DC was publishing stuff like the Space Canine Patrol Agents.)

Thanks to Jo and Terri-Anne Sanning for hosting all the Silver Age letters columns at the Silver Age Legion Clubhouse.


Meerkatdon said...

Michael: Yeah, no trivia quiz on the 1st. Don't worry about it, we all understand that you are on an Espionage Squad mission. :)

Jonathan L. Miller said...

What do people think the chances are of Paul bringing back a lettercolumn/text page? I used to love his lettercols. I'm wondering if an e-mail campaign might work?