Comic Book Biography: ROY THOMAS

roy-thomasRoy Thomas is a busy man with a long history in comics, he recently took some time out for 20 questions about his career…

First Comics News: You were there at the beginning of comics fandom, how did fans meet and get together in the beginning?

Roy Thomas: Julie Schwartz started publishing full addresses in his comics LPs (letter pages). Gardner Fox sent me Jerry Bails’ address, after Julie sent me Gardner’s.

1st: What made you start Alter Ego?

Roy: Actually, it was Jerry who decided to launch AE… I just helped.

1st: How did you get the job with Mort Weisinger at DC?

Roy: I’d sent him a letter or two about a Schaffenberger-drawnLOIS LANE story that came to his attention, but mostly I think it was sending him ALTER EGO #7 and maybe #8.

1st: Why did you leave DC for Marvel?

Roy: Weisinger and I didn’t get along. I found him sadistic.

1st: Was there concern about the future of Marvel after both Ditko and Kirby left?

Roy: Only about the quality of Spider-Man, not Marvel per se– all of which was alleviated since the mag sold even better under Romita, as we soon learned.

1st: Initially Stan was plotting and you were scripting the finished art, how did you feel about your part in the creative process?

Roy: I only did that one first issues of a few series I started, likeSGT. FURY and X-MEN and AVENGERS. I never scripted much of anything else Stan had plotted, unless maybe my first DAREDEVIL. In all these cases, actually, the artist would have done much of the plotting.

1st: Eventually you were sole writer on X-Men andAvengers, how did this transpire?

Roy: That was always the intent.

1st: How did Conan become a Marvel property?

Roy: Stan and I felt we should get a sword-and-sorcery property, and after a false start with Lin Carter’s Thongor, I went after Conanon my own and got it by going directly to REH estate literary agent Glenn Lord.

1st: How did you become Editor in Chief at Marvel and since you were the first one, what did the job entail?

Roy: I became ed-in-chief because Stan became publisher and president… and it entailed about what you’d think, although Stan was still more involved editorially in those early days.

1st: Marvel had retold Captain America’s history to fit the new “Marvel Age”, and done the same thing with Namor. They total recreated the Human Torch from scratch. You had done something similar with the Vision. What was your feeling about updating, changing and completely dismissing the Golden Age stories that created these heroes?

Roy: I never mentally dismissed the old stories. I even had Steve Englehart reconcile the late 1940s and 1950s Cap with Marvel continuity.

1st: You took control of the Golden Age Marvel Universe with the Invaders, was it a hard sell to convince Marvel they wanted to tell Golden Age stories again?

Roy: No. Stan liked the idea the way I presented it to him, with the name THE INVADERS–which he’d originally thought of for a book co-starring Namor and Hulk.

1st: You were with Marvel in the over 15 years, and then you left for DC, why?

Roy: I didn’t feel I could go along with a new policy, so Stan and I decided I would become simply writer/editor of my own material. Otherwise, I’d have gone to DC six years earlier. I stayed around until I felt I couldn’t work with Jim Shooter because I felt he had been untruthful with me… to put it politely.

1st: Within 6 months of joining DC you started All-Star Squadron, was this planned from the time you joined DC?

Roy: As soon as I met with DC people, I suggested ALL-STAR SQUADRON and ARAK. They just took months to come out.

1st: You also wrote the Legion; was there a conscious decision to stay away from the main stream DC Universe?

Roy: To some extent. I had no interest in doing Batman or Superman, or the mainstream heroes, though I would do them if asked. I liked the idea of doing WONDER WOMAN, but was unhappy not to have a whole book, so soon left. I never wanted to do LEGION, though I enjoyed the few issues I did.

1st: You launched Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew in the 80s, what was the thinking in launching the 1st funny animal book at DC in 40 years?

Roy: I wanted to do it… had been planning to do one at Marvel with Herb Trimpe as artist.

1st: In 1983 you started working on Elric for Pacific, what made the Pacific offer attractive while you were working for DC?

Roy: It was extra money, and a chance to branch out. Besides, I liked doing sword-and-sorcery comics and Conan was lost to me.

1st: In 1984 you launched Infinity Inc., how did this come about?

Roy: I was going to pitch an idea I called TIME TITANS, but Dann and I came up with INFINITY, INC. (though not that name) while going on a day trip to the Statue of Liberty and I never pitched TIME TITANS to DC.

1st: The DC using much of Infinity Inc. in the JSA, 20 years later, does it seem the same or different form Marvel’s revamp of the 40s heroes in the 60s or your uses of the DC and Quality heroes in All-Star Squadron?

Roy: I don’t think of it in those terms, although, even though I own a piece of the Infinity characters, I resent their being used and my having no part in it.

1st: In 1989 you went back to Marvel, what brought you back?

Roy: Tom DeFalco arranged it. I felt DC had become a dead end, much as I liked their characters.

1st: Currently you are back in the fanzine business with Alter Ego again, how is that going?

Roy: Pretty well, although since 9-11 the sales have been flat enough that we need just a few hundred dependable readers every month to make it really sail. I enjoy dong it more than I’ve enjoyed writing many comics.

1st: Thanks for your time, Roy!

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