A True Comic Legend
Portsmouth Comic Con 2019 is just under three months away and here’s a new spotlight post on one of the show’s US guests, Roy Thomas…
After Stan Lee, Roy Thomas was probably the most important figure at Marvel Comics from the late 60s through to the end of the Bronze Age. Arriving at Marvel in 1965, Thomas quickly became the company’s key writer, firstly on Sgt Fury and the Uncanny X-men, before taking over the scripting reins on the Avengers, the series that confirmed his status as a major talent. Throughout his six-year run on the title, Thomas raised the bar with ever more sophisticated and progressive stories, making him Lee’s right hand man at the publisher.
He played a major part in revamping Captain Marvel for Marvel as he recalled in an interview we did with him this year: ” I woke up one morning with an idea to totally revamp CM, into a sort of SF answer to the old, defunct Fawcett hero, who I figured was never likely to return, right? I told Stan (before I told him what it was) that I’d give him this idea… if I could write the book again, and he said fine. I got a plot off to then-artist Don Heck, but then Gil Kane told Stan he’d love to take a stab at Captain Marvel. I okayed that, and Gil revised the costume I had drawn, based on the old Atoman in 1946 comics by Jerry Robinson. Gil and I had never worked together before and barely knew each other, but we became friends and often collaborators after that. Meanwhile, we had Don and then-writer Archie Goodwin introduce the costume in the previous issue, and we were off and running.”
Keen to push Marvel forward as the 70s approached, Thomas brought anti-hero pulp character Conan the Barbarian to comics, a brave and hugely influential move that ushered in a new era for the company. Thomas co-created numerous other characters for Marvel, including Wolverine, Carol Danvers, Morbius, The Vision and Ultron. In 1972, Thomas became Editor in Chief at Marvel, overseeing and writing titles such as Ghost Rider, Iron Fist and Marvel Team Up.
His love of Golden Age comics gave him the impetus to create the Invaders, as well as reviving the Justice Society of America and many other 1940s properties when he moved to DC in the early 80s. A true fan and champion of the medium, Thomas is without doubt one of the cornerstones of its development.
In an interview he did with Mile High Comics a few years ago, he revealed that his love of comics stems from reading the first DC book he remembers as a small child: “ALL-STAR #25, but it wasn’t the first… just the first I remember for sure. I know my mother read Superman and Batman to me early… I thought they were Souperman and Badman and Robber (a couple of crooks, since they wore masks, right?)– and Captain Marble, as I first thought of him at age 4-5, must’ve been made of marble and that’s why the bullets bounced off. I remember specifically reading the second-from-last chapter of the “Mr. Mind” serial in 1945, because it had some sea monsters in it… but dunno if that came before ALL-STAR #25 or not… maybe even have seen #24, though I suspect I just saw the cover in some house ads. I remember an early Capt. Marvel story in which he’s shrunk inside an anthill, but haven’t check out how early that is. Anyway, it was in 1945, at age of four.”
Thomas is a legend of US comics with a CV arguably unrivalled by many other creators.
Portsmouth marks his first visit over to the UK in a number of years.
We are pleased to welcome him to Portsmouth for the first time. Tickets for the Portsmouth Comic Con are available online here
Here’s the other spotlight posts so far too