An EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from Alter Ego #184…
Alter Ego #184 is due Oct. 18 and the issue is dedicated to the career of the late, great inker Tom Palmer, who died in 2022.
There’s a ton in there, including the transcript of an interview with Palmer by Alex Grand and Jim Thompson of the Comic Book Historians podcast. Just check out the table of contents:
But what encapsulates it all is editor Roy Thomas’ opening column, which we present as an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:
By ROY THOMAS
In some ways, Tom Palmer and I had a star-crossed relationship.
When he was suggested as penciler of Doctor Strange #171 in 1968, I was a bit underwhelmed with him as the replacement for Dan Adkins, and even Adkins’ sticking around to ink that issue mollified me only a little.
With #172, Stan Lee decided Gene Colan should become Doctor Strange penciler, which pleased me no end—but I was less sanguine on learning this guy Palmer would stick around to ink the comic. “Has anyone ever seen any of his inking?” I asked Stan. I think the answer came back negative, but I guess the fact that he’d worked briefly in Wally Wood’s studio predisposed them to take a chance on him. After all, that’s where Marvel had got Dapper Dan Adkins from, right?
I confess to being skeptical—until roughly two seconds after I laid eyes upon the splash page of Doctor Strange #172 as penciled by Colan and inked by Palmer. While I wasn’t immediately aware of what particular talents the new kid brought to the table—pen instead of brush, advertising techniques rather than standard comicbook skills—I knew what I liked, as did Stan. Even though the Doctor Strange title would soon go into limbo for a time, we all knew this Palmer dude was definitely worth hanging onto.
When Neal Adams came aboard a bit later to draw The X-Men, Tom was the obvious choice to ink him. Shortly afterward, I was fortunate to be able to snag him to ink a run of Avengers issues penciled by John Buscema. I also made sure he had a chance to hone his full-art abilities on a couple of horror classics adapted for Marvel’s “mystery” titles. And I made one of my better (and easiest) decisions as associate editor (with Stan’s blessing, of course) when I tapped him to embellish Gene Colan again, this time on Tomb of Dracula.
With all this history behind us, I was unpleasantly surprised when, not that long after reviving Alter Ego in 1999, I phoned Tom to suggest he be interviewed for the magazine.
“I knew you’d ask me and I’ve been dreading it,” he said, “because I’m going to have to say no.”
When I pressed him for a reason, he said he was again illustrating for Marvel (which I knew, of course), and he didn’t want to hash over his 1960s-70s work in public… because that would just remind Marvel’s editors of his age, and it might make them see him differently.
That, I’ll confess, made little sense to me. After all, those editors could see him—and his vintage work was constantly being reprinted in hardcover editions—so his longevity in the field was hardly a secret. But I accepted Tom’s reasons (outwardly if never inwardly) and never bothered him again with an interview request.
Still, when I learned about Alex Grand and Jim Thompson’s lengthy interview with him for their Comic Book Historians podcast, I couldn’t resist inquiring about its availability. I wouldn’t have asked them, as owners of the copyright, to go against Tom’s will; but I was delighted when Alex told me Tom had specifically said he’d love to see the interview in Alter Ego.
I may have exchanged an e-mail or two with Tom about the interview, and how happy I was to publish it… and then, suddenly, he was gone.
Whether or not he knew the CBH interview would be his last major one, I have no idea. But I’m happy to honor Tom Palmer— and thankful to have him honor Alter Ego—with the contents of this issue. He really was a transformative comicbook inker—as well as a helluva nice guy.
Alter Ego #184 is due in comics shops Oct. 18. It’s also available Sept. 27 directly from publisher TwoMorrows. Click here.
— 13 COVERS: A TOM PALMER Birthday Celebration. Click here.
— NEAL ADAMS MONTH: A Tom Palmer Reunion. Click here.