Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Visit with Dick Ayers By the Yancy Street Gang

There is so much I could write about Dick Ayers and his wonderful wife, Lindy. Here is an article I wrote for Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #90.  It’s one case where I cannot write, “’Nuff said.”

Dick, we will miss you.

Read more about  Dick Ayers on Nick Caputo's blog:


Photo by Michael J. Vassallo

The Man Who Succeeded: 

The Yancy Street Gang visits Dick Ayers

       By Barry Pearl, F.F.F.

One Saturday in January, 2008, The Yancy Street Gang, Nick Caputo, Barry Pearl and Mike Vassallo, visited the  home of Dick and Lindy Ayers.  It is in Westchester, just down the road from Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. Dick and Lindy have been living there for 50 years!

Dick Ayers had been an essential contributor to the beginning of the Marvel Age, inking many of the first stories of The Fantastic Four, Avengers and Thor just to name a few.  While Dick also penciled many of  Marvel’s early super-heroes such as The Human Torch and Giant-Man Dick will be  most remembered for his work on the war and western strips, Sgt. Fury, Captain Savage and the Rawhide Kid.

The first thing we did was crowd into the bedroom to watch a DVD on the Ayers’ TV. Nick had discovered a DVD of the 1949 CBS TV show called SuspenseSuspense  was one of the many crime suspense shows that were popular at the time it was also a very popular radio series that was playing simultaneously on TV. That genre is remembered mostly because of shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  There was one episode on Suspense  called "The Comic Strip Murders" which had the same basic storyline of the Jack Lemmon, movie “How to Murder Your Wife,” which was released in 1965. The plot revolved around a comic strip artist, here played by Don Briggs, who writes a daily comic strip.  A murder plot is developed in the strip and the viewers are lead to believe that the actual artist may be planning to murder his real wife! In the show, several comic strips were shown and the artist hands were often shown drawing.  The artist who created the strips and whose hands were shown doing the actual drawing was Dick Ayers! On the TV show the artist’s assistant happens to be played by Eva Marie Saint. Nick did make Dick laugh when, he said, "Dick, how does this guy get Eva Marie Saint for an assistant and you get Ernie Bache!" We then had a discussion on how few women there were in the comic book industry at that time. This was a live 30 minute broadcast, captured on film by using a kinescope, a motion picture camera that filmed the actual broadcast from a TV set. We also discussed the limitations and flaws caused by doing live TV, this was brought on by observing the actual cameras moving in the background. Dick and Lindy were so excited to get this DVD. Dick had never seen the show. In 1949 virtually all TV was live and there were no VCRs.

Leaving the bedroom we headed towards Dick’s studio and entered the walkway that is filled with Dick’s original artwork. Each page has a story.  For example, there is the splash page from Sgt. Fury #23, a particular favorite of Dick’s.  Dick told us how Stan called him one day and said, “I can’t think of a story for Sgt. Fury #23.  We won’t have an issue unless you think of something!” A worried Dick could not sleep that night and kept Lindy awake too..  They talked about story after story until, in the middle of the night, Lindy came up with the idea of the Howlers saving a nun and her young charges.  Dick said, “Stan will never go for that, he wants nothing about religion… But I’ll ask him.” When Dick did, Stan said, “What a great idea, I’ll use it.” So they put together a terrific story. When Dick’s finished pages were shown to him, he saw the credits where he was only listed as artist.  He went to Stan’s office and asked if he could also be listed as co-plotter.  Stan yelled, “Since when did you developed an ego? Get out of here!”

The wall also displayed splash pages of the Human Torch and the Hulk, as well as a drawing Dick drew as a child! In pencil, we also got to see several breakdowns of Sgt. Fury.

You could not help but notice the beauty of a framed, five page story entitled, “And Not a Word was Spoken,” a western story with no narration or dialogue. It was originally published in Two Gun Kid #61, January 1963. Dick explained that he not only drew it but plotted it..  When he submitted his payment requisition, he felt he should be paid a little extra for writing, or plotting the story.  So he asked to be paid for five pages of lettering!  They argued, but they paid him! We began to discuss that in the first Sgt. Fury Masterworks, Stan had said Percy might be gay. I mentioned that this was unlikely.  While Percy was drawn to look like David Niven, his personality was more like Hugh Hefner. In fact, in Sgt. Fury Annual #4, which took place in “current day 1968” Percy owned a ran a “Bunny” club.  Dick said he asked Stan about this and Stan said, “You’ve got to give the fans what they want.” So Percy was ret-conned!  Will war crimes never end? Dick then mentioned that he was asked to do the introduction to the second Marvel Masterworks of Sgt. Fury.

On the subject of annuals, Dick had expressed his disappointment in setting them in the future. By showing the Howlers during D-Day, Korea and Viet Nam, it meant that they all made it through the war, removing some of the suspense and eliminating some storylines where a Howler could be in real danger.  It also meant that any new Howler was in trouble! I mentioned that only other time Marvel had done this was with Conan, where in his first comic you learned that he was destined to be king when he got older, insuring that he will live at least that long..

There were no covers on the walls and Dick said that they were very hard to get and he had none, but he did have several local newspapers framed.  The papers all had stories about Dick and all had pictures of covers or characters he was involved in.  In our entire stay, I never heard him express a preference for a character, it was like they were all his children.

In the late 1950s there was some competition for jobs and assignments. Dick was disappointed when Jack Kirby got the penciling assignment on the Rawhide Kid a job Dick thought he had gotten. He was assigned the inking. Around that time, Dick mentioned he was also inking “Sky Masters.” He was paid about the same as inking for Marvel, a surprise for me because I thought work in comic strips paid more.

Dick told a story about a publisher that influenced him throughout his career. Once while doing a strip, the publisher came over and said to Dick, “They have already bought today’s paper, you need to draw something to make them want to buy tomorrow’s paper.” You can see he feels the same way about his comics, he is drawing to make you want to buy the next issue!

We took a few pictures of Mike standing next to Dick in the hallway. You can see the pictures on each side. The corridor ends at his studio and office, which is also filled with artwork.  Dick discussed how he went to art school on the G.I. Bill after the war and showed us some very beautiful pictures he drew, looking nothing like comics.

“A small group of men at the top of their game” is how Dick described Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Don Heck and himself at the beginning of the Marvel Era. We sat down with Dick as he nostalgically drew upon the past. We asked Dick if any one artist was harder than another to ink. He said no, but some took longer to get used to than others.  This was not a diplomatic response, he is just a decent guy who appreciated the efforts of others.  He mentioned that Steve Ditko was one of the artists who took longer to get used to.  Dick noted that Ditko’s pencils were not very tight and that, like himself, he probably did most of the finished work in the inking stage. As an artist it showed how Dick understood what Ditko did and how he worked.  Nick noted that Dick Ayers was an important contributor to the Marvel Age of Comics. He brought a solidity of form and sharp brush work to the pencils of Jack Kirby. Those early stories of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, the Avengers and the Human Torch all showcased the distinctive inking of Dick Ayers. Dick’s work gave those early Marvel Comics a unique charm that would not have been the same under any other inker. Dick’s inking was absolutely perfect for the rough and tumble style of Jack Kirby. The team was a startling contrast to the plain and placid DC comics, giving the early Marvel Comics a visual identity of its own. Not only was Dick a thorough professional who got the assignment in on time, he also added personality to every job.

Cover outline by Marie Severin

I felt that Dick Ayers was always a master of “minimalistic detail,” a term that sounds  contradictory.  There is great, fine detail in his work, but before he is a penciller, before he is an inker, he is first and foremost a storyteller. Therefore, every aspect of his work, every object in a scene, works to tell a story, give atmosphere or set the mood. Nothing is irrelevant  or distracting. It’s all there to tell a story. Of current work Dick noted there were many fine artists, but the storytelling was often missing. I also asked if he had ever inked John Severin.  Emphatically, Dick replied: “I never inked Severin!” Nick asked Dick if he, in the early 1960s ever tried to get work at DC. Again, a strong answer was no, Dick did not like the editorial policies there and he did not want to work for Bob Kanigher.

Dick, talking as if he were a movie director, explained that he worked diligently to make his artwork seem cinematic, using movie perspective and lighting, all designed to move the story along. He had pointed out on the original artwork the various angles and lighting effects he worked to achieve. Gosh, you can really see that in his original artwork, which is so much better than the printed comic.  The spectacular detail, the sense of perspective you used this word twice in this paragraph and movement compel you through the story, and, as that publisher mentioned, makes you want to buy the next issue!

If comics were movies, the  writer would submit the screenplay.  The penciller becomes the director, placing the character and laying out the setting. The inker would be both the lighting and set designer.  Dick Ayers, as inker, added the details, shadings and atmosphere to the original pencils he worked with.  He helped tell the story by emphasizing the necessary items in the  panel.  Some inkers of that age left out, not just the details, but significant portions of the penciled art  but not Dick Ayers.  Other artists, dominated the original pencils, taking away from the look of the original artist. Not Dick Ayers. Ayers let you appreciate the work of the original pencils and brought out the strengths of the penciller. At the same time, his own style allowed you to feel the emotions of a scene and to see all the details. Dick mentioned that on one of his first jobs for Stan, he more or less just traced the pencils. Stan said that this was not what he expected, he wanted Dick to put his perspective and personality into the project. In order to embellish the work  Unfortunately, inkers are  often not given the recognition they deserve.  Some people seem to feel that by complimenting the inker they are diminishing the work of the penciller.  The best inkers tend to be pencillers. They add greatly to the finished product and bring out the best of the pencillers work.

To sit down causally with Dick Ayers and talk about the good old days, is just a thrill. When we talked about writers, Dick was like Goldilocks; some writers wrote too much of an outline and some wrote too little. Some, like Tony Isabella, were just right.  This gave us an opening to discuss War is Hell, the fourth war comic Dick drew during the Marvel era. Unique to the Marvel Age, this war comic does not feature a military group or even an enlisted soldier. It stars a ghost? It is a combination of Deadman meets Quantum Leap, 20 years before Quantum Leap.

Tony Isabella, the fourth member of the Yancy Street Gang, said of War is Hell: To be honest, I wasn’t a good enough writer to do War Is Hell (to do it) justice after I conceived the series. That’s why I handed it off to Chris Claremont. When Roy (Thomas) asked me to come up with a new feature for War Is Hell, I decided to take the “hell” part literally. Okay, maybe it was more like WAR IS PURGATORY, but the idea was that John was being punished in his afterlife.” I had asked Tony,  “When you come up with an idea do you think about who the artist will be?  Did you “lobby” for a certain one for a certain strip?” “In the case of War Is Hell, I knew Dick Ayers would be the artist. He needed a book to make up for the loss of IT!  So I tried to come up with something that would play to his strengths.” Boy did it.

One, in a series of memorable moments occurred when the Yancy Street Gang gave Dick another present: it was for him, Lindy, his children and grandchildren.  The gang had put together a four part illustrated book called “Dick Ayers of the Marvel Age” an appreciation of his work.

John Caputo, a founding member of the Yancy Street Gang, and Dick Ayers

First,  we collected and listed Dick’s credits from the Atlas and Marvel Age.  Markus Mueller, the keeper of the on-line site of the “Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Creator” helped compile his current reprint credits. Next was a section entitled, “Mr. Ayers Goes to War.”  This came from my soon to be never published book, “The Essential Marvel Age Reference 1961-1977” It listed ALL the Marvel Age war stories Dick drew, with a summery, credits and comments for every story. The third section, “Mr. Ayers of the Marvel Age” featured a similar layout for all of his Marvel Age Super-Hero stories. The final section, Mr. Ayers and the westerns discusses the very important and long lasting work Dick did in that genre, and how it “leaked over” to the super-heroes. The westerns gave the Marvel Super-Heroes so many creators, characters, stories and titles. Dick is famously know for Ghost Rider, but gave Marvel a Panther in Two Gun #77 ten months before Lee and Kirby gave one to the Fantastic Four. There are just so many of these and so many were done by Dick Ayers. One story may hold particular interest to many fans:

An orphan is raised by his Uncle Ben, a loving man, who is seen in just a few panels. He
treats his nephew as a son.  Uncle Ben gives the teenager great wisdom and insists that his young charge studies and learn. Later, the  boy discovers that his Uncle Ben, was killed, shot by a criminal.  As his nephew learns his great new skills, he tracks down the murderer. Instead of killing him, he turns him over to the law.

He pledges to spend the rest of his life fighting crime. Not trusted by the law, he must fight the good guys too. To avoid arrest he keeps his real identity a secret. It’s  August, 1960.  And such is the life of Johnny Bart, the Rawhide Kid as told by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, with Dick Ayers as inker. Peter Parker would come a year later.

There were commentaries and quotes throughout Dick’s book..  There were also many color pictures.  Doc supplied wonderful scans of Dick’s Atlas work, a few of which Dick had forgotten.  Doc also supplied a wonderful picture of Dick Ayers in his army uniform taken just last year! And Dick was reading a comic! Also, Doc had previously taken a wonderful picture of Dick and Lindy together, holding a copy of his autobiography.

Barry had taken scans of two self portraits Dick had drawn from Sgt. Fury #22 and #100. Dick and Lindy were very touched. In fact, we received this email two days later:

“Lindy and I thank you for visiting us and bringing the terrific book honoring my Sgt Fury and Marvel years which is a most valuable keepsake for me and the family.
I read it twice yesterday and marvel at the way you illustrated it.”

We were sitting around the dining room table talking about what made the characters good in the 1960s and what they lack today. For example, before the Viet Nam war escalated, Dick and Lindy came up with that plot about nuns defending children, “The Man who Failed.” Here the nun and children run to the Howlers for protection and aide. As the Viet Nam war worsened America took a different view of itself. I pointed out to Dick that in 1973, in a similar story in Combat Kelly #7, in a story written by Gary Friedrich, the nun runs away from the Americans soldiers, fearing that they are as evil and  violent as the Nazis.  The age of American heroism in comics is winding to an end.

Dick asked, “Did you see the PBS documentary on "The War." 60 years later people still cannot talk about what they went through and what they saw. " He discussed how the country pulled together and no one complained about the lack of sugar, gas, coffee and such.  Well, Dick did not want to talk about the war, he didn’t have to, he drew it and told stories about it.  That was his way of expressing what it was like and we never realized it until he mentioned it.  Lindy took out Dick’s war medals, there were three of them and two ribbons: For Victory in Europe; Victory for War; Good Behavior and the blue medal, to be worn over the right pocket was a Presidential Citation for his unit, the 586th of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He also served in the 394th Bomb Group. Lindy  also took out what Burne Hogarth called Dick’s “Boy Scout Picture”  young Dick Ayers in his military uniform, from November 1942.

We discussed that Marvel never romanticized war, but the Comics Code would not allow them to show the violence so Sgt. Fury often showed the loss and tragedy of war.  As the Viet Nam war raged, the new editors at Marvel decided not to put out new war comics anymore, even though they had sold well.  I said that I was sad that there was no “Sgt. Fury #121”  featuring an end to WW2.  Where were the Howlers on VE day, where were they on VJ day?  Dick said that many years after the Fury run had ended in 1974,  a special issue was thought out and was going to be produced.  But then Marvel got even newer editors and they were just not interested in any war story, so the idea was not used. The Howlers had reached “The End of the Road”

We started speaking of the comics produced today and why the four us simply did not enjoy them as we did the ones produced in the good old days. We discussed with Dick the fact that many comics today do not have the sense of character and morality that he Stan, Jack, Steve, Don and so many others brought to the comics. We discussed the humanity and the decency that Dick , Stan and Jack always and Marvel presented.  This is something that we miss in comics today.  Where did it go? Well, I pulled out the Ayers project  and read out loud, what Ken Quattro had written on this subject for and about Dick: 

"I suspect the writers do not have any of these qualities either and that is why the story lines are so repulsive. Honor is now suspect; decency is treated with a smirk and a roll of the eyes. I believe that today's writers feel obligated to strip away any semblance of heroism to somehow add "realism". What they cannot understand is that heroism is real. Previous generations understood that implicitly because we witnessed it. Our parents survived The Depression, The War and still managed to come through it all to raise cohesive families. And they did it all while maintaining an unshakable sense of Right and Wrong. That's real heroism. That's what is lacking today." 

The silence was deafening.

Dick added a story that changed the mood.  In Europe, Dick mentioned that he would paint logos onto the military aircraft, and often take a bottle of liquor as payment.  One day he refused the bottle and asked to get a ride inside the belly of the plane. He wanted to buzz the Autobahn and to get so close that the cars would had to get out of the way.  The pilot agreed and they buzzed the Autobahn!

Lindy then brought out a picture of their greatest creations, a wonderful family picture, with children and grandchildren.  I asked Dick if he got reprint rights for grandchildren. Here, at least, Stan does NOT get a co-creator credit!

Dick also told a story where his then young daughter was in class and the teacher asked the students what their fathers did fir a living. The daughter replied “My daddy draws Monsters!” The teacher thought the child was fibbing and talked to the father about this. Dick’s daughter, of course, was telling the truth.  Originally, especially in the 1950s, comic book artists were looked down on.  We mentioned that when the Congressional hearings took place, even Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts, got some flack. Dick told a story about a neighbor who ignored him because he worked in comics. Dick was home during the day, working, but they treated him like he was unemployed. Recently, the neighbor, now a grandfather, had his grandson over. His grandson turned out to be a big comic book fan and, when discovering that his grandfather lived next to Dick Ayers insisted on meeting him.  The guy knocks at the Ayer’s door and has to eat a bit of humble pie.

Today, Dick is happy to be remembered so fondly. He is delighted that the fans care so much about him. At one point, he thought no one would.  He pointed out that he had a choice in 1949 to go to Hollywood or stay with comics.  More than ever when he meets his devoted fans, he knows he made the right choice.

When we left, Dick and Lindy generously pulled out sketches and let us pick one for each of us. Ghost Rider, The Thing, The Hulk, Fury, Ant-Man, Giant-Man the Wasp were all laid out on the table. He treated them equally as if they were all his children. It was a touching sight.  The biggest thing for me was when we were leaving they asked for OUR autographs on the book for them! Imagine Dick Ayers asking US for our autographs!  Dick was later to email us saying that he is going to conventions and showing that 1949 tale of  Suspense.  He wrote us: “You 3 F.F.F. (Fearless Face Fronters for those who don’t know) guys have launched me on a new gig.”

Lindy and Dick have one thing in common with his artwork, they are genuine, gentle, generous people. There was a premise to the Dick Ayers Project that they proved: The decency, humanity and humor of the Marvel Super-Heroes is hereditary. They get it from their creators.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dick Ayers: Two Interviews

Dick Ayers passed on May 4, 2014 at the age of 90.  I am proud to say that I considered him, and his lovely wife Lindy, friends.  Dick did so much in his industry, and was very proud, of course, of his work on Sgt. Fury.  You see Dick served in the Armed Forces during World War II and was proud of that. He told me he never spoke about that time in his life because he drew it in Sgt. Fury.

Please check out Nick Caputo’s blog on Dick Ayers, at

I do have some wonderful and interesting tales to tell, I did so in an Alter Ego issue, but I am really too sad tonight to wrote them.  Instead here are TWO Interviews with Dick Ayers

1991- Comics Interview: Of you’re a fan of the Silver Age, you probably remember Dick Ayers as the definitive artist on Marvel’s SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS. Dick’s place in comics history would be secure if only for that, and for being a mainstay of the ‘60s Marvel Bullpen, along with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby (whom he inked extensively on early FANTASTIC FOUR), Steve Ditko, and Don Heck.
But Dick has done a lot more than that, and has made a name for himself as one of the best western and war artists in the business. His magnum opus was probably THE GHOST RIDER for Magazine Enterprises in the early ‘50s, which he reprised in altered form for Marvel in the mid-’60s. Besides that, he was the main artist on Marvel’s revived original HUMAN TORCH in 53-54, on ME’s THE AVENGER, and on a torrent of western and war tales for Marvel, as well as inking a slew of Kirby fantasy stories in the pre-hero days at Marvel. In the ‘60s, besides SGT FURY, Dick was the artist of the Human Torch strip in STRANGE TALES and of the TWO-GUN KID. In the 70s he began working for DC, on JONAH HEX and the war line. Later on, his art appeared on Red Circle’s SHIELD and, most recently, in AIDA-Zee, a Christian comic attracting many mainstream contributors. In the midst of all that he found time to work for Charlton, Prize, St. John, and Skywald, as well.
Thus, Dick Ayers is living comics history. And to learn some of that history, we gave him a call one day and caught it all on tape. Roll it, gang .. .
LOU MOUGIN: How did you get inspired to become a comic-book artist?
DICK AYERS: When I was about ten years old, I guess, I started seeing FLASH GORDON and TERRY AND THE PIRATES.

LOU: Yeah, those seem to be the ones that inspired —
DICK: Most of us young guys at the time. Before that my father had started me out with reading the comics in the early ‘30s, BRINGING UP FATHER and POPEYE and WASH TUBBS -WASH TUBBS was a favorite.
LOU: Not too many people these days realize what good adventure strips those old humor strips were.
DICK: Yeah. Then DICK TRACY came along.
LOU: And after that you decided you wanted to become a comic-strip artist?
DICK: Mostly, yeah. Comic books weren’t around, and then when they did come out they were reprints of what I had been reading. I had good luck. My grandfather was a railroad conductor. He went away for three days and when he came back there was a pile of newspapers with all the comics in them, so I saw just about everything!
LOU: This is going sketchy over the biography: I’ve got that you served with the Army Air Corps in World War II, and one of the credits I have for you — your first comic-book credit, I guess — is a 1942 strip for the Army Air Corps newspaper, RADIO RAY.
DICK: How’d you find that out? (Laughter.) There was only one collector I told about that years back and he sought out to find a copy of RADIO RAY.
LOU: Did he ever find it?
DICK: I don’t know, I suppose he did. It was in a newspaper called RADIO POST in Wisconsin.
LOU: Exactly what kind of a strip was it?
DICK: It was a pantomime. This was a school for radio mechanics and radio operators, so it was just the life-on-the base type of thing.
LOU: Kind of like JOE DOPE or something like that?
DICK: Well, it was a little smarter than that. (Laughter.) It was like SAD SACK.
LOU: Were you a radio operator?
DICK: I started out being a radio mechanic, then I was assigned to a squadron and was going overseas and they needed a draftsman. I went to Tampa University for 30 days and got my spec number changed and became a draftsman. And that’s about it, I was a squadron draftsman. I went to Britain and then over to Normandy, up into Holland, then Germany.
LOU: You saw some action?
DICK: Yeah, we had six campaigns; I served under Colonel Silk in the 586th Bomb Squadron, which was the 394th Bomb Group. There was an article in AIR AND SPACE that Smithsonian puts out called `Risque Business;” it’s on painting nose art, and I did a lot of that. LOU: One of the things that comes to mind, when I hear your name. is SGT FURY and the other war maps, and I guess you must have had a lot of experience in the Big One to draw upon?
DICK:1 helped plot a lot of the stories, in fact most of them. I’d have 23 pages and a little synopsis to work from, so there was plenty of room to slip some stuff in.
LOU: Especially with Marvel style.
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: I’m really getting the cart ahead of the horse here. (Laughter.) When you got out of the Army you attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School for a couple of years, is that right?
DICK: No, that’• a little bit off. I studied first at the Art Career School for about a year, then I went to try to make it in comics. That fell apart. (Laughter.)Then I noticed there was a school which Burne Hogarth was part of called Cartoonists and Illustrators, so I got into that. That was like in September, then the following April I got the Jimmy Durante book with Magazine Enterprises.
LOU: I’ve got down your first job in comic books, and this may be wrong, was pencilling FUNNY MAN for Siegel and Shuster.
DICK: Yeah, while I was going to school I did that.
LOU: What was it like working with those guys?
DICK: Oh, it was great! Also in the office there was Marvin Stein, the main one that did the pencilling and all that.
LOU: Who was the editor at M. E. at that ,time, Vince Sullivan?
DICK: Ray Krank.
LOU: Okay. And you stayed with
Magazine Enterprises for about ten years, I guess.
DICK: Off and on, yeah, I did. It was freelance, so at the same time I was working for them I was working for Timely.
LOU: I guess M.E. went under about the time you stopped working for them.
DICK: M.E. lasted until ‘56 or ‘57; 1955 was the last time 1 worked for them.
LOU: Well, the most famous strip you did for them, or the one I always recall, was the original GHOST RIDER. He was a pretty scary dude, and you co-created him as I hear it.
DICK: I kind of helped design the costume but I wouldn’t claim much of the creation; that was Vince Sullivan and Ray Krank. I don’t remember who was the first writer was on it. I was in the office when they were kicking back and
forth what he would be like, what he would do, all that kind of stuff.
LOU: Was the impetus just to combine the horror and western things?
DICK: I think the horror came later, the kind of horror that you’re talking about. At first he was just a ghostly character that scared the bejesus out of everybody. (Laughter.) The big influence at that time was THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN that Disney put out.
LOU: The strips I’ve seen of the old GHOST RIDER are really top-notch. What was it like working on that? DICK: Oh, I enjoyed working on GHOST RIDER. I’d do it again if I could.
LOU: Only they’d call it NIGHT RIDER now.
DICK: Yeah, they’re reprinting some of the stuff under that name.
LOU: Another strip you did for ME., a really short-lived one, was THE AVENGER.
DICK: I did one issue andt:hen they switched it over to Bob Powell. It was BOBBY BENSON that I did . . . I don’t know, issues #13 to #20.
LOU: Yeah, I’ve got you down for a whole bunch of westerns. You were saddled, if you will excuse the pun, with so many westerns, I guess this was when the western was the most popular genre in comics.
DICK: For a long time, yeah, and then the other westerns that I did over at Marvel, and then at the end there was JONAH HEX and SCALPHUNTER over at DC.
LOU: Yeah, you were like the western artist through all that.
DICK: I used to call myself at the end the John Wayne of comic books. (Laughter.)
LOU: On the case of JIMMY DURANTE, one of the things I always wanted to ask somebody who worked on one of the old adaptations was how did you adapt this guy to comics?
DICK: Well, Vince Sullivan in the ‘30s, I think it was, did a strip called SCHNOZOLA, and so it was through him that was the contact with Jimmy Durante. They supplied me with photographs, and also my Jimmy Durante kind of looked like what Vince Sullivan drew. And then to get tihe feel I played his
records all the time while I was working.
LOU: Did you write it as well?
DICK: No, Ray Krank wrote it. It was three issues, but I don’t think the third one came out.
LOU: Around ‘51 I’ve got you starting to work at Marvel, which was Timely back then. That was when Stan Lee was coming back to the company, right? DICK: I think so, yeah. Actually, because I’ve typed up a bibliography of every story I ever did, and the  first story I did for Marvel was about 1948: It was in the summer, I was looking for work, and I think Stan was on vacation and somebody assigned me a detective story.

LOU: For one of their crime books?
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: In the early ‘50s you did THE HUMAN TORCH in that really brief revival. How did you get handed that?
DICK: 1 don’t know, Stan just assigned it. It went along good, I adapted to it — I wasn’t too keen on it at the time, a guy flaming up and flying around, burning like that. Then the censorship came along from that Wertham hook and just
the title alone killed the series.
LOU: They were afraid kids would set themselves on fire to be like the Human Torch.
DICK: They thought like that, yeah.
LOU: Okay. You ended up working for a lot of other outfits, Charlton, Prize and so on, but Marvel was like your home base from the early ‘50s on.
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: Was this because of the big comics crunch about that time?
DICK: Well, no; Stan kept supplying me the work as fast as I was getting it done, so I kept being faithful to him. And every once in awhile Ray Krank would start up with a GHOST RIDER again or something. Charlton just came along because it was at one of those inventory periods.
LOU: Marvel managed to survive, of course, through the “mire period -which was a nice thing for them to do.
Besides the war books, which we’ll get to in due time, can you tell me something about working on the Marvel westerns? I think you started with WATT EA RP.
DICK: Did WYATT EARP come first, or was it THE RAWHIDE KID?
LOU: The early original RAWHIDE KID, it might have been.
DICE: I remember doing that before I did WYATT EARP. Because of the censorship thing they had to give up the Rawhide Kid with the whip, so the only thing 1 could think of to call him the Rawhide Kid was to put chaps on him, and he became just an ordinary cowpuncher.
LOU: That’s a new one on me. I didn’t know that his name was the Rawhide Kid because of the whip.
DICK: Yeah, and that was the fun part to draw. I’d have him snapping out the cigarettes and the cigars in the villains’ mouths, tearing off the gunbelts, having them fall down.
LOU: Right. Then TWO-GUN KID, that was the original 7ivo-Gun Kid without the mask.
DICK: I don’t remember doing THE TWO-GUN KID, but I probably did.
LOU: How did Marvel decide to bring back a refurbished GHOST RIDER back in 1967?
DICK: Well, Thomas was working with Stan at the time and he was a fan of the Ghost Rider before he got into comics so it just came about.
Lou: Nobody had a copyright on it?
Dick: No, that’s another story. They printed that they had the copyright, I was told and they had the copyright, and I wanted to draw it just like I did before. But Roy Thomas changed it and you have to read the original Ghost Rider where Rex Fury was a federal Marshall.
Lou: Right.
Dick: He could show up anywhere in the west. Roy Thomas came along and made up a new name and made him a school teacher, which kept him in the same place in the same local. And the Marvel Ghost Rider got supernatural powers from some Indian or something. I helped in that department where he went down in a whirlpool and the he saw in a delirium the ghost of Wild Bill Hickok and he came our more or less like the Shadow with trickery, ventriloquism and tricks. And that’s where the Chinese fellow came from.
LOU: Which ended up being the kid in the 1967 version.
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: I enjoyed both incarnations of  THE GHOST RIDER, and I guess everybody else did.
DICK: Yeah, I guess they did. Then they did just like they did with THE HULK, they put it away for awhile — I don’t know why — to try again later. In the meantime, while it was put away, somebody came up with the idea of putting a character on a motorcycle and calling him the Ghost Rider, so when they went back to put him out again they were stuck, so they called him the Night Rider. Down at Magazine Enterprises we tried to think Op a new title for him when that censorship thing came - but no way, it was THE GHOST RIDER and that was it!
LOU: That was a pretty rocky time, to say the least, and anything the least bit smacking of supernaturalism was taboo.
DICK: Oh, the censorship was rough. You can’t imagine what it was like drawing SGT. FURY where they had to sneak up behind some German sentry and clobber him; you’d have to show them creeping up behind him and then have the helmet fly through the air with a few exclamation marks, then show this guy unconscious. (Laughter.)
LOU: That sounds really weird, to say the least.
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: The last one before we get into the war books, you also took over THE HUMAN TORCH and GIANT-MAN at Marvel in the early ‘60s, working with Stan.
DICK: Yeah the new Human Torch was a lot more fun in that he had that limitation, seven minutes into the air and then he had to recharge or something, and he was a teenager.

LOU: Yeah, I remember those. They were pretty fun, and plus you had a chance to work with the Thing, who was in those stories a pretty comical character himself.
DICK: Yeah.
LOU: Okay. I guess the major strip most of us remember you working on was SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS, and I want to know a lot about that one. How was it that Stan tapped you to work on it following Jack Kirby?
DICK: Well, I’d done a lot of war stories and Jack was starting to get too busy with a whatever,  so he just starting assigning me Sgt. Fury. Also, I dependable on being on deadlines all the time. I never missed one.
LOU: In fact you were inking Jack on that title as well as a ton of other things before you took over the pencilling.
DICK: Yeah, I did SGT. FURY as an inker for awhile.
LOU: What was it like inking Jack? You two seemed to really mesh well there for many years.
DICK: Oh, yeah, I kept very busy.
LOU: What was it like Stan handing you a short plot, maybe a couple of lines, and then you building it into a story?
DICK: Like you were saying,  the synopsis that I would get a few short lines, that’s all, or a conversation on the telephone like we’re talking, and don’t take shorthand. I could just keep tabs on what I could and then right away after I hung up to go write out my plot.
LOU:     were the restrictions of the censorship at that time?
DICK: No mugging, really no violence like that.
LOU: Couldn’t show somebody getting bayonetted.
DICK: No, or bullets going through their body.
LOU: You could do damage to these big war machines and such like that, right? DICK: Well, you could show them getting shot or something but you couldn’t show the gory part. There must have been some block on mugging, like they didn’t want to convey that idea across to the little juveniles. (Laughter.) You know, they blamed us for all the
 Juvenile delinquency, as they phrased it in those days. Now they blame it on dope or something.
LOU: So, the writer I remember most on SGT FURY after Stan is Gary Friedrich. You and and John Severin turned in a whole batch of try memorable stories.
DICK: I liked Gary as a writer, very good. At the end, though, it was rough, he would only turn in a half of synopsis. It was the same way, he’d hand in a synopsis then I would draw it then he would write the words to fit the picture. Sometimes I would get a synopsis that only gave me part of the story and then I have to go scratching to find the rest of it.  That would upset me because I am very methodical, so if you could supply me the synopsis for 20 pages I could have the whole story done in a week.
LOU: Was it pretty weird working with this wild young guy on a World War II comic?
DICK: (Laughter.) I never got to see him really that often; I met him only a handful of times. He was very different. But his stories always were good. I liked his plots.
LOU: And working with John Severin, what was that like?
DICK: That was great, it was a good team. He was the type of inker that if I drew a tank he added to it. Whatever equipment was thrown in, medals on uniforms or whatever, he would improve upon it.
LOU: The plug kind of got pulled on SGT FURY and of course CAPTAIN SAVAGE and COMBAT KELLY which you were also doing, in the early 70s. Was this due to the disenchantment in the late Vietnam era or what?
DICK: No, I think it was just the assignment of whoever was inking it. John left and then I was frustrated because I was having all these different inkers; trying to get control of how it
would come out. It never seemed to satisfy me when I saw what was published. Then Gary left and I would never know who the writer was the teamwork just disappeared.
LOU: COMBAT KELLY, that’s one I remember; it was a weird book in that you started out with a DIRTY DOZEN concept and then in the last issue you killed off darn near everybody. How did that one come about?
DICK: I don’t remember, just that’s the way they planned it.
LOU: After FURY died in 73 you gravitated to DC where you co created SCALPHUNTER.

DICK: Yes. Joe Orlando was the editor and . . . I forget who the writer was.
LOU: Michael Fleisher.
DICK: Michael Fleisher was the writer. Whether it was Michael’s idea or an idea from Sergio Aragones I don’t remember. Joe Orlando gave me the task of designing the costume, what he looked like.
LOU: And that ended up being your “white Indian” kind of gut:
DICK: Yeah. It was Michael writing it in the beginning, and while he was doing it we concentrated on the Indian factor. Then when Gerry Conway came along it became the white man end of it. George Evans was inking it while he was the Indian. I liked him.
LOU: And you also got into JONAH
HEX around the late 70s, I think. What was it like working with Fleisher on that one?
DICK: It was good. Joe Orlando told me when he assigned me that book, “Now, Dick, things have changed a little bit, it’s not always the good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat.”
LOU: Clint Eastwood stuff
DICK: Yeah. They started to do away with the censorship thing and I could get a little bit more gory.
LOU: You had people putting out
people’s eyes with pitchforks and all that
kind of good stuff Was it kind of weird working on something like that?
DICK: At first, yeah.
LOU: Did you get used to it?
DICK: Well ... I forget who the editor was, but they waited me to work on one of those black-arld-white things with the horror, and 1 was’ rebelling, I didn’t want to do it. So the publisher said, “Before you say no I want you to see a movie called THE WIt..13 BUNCH and then come back and tell me you wouldn’t do it.” So I saw the movie, which was just out, with all that Shooting and stuff, and then I said okay. After that session of doing those, with eyeballs flying through the air and stuff, doing JONAH HEX was tame. (Laughter.)
LOU: Somewhere in there you were out of comics and working as a night watchman and then Neal Adams came to your aid. Can you tell me something about that episode?
DICK: Oh, yeah. Just about that time when I was working for General Foods in security there was an item in the paper one morning, THE DAILY NEWS, with a picture of Neal Adams in it, and JoeShuster and Jerry Siegel. Warner Communications had just awarded them you know that story —
LOU: Yeah, the pension for SUPERMAN.
DICK: So then I called up Neal because I wanted to call up Joe Shuster — I didn’t know where he was or anything — and congratulate him. So Neal asked me what I was doing and I told him, and he said, “Gee, that’s not right. Come in and see me.” So I went in and he saw me and he sent me up to see Joe Orlando.
 LOU: That’s great. Any thoughts on your long career in comics, like what gave you the most pleasure, what was the least pleasurable, all that kind of good stuff?
DICK: Oh, I liked just about everything I ever did.
LOU: Who was the most fun editor to work with?
DICK: Stan. I really got along very well with whoever I worked with.
LOU: Which strip did you enjoy working on the most?
LOU: Frazetta did a lot of GHOST RIDER covers. Did you ever have a chance to speak with him?
DICK: I met him once in Ray Kranks office, a very young fellow then. This was 1948 and he had two beautiful girls with him; he was on a date or something. (Laughter.)I liked his covers very much.

An interview with Bill Black:

DICK AYERS is a legendary comic book artist. He is co-creator of one of the most exciting Western characters in comics’ history--- THE GHOST RIDER. This character was the most unusual of them all because his adventures were horror stories set in the West. The publisher was ME (Magazine Enterprises) under the leadership of publisher Vin Sullivan and editor Ray Krank.

At ME artists were permitted to sign their stories... not a common practice of the late 1940’s- early 50s. Dick Ayers always signed his work as did Frank Bolle, Fred Guardineer, Bob Powell, Frank Frazetta and other ME artists. Therefore I was able to attach a particular name to a particular art style. At a very early age I could identify various artists without benefit of signature. Dick Ayers had a very unique style. Whereas many artists aped other artists... there where many Caniff,Raymond and Kirby clones...
Dick’s work was 100% Ayers. His action was very exaggerated in an era when most of his contemporaries used a far more restrained approach. Dick’s figures were stretched and contorted beyond human ability but that’s the way we liked them! He was applying super hero dynamism to genre stories. It’s no wonder, then, that when he began working for Atlas Comics (Marvel) in the early 1950’s, editor Stan Lee assigned Dick to draw the Human Torch.

Interestingly enough, Dick was still with Marvel when Stan revived the Human Torch as a member of the FANTASTIC FOUR in the 1960’s. Ayers inked many of the early FF adventures over Jack Kirby’s pencils and went on to illustrate the Human Torch adventures in another Marvel title, STRANGE TALES.
Dick excelled at drawing Westerns which he did for many, many years at Atlas/ Marvel. He also had a very long stint on SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS. In the 1970’s Dick worked at DC Comics drawing KAMANDI, JONAH HEX, SCALPHUNTER and many super hero features such as FREEDOM FIGHTERS.

In the 1980’s he drew THE SHIELD and other super heroes for Archie Comics. In the 1990’s, he penciled a long run on FEMFORCE for AC Comics. In this magazine we will discuss with Dick Ayers his participation in the 1950’s HUMAN TORCH revival at Atlas.

Bill Black- In 1950-51, you were working comfortably at ME doing GHOST RIDER and BOBill Black:Y BENSON. What circumstances came about to cause you to look for additional work elsewhere?
Dick Ayers- Economics and survival. In April, ‘51 I was married and in September the bride, Lindy, and I were to be parents and also Magazine Enterprises, with inventoryon hand, they suspended production on Ghost Rider. I didn’t know for how long. Vin Sullivan’s secretary had advised me once that, to maintain a steady income, I should have three accounts. I began searching and remembered I had pencilled an 8 page detective story for Timely in August of 1949. I had not met Stan Lee yet as he was on vacation when I got that assignment.
Bill Black- In the early 1950’s there were dozens of comics publishers around. What made you decide to go to Atlas?
Dick Ayers- I had tried to connect with Atlas, or Timely, before. Even once in 1947 with
an idea for a comic book.
Bill Black- What where the circumstances concerning your very first Atlas assignment? What was it?
Dick Ayers- I delivered my first lettered, penciled and inked story to Stan on October 12th, 1951. It was a 4 page story called “Ghouls Rush In.”
Bill Black- What was the Atlas (Marvel) Bull Pen like in the early 1950’s? They were publishing a zillion books... was there an art director when you worked there? Or did you work directly with Stan?
Dick Ayers- I never saw Timely’s bullpen. I dealt directly with Stan.
Bill Black- Joe Sinnott, a contemporary of yours, said of this time that Stan would be constantly banging away at the typewriter writing many short scripts each day... all variety of subject matter. They piled up on his desk as they were completed. When Joe went in for an assignment, Stan would just hand him whatever script was on top! It might be Western, war, horror... whatever. Was this your experience as well?
Dick Ayers- Stan reached in to a file drawer to get the script he would assign me. He’d have one set aside for me.
Bill Black- What•were some of the features you worked on at Atlas?
Dick Ayers- The assignments throughout ‘51 and ‘52 were surprise-ending mystery stories ( called “horror” stories) and in January of ‘53 I got my first feature, Buzz Brand. There were only four of those. There was a Black Rider, a Two Gun Kid, a Kid Colt and then, in November, 1953 I was assigned The Human Torch. Plus war stories and whatever. I had quite a run of Rawhide Kids and a long run with Wyatt Earp that lasted until December, 1959.
Bill Black- Hey, I never heard of Buzz Brand. I’ll have to hunt that one out. I know you did the original version of RAWHIDE KID which was very different from the later Kirby version. You also did a CLIFF MASON, WHITE HUNTER for JUNGLE TALES. In late 1953, Atlas decided to try to revive the super hero trend that had dominated the newsstands of the 1940’s. Were you around to hear any of the plans for this?

Dick Ayers- No, I communicated by phone and wasn’t privy to any office gossip. Buzz Brand was in YOUNG MEN.
Bill Black- That’s a shame. I’d have liked to have heard what prompted the revival. The three super characters they brought back were HUMAN TORCH, CAPTAIN AMERICA and SUB MARINER. Initially they were featured in an existing title that heretofore consisted of war stories... YOUNG MEN. This would imply certain caution on the publisher’s part, converting a book rather than starting a new title. The HUMAN TORCH, drawn by his creator, Carl Burgos, was on the cover of YOUNG MEN No. 24, Dec, 1953 (first number of the revival) with small illos of SUB MARINER and CAP boxed at the bottom. It was obvious that the HUMAN TORCH was meant to be the big star of this revival.
You probably have no idea but could you guess why RUSS HEATH drew the first TORCH story instead of BURGOS?
Dick Ayers- I have no idea, only that Stan sent me a set of photostats of Russ’s story as a guide to how he wanted the Torch rendered.
Bill Black- In YOUNG MEN No. 25 (Feb, 1954), Burgos did draw the TORCH and it was some of his best work ever (his early 1940’s Torch stories being very crude). His art was even better in YM No. 26 (Mar, 54). Burgos did all the YM covers and stories in YM No. 25-28, but when it came time to launch the TORCH in his own title, YOU got the assignment! How did this come about?
Dick Ayers- Again I have no idea. The scripts were mailed to me and I wouldn’t know what my assignment was until I opened the package.
Bill Black- You did a horror story for MEN’S ADVENTURES No. 26. Maybe you were just assigned to that title and drew the Torch when it went super hero? In HUMAN TORCH No. 36. Burgos drew the cover as he did on all subsequent TORCH books. You drew the inside stories... but all the figures of the Torch and Toro with their “flame on were re-drawn by Carl Burgos. You also drew the solo adventures of the HUMAN TORCH in STRANGE TALES in the 2nd revival for Marvel in the 1960’s. Can you compare the two features? Which did you like better?
Dick Ayers- As I read the collection of ‘53 Torches you sent me recently, I honestly say I liked the ‘53 stories and art better. There was more action and inventiveness with the Torch and Toro. The ‘60’s Torch was weak in comparison.
Bill Black- You accomplished something that your fellow artists find amazing. In all your early work you pencil, ink and LETTER the stories. This complete art job makes each assignment an all -Ayers package thus eliminating any sort of “house style”, even down to the lettering. The stories you did for ME, Atlas and Charlton are virtually identical and aside from the characters depicted. Obviously, you make more money by also doing the lettering. How did you manage to get the “complete gig” when so many of your fellow artists who could also letter, rarely did?
Dick Ayers- I didn’t realize that I
had a rarity in doing my own lettering. It was just that I enjoy doing my own lettering and get a “feel” for what I’m going to draw while I do it... before I start drawing and interpreting the script and always asked the editors to let me do it. Production-wise, it saved them time.
Bill Black- I have a page of original art from the dinosaur story (HUMAN TORCH No. 36) and it is drawn on ILLUSTRATION BOARD. Did you supply your own paper? Was this the practice at the time? What tools did you use to ink the TORCH? What pen nib did you use to letter?
Dick Ayers- Yes, artists bought their own paper. I used a #6 Windsor Newton series 7 brush, Speedball FB5 and FB6 pens for lettering and a croquill pen on backgrounds sometimes.
Bill Black- Both at ME and Atlas, you worked on an “inventory system” since each story (5 to 8 pages in length) was complete in itself and there was little continuity from story to story. Can you tell us how the inventory system worked? What was the ad. vantage to the publisher or to the artist? How does it differ from the way things are done today? Which do you prefer?
Dick Ayers- The system benefited the publisher in that a more beneficial marketable time for publication could be chosen. Also, having that inventory could be, and sometimes was, a loss. For the artist and writer it would mean steady work while building up. It also meant an undetermined period of work when not only publishers went out of business but many artists and writers had to leave the business. I prefer the steady monthly book assignment.
Bill Black:.. While you were illustrating the TORCH, ERNIE BACHE was your assistant. Can you tell us how the two of you constructed a page? How fast could you work... say, how long did it take to pencil, ink & letter a typical 6 page TORCH strip?
Dick Ayers- Ernie Bache came to work with me in my studio in Bronxville, N.Y. in January of 1952. Our first story together was “The Knave Of Diamonds” for Stan. The first Ghost Rider was “The Claws Of Horror.”
We worked side by side. I lettered, pencilled and outlined the work in ink. Ernie then erased the work clean and finished the art, putting in blacks, halftone and weighting lines and putting in the borders.
We calculated it to take 1 hour to letter, 3 hours to pencil and 3 hours to ink. That’s one artist. The two of us would do a 6 page Torch story in 2 days. One if need be.

Bill Black- Wow! If artists still worked like that, the comic book industry today wouldn’t be in such a mess!
Books were on a bimonthly schedule back then. What was your schedule like in 1953? A GHOST RIDER, then a TORCH, then a KID COLT? Or did you work on several different strips simultaneously? I know we get into situations here at AC where we are working on 4 or 5 different features simultaneously!
Dick Ayers- ‘53 was a very productive year, I had 3 accounts... ME, Timely and Charlton. We worked 6 and 7 days a week and met every one of our deadlines.
Bill Black- As an editor, how was Stan Lee to work for? Did you two have a good rapport?
Dick Ayers- Stan Lee is the greatest and wonderful to work with. I wish Marvel would assign us one more Sgt. Fury book to do. I already submitted a synopsis which has been approved for the ‘98 schedule.
Bill Black- You said you started at Atlas in 1951 and you continued steadily until when... 1970?
Dick Ayers- I still do work occasionally for Marvel. I have 12 pages in HEROES AND LEGENDS No.1, November ‘97.
Bill Black- In HUMAN TORCH No. 37 (June, 1954) you drew all 3 stories but BURGOS drew all three splash panels? Marvel did a lot of this in the late 1940’s having someone else, usually art director Syd Shores do the splash panels only. Reason?
Dick Ayers- The splash panel was like a cover and the dramatic interpretation was an important lead-in to the story which began in the bottom two panels. Stan probably visualized a different scene than mine and I’d already be busy doing something else. In those days the splash was not the beginning of the story. It was a dramatic hook to get the reader’s attention and get him to read the story.
Bill Black- Many of the Torch stories dealt with horror and science fiction themes, some (like “Vampire Tale” in HT 37) combined the two elements. At both, you excelled. I didn’t go in for horror comics at the time so most of my memories of comic book horror stories stem from Dick Ayers’ GHOST RIDER and HUMAN TORCH. As example, in “Menace of the Unhuman” (HT 37) you created horrific images that have stuck in my mind for over 40 years! Any memory of working on it?
Dick Ayers- Sorry... I don’t have a recollection of working on that story.
Bill Black- You also drew TORCH stories in MEN’S ADVENTURES, CAPTAIN AMERICA and SUB-MARINER. By HUMAN TORCH No. 38 (Aug., 54), there seems to have been an editorial shift in Torch story lines away from the horrific and into war adventures. Was this a sign that the super hero revival was failing and that stories were switching to more popular and realistic themes like the Korean war?
Dick Ayers- Maybe also it was due the Seduction Of The Innocent furor of that time and sales of the horror bookswere dropping. (“SEDUCTION” was a book written by psychologist Dr. Fredrick Wertham that really lambasted comic books.)
Bill Black- Do you know who wrote the 1950’s HT scripts? You didn’t bring Carl Memling in on this, too, did you?
Dick Ayers- No recollection. I only brought Carl Memling in to Magazine Enterprises. He accomplished the rest on his own, writing many stories for Timely and DC. I did quite a few of his Timely stories.
Bill Black- Were there any `50’s TORCH stories that you drew that were never published? (I ask this because stories were pulled from inventory and I know you kept meticulous records.)
Dick Ayers- I don’t know if any weren’t published. The only way I’d get a copy of a book I drew was to buy it myself. I may have missed some.
Bill Black- Roy Thomas, former Editor-In-Chief at Marvel helped me with this article. He determined that there was one inventory story that you drew that did not get published in the 1950’s. So this was one time where you came out ahead on the inventory. system! — —
You were working at Marvel when the early `60’s when Stan relaunched the TORCH for- the 3rd time. What did you think of Jack Kirby’s approach to drawing the TORCH? I didn’t like it nearly as well as the 50’s version.
Dick Ayers- I agree with you, Bill.
Bill Black- Have you seen the latest 1998 version of the TORCH? If so, what do you think of that?
Dick Ayers- I haven’t taken notice of the ‘98 version of the Torch yet.
Bill Black- Do you have any special memories or anecdotes concerning the 1950’s HUMAN TORCH or working at Marvel in the early 1950’s?
Dick Ayers- I have my brain perking on that, Bill, and hope to get into the fourth draft of my autobiography .

Bill Black- So! You have a book in the works! That’s great. I guess if we’re to learn anything more about your career in those halcyon days, we’ll have to buy your book! Thanks, Dick. Talk to you soon on the Net.