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Friday, December 11, 2009

1939 Letter From Grace Everett, Re: Bill Everett & Amazing Man

The following is the text from a letter that was recently posted onto eBay. Dated, 1st March, 1939, the letter was written by Bill Everett's mother and relates to Bill working on a new creation for Lloyd Jaquet - the man who founded Funnies Inc, a company that produced Marvel Comics #1, which would lead to the formation of Timely Comics, later to become Marvel. As people who read this might well be aware, Bill Everett was one of the pioneers of comic books, and if all he ever did was create Namor, The Sub-Mariner, then his place in history would be well and truly cemented. As it stands he did much, much more.

The letter shows an interesting insight into Bill's life at the time and the frustration he was clearly feeling in attempting to come up with a new character on demand. The general thought is that the letter relates to a character named Amazing Man, which debuted in September, 1939. The letter refers to both Centaur and a new character which makes the theory all the more likely. Amazing Man has more in common with Superman than Namor ever did, and the letter shows the level of pressure, thought and research that went into the creation of characters back in the Golden Age.

Sadly there was a bit of a dispute as to the auction of the letter. A well known collector bought the item only to have the seller recant and relist it in order to increase the amount of money that it would realise. Not a very good sales practice really, but that aside, here it is, for all to enjoy, for it's historical content.
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414 West 118th Street,
New York City.

Darling:

Carlton’s letter to Bette, which arrived yesterday told us your proposed trip to Clearwater. I wanted to write you yesterday but was so busy on some typing for Professor Barzun that I got no chance until today.

I am delighted that you are going away at last, and to so delightful a place. To have Flodde and Gail with you will mean a great deal -- that I know, and it is lovely for them that they can have some sunshine and warm weather now.

I am wondering how you will make the trip. If you go by train -- and I presume you will – shall you come through new York? If you do, and want to break the trip so that you can get a little rest, I’d love to have you come here. We have plenty of room for all three of you now, and of course we’d be overjoyed to have you here.

Let me know if there is anything at all that I can do for you or for Flodde.

We are all well again and all busy. Professor Barzun is revising part of his book and gives me a little typing now and then. Bill has a lot of work to do on his present three comic strips, and Centaur Publications wants him to do a new one. Lee is entirely recovered, back and work, and busy as a bee.

I had a visit from Lois ten days ago, just for an evening; and Dorothy Dalzell and Rachel Blanchard were in new York for a few days, so that I saw them twice. Bobby Fisk – you will remember him as the little boy who was with us so much when we lived on School Street – will be in town this week end, and we are looking forward to seeing him again.

Lois is in Miami, and writes me that she is very lonely and nervous. Her uncle, who is a surgeon, sent her down there to get some sunshine, warm weather and bathing; but she is all alone and I she is not happy there. She returns on the 17th.

I heard an interesting conversation on the bus the other day. It was about the book “Rebecca”, which I know you have read but which I have not. Did you realize that it was written in the first person, and that the person’s name was not mentioned in the book once? It seems that a reader in new York, which noticed the circumstance, telephoned London, to ask author what the name of her character was; but the author was then in Hollywood and the reader didn’t get the information. A New York newspaper carried an item about the telephone call. Interesting, isn’t it?

I’m feeling very well indeed, and keeping busy as usual. Last week I went out to luncheon once, and to the movies one evening. That’s wild excitement for me in one week.

I’m going to spend all day tomorrow at the Public Library, doing some research work for Bill. He has a new character, for a strip which Jaquet wants him to do in competition with the new one now being syndicated – called the “Superman’ I think. We’ve wracked our brains for a new kind of character; and all I can think of now is to back over some old folk tales, foreign ones if necessary, and try to find some unusual character around which we can build an unusual story for these modern times. Bill is rushing through another strip and two covers, so I am going to help him in this research. I course I love to do it.

By the way, the "Superman" thing I spoke of above was considered to good that it was bought and syndicated before it was ever published. The people I know who have seen it are not impressed, but I suppose children would love it. It’s a story of a man with superhuman strength in these modern times, who can pick up an elephant with one hand – lifts trolley cars off tracks, etc. If you have any brilliant ideas for a competitive strip, for heaven’s sake let us know. Jaquet is on Bill’s heels about this.

I finally got a permanent wave, and it certainly helped my morale. Now if I can pick a new suit and hat out of the All-Encircling-Good, I’ll be all set to knock ‘em Dead! Tho where I shall ever find a hat that I’ll dare to wear – or even consider wearing – I really don’t know. I’ve not seen a single hat yet that wasn’t simply horrible, for me at least.

Carleton wrote that he would let us know has soon as you had definite plans for your trip, and I shall be hoping that they will include a stop-over in new York. This little jaunt, I am absolutely certain, will be the one thing needed to start you on the up-grade. And even though it may take a super-human effort on your part to get there, any discomfort will be well worth while in the improvement that you will certainly make.

My dear love to Carleton, Mardie and Flodde; and a million kisses to Gail.

Ever devotedly,

Grace

1 comment:

Mark said...

As clarified later, Grace was actually Bill Everett's Mother...pretty nice of her to do research for him.