I recently picked up a bunch of Superman comics from 1983 and found a lot of interesting stuff in there. One of the things I found was in the letter’s section there always appeared a name, Kent A. Phenis from Indianapolis. From further investigation I found that this was a common practice back in the day. If you wrote very intelligent letters, your letter could be regularly published, even on a monthly basis. These were called letterhacks, or LOC’ers and it was a common phenomenon back in the day.
Funnier even still, some of the letterhacks actually ended up making a career out of it and used it to get into the industry. If you look at this Wikipedia page you’ll see familiar names such as Paul Levitz who actually ended up running the place.
The letter’s section does survive in this day and age but you definitely don’t see it like you used to. I forgot how much of a cherished section it actually was and how passionate some fans were. The editors even published letters that were actively criticizing their own books and its creators. And most of the time it was a civilized, constructive debate but still things did get heated. If you have a chance to pick up any Doom Patrol (second series) before Grant Morrison came on, you’re in for a treat with some of those letters.
And it’s a bit sad that the letter section doesn’t get that much love like it used to. With social media and the ability to interact instantly with an editor or creator why would you write a letter or rather an email? The answer is that you wouldn’t. I see new titles that have trouble even receiving letters, or rather emails of today. But if you’re getting any Marvel books you’ll notice they’ve been running Stan’s Soapbox, which was his regular column. And those have been a treat to read as well. But hey, perhaps if you want to break into the industry all you need to do is send in a highly thought-out letter or two and you just never know.
So there you go. A tiny bit of comic book history even if many of you are like duh, I remember that. I bet some of the younger readers don’t and it’s an interesting blurb in comic book history, albeit a small perhaps insignificant one.
The more you know and all.