About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Carl Socks It To Shell-Head! (My Letter To IRON MAN)


Hey!  My Comix Zone haul last week included Invincible Iron Man # 11, the latest issue of one of the Armored Avenger's ongoing solo series.  It's also the first Marvel Comic to ever publish one of my letters of comment--I've arrived!  Yep, so much better than when Steve Martin's character greets the arrival of the new phone book in that cinematic milestone The Jerk.  I've had letters published in comics before (commencing over 40 years ago with a letter in an issue of Superman), but those were all published in DC Comics titles, so this is, like, my first crossover appearance.   Here 'tis (with editorial reply):

You wanna know what I like best about Invincible Iron Man?  I mean, sure, the writing and the artwork, the witty banter and the pretty pictures, the explosions, Mary Jane Watson, the drama, Mary Jane Watson, the humor, Mary Jane Watson, the main characters, and the guest stars (like Mary Jane Watson).  All good, and all a given, of course.

But the icing, for me, is the title of the letters column:  "Sock It To Shell-Head!" takes me back to summers spent in Missouri as a kid in the late '60s, going to Ramey's Grocery Store in Aurora to buy 12-cent comic books (and 25-cent giants), and thrilling to the adventures of my four-color friends.  The sense of camaraderie implied in Marvel Comics' letters columns (and in Stan Lee's Soapbox) was endlessly inviting and irresistible to this nine-year-old True Believer. 

Nowadays, with each reboot and revamp, I sometimes feel that the comics industry has little use for middle-aged fans.  But I'm still finding a ton of books that don't make me feel that way, and Invincible Iron Man is near the top of that list.  Listen:  I've been with Shell-Head since The Avengers faced Count Nefaria for the first time, and I don't mind at all that he sounds like Robert Downey, Jr.; he's still my Iron Man, so sock it to me.


Carl Cafarelli, R.F.O. (and then some!)

That's awesome to hear, Carl!  Honestly, as a fan whose parents were kids in the sixties, it's really cool for me to hear from fans like you who've been with the character for so long.  But even though I answer these letters, Tom  [editor Tom Brevoort] gets all the credit for the letters page title--he couldn't WAIT to bring it back.

And for those of you who have not yet socked it to Shell-Head, send us your letters!  No, but seriously, if we aren't constantly praised we melt into puddles of gelatin.  It is a legitimate health concern.

Come back next month for CIVIL WAR II!

--The Invincible Alanna Smith

Oh, and a word about the "R.F.O" I tagged on after my name in the above letter.  In the '60s, Marvel's Stan Lee's Soapbox column hawked an idea called The Hallowed Ranks Of Marveldom.  The ranks were inspired by a letter from fan Mark Evanier (and I've just enriched your life by giving you a link to Mark's blog, which is the best blog of any ever blogged), and the official Marvel version was this:

R.F.O. (Real Frantic One) – a buyer of at least three Marvel mags a month
T.T.B. (Titanic True Believer) – a divinely-inspired “No-Prize” winner
Q.N.S. (Quite ‘Nuff Sayer) – a fortunate Frantic One who’s had a letter printed
K.O.F. (Keeper Of The Flame) – one who recruits a newcomer to Marvel’s rollickin’ ranks
P.M.M. (Permanent Marvelite Maximus) – anyone possessing all four of the other titles
F.F.F. (Fearless Front Facer) – an honorary title bestowed for devotion to Marvel above and beyond the call of duty

So, yeah, I've been an R.F.O. (and then some!) for a good long while.  And now I can add Q.N.S. to my resume, too. Exclesior!  

'Nuff said.