Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

A Letter From Curt Swan

I came across this yesterday. It’s the first letter I ever received from Curt Swan, hand written on a 14×16″ piece of vellum. What a wonderful letter, what a brilliant artist, what a great man.  

P.S. Check out how neat the lettering is.  : ) 

(Click on the letter for a more satisfyingly large image)


Archie Goodwin Bares All


The Merry Marvel Marching Society


  1. That Curt Swan took time out of his busy day to write this letter back to a young aspiring fan speaks volumes to the kind of person he must have been….. what a wonderful keepsake, i really enjoyed reading it!

  2. OM

    …In order:

    1 Correction noted on the art issue. Quite a few others have told the incorrect tale in the past – one a former usenet net.god who I believe lurks around the blogs too scared to post these days – but I'll do the best to point towards your side of the story in the future.

    2) The use of Moldoff is a rather unique one, considering that around that time the only book I can recall him doing was Sugar and Spike – another DC property that needed to get a relaunch in August along with Inferior 5, Bwana Beast and Swing with Scooter, but that's another story.

    3) Try to make that "soon" into "sooner". Your tales of the LSH during those days are very eye-opening and of a personal interest of mine.

    Now, off to read that other blog entry you linked to…

  3. Shelly Moldoff drew #346. How that came to pass, I don't know.

    Curt never "traced over my layouts." The "… butts jumped by Unca Mort…" bit and thereafter is complete fiction and nonsense.

    I tell the essence of the genesis of the first three LSH stories here: http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/03/i-aimed-to-be-better-than-worst.html

    I'll write more about the LSH days soon.

  4. OM

    …Jim, this seems a good as time as any to ask this one, but what was the whole story behind the artwork on Adventure #346 – the first appearances of the "Fatality Four" Legion Applicants, Ferro Lad, Jeckie, KK and Nemesis Kid. While Curt did the art on the next issue, I've always heard some variation on the story that Curt basically traced over and finished somewhat detailed layouts you'd drawn and submitted with the script. I've also heard that you and Curt got your butts jumped by Unca Mort Weisinger over the degree of Curt relying on your layouts, but due to deadline he allowed that issue to slide provided it never happened again.

    …Considering that Adventure was one of the four main comics I learned to read from – Batman, Magnus, Robot Fighter and Superman being the others, although mOM bought me anything off the spinner rack I wanted once a week back then – and that it took me almost 20 years to find a copy locally of Adventure #347 to find out how you ended that 2-parter, I'd be really curious and actually a bit appreciative if you could give us a retrospective about how that issue – as well as the first LSH membership tryout where more than one member was selected – came about. As an LSH fan since Adventure #317 – the first comic I ever bought, for that matter – that 2-parter has always stood out as being not only unique unto itself for the aforementioned reasons, but as the real line of demarcation between the John Forte "everyone stands at attention even when they're sitting and nobody has a real personality except for Saturn Girl, who's a real bitch!" era and the period where possibly the most memorable and important Legion stories were written.

    …Now, get through that one, and we'll discuss those later issues where the girl Legionnaires beat up the boys, and some of the team got turned into babies, and then link back to that "plot theft" entry about Bill Mantlo…maybe 😛

  5. With apologies to:

    Joe Shuster
    Leo Nowak
    Ed Dobrotka
    John Sikela
    Ross Andru
    Al Plastino
    Kurt Schaffenberger
    Wayne Boring
    George Perez
    Jim Lee
    Dan Jurgens
    John Byrne
    Gil Kane
    Butch Guice
    Barry Kitson
    Tom Grummett
    Jon Bogdanov
    JL Garcia Lopez
    Jerry Ordway

    Curt Swan's Superman is the Superman I see in my mind when I hear the word SUPERMAN !!! 🙂

  6. That's Great, it's always something to receive some well-considered words from a pro when you really need it. If I were a name-dropper, I'd mention a few exchanges that I had with Alex Toth & Steve Ditko, but since I'm not, I won't 🙂

  7. Jim,

    Really wonderful letter. Would you object to me featuring it on my site, Letters of Note? Obviously I'd include a prominent link to this page. I have no doubt that my readers would appreciate it.

    Many thanks,


  8. Dear Jim,

    As always, thanks for the explanation.

    Your layouts must have been quite a change of pace for Curt because he was used to writers like Hamilton and Siegel who came from prose SF backgrounds. (Not that Siegel ever published any prose SF as far as I know, but I bet that had been his ambition back in his SF fanzine days.) Even Mort came from such a background, yet he recognized the value of your visual thinking.

    I've suspected that many if not most comics writers have art backgrounds. I imagine that it's hard to think visually if one can't draw at all.

    I can see why Wally Wood hated writers now … and why he lettered your name in Captain Action. At last, he must have thought, a writer who thinks visually like me!

    If you ever taught a level 2 course in comics writing, I'd like to see you expand on the do's and don'ts of picture highlights: clichés to avoid, pacing highlights, etc. I think such visual techniques could be applied to descriptive highlights in prose.

    Dear Defiant1,

    I'd like to hear the story of Curt Swan and Star Seed too. The Star Seed art in Eddy Zeno's Swan bio makes me think about what might have been.

  9. Re: "…make note of picture high-lights": Curt meant that in the plot stage, writers should recognize opportunities for great visuals and set them off, mark them or otherwise emphasize them. The benefits are obvious. Doing so keeps you aware of and focused on writing with the visuals in mind. Many writers focus only on the twists and turns of the plot and the verbal wrangling of the characters when building a story. When it comes time to script, they have all talking heads.

  10. You'll have to tell us about your attempts to enlist Curt Swan as the artist for Starseed when the timeline of your blog gets that far.

  11. Jim –

    What a pleasure to read that little bit of history! Very cool!


  12. Dear Jim,

    I've heard you mention the letters you got from Curt Swan, but I never imagined I'd ever see any of them. Thanks for posting your very first one!

    Curt wrote as well as he drew, in terms of both content and form (lettering!).

    Even he felt that he still had a lot to learn after two decades in the business. Wow. A true master is always a student.

    What did he mean by "mak[ing] note of picture high-lights"?

    Over 40 years later, some people are ignoring his advice. Here's a recent example of redundant captions in comics. Now that readers are accustomed to low-text manga, such captions feel more intrusive and irritating than ever.

    Curt bet correctly. You did make the heights!

  13. Jim,
    Thanks SO much for sharing these wonderful nuggets!

    Jim McLauchlin

  14. That man was one in a quintillion.


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