As Stan Lee’s first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Roy Thomas (1940 – ) had some pretty big shoes to fill. But fill them he did, and admirably. Having already debuted Conan the Barbarian in comics form, Thomas wrote hundreds of Conan stories for Marvel’s comics and magazines, introduced Red Sonja, and scripted many of Marvel’s most popular titles, including The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man.
Thomas, a life-long comic fan, was born in Missouri and holds a B.S. in Education (with a major in history and social science). He took over editorship of the fanzine Alter Ego in 1964 while teaching high school English. The following year, Thomas moved to New York to take a job as assistant to Superman editor Mort Weisinger (a notoriously difficult editor with whom to work). Under Weisinger, Thomas worked all of eight days before moving over to Marvel Comics.
Frustrated, Thomas wrote a letter to Stan Lee, not actually in then hopes of obtaining a job but merely with an offer to buy Lee a drink (thinking perhaps Lee would remember him from his work on Alter Ego, which Lee, in fact, did). Lee phoned and offered Thomas the opportunity take the Marvel writing test (which was to fill dialog into four wordless Fantastic Four pages illustrated by Jack Kirby).
Thomas was hired and DC’s (temporary) loss was Marvel’s gain. There, Thomas wrote The Avengers, Strange Tales, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, and The Uncanny X-Men, among others. He stepped down as editor-in-chief in 1974, but continued to write, including the very first joint venture between DC and Marvel- the Treasury Edition movie adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.
In 1981, Thomas moved back to DC. And this time his time there would last much longer than a mere eight days. At DC, he wrote Green Lantern, Batman, DC Comics Presents, The Legion of Super Heroes, and Wonder Woman, among many others. While there, he also fulfilled his dream of of writing the original Justice Society of America by reviving the group in the Justice League of America #193 and continuing with the new on-going series All-Star Squadron. To this day, the JSA continues to play an important part in the DC Universe, thanks in large part to Thomas’ revival of the group.
Thomas also introduced Infinity, Inc (the children of JSA members), Jonni Thunder a.k.a Thunderbolt (though never explained, the character was very likely adapted from the JSA’s Johnny Thunder) and contributed to Secret Origins.
Later, Thomas went back to Marvel, wrote for their New Universe line, and then on to Doctor Strange, The West Coast Avengers and even finished, with artist Dick Giordano, the adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula the two had began 30 years earlier in Marvel’s Dracula Lives! magazine series.
Currently, Thomas serves on the Disbursement Committee of the Hero Initiative. He has won multiple awards, including an Alley Award, 3 Shazam Awards, and an Eagle Award. He was named as an honoree in DC’s 50th Anniversary Fifty Who Made DC Great and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2011.
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