Welcome to the letters page, that part of our editorial package where you readers get to sound off about what you think of our monthly efforts to entertain you. (We used to call this a letter column, but seeing as how there's three columns on the page, it's a bit of a misnomer, wouldn't you say?) Every month we select a handful of the most interesting letters we receive and print them here. In that way we 1) let folkds know the general consensus on a given story and 2) make a few instant celebrities out of the persons whose names appear in print. Some of you who have never had a letter published yet may be wondering just what it is we're looking for in the letters we select for print. The answer is simple.
We're looking for comments that are interesting, both to us and to your fellow readers. That doesn't mean we're looking for idle praise ("You guys are great. The latest issue was great, too.")-- that can be pretty dull. It doesn't mean we're looking for idle criticism either ("You guys stink. The latest issue stunk. I really thought the new villain stunk, too.")-- that can be just as dull. What we, your creative team, need is honest, heartfelt, specific comments about what you liked and didn't like about a certain story. Don't just tell us Dr. So-and-So is a dumb villain-- tell us all the reasons why you think he's a dumb villain. Don't just tell us an issue's story was good-- tell us what parts you liked the best and why you liked them. Also you might spell out a few things for us, to jog our memories. Don't just say "I liked the scene on page 5", tell us "I liked the scene on page 5 where Tigra went shopping for kitty litter". Then we (and your fellow readers if the letter makes it into print) will know what you're talking about without having to look it up.
That's it. You don't have to be amazingly clever ('though we do get a chuckle from cleverly worded quips), just sincere and specific. I can't promise you that you'll have your letter printed every single time, but you sure as heck stand a lot better chance!
In the letters page to our companion magazine WEST COAST AVENGERS this month (issue #11), I devoted my "Mark's Remarks" space to telling you about what I look for in fan letters that I consider for print. (I trust you AVENGERS readers also buy the WCA so I don't have to mention that it's still on sale.) What I thought I'd do in this space is tell you about several things that letter writers sometimes do annoy the heck out of me. Ready? Here's my top five.
1. I'm bugged by people who think the editor handles the mailing of subscription copies. Subscriptions are handled by a nice lady named Nancy Murphy and all inquiries should be sent to her attention, not mine.
2. I'm bugged by people who don't write their addresses on their letters-- not their envelopes, their letters. All fan mail is opened and sorted before arriving on the editor's desk. When the mail is opened, the envelopes are thrown away. When the addresses are not written on the letter, we have no idea where the letter writer lives. If you don't want us to know your address, fine...or if you want us not to print your address, we'll comply. But if you do want us to know your address, write it on the letter itself!
3. I'm bugged by people who send in money for back issues. Here at Marvel's editorial offices, we create the comics, but we don't sell them. Retailers do that, and some of them even take out ads in our books.
4. I'm bugged by people who write so illegibly that I get a headache trying to read what they have to say. I'm not saying you have to type-- but give me a break and make sure I can read your handwriting!
5. I'm bugged by people who write in only to nit-pick-- a coloring mistake here, a garbled sentence there, an art flub somewhere else. I'll admit we make mistakes from time to time-- who doesn't?-- but does fault-finding have to be the only reason some of you write? How about letting us know what you thought of the story that contained the flub while you're at it?
So there you have my gripes with some of your letters (you know who you are). So tell me, what are your worst gripes about editors? Write Mark's Remarks in care of this magazine, and I'll devote a column to them in future. Fair's fair!