Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Thomas, Roy

(1940-    ) US writer of Comic books. He co-created with Jerry Bails one of the first comics fanzines, Alter Ego, in 1961, including some pieces which were reprinted in the anthologies All in Color for a Dime (1970) and The Comic-Book Book (1973), both ed Richard A Lupoff and Don Thompson. He was a highschool teacher in St Louis for four years, during which time he wrote scripts used in Charlton's Son of Vulcan (1966) and Blue Beetle (1966). An unsolicited script submission to National Comics (later called DC Comics) resulted in a job offer that took him to New York as assistant editor to Mort Weisinger on Superman. Two weeks later he met Stan Lee, who invited him to write for Marvel Comics, and he transferred himself to that company as assistant editor. He wrote for a variety of Marvel titles, including Doctor Strange, Spiderman and Sgt Fury. It was in the last years of the 1960s that he hit his stride as a writer with Sub-Mariner, The X-Men and The Avengers, where he proved himself one of the finest comic-book writers of his time, consistently handling dozens of characters in a complicated plot sequence which culminated in the Kree-Skrull Wars conflict in 1972. This was drawn by Neal Adams and remains one of the highlights of 1970s comics. RT has also been praised for his exploration of Superhero characters – building on the "superheroes with problems" theme developed by Lee – and his ability to endow even the most minor figures with character. On The X-Men he was less successful (even though he introduced Neal Adams as artist on the series), and it ceased at #66 (1970).

RT's most outstanding series were those featuring Robert E Howard's characters in Conan the Barbarian (115 issues by him) and Savage Sword of Conan (over 60 issues by him), for which he adapted many of the original novels in a multi-award winning run featuring artwork by Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema (1927-2002), among others. It was RT who took Red Sonja, another Howard character, and transported her to the Hyborian Age in Conan the Barbarian #23 (1972); she was featured in a comic book series of her own, drawn by Frank Thorne. To date RT has contributed at least 5000 pages of storytelling to Conan.

RT was instrumental in bringing Star Wars to Marvel, was responsible for co-creating Wolverine and Morbius, and helped develop The New X-Men. He became Marvel's editor-in-chief in 1972, when Lee became publisher, but resigned in 1974, although he continued to write for the company until 1980. He subsequently joined DC, where he handled numerous team-ups and created Infinity Inc. At the same time he was freelancing for smaller companies like First, for whom he adapted Michael Moorcock's Elric in a series of comics, including Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone * (graph 1986) with Michael T Gilbert and P Craig Russell. Another venture was The DragonLance Saga Book Three * (graph 1989) with Tony DeZuniga (1932-2012), adapted from Dragons of Winter Night * (1984) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

RT continues to be one of the most successful and prolific writers of his generation, working on Avengers West Coast and Doctor Strange; he also adapted Frances Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993) (see Dracula Movies) for comic-book publication by Topps as Bram Stoker's Dracula * (graph 1993), with Mike Mignola and John Nyberg. [SH/RT]

Roy William Thomas


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.