I recall getting an "egg" of silly putty for my birthday, Christmas or something similar back in 1967.
I had played with it for a while, bouncing it, stretching it, but always packed it away back in the two half shells.
Then came the comic book, Fantastic Four # 68 (November 1967)...and a great mystery guest.
The villain's face was never shown in total, but just extreme close-ups, of his mustache, his mouth, his eyes peering through a slot in a prison door. (Link: http://www.comics.org/issue/21446/)
This was before the age of scanners or photocopiers. Or even digital la
So my little 13 year old brain started working overtime on how to solve the puzzle of who this mystery villain was that was about to turn the FF inside out....
It occurred to me that I could "lift" images from the comic book, and then "print" them onto a separate sheet of notepad paper, and build the face from scratch. I assembled the man's mouth, mustache and evil eyes like a totem pole, and then studied the out of proportion face awhile. It really didn't look like much, but I ran through all the images of the rouges gallery in my head.
"Eureka!" I cried, as I deduced that the villain of the piece was none other than "The Wizard"!
I rushed to my typewriter and immediate dashed off a letter to Marvel Comics telling them of my discovery.
I returned my silly putty to it's shell, rolling it into a little ball, and that's when I noticed it.
The ink had not all transferred to the page, but lots had been retained in the putty...it looked discolored!
I looked back at the comic book. Sure enough, a lot of the printer's ink had come away from the page, leaving a faded circle of color where there used to be a brightly colored panel.
It wasn't the putty that had done any magic, it was the solvent that had loosened the ink from the newsprint. (Was that even possible??!!)
I put the putty away and never touched it again for years.
The next time I did take it out, it had hardened into a solid lump, no where near the pliable gum that we all knew and loved.
Oh, and that guess about the villain?
Dead wrong. Lots of fans had assembled the clues that were dropped in that issue and guessed as I had, "The Wizard", but it was all a red herring.
Next issue, the villain decided to "remove my make-up and hastily grown mustache with this acid wash, and stand revealed as"....
The MAD Thinker!
I was crushed. They had laid a very convincing trail to the Wizard, but then pulled a rabbit out of a hat, by switching the villain at the last moment. He didn't even look like the man he had been impersonating.
(Years later, I came to realize that the plot had been the same one that the Wizard had used only 3 years before in a similar plot to bust up the FF...and the main writer had just recycled it, thinking himself clever by changing the villain's reveal at the last moment. Perhaps too many fans had figured it out, or had guessed before the big reveal went to the printer's shop... but there you had it, we were ALL WRONG!)