Favorite Quotes

"The fact that you think you are a person is a socially induced hallucination. There is not such thing as a person."
- D. Chopra, Playboy March 2011 interview

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Comic Reader #81 and Comic Professionals

Etcetera & The Comic Reader #81 (January 1972) Paul Levitz

Yesterday in 1972, you probably would have received this issue of The Comic Reader (TCR) in the mail had you been a subscriber.  The scan I have is postmarked the 15th.  You couldn't have received it today, as the 16th was a Sunday.

The Comic Reader was the oldest, longest running comic book news fanzine of the Golden Age of comic book fandom.  Started by Jerry Bails in 1961 as On The Drawing Board until the eighth issue before becoming TCR, it lasted until #219 in 1984.  It was one of the earliest fanzines to provide information about comic books yet to be published.  Most other fanzine publications looked back or created new stories by fans.  Jerry Bails' contacts with Marvel & DC made it unique.  Later editors continued those and expanded their reporting to cover as many publishers as possible.

This issue was pretty typical of the fanzine at this point in its history.  It was 16 photocopied pages with limited art.  It included news on upcoming comics including personnel and character changes, as well as expected on sale dates for DC & Marvel issues.  Articles included an opinion piece about fandom needing a press agent by Byron Preiss, a Paul Levitz editorial, fanzine and comic book reviews, an article on SF fandom by Tom Greeniones, and a Creation Convention 1971 report by Neal Pozner.

The Knowledgeable Ones among you will recognize many of those names as future comics professionals.  Neal Pozner's first credited pro work seems to be The Amazing World of DC Comics #9 in 1975, but is probably best known for his 1986 Aquaman four issue mini-series with Craig Hamilton.

Aquaman (February 1986) DC Comics Inc.

Byron Preiss was only a few years away from publishing his experimental Weird Heroes paperback series in 1975 and beautiful Fiction Illustrated series of illustrated novels.  Both of which were ground breaking for comic book fans.  He of course went on to do much more in the publishing field.  This Alex Nino illustrated Weird Heroes paperback was one of my favorites

Weird Heroes #3 (1976) Byron Preiss Visual Publications

Paul Levitz, of course, is the most well known of these soon to be pros.  By the end of the year, he would be freelancing for DC Comics (according to Wikipedia).  The GCD has his first work as an assistant editor of All-Star Western #11 (April-May 1972), but I believe this is an error.  He's not credited in the comic book itself, though that isn't unusual for the time.  Levitz went on to write thousands of comics, including the fondly remembered Legion of Superheroes, and even becoming President of DC.  Probably one of the highest corporate levels any former fan ever achieved.  Besides that, he's a great guy who never forgot his fandom roots.

Finally, since I am art inclined, is Rich Buckler.  One of my favorite artists of the time.  He drew this and several other covers of TCR even though he'd already broken into the professional ranks earlier with Warren Publishing.  In fact, his first DC work (House of Secrets #90) was on the newsstands the almost exactly a year before this issue of TCR hit fan's mailboxes. 

House of Secrets #90 (February-March 1971) National Periodical Publications, Inc.

Behind this Neal Adams cover, was a Marv Wolfman written, Rich Buckler drawn story: The Symbionts.  A metafiction favorite of mine since it aims at fandom.  The lead character, a prisoner, was named Lawrence Herndon.

House of Secrets #90, pg 15

Wolfman and Buckler, who came up through comics fandom, of course knew Big Name Fan Larry Herndon of Star-Studded Comics and of Texas Trio fame.  In fact, Buckler had drawn a Larry Herndon story in Star-Studded Comics #13 (1968).

Larry Herndon (1960s)

This older picture of Larry from Bill Schelly's Founders of Comic Fandom book was all I could find, but the heroic profile of Larry in House of Secrets may not have fit his outer self, but sure did show his inner spirit.

The nice Neal Adams quality of the art in this story really comes out (Adams inked it and Buckler drew in his popular style).  This was reinforced as one of the police was named Adams.

My bet is that the other named characters in the story, Laura and Janet Welch were real people too.  Hopefully someone can enlighten me.

A nice piece of metafiction showing fandom's growing influence on the comic book publishers, all connected to one of the top fanzines of the era.

No comments:

Post a Comment