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I don’t know how unsuccessful it was, all my readers apparently bought Grendel from a newsstand.

§ October 30th, 2023 § Filed under fanzines, publishing § 6 Comments

Hi pals…I’m pretty wiped out today so I’m going to apologize up front for a less thorough post. But you folks really stepped up with some info regarding the woes of comics publisher Comico, researching and finding relevant articles in The Comics Journal that I didn’t.

What I was doing when looking through my Journals for the last post was specifically searching out articles along the lines of “COMICO DISTRIBUTES TO NEWSSTANDS.” I stuck mostly to Journals released around mid-1986 through mid-1987. However, if I’d kept going through December 1987, I might have found this feature the mag ran in December ’87, presented here courtesy reader Lars. This is more in the context of Comico’s large printer debt, which the article states

“…Was at least partly incurred as the result of an apparently unsuccessful nationwide newsstand distribution of such Comico titles as Jonny Quest, Grendel, and the three Robotech titles….”

The article also notes other reasons for Comico’s money woes, including the collapse of some distribution companies that owed the publisher money. That particularly rings a worrying bell right now, as the industry is currently splintering amongst multiple distributors after many years of just one company bringing us our comics. I mean, it’s a different situation now — it’s not likely Penguin Random House is suddenly going to disappear overnight — but those of us who remember distributors dropping like flies can’t help but think of those days.

Anyway, thank you Lars for the scans, and thanks also to ChrisB for pointing out other issues of the Journal for me to check out. As Michael points out, the mag’s “Newswatch” section is pretty consistently amazing, and I found myself just paging through article after article being reminded of the many events of the time. This is one of the reasons I like ‘zines, reading about comics news as reported contemporaneously. As I noted on Bluesky, “this is my comics nostalgia.”

I plan on digging through more of these Journals and seeing if I can find any more articles of note, not just about Comico but other topics as well. Though I did spot an editorial by Gary Groth about the end of the black and white/investment boom which I also can’t wait to revisit.

Assuming a relatively low value for the word “fuss.”

§ July 3rd, 2023 § Filed under fanzines § 7 Comments

Okay, you were probably expecting the next installment in the ’80s Indies Countdown thing today. Sorry, didn’t have enough time to do a proper job on it, so check later in the week.

Speaking of which, I just obtained what looks like full runs of both series of Elementals (with the trade paperback in lieu of the first few issues). Maybe I can finally read the darned thing and see what all the fuss was about.

And I did want to say a thing or two regarding the Comic Reader post on Friday. As ‘zines go, Comic Reader was a fairly reputable one, probably undeserving of my cherry-picking a news-reporting misstep of theirs from one issue. Like Snark Shark says in the comments, it may have just been “rumor mill” stuff, word on the street, however that rumor mill would have been formed in 1978. Other ‘zines, convention talk, someone in the Marvel office spilling the beans, whatever.

It is very possible all three items were, in fact, true at one point, or close enough. Marvel could have signed an agreement with the Rolling Stones to do a comic…and then the project was canned for some reason. (Or maybe the contract was about to be signed, and someone who thought it was a done real slipped the news to the fan press, but then it never happened.)

It’s also very possible that Marvel was circling around the idea of doing something with the Amityville Horror property. Sure, it was all bullshit, but it was hot bullshit at the time, and if Marvel thought it could make a buck off of it, well, why not? Patrick Joseph brings up the point that Marvel didn’t seem to be in the business of doing horror movie adaptations at the time, which may be why it ultimately didn’t happen. (Not that they were necessarily after the movie per se, but who knows?) I mean, there’s not much info in that single sentence about the possibility. “Negotiations” may not have been much more than “hey, how much will it cost us for the rights? …Will you take half of that? Okay, thanks anyway.”

As for “Schrödinger’s Meteor Adaptation,” well…the ‘zine this was reported in was cover-dated December 1978. The release date of the comic was October of 1979. A lot can happen in that span of months. That early on Marvel’s rights to adapt the movie may still have been in question, perhaps a definite “no” at the ‘zine’s press time before it became a “yes.” I don’t know how much lead time was necessary to slap that Meteor mag together, but I’d guess about eight months was probably pushing it.

Anyway, I just thought these three stories in such close proximity to each other was amusing and worth noting. And I don’t believe they were just conjured up out of nowhere…at worst, they were just running unconfirmed rumors. Best case scenario was, as I said, it may all have been true at one point, ’til it wasn’t. It’s still fun to see what folks were talking about at the time, and what projects (real or imagined) may have been planned for release. That’s why I enjoy collecting old fanzines, for stuff just like this.

Breaking comics news from 1978.

§ June 30th, 2023 § Filed under fanzines, marvel § 21 Comments

From The Comic Reader #163 (December 1978):

Not released: that specific Rolling Stones project and any Marvel-branded Amityville Horror book.

Definitely released: the Meteor adaptation in Marvel Comics Super Special:

Now Marvel did eventually release a Rolling Stone comic, Voodoo Lounge by Dave McKean(!) so there’s that. And the band also shows up in an issue of What If.

But Amityville Horror, best to my knowledge, went nowhere at Marvel, except maybe providing some inspiration for other horror stories. But honestly, if Gene Colan was going to draw any of these things, it should have been this one. His nice moody, spooky art could’ve made something out of that haunted house tale.

The Comic Reader #11 (July 26th, 1962).

§ September 11th, 2020 § Filed under fanzines, from the vast Mikester comic archives § 7 Comments

This is the earliest example of The Comic Reader fanzine that I own, three mimeographed pages stapled together, two of them printed both sides. Included is an extended review by Roy Thomas of ACG’s Magic Agent.

The front page is made up of current news items, most notably the following:

“SPIDERMAN [sic] — This hero will be missing from a few issues of AMAZING, but if this trail [sic] run in this mag is a success, then expect him back as the star of — (title as yet uncertain).”

Initially it took me a second to parse out that “AMAZING” as Amazing Fantasy…according to the Grand Comics Database, #15 came out in early June, which means this ‘zine was released as Spider-Man’s debut appearance was only about two monthss old. This news about a test run in Amazing Fantasy didn’t pan out, as that was the last issue of the series (and if I remember my Origins of Marvel Comics correctly, Stan Lee said, for what it’s worth, Spider-Man only made it into the comic because it was the last issue. “Ah, throw that weird character into the book, not like it’s gonna hurt sales.”

Regardless of whatever mess I’m making with my recollection of comics publishing history, it’s still pretty neat to be holding this artifact talking about Spider-Man when the character was literally brand new.

I picked this ‘zine up from eBay about a couple of decades back. paying $30 for the item. “$10 a page!” I’d say when I would discuss this with folks who pretended to be interested. Of note: at the time I had a mutual acquaintance with the sadly now-deceased Jerry Bails, the very man who had assembled and distributed this very ‘zine back in ’62. Said acquaintance informed Mr. Bails of my purchase of this copy of The Comic Reader #11, and the price I paid for it. It was reported back to me that Mr. Bails was, quote, “bemused.” …That’s probably the correct response.

Just a little housekeeping.

§ May 23rd, 2012 § Filed under cartoons, fanzines, golden age, I cast magic missile, scans § 9 Comments

So, remember those British Dungeons & Dragons ‘zines I posted about a few days ago? I threw them on the eBay, and most of them brought in $10 to $15 apiece, with a couple in the $30 range. But that Dragon Lords #1, with the signatures?

I started that at $8.99, by the way. Figured I’d get about ten or twelve bucks for it. …Guess I’d better break into that additional case of Dragon Lords #1 I have in the back room…!

Now, about that housekeeping promised in the subject of this post…I’ve had a few scans just sitting on my computer’s desktop, awaiting my use here, and I’m never seeming to get around to creating posts about each of them. Thus, I’m just going to throw them all into this post. Enjoy!

We had this copy of Choice Comics #2 from 1942 in our shop for all of, oh, I don’t know, five minutes before selling it off, but I managed to get a couple of scans from it anyway. I enjoyed Bingo the Kangaroo’s dismissive response to superheroes on the cover there:

I mean, we were this close to Kangaroo/Parrot Buddy Comedy-Adventure being the dominant genre in the comics industry. If only things went slightly differently…if only.

I also got a scan of this tough guy:

This is pretty much what every angry ‘n’ anonymous commenter on every Internet message board and comments section looks like, so don’t mess with ’em.

Marvel recently released a bunch of “Avengers Art Appreciation” incentive variant covers for many of their titles, which featured the characters from the movie as depicted in a variety of art styles, and regardless of whether the comic sporting said variant had anything to do with The Avengers. But I thought this one by Steffi Schutzee in the style of Al Hirschfeld was nicely done:

They all look great, but Hawkeye is particularly amazing:

And finally…cast your minds back to the innocent, carefree days of 1975, where Six-Year-Old Mike sat in front of the TV in the living room, enthralled by the giant bird-monster featured in this episode of Return of the Planet of the Apes:

“Mom! Mom! Look at this!” Mike shouted to his mother, but alas, she didn’t come to the room in time to see the bird-monster cart away these…buffalo-things:

So, Dad, if you’re reading my site at home right now, be sure to call Mom over and show these to her, so she can see what she missed nearly four decades ago.

Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I mentioned on the Twitter that I was reading this amazing article about the even-more amazing history of TV’s ALF, and pal Ian…remember pal Ian, he wrote some comics, I hear…he replied to me with a link to a YouTube video of the ALF cartoon’s theme. I’d never heard that before, and it ain’t half-bad. Thanks for exposing me to that, Ian…I take back most of the bad things I’ve said about you!

Cascade Comix Monthly #2 (April 1978).

§ August 10th, 2011 § Filed under fanzines § 2 Comments

This is a 16-page fanzine with a wraparound color cover (front cover image by George Erling), with a specific focus on underground comix. Featured is an interview with comix publisher/creator Larry Todd, who is also represented with a handful of colorful portraits on the back cover:

Other items of note include a preview for the then-forthcoming Mondo Snarfo from Kitchen Sink Press, a comix review column by Bill Sherman, a column of short news bits (such as the forthcoming reprint of Nard n’ Pat on improved paper stock!), and letters from such notable comix folk as Jay Kinney, Richard Bruning, and Denis Kitchen.

It’s a neat little item from the latter days of the undergrounds, and every time I come across a ‘zine like this, containing interviews and remarks from industry folks, I wonder just how much comics history and criticism still remains overlooked, or essentially lost.

Orion #1 (Summer 1981).

§ August 9th, 2011 § Filed under fanzines § 5 Comments

“The Canadian Magazine of Time and Space” was a comics and sci-fi centric ‘zine by Mark Shainblum (who would later run Matrix Comics and publish one of my all-time favorite comic book series).

As you can see by the cover, there was a specific focus in this issue on Captain Canuck and his creator, Richard Comely. And, in what is probably one of the more unfortunate pieces of bad timing in comics history (but not nearly as bad as this, it should be noted) the publisher of the then-current Captain Canuck series went out of business as this ‘zine was going to press, necessitating the inclusion of this letter, folded and inserted between the pages:

I can imagine how much of a drag that was to find that out as this mag was going to press. And the resigned sigh that must have resulted after deciding “well, better print up an explanatory letter and throw it into each copy.”

There were a few more recent installments of Orion that you can read in PDF format here, and you can see more of Mr. Shainblum’s writing here. And what the heck, here’s the official Captain Canuck page.

Today is the 92nd birthday of Jack Kirby.

§ August 28th, 2009 § Filed under fanzines, jack kirby Comments Off on Today is the 92nd birthday of Jack Kirby.

front and back covers of The Comic Reader #100 (Aug-Sept 1973)

(updated 8/2017)

"The Black Widow does not take orders from anyone."

§ May 7th, 2005 § Filed under fanzines § 1 Comment

From the news section in The Comic Reader #122 (September 1975):

“Angela Bowie, last seen dressing up as a certain Amazon princess for an audition for the role of same on television, has recently appeared in Newsweek doing the same thing for a still-sketchy series based on The Black Widow. Ms. Bowie would appear as ‘an unangelic’ version of Natasha in this proposed TV series. In the photo above, the guy standing behind her is actor friend Ben Carruthers, who is supposed to be dressed as Daredevil (in case you couldn’t tell). She was heard to give a sample of some of the kind of dialogue that could be expected: ‘You would do well to watch your tone. The Black Widow does not take orders from anyone.’ We won’t hold our breath waiting for this to be bought by the networks.”