As you know by now, Gary Groth’s Fantastic Fanzine was one of the best of its kind. Issue 13 is no exception, featuring art by Dave Cockrum, Berni Wrightson, Don Newton, and more!
Fantastic Fanzine 13: 1971
Publisher and Editor: Gary Groth
It seems like it has been too long since I have delved back into the fan repertoire of Gary Groth, especially considering how important this fanzine is to my young fan years. So, to rectify the situation, here is Fantastic Fanzine 13!
To start off with a bang, below you see the beautifully color saturated cover by fan favorite, John G. Fantucchio. John also has a feature this issue that we will get to later. I will also give you information on how to get a catalog from John of all the amazing fanzines he has for sale. For now, feast your eyes downward!
Now, tell me that wouldn’t stand out on the newsstands today! What was confirmed by Fantucchio via email to be acrylic on a photograph of New York is yet another bit of evidence as to why this artist was so popular in fanzines such as FF, The Collector, The Buyer’s Guide, and many others back in the 70s. His work always stood out as being unlike anyone else’s, with all the spiky linework, exaggerated figures, and lush textures in his paintings. I was told by Aaron Caplan (also via email) that Fantucchio actually did most of his art to fit the publication. That is, the black and white art you see below was painted in black and white. In an email, John told me more about the cover:
The entire situation was sketched while I was sitting in a Goodyear balloon perched high atop New York City. From that it evolved to what you see. That illustration, thanks to Gary Groth, ended up on the cover of the Washington Sunday Post Potomac Magazine of August 13, 1972, with a fascinating article on the young master publisher (Groth). From there I entered the entire cover in the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington’s 24th annual exhibition, where it was chosen and hung. One of the judges was the late great illustrator, Bernard Fuchs.
Below you see various images from his portfolio in this issue:
That last piece illustrates the humor that Fantucchio often exhibited in his work. He was just as prone to doing a caricature as a serious piece. You can see several other pieces in the portfolio, along with a page of photos from their home. That photo montage shows a treasured Volvo that was new at the time and that Aaron tells me is still in pristine condition in Fantucchios’s garage! While I am at it, I must reference Aaron Caplan’s great new website devoted exclusively to John and his work that you can see here. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you can get a catalog of a plethora of great zines that John has for sale by sending three 44 cent stamps to: John G. Fantucchio, 2605 N. Lexington St., Arlington, VA, 22207. Tell him Ken sent you! Fantucchio also contributes a text piece on the art of Steve Ditko.
Conan gets an examining by Jeffrey Wasserman (twice, actually) in “Conan! of Marvel,” which is illustrated by Sal Buscema (much loved as a Barry Smith inker on Conan by Wasserman), Art Thibert, John Cornell, and two wonderful Hawaiians, Gary Kato and Dennis Fujitake (seen above).
Following this article is one of the many convention coverages that Fantastic Fanzine and Groth specialized in. In fact, three cons are covered this issue, with the first being the 1970 NY Con. Below you can see a few photos of some of the industry giants that attended (that is Tarzan artist extraordinaire, Roy Krenkel, below the panel at left).
In addition to these photographs, between the three con reports you will also see Jim Steranko, Neal Adams, Dave Cockrum, Roy Thomas, Robert Kline, Mike Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, Marv Wolfman, and a few others. The photos really take you back! After the first of the two con reports, Bill Cantey delivers a western tale called “The Man with the Golden Vest,” which is garnished by a beautiful Don Newton illustration (seen below), as well as illustrations by Bill Black and Fantucchio. There is also a nice logo from Kenneth Smith, who did several like this for Groth over the years. However, this one was not printed well. In fact, Groth told me through email that he (still in high school at the time) had to sue the printer in small claims court for a terrible printing job on the fanzine. Even at that young age, Groth knew what he wanted! By the way, I think this illustration shows evidence that the late Don Newton was the best western artist fandom has ever seen, in my opinion.
Following Cantey’s story is an entertaining and pretty humorous interview with the writer, who has had stories illustrated by the likes of Richard Corben and Robert Kline, among others. He was a mainstay of Fantastic Fanzine, The Collector, and many others. Between the interview and the second con report (a very well written report by Cantey) is an appropriately grisly Wrightson illustration, seen at right.
The articles include a humorous take on “How Creation was Created” by Gordon Matthews, Bernie Bubnis’ article on “fandom by a pro,” and Tony Isabella’s “Windmills of my Mind” column (which, among other things, cites his twelve most creative people in comics).
Below you see the inside back cover, a really nice illustration by Mike Roberts (a Collector alumni). I have to say, this illustration has a lot going for it…crisp linework, really nice foreshortening on the spear the savage on the left is carrying…but the piece as a whole is marred a bit by the proportions of the main character (Ka-Zar, I assume)…the head is just too big for a heroic character! Still, a nice illustration, other than that. Other spot illustrations and full pagers are done by artists such as Jay Mike/Carter Scholtz, Alan Weiss, Martin Greim, John Adkins Richardson (who does a con report on the 1970 Metro Con, his first con…and his first con report), Vincent Marchesano, Ken Steacy, and R. Yeates.
Probably the main article of the fanzine is a long interview with golden age great, artist/writer Howard Purcell, by Joe Mosca. The interview came about when Mosca saw a letter in a DC comic asking what became of several “older writers and artists” who had worked for comics such as House of Secrets and House of Mystery. Editor Murray Boltinoff listed a few and what they did, ending with the fact that Purcell taught art only one mile from where Mosca lived! A call was made and the interview was set up. Purcell had a hand in many prominent characters and titles in the comic industry, including the Black Knight (seen below in two full page illustrations), Green Lantern, Hap Harrigan, Sea Devils (of which many wonderful covers are reprinted), Unexpected, and many many more. The interview is long, thorough, very entertaining and, in my opinion, a required read for many younger artists out there who may not know what it was like working in comics in the golden and silver age.
The piece above is actually seen both in pencil stage and the more finished version you see above. I only had a vague memory of Purcell before reading this article. Very well done, I have to say. The issue ends with a bloody barbarian bang courtesy of Fantastic Fanzine regular and X-Men artist of a few years later, Dave Cockrum. Check it out below.
And so, another issue of Gary Groth’s great contribution to the world of fandom draws to a close. I still have a few others to profile at a later date, including the issue that followed this, which became Fantastic Fanzine special number 2, with a great Dave Cockrum wraparound cover of the Silver Surfer, among a ton of other great stuff. The next installment of Ink Stains may be Infinity 2, or it may be a few issues of The Charlton Bullseye…you decide!
Thanks this time go out to Aaron Caplan, Gary Groth, and especially John G. Fantucchio. Without them, the article would have been just me, and no one wants that!
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Due to a reader’s incredible generosity (thanks, Jason Schachter!), I now have every issue of FOOM, along with the great Wrightson zine, Scream Door, among others!
Ken Meyer Jr.