That’s right, The Collector just keeps coming! Issues 14 and 15 make up this installment!
The Collector 14 and 15: 1969
Editor and publisher: Bill G. Wilson
Hello, fellow fanzine aficionados, face front and feel the frenzy of a new installment of Ink Stains! I hope everyone appreciates the extensive coverage so far of The Collector…I really lucked out to have the generous Aaron Caplan as a buddy, because I would not have been able to show all of these without his help. In this installment, we get a double dose of Bill G.Wilson’s entry into the Fanzine Hall of Fame (ok, I made it up, there is no actual Hall).
These early issues really showcase the general charm of fandom in general. The idea that some high school kid was assembling and printing these things in their basement, or their neighborhood print shop just make it that much more memorable. In Wilson’s case, he was lucky enough to have a family print shop. See previous installments for details on the circumstances behind The Collector. For now, let’s delve into these particular issues, starting with the covers seen above. John G. Fantucchio was a main contributor early on, and his work is all over these two issues. You can see his cover to issue 15 at left, above. On the right is fandom stalwart, Alan Hanley. His wistful and somewhat retro cartoon work graced many a fanzine cover and interior.
Issue 14 starts on the inside front cover with a Captain American illustration by Robert Cosgrove, alongside an editorial by Wilson (as well as two spots by James Shull and Gary Robinson). Following that is a column by writer/artist Doug Fratz on the subject of the Unsung Heroes of the golden age, and is graced by an illustration by Comic Crusader‘s Martin Greim. Wilson’s own superhero character, Hyperman, follows with a five page strip by Wilson and Paul Legrazie. You can see a few pages below, somewhat amateurish, but clear and clean.
A review column follows the strip, accompanied with illustrations by Max Gottfried and very early work by Klaus Janson (inked by Mike Robertson, ironic, since Janson would later be one of the best inkers in comics). There is also a reproduction of John G. Fantucchio’s 1968 Christmas card. The center spread, seen below, informs us about contest winners from the previous issue and the prizes, original Fantucchio paintings!
Later Charlton writer and artist, Duffy Vohland, guides us through the new releases of the day and the column has art by Dave Transue, Vohland and a Mike Robertson full page drawing, seen at left, before his work took on a very Steranko-esque look.
After the review column, the omnipresent Dwight Decker regales the readers with a silly send up of several DC characters in a two page story called The Gook. The letters column follows, including several illustrations by Griem, Janson/Robertson, Transue, Kurt Luchs, Terry Allen, and Jim D’Amico. One of the letters is from an artist who would go on to do a ton of professional work in comics, Rick Hoberg, who singled out the work of John G. Fantucchio. Ending the issue is a full page homage to Walt Disney by Transue and a Green Arrow illustration by (I think) Bill Schelly. The back cover of this issue is the uncropped version of the banner drawn by Jim Hanley that you see at the top of this column.
Issue fifteen has a one two Fantucchio punch; the cover and the inside cover profile illustration you see at right. You can really see the variety of textures and line weights the artist used in his work. There are thin pen lines, loose brush strokes, tonal touches, as well as white additions on top of it all. Following the full page illustration is the usual editorial by Bill Wilson, adorned with illustrations by Ron (“Grass”) Green and Terry Allen. It was at this time that mainstream comics went from the minuscule 12 cents to the astronomical 15 CENTS!!! Can you believe it? Wilson himself applauds DC for the reasoning behind the move.
Following the editorial is another installment of Doug Fratz’ Unsung Heroes, spotlighting characters such as Manhunter, Human Meteor, Captain Wizard, Hood, and Dr. (not Mr.) Miracle. After the column is another work of art by Mr. Fantucchio, this being a preview to his then unnamed superhero character, an illustration of which you can see below.
Editor Wilson then illuminates the audience on the subject of Superman, covering not only film, but television and radio. James Warhola has an illustration of the Man of Steel (although, in this stylized illustration, he looks more like the man of straw) with this column, seen at right. I do remember Warhola’s name from other fanzines, but what I did not know is that he is the nephew of the one and only Andy Warhol! Whoda thunk it? Other illustrations that come with the article are by Jim Hanley and Wilson himself. Steve Schulman follows with a review of the much hated Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Frederic Wertham. Gary Moore has a tight little spot illustration accompanying this short article. John Weibel has a somewhat stiff and scratchy T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents center spread after that, and then another column follows. This is called Another Cup of Wine, by Louis Morra, and examines the application of the comics code on the classic EC comics, seeing both good and bad in the situation and it’s effect on that amazing company. Bill Schelly illustrates the article with a little vampire illustration.
Just as this installment was ready to “go to press,” I heard from Bill G. Wilson about a few things…see his quote below.
I’m looking at TC#14 and #15 as I write this, so I won’t have to depend on my increasingly-falible memory. These two issues are particularly fond memories for me, particularly since they were the last of the digest-sized issues before I made the jump to full magazine size with TC#16.From Al Hanley’s great front & back covers to a rare illo by my old buddy Bill (Sense of Wonder) Schelly – to say nothing of yet another episode in the continuing saga of my schizophrenic super-hero, Hyperman (greatly enhanced by the inking of Paul LeGrazie) – TC#14 was brimming with terrific art. And that’s not even counting JGF’s centerspread contest piece featuring the mysterious character who went on to appear in a variety of other fanzines since his debut in TC#13. With equally exceptional writings from Doug Fratz, Duffy Vohland and Dwight Decker, I believe TC#14 packed a lot into 28 pgs.!John’s graphic Scarlet Witch cover treatment set the stage for a TC#15 filled with the kind of variety of content that would become the benchmark for future issues. Even including a review of Dr. Wertham’s infamous Seduction of the Innocent which opened the lines of communication between myself and the good doctor which ultimately resulted in his rebuttal of sorts in a subsequent TC. But this issue I may be most proud of introducing the world to the talents of James Warhola.James and I grew up together, went to art school together, attended numerous Phil Seuling conventions in NYC together and remain best friends to this day. And while his Big Daddy Roth-inspired Superman take in TC#14 may have been his first published work, it in no way represented his true talents at the time, and definitely not since. Over the years James gained quite the reputation in the science fiction/fantasy community for his paperback book cover work and his covers for my magazine, Questar – even earning us a Magazine Cover of the Year Award in 1980. He also produced covers and interiors for MAD. And if all that wasn’t enough, James then went on to a successful career as a children’s book illustrator, garnering his share of awards in that industry. Perhaps his crowning achievement in children’s books, and definitely his most personal, is “Uncle Andy’s” and its follow-up “Uncle Andy’s Cats” – memoirs of growing up around his famous artist uncle – Andy Warhol. Today James is back in the thick of things in NYC, continuing to hone his craft while doing everything from teaching to touring the world with exhibitions of his own work as well as Andy’s. The website we designed for him is here: http://www.jameswarhola.com and for the Warhola family: http://www.warhol.com
An uncredited full page illustration follows and then the letters page, which has a plethora of illustrations by Dave Transue, Mike Alroy, Jim D’Amico, and Jim Shull. Another Fantucchio illustration comes along (a reprint from an earlier issue), and then a News column by Wilson, which also features a nice Hyperman illustration by Ronn Foss, seen at left. Foss always had a really nice loose brush rendered style, which you can see here…along with some wacky zip-a-tone application. A couple of ads follow, and finally, a back cover by Foss.
So, there you have it, a twin take of Bill G. Wilson’s constantly improving fanzine, The Collector. Very few individually published and edited fanzines had such a regular and well done run as this one, as the readers of this column (and a few old fogeys like myself) will attest. As I said, thanks to Aaron Caplan for loaning me these early issues to review. You can see every last page here. As always, I really appreciate any comments you can spare, and please feel free to make any suggestions as to fanzines you want covered, the content of any given column, or the column in general. No one likes living in a vacuum! It’s dusty, claustrophobic and full of bugs.
Ken Meyer Jr.