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June 1, 2014

Ink Stains 61: Inanity!

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Written by: kenmeyerjr
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Require a little satire in your fanzine viewing? Well, Jethro, you are in luck…time for Inanity numero uno!

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Inanity: 1971
Editors: Robert S. Napier and Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr.

Contrary to the banner artwork above, this is actually issue one of Inanity, and the only issue that editors Napier and Vadeboncoeur ever produced. In fact, to my knowledge, it is the only fanzine-parody fanzine ever done. Nuts, both of them!

I don’t really have a lot to add to the subject of this column, to be honest. I have been aware of Inanity for a long while, but I don’t think I ever really had a copy of my own. Luckily, I have been talking with editor Jim Vadeboncoeur on Facebook about some of his incredible art collection and my paying him a visit in a few months on the way to a convention. I knew he had some presence in fandom, but didn’t  connect his name with Inanity, thinking he had done another zine. He actually did do several other zines you will hear about later, much more serious periodicals, but for now, we are talking about this silly thing called Inanity. Even the title of the fanzine is a parody of Infinity, a very popular and really well produced “artzine” of that time. You can see my column on issue 2 here, and issue 5 here. I wish I had all the others!

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Above you see one of the many parodies (and some copies) of some of the most popular fanzine artists of that time, in this case Jeff Jones, or “J. Joan’s.” This is really quite a good parody/copy of a Jones painting. All the art inside of Inanity was actually done by Napier and Vadeboncoeur. Vadeboncoeur says of his art, “ It was copying, really, and I was pretty good at that. But left to my own devices, I stank.” Below you see another “Joan’s” by the editor.

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Now, why the heck would you invest time into a publication such as this, you ask? At the time, the 25-year-old Vadeboncoeur thought that maybe the zine editors and contributors might be getting a little full of themselves, printing fanzines with “lots of mediocre pictures by good artists, with one nice cover illustration.” Jim said his zine did poorly, possibly because “we were seen as picking on the the poor little kids who were trying. I saw them as ‘trying’ all right.…”

The contributor’s names are all pretty silly variations on the actual artists’ names, such as an interview with and art by “Berni Wright-On,” one illustration seen below.

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…and “Wally Would…”

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…and “Frank Frazooter…”

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…and “Jack Koiby…”

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You get the idea, right? Jim actually didn’t start buying comics until he was 19 and “didn’t discover fandom until two or three years later in the form of people, not zines: Bud Plant, Dick Swan, John Barrett, Gary Arlington, etc.” And as mentioned, he put out (and continues) to put out fanzines and art related magazines, including Promethean Enterprises (5 issues) 1969-1974, Al Williamson: His Work (one-shot), Doug Wildey’s The Movie Cowboy (one-shot), George, The Fanzine Review (10 issues), Contretemps (an APA zine – 40 issues), Indispensible Indexes (7 issues), etc.

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Jim was a technical illustrator/graphic designer with Hewlett Packard from 1973 to 1997. He was also a partner with Bud Plant in Bud Plant Illustrated Books from 1987 to 2005, and a publisher of ImageS from 2001 to date. In fact, he has a Kickstarter campaign going on now here, for his newest issue. If you love incredible art, you should check this magazine out. Below is a quote regarding some of Jim’s most treasured collection items:

I have very few pieces of comic art. Kinstler gave me a pulp illo and an IFC for an Avon western after I wrote the book on him. I have a Toth DC page, a Maneely “Mrs. Lyon’s Cubs,” a Gray Morrow romance page, and I think that’s it. Illustration-wise, we are a bit more blessed:
1. Karen [his wife] has a (Doug) Wildey original western drawing.
2. She has a lovely William Stout troll painting.
3. She has a Charles Vess original from Stardust.
4. I have one, too, that depicts me as a bookseller in Wall.
5. I have a Harry Rountree 1912 original from “The Lost World” – 1st appearance in The Strand.
6. I have a Jean Giraud drawing of Blueberry from 1986 personalized to me.
7. Many dedicaces from my French amies Florence Cestac and Jean-Claude MEZIERES.
And lots of sketches in books obtained over 45+ years.
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That’s all for this installment of Ink Stains, folks! I want to thank Jim Vadeboncoeur for taking the time out to answer my questions. I plan to visit his home on the way to a convention later this year to see a fraction of his incredible art collection…hopefully I don’t end up in jail afterward! Remember, if you want to see more work by industry giants such as Mike Kahuna and K. G. Rinkle, as well as stellar autographs by epic talents like Frank Bummer, Mort Dunker, Robert Klime, Russ Hearth, Gray Marrow, and Jim Sterno, as well as the Berni Wright-On interview, download the pdf here! Oh, and that photo of Berni Wright-On? That is editor Jim’s high school grad pic! Thanks very much to Jim Vadeboncoeur for all the help with this installment.
ADDENDUM! After seeing the column, Jim set me straight with:
For the record: the front cover is a photograph of the Jeff Jones paperback cover Swords Against Wizardry upon which I doctored the signature. I am not and never have been that proficient an artist to be able to mimic the rosettes of four-color printing.
And also, for the record, the title of the magazine is Inanity Four, Fandom Lampoon #1. And all of the art inside is NOT by me and Bob. The Inanity logo was drawn especially for us by Kenneth Smith, who created the real Infinity logo, and the two “K.G. Rinkel” sketches are real Roy Krenkel drawings
Thanks, Jim!
Ken Meyer Jr.
ken@comicattack.com

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4 Comments


  1. Aaron Caplan

    Incredible coincidence … just last week, I had pulled my copy of Inanity out and took a long look at it. It’s a dead-on take-off of expensive pro-zines of the early 70’s, and Vadeboncoeur and Napier capture the flavor of Infinity perfectly. Thanks again Ken!


  2. ken meyer jr

    Thanks for commenting, Aaron! They sure did…especially that cover.



  3. Ken, this feels less of a review than a regurgitation of my emails to you. I’m still trying to get a feel for YOUR take on the zine. If you think that Infinity was “a popular and well-produced art-zine” then this must have hit pretty wide of the mark for you. Oh, well.

    For the record: the front cover is a photograph of the Jeff Jones paperback cover Swords Against Wizardry upon which I doctored the signature. I am not and never have been that proficient an artist to be able to mimic the rosettes of four-color printing.

    And also, for the record, the title of the magazine is Inanity Four, Fandom Lampoon #1. And all of the art inside is NOT by me and Bob. The Inanity logo was drawn especially for us by Kenneth Smith, who created the real Infinity logo, and the two “K.G. Rinkel” sketches are real Roy Krenkel drawings.

    Just like to keep things real, even in the spirit of satire. (|:{>


  4. Russ Maheras

    I don’t have “Inanity,” but it looks like fun!

    There were at least three other fanzine parodies published by Jay Zilber via his ‘zine “Fandom Funnies.” Issue #1 (Feb. 1975) spoofed “The Comic Reader,” issue #2 (April 1976) took a swipe at “RBCC,” and the third issue (Dec. 1976) made fun of “The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom.”

    I also seem to remember a spoof of “The Comics Journal,” titled “The Comics Urinal.”



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