The gang’s all here! Some of fandom’s best appear in The Wonderful World of Comix 6.
The Wonderful World of Comix 6, 1971
Publisher and editors: Neal Pozner with Scott Harris
On my trip up to the Rose City Comicon this month, I was so incredibly fortunate to be allowed to stay at the lavishly festooned estate of one Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. (publisher and editor of Inanity, which you might recognize from this column, as well as Images, a regular showcase of art from all over the world and from all kinds of genres). You want books? You can look through thousands of amazing books on artists of all kinds. Art adorns the walls from people like Jeff Jones. And best of all, for me, Jim has an incredible collection of fanzines. Did I say best of all? I meant worst of all. Why? Because I can’t take every darn one of them away to use for this column! However, Jim was nice enough to loan me a copy of the subject of this month’s column, The Wonderful World of Comix number 6. I know I had this zine at some point in the past, because as I flipped through it, I recognized virtually every image.
As you can see from the image to the left, the zine starts off with a bang with one of the best artists of that era, the late, great Dave Cockrum. Dave was one of my top three artists of that period and appeared in many a great fanzine. If you want to see some of his unseen and previously unpublished Futurians work, writer Clifford Meth and his publishing company have a brand new book here for you to feast your eyes on (with pin ups by an incredible roster of artists…somehow I also made the cut). Dave’s fanzine work exhibited a real love of comics. It was clean, imaginative, full of variety…and Dave put out a lot of it! I am most likely in the minority, but I actually prefer Cockrum’s fanzine work to his professional work. Cockrum obviously went on from fandom to create and work on some great titles (one little seen comic called X-Men, for example), but there is just something about his zine work that appeals to me. Below you can see another image, and if you download the pdf you will see another.
The publisher and editor of WWC, Neal Pozner, went on to a varied and decorated career in art. Before working for DC comics (where he wrote the 80s Aquaman series, among others), Pozner worked as a designer, doing all kinds of work, much of it championing gay rights and themes. At DC, in addition to his duties as a writer, he was a talent scout and was instrumental in bringing to DC artists such as Gene Ha, Travis Charest, Stuart Immonen, and Phil Jimenez. Pozner died much too soon in 1994 at the age of 39 from AIDS complications. Writer Christopher Priest described Pozner thusly:
Neal was, likely, the sharpest tool in the shed. He dressed better and had better hair than anybody on the floor, veeps included. He was aggressive, passionate about his convictions, willing to stick his neck out for his ideals and for the people he was charged with defending. Neal swung a (political) bat at the major-major Powers That Be at DC on my behalf once, a political move I didn’t expect Neal to survive. I marveled at his courage and his dignity, even as some braced against him for being very direct and headstrong and for always being right. Neal, write this down someplace, was always right. He was. At the end of the day, Neal would be proven right. That fact, more than anything else, annoyed many staffers beyond reason. Not that Neal would rub your nose in it — you’d rub your own nose. That’s how right he was.
Adorning the quote above is one of several professional entries into the pages of the sixth issue of The Wonderful World of Comix, an appropriately noble illustration by Joe Sinnott. Joe contributed to many fanzines back then, especially Bill Wilson’s The Collector. Widely regarded as one of the nicest guys in comics, Joe’s inking was always clean, solid, had great line variety…and did I mention clean? You can also see a full page illustration of Thor by fellow pro, Syd Shores, if you download the pdf.
Some of the text entries in this issue include an editorial, an interview with John Buscema, a column by Bernie Bubnis titled “Muddy Waters in Thinking Land” (which notes several fan artists and writers who went on to the pros), an article (called, appropriately enough, “Article”) by Gordon Matthews, a rebuttal by editor Pozner, and a tour of the Marvel comics offices by Pozner. It’s easy to imagine how amazing it would be to tour those offices back in the 70s as a fan, with no less than John Romita as your guide!
Jen Penzer writes an article on “Robert E. Howard – The Lesser Heroes,” which is illustrated by then fan Klaus Janson. Penzer mentions Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Kull the Conqueror, and others, but spends a lot of time talking about Conan in his various publications, including the Barry Smith Marvel Comics title.
For the most part, though, I wanted to spotlight Janson’s work here, as he only did a little fanzine work to my knowledge. Janson’s work here is not cookie cutter art by any means. The lines are bold and have varied weights, giving us a glimpse into what an incredible inker (and penciller) he would later become. Below and to the right you will see what I am talking about.
Another column in this issue is Duffy Vohland’s “Duffy’s Tavern,” which appeared in many other zines of the time as well (Vohland mentions 15 different fanzines publishing his column and his wonder at its popularity). In addition to covering the news of the day, he laments the rise in cost to 25 cents an issue. Let that sink in. Twenty-five cents…a quarter, two dimes and a nickle…boy, it shows my age that I remember well buying comics at that price.
Following Duffy is an interview with fan artist Dave Russell. I hope to see more issues of this zine to see more installments of this column, as there are many fan artists of that time it would be great to find out more about. Russell mentions a few of his favorite artists, including Adams, Kirby, and Steranko. Dave definitely showed his Steranko influence in many of the illustrations I have seen in the fanzines by him. Below you see the full page illustration that accompanied his interview.
This issue ends with a letters page, but there are many other illustrations you can see in the pdf, by people such as Bill Black, Michael Kaluta (though you can see an altered version of that in the banner at top), Jeff Jones, Neal Adams, Syd Shores, John G.Fantucchio, Jim Salicrup, Mike O’Neal, Berni Wrightson, and others, including several illustrations (one seen below) by the late master of lighting, Don Newton.
Thanks once again to the bard of book collecting, Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr., for loaning me this great little piece of history! And thanks to all of you for stopping by and hopefully leaving some comments. My soul needs some proof you were here! Tune in again the first of next month for another fanzine from deep into the past.
Ken Meyer Jr.