Featured Columns

February 1, 2015

Ink Stains 68: All Dynamic


For me, Alan Light started it all with The Buyer’s Guide. Here is his earlier zine, All Dynamic!


All Dynamic issues 3, 4: 1969/1970
Editor/Publisher: Alan Light

Alan Light played a huge part in the proliferation of fandom, especially in the early 1970s. He made it possible for many more people to see and buy comics and fanzines with his long running adzine, The Buyer’s Guide. However, before he initiated that institution, he put out his own fanzine, All Dynamic. This month, we see bits and pieces of issues 3 and 4, the final issue.


Like many fanzine publishers at that time, Alan Light started his venture, All Dynamic, when he was still in high school at the age of fifteen. These issues were done when he was probably around seventeen (And TBG started just a year later!). Alan told me via email that he started his own little mag because, “when I saw other fanzines like Bill G. Wilson’s The Collector and Martin Greim’s Comic Crusader I wanted to do something like that, too. Mine was the worst of the bunch, but I tried, and it led to something bigger that changed my life.” That “something” was probably TBG. Other favorite zines included RBCC and The Comic Reader. As I have mentioned before, Alan Light was the reason I ended up seeing fanzines in the first place. I might have shown this letter before that Alan sent me (at the bottom is a portion of another letter sent with the free zines he mentions), but I thought it fit this column perfectly.


What a guy! This turned out to not be a singular event, either, as you will learn later in the column. East Moline, Illinois is forever etched into my memory as “TBG town!” I sent Alan pdfs of both issues covered this installment, and he had this to say: “I still have a copy of #4, but seeing your scan of #3 was a strange experience. I have no memory of it – not the red cover, not the insides, nothing. At first I thought someone else must have published a similarly named fanzine, but my name’s in it, and my early fan boy babbling. I chuckled that I wrote in the editorial that I couldn’t afford to staple the issues because a wrap-around stapler cost 26.95, but hey, next issue would definitely be stapled. I also laughed at my ‘unstuffy editor’ policy. Where did I get that from? And such a primitive early signature, nothing like my later one.”

art_alld3_capThat cover to issue 3 that Alan doesn’t remember is by John McLaughlin, who would go on to do a plethora of professional work (and in fact, at that time, had his own fanzine called MCR). Alan Hanley plays a big part in this issue, with several delightful spot illustrations. His whimsical style adorns the banner of the first article, “The Believability of Comics,” by Dwight Decker (as well as to the left). In fact, Dwight plays a tangential  part in another reason I profiled All Dynamic, which you can get a clue about here.

Many fanzine publishers from that time had relatives with print shops, enabling them to bypass the pricey publishing costs that dwindled many an allowance. Alan says, though, that “…my dad owned the neighborhood bar with my uncle. The only way they helped me was by paying me $12 a weekend to clean the bar – mop and buff the floors – and restock inventory every Saturday and Sunday morning. I guess another way they helped me is not discouraging me from my interest in comics. I used a print shop in New York. Heaven knows how I found it, living in Illinois. I didn’t remember the name until I read the credits in #3, which says Biscayne Printing. A Google search today finds no trace of that place.”

Alan started with the previous issue spotlighting fan artists he felt deserved more recognition. With this issue he showcases one Mike Alroy. That name didn’t ring a bell for me, but the signature looks sort of familiar. The article mentions Alroy was published in several other zines, including MCR and The Collector, which is probably where I saw his work. At any rate, there are several illustrations by Alroy in this issue, as well as a four-page strip (all full pages) called “The Citadel.” Below you can see a page from that story.


Other articles in issue 3 include one on Mickey Mouse, one by another fandom regular, Gordon Matthews, entitled “DC – Dying” (I think they missed the boat by not calling it Dying Comics), “Leftovers,” and a letters column. There is also a piece of fan fiction by Dennis D. Defrenn called “The Tower of Doomed Men.”

Another feature Alan decided to make a regularity is called “Foto Time,” the first example seen below.


I also thought I would show a few more spot illustrations before moving on to issue 4. Below you see two by Joe Kurnava above two more by Alan Hanley.


Issue 4 grows iJGFn size from a half-size zine to a full magazine size (but with a lower page count, probably because Alan had started the initial workings of TBG), and also sports a nice mechanically colored John G. Fantucchio cover, seen at the top of the column. You can see a photo of John at left that Alan sent me. Interestingly, Alan has a nice story about that piece as well.

I used to have a John Fantucchio original copy of the cover to that issue. I say original copy because John Fantucchio always wanted his original artwork returned to him, so when I asked him if I could keep it he said no, but drew another one for me
A few years ago I got a nice letter from someone from those old days who mentioned in passing that he was a big fan of John’s. Since I had two #4 issues left in my possession, I mailed the guy one of them along with that Fantucchio “original copy” as a gift.
Pretty nice, huh? Although, inside, Alan says that issue 5 is “nine-tenths” done, issue four would be the final issue of All Dynamic. The reason I thought to profile this zine now is hinted at in the Dwight Decker link earlier in the article. What is that, you ask? Well, in the letters column of this issue, there is a letter from none other than Dr. Frederic Wertham. That’s right, Mr. Seduction of the Innocent himself! As to why Alan ended up getting the letter, he says, “I was as surprised as anyone to get a letter out of the blue from Wertham, because he was a Big Name. Infamously so. I think he wrote me because at this stage of his life a) he had a lot of time on his hands, b) was trying to rehabilitate his image, and c) was researching the world of fanzines for a new book.” That book is referenced in the Dwight Decker link mentioned. Though you will see it in the pdf, I thought I would show the letter below.
Articles this issue include fan fiction from David Anthony Kraft titled “What Price Vengeance,” as well as “The Shadow Knows” by Bish, a spotlight on Max Gottfried, “The Superheroic Age” by professor (!) Bill Henley Jr., and the letters column. Below is a nice center-spread by Steve Fritz.
There is also another installment of “Foto Time” (Steranko, Caniff, and Charles Shultz), but you can see all this and more if you download the pdfs for both issues. Thanks this time go out to the ever generous Aaron Caplan, for loaning me these zines, and Alan Light himself for letting me wrack his brain via email about these events loooooong ago and faaaaar away.
Tune in again next month for more fanzine glory! Remember, if any of you out there have issues you wouldn’t mind loaning me, I would appreciate it greatly and you would be immortalized here for all seven readers to see!
Ken Meyer Jr.