Back to one of the best fanzines of the past, Fantastic Fanzine, with early Dave Cockrum, Barry Smith, and more!
Fantastic Fanzine 8*9: 1969
Editor and Publisher: Gary Groth
This month, we revisit one of my favorite fanzines of bygone years, Fantastic Fanzine, particularly issue 8*9. It was a lot of fun to peruse it now, over 40 years after it was published (I never saw it way back then) by that young mogul, Gary Groth. Let’s jump into it now with the cover by Sal Buscema, seen below.
Though this cover depicts Sal’s version of Doctor Strange in his later, more superhero like costume, I tend to associate the younger Buscema with that great run on The Avengers in the early seventies (his first penciling job!). Inside this issue is nice long interview with Sal, with the accompanying art reflecting Buscema’s popularity on that team title. In the course of the interview, Groth does something a lot of us could have used long ago, and that is tell us the correct pronunciation of not only Buscema, but Frank Giacoia as well! Unless you met these professionals at a convention, you didn’t know that, or what they looked like. As for the latter, at left you see a photo of Sal, from the back cover of this issue.
From the TwoMorrows book on Sal (Sal Buscema: Comics’ Fast & Furious Artist), we find that, before starting on The Avengers, he had spent “every night for about a year” teaching himself “how to produce a dynamic page” in the Marvel comics storytelling style, enduring harsh critiques from his older brother John. As Buscema recalled in the late 2000s,
Once I got the hang of it I made up … six sample pages of pencils, which I regret, because I wanted to be an inker. I didn’t want to pencil. My first few jobs for Marvel were inking jobs, but I did those while working for Design Center. I wanted to work full-time for Marvel, so it was out of necessity that I penciled. Stan Lee loved [the samples]. He asked me to come on up to New York, which I did, and I went through the most fantastic interview of my life. Stan was leaping on his chair and his desk, just to relate to me physically what he wanted on a comic-book page. It was fascinating and it was charming all at the same time. He made the sound effects, the whole nine yards. … He demonstrated every other way you could possibly demonstrate what he wanted on those pages — the dynamics and so on.
Above you see one of the many charming illustrations by Dave Cockrum, a FF regular and fan favorite who would go on to do many popular titles, including The X-Men, before leaving us too early. On that subject, look for Clifford Meth’s new Cockrum publication, collecting many never before seen pages of Dave’s Futurians comic, as well as a group of pin ups by a star studded cast (and me). You can see the Futurians Facebook page here. You can see their Kickstarter program here, and you can see the official page here.
Speaking of great Cockrum art, howsabout that slam bang centerfold above? Dave was far beyond most of his peers back then. Below you can see several other illustrations by Cockrum from this issue. Also, you can see the Dave Cockrum fan appreciation page on Facebook here.
The piece to the left illustrates one of the text features of this issue, an actual story written by Cockrum entitled Ayesha. If that typically gorgeous Cockrum babe is a character in the story, I would say it warrants reading! Other articles in this issue include Equality and Mr. Leiber, (which examines the place of blacks in Marvel comics of the time), Not a Whimper, But a Bang (in which Dwight Decker puts forth some possible endings for some of Marvel’s biggest characters), A Look at the Future of Comicdom by Lane Bailey, Dissecting Doc Savage by Gordon Matthews, the letter column and a Club Memo. There are also several pieces of fiction aside from Cockrum’s, including the second chapter of The Search by Robert Kowalski, the first chapter of Col. Thar Kosis; of the Sarn Federation by Tom Crawford (who illustrates as well), and Bill Cantey’s The Self-Made Minuteman.
Below are a few of the stand out illustrations from the rest of the issue, including John G. Fantucchio and a very early, very Kirby-like piece by Barry (pre-Windsor) Smith!
You will just have to download the pdf to see all the rest of the cool illustrations by Al Grinage, Dave Cockrum, and Mike O’Neal! Thanks for dropping by and (hopefully) leaving a comment, to prove to me I am not working in a vacuum. Thanks go out again to Aaron Caplan, for loaning me this wonderful piece of comic history. For other installments of Ink Stains on Fantastic Fanzine, click here for 11, here for the first special issue, here for the second special, and here for issue 12.
Ken Meyer Jr.
(I suggest you also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you really want to reach me, I am having trouble with CA email)