Talk about big guns blasting early…John Byrne, Gene Day, and Dave Sim are firing fast in this fanzine, Amazing Science Fantasy!
Amazing Science Fantasy 1: 1975
Publisher: William McMichael; editor: George Breo (Windy City Enterprises)
When fanzines were really going strong in the mid-seventies, there were several mini-moguls running small publishing empires of their own. People like Bill Black (Paragon, Macabre Western, and more), Alan Light (All Dynamic, Fantastic Fanzine, The Buyer’s Guide), and Matt Bucher (Star Slayers, Fandom Spectacular, Ultrazine) come to mind. In this column you will learn of another by the name of George Breo (see one of his other fanzines, Chronicle, here). This issue, we cover one entry in the Breo empire, Amazing Science Fantasy. Though it only lasted one issue, it was, like Chronicle, packed with creatives who would go on to big, big things.
Above you see the cover by none other than John Byrne. At this time, Byrne was still not quite a pro. He would soon be one, though, just a few years later working on seminal Charlton titles like Doomsday Plus One and Space 1999. Another Byrne character was the stogie smoking robot, Rog-2000, which was not that far removed visually from the robot you see above. Byrne was doing fanzine work around this same time at CPL, Bob Layton’s zine. In fact, there is a friendly war between Breo and Layton as to who “discovered” Byrne first. This issue of Amazing Science Fantasy has an eight page story by Byrne, coincidentally with a doomsday scenario. Check out the first few pages below!
Artists and writers many times would go back and forth between the fanzines at the time, and the following artist was no different. Frank Cirocco published a fanzine (with Brent Anderson and Gary Winick) called Venture, which was on its second or third issue by this time (see the column covering the fifth and last issue here). Cirocco had a stylish way of drawing (with a bit of Jeff Jones and Berni Wrightson thrown in), and definitely utilized the tools of the day (specifically, zip-a-tone), as you can see from the sampling of his story below.
One of the hardest working, most prolific, and cleanest fanzine artists working during the mid-seventies was the late Gene Day. He appeared in many fanzines, including another Windy City Enterprises publication, Project One, which George graciously sent me to cover later. Gene, of course, went on to DC and Marvel, as well as doing some work with Dave Sim (who you will see here in a bit). Dave and his Cerebus associate, Gerhard, went on to create a memorial award called The Day Prize (which ran from 2002-2008), given to promising comic creators. Of Gene’s output, in the magazine, The Collector Times, Dave says:
Gene really showed me that success in a creative field is a matter of hard work and productivity and persistence. I had done a handful of strips and illustrations at that point mostly for various fanzines, but I wasn’t very productive. I would do a strip or an illustration and send it off to a potential market, and then wait to find out if they were going to use it before doing anything else. Or I’d wait for someone to write to me and ask me to draw something. Gene was producing artwork every day and putting it out in the mail, and when it came back he’d send it out to someone else. He would draw work for money and then do work on spec if the paying markets dried up. He kept trying at places where he had been rejected. He did strips, cartoons, caricatures, covers, spot illos, anything that he might get paid for. He gave drawing lessons and produced his own fanzines.
Below, you will see a few pages of Gene’s beautiful work, frequently using dramatic lighting, and always clean, clean, clean!
Coincidentally, the next story in this fanzine is by none other than Dave Sim. Perhaps this is one of those stories he sent and waited for reactions before moving on! This story was done in 1974, a full three years before Cerebus started.
Though Sim would obviously improve to the point to where he was one of the best storytellers in comics, you can already see the beginnings of a master, using such techniques as shared backgrounds.
George Breo was one of those participants in the fanzine scene that seemed to attract new and unproven artists and writers, as you can see from the nascent talent filling this singular issue of Amazing Science Fantasy. If you want to see the rest of these stories, in addition to some other items (a Russ Maheras back cover, and a Nicola Cuti pin-up), well homies, you will just have to download the pdf!
Thanks this time out go to the effusive George Breo; thanks pal!
Ken Meyer Jr.