Back for round 2, Tom Mason with Radion 7!
Radion 7, July 1978
Editor and publisher, Tom Mason
What? Tom Mason won’t go away? This guy again, you say? Yes, I say! I was just recently gifted with issue 7, the cover of which you see above, after losing track of it for many years. Thanks to Steven Kristiansen, who runs a great fanzine page on Facebook (actually, two that I know of). Go check it out!
I thought it was apropos to start off with two solid images by artist Arvell Jones, the cover at top and the full page illustration immediately above (inked by Aubrey Bradford and Sam De la Rosa, respectively). Not only does he have several really nicely done illustrations sprinkled throughout the magazine, but there is a lengthy interview with Arvell (and his brother Desmond) conducted by De la Rosa. Since that is the main feature of this issue, we can jump in there.
Arvell, with some friends, published his own fanzine for a few years called Fan Informer, mentioned below.
From a 2012 interview on the CBR website (see the whole interview here), he talks about his pro beginnings:
My first break, I guess, came after doing assistant work for Rich Buckler, on the Black Panther or Deathlok. From there I got an offer to do a bimonthly.
Rich was the first person from our so-called Detroit Mob to get a break, after we all worked together and studied together in Detroit.
Rich had been in New York for a couple of years. We (Rich, Tom Orzechowski, Keith Pollard, Jim Starlin, Mike Vosburg, Al Milgrom, Terry Austin, Mike Netzer (then Nasser), Aubrey Bradford, Greg Theakston, my brother Desmond and I) all used to know one another and get together to critique our work, and work on projects together. We even had a Fanzine called Fan Informer. Most of us worked on the Detroit Comic Conventions as well; back then called the Detroit Triple Fan Fair. We made a vow to help one another if one of us broke in. Rich was first and then Tom.
Arvell’s first book for Marvel had it’s problems. In the CBR interview, he talked about his horrible personal circumstances at the time (basically homeless, basically broke, and laboring under a tough deadline). The book was Marvel Premiere 20, featuring Iron Fist. While in the Marvel offices, Stan stormed out of his office holding the art and yelling, “Who did this?” After sheepishly admitting it was him, Arvell waited for the firing…but Stan loved it, saying it hearkened back to the work he did early on with Kirby. Crisis averted, career continues!
Mike Vosburg is a great artist in his own right, and I was so fortunate to be able to visit him in his home awhile back, gawking at a ton of incredible art on the walls and, well, everywhere! A very open and sharing individual, I hope to go back soon. You can find his work several places, one being his very own blog here. Below he reminisces about the days in Detroit.
There was a whole slew of guys in the Detroit area that gravitated into comics. We had the advantage of Jerry Bails being the central force of comic fandom in those days. Rich Buckler, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom and Tom Orzechowski were some of the folks in the first wave that started working professionally. I was teaching school, and when I got back into fandom, Keith Pollard, Terry Austin, and Mike Kucharski were all in the next wave, Arvell was the main mover and shaker in the Detroit area at the time. I wound up doing a good bit of work for his fanzines, and his enthusiasm and encouragement were a great help into moving onto getting work in the comics field.
Jones ended up working for DC, Marvel, and Milestone, producing a large volume of work (many times working with his brother, Desmond, and friends like Buckler, Pollard, and Bradford). Today he teaches, still works…and of course, you can find him on Facebook!
The other text features include a lengthy letters column (including one by yours truly, way back in college…I must have been about 19 or 20), not one but two fanzine review columns, a goofy short story by Alan Hanley, and a lament on the way too serious state of comics by underground guru, Clay Geerdes.
There is a very liberal amount of art in this issue, from a plethora of professionals and fans. Above you see a spot illo by Mike Machlan and Sam de la Rosa. It is safe to say Sam was the most valuable player in issue 7…not only did he conduct the previous interview, but he had a hand in 20 (!) illustrations!
I spoke to Sam via email about various topics, including how he got his start in fandom. He told me, “I had seen collector ads in Marvel Comics so I sent away for RBCC #58 in 1968. It had a Captain America/Red Skull cover by the fantastic John G. Fantucchio, and I became an instant zine collector. I started ordering fanzines that were advertised in that issue and subsequent ones. Yep, I bought a subscription! Shortly thereafter I back tracked and bought zines before 1968. I soon started sending my art to fanzines. I got rejected by Marty Greim for his Comic Crusader only because I drew the art too large and it was too expensive for him to reduce it.” I also asked him about a few of his favorite collaborators and he replied with the following long list of greats!
It was a pleasure to collaborate with many fellow fan pencilers and inkers/finishing artists. Ric Cruz stands out in the early 1970s, who I did some covers with for TBG and illustrations for many other zines. His teenage art is still better than what I can draw today! He could do it all, including painting. I understand that he’s a carpenter now, and I’ll bet a superb craftsman! Others include Carl Taylor, Larry Houston, Pete Iro, Willie Blyberg, Robb Phipps, Ric Burchett, Don Secrease, Ronn Foss, Doug Hazelwood, Jerry Ordway, John Beatty, Bill Neville, Rueben Pharms, and lots of others I don’t remember at this very second. I corresponded with several pros in the 70s including Gene Colan, Richard Corben, Don Newton, and Dick Ayers, inking their pencils. Others I lightboxed and then finished, including Kirby, Adams, and Perez. I recall I inked and airbrushed a full page penciled by Gene Day for a national professional official UFO magazine around 1976-7.It was always really cool to work with people whose work I had seen in fanzines before 1968 and then after, when I was being published in them myself (I was first published in 1969 or 70). Starlin, Roy Thomas, Alan Weiss, Richard “Grass” Green, Arvell Jones, Keith Pollard, Rich Buckler, all were published in zines and later I got to work with them professionally in comics. It was a great feeling to be asked by Starlin, Weiss, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Mark Evanier, Buckler, and Thomas to work with them! I got to work with Pat Boyette on a one page story for an issue of Fantasy Crossroads. Cruz penciled, I inked, and Pat wrote it. Ric and I had the art, but no story. I called Pat up ( I knew him since 1971), described the page and he wrote it right over the phone in seconds! Gene Klien (Gene Simmons of Kiss) also contributed to an issue of Fantasy Crossroads that also had my art. I remember trying to get published in Gary Groth’s Fantastic Fanzine, but no go. I did have dozens published later in his Comics Journal and on the mailing envelopes.
Like all of us, Sam had his favorite zines, which included “Star Studded Comics published by the Texas Trio, zines published by Larry Herndon, zines by Bill Dubay/Marv Wolfman/Len Wein/Steve Fritz, The Comic Reader, Comic Crusader, Bob Cosgrove’s zine (whose name escapes me this second). Gary Accord’s zines that included contributions by Jim Starlin, RBCC (G. B. Love gave me his autograph on his zine, the issue with a b/w Don Newton cover painting of Conan, right in front of me, super rare since he had muscular dystrophy). Also Masquerader by Vosburg, many of Ronn Foss’s zines, Bill Wilson’s The Collector, Rich Buckler’s zine (Hero?), and so many others! I have close to 1000 fanzines from the 1960s & 70s but haven’t gone through them in a decade or so. I have a small collection of fanzine art from the same period. I missed out on owning art by Al Grinage jr, Greim, Dave Russell, Dennis Fujitake, Cockrum, Don Newton, Steve Fritz & others, due to price. A decade ago I sold duplicates of my fanzines and made contact with many folks who were in them either as writers, artists, or publishers.” (Sam, keep me in mind if you do that again!)
Other artists this issue include Interfan staples such as Rob Phipps, Doug Herring, Doug Hazlewood, Bill Neville, Pete Iro, Rick Burchette, and Willie Blyberg. Throw in some Jack Kirby, Don Newton, Gene Day, Tom Sutton, and Jerry Ordway, and you really have a great gallery going! And there is more, which you can see in the handy dandy pdf! Tons of spot illos adorn the pages, as well as a bunch of full page pin ups, a few of which you can see below.
As you can see, there are a multiple of styles enclosed in the pages of Radion 7, and I am only showing a small sampling. Please, go to my site to get the pdf! Thanks for the help with this columns content go out to Mike Vosburg and Sam De la Rosa.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone, and please, comment on what you have seen!
Ken Meyer Jr.