Bill Schelly has written a plethora of books on all subjects comics…but first, let’s share his
Sense of Wonder!
Sense of Wonder 11: Spring 1972
Editor and publisher: Bill Schelly
Bill Schelly is one of those rare individuals associated with the birth of fanzines. He came along not much later than founders such as Jerry Bails, Roy Thomas, G. B. Love, and Don and Maggie Thompson. Below (from his website), he talks about his inspirations and beginnings in fandom.
The moment I saw my first fanzine (Batmania, around August 1964), I became as fascinated by fandom as I was with comic books themselves. I had harbored fantasies of starting some sort of neighborhood newspaper for years; fandom gave me an outlet to write, draw and publish. With my friend Richard Shields, I launched Super-Heroes Anonymous #1 in February of 1965, the first of a series of crude magazines that I published over the next couple of years. When Richard Shields left the picture, I had no other friends in fandom until I got a letter from Marshall Lanz, who also lived in Pittsburgh and was also into comics and fandom. We were soon best friends, and we had a blast. (He was also a fanzine publisher.)
It wasn’t until early 1967 when I was finally able, at 15 years old, to produce a worthwhile fan magazine. It was called Sense of Wonder, and it lasted until 1972. The first two issues were published in Pittsburgh; the rest in Lewiston, Idaho, where my family moved on my 16th birthday. From there, I went to the University of Idaho, where I majored in Art and minored in English. (I got a teaching degree, but never taught.) The last two issues of Sense of Wonder presented the first attempt to chronicle the whole career of Will Eisner.
Bill went on to write many books on the subject of comics and comic fandom (after an aborted start after college writing about film), the first being The Golden Age of Comic Fandom (which I am reading right now). Several other fandom oriented books followed. After that, Bill concentrated on professional artist biographies, focusing on highly admired pros such as Joe Kubert, Harvey Kurtzman, and Otto Binder. Above you can see a few covers, but please go to his website here to find out more, and order those suckers! The website also gives a more detailed biography, as well as a history of Alter Ego, photos, a list of his books, and more. I am having a blast reading the book mentioned above. Bill writes in an enthusiastic, informative and entertaining style, and I guarantee it will be more than worth your money. Bill’s work is good enough to have been nominated and won coveted Eisner awards, so don’t just take my word for it! Mr. Schelly was nice enough to send me scans of two complete issues (this and the following one which I will feature at a later date), plus the covers of all the other issues, which you can see below! Bill told me via email that he changed the title to Incognito at one point, then back to Sense of Wonder.
You will certainly recognize several artists above from previous Ink Stains columns. Ronn Foss is upper left on issue one, John G. Fantucchio on issue seven, and lower right, a preview of issue 12, with a cover by Don Newton. Others include Jim Shooter (!) on 2, Validar Rann Wyndhelm on 3, Bill Schelly on Incognito 8 and 9, and Robert Sanborn on 10 (the blue butterfly). For information on Sense of Wonder in general, I will refer you to Bill’s book, Sense of Wonder: a Life in Comic Fandom (which you can pick up here). I am really looking forward to diving into that one, as it is closer to the period I was active in fandom. For now, let’s delve into the subject of this installment, issue 11. First off, let’s take a gander at the young editor below (as well as a more current picture), holding the issue we will be seeing.
Issue 11 starts off with the cover below, by Robert Sanborn, who also contributes a strip Schelly had a hand in creating. Following that is a Mr. A strip by the great Steve Ditko, a few sample pages below as well.
Before the Ditko strip is a series of articles on Spirit creator, Will Eisner. Following the Eisner article is a short strip by the always enjoyable Alan Hanley. How he did not become a huge success in mainstream funny animal comics or something similarly whimsical, is beyond me. You can see, though, an Inter-fan web page devoted to Hanley here.
After Hanley we see a few articles such as The Horror Library Review, Breakdowns (where well known fans pontificate on various questions), and then a strip titled Rites of Man!, by Schelly and Sanborn. You can see a sample page below. After the story Schelly talks about the very collaborative process used in this strip, where both Schelly and Sanborn worked on layouts, with Sanborn doing the finishing. Schelly mentions that Sanborn’s primary influences were Frazetta and Jeff Jones.
Also, sprinkled above you can see a few spot illos by Dave Cockrum and Ronn Foss.
Lastly is the editorial and a typically sumptuous Don Newton illustration on the back cover (below). Please go to the bottom of the page here to download the pdf and see all the past installments of this column. Among things you did not see is here is a very early illustration by fantasy painter Ken Kelley! Thanks again to Bill for the disc of scans that made this installment possible! Please go to his site to find out more and buy some of his books!
Edit a few days after publication: It seems (via Bill Schelly and Bob Cosgrove) that the great stylist, John G. Fantucchio, has passed away. I was lucky enough to talk with him a tiny bit on the phone while I lived in Virginia, and planned to visit him, but was never able to fit it in. As far as I remember, he continued teaching and working until pretty recently. He was such a huge part of fandom and so singular in style…he will really be missed.
Ken Meyer Jr.