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April 1, 2017

Ink Stains 93: Ultrazine 17

See early work by Mitch O’Connell, Mark Heike and more in issue 17 of Matt Bucher’s Ultrazine!

Ultrazine 17: October 1979
Editor and publisher: Matt Bucher

If you read this column regularly, you will have read one installment covering one of Matt Bucher’s fanzines (if not, go here). It’s really somewhat of a crime that I haven’t covered more by this date. Matt was one of several young go-getters that operated like mini-moguls, sometimes publishing multiple zines on a regular schedule. Matt had his stable of regulars, many of which appear in this issue (and many that went on to become professionals), along with several others. Of this issue and those contributors, Matt told me via Facebook that “this might be my most favorite issue of Ultrazine ever, warts and all. A real highlight. Just reading the list of contributors makes me grin ear to ear. This was our “classic” line-up: Carl D’Angelo, Francis Mao, Ed Hatton, Rob Hanning, Reed Sturdivant, Bill Anderson, David Heath Jr., Willie Peppers, Mark Heike, Jerry Foley, Ken McFarlane, Nick Alenikov, Mitch O’Connell, Dave Patterson, and others. Plus Rick McCollum, a new arrival, acquitted himself well.”

At top is the cover with the flashy logo and art by the late David Heath, Jr., editor and publisher of No Sex. Matt fostered a very inclusive environment for those that wanted their work published and commented upon. Matt continues, talking about the covers, saying

The front cover by David Heath Jr. was terrific. I’d been nagging David for a cover for a year, but he was hesitant, since he was a science fiction guy and UZ was more superhero focused. And the back cover of Firestorm by Bill Anderson, wow – that just might’ve been his finest work to date, with an impressive layout and design. I’ve always loved that piece.

Above left you see another lively illustration by the energetic Rick McCollum. You can see him covered in several columns, but the one devoted to him entirely can be seen here. But, to start at the beginning of this particular issue of Ultrazine, we are greeted with the cover, an interior front cover by Joe Sinnott and Bill Anderson (seen below), and then into an editorial of sorts by Bucher. Following that is a short debate on an issue of the fanzine, Afta, from the late Bill-Dale Marcinko.

Bill-Dale sparked a fair amount of controversy in his day, being a self admitted opinionated bastard. At some point, I will profile an issue of Afta in my possession (with my cover art). The Sinnott illustration was one of many sent to Bucher by Bill Anderson, most of which Anderson inked. Bill told me via Facebook that “that Hulk drawing that I inked over Joe Sinnott was one of the pieces Joe gave me to ink when I met him at a convention as a young punk of 15. He very kindly looked through my portfolio, and offered a ton of good, practical advice. Everybody should be as lucky as I was to have Joe be the first pro you meet. A lot of nervous sweat was shed while inking this one.”

Following the debate is a bit of fan fiction called “Whatever Happened to Matt Bucher” by Carl D’Angelo and “those who were there.” Several fellow fan publishers appear as characters in this cosmic tale. Matt told me that “In the award-winning Love and Rockets #33, in 1990, Gilbert Hernandez snuck my name onto a milk carton with a cartoon face and a caption labeled “Missing.” Later he told me he’d done that as an in-joke because he remembered Carl D’Angelo’s story from ten years earlier.”

Francis Mao (also an artist who appears in this issue several times) follows with a column covering the “sensuous and savage” females in comics called Transmissions From Earth. After that is a parody Doug Moench interview conducted by Reed Sturdivant, under the appropriate title of Strictly a Parody. Matt did not want his writers to go without acknowledgement, and said

The fannish energy and joy brought forth by the writers should not be overlooked. Leading the pack, Carl D’Angelo’s marvelous “Whatever Happened to Matt Bucher?”, an epic tale populated with members of our circle, told in three parts, was simply the most popular work in Ultrazine’s history. Ed Hatton, Reed Sturdivant, Rob Hanning – holy smoke, these were very smart, very clever kids. (BTW, Rob went on to win multiple Emmy awards writing for TV’s Frasier). And David Heath Jr.’s fanzine review column was always a reliable bright spot.

As I mentioned, there are several artists in this issue that went on to bigger things, including Mark Heike. Below you see two full page illustrations by him. He has, of course, gotten a lot better since then!

A poll and Bucher’s Writers Info Column follows, in which the editor briefly covers the career of Denny O’Neil, the highly regarded writer behind those seminal Neal Adams illustrated Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues of the mid seventies. Vu-Zine, a fanzine review column by Heath is next. Many full page illustrations appear this issue, below you see samples by “Nasty”/Anderson, Mao/Ed Hatton, and O’Connell.

Of Mitch O’Connell, Matt elaborated “I’ve talked a lot about these artists in the past, although maybe not Mitch O’Connell, who went on to great things, including doing a cover for Newsweek, being featured in Rolling Stone, and doing work for Time, Playboy, and Entertainment Weekly.” Yet another testament to fanzines being a good training ground and source of exposure for future professionals.

Speaking of parody, following the previous columns is Tandem, by D’Angelo and Denny Lake, in which they discuss not “who is stronger, the Hulk or the Thing,” but Do We Need the She-Hulk. They do raise good points, though, primarily positing that the She-Hulk is basically a marketing ploy. Of course, comics are a business, so that should not surprise us, right?

Appearing next is a short quiz and the letters column, Ultra Talk. InterFan head honcho, Jim Bertges, defends and explains InterFan in the opening letter. Indeed, several illustrations under the umbrella of the organization appear throughout the issue by artists such as Pete Iro, and Sam De la Rosa. Of the column, Matt said “By this time, the letters column had ballooned in size, and become more of a general forum, as our sense of community grew stronger, despite our reliance on snail-mail to bridge our vast geographic differences.” A goofy cartoon by David Patterson comes after that, and finally, Epic, a column on that very subject in comics by editor Bucher. A few ads fill out the last few pages.

There are many other illustrations you can see by downloading the pdf (On my site, here, at the bottom), including Bobby Wright, Ed Hatton, Anderson, Jerry Foley, Chris Abell, Willie Peppers, Roger Starren, McCollum and several others. Ultrazine was very proudly a fanzine, and lasted for quite a long time. Many fanzines did not get to a second issue. Keep in mind Bucher published other work as well. For a young guy, he was a darn hard worker! His love for comics shone brightly through all his work, including this issue of Ultrazine.

Note: the very generous Herb Warren has sent me a package of fanzines I can review, many of which I have never seen. I am certainly looking forward to it and I think you will like the forthcoming columns! The treasure includes issues of Infinity, CPL, All Dynamic, and Comic Crusader, among others.

Leave comments, please!

Thanks this time out go to Matt Bucher and Bill Anderson.

Ken Meyer Jr.




  1. Good Times!
    Always fun to get the hot-off-the-press zines in the mail and see your art! 🙂

    • ken meyer jr

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mitch! I know seeing your very early work can sometimes be painful. I do like showing it, though, just to show people that even the best had to start somewhere.

  2. Matt B

    1979…was a very good year!

    Thanks for the extra exposure, Ken. The UZ back-issue prices on eBay are skyrocketing!

    • ken meyer jr

      hahah, I am glad if that is true, Matt!

  3. Jason Sacks

    Ultrazine was the first zine I found and fell in love with, at the age of 13 or 14. In those pre-internet days, it was a shock to find interesting, slightly older fans who were talented and loved the same things I did. And those fans were so kind and welcoming! I was delighted to be accepted as part of that whole day some circle that more or less revolved around Ultrazine and No-Sex.

    Thanks Ken!

    • ken meyer jr

      my pleasure, Jason!

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