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November 9, 2009

Ink Stains 5: CPL and John Byrne

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Written by: kenmeyerjr
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CPL (Contemporary Pictorial Literature) 12 (1975)

Publisher: Robert Layton, Editor: Roger Stern


Much like The Collector, our current champion CPL could be lumped into the category of “semi-pro” fanzine. It had high production values (including color covers) and a roster that included many artists that were already pros, soon to be pros, or just the very best fandom had to offer. CPL had a general aesthetic that was a little more informal than The Collector though, a little zanier, a little goofier. Editor Roger Stern recalls CPL started as “…Bob Layton’s sales catalog and newsletter.  At the time, Bob’s sideline was selling comics via mail order. But he was interested in honing his art and so he was slowly turning CPL into a fanzine.  That was right around the time that he crossed paths with Roger Slifer, Duffy Vohland, and a few other central Indiana comics fans, myself included.  We all wound up contributing to the ‘zine.”And, it had a big gun in John Byrne. Stern remembers that, “I think it was Duffy (Vohland) who’d made the original contact with John.  I started corresponding with John, and he became a major contributor to CPL.  As fast as he was, we could always count on him for art and spot illustrations.”  Byrne was an honorary member of the “Indianapolis Mafia,” which contained publisher Layton, editor Stern, Roger Slifer, Duffy Vohland, and a few others. In fact, at the time of issue 12, Byrne had recently started working on Iron Fist for Marvel, as well as titles for Charlton.


The crew at CPL got involved directly with Charlton because, as Slifer recalls, “Most of us had been fans of Charlton’s short-lived action hero line, especially those produced by Steve Ditko.  We had decided to produce an over-sized double-issue of CPL — also known as the Charlton Portfolio — and thanks to Duffy’s footwork, Charlton allowed us to print a previously unpublished Blue Beetle story in that issue. George Wildman, then the editor of Charlton, liked our work enough that he authorized Bob to produce Bullseye.”

Issue 12 of CPL was full of beautiful imagery and entertaining writing. The front cover, as you can see, is a color piece by Paul Gulacy; the character depicted is named in the indicia as “his version of the goddess of self-abuse,” whatever that is! The back cover is another beautiful damsel (also color) by Mike Vosburg, the subject of an extensive interview that features more clean and crisp renditions of the female form by the artist, along with some work in other genres as well.


There are two articles on the short run of Atlas/Seaboard, one by Stephen Grant, and the other an editorial by Stern.

John Byrne’s contributions are many, and his stylish and singular work stands out. There is a sketchy Red Sonja-esque spot illo,  a couple of martial artist pieces for Grant’s article, a few illustrations of the Hulk, and a seven page SF story called The Inheritors. In addition, Byrne writes and illustrates an article on Darkseid, one of the illustrations being a really well done and appropriately Kirby-like full page illustration, seen here.

The remaining pages are filled with illustrations by Syd Shores (full page western), Dennis Fujitake (a languid beautiful full page piece reminiscent of Jeff Jones), Al Milgrom/Jim Starlin, Don Maitz/Peter Iro (a very stylish Hangman seen here), and a full page center-spread by Herb Trimpe of the Hulk taking a shower… don’t worry, it’s a rear view!



CPL was one of those “half-size” zines, but every issue displayed quality any magazine sized fanzine would be happy to have. I know I was darn happy to get my copy in the mail! And, in a fashion, you can be just as happy by downloading the entire issue as a pdf here!

Thanks go out to Roger Stern.


Mike Vosburg is still illustrating fabulous babes here!

See the incredibly beautiful color illustrations of Don Maitz here!

Read a sweet bio on the late Duffy Vohland here!

Coming up next time: RBCC and Mike Zeck!

Ken Meyer Jr.