Writer Jan Strnad started his award winning professional career in fandom
with the beautifully illustrated fanzine, Anomaly.
Anomaly 1, 1969
Publisher/Editor: Jan Strnad
If you have read Ink Stains regularly, you have seen Anomaly 3 already covered here, and you know what a stellar cast of artists and writers that editor/publisher/writer Jan Strnad regularly assembled. The first issue of this high quality fanzine is no different. Though the actual numbers of contributors may be fewer than what came later, the quality is just as high. Instead of listing all the contributors right off the bat, we will take them a few at a time.
Above, you see two spot illos by Robert Kline, a big fave of mine (and Strnad’s). Robert is all over this issue of Anomaly, and as Jan Strnad puts it in the zine’s introduction, “We owe the existence of this first issue to one Robert Kline.” This was Kline’s first published work in fandom. It is obvious from the very first illustration gracing the cover (seen below) that Kline had the goods. Jan told me via Facebook that Robert had actually sent work to Jerry Weist and Squa Tront, but the work didn’t make it in, so Jan snatched the work and Robert up for Anomaly!
The wash drawing is a widescreen wraparound cover, and a great introduction to the worlds of fantasy and science fiction that Kline would grace the readers with in fanzines such as Anomaly, Fantastic Fanzine, The Collector, and Always Comes Twilight in the years following this debut, before his entry into the world of professional animation. In fact, the very first content of note is a seven page story done in the classic style of the EC comics of the 1950s, complete with a twist ending. I will say that, at least at this early stage of his career, Kline fares more successfully in the single illustrations than the sequential work. Below you see a page from his story, “His Brother’s Keeper.”
Following Kline’s science fiction story, god of speculative literature Harlan Ellison weighs in with his single page story, “The Voice in Garden.” It’s either an exercise in writing punctuated with an in-joke…or just a joke. But of course, this story from 1967 is incredibly well written, as is all of Ellison’s work.
What follows next could be considered the meat of the issue, a profile of writer (and sometimes artist) Archie Goodwin. Incredibly beloved in the industry, the late Goodwin is represented here by an interview conducted by long time fandom stalwart, the aforementioned Jerry Weist. The interview covered many subjects relating to Goodwin, including his start in a fanzine of the late 50s called Hoohah, and on through Goodwin’s incredible work in the Warren magazines of the late 60s, as well as Goodwin’s writing work at Marvel (specifically, Iron Man). Goodwin’s freelance work is also covered, represented by a monthly strip on the subject of fishing (a subject Goodwin admits to knowing nothing about). Goodwin’s awards in the comic book industry reflect both his expert skills as a writer and his ability to work both with intelligence and integrity with virtually anyone. His recognition includes Shazam awards several times over, as well as the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Eisner award in 1992, among others. Goodwin was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 1998, the year that he passed away.
Above you see one of the fishing cartoons for Fishing World magazine. Below, a real treat, you can see the sketches/thumbnails that Goodwin provided artist Reed Crandall with for their Creepy Story, “The Squaw.” The whole story is laid out below, and you see the finished first and last pages under that.
Goodwin provided layouts such as these for almost all of the stories that he wrote, following the example of EC/Mad artist and writer Harvey Kurtzman. Goodwin, however, offered these layouts merely as guides, unlike Kurtzman, who expected his artists to follow the layouts closely. Frequent Goodwin collaborators such as Crandall and Al Williamson are said to deeply enjoy this method of working, as long as it was with Goodwin! Following the Goodwin interview is a double page illustration by the aforementioned Crandall, seen below.
There are several spot and full page illustrations scattered throughout the magazine by Robert Kline, Kenneth Smith, and Stephen Hickman (seen below). Hickman has gone on to become a well established and highly sought after cover artist in the book industry, as seen on his site here.
Above you see two illustrations by Robert Kline, and below an illustration by Greg Phillips to accompany a Jan Strnad science fiction story called “Survivors of the Suicide World,” of which this is only part one. I am afraid I have no knowledge of Greg Phillips.
Another Strnad story (written with sometime partner Don Bain) follows, called “The Enchanted Sword,” which appears to be a riff on “The Sword and the Stone,” and has an illustration by Robert Kline (the swordsman appearing in the banner at the top of the page). Following this is a three plate portfolio by Robert Kline of Robert E. Howard inspired images, two of which you can see below.
The illustration above shows how, even this early in his career, Kline understood not only the craft of inking, the concept of good composition, but atmospheric perspective. The more lightly inked Worm in the background appears even more huge because of the understanding and use of this principle.
A few Final Thoughts from Strnad appear after the portfolio, then another Kline full page illustration (along with a few other spots), and the debut issue of Anomaly comes to a close.
Thanks this time go to Gil Agudin, who kindly sent the Archie Goodwin/Crandall pages within minutes of my frantic Facebook post. Also, a big huge thanks goes out to Jason Schachter, who not only provided the scans to Anomaly 1, but also to a host of others that will come later. This includes a complete run of FOOM, several issues of Charlton Bullseye, Fantagor, Fever Dreams, RBCC, Gene Day’s Black Zeppelin, Ralph Reese’s Reese’s Pieces, Scream Door, and many others! Get your requests in now! By the way, the reason I profiled Anomaly 1 now is because my scanner broke down…I had initially planned an early issue of Infinity, which will come as soon as I get a new scanner.
As always folks, feel free to download the pdf, and please leave comments so I don’t feel all alone!
Ken Meyer Jr.