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March 1, 2012

Ink Stains 39: The Collector 28

Back for another shot at the title! The Collector! Weighing in with John Byrne, Ken Barr, Gil Kane, Don Newton, Don Rosa, and more! Ding!

The Collector 28: 1973

Editor/Publisher: Bill G. Wilson

Those of you who have been with this column from the beginning know of The Collector, since it was the very first zine profiled! That was issue 27. This time out, it is the following issue, again stuffed with great illustrations and articles.

As you can see above, as with most issues of this great 70s fanzine, editor Bill G. Wilson knew how to choose a cover! Ken Barr, already a professional at this time, gave us a great EC tribute cover, reminiscent of Russ Heath, Wally Wood, and Frank Frazetta…but still his own. One of the few fanzines that actually did spot color (on the covers and a few interior illustrations), The Collector stood out for this and several other reasons.

Bill Wilson had a great stable of artists, and several of the regulars make appearances here. John G. Fantucchio gives us the somewhat goofy Prince Valiant laboring with the logo at the top, and will make several more flashy stops during this issue. Others will follow in this issue, which had several overriding themes.

First though, we will take a hectic journey through writer William Reynolds’s and artist Bruce Patterson’s “Occupational Hazards.” Below you see a few pages from this silly and enjoyable superhero parody piece. Though artist Patterson cringes seeing seeing the art today, for a lad of only 20 this (and a few spot illos later in the issue) was fairly accomplished stuff.

There are two other entries in this piece above, which you can see in the pdf! Through email, Bruce told me he was a DC fan at first, but was later turned on to Marvel by a friend. I remember seeing his work here, in The Comics Buyer’s Guide and several other places, and liking his clean style and sense of humor. He still has it! Bruce was pretty active at DC and Marvel in the 80s and 90s, primarily as an inker, but he also did covers, letters, and even some coloring. Today, he is taking commissions, so find him on Facebook here. That’s his skull illo to the left!

Following that bit of humor is another by an established and widely published fan artist/writer, Alan Hanley. There is a nice little site here that shows a plethora of Hanley’s pleasantly cartoony styled illustrations and strips, often illustrating one of his favorite characters, C. C. Beck’s Captain Marvel. There is a fan appreciation page on the late artist/writer on Facebook here. Lastly, long time fan and writer Bill Schelly wrote a book on the founders of comic fandom you and I must get…you can read more about it here. Hanley is one of many artists and writers covered in the book that you will have heard about, if you have read this column regularly. Hanley passed away in 1980. Below you can see a few pages from his Greenhorn series, which has some great parodies/homages to characters such as Blackhawk, Sgt. Fury, The Spirit, Airboy, and others.


The next theme covers many of the female comic characters of the golden age, and is illustrated by a variety of artists, including John Ellis/Skip Olson, Mike Roberts, Bobs Conway and Smith, Paragon founder Bill Black, Comic Crusader publisher Martin Greim, and two gorgeous pieces by John G. Fantucchio. Check out a sampling of work below. The well researched article by Graham Sterling also reprints many covers from that era.


Fantucchio had such an identifiable style (especially evident in the Black Cat illustration above), and was a highly sought after fanzine illustrator. He has a few other pieces in this issue that you can see in the pdf.

Taking a break from the themes, we are graced with a gorgeous Don Newton western illustration portfolio. Don came on The Collector “staff” very early. I know I have issues as early as 15 or so with Don’s covers. I have an especially fond memory of his Captain America cover on one of the early issues of this great fanzine. His realistically proportioned and often detailed figures (usually draped in dramatic shadows) graced many a fanzine, and enabled him to enter the pro ranks a year after this issue of The Collector, starting at Charlton with The Ghost Manor and The Phantom, and continuing on to DC before his passing in 1984 at the age of only 49 from a heart attack. You can see a site of his wonderful work here. Below and to the right you see a few images from this portfolio.



After an article reviewing several golden age comics, the trend for themes continues, this time profiling the perennial TV fave Star Trek. Several artists take a crack at the crew and the ships, including John Ellis (seen in the masthead, unfortunately scanned in black and white, not the original color), science fiction great Stephen Fabian (that’s his space monkey in the masthead), Jim Pinkoski, and even John Byrne chimes in with several full page renditions of space ships, including the recognizable Enterprise. The article also prints several stills from the series itself, as well as art from the animated series. Check it all out below.


Let’s take a short break from the themes again and look at the singular Gil Kane’s rendition of Warlock, seen below. I am sure he could do these illustrations in his sleep, but, man, they still look awesome!

The last theme of this issue of The Collector is The Shadow, with the article written by another fandom stalwart, Murray Bishoff, and entitled “Shadow of the Ages.” Again, many of the cabal of artists take a shot (pun intended) at the Shadow. We see renditions by Mike Roberts, John Ellis, Bruce Patterson, Jim Jones, Don Newton (also on the back cover), and Ken Bruzenak. That’s right…the same Ken Bruzenak who would make his fame as the incredibly inventive letterer on Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg (and who lives right here in Savannah, his wife a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design)! Fittingly, it is a well designed piece, seen below to the right of the Mike Roberts version. Can you see Mike’s love of Steranko here?

The article, like the other main columns, reprints several of the great pulp covers, beautifully painted. Also shown and talked about is the Mike Kaluta DC Shadow series. Below you see the amazing Newton back cover of the “one who knows.”

Now, remember, this is only a portion of this issue of The Collector 28! There is also a moody and gruesome story called “Close Shave” by Alan Riefe and Don Rosa, several other illustrations by John Ellis, Bruce Patterson, Anthony Kowalik, and Stephen Fabian, a Batman sketch by John  Byrne, and more. And, if that’s not enough, howsabout a letter column featuring a much younger version of me? High school senior, to be exact, all gush and clue challenged! I AM actually pretty excited right now, because I DID NOT KNOW there was a Collector 29! I see it is available on eBay, and we will be profiling that at some point in the future!

Thanks this time go out to Bruce Patterson. Now, rush to download the pdf, so you can see the rest!

Come back on April 1st for the next installment of Ink Stains! Please, leave comments, and feel free to leave requests!

ken meyer jr.