What could be better than an Ink Stains devoted to The Collector? An Ink Stains devoted to FIVE issues of The Collector!
The Collector 16, 17, 18, 19, 21; 1969-1971
Editor/Publisher, Bill G. Wilson
The Collector, as Ink Stains readers will know by now, was one of the best fanzines of the 1970s. Publisher and editor Bill G. Wilson, probably in his early teens when he started the zine, managed to keep it going strong for a whole 29 issues. Ink Stains has covered a few already (the very first installment covered issue 27 and can be seen here, while issue 28 can be seen here), but this installment covers five whole issues! You will see work here from and be able to download pdfs of issues 16-19 and 21, which is over 80 pages of great art, articles, and memories!
Bill Wilson made a concerted effort to assemble a sort of bullpen of artists, so his fanzine had a great sense of continuity, even an air of professionalism. The cover you see above is by the late Don Newton, a constant piece of the Collector puzzle, and later a pro at Charlton and DC. Probably more than anyone (with John G. Fantucchhio coming a close second), he was the “house artist.” His realistic figures, and above all his command of light and dark, made his art something to really look forward to. The cover is the only Newton art at this point, but he would figure prominently as the fanzine continued.
A feature of many fanzines of the time and certainly of The Collector, was the convention coverage article, usually accompanied by photos (as you can see, somewhat grainy and blurry black and white photos) of the pros of the time. To the left you see Neal Adams, Joe Sinnot (missing a “t”), and Al Williamson judging an art contest. These features were very important at that time. Remember, there was no internet waaaay back in 1969, and many fans did not have the means to make it to the bigger conventions, so they had to make do with features such as this. I know I wanted to be able to put a face to my favorite artist! Look at Neal Adams rocking the stylish chin carpet! Below you can see several other photos from this article which covered the 1968 Comic Art Convention in New York City.
A great catch at these cons (and much easier to get back then) was the convention sketch…many times done for free! Several sketches you see in this issue end up inked and published in later issues. To the right you can see quickies by Rich Buckler, Bill Everett, and Jim Steranko. There are others sprinkled throughout this issue by artists such as Neal Adams, Ernie Colon, and Dick Giordano (he is actually drawing the sketch in the photo above).
Other articles in this issue include a “New” column by Duffy Vohland (covering various comic news of the day, along with opinions), “War Comics: A Study in Potential” by Mitchell J. Sheilds, and “Frederick Wertham Speaks About Comics,” which I assume is actually written by the (in)famous doctor. There is also a one page installment of editor Wilson’s own hero, Hyperman (Bill was actually a better fanzine publisher than artist, to be honest), as well as a portfolio insert, with illustrations by various fan artists, including what must have been a very young Klaus Janson (seen below, inked by Mike Robertson).
Other artists in this issue include Comic Crusader’s Martin L. Griem, Rick Hoberg, John G. Fantucchhio, Don Rosa, Jim Hanley, and many more.
Issue 17 is a Don Newton special, including the beautifully naturalistic cover above and several other gorgeous pieces of art you will see in the pdf and below. This issue also contains an interview with Newton. I have always thought of Newton as sort of a Gray Morrow (also a very naturalistic and comparatively realistic artist), but with a little more play of light and dark. Newton never got the amount of attention he deserved before he passed away from a heart attack in 1984, even though he did work for Charlton, DC, and Marvel. You can see a very nicely done and expansive site here if you want to see more. The fanzine section covers a lot I have not seen, in addition to this issue of The Collector (and you can see the entirety of the interview there as well as the pdf). More creamy black and white Newton goodness below!
I mentioned at the beginning of this installment that editor Wilson was a young go getter. In the very maturely written editorial, Wilson mentions how his desire for excellence in the fanzine eats into his schedule of “…high school, junior varsity band, (and the) Famous Artist Course for Talented Young People.” Keep in mind this is issue 17 we are talking about here, which he put together in the 11th grade. So, that means he published about 19 issues before graduating high school!
Other articles in issue 17 include “The Shadow” by Jim Jones (see illo below, in Jones’s typically retro style), “In Defense of an Era: A Confusion of Ideals” by Mike McGrath (dealing with censorship and EC comics), a Frazetta paperback book cover index, and an examination of the similarities and differences between comics and film by Louis Morra in “Another Cup of Wine.”
Other artists in issue 17 include James Shull, Fantucchhio, Rosa, Greim, Bob Cosgrove, and Brian Lees.
Above you see the cover to issue 18, done by Bill Black, a very prolific and business minded young storyteller (eventually, I will be covering a zine from his Paragon line). It’s mentioned in the editorial that he was also doing work for Warren publications at this time (as well as John G. Fantucchhio, whose stylish illustration of Quicksilver is seen below).
The articles in this issue start off with an article on “Comics de Mexico,” by Alan Light (The Buyer’s Guide). It also includes a few covers from comics published in Italy and Cuba. A short article on another pulp character by Jim Jones, The Spider, is augmented by a portrait of the character by Jones (seen below).Duffy Vohland contributes his very first “Duffy’s Tavern” column, which would continue for several issues and into other fanzines like CPL. David Hanley starts a prose sword and sorcery series called “Sinar Alone” in this issue, as well.
Other artists featured in this issue include James Shull (that’s his book-reading mouse at the top of the column), Rosa, Wilson, and Hanley. See Bill Black’s Green Lantern and a lighthearted Hanley back cover below.
Issue 19 of The Collector starts off with fan favorite John G. Fantucchio (who is still making art to this day), who contributes a Creepy-esque cover, seen below.
This issue also marks what I think is the first appearance of one of my favorite artists, Robert Kline. Not only does he grace us with a nice dinosaur piece, he provides the illustration for David Hanley’s “Sinar Alone” series. Both are below.
Robert Kline would go on to become a big contributor to fanzines such as The Collector, Fantastic Fanzine, and others, before heading off into the animation sunset. Below you see one of the pencil head sketches from issue 16 (by Steranko) inked by Marvel stalwart Joe Sinnott, who also inks a one page installment of Wilson’s Hyperman series, as well as an illustration of The Thing.
The articles include “The effects of Violence via the Mass Media…on Children” by Tom Christopher, and “The Avenger” by Dennis Beaulieu, which examines the M.E. Publications character of the same name. There is also a short story by artist Anthony Kowalik entitled “Sun Day on Kanaan.”
In addition to art by Al Grinage, Edward Romero, Dave Cockrum (his first appearance), Steve Ditko (a Mr. A back cover), and others, there is a beautiful Don Newton center spread showcasing not only his wonderfully realistic rendition of superheroes, but a boy reading about his heroes with an obvious sense of wonder I think most of us can remember (seen below).
Issue 21 has a wraparound cover by a newcomer to The Collector, Mickey Mason. There is also an interview with the young artist, as well as several classy illustrations. Mason cites several mainstream illustrators as his primary influences and it shows. The work is not your standard superhero style, closer to fashion or editorial work. See the work below.
Articles this issue include an installment of “Duffy’s Tavern” by Duffy Vohland on the subject of “Jack Kirby – After Marvel,” a Plastic Man article by Ralph Alfonso (with a whimsical illustration by Collector regular Don Rosa, seen below), “All Hail! Comic Books are Dead” by Bernie Bubnis, another installment of David Hanley’s “Sinar Alone” fantasy (with a great Tom Sutton illustration, also seen below), and a look back at the year 1970 by editor Wilson.
There is a lot more art in this issue that you can see in the pdf, but I will show you a very nice, loose center-spread by Robert Kline below. Other art includes pieces by John G. Fantucchhio (inked by Joe Sinnott, a clash of styles if I have ever heard of one), Dan Adkins, Edward Romero, Randy Emberlin, Doug Fritz, as well as a Hyperman story by Wilson, which is superbly inked by Don Newton.
You can see from all the material covered in this installment of Ink Stains why The Collector was so highly valued among the fanzines of that time. Bill G. Wilson was an industrious young man, always trying to improve his publication, always on the lookout for great art and writing. He is no different today, running a design firm and winning publishing awards and accolades (see his site here). If you want to see the complete issues of these great zines, go here and have a blast!
I also need to warn the readers (all three of you) that I may not have an installment next month. I am getting ready to move all the way across the country (with a family) in a few weeks, and have a big project I have to start right after moving. We will see how it goes. As always, feel free to request certain fanzines to be covered, send any old zines my way (or good scans), and please leave comments on the column!
Ken Meyer Jr.