Three issues of one of the best interview fanzines! Ink Stains, meet Whizzard!
Whizzard, issues 12, 13, 14; 1979-1981
Editor/Publisher: Marty Klug
A few loyal Ink Stains readers have asked repeatedly for me to feature Whizzard. So, I have finally gotten around to covering this great fanzine which made a point of having in depth interviews with some of the best and most inventive pros in the comic biz. And, not one issue, but three! Specifically, issues 12, 13, and 14, the covers shown above (left to right, 12, 14, 13). I will confess I have held off partially because the fanzine is more text oriented than art, focusing on the aforementioned interviews, as well as many articles. This is another reason I featured three issues, to show as much great art as possible. Unfortunately, I have had a request from the publisher to not offer the whole zine download…sorry!
As you can see from the names on the covers, Whizzard went after the big guns! It is possible that the emphasis placed on interviews might date the fanzines a bit for current readers. Art, for the most part, can stand on its own, and to some degree out of time. But topical interviews, well, not so much. But, as they were coming out, this fanzine was manna for those that wanted news from and about their favorite artists and writers, and most often right from the horse’s mouth!
Another thing that set Whizzard apart from most of its contemporaries was the attention to design, specifically the column heads and article logos. Between assistant editor Ed Mantels and artist Rick Burchett, each issue had a plethora of inventive and attractive examples of lettering and lettering combined with graphics. Look below at a grab bag of logos from all three issues and see if you agree.
Above are so many examples of inventive uses of type, art, and the combination of the two. Art heavy logos like the Craig Russell interview head at top emulate the interview subject’s own style, while the “Whither Fandom” text only logo second from bottom is clever in the disappearing type, echoing the subject matter of the column. And editor Klug did not shirk the crediting for these either. Each issue had a separate column in the contributors area for “letterers.”
For the most part, Whizzard focused on the popular youngbloods of the industry, as you would expect. It wasn’t a historical tome like Alter Ego, for example. Issue 12 has interviews with Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Mike Golden, and Michael Nasser. Marty Klug also often complemented most interviews with accompanying articles, as well as indexes of the interview subjects’ work. You got the complete package with Whizzard! Klug was not a glad handing, ego stroking sycophant, either. He was not afraid to delve into prickly topics, such as Marvel’s treatment of its freelancers in the Starlin interview, for example. And of course, the interviews and articles were made more visually appealing with full page illustrations and spot illustrations. First, below are a few spots from issue 12.
Above, aside from the whimsical Terry Austin/Al Milgrom Hulk illo, you can see the clean and smooth work of Alan Hunter, a Brit who was a sort of staff artist for Klug. Below are a few Starlin related full pagers, the first by Starlin himself, followed by a piece by Ed Mantels.
Other articles include “Comics: The State of the Medium” by Jerry Durrwachter, a Silver Surfer piece by Kenn Thomas, “Tarnish on the Silver Age” by Michael McFadden, the Manhunter companion article, along with reviews, an editorial (“Small Talk”), a letters page (with a letter from a senior high school wannabe artist, Ken Meyer Jr), and a funny Marvel Bullpen parody about the Whizzard gang. There is also a sequential story that appears in each issue by Bill Nichols, Rick Burchett, and others featuring a lighthearted character called The Atomic Kid. See a spread below.
Rick did a ton of fanzine work, and later went on to work for a wide range of companies, including First, Pacific, Capital, and later both DC and Marvel. He is also a two time Eisner award winner.
The parade of great interview subjects continues with issue 13. Within this issue, you will find interviews with Marshall Rogers, Craig Russell, Tim Conrad, Steve Gerber, and Don McGregor. As for new art, well, there isn’t much. From what I can tell, all the work from the artist interviews are reprinted, with the cover being by Rick Burchett. There are a few nice spots, especially, once again, Alan Hunter, which you see at left. Again, to complement the interviews, we have an article on Marshall Rogers’ Batman by Rich Morrissey, “Killing Killraven” by editor Klug, and indexes for Tim Conrad, Marshall Rogers, and Craig Russell. Also for your reading pleasure, you will find a survey of Steve Ditko’s current work, an article on the short history of graphic novels (up to that point), a review section, an article on saturday morning cartoons, the editorial (“Small Talk”), and the letters page. You will also be treated to another episode of “The Atomic Kid” by Bill Lewis and crew.
I have to confess, it is even more interesting to read these interviews right now, as I am in the middle of the great new Marvel history book by Sean Howe called Marvel Comics, the Untold Story. Coincidentally, I am in the midst of reading about the 80s version of ye ol’ Marvel, when young guns like McGregor and Gerber stormed into Marvel and stormed right out again. You will read about some of the reasons for these comings and goings in the interviews in these issues of Whizzard. Below are a few Tim Conrad pieces from issue 13. These illustrations may have appeared in Epic. The bottom piece looks as if it had been planned to utilize a “color hold” for clouds those lightning bolts would be issuing from.
Issue 14 starts off with a full color bold head shot of Martian Manhunter by Michael Nasser and Terry Austin (Austin would ink several illustrations for Klug during the fanzine’s history). The interview subjects this issue are Paul Gulacy, Dick Giordano, and Michael Nasser (now Michael Netzer). Nasser especially turns out to be a subject with deeply held views on society, religion, and other real world subjects, which are given as much space as the usual “how did you get into comics” type of questions. Below are a few illustrations from the main subjects.
The accompanying articles include an article on McGregor and Gulacy’s Sabre by Marty Klug, a Battlestar Galactica article (the comic, not the television show), a somewhat scathing article on fandom by Kenn Thomas, a short article on the rarest comics (“Unsung Heroes”), another “Atomic Kid” installment, and more. There is even a small illo by yours truly. One very beautiful illustration sits on the inside back cover by Ed Mantels (who, for some reason by this point wanted to be known as Ed.Mantels-Seeker), seen below.
To sum up, if interviews are your bag, then Whizzard is one wonderfully illustrated, text-stuffed bag! Unfortunately, I have heard from Marty Klug that he would not like the whole issues available as downloads, so the column will have to suffice! Lastly, I apologize for missing a few months, life just interfered. That included a move from one coast to the other, as well as painting 500 sketch covers of zombies for Avatar publishing. Go to my Facebook page and look for the folder named zombies to see a few. For those of you in the LA area, I will be at the Long Beach Comic Con the first weekend of November. Come on by!
Ken Meyer Jr.