Jan Strnad, Richard Corben, and Robert Kline bring you the anomaly of a fanzine…ANOMALY 2!
Anomaly 2: 1970
Editor and Publisher, Jan Strnad
You have seen Jan Strnad’s wonderful Anomaly fanzine profiled already twice on Ink Stains, and because of a great visit with artist Robert Kline, I now have issue number 2 for your viewing pleasure! Speaking of Mr. Kline, he is all over this one! You can see the wraparound cover below, and he has several other pieces, as well as a strip inside, which we will get to very soon.
You can see all of the things Robert Kline was expert at rendering above; organic forms in general, but foliage and (his favorite) dinosaurs in particular! This is relatively early work from Kline, only a year or so after breaking on the fanzine scene in zines such as RBCC, Trumpet, and others. Of this time, Kline said via email that
At that time I was so excited about seeing my stuff in print that I worked feverishly to provide Jan (and others) with as much as I could. It’s interesting how viewing pieces you’ve done so long ago can put you back in the mind-set you possessed then. Comics and science fiction/fantasy illustration were my passion. Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson and Wally Wood were the Kings.
I remember most about Anomaly 2 is how much work I put into it. This happened at the height of my “trying to be like Frazetta” period. Later Jan Strnad would report that he showed my stuff to Frank, and he apparently commented something along the lines of; “Oh, he’s just another guy trying to be like me.” After I heard this, I stopped. Well, it’s not easy being young and enamored of a hero’s work.
He would continue to improve before disappearing in the animation world. For now, though, we can revel in his ink mastery! At a later date I will have for you a video interview I recently did with the amiable Bob Kline at his home in California, and tons of images no one, outside of his circle of friends, has seen!
Like many fanzines of the 70s, Anomaly had a stable of artists and writers that would appear regularly. Kline was one, while Richard Corben was another, and he also appears in issue 2. The goofy minstrel in the banner at the top is Corben’s work (over a typically ornate yet readable logo by Kenneth Smith, coloring by me). Below you can see an illustration Corben did for Tomes, a book review column by Strnad and others .
Corben also illustrated a short story by Stanley S. Wiater called “Sands of Quanam,” a tale of a wandering barbarian by the name of Buifra the Darkk and his encounter with a cowled mystery…man. See some illustrations below by the master of mood. By the way, Corben’s website, stuffed with amazing work, can be seen here, and he is doing new work for Dark Horse now I have not yet seen (aside from ads), that I so wish I had.
An artist with a whole different worldview featured this issue is Vaughn Bode. Bode ruled the underground comics world with Junkwaffle, Cheech Wizard, as well as seminal work for the National Lampoon (see the site run by Vaughn’s son Mark, here). However, below Jan shows us Bode’s first published work, The Masked Lizard (Strnad mentions that we are seeing it “once again,” but does not mention where it was first published). Check out a few pages below (and see the whole six page strip by downloading the pdf).
Yet another feast for the eyes is a Robert E. Howard portfolio by Kline. Howard was right up Kline’s alley, with Kline being a huge fan of the creator of Conan the Barbarian. Look at the beautifully organic and varied brushwork on the images below.
Other features fill this issue, including a letters column, an editorial, a “what’s coming next” feature (illustrated by Kenneth Smith), a story by Strnad (illustrated by Ken Meaux) called “The Gnome,” and yet more Kline in a lighthearted strip called “Gorvan the Adventurer.” Of this Kline said, “I was very excited at the time about ‘Gorvan the Adventurer.’ But looking back now, it clearly has its extremely naive and derivative aspects. It’s hilarious how much Gorvan looks like a seventies porn star, and Nephlee’s Mini-dress is certainly based on mid-60’s fashion. I’m still rather fond of the page that finds Gorvan battling the dinosaur like creature.” You can see a sampling from that story below, following a very early illustration by Berni Wrightson, but you will have to get the pdf to read the whole thing!
Jan Strnad has worked in the fields of animation as a writer/editor (you might of heard of a little company called Disney), magazines (Creepy, Eerie, and more), would of course go on to work in the comics field, and has been a constant collaborator with Richard Corben on projects such as the new Dark Horse comic Ragemoor, as well as with Dennis Fujitake on the 80s comic Dalgoda. He has also entered into the world of prose, with two books already available and which you can read more about here. He is also on Facebook and very approachable. Thanks are due for letting me bug him on Facebook about these silly magazines from long ago, as well as big thanks to Robert Kline for the physical copy of this fanzine and the hours I spent at his home doing the aforementioned interview, which you will see in the near future! For now, download the pdfs here!
Ken Meyer Jr.