Want to see early Wrightson, Kaluta, and more? This is Legend gives it to you!
This is Legend 1: 1970
Editor/Publisher: Richard L. Jennings
With a name like This is Legend, you had better be sure you have the ammo to back up the blast across the bow, right? I had heard of this fanzine for years, but was only able to see it recently thanks to it being in a batch of fanzines loaned to me by the great and gracious Bob Kline (who has one illustration in the zine we will see later). I will be up front and say that it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Or, it could be that it doesn’t benefit from the nostalgia factor that many of the other fanzines I have reviewed and will review possess, so the flaws may stand out a bit more. Having said that, it does have some interesting work in between the covers. Like several other zines from this year, it features early work by a few artists that would go on to be stellar talents and guiding lights in their fields and genres. Above you see one example, the evocative cover of the headless horseman by Berni Wrightson. This painting is a teaser to the story inside, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Wrightson, Jeff Jones, and Alan Weiss, of which you see some selected pages below.
Those four pages are, I believe, primarily if not completely the work of Berni Wrightson. Perhaps Jones and Weiss helped out with the inks a bit (I was told by the font of all things Jones, Patrick Hill, that Jones’s participation was limited to “inking assistance”). When you see the rest of the story, you will see that Weiss most likely penciled much of the rest of the story, as it gets a tiny bit clunkier and goofier.
Another batch of interesting pieces is by Juanillo, an artist who would go on to make his name as a cover artist for Warren magazines, paperbacks and such (if memory serves…I could find no examples online of this). Below you see a few pencil drawings from this artist.
There is a selection of art from a few other artists scattered throughout this fanzine, but to be honest, they are not up to the quality set by Wrightson and the like. These artists include Ken Kelley (NOT Ken Kelly, the paperback cover painter, as I originally thought), Randy Broecker, Ray Cioni, Rick Rydell, and Randy Yeates. Below you see the best of this bunch, an Aubrey Beardsley-like piece by Bonnie Moore.
There are a plethora of illustrations that do live up to the standards set early on, though, including a story by that other Studio member, Mike Kaluta. Below, you see a few pages from that story.
Kenneth Smith, who would later publish his own lavishly illustrated fanzine Phantasmagoria, contributes several illustrations, as well as several of his always beautiful titles/logos. Below you see examples of both.
Smith also did the whimsical little scoundrel included in the banner at the top of the column. Several of Wrightson’s other colleagues appear in This is Legend (I don’t believe there was a second issue), such as Stephens Harper and Hickman, as well as Bruce Jones. Below you see a few examples…I believe Hickman wins the battle of the best art in this fanzine among his buddies. You can see Hickman’s current amazing painting work here. He has gone on to make an impressive career in illustration, as his site states: “Since 1976 Hickman has illustrated over 400 covers for Ace, Baen, Ballantine, Bantam, Berkeley, Dell, Del Rey, Doubleday, Phage Press, Tor, Warren Publications and others.”
Of course, Bob Kline appears in this zine, which is the main reason he still had it in his possession! Below you see the only illustration by Kline in this particular fanzine. By this point, he had one foot in the animation field, and had stopped contributing to very many zines.
Frank Brunner, who would make his name with Marvel’s Dr. Strange, contributes a spread typical of his fanzine work. Typical in that it stood out as very well done, and done by someone who knew how to draw a sexy female!
Another artist that represents himself well is Steve Fritz, and you can also see some quick sketches by the likes of Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel, if you download the pdf here! You can also see features such as “From the Book of Useless Information,” an editorial, and the American Indian themed “The Storytelling Stone,” all by editor Jennings, as well as the complete “…Hollow” and “The Gardener” stories. What are you waiting for?
Thanks this time go out to Robert Kline for loaning me the zine in the first place!
Ken Meyer Jr.