Featured Columns

February 1, 2017

Ink Stains 92: FOOM 4 and 5

FOOM! The official Marvel fanzine, issues 4 and 5, includes greats such as Marie Severin, Jim Steranko, and John Byrne!

FOOM 4 and 5, 1973 and 1974
Editors: Jim Steranko and Tony Isabella

Welcome to installment 92 of Ink Stains! I will admit right off the bat, I got a bit behind this month, what with freelance deadlines, a couple of Magic the Gathering tournaments, and, well, life. So, this column doesn’t have a ton of anecdotes and inside info, but I did my best. By the way, to see coverage of the first 3 issues, check out Ink Stains 43.

First off, check out the covers above. Now, it may be that chance selected those two covers to compare, but I see a huge difference in design decisions at work. At left, I can only assume, is the design of editor Steranko. The design is clean and elegant…unlike the issue to the right, issue 5, which is cluttered and not quite as attractive. Could be just me. Joel Thingvall worked on the production of the zine and he had this to say, via Facebook, about the methods back then.

We did everything old school…sent type out to a printer, it came back and we cut in corrections or reformatted with rubber cement and a stat camera. Lots of presstype. What was amazing was how hands-on Jim was with the magazine, from doing headers to quick pieces of art. When I was there it was Jim, Ken Bruzenak and I in production. We used that strange printing with one color ink and highlights in another color, and the thing was folded so we didn’t really need staple binding. We had some freelancers do some articles and stuff. I did some of the fun and games and the indexing.
Curious that Jim’s vision of the fan club was the games and crossword finders and such, kinda reaching back to the age when people discovered Marvel and still finding fun in being kids…still.
What is amazing is that Steranko had the mind to overprint everything back then and store extras…which was why you could still purchase FOOM #1 kits from him until recently and ALL his old tabloids were still available. Plus he overprinted the color covers for his histories because it was cheap and they could just be put on future printings of the black-and-white interiors, if need be.
Steranko got a fee (unknown to me) from Marvel to package and handle the club and other things, like those posters.

Let’s head on inside the pages.

To the left, you see Steranko, always stylish. The layouts, font choices and other elements reflect his experience and innate eye for good design. Behind him is the cover to his second History of the Comics. Throughout this issue you will see game layouts, banners, headlines and other visuals that show what a master he was (and still is). You will notice a big difference between this and the following issue, if you are graphically inclined.

Above is one of the many eye pleasing pages obviously put together by Steranko, including an actual illustration of the archetypical Marvel villain. And after the quote below you see possibly the most well known of those villains, Dr. Doom, done in a Kirby style by Steranko (the eyes are the giveaway). Acclaimed author-historian, J. David Spurlock, told me on Facebook that

Jim Steranko had left Marvel in 1970 but he made a big return to in late 1972 through early 1973. For a few months there he was Marvel’s top cover artist and Steranko created FOOM. But Steranko left Marvel (for the second time) as they were not sending him material for FOOM. Unreasonably, they expected him to create everything from scratch. My hypothesis [about the cover image of Dr. Doom – Ken] is that Jim created the cover image to FOOM magazine #4 by re-inking from Kirby’s late-’60s Marvelmania poster. The foot in the lower-right corner was partially covered in the original Kirby poster so, there is more Steranko in that foot area, than Kirby. Amazingly, once Steranko quit Marvel and FOOM, Marvel took the magazine in-house and suddenly, gave it all the support they had been so delinquent in providing Steranko. His creation FOOM, continued on for years, long after his exit.

The issue started with the Steranko bio (after an editorial), and it continues with a contest I remember myself (though I was not far enough along to send in an entry, I guess). Readers were invited to send in designs for a new Marvel character and promised it would appear in an issue of an X-Men book. As mentioned in the previous FOOM column linked above, there were many names that would appear in comic book credits years later. Names like Steve Rude, Doug Hazlewood, Mary Jo Duffy, Tim Sale, Mark McKenna, Jerry Ordway, James O’Barr, Jim Kuzee and many others. Look at the list below, maybe you can find some I missed.

…and here are some visuals to spark your memory!

One name I seemed to recognize for some reason was Mike Barreiro. Then, it hit me…he was already a friend on Facebook who I had spoken to frequently. Kismet ensued and a good time was had by all. When I asked Mike about it, he said “It was so long ago. I remember being excited that I won and pretty let down when nothing came of it.” He went on to say that “the story I got was that Jim Steranko was editing FOOM but he left and whoever took over dropped the ball.” The funny thing is, many years later, “Fabian Nacieza actually got the ball rolling. Tom Breevort called me in 2001 I think and they put my character Humus Sapien in Thunderbolts” So, he won the contest, and his character appeared 26 years later! Below you can see an article about Mike that appeared in his local paper, as well as a composite of his original character entry with his head shot from then, and his current Facebook profile picture. By the way, you can see Mike’s Facebook page here.

Mike also says that “the only fanzine I worked on was one created by Allen Freeman called Slam Bang. I wasn’t big into fanzines or the small press. I was more of an underground comics guy. I loved anything that Richard Corben was in.” As to his current status, “I’m not inking anything right now but I’m putting together a new portfolio and my own creator owned piece It’s called Black Hole Son.”

Following the contest is a Dr. Doom feature (using the art seen near the start of this column), then a crossword puzzle and a few other word games, followed by another fan supplied feature, Liltin’ Limericks. A Steranko designed board game of sorts follows and then several pages of the continuing column showcasing current (at that time) Marvel products. Then we are treated to a crime column (Gold on Crimson), two playful Steranko illustrated columns, followed by The Sensuous Villain, Dr. Foom, and a letters page (which is one long article, actually).

Issue five had a Fantastic Four member, the Thing as the theme, as evidenced by the cover seen at top. It begins with an editorial by the new editor, Tony Isabella. Next up is Marvel’s Greatest Heroes and a pin up of the Thing by Kirby and Joe Sinnott, seen below.

One interesting aspect of this article, and the issue as a whole, is that it features several illustrations by John Byrne. Byrne was still technically a fan at this point. His wikipedia page states that “Byrne left college in 1973 without graduating. He broke into comics with a fan art gallery piece in Marvel’s promotional publication FOOM in early 1974 and by illustrating a two-page story by writer Al Hewetson in Skywald Publications’ black-and-white horror magazine Nightmare #20 (Aug. 1974).” Below you see the  Thing by Byrne that appears in this article. Strangely, there is no credit.

Following the Thing article are two short profiles, one on Rich Buckler, the other on Steve Gerber. Then we see some fun cartoons by Stan Lee and Marie Severin, seen below, and the bad reproduction is not my fault! Included also are a few other Severin pieces from later in the issue.

After the Severin page are several pages of the continuing Marvel promo column, Department of Infoomation, showing the new comics on the stands. Then we see a Rich Buckler/Deathlok feature, some Marvel ads, a fan art gallery (a few images seen below by Byrne and Ken Steacy), a Chris Claremont article on a comic history book by Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff (The Comic Book Book), the Severin cartoons, and the Byrne back cover (inked by Duffy Vohland).

Well, heck, and here I thought it was going to be a short column? I always talk too much. Remember, you can see pdfs of both entire issues. You can find both at the bottom of the Ink Stains page on my site here. Gratitude this time to Mike Barreiro, James O’Barr, and J. David Spurlock! I owe you all a drink! As always, comments are appreciated, and tune in again next month for who knows what.

Ken Meyer Jr.



  1. klue

    Never knew that anyone actually won those contests back then! Then to have it pay off almost 30 years later would have been a big surprise! Oh, am I the only one that doesn’t like Thing as a character but I LOVE his design? Especially when drawn by Kirby or Steranko.

    The Marvel/Steranko relationship looks a little rocky just from what I read here. The part about offering the support after he’s gone from FOOM is pretty telling if you ask me.

  2. Thanks for the comments!

  3. magnuspym

    Foom was a classic alright – thanks for the column and the .pdf!! I love this column and all the great fanzines you have been highlighting. Great work!!!

    Any chance though that you have any of George RR Martin’s fanzine work? He contributed stories to Ymir #2 & #5 (1965 & 1966) , Star Studded Comics #7 & #10 (1965 & 1967), Batwing #3 (1965), In-Depth #1 (1967) and Dr. Weird #1 (1970 with stories illustrated by Jim Starlin!!).

    The guy is probably the world’s best seling author currently so it would be great to have his earliest work out there somehow.

    Finally have you ever come across David Hathaway-Price’s “Classic UK Comics Zines” (http://classicukcomicszines.weebly.com/) site? He does very similar work to you but with a focus on UK comic fanzines – well worth a look!

  4. Scott

    I ordered AWODCC as a kid, not FOOM, so this is new to me. Fun stuff. As always, Ken, Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master