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May 24, 2010

Ink Stains 19: CPL 11

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Written by: kenmeyerjr
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Gil Kane. Alex Toth. Don Maitz. Rick Buckler. Joe Sinnott. Jim Starlin. Berni Wrightson. John Byrne…LOTS of John Byrne. All in one “little” zine. And that zine is…CPL 11!

CPL 11: 1974

Publisher: Robert Layton

As you know, if you read Ink Stains 5, which showcased  issue 12 of this great zine (of which I wish like crazy I had more…can anyone help?), it is jam packed with incredible art from some of the best fans (and pros) of the time, along with some very good writers as well. This issue, number 11, is just as exceptional.

As you can see, issue 11 starts out with a high contrast bang, courtesy of the justifiably lauded artist Alex Toth. He was always able to do so much with so little…which, as most artists will tell you, is not anywhere near as easy as you might think it is.

CPL was put together on a quarterly basis by Bob Layton, with help from fellow soon-to-be pros Roger Stern and other artists and writers known collectively as The CPL Gang (and also as The Indianapolis Mafia). The artist that played the biggest part in this issue, as in issue 12, is John Byrne.  But…we will get to Byrne’s many contributions later in the article.

The first interior illustration is a full page Don Maitz illustration of Ka-zar. Don has gone on to be one of the premier fantasy artists of today, and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions via email about his involvement in fandom.

Don got interested in fandom through a friend’s fanzine called Formula X: “It was produced by a high school friend. It was really bad, but at least it only had a print run of about ten copies. He had to give me a copy…actually several copies, as there was no way I was going to pay money for it. I do not think he could get his mother to buy a copy.”

And the first fanzine Don was actually published in? “I do remember working in my very first fanzine.  That high school friend I mentioned talked me into working on the second issue of Formula X ! We made it using a ditto copy machine in the high school print shop (using blue, green, and red ink).  I illustrated the title comic story featuring his character, Formula X.  I wrote and illustrated a short comic story in it as well.  It was really amateurish,  awful as well.  The only saving grace was we knew the great DC comic book artist, Jim Aparo, who graciously did a cover ink drawing for us to use. He lived near us and we were allowed to sit with him in his basement while he worked on Aquaman, Batman and other comic book  titles.  We must have printed all of 20 copies of Formula X !  My friend’s mother still did not buy a copy, my mother avoided it as well.  I must have been sixteen at the time.” Despite the disdain of any nearby mother, Don almost entered the comic book field while in art school. “Jim Aparo took my friend and I to Rockefeller Plaza, NYC into the DC Comics offices and introduced us around. I met Dick Giordano (then Vice president at DC) at his home and did two pages of “ghost inking”  for Jim Aparo, as well as  some pencils for ads appearing in Marvel Comics.  I went into NYC  with my comic portfolio and they put me to work that same day inking over poor xerox copies of Black Canary pages as sort of an apprentice, pay your dues introduction to working in comics. I do not know if they expected me to travel to NYC from the middle of CT every day to do spec work till someone gave me a paying job. Anyway, I decided to stay in art school as I began to be very attracted to oil painting.” See his gorgeous work here.

As to what Maitz has done recently, he told me, “A couple of years ago I did concept art for Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, and Ant Bully.  I have some work coming out in a coffee table book titled Knowing Darkness,  featuring artists  who have illustrated stories by  Stephen King.  I have all new art in the 2010 Pirates! calendar and my work has been featured in an award winning documentary film titled Mythic Journeys. This film won best documentary at Dances with Film in LA and at a film festival in Rome last weekend (and you can see a trailer here). The film also features animated puppets designed by Brian and Wendy Froud, interviews by visionaries such as Deepak Chopra, and the voices of Mark Hamill, Lance Henriksen, and Tim Curry.” By the way, to the left you see work by a contemporary of Maitz, Clyde Caldwell, who we will examine next.

Clyde Caldwell got into fandom via a different route and subject matter…Edgar Rice Burroughs. Clyde told me, “I had always read comics from early childhood.  I started reading SF & Fantasy literature when I was in the 7th grade and was instantly hooked.  When I was in graduate school working on my MFA, I discovered The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom.  There were ads for fanzines in TBG.  I was a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs so I ordered some of the ERB fanzines to see what they were about.” In fact, Clyde’s first published work was in a Burroughs zine called ERBdom. “I was in grad school…probably around 22 or 23 years old.  I did a John Carter of Mars drawing in pen & ink and it was used for a back cover.  The funny thing about it was that I did the piece in black & white.  “Caz” Cazedessus, Jr., who was the editor of the zine, sent the piece out to be colored without my knowledge.  The colorist was [Marvel inker] Sam Grainger, who used to work with my father in Charlotte, NC (at Radiator Specialty Co.)  When I was a kid, I used to do superhero drawings and send them to work with my dad to show to Sam.  Sam was nice enough to critique them.  At that time Sam was doing freelance work for Marvel Comics, in addition to working as a commercial artist at Radiator Speciality Co.  I thought it a huge coincidence that he was called on to color my first ever fanzine piece.  As it turned out, Sam was a huge ERB fan too.” I remember loving Sam Grainger’s inks over John Buscema on The Avengers, along with many other titles. You can see Caldwell’s beautifully accomplished work here.

Roger Stern appears as editor of CPL for the first time with this issue, and delivers a column detailing the dovetailing of the fanzine and Charlton Bullseye, a short lived Charlton house magazine (and a very well produced one, if memory serves). Roger notes that John Byrne’s character, Rog-2000, is “the back up tenant in E-Man,” and the character also has a 6-page strip featuring not only the title robot character, but the CPL creators as well! Duffy Vohland, Byrne, Layton, Stern, and others put in appearances in this action packed humor strip, written by Stern and illustrated by Byrne and Layton. Check out this interview with Stern done in 2006.

Don’t think the Byrne fun stops there, though. John’s smooth, easy to identify illustrations grace pretty much every other page of this fanzine. He gives us renditions of Howard the Duck, The Thing, Galactus, The Silver Surfer, The Flash, J. Johah Jameson, assorted robots, and also inks Rich Buckler on several full-page illustrations, a few of which you see below Joe Sinnott’s version of Galactus.

I can recall really loving Buckler’s work circa Deathlok and the like. The centerfold of that character above illustrates how smooth and sinuous his work could be. And of course, he could ape Kirby like few others, as witnessed by the Thing illo above. He has a few other illustrations not shown here that you can check out by getting the pdf.

The articles also are done by writers who would later become pros (or who were already working in the industry). Aside from the previously mentioned self referential article, Steve Gerber writes “Further Muck Meditations,” this installment focusing (he calls it “bitching”) on the effect of big companies on the creative process, as well as the element of “relevance” in comics (something that was all the rage back then, what with the classic O’Neil and Adams’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues, etc). John Byrne examines Galactus (see illo above) in his “Northern Lights” column (accompanied also by the full page Joe Sinnott illustration and a Byrne Silver Surfer spot illo), while Roger Stern, in his “Sterno’s Hot Ones” column, pokes fun at an issue of The Flash in which the title character streaks…luckily at Flash speed! Stern also gives us a page detailing the creation of John Byrne’s robot character, Rog-2000 (preceding the Rog-2000 strip). An article by Paty (Greer, I think, is her last name, though she never used it) on the subject of The Vision and whether he has blood or not is followed by C.C. Beck’s instructions on creating characters called “Don’t Show and Tell Everything”. A letter column rounds out the text features in this issue.

As you can plainly see, CPL had one of the best stables of any fanzine in existence at that time (at any time, really), what with burgeoning pros like Byrne and existing artists like Gil Kane, whose work you see above. But hey, I have not shown it all! In addition to what you have seen, there are several more illustrations by Byrne, as well as work by Berni Wrightson, Jim Starlin/Pete Iro, Dan Adkins, and Bob Hall. So please, download the pdf so you can see all of the great work in this small, but potent fanzine!

CPL was one of my favorite fanzines from the 70s, and that is from only seeing two issues. If anyone out there has any other issues they would be willing to loan me or scan for me, I would be eternally grateful. For now though…download and leave comments!

Thanks this issue goes out to Don Maitz and Clyde Caldwell for their time.

Ken Meyer Jr.




  1. Those Guitar Pick spaceships kick ass. Toth understood simple better than anyone.

  2. Billy

    Awesome Iron Fist pic!

  3. Thanks for looking guys. Ellis, those links should be working in about 5 minutes or so…my mistake!

    I never thought of those ships as guitar picks…good one!

  4. CPL did high quality productions – I really enjoyed their Charlton Bullseye title.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pam Harrison, DavidJoshua Artful, Val Mata, Comic Attack, Comic Attack and others. Comic Attack said: Before going to bed tonight, be sure to take in this amazing rare Silver Age art from 1974!! http://dld.bz/eNjb #comics […]

  6. Matt B

    Wow, some terrific artwork here!

  7. Ken Meyer Jr.

    Yeah, Paul…I had a few of those and wish I still did and Matt…at least in the two issues I have, great art was in both! Wish I had more!

  8. Nice job on this site! It is interesting learning how comics have influenced a generation of artists, from those that have stayed true to the form, to those who have taken the comic influence with them into entirely new directions. Frank Frazetta being a prime example of this expansion of form, but also, the comic influence can be seen in such things as story board art for books,graphic novels, film, and in a new generation of digital animation based upon comic art for major motion pictures.

  9. Ken Meyer Jr.

    Thanks for coming by, Don!

  10. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free!! I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

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