Friday, 13 February 2015

The folly of youth. My first fanzine article.

I recently found an issue of Bem fanzine (No.23) from 1979 which featured the very first article I had published outside of my own fanzines. The subject was a history of Odhams' 'Power Comics', which may not surprise you as they've always been my favourite comics. The article was published in April 1979 so I'd have written it a month or two earlier when I was still 19. Ah, the folly of youth, - and unfortunately the article contains a few follies.

At the time I hadn't acquired a full set of Power Comics so I was using whatever issues I had kept from my childhood, plus relying on memory and assumptions. Not good enough. Here's where I went wrong:

1: Re: Wham! No.1. "Almost all the strips were drawn by Leo Baxendale". Not so, although Leo did contribute a lot for the issue.

2: "With issue 22, Smash! began to feature...Batman". Nope. Batman started in issue 20. (I'm betting that issue 22 had stuck in my mind because I'd remembered a pleasant summer's day in 1966 sitting on a park bench reading it so I must have made a typo.) As for my opinion that the Batman TV series was a "poor adaptation", ah, another folly of youth. I'd loved the show in 1966 but by the time I was 19 I was obviously trying to distance myself from it in that all-too-serious way that you do as a teenager. Now? It's my favourite version of Batman of all. 

3: I said that Wham! began reprinting The Fantastic Four before Smash! started reprinting the Hulk. Nope. Smash! was first, beginning the Hulk in Smash! No.16, and Wham! followed several weeks later with the FF. This is a very embarrassing mistake as I've often criticized others for the same blunder! I realize now that it was probably me who started that wonky ball rolling! Sorry folks!

4: "Pow and Fantastic merged". What? A stupidly bad assumption on my part. I'd stopped buying the comics for a while and when I started again it was Smash and Pow incorporating Fantastic so I'd assumed there had been a Pow and Fantastic merger beforehand. I didn't realise that Pow! had merged into Smash!, followed by Fantastic a few weeks later. 

5: Swots and Blots not being as outrageous when Leo Baxendale took over? Well, that may have been my opinion at the time but I don't know how I arrived at that. Leo's version of The Swots and the Blots was one of the saving graces of IPC's revamped Smash.

Apart from those idiotic goofs I think the article stands up ok. No one else was writing about those comics at the time so I was trying to balance things out a bit. I can only apologise for my 19 year old self getting a few things wrong. If it's any consolation I started losing my hair around that time, which seems a bit of harsh Karma for getting a few comic facts wrong but there you go.

Yes, the article was printed in bright green ink. 1970s fanzines. That's how they rolled. Some pages in green, some in blue, some in red. A few in black. To save your eyesight I've de-saturated the text and separated it into three columns for easier reading. I hope you enjoy it and will forgive the blunders! 

By the way, - that same issue also featured a little drawing of The Cloak that I'd done. It looks a bit crude now but here it is, 36 years later...


John Pitt said...

In a way, your very first blogpost! A few tweaks and it would work today!
Hey, I cringe at the gaffs and typos I make in blog comments, but, what the heck?
What is it with Power Comics ( and TV21 ) that STILL to this day hold such affection in our hearts and memories?

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, this was my first article published outside of my own 'zines but my very first one had appeared a few months earlier in my own After Image fanzine. (I think I was the first person to write a retrospective about Judge Dredd. I'll post that here soon.)

Collectors tend to favour the comics they read as children. I often meet people at events who feel that 1980s comics were the best thing ever, because they grew up with those. The late Denis Gifford and his pals thought comics of the 1930s were tops, because that was their nostalgia. It's all subjective.

Those sixties comics were a lot of fun though!

paddykool said...

I agree that comics really get mixed up in our personal nostalgias. I remember the feeling that they were almost "magical". I couldn't wait to possess them and hoard them. i remember really wanting a Beano annual in the 1950's but never getting it for Christmas and being so disappointed...the same for the early marvel Comics .If you hadn't the cash to buy say six new titles that had suddenly appeared on a spinner rack, you might never get that opportunity again because they were so scarce.There was no such thing as a back issue market they were gone forever. You had to get the shop owner to stash them for you and hope that mum would come up with the balance before they were gone for good.I don't think there is the same extreme feelings about anything nowadays because everything is somehow available somewhere on the net ...somewhere in the world. It wasn't like that back then.. .

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, the nearest thing to a back issue market then would be a bookstall on a market selling old American comics for 6d, or allowing an exchange of two for one.

paddykool said...

I agree Lew, but in Northern Ireland in the 1960's a small town , you never had that kind of opportunity either . you might if you took the bus to Belfast some forty miles away , but other than that it was swapping on doorsteps....two flash comics for a rolled up , much -read ,Fantastic Four..

John Pitt said...

Hey, paddykool, I was STILL doing that as an adult in the 80's - getting newsagents to stash bags full of comics for me, until pay-day!
Drove the missus mad!