Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fanzines of the 1970s (Part 1)





Comics fanzines were numerous in the 1970s. Each title usually produced by one person (the self-appointed editor, publisher, and main writer) and in formats restricted by budget (mono or spot colour, photocopied or litho if you were lucky) they nevertheless served an important purpose for fandom. They not only brought us news of upcoming comics but also, via the busy letter columns which often spanned pages, brought together comics fans for discussion and friendly banter.

They're all gone now; replaced by slicker magazines like Comics International and Wizard and countless internet forums, groups, fan sites etc. All of which serve the same purpose and bring the same enjoyment and information as the fanzines of old, only much faster! (Many of the old fanzines had sporadic publication times, - some only appearing a couple of times a year.)

Above are a selection of just four of those old fanzines. Click on the covers to see the full size versions. (Another four below, in part two. The size limitations of this blog meant I had to do the scans in two parts.)

Bemusing Magazine No.10 (August 1976): Later abbreviated its title to Bem (which we'd always called it anyway). Published by Martin Lock, who went on to write for Eros Comics! A great little fanzine full of news, informal features, reviews, fan art etc.

Comic Media No.11 (December 1973): Published by Nick Landau, who went on to start up the Forbidden Planet shops and is the publisher of Titan Books! (Didn't he do well?) The most professional comics 'zine of the time I think. This issue contains a Syd Jordan interview and also runs the Jeff Hawke strip, as well as Modesty Blaise and The Seekers. (This is the very first fanzine I bought, via a mail order ad in the UK Marvel weeklies.)

Comic Media News No.28 (Oct-Nov 1976): Published by Richard Burton, who went on to be an editor on Tiger, 2000AD, and Sonic the Comic (amongst others). A very nicely produced 'zine, very professional in its attitude, and the news source for us back then. (One of the news items in this issue tells of the opening of Nostalgia and Comics, - Birmingham's first comic shop, which is still running today.)

Comics Unlimited No.43 (February 1977): Published by Alan Austin, this long-running fanzine was a great place for fans old and new, with its lengthy letters pages and features. This particular issue featured my first fanzine contribution, - a letter published! I was dead chuffed.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some great covers there Lew, thanks for posting, very interesting. Old fanzines are hard to find these days but I always enjoy rummaging trhough them when they do turn up.


Richard S.

Lew Stringer said...

It's amazing how many featured material by people who moved on to professional comics. There's some real gems to be found in old fanzines. Artwork by Dave Gibbons, Kev O'Neill, Brian Bolland... and lettercols that would embarrass some of us by now by their naivety. They were genuinely exciting times though and looking through those old 'zines I remember the young enthusiasm and optimism many of us had back then, and how much we'd look forward to a new issue coming out.

Mikeodee said...

I remember subscribing to Comics Unlimited (Fantasy Unlimited as it used to be) for a few years in the early 70s. Ditched 'em all when I moved house a few years ago, much to my regret. Whatever happened to Alan Austin?

Lew Stringer said...

I don't know. I never met Alan Austin, although I was a regular subscriber to CU and also bought old comics from him. Presumably he left fandom completely, but it'd be good to know what he's up to now. Anyone out there know?

Anonymous said...

Hello all,

When I was _MUCH_ younger I contributed to BEM (Bemusing) - has anyone scanned the back issues and posted them anywhere? I lost my copies long, long ago....but would love to read them again

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for the update Martin. Hope you're well. I always had a soft spot for BEM as it was one of the first fanzines I bought on my first visit to a comic shop (Dark They were and Golden Eyed) in 1976.

Discovering that not only were there other people who collected comics, but that they actually discussed them in a fanzine was a revelation to me. If I'd never discovered fanzines I'm pretty sure I'd have eventually given up on comics and never pursued my ambitions. I'm sure that's true of many of us working in comics today, so those seventies 'zines provided an important service to the future of the industry.

Dan_Dare2012 said...

Fantasy Unlimited (*sighs*) - that takes me back to the days of DTWAGE in Berwick Street. I had a letter published in there once upon a time, and I still have the "Steve Ditko Special" in a box soomewhere. But how did they manage to transfer the artwork onto those Roneo stencils? It always puzzled me.

I saw the name Martin Lock mentioned - didn't he used to contribute to fanzines as "Emlock"?

Excercising the dusty recesses of the grey matter hsa to be a good thing, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Fantasy Unlimited (*sighs*) - that takes me back to the days of DTWAGE in Berwick Street. I had a letter published in there once upon a time, and I still have the "Steve Ditko Special" in a box soomewhere. But how did they manage to transfer the artwork onto those Roneo stencils? It always puzzled me.

I saw the name Martin Lock mentioned - didn't he used to contribute to fanzines as "Emlock"?

Excercising the dusty recesses of the grey matter hsa to be a good thing, doesn't it?

davegr said...

Does anyone have any photos of DTWAGE either in Berwick Street or St. Annes Court? I've never seen any on the net and I have looked really hard.

Dan Thompson said...

Great to read your comments. I'm working on a Wikipedia page for DTWAGE - any contributions welcome, either straight onto Wikipedia if you're up to it or email me, dan@artistsandmakers.com - cheers.

Anonymous said...

Lew, I think that issue of Comic Media may have been my first fanzine as well, and although I would have bought it for the great interview with Sydney Jordan I am pretty sure Colin Campbell ran an ad for his US Comics import service, which got my collecting back on track.

Peter Duxbury

davegr said...

I have left put a couple of pix on the wikipedia page. Will try and get a less wonky scan of the comic strip. Would love to see a photo of any of the shops.

davegr said...

Posted some pix on the Wikipedia page.

kenmeyerjr said...

I was just thinking the last few days of starting a comics fanzine blog, scanning one a week or so...I have probably 200 or so various zines from the 70's/80s, zines like Fantastic Fanzine, The Collector, CPL, the big EC zines Squa Tront and Spa Fon, and many smaller zines like the great No Sex, among others. I wonder if there would be a readership for this?

pinkie5549 said...

Hallo Lew, and hallo anyone else I knew way back then - I used to be Maureen James in those days, but obviously thats no more. I came across this site just by accident about 10min ago. (I"m supposed to be researching into elder Abuse, but put me on my laptop and no one can tell where I end up!!!!) Anyway, thought I would drop by and say "Hi" and "Bye". re

Anonymous said...

Wish I could re-read some of these old fanzines. Have they ever been scanned and posted anywhere (complete issues)?

Lew Stringer said...

Not to my knowledge. Presumably most of the people who own the rights to those 'zines either put the world of comics behind them or they don't have the time or inclination.

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