Monday, September 15, 2014

FA the Comiczine

This will be old news to some of you, but for those of you who didn't already know, Britain's most enduring comics fanzine has a new life online these days. FA the Comiczine can be found here: 

FA started out as the fanzine Fantasy Advertiser way back in 1965, created by Frank Dobson as a way to sell his comics via mail order. When Frank emigrated to Australia in 1970 the editorial reins were passed on to Dez Skinn and Paul McCartney (not the Beatle). You can read Dez' fascinating anecdotes about it on his website here:

Although still heavy on the sales ads, Dez did include some great features too, such as in Fantasy Advertiser No.55 (April 1975) which carried an interview with Stan Lee by Charles Murray.
Cover art by Bryan Talbot.

By the time I first discovered the 'zine, in 1977, it was being edited by Colin Campbell and had a pretty even balance of features, strips, and ads. 
Cover by Trev Goring.
Cover by Jeff Anderson.

Martin Lock became the next editor/publisher in the early 1980s, giving the 'zine a good comics news section, and continuing the features and a lively letters column. 
Cover by Eddie Campbell.

Martin Skidmore took over in the mid-1980s, and abbreviated the title to FA because he felt 'Fantasy Advertiser' sounded a bit like a sex contact mag. It also allowed FA to cover material beyond the fantasy genre. 
Cover by George Perez.

FA was taken over by Trident Comics in 1988, retaining Martin Skidmore as editor, but unfortunately the mag closed when the company went bankrupt in 1991. However in 2010, Martin revived the title as an online 'zine with new material. 

Sadly, Martin Skidmore passed away a few years ago but his colleagues and friends have continued to keep FA the Comiczine going. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Fantasy Advertiser so hopefully there'll be something significant to mark the milestone on the website. It's the fanzine that seems indestructible. Check it out. There's some great articles by Nevs Coleman, Andrew Moreton and others, plus Martin Hand's bizarre strip World of Flimsy


Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Nice article Lew , I have a soft spot for the printed FA - I had been aware of the on-line FA a couple of years ago but to be honest wasn't to keen on it as nothing seemed to be updated/added for ages and it looked a bit "dry"- however it looks a lot better now with new pieces on it and more illos/colour so will have read some interesting stuff there now.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it's good to know it's still around in some form. My favourite 'zines were Bem, The Panelologist, and Comic Media News, but I tended to buy nearly every one I came across. I wasn't aware of fandom until 1976. Before then I thought I was about the only teenager who still read comics! (None of my local friends bought them.) Discovering comics fandom was a revelation to me!

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I think I first heard of fandom around 1973/4ish when Marvel UK ran a small ad for a few fanzines but I never got any at that time - However, the following year my brother started work in a Bank and one of his colleagues was an avid comic collector and he gave my brother a few fanzines for me (I recall the Thing, & Zephyr ) when I read these I noticed they were printed in the town we had recently moved to ( about 12 miles from Glasgow) so I popped along and the guy gave me a batch of them for free (test copies) - great stuff - I loved BEM as well a simple idea just so well done - the early days of 70s fandom (comics, SF and music) was really exciting

Mikeodee said...

My favourite fanzine was Alan Austin's Fantasy (later Comics) Unlimited. Did you ever read that? Do you know if AA is still around? Believe he was selling pulps 5 or so years ago.

Lew Stringer said...

I think Alan is still on eBay, Mike. Haven't bought anything from him for a while though. Yes, Comics Unlimited was another good one. That was the first fanzine to publish a letter of mine I think.

Paul, I discovered 'zines from that ad in the comics too. Was it as far back as 73/74? Some of the zines were, but they may have been back issues. Anyway, yeah, that's how I found out about fandom. Then in the summer of 1976 I visited London and 'Dark They Were and Golden Eyed' comic shop when it was still in Berwick Street. A shop full of comics! A boyhood dream come true.

Paddykool said...

As you probably know Lew I was involved in fandom from the mid sixties when Tony Roche started the Merry Marvel Fanzine and Heroes Unlimited. FA got me back into it and I had Great time contributing to all the zines of the time like the Panelologist and BEM .Nice article ...I 'ver still got most of them to this day .Dez did a really good issue about Frank Bellamy which really opened up my eyes to something beyond Marvel and the undergrounds...Nice to see it' online now...must check it out...

Lew Stringer said...

Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs have told me about the early days of UK fandom, but I only have a few second hand zines from the sixties. I have that Bellamy FA somewhere too, but I couldn't find it this week. It'll be buried underneath a ton of comics somewhere in the house I suppose.

John Pitt said...

Dez Skinn's website IS brilliant. I've read the whole site and he personally answered my emails.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I think you may be right Lew I think it was about 75 early 76 that ad appeared in Marvel UK , strange I can vividly picture the ad but the year I'm not 100% on (ie old age).

There's some nice fan art and fanzine covers on this tumbler link that may be of interest to some ("Mikeodee" it include a Fantasy Unlimited cover that may take you back a bit)

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for the link Paul. Yeah, I'm not sure when that ad was in the Marvel UK comics but I know that one of the 'zines I received was a Comic Media mag from '73 or '74 and it was out of date (but still enjoyable). Actually that was probably the final issue, so it was still 'current' I guess (and still is! :))

You're right, John. Dez's website is a treasure trove of background info on those 1970s comics and mags.

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