Robot 6

Blog saves classic fanzine art from the ash heap of history

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We’re living in an age where increasing aspects of our comics heritage is being protected, with all manner of work coming back into print in fittingly deluxe packages. However, we can all think of great comics that will probably never be reprinted, for various obscure reasons. For example, all manner of great work published by Marvel and DC in the 1970s and ’80s will never see the light of day again due to lapsed licensing deals. Other titles, other creators, simply fall from fashion, to await rediscovery by another generation. Others still end up in complicated rights battles and litigation.

One field of comics-related work that seems to be just lost to the unrelenting march of time and progress is that of the pre-Internet fanzine. Many significant figures in comics history contributed text and art to this near-dead medium, and it’s hard to see any organization having the will to invest in researching, reprinting or digitizing this lost legacy.

Colin Smith is a blogger and the author of Sequart’s “Shameless? The Superhero Comics of Mark Millar,” and as a critic has written about comics for some of the United Kingdom’s top magazines. He has a secondary blog where he has been recently sharing some great art from old U.K. fanzines and convention booklets.

A lot of these come from the now-defunct UKCAC conventions from the 1980s and ’90s, but Smith has deviated as far back as the ’60s, such as when he featured the above Spider-Man/Dr. Strange from the 1964 fanzine Komik Heroes of the Future. He’s concentrated a lot on the career of Alan Davis, showing his progress from from amateur efforts submitted to Fantasy Forum #17, published in 1982, through to character sheets for Judge Dredd published in Arken Sword in 1986, a jam piece celebrating the three series he was working on with Alan Moore at the time, also for Arken Sword, right up to a cartoon from the 1995 UKCAC booklet showing clear exasperation with the mid-’90s comics scene.

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A personal favorite, and by its date, maybe the first time anyone commented upon the influence of Herbie the Fat Fury upon the speech patterns of Watchmen‘s Rorschach, by Alan Moore’s frequent collaborator Garry Leach (who does a mean impersonation of Dave Gibbons’ style here). It’s from the UKCAC booklet of 1987 (also famously the convention that put Moore off them for decades, after being hounded for an autograph in the toilet).

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The Tumblr is a treasure trove, featuring equally seldom-seen pieces by Will Eisner, Brendan McCarthy, Frank Miller, Kevin O’Neill, Duncan Fegredo, Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot, Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon, Chris Weston, Frank Quitely, Herge … the list goes on and on. Dig in.

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