Friday, May 29, 2020

The Comic Reader #92 (December 1972)

I really miss fanzines and newszines like this. The Internet and Web sites just aren't the same, and the kind of research required to compile an issue like this is far beyond what goes into most Web writing. When reading this issue last night, I was struck by two things. At the time of this issue's publication, editor Paul Levitz was 16 years old. And this specific issue was published in the very month in which Levitz got his first freelance work at DC—when Joe Orlando hired him to write text and letter pages. Working on the zine helped him not just become known by the DC staff, but also to develop relationships with them. That in turn led to a career in comics; Levitz eventually became editor, vice president, executive vice president, and president of DC.

This zine is awesome in and of itself, regardless of what kind of career it led to. In a digest with relatively small typesetting, Levitz collects and compiles a snapshot of what was going on in comics in late '72. The news columns include items about new and planned titles, staff assignment changes, creative assignments, lineup changes, promotions, cancellations, and health concerns. "Coming Comics" details—and in some cases speculates on—the contents of upcoming comics, including storylines, writing and art assignments, and cover art reproductions courtesy of the publishers. And "Late News and Corrections" announces Howard Chaykin's nuptials, new books of note, and recent newspaper coverage of comics—with fans offering photocopies at cost.

"Et Al" offers a slighter wider range of fandom-related news and notes, addressing media, fan deaths, zines, conventions, and books. Liam O'Connor reviews relevant fanzines, including Fandom Spectacular 1972, Comic Crusader #13, Funnyworld #14, and The Comic Detective #2, as well as other items. Steve Utley reviews Southwesterncon; Manny Maris reports on National Lampoon, Lancer Books, Swank, Ace, Ballantine, and other related markets and publishers; Tom Greeniones reports on the state of comics in Rumania; and Paul Hugli reports on the first ever Fantasy Film Con—given that that took place in Los Angeles, I might have to recreate its lineup while quarantined!

I cannot think of a single periodical or Web site today that captures the breadth, depth, range, or energy of this 36-page digest. And it wasn't produced by a staff or a company, but by a teenager. Such a good zine, with plenty of rabbit holes to explore.

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