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These creators merged the escape minimalism of Golden Age comics with the DIY aesthetic of modern graphic novels and experimental small-press comics.
Biljo White, Richard “Grass” Green, and Landon Chesney are just a few of the early zine visionaries to appear in Fandom’s best comics. These designers merged the escape minimalism of Golden age comics with the DIY aesthetic of modern graphic novels and experimental small-press comics. Their gross fantasies stemmed from a premonitory subculture unified by the belief that comics were important works of art.
When elements of reality crept into these books, they were mostly related to the personal lives of individual artists or internal fan-centric jokes. Bill Schelly’s annotation doesn’t analyze much of non-aesthetic influences and that’s good. Contextual silence gives readers a chance to draw their own conclusions about what could have sparked all the reckless creativity that makes these works so powerful. This vagueness is also the mark of cultural development: these creators used their work to carve out a niche for themselves. The first zines came from a “safe space” as they were specially made for and by avid comic book fans, collectors and aspiring professional artists. Whether or not casual readers understood their esoteric background was not of great concern.
Being a staunch fan of comics in the 50s and 60s sometimes brought ridicule, embarrassment, and humiliation, especially for teens and others who faced school bullies and immature phobes. The ever-present secret identity trope of the comics had a particular appeal to bullied children from marginalized backgrounds. As a homosexual living in the closet for much of his life, Schelly developed his connection to the fandom in response to a greater alienation caused by the intolerance and homophobia that were common in pre-era times. Stonewall. His need for unconditional acceptance of his secret sexuality was just as strong as the need to create comics and fanzines. When Schelly passed away suddenly in 2019 The comic book review paid tribute to the late creator / archivist who underlined the crucial role tolerance played in the birth of fan culture: “By printing his own zines, Schelly had become ‘a member of a brotherhood’. In the 1960s… Fans were driven by a desire for inclusion and connection, and when he addressed his fellow fans he found he was no less welcome in the “brotherhood” .
In the dark ages pre-Comic Con, it was a miracle for fans to receive support. Without an art degree, graphic design experience, and well-established relationships with major publishers, it was difficult to gain a foothold in the pre-Reagan comic book industry. For those amateurs who have moved beyond the zine scene, the transition to the professional level has required patience and humility. Zine community morale boosts have also been the ingredients of success.
“Good Guy! From the acerbic genius Alan Hanley! Clean Life Champion! ” (native COMIC no. 5) appears in Fandom’s Finest flight. 1. Hanley’s career began in the early 1960s. The writer / artist would die before seeing his work professionally published. His satirical play “The Mitey Buggers” aired Charlton bullseye no. 6 about a year after losing his life in a car crash and almost 20 years after starting self-publishing fanzines (an interesting coincidence: Bullseye 6). Artists Jim Starlin, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Dave Cockrum, and Alan Weiss have all worked in the dark for years while honing their skills in DIY zines.
The best story of the first volume of Fandom’s Finest is “Master Tyme and Mobius Tripp” by George Metzger (originally published in Bill spicer‘s Illustrated fantasy). Metzger would become legendary for creating ultra-detailed images in Moon dog, The village of the East Other‘s Gothic airship Works supplement, and other underground hippie titles. While there is complexity galore, the element of representation that has also dominated Metzger’s best-known works is not part of “Master Tripp…” The ambitious story of op-art the influenced scribble and its main creature share many traits with the wilderness of early fanzines. They were chaotic, passionate, and consumed by relentless imaginary forces.