What an absolutely sumptuous fanzine. The latest issue of Jim Main’s Comic Fan! is a brick of a zine, a giant 156-page collection of great articles and artwork spotlighting the Silver Age of comics.
Under a wonderful front cover by the great Jim Mooney, and an equally wonderful back cover by the great Dick Ayers, readers are presented a ridiculously large assortment of good reading and viewing material in this zine.
There are numerous interesting and engaging articles in this issue. I especially enjoyed Rob Imes’s love letter to classic Superboy comics of the ’60s and ’70s. I’ve never been a big fan of those stories, but Rob makes a convincing case that, as he says, “when it comes to sheer entertainment, these Silver-Age Superboy stories still work.”
Mike Tuz delivers wonderful summation of the Silver Age Captain Marvel. I’ve actually recently read the Essential Captain Marvel and didn’t care too much for the stories, but Tuz makes a compelling case for a close rereading of the series. Though I found the ’60s and ’70s Captain Marvel to be an extremely frustrating series to read, I enjoyed Tuz’s insights into the progression of the series. He calls out the strong and weak points of all the stories, which I appreciated.
Sam Gafford’s appreciation of the art of Nick Cardy is a treat. In part that’s because I never get tired of seeing Cardy’s artwork, but in part that’s because Gafford sprinkles his article liberally with relevant quotes from Cardy about his work. Those quotes added real life and energy to the article.
Nic Carceri’s article on Spider-Man focuses on the classic six words that defined the character: “with great power comes great responsibility.” It’s a nice survey of the reasons why the character has been so successful, and I loved how Jim Main included some original Ditko and Romita art with the article.
Dennis Kinninger’s article about the wonderful Ramona Fradon is also a treat. Fradon did lots of wonderful work in comics over the years, and the article does a good job of giving readers a perspective on the woman’s personality and life outside of comics. It was wonderful to read such a wonderful appreciation of her long and fruitful artistic career.
Maybe my favorite piece in this huge magazine was Lance “Doc” Boucher’s appreciation of the art of Don Newton. Newton was a longtime comics fan who finally made it big in comics and drew many really wonderful comics, only to be cut down by a heart attack. I was always a big fan of Newton’s art, and loved that Doc took the time to track down some of Newton’s old friends, and provided a wonderful insight into Newton’s personality. In the end, Doc provided a portrait of a complicated and interesting man.
It occurs to me that in selecting these articles to mention, I’m neglecting several other wonderful articles in this issue. But it’s a function of the enormous size of this issue that I don’t mention Steve Skeates’s entertaining article about the old Charlton Premiere comic, or Rick Limacher’s chronicle of the Harvey Thriller line of comics, or any of the other nice pieces in this issue.
This zine isn’t just about articles. It also contains fan artwork and a long review section.
The artwork is a real treat. Readers get to see rare pieces by Ramona Fradon and Nick Cardy, but we also get a nice portfolio of artwork by great fan artist Larry Blake of some of his Silver Age favorites, and numerous pieces of art by folks like Terry Pavlet, Michael Grassia, and literally dozens of others. We even get a portfolio of original art by such worthies as Gene Colan, Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams in the back of the issue!
The reviews section is a bit odd. I’m obviously biased working here on ComicsBulletin, but I found myself a bit distracted by the enormous number of reviewers and the brevity of their reviews in this section. It just felt awkward reading reviews of comics that were new when they were written but were out of date by the time they were published. I did enjoy all the reviews of older comics, and the reviews of small-press comics (though, again, I had to wonder how current those comics were), but the reviews section kind of sprawled too long for my pleasure.
The magazine is rounded out by galleries of folks displaying their comics at the Stumptown Comics Fest and at the SPACE convention. It’s always a treat to see creators at work.
Jim’s Comic Fan! is an absolute treat, and one of the most satisfying and interesting fanzines I’ve seen this side of the TwoMorrows zines. Ordering information can be found here.