Journey Planet 31, Something Good To End 2016


James Bacon invites one and all to download Journey Planet #31, co-edited by James, Christopher J Garcia and Pádraig Ó Méalóid.

In December 1966, fifty years ago now, a 15-year-old Irish teenager called Tony Roche did a remarkable thing. He published the first issue of a comics fanzine called The Merry Marvel Fanzine.

What was remarkable about this was that this was the first comics ‘zine on this side of the Atlantic. They had already existed in the US, but it would be over six months before the first British comics fanzine, Ka-Pow, produced by Phil Clarke and Steve Moore, would appear, in July 1967.

By producing The Merry Marvel Fanzine, and subsequently Heroes Unlimited, Tony Roche, all unbeknownst to himself, helped set in motion a tradition of ‘zines and communication between comics fans that continues, unbroken, to this day.

Tony went AWOL in the summer of 1969 – like many another – leaving the fan community to pursue an international academic career, culminating in a Professorship in Irish Literature in UCD. But he has now reappeared, and had opened a treasure chest full of unbelievable goodies, some of which he has allowed us to share, including artwork, articles, his Merry Marvel Marching Society membership card, and a previously unpublished Letter of Comment written by Alan Moore, shortly after his fifteenth birthday.

This issue of Journey Planet includes

  • An oral history of the time from Tony, which traces his adventures, including trips to a New York comic con and the very first British comic con
  • Fan artwork by legendary comics artist Paul Neary
  • An unpublished Alan Moore letter, sent to Heroes Unlimited in late 1968
  • Articles on Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, and The Avengers by Tony Roche from Heroes Unlimited
  • Unpublished correspondence from BBC presenter John Peel to Heroes Unlimited
  • A few words from Dez Skinn

And more!

Women in Early Comic Books

By Carl Slaughter:

By Mike Madrid


Has Wonder Woman hit the comic book glass ceiling? Is that the one opposition that even her Amazonian strength can’t defeat? Entertaining and informative, The Supergirls explores iconic superheroines and what it means for the culture when they do everything the superhero does, only in thongs and high heels.

This much-needed alternative history of American comic book icons—from Wonder Woman to Supergirl and beyond—delves into where these crime-fighting females fit in popular culture and why, and what their stories say about the role of women in society from their creation to now, and into the future.

By Mike Madrid


Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle ruled the pages of comic books in the 1940s, but many other heroines of the WWII era have been forgotten. Through twenty-eight full reproductions of vintage Golden Age comics, Divas, Dames & Daredevils reintroduces their ingenious abilities to mete out justice to Nazis, aliens, and evildoers of all kinds.

Each spine-tingling chapter opens with Mike Madrid’s insightful commentary about heroines at the dawn of the comic book industry and reveals a universe populated by extraordinary women—superheroes, reporters, galactic warriors, daring detectives, and ace fighter pilots—who protected America and the world with wit and guile.

By Mike Madrid


Between the covers of Vixens, Vamps & Vipers, fans will rediscover the original bad girls of comics—as fierce and full of surprises as they were when the comic book industry was born. From murderous Madame Doom to He-She, dubbed by io9 as “the most unsung comic book villain ever,” Mike Madrid resurrects twenty-two glorious evildoers in fully reproduced comics and explores the ways they both transcend and become ensnared in a web of cultural stereotypes.

Among the deadly femme fatales, ruthless jungle queens, devious secret agents, double-dealing criminal masterminds, and gender-bending con artists are some of the very first women of color in comics. These women may have been overlooked in the annals of history, but—like their superheroine counterparts in Divas, Dames & Daredevils—their influence, on popular culture and the archenemies that thrill us today, is unmistakable.




Free Comic Book Day Is May 7

On Free Comic Book Day, May 7, participating comic book stores across North America and the world will be giving away comic books to visitors in their shops. Use the locator on the website to search for a store near you.

Click here to see the covers of 50 comics being handed out free – some of the links include preview pages,

There’s also current info on Facebook.

Get a briefing from this video:

And a string of comics creators promote Free Comic Book Day in this video:

Lee Falk’s Phantom of Happy Memory — And Fellini and Falk’s Mandrake!

Phantom Spot 2_0By James H. Burns: Recently, The Phantom, the great comic strip character created by Lee Falk in 1936, celebrated his 80th anniversary.

The Phantom, of course, is “The Ghost Who Walks,” the legendary protector of the wild jungle domain of Bangalla, who hands his mantle onto a son or other descendant, and operates from a cave-base deep within the country’s interior…

The Phantom began his quest for justice against PIRATES, hundreds of years ago, and to the denizens of his world, he seems eternal.

Almost always overlooked, is that he was also the world’s first super hero, before Superman and Batman, (and appearing less than five years after the Shadow, in the pulp magazines), or at least the comic world’s  initial masked and costumed adventurer!


The Phantom was part of that great newspaper comics pantheon of heroes that included Flash Gordon, Terry (and the Pirates), Mandrake the Magician (also created by Falk, about an expert illusionist who investigates mysteries and intrigues–one of the many forerunners of Marvel’s Dr. Strange!)  and the comic strip adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.

In the 1930s, when these series debuted, it was before the advent of television, of course, and the vast number of Americans–and others around the world–turned to their daily papers for a serialized jolt of action and adventure , and of course, also comedy, with a wide array of humor series.


Lee Falk

Falk, like almost all of the creators of the major comic book heroes, was Jewish. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, born in 1911, Falk was only in his early twenties when he created Mandrake (whose debut preceded the Phantom’s premiere, by less than two years)!  (Many artists, over the decades, collaborated with Falk on the comic strips for which, reportedly, he also drew the first installments.)  Ultimately, Falk became a devoted world traveller, as well as a theatrical director and producer.  (The Phantom and Mandrake had over one hundred million readers across the planet, and were adapted into almost all forms of other media.  (The Phantom retains a particularly devoted following, in Australia.)  Falk’s last years were spent in Manhattan, and Cape Cod, before he passed, in 1999.MandrakeLogo

I was lucky enough to actually grow up with the vast majority of classic comic strip characters, thanks to a newspaper that has long been forgotten: The New York Knickerbocker.


knickerbicker issueDebuting sometime around 1967, the paper (aka, for a while, apparently, The New York Daily Column and The New York Knickerbocker) was a Sunday edition, initially featuring a variety of syndicated feature stories and columns, and also a great selection of comics, highlighting the legendary continuities from decades past, that were still, at the time, being produced:

Suddenly, every week, I was able to follow Flash and Dale Arden, Major Hoople (of Our Boarding House), Joe Palooka (and Mickey Finn), Alley Oop, Captain Easy, Snuffy Smith  (and Barney Google), Popeye, There Ought To Be A Law, and in a sensational center spread, Russ Manning’s glorious work on Burroughs’ Tarzan!  (There were also the Sunday page hijinx of such other old friends as Archie, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones!)

Between the Knickerbocker and The Long Island Press Sunday paper (ultimately to be supplanted by Newsday’s Sunday edition, in the early 1970s), and The Sunday Daily News, virtually the whole world of comics was available to me —

Or a pretty sizable sample!


Dick Tracy and Dondi, along with Winnie Winkle and Moon Mullins were in The News, while Mandrake and The Phantom were in The Long Island Press (along with, somewhere, Brenda Starr)!  Relatively new to the scene were other strips I looked forward to each week: Tiger, Eek and Meek, Andy Capp, Fred Basset

(The News‘ comics section was actually a Monday morning gift from my wonderful next door neighbors of the time, Alice and Sam Picker!)

Mine might have been the last generation able to experience new installments of all these great works, while also experiencing the explosion of creativity happening in the world of comic books!

It soon became a cherished part of my week to wait for my Dad to come home with the papers, and sit down to the Sunday funnies… (The earliest issues, in fact, must have helped teach me to read!)  In later years, this terrific repast would occur sometime after coming home from Sunday School.

It also pleased me to know that I was taking a part in what was a great American tradition!

At some point in the early 1970s, The Knickerbocker went under. But within weeks, it was replaced by a new Sunday comics supplement, sold entirely on its own, entitled The New York Comics.  Sadly that too only lasted a short while longer.

But The Phantom remained a constant in the different editions, and was a favorite of mine, as he fought crime and other menaces, often accompanied by his wolf, Devil, and his sturdy mount, Hero! Once in a while, Falk would tell a tale of one of the earlier Phantoms, and you’d suddenly be transported to yet another fantastic time.Phantom-68-00

In the later 1970s, I also became enamored  by the wonderful Phantom comic books from Charlton, illustrated by the supremely talented Don Newton.

So, it was with great glee that I discovered that Falk was going to be a guest at one of Fred Greenberg’s Great Eastern Conventions’ first two-day affairs, (after years of running one day events), at Manhattan’s Penta Hotel (aka the  Hotel Pennsylvania,and the Statler Hilton, just across from Penn Station).

11 Apr 1986 --- Original caption: Lee Falk stands in front of painting of two of his creations-Mandrake, the Magician and Lothar, the magician's black companion. Falk brought them to life on comic pages in 1934. On 4/11, a new era will begin for Mandrake, Lothar, The Phantom (also created by Falk) and Flash Gordon. They'll be in a special cartoon preview of "Defenders of the Earth." --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Lee Falk in 1986.

And a little bit of history may have been made that day, or at least an element of the Phantom’s chronicle discovered, that should be more widely noted.

First up, was the beginning of a mystery, one which perplexed even Falk.

I was sitting with my friend, Douglas Aleksey, the late, long time comics fan  who, during the question-and-answer session, asked Falk about a film clip he had once seen, in a montage-tribute to Marcello Mastroianni, where the legendary actor was dressed AS Mandrake!

Falk was stunned, and was as curious about the appearance as Doug was!

The answer to this conundrum came over a decade later, when I was watching 1987’s Intervista, Federico Fellini’s kind of fake documentary, about his making of another feature film!

Suddenly, as Fellini’s in his office having a production meeting, Mastroianni comes floating up to the window, dressed as Mandrake (and standing on a rising platform)!

In a film within a film (within a film!), Mastroianni is making a commercial on the studio lot, starring as Falk’s legendary prestidigitator!7780aeee220ce41e9b35b0af012b7ae7

Falk certainly knew Fellini.  According to some sources, in 1971, producer Dino De Laurentiis flew Falk to Italy to meet with the director, hoping to foster a Mandrake movie. Fellini was a long time comics fan (who once, famously, visited the offices of Marvel Comics, in Manhattan).  At various times, Fellini had apparently stated his desire to make a Flash Gordon film, based on Alex Raymond’s and Don Moore’s comic strip, or other comics related films.

But what Falk may not have known–and which I only discovered when researching photos for this article — is that Mastroianni also played Mandrake in 1972, with the famed film star Claudia Cardinale as his beloved (and later wife), Narda–

Directed by Fellini!mandrake-mastroianni

mandrake 1

According to one source, Fellini was invited to help edit a special issue of French Vogue, when he decided to devise a fumetti, a photo comic, long popular in parts of Europe, starring his associates.

mandrake 2

That’s Cardinale in the white dress, and here, how she might have appeared in an actual Mandrake feature film!

There was one more surprise at the question-and-answer session in New York.

Falk had already mentioned that the Phantom’s home, Bangalla, could be seen, to some extent, as a mythical place, a combination of many jungles from around the globe.

I raised my hand, and as gently as I could put it, said to Falk something along the lines that as great a character as the Phantom is, as many wonderful stories as Falk had written, with all the great efforts he had taken to show people of color with respect and dignity… Through no fault of his own, some could argue that in the modern age anyway, the Phantom could be perceived as the embodiment of what could be called the colonial and prejudiced notion that the people of the jungle needed a “Great White Saviour….”

Falk smiled warmly.  He made reference to the tribute hall in the Phantom’s cave, honoring past Phantoms through the ages, and their families.

“You know, we probably haven’t seen all of the Phantom’s ancestors.”

Quite logically, and subtly, Falk was suggesting that the modern Phantom we’ve all grown up with, could well be multi-cultural.


There was a surprising number of PHANTOM merchandising spinoffs in the 1960s, especially during the latter part of the decade’s super hero years. Perhaps the neatest element of the board game seen below was that it came with a facsimile of the Phantom’s skull ring!292fb39895d5c66f0b6ed7162a5b8b467b0627d70d7e52cf4640cbc3b7fcc717ca_display$_1phantom%20front

In Honor of the New Dr. Strange Trailer

Dr StrangeBy James H. Burns: Some weeks ago, we ran the opening theme songs (and all the lyrics!) for the rather memorable themes from the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes syndicated cartoon television series…

And with all this talk of the Doctor Strange movie, it got me thinking, and I began noodling, what could have been an of-its-era tune for the Master of the Mystic Arts segment of the show….

Master of the mystic arts!
It’s where the doctor’s wisdom starts!
To realms eternal,
And dreams within,
This Doctor Strange, is always in!

With his amulets and charms,
Brave words and a wave of his arms,
He protects dimensions,
A universal range!
Ascetic medic: Doctor Strange!

(ECHO; Doctor Strange!)

Crowdfunding Appeal to Publish English Translations of Chilean Comics

Franko splash COMP 2

The Sofawolf Press Kickstarter Team is raising the money needed to publish English-language editions of the adventures of Franko, a young lion from Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Franko, Fables of the last Earth is a 120 page collection of six comic stories about Franko, a precocious lion living on the Atacama Desert of Chile with his friend Shin, thousands of years in Earth’s future. Theirs is a vibrant world of animal characters, where humans are long gone, along with much of their technology. Life on this desert, the driest in the world, is difficult, but also full of adventures and mysteries. In each fable, Franko and Shin encounter challenges and riddles that they must solve, and in the process they learn a bit more about themselves, and others. Not every fable ends with an obvious lesson, but each one is thought-provoking and full of surprises.

Franko, originally published in Chile in Spanish, was created by scriptwriter Ángel Bernier and illustrator Cristóbal Jofré, who live in Santiago.

Sofawolf’s goal is to have the book ready for sale at Anthrocon (June 30 – July 3) and Comic-Con International (July 20-24).

The Kickstarter has brought in $6,179 of its $9,000 goal, with 17 days to go.

turn this into this


[Thanks to Fugue for the story.]

Marvel at the Streets of Wonder

marvelmania_sticker_sheet_steranko_kirby_fantastic_four_2 COMP

By James H. Burns: It was in the early 1990s when rereading some Marvel comics of the very late ’60s, and early ’70s — and more to the point, reading some tales from that period that were entirely new to me — that I came to the happy conclusion that the success of the comics line was no accident, or a gossamer from childhood that didn’t quite hold up in a later light. Stan Lee, with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and Don Heck–and many, many others! —

All for publisher Martin Goodman, the gentleman most overlooked in pop culture histories (and who had been active since the days of the pulp magazines, in the 1930s)

— Had indeed created an engaging and complex universe, with as much potential for enchantment and intelligence, as action and adventure.


Too often forgotten is that it was with Lee’s achievements as an editor overseeing the Marvel line, coordinating and inspiring the contributions of many other writers and artists (while still scripting many  titles on his own) that all these terrific elements coalesced. (Writer/editor Roy Thomas, beginning in the second half of the 1960s, also made significant contributions, which became even stronger, when he became Marvel’s editor-in-chief in 1972, with Lee as the publisher.) This saga was all the more remarkable because you could see the new installments of Stan Lee’s oeuvre every month, gleaming  at your local newsstand, beaming with often incredible cover art —

By just making a few blocks walk, or bike ride (or a short car-drive with a parent)!


Also phenomenal was that you could purchase these issues for just twelve, and then fifteen cents…

(Imagine the widest spectacle of adventure, with almost always wonderful illustrations, available today, for what would be the equivalent of  a little less than a buck!)

Many of the stories, at least in their cumulative impact, remain among the best the medium has offered.


And while the Marvel movies have certainly offered at least a hint, too many fans of imaginative fiction remain unaware of just how wonderful that Marvel universe could be–

Priceless, at any time!


st156_1Marvel was a success all over the country, but there was a special kind of thrill if you grew up in New York, or the Tri-State area (New Jersey, Connecticut, and even parts of Pennsylvania)

The characters not only lived relatively near you, but so did their creators! The majority of Marvel’s heroes and villains resided in Manhattan, or its nearby environs, and the editorial offices were in the heart of the great metropolis.


I first discovered the world of Marvel in the same way as millions of other kids, via The Marvel Super Heroes, a daily syndicated half-hour cartoon series, that debuted across the United States in September 1966.

The series featured often primitive animation — even using what seemed like cut-outs from the comics, or colored xeroxes of the same, moving across the screen. But the adaptations of the Marvel scripts were usually almost exact, and it’s astonishing, even today, to see the era’s artwork come to a certain kind of life, with some particularly good voice acting, and background — if stock — music.

The line-up included Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner.  (Each character received thirteen half-hour episodes, with very memorable theme songs!) Spider-Man was originally supposed to be part of the lineup, but when a Spidey series was sold to ABC for the next television season, Subby (Prince Namor, of Atlantis) indeed became a substitution. (The network Spider-Man series featured far improved animation, and a jazz score that remains notable.)

(The program was also unusual because, reportedly, its individual series were provided by several animation studios (which would certainly help explain the shows’ widely divergent styles)! Stan Lee supplied the scripts for which — even more remarkably, if recent accounts are accurate! — he also brought in contributions from none other than Jerry Siegel, the co-creator (with Joe Shuster) of Superman.)

The Marvel Super Heroes’ importance to Marvel as a company, and to the explosion of super hero pop culture across the nation in the mid-1960s is usually ignored, which is odd:  Because for the next several years, the program would be the majority of Americans very first exposure, and introduction to Marvel’s unique cosmography.

You were able to experience much of the first couple of years of the Marvel universe, before you could even read!

As a four-year old, it was amazing to be sitting in front of the family TV, and see New York City street scenes, and sequences taking place in the suburbs — often with a kind of neat, chiaroscuro effect (as I watched on a black-and-white television!) — taking place within less than forty minutes from where I lay my head.

I also loved the DC/National comics characters (Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman, the Justice League of America…).  As I began to read and become devoted to comics over the next few years, those affections grew even stronger. But there was a bonus to knowing that many of the Marvel folks lived virtually next door!

This delightful fancy came full on to me one weekend afternoon in the early 1970s, during one of the very last times – the last time? — my immediate family was in a car together, going somewhere.  Anne and Phil Lehrman had been like an aunt and uncle to me, and their daughter, Bettie Jo, was marrying David Chin, in Queens (the New York City borough right between Manhattan’s East River, and Long Island).

(For years, Annie and Phil would bring me an ice cream sundae — a parfait, actually, from Carvel — whenever they would visit!)

As we drove through the pleasant residential area that some might  be surprised to discover exists in New York City’s outer reaches, I suddenly thought:

This is where Peter Parker lives (or, somewhere close by….)!”

I didn’t expect the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Parker’s alter-ego) to suddenly be swinging overhead, or even to see his Aunt May out for a stroll.  But it was fun to indulge in such whimsy, on what promised to be an even happier afternoon ahead.


1367610602_1(Similarly, as a very little kid, the skyline of Manhattan always gave me  a thrill, and not just for the obvious reasons.  For years, every early Sunday afternoon, New York’s local WNEW-TV would broadcast a comedy from the Bowery Boys series (starring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Gorcey’s father, Bernard, as Louie Dumbrowski, the “Sweet Shop” owner).  Many of the movies opened with a logo featuring New York’s skyscrapers. The iconography of the mind, particularly of those that are very young, can take many forms!)


It was even more astonishing to learn, later, that at the time of Marvel’s early ascendancy, I lived directly between the homes of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in Nassau County — Lee in Hewlett Harbor, and Kirby in East Willison (near Mineola); both about fifteen-to-twenty minutes distance….  I still haven’t been able to quite process the fact–discovered only about fifteen years ago — that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the legendary fantasy and comics artist Wally Wood had opened a small studio only five minutes from my family’s place in Valley Stream. As a child, I had walked by that nondescript small building, with absolutely no idea of the delights being devised within!


Forgive me, because I didn’t mean to go all self-referential.  But New York City, I’m told by some, has become inexorably linked to my writing. (Barbara Peterson, in fact, surprised me by initially  entitling a series of occasional columns that I wrote for her wonderful Thunderchild website, “Burns in the City”.)

When I’m walking in Manhattan, particularly at night…  It’s  always more than enough to be on the Seventh Avenue and Broadway blocks that live so much in my heart —

But many of those Marvel comics panels still echo somewhere in my mind.

(Surely, many of your own favorite writers and artists — comics and otherwise — know these streets as well, or better than I do. And it’s extraordinary to realize that artist/writer Steve Ditko, now eighty-eight years old, the co-creator of Spider-Man, and the creator of Doctor Strange and many other characters, still works every day in his studio/office, somewhere in the Times Square area.)

It’s not that I expect to have Captain America suddenly tap me on the shoulder–

And I wonder sometimes if I’d even deserve such an hero’s greeting —

But it’s warm to remember how many of the adventures that so inspired me, transpired here, along the way.

And that for those who are only discovering these stories today, it’s all in the future, as so many tales await.



For decades, the rarest piece of Marvel film footage was the opening and closing credits of The Marvel Super Heroes.  The title sequences disappeared somewhere during the program’s later rebroadcasts and syndication.  When the cartoons debuted on home video in the 1980s, clips from the scenes could be seen in a new montage that began each volume, but the intro and finale were still gone.

…Until a few years ago, when some intrepid comics fans (“True Believers,” or “Fearless Face Fronters,” as Stan Lee might have called them!) began somehow finding the films, and putting them online.

These vignettes are of importance because they were some of the first science fiction or fantasy super hero milieu experienced by the general public.

And as to the end titles, how often, to this day, do you get to see a group of dancing titans?

The Marvel Super Heroes also featured theme songs for each character:

Captain America


Iron Man



As a service to our faithful readers, here are the lyrics: CAPTAIN AMERICA

When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through,
When Captain America throws his mighty shield.


Doc Bruce Banner,
Belted by gamma rays,
Turns into the Hulk.
Ain’t he unglamorous!
Wrecking the town,
With the power of a bull,
Ain’t no monster clown,
Who is as lovable,
As ever-lovin’ Hulk! HULK!! HULK!!!


Tony Stark makes you feel,
He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel.
As Iron Man, all jets ablaze,
He’s fighting and smiting with repulsor rays!
Amazing armor!
That’s Iron Man!
A blazing power!
That’s Iron Man!


Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard,
Where the booming heavens roar,
You’ll behold in breathless wonder,
The God of Thunder, Mighty Thor!


Stronger than a whale,
He can swim anywhere; He can breathe under water,
And go flying through the air:
The noble Sub Mariner, Prince of the deep.
So, beware you deadly demons,
Lord Namor of Atlantis,
Is the Prince of the Deep.

There remains one more “lost” element from the series. The cartoons were actually relatively short, about eighteen minutes in their entirety, which led  some stations to initially have the program presented by a host (working from scripts, reportedly, provided by Lee and Siegel, as well using their own material and ad-libs).

To “fill out” the half hours, the show included “interstitials,” very short segments (under a minute), explaining a character’s origin, or special concerns. These sequences also disappeared over the years, and only a few have resurfaced.

You have a repeat of The Marvel Super Heroes opening here (in color), but at 47 seconds, a “bumper” all about Captain America’s shield:

Some are available for now only in French, such as this one about Thor:

Or this “bio,” about Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner

And finally, this background on the character who was one pf the Marvel Universe’s very first pillars,, Captain America:

It would be lovely if a historian at Marvel, or its current corporate parent, Disney, could trace the rest of these short films down.  It’s not so much, obviously, that they are celluloid jewels, but they  still  reflect in a  very unique way on these oh-so-many beloved fictional lives, and the history of the company they once kept.

Back In The Sunlight

Actress Caity Lotz, who plays White Canary. Photo by Michael Buckner.

Actress Caity Lotz, who plays White Canary. Photo by Michael Buckner.

By James H. Burns: If you’re of a certain age, it’s rather extraordinary to discover that a new super hero TV series, one on at 8:00 p.m. and aimed, to some extent, at kids, features a super heroine, who’s also a lesbian…

Or who at least has Sapphic tendencies, as White Canary shows, in the first episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW.

Which somehow reminds me:

Did I ever tell you about what made me support gay marriage?

Science fiction, at least incidentally, held a strong role…

I was certainly never against gay marriage. I just kind of fell into that stand-up comedian’s line about why would anybody want to bother?  But as my closest gay friends today have pointed out to me, while it may have been disappointing to them that I wasn’t an activist on this particular issue, I also recognized that ultimately, it wasn’t really my business what people wanted to do, as long as it only involved themselves, and no harm…

A stance I’ve held on many social situations!

But then, some years ago…

I have the perhaps unusual habit, at times, of checking out what happened to old friends, by using the internet. Before Face Book, a Google search could present some surprising, and often pleasing results.

One night, late, I looked up a young woman I had kind of sort of dated, back when I was a teen.

She was brilliant, and a beauty. An Upper West Side of Manhattan kid who, oddly enough, I had met at a Lunacon, the New York Science Fiction Convention.  She looked like an even prettier, and far sexier version of Jodie Foster. We automatically took to each other. But she thought I was older, as most folks did back then…  And when I told her the truth, that I was fourteen…  Well, to a sixteen year old, that made all the difference in the world!

I thought…

We had a get-together, or two:   one, at a Chinese restaurant recommended to me by the late Duffy Vohland, an editor at the time up at Marvel Comics, and — coincidental to this story — one of my first close, gay friends.  Afterwards, the young lady and I went over to the park near Gracie Mansion. As we talked, I rued the fact that she was bugged by what I perceived was the age factor…  She said it wasn’t that, but that she had a secret.

A secret she wasn’t ready to tell me yet.

We’d talk on the phone occasionally, and she tried to begin a correspondence, when she soon went off to college; Vassar, I think. (That summer, I believe, she was also in a summer stock theatre program, one that co-featured Chris Elliot!)

But my ego led me, unfortunately, over being what I perceived as being turned down, to let the friendship pass.

Thirty years later, I discovered that the native New Yorker had moved to Vermont.

Because she had developed a fatal cancer, in her forties, and before she died, she wanted to marry her life partner.

(I cried for more than a few moments. My last image of my friend had been with a smile on her face, framed by the trees, as the summer sun danced.)

It hit me rather simply, That if two people were in love, and a particularly young one was dying, she shouldn’t have to leave her home, in her final days, to gain one of her final wishes.

I still think the road to all this could have been made much simpler, twenty years ago, by adopting a “roommates law,” one which gave anybody the right to assign a “partner,” to help any legal, financial or medical issues.

(Intriguingly, I know older straight roommates of many years, now in their sixties or seventies (some of whom have been long-time members of fandom), who could conceivably face all the same sorts of hospital visitation and other rule obstacles, if one of them gets in trouble–the identical problems that once could beset gay couples.)  Such a co-habitation law would have removed the politics from the gay marriage scenario, and possibly paved an easier path to its realization.

But ultimately, of course, who is anybody to stand in the way of someone’s happiness?

2015 Irish Comic News Awards

John McCrea

John McCrea

The winners of the 2015 Irish Comic News Awards were announced December 5.


  • Paul Bolger


  • Paul Bolger & Barry Devlin


  • Declan Shalvey


  • Maura McHugh


  • Ruth Redmond


  • Jordie Bellaire


  • Darren Brown


  • Death’s New Lease on Life


  • NHOJ Comics


  • Hound


  • 2000AD


  • Séan Hogan


  • Geek Ireland


  • Dublin Comic Con


  • The Big Bang


  • Lightning Strike


  • Hound


  • Heavy Black


  • Lightning Strike


  • The Irish Pubcast

And two additions were made to the Irish Comic News Hall of Fame, first given in 2011.

ICN Hall of Fame (Individual) 2015

  • John McCrea

Belfast born artist John McCrea is best known for his collaborations with writer Garth Ennis. He broke into American comics working with him on Hitman for DC. He is currently working on a spin-off mini-series, All Star Section 8. He has worked on a variety of projects for Marvel, IDW amongst others, recently stepping into the creator owned world of Image with Mythic (with writer Phil Hester).

ICN Hall of Fame (Book) 2015

  • The Earthbound God by Anthea West (editorial assistance by Ruth Redmond, published by Dustbunny Comics in 2013).

[Via SF Site News.]

The Zine Artists Online Museum

saarahonourrole36Many notable fanzine artists have banded together to present exhibits of their finest work at The Zine Artists, where they hope others soon will join them.

Here are high-resolution scans of great cover art unimpaired by cheap paper repro, faneds’ peculiar choices of colored paper, or massive blots of zine title typography. Pristine! At last, no barriers between the artist and the audience.

Already available are dozens and dozens of examples of the funny and beautiful work by —

Taral Wayne forestalls the obvious question —

The first thing you will notice is how terribly incomplete the list of artists is. “Where are Jeanne Gomoll,” you may ask, or “Jack Wiedenbeck, Randy Bathurst, or David Vereschagin?” The answer is that it will take time to track these artists down and contact them.

Taral has also penned a detailed history of the evolution of fanzine art – including his lament about the current state of affairs:

Then, of course, came the digital age, which changed everything.  No longer was it necessary to print anything at all to publish a fanzine.  Fan editors could  manipulate words and images directly on the screen, and distribute them in whatever file format was convenient.  It was no longer necessary to limit illustrations in any way.  Colour became almost mandatory.   Photographs were a breeze.  Any image that was already digitized was fair game to import into your document.  You could search the entire globe, through the Internet, for the exact image you wanted.  In effect, fanartists became redundant.

The golden age of fanzine art represented here never really seems to have been accompanied by a golden age of appreciation for the artists. In every era there have been justifiable complaints that the artists did not receive enough egoboo to “sustain life as we know it.” So take advantage of this chance to leave an appreciative comment in The Zine Artists chat section!