Don Markstein, always a colorful and entertaining figure, and early in his fannish career sometimes a controversial one, died March 11 due to respiratory failure following a prolonged illness. Don spent his last years in Arizona but remained deeply linked to New Orleans and Southern fanhistory.
Don was a charter member of the New Orleans Science Fiction Association (NOSFA) founded June 25, 1967. Other charter members were John Guidry, Doug Wirth, Don Walsh, Justin Winston, and Rick Norwood.
He co-chaired DeepSouthCon in 1968 and 1973. Don became official editor of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance in 1970 and was credited by Guy H. Lillian III for a boom in the apa’s popularity. For this Don was honored with the Rebel Award in 1978.
Don’s consuming passion was comics. He collected tens of thousands of newspaper comic strips. In 1981 Don and his wife Gigi founded Apatoons, an apa for research in the field of cartoons. In 1999 he created a comics history resource, The Toonopedia, and wrote for it daily until health prevented him.
Don edited Comics Revue and books on comic history, including The Prince Valiant Companion. He also wrote Walt Disney comic book stories for such characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck — and the rather less famous Bucky Bug.
Irv Koch introduced me to Don at the 1972 Worldcon in Los Angeles. The three of us had become acquainted before the con through fanzines. (Mark Evanier also remembers meeting him at L.A.con.)
Don sporadically published issues of Rally, his fannish newzine, during the Seventies. What was surely Rally’s most controversial story ever criticized Harlan Ellison prior to his GoHship at the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix. Ellison planned to dedicate his appearance to raising consciousness about the Equal Rights Amendment because ERA supporters had declared a boycott of businesses in non-ratifying states after Ellison accepted the invitation, Arizona among them. Louisiana was another, and when Ellison went to New Orleans sometime before the Worldcon Don lambasted the appearance as a violation of Ellison’s pro-ERA stance. Ellison was outraged, for his activities there had included lecturing in support of the ERA.
Don was educated at LSU in Baton Rouge. For a time he worked on the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, writing for the Sunday magazine. Over the years he did restaurant reviews for the Phoenix Business Journal and editing and production work for Arizona Living, Arizona Women’s Voice, Comics Interview, Comics Revue, Phoenix, Phoenix Resource, and Louisiana Weekly Employer.
Don suffered a stroke in February 2011 and had been in long-term care.