Wednesday, December 09, 2015

MAGAZINE REVIEW! LURID LITTLE NIGHTMARE MAKERS #5 (Boardman Books,  8062 Jills Creek Drive, Bartlett TN 38133)

If I hadda say anything bad about the reams of Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comic Book fanzines that clutter up my collection it would be that almost all of 'em have this whatcha'd call snobby hipster attitude permeating every (original made-for-fanzine) comic, editorial, article and letter column to be found therein. And really,that can be too tough to take at times especially if you have either an aversion to pretentious writing or a weak stomach.

You even notice this seeping self-reaffirmation of personal bopness in the fifties fanzines which exuded that cool cat feeling that came off vibrating hip hosannas to the fact that all who were involved were just so much better'n the rest of us with their whole concept of beret-wearing suave copped from MAD 'n PLAYBOY mixed in with their Miles Davis record collections. Of course it was all mirror gaze but hey, it was the fifties and one of the coolest times to be alive in Ameriga unless you were a creep so maybe I can take all of that blab printed about Scientology that got hyped up in these pages with a li'l grain o' salt.

By the sixties it sure got worse if only because the budding "Social Justice Warrior" types had by then pretty much captured the spirit of SF/comic fandom and in the process cranked out some of the worst bleedheart dramas to see a printed page. Really bad stuff too...preachier 'n a SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES tale covering everything from racial unrest to the environment in sagas that, while showing the influence of EC and MAD to Wil Eisner, lacked none of the spirit and wonder that the originals exuded. No wonder Fredric Wertham, the sworn enemy of fifties comic book kiddies turned sixties uberleft patron of all that was hippie, eventually became a friend and supporter of the comic book praising the reams of nauseating peace 'n love dramas that began appearing in those late-sixties fanzines that Wertham thought were the best!

And man were these 'zines lockstep in their terminal hipness! Sure the editors had their fans pegged (as opposed to "pegged their fans" which is a rock fandom practice as of late) and shared the same comic book (and other) values that went along with the whole relevant bell bottom 'n bangs on the boys crowd, but maybe like for ONCE I'd like to open up a sixties vintage fanzine and find an article in FAVOR of the Comics Code Authority or the Kefauver Crime Commission look into comic books. Not that I have any real love for the CCA, but it sure would be a refreshing change from reading the same story we've heard and heard repeatedly for the past sixty years to the point where we all just can't STAND the sanctimony that can just come dripping off some of these pages!

(By the way, did I ever tell you that when I was but a mere adolescent I at first thought that the Comics Code Authority was an organization that pre-read comics before publication only to see if they were fun and action-packed enough for us kids to enjoy? Really, I used to imagine a bunch of people sitting around at a table making sure that the jokes to be found therein were funny, the artwork good, and for the serious ones the good guys had unique super powers and the bad boys strange 'n fun gadgets to use as well! As soon as they passed inspection the CCA stamp was affixed on the cover and it was all set to go for an awaiting public of young 'n eager comic book kiddies like ourselves. That's probably why I bought DC, Marvel and Archie and steered clear of Gold stamp on them!)

I have mentioned in earlier posts that comic fanzines, even in this anti-paper digital age, are still up and about and various pubs like IT'S A FANZINE can be found on-line with relative ease. LURID LITTLE NIGHTMARE MAKERS is one of the newer titles to hit the fandom circuit, and for a mag that claims to be a fanzine it's miles ahead of the old mimeo cruds that were oozing outta the basements of suburban slob Ameriga back in the early-sixties. More or less a soft-covered book totaling 124 pages, LURID LITTLE NIGHTMARE MAKERS does bear a bar code on its reverse which leads me to believe that this effort is a li'l more'n just another crankout inna rec room affair, but the spirit and attitude of the sixties/seventies fanzines is still present along with a bunch of not only original artwork but some pertinent reprints that really does send me back. Back to what I don't exactly know but wherever it was I sure with I had been there!

True the hip snobbery does live can be easily detected in the article on CCA honcho Charles Murphy that does give a li'l insight into the already milked-to-death saga of Wertham and Co., but like I said you know who the audience is here! (Though really, was it necessary to republish the entire original Code which we've read in other books and mags for ages?) The Murphy piece is a proverbial doozy, but I prefer the interview with the long-gone Al Feldstein of MAD fame tellin' us not only about his travels/travails with EC but the falling out he had with longtime boss 'n I thought friend Bill Gaines! The animosity that eventually developed between them is one reason why you never did get to read Feldstein's autobio which was rarin' to go for ages (Gaines' family wouldn't let Feldstein reprint any of his EC artwork unless the unflattering portions regarding the silver haired one were removed. And of course...NO SOAP!)

The article on EC cover swipes (of which LLNM sports a good 'un, in fact using the splash panel from the very first horror comic the company printed!) is fair enough I guess, though I am thankful that all of the spoofs and homages done o'er the past thirtysome years weren't used if only for the sake of brevity and taste. The old mimeo-era fanzine reprints were also soothing to my olde-tymey home-produced comic fanzine lovin' soul, but what really made me sit up 'n take notice were the vintage comic book sagas unseen by me and perhaps even you. The old horror comics weren't as bad as some of the churnouts that many publishers both big 'n little had released in the early-fifties, but what got me especially jazzed were the MOON GIRL stories representing EC's only attempt at a superheroine, let alone superhero. A fairly good swipe of  DC's not-so-popular at the time WONDER WOMAN (and drawn by early DC whiz Sheldon Moldoff), MOON GIRL didn't have the same pounce as the Golden Age heroes and seemed a bit out of place in the late-forties post-superhero era, but the stories were entertaining in their comparatively quaint way. Not only that, but the artwork's hardly as terrible as ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME made it out to be and stands up against not only then-current DC, but EC standards. Funnily enough, one of the lady's stories deals with "Metropole City"'s "Old Countries" section where people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have been living together for years without hassling and berating each other UNTIL Moon Girl's arch enemy Satana has her way! It's a great story an' all but ethnic 'n racial harmony---what kinda fantasy is that???

Pretty good 'un here even with the editorial slant which maybe ain't as slanty as many seventies rags coulda gotten so be THANKFUL. Worth an effort to find even if the EC fanzine market has become what...oversaturated these past fiftysome years because it's bangs for the buck time and just try getting hold of old issues of Bhob Stewart's POTRZEBIE without having to dish out a good portion of your welfare check!

1 comment:

Bryce said...

The LLNM fanzine is totally awesome! Somehow I'd been overlooking it but that's gonna end right now. I knew I read BTC for a reason - nice work Chris!