Saturday, December 01, 2018


For a change let's start this fanabla out with a fanzine that just happens to have nothing to do with music! And believe-you-me, when it comes to fanzines of a science fiction, comic book or fantasy nature there are plenty in those realms as there are in rock 'n roll, if not a thousand fold more considering how it was the sci-fi/fantasy realm that practically BIRTHED the entire self-publication form!

FANTASY ILLUSTRATED was but just one of 'em---a fanzine created right smack-dab in the middle of the budding comic book fan boom of the sixties. From the outset FI boasted that it was gonna live up to the classic high-class yet down-to-earth pre-code EC style of art and swerve even if was being done on an amateur basis, and as far as I can tell from the second issue (Spring 1964) editor Bill Spicer sure lived up to his pretty brazen claims. I mean, look at the multi-color cover and (if you happen to have a copy in your mitts) the fine print job and layout. Yeah, none of the artists who contributed including future undergrounder Grass Green or Joe Staton were ready for the big time yet (give Staton a few more years of improvement before he entered into the Marvel Universe) but the art was much more pleasing to the eyeballs than any of the overwrought artists who have appeared since the mid-seventies, and the stories were straightforward and entertaining, certainly not the Sunday School lectures that were to come outta comic fandom within a few years that's for sure!

As far as trying to reach that EC level of quality and Comic Code tweaking that would rise to even higher levels as the fanzine movement wore on, FANTASY ILLUSTRATED did a much better job and did it without sinking to juvenile snicker levels that seem part and parcel to these sorts of endeavors. "The Life Battery" echoes the old horror style fairly well and thankfully doesn't become yet another fanzine homage with little originality. "The Invaders"'s title pretty much gives away the whole bit about aliens disguising themselves as earthmen of stature ready to take over the planet, though the switcheroo ending does make this more'n just another rote rate. "Someone Please Help Me!" has pretty hotcha artwork courtesy Green and a story that begins enticingly enough but ends pretty lame (it's a play on the old severed head kept alive routine which has been making its way across the horror comics and sci fi realms for ages!). "Adam Link's Revenge" is the followup to the first part which appeared in the Winter '63 debut issue...and in case you're not familiar with this legendary Sci-Fi tome its the same Eando Binder 'un that was later used on THE OUTER LIMITS and had been published in pulps long ago to the point where it's practically branded on the brains of each and every fantasy buff of the mid-twentieth century. Don't let that scare you off 'cuz "Revenge" is a good 'un even with the overabundant narrative that tends to drag down the more action-packed portions of the story.

There's also two pages of a comic strip demo courtesy the infamous Al Williamson entitled ROBBIE...looks good as all of Williamson's EC and Warren material did in that Alex Raymond fashion, but as these kinda strips go they might have been artistic enough, but would anyone who's gone near a comic strip page these last fifty-plus years read the thing? Too bad the man hadda be reduced to drawing the STAR WARS comic strip once he did get a newspaper gig.

Judging from the letters editor Spicer must have sent a copy of FI #1 to every big name in comics, fandom or otherwise. Notes from Otto Binder, Carl Barks, Harvey Kurtzman and even Al "GOD COMICS" Kuhfeld who himself knew all about creating fanzines that would definitely not be approved by the Comics Code show up! Somebody oughta reprint those, even if I get the impression that each and every copy of GOD COMICS comes complete with a mandatory thousand years in Purgatory!
While we're on the subject, here's another non-music fanzine, a science fiction oriented one that I acquired as of late if only for one special reason you'll find out about as the story unfolds. LOCUS was (is?) more of a newsletter than a 'zine but it still has that early-seventies typewriter pecked-out look akin to all of those early issues of WHO PUT THE BOMP! that we still pour through lo these many years later. That's not the reason I got hold of this particular issue...I bought it because there's an article by none other than LENNY KAYE on science fiction rock, a pretty good 'un too that gabs about the birth of the form as well as the groups of the early-seventies who were wallowing around in the space-rock mode and how Pink Floyd were milking their old sound to the point where the udder has run dry and that Hawkwind were the outer space way to go as far as rock 'n roll as it stood at the time went. Pretty good stuff as usual (has Kaye every let you down even when he was writing about the Grateful Dead and James Taylor?) and I dunno if this was a regular column or not but hey, I could sure use more Lenny Kaye in my life and I know you can too! By the way, have any of you wild eyed rock fanzine types out there discovered any of Kaye's old rock 'n roll fanzines that were up and about the same time such creations as MOJO NAVIGATOR and those old hand-stapled CRAWDADDIES???
Now onto some good ol' Amerigan kinda rock 'n roll fanzines with hair on their chest and an attitude that would make most folk who claim(ed) allegiance to the music (via the AM/FM-bred dolt mentality as promulgated by the likes of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY) blanch with fear. And what better mags to start off this portion of the program with than with the first two issues of RAW POWER, the legendary El Lay-area fanzine that I have praised in past posts and will continue to hosanna as long as I'm in the business of doing such things. RAW POWER was a very good and top of the heap home made publication that put out a variety of good issues even if their swan song, a foldover newspaper/local freebee-sized effort, echoed the area during the final days of El Lay smarm 'stead of smarts. Getting hold of these early efforts really has put the bloom on my rosebud of a fanzine collection if I do say so myself!

These  two mags are particularly potent. Everything a good fan-oriented fanzine should be and perhaps the closest anyone in the area got to the BACK DOOR MAN-style of rah or even the spirit of  DENIM DELINQUENT during their local stay's unbridled (though non-scholarly as if that ever mattered!) all out fandom. One-sided printing, xerox quality and total mania make these RAW POWERs total winners with the team of Quick Draw and Bobalouie going all out for punk rock and heavy metal without making apologies to either camp! And to bug you purists even more these come with loads of Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer worship bound to upset any and all Angry Samoans out there! An' yeah, in my own downhome corny way I love it all especially when they print that hate note from the Germs after a duff review of a live show or smudge a few facts here and's still all ROCKISM to me and frankly pretty potent as far as relaying that feeling I sometimes still get where the music makes ya TINGLE like you were undergoing electroshock therapy without the nodes on your head. And if you read closely enough you will learn something you might never knew that Punky Meadows of Angel was once slated to join the New York Dolls?!?!?!?!
I've bragged about the various issues of HOOPLA that I've had the pleasure of latching onto before, so there's no reason why I shouldn't rah-rah about the first two issues of this under-rated fanzine that I've received in the interim. Sure they're primitive what with the single staple inna corner job as well as the lack of any illustrations, but as far as early endeavors that grew HOOPLA was pretty much set on the same trajectory of humble fanzine beginnings that flourished as the months drew on in the same tradition of other fine self-published diatribes as BLACK TO COMM.

This mag has a whole lotta things that I just crave as far as these home-produced, personalist publications go, from that friendly sense of kick up yer feet and stay a spell demeanor to the rabid raves that the likes of Jon Ginoli (who I understand went into musical as well as other territories that are not quite copasetic with the BLOG TO COMM credo) and his contributors spew forth with their "amateurish" yet strikingly powerful writings. Of course putting out a fanzine at a particularly fertile time in music as these guys did sure helped, making me wonder why there weren't even MORE fanzines coming out during those days considering all of the suburban slobs and decadent wannabes who were buying up albums by the cartload. I know I woulda had my own mag out then, if I only knew how to put two words together (and when I did---whew!---it was pretty close to that potent match up of "nitro" and "glycerine" if I do say so myself!).

Of course, like in the case of the best rock writing extant HOOPLA is worth eyeballing even if you think Ginoli is dead wrong on a certain platter (such as in the case of his review of Elliot Murphy's JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA) or that the space devoted to Bruce Springsteen bootlegs could be put to a better use. But I sure enjoyed it all (especially the on-target Robert Christgau spoof) even if I wasn't exactly looking forward to yet another Venus and the Razorblades writeup. It's that good and refreshing kinda like the way you feel drinking a glass of Kool Aid after cutting the yard in 100-degree (F) weather. Or better yet it's really great after you've perused the web trying to find some semblance of rock 'n roll sanity and all you come up with is a load of straight hypesheet hooey written by the usual better-than-thous waxing eloquent as to why early eighties AM crotch pop was such a treat for those bonged up kids we all knew and loved. The only real doggie here was a review of a Jesus Christ album which flops about not only blasphemingly (tho it ain't that much compared with some of the drek out there!) but humorously as well...well, sometimes ya gotta throw these things out and see what sticks---I've done that and found out that the only thing it does stick to is my face once the wind shifts!
While I was at it I also got hold of a copy of OUTLET #2, a fanzine that I had praised to the hilt in previous fanablas and will probably continue to praise until I get the entire run of this oft-ignored title. The end of the run cheap xerox job and the one-sided print job doesn't help this much, but like many of these home made efforts the spirit and fun that went into the thing transcends the streaked pages and eye-straining faint print.

This 'un does take on a bit of a collector's mag feeling with Joe Meek and Stiff Records (Part Two) discographies, but the fun 'n spirit of a fanzine that was not only well-connected with the present but the past does make itself known what with the articles on Del Shannon and Screaming Lord Sutch's pirate radio efforts. And, like with most of these fanzine efforts that were created by fans who had no connections to the real-life press and the people who promulgate the tastes and attitudes of a world full of gobble-it-up sheep, OUTLET comes off oh-so HUMAN in an industry of cyborgs and downright evil people. We needed more mags like this back then, and as for today well I wouldn't complain if there were a whole slew batch of new mags that got to the hard rock center of it all and spurned the feeble jive one bit!
It's amazing just hoe many "obscure" fanzines came out of England during the late-seventies. Even at this late a date I'm turning up more and more of these rags that I never even heard of before, ST. ALBANS ANTIBOF being just one of 'em. I just got a recent (?) collection of all the issues of this rag spiraled up for modern-day reading, and although this 'un just lacks not only the spark and drive of the English fanzines but the Nick Kent/CS Murray/Jonh Ingham spirit and zip that influenced these mags inna first place all I gotta say is that well...I like it.

The writing ain't so hot but their tastes are good enough what with their covering of the better acts to ooze their way outta England at the time like the Stranglers (not always a top choice as far as snobs go but who every said that I was one?) while the eclecticism of the crew at hand was open enough to even feature the likes of John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett on one of their covers, a real boffo move if you happen to ask me! (I'm still trying to find my tape of these two recorded at Max's Kansas City which is moiling somewhere in my collection...a review of it will be forthcoming once I do find it!)

A not bad collection of a rag nobody has heard of or remembers for that matter, but one that should get more'n its share now that it's been give a second chance which I hope is more'n a subtle enough hint for many of you thick skulled ex-fanzine types out there...savvy?
Heading into the mid-eighties (a good time for fanzines actually and a whole lot more fruitful than the rather dim fanzine trend of the nineties if I do say so myself) we got this English goodie called PSYCHLON which is devoted to psychedelic music both then (1967) and now (which in this case would be 1985). For a so-called "primitive" effort PSYCHLON sure is a proverbial wowzer not only with the fan art (good enough in a budding fandom sort of way) but the coverage of psychedelic warlords throughout history. Yes another Syd Barrett tribute appears here which doesn't say much new as if anything since Nick Kent's tour-de-whatever has, but at least it has to be appreciated for the (once again) personal view of WHOEVER IT WAS THAT PUT THIS THING OUT! (Can't find any name or address innit!)  I liked the piece on Lewis Carroll's influence on psych via the ALICE books (which reads more fannish than scholarly, and I like it that way!) not to mention bits on the Bomp! Records BATTLE OF THE GARAGES platter which was about four-years-old by then but so what, and other scads on the Mighty Lemon Drops and Prime Beats which doesn't get me up and runnin' (but so what again!). Again, great reading if only because this presents a facet of rock 'n roll that flies RIGHT OVER the standard portrayal of rock (with or without the "roll") as something gutless and castrated, which is what I would call about 99.9999...% of the music and attitude created after the rise of the turquoise and sniffling troubadour crowd sometime in the seventies. (Tho I do tend to exaggerate...)
Here's one that I hope doesn't just slip by...HIGH VOLTAGE was a Detroit-area (actually Holland Michigan which I think is nearby) fanzine that I don't recall hearing about before. Maybe because the thing was so small and only eight pages, but those pages at least have some pretty good rock 'n roll spark to 'em what with the fannish hype on the new local groups like Cinecyde as well as reviews of the new local releases that were beginning to make their way into the mindsets of ex-CREEM-reading bedroom bigshots nationwide. Ya get thingies on Devo, Armand Schaubroeck, Orchid Spangiafora and the Residents. Something tells me that the guys who put this out not only were on the BOMP! mailing list but frequented each and every "specialty shop" in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area!
The French were always good sniffer outers when it came to hot rock 'n roll groups, brainy rock fans like Yves Adrien and Alain Placadis who infiltrated the legitimate rock writing world, to-the-point records labels that documented the seventies surge in high energy particularly well, and best of all a whole slew of fanzines which reflected the same sorta awe at the explosion of hard aesthetics that was taking place in a universe of pure pap being guzzled up like pigs at the trough. I'm sure you know the fanzines that I am talking about, such short-lived yet memorable titles as ROCK NEWS and I WANNA BE YOUR DOG are just two of what I assume were many others that were so obscure that they just didn't have the opportunity to make their way to these shores.

However, whereas ROCK NEWS and IWBYD chronicled the birth of the seventies under-the-underground rock spirit LOSERS was there at the bitter end, a time when folk like myself sure missed all of the excitement of the seventies yet were stuck having to bury the corpse while its offspring darted about in all sorts of tasteless directions. LOSERS really did hail back to the original era of French fanzines, at least in was printed on slick paper and not-so-surprisingly enough the layout was very similar to at least IWBYD's typeset style and verve. And if both of those hallowed fanzines had lasted long enough into the mid-eighties you know they would have come off just like LOSERS what with their coverage of those acts still managing to hang on in a world that didn't really seem to care as much as it did a decade back (Johnny Thunders, Wilko Johnson) as well as the newer breed that was the logical conclusion to everything that had transpired the past decade w/o coming off artzy/pretentious, gnu as opposed to new wave or hippie hardcore (Fleshtones, Plan 9). Why the people who put this mag out haven't been given the French Medal of Rockism by now is way beyond me. Maybe when Marine gets into power...
And speak of the devil but, just as press time was about to strike me with a ferocious growl I managed to get hold of FIVE copies of the aforementioned French fanzine legends ROCK NEWS and I WANNA BE YOUR DOG (three of the first, two of the other as you can tell by the cover repros) which really thrilled me to bits because I didn't even have a few of 'em in my possession and, unlike you, I now have TWO of the Rolling Stones Special Edition which makes me feel a whole lot more superior than usual!!

Yes, these fanzines were the top-notch in craziness transposed into print and represent to us just what every fanzine out there could have aspired to be, and even though I love the cheaply-produced aura of a CAN'T BUY A THRILL or TEENAGE NEWS these Gallic Goodies just go to show you what could be done with an idea and a load of moolah to back those dreams up.

As for ROCK NEWS, think of it as an inspired take on the ever-lovin' ROCK SCENE only in French and without the more boring aspects of the music biz and the cheapo ads, all dolled up on slick paper which is something that was a total no-no in the Charlton world of publications! I WANNA BE YOUR DOG is more akin to a French language take on BACK DOOR MAN with coverage of items related to Iggy (New Order) and not (Ted Nugent...I kinda wonder how he felt about being pictured on the covers of fanzines with obvious Stooge song title names given how much he loathed the Ig!). Lotsa fun reading here if you know your French language, and if you don't you can always marvel at the pictures just like you did when you were three and found your daddy's stash of HUSTLER.

Covering everything that made you wanna raid mommy's purse for record buying money during those extra-lean times, the mags say more about the state of hard-driving, knuckle-dragging, total eruption rock 'n roll in the mid-seventies than the entire hidebound collection of CONFLICT ever did! Where are the hails and hosannas for the likes of ROCK NEWS and I WANNA BE YOUR DOG as well as every other mad dog crazed under-the-counterculture fanzine that continues to speak for our hungerin' throbbin' musical selves even fortysome years if not longer past the white heat of it all? My guess is as good as mine.

1 comment:

C said...

Hi, just had to comment here as I was the young, naive but very enthused creator of Psychlon fanzine and it was lovely and very surprising to stumble across your review here! I only printed a few dozen copies of each issue and sold them really cheaply through the little record shop where I worked so it amazes me that any lasted... It really was a one-woman project and a complete labour of love, hand-writing all those pages and putting together my doodles, drawings, collages and photocopied pics, great fun and an outlet for my enthusiasm and desire to be creative. I chose to keep it pretty anonymous as it was just me doing it on my own, and I was rather embarrassed, to be honest (still am...)!
Happy memories- thanks for bringing them back.