Back Issue # 88 May 2016 (magazine review).

Back Issue # 88 gets right down to business as publisher John Morrow starts off with a examination of the advertising promotion that DC failed to deliver when Jack Kirby went to work for them after Marvel. His analysis is very good and I suspect in more modern times, would have spread about where to find Kirby’s work. Something that I don’t think he took into account was still the dividing line that if you read Marvel, then you wouldn’t read DC and vice versa and that probably still stuck with many readers no matter who the person was. Despite DC’s poor promotion, it also failed to do anything to encourage their own readers to look at Kirby’s work neither.


A large section of this issue is devoted to Marvel’s black and white comics and just thumbing through it, I was picking out the covers of issues I still own. Not all, mind you, as I wasn’t that much of a horror fan but quickly picked up from this article what I missed.

Michael Uslan points out that the reason why DC Comics didn’t enter the black and white magazine market, although there were a few in the making, was that they left it far too late and Marvel monopolised along with Warren magazines.

The next article does show they weren’t totally alone with Skywald and Seabound magazines making their own attempts using some of the talent that was usually seen over at Marvel. This is where ‘Back Issue’ really succeeds by showing the covers as I did buy Movie Monsters # 2 and at least one of the ‘Devilina’s mags, showing that there was some UK distribution for them over here.

Of course, you couldn’t neglect Warren’s magazines, although the focus is on the 1970s until it ended in 1983, with an extra feature looking at ‘The Rook’ magazine as a whole. This ties in with artist Paul Gulacy’s involvement and then a piece about his unused work he did with examples of what you missed. Although this is really for Gulacy fans, it should also be read by aspiring comicbook artists as a reminder that not everything you draw is always going to be seen in print, even when bought.

Although we had a limited circulation of Charlton Comics in the UK, I can’t recall ever seeing their magazine-sized comics of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ (although I do have vague memories of the comic-size version), ‘Space: 1999’ and ‘Emergency’, the first two issues of each illustrated by Continuity Associates, run by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano if you didn’t know. Seeing the covers here with layouts is very impressive. They left after Charlton were told that they couldn’t return their artwork which was stipulated by contract but does give some insight of the time. On top of that is a phone interview about it with Neal Adams himself followed by a piece by artist Frank Cirocco about a couple of the comedy pranks done at Continuity to relieve steam. I’m still amazed at how Adams and Mike Nasser avoided getting shaving cream on any of the artwork in progress.

One could hardly avoid Marvel’s ‘Epic Illustrated’ and editor Archie Goodwin, along with sub-editor Jo Duffy doing a six year tenure with the magazine. I think I still have the issues in the attic. I do sympathise with its writer John R. Kirk to some extent because he could only pick out some of the highlights. I do remember at the time, that adding the occasional super-hero based story was more to appease the more mainstream Marvel readers and bring them aboard but still have some fine memories of the mag myself. The problem really for Marvel was to be like ‘Heavy Metal’ but not look like it and that would have been tough for any company.

Finally, a piece by Bob Greenberger looking at his thirteen issue as editor at Starlog’s ‘Comics Scene’ as they tried to find their way in the 1980s. Since then, there had been a two more volumes, with only the second one lasting 56 issues. I tend to agree with him that there is always an element of luck as to whether any magazine will gain an audience at the right time.

As the title says, ‘Back Issue’ tailors for the nostalgic fans of my age but I suspect for those who are younger, you might learn about what you’ve missed and pay attention to some of the more neglected boxes for gems in your search at comic marts and shops.

GF Willmetts

April 2016

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))

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