The World Of TwoMorrows: Celebrating 25 Years Of The Future Of Fandom edited by John Morrow and Jon B. Cooke (book review).

June 4, 2020 | By | Reply More

Now here’s a weird twist. ‘The World Of TwoMorrows: Celebrating 25 Years Of The Future Of Fandom’ is a retrospective of a company looking at itself and its publishing history. The interviewers are being interviewed themselves and we also get some insight from the pros like Mark Evanier and Alex Ross. Between the two editors on this book, John Morrow is the more reluctant wallflower and Jon B. Cooke the motivator but more from a historical perspective to show how the company has grown.

TwoMorrows Publishing grew out of its fandom roots with a ‘Jack Kirby Collector’ fanzine into a full-grown company over a quarter of a century. Both John and Pam Morrow were trained in advertising preparation, although thrown initially by doing this in the computer before mastering that. Something I hadn’t known was that John Morrow was going to be performing classical music before swayed into something more artistically-orientated. From my own fanzine roots, such an transition from fanzine to prozine is actually pretty rare.

Incidentally, the company name TwoMorrows came from their freelance commercial adverting credentials although, interestingly, Jon B. Cooke came up with the logo you see on their covers, but as he was also an advertising designer, that shouldn’t be surprising. When it comes to Cooke’s own interview, he points out his time in the UK and picking up a rare back issue over here. For a point of information, we initially got American comics over here as ship ballast and the distributors back in the 1960s would continually recirculate old issues and if you were lucky could pick up some early issues because they were frequently collected from newsagents every month with more stock.

Of course, a lot of us British kids believed the DC/Marvel feud so when we switched, it was absolute. I didn’t realise that ‘Comic Book Artist’ was their second book. I did have to wonder why ‘Comic Book Creator’ finished and put it down to sales rather than Cooke and Morrow having a fall-out on illustrated nudity although both are friends and working again now and building up the picture from the content. Digging that out at different points in the book did build up the picture but that’s the only thing they really glossed over. However, as Roy Thomas had half the magazine for ‘Alter Ego’, it was split off for its own complete title.

Roy Thomas’ own interview fills in a lot of gaps in his own fan interest and his involvement in developing comicbook fandom in the USA at its beginnings. I was slyly amused that we share a similar problem of buying books and still needing to find time to read them.

The Jim Amash interview explores how he interviewed many Golden Age comicbook creators before they passed from this mortal coil and sensibly working down from the oldest first. The reason why so many were turned into books than presented in ‘Alter Ego’ was because they would exceed three issues worth or material, so don’t forget to look at their books as you aren’t actually reprints. Seeing some of the people he interviewed, I’ve made further notes as to which copies of ‘Alter Ego’ that I need to pick up.

Looking at Mike Manley’s interview and his desire to have an educational art magazine in ‘Draw!’ also shows him starting off with one of Andrew Loomis’ earliest books, ‘Fun With A Pencil’, although I do have to wonder as to whether he found the rest of them. I suspect you’ll also find things in common with these people. Mark Voger points out that he only skims words on a computer screen being another one, although I tend to read at a glance. I do wish Eric Nolen-Weathington had properly named the book of Golden Age covers he read.

Something that does come out well from this book is just how much work in research that has to be done for all the books they release. If you have any thoughts about writing non-fiction, you might step back and think after reading this book.

There really is a lot in here. I did wonder if there was complete checklist of all their books. Throughout this book there are mini-covers pictures of everything and the checklist at the back mostly tracks the books and first issue releases of the magazines. I think I would have liked to have seen which were the transition issues from black and white to colour with the magazines but that’s really only a minor point as it’s the content that is important. Then again, would seeing the number of reprints of some of the books and magazines would also gauge their most popular titles. With the latter, the only one I can think of there is Back Issue # 61 which is still harder to find than hen’s teeth.

The main thing that comes from this book is TwoMorrows product is fan material from fans being able to develop or having the right contacts that we could only dream of. Other magazines out there over the years tend to orientate from the business management, work issues and such. With TwoMorrows, you also get a lot of insight into what you need to work and get a career in the industry. Mind you, I do have to wonder when they are going to look at how comicbook artists work solely digitally and how they use their software.

In many respects, this book is a tip of the hand to the many people who have contributed to their output and makes them less of names you see on the page. In comicbook fandom, where the newer generations are not yielding historians so much anymore, there is also a possibility that some will read and discover that potential which might not be a bad thing.

GF Willmetts

June 2020

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2020. 255 page illustrated softcover. Price: $37.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60549-092-2. Direct only from them, you can get it for $37.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=95_94&products_id=1522


Category: Books, Comics

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply