June, 1980

I first became aware of the work of Fred Hembeck on the Daily Planet coming attractions pages in many DC comics in the late 70s, where Fred was doing a small one-tier gag strip. It was Glenn Hauman who introduced me to the collections of Fred’s work from the Buyer’s Guide to Comics Fandom. I very quickly became a Hembeck convert.

Fred did what was essentially a nostalgia strip for the Buyer’s Guide–an illustrated romp through the comics of the past, often broken up with mock-interview with the characters themselves. I preferred Fred’s stuff when he was playing comic book archaeologist–dissecting an old Jimmy Olsen story for comedic effect, or explaining the appeal of Little Archie. I always learned something from those strips. However, this particular collection (Fred’s third of ultimately seven) was devoted to a long story in which various characters from various companies ran into one another in a limbo-like setting, and hilarity ensued. Fred’s work was a tremendous influence on my own early attempts at comedic strips.

Fred continues to do a regular strip for Comics Buyer’s Guide to this very day. And I wish they’d get around to collecting the things–primarily because the copies that I’ve been clipping out of the paper since Fred’s return are taking up way too much space

2014 Notes: The Comics Buyer’s Guide and Fred’s strips therein are now a thing of the past. But pretty much his entire canon was collected in the above Archive Omnibus edition. And he continues to regularly produce strips for publications such as Comic Book Creator.

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