THE COMIC READER was one of the longest-running and critical comic book fanzines of the Silver Age of Comics. It was created, as so many things were, by uber fan Dr. Jerry Bails, who was also responsible for the first super hero fanzine (Alter Ego) and the first comic book adzine. And in fact, the COMIC READER started life as just a column within ALTER EGO called “On The Drawing Board” in which Bails would share the insider information about forthcoming releases that he’d learned from his contacts within the industry. As Bails was not only an adult but an accredited University professor, he was accorded more attention and respect by editors such as Julie Schwartz and Stan Lee than the average fan might, and he parlayed that increased level of access into a tool for his eventual dream of uniting comic book fandom. After three columns, ON THE DRAWING BOARD was spun off into its own entity (as ALTER EGO wasn’t coming out frequently enough to keep the information timely). The fanzine was retitled THE COMIC READER and broadened its mandate some with its 8th issue.
This particular issue was released on November 8, 1962 and gives a heady snapshot at the state of nascent fandom in these earliest of days. The big attraction, of course, was the crystal ball look ahead as to what would be featured in upcoming comics–at this time, no fan had any way to garner this information save for the pages of said comics themselves, so these blurbs about upcoming issues were tantalizing and appetite-whetting.
Over the years, THE COMIC READER passed from hand to hand, publication-wise. It eventually wound up in the hands of a young Paul Levitz and Paul Kupperberg, who merged it with their own fanzine Etcetera. This was a prime period for the fanzine as a new source, but more importantly, it enabled Levitz to make the contacts that would lead to him entering the field some years later. As he did so, THE COMICS READER was again passed on to other hands, eventually ending with issue #219 (an astounding number) in 1984.
3 thoughts on “The Comic Reader #13”
The fascination and intensity-of-interest of the early fanzine creators is impressive. To behold it, one is reminded of ancient scientists searching for the alchemy to turn lead into gold. The fanzine creator’s “gold” is the new issues they chronicle with loving care every month.
Oh how I miss those days — and wish I could change a day in 1966 or 67, in which I (oops!) burned our back yard and almost the revamped chicken coop which had become my comics storage shed, full of Marvels from 1962 to 1966
The letter from Tommy Jones on pp
4-5, about why Superman stories didn’t include credits, is quite interesting.