Thursday, April 30, 2009
After Alter Ego had a few issues under it's belt (as well as a few editors, as Jerry Bails left to pursue his Golden Age data cataloging leaving Ronn Foss to the helm with issue 5) comic fandom began to grow.
People began to realize that others shared their interest in comics and they wanted to make contact.
Soon, fan-made characters started popping out of the woodwork, mostly superhero-inspired.
The Eye, Eclipse, Xal-Kor, the Demon, Changeling, Powerman, Son of Satan, the Fog and more were having adventures in fanzines!
An loose group of friends who called themselves 'Golden Gate Features' made an early attempt to catalog the new world of fanzine heroes. It was called 'Fandom Presents' and was published in December of 1964.
Bill Dubay, Marty Arbunich, Rudi Franke and Barry Bauman of the Bay Area made up the Golden Gate gang.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Apparently, after Dr. Jerry Bails passed on to the great Alley Tally in the sky; his wife (not knowing what to do with all the fannish items he had accumulated over the years) sold or had sold some of his things with a Certificate of Authenticity.
It even has Jerry's picture on it!
Anyone reading this purchase some of these items?
I'd like to know a bit more about it.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Before I complete the rest of the Star-Studded covers, I'd like to take a moment to assist those interested in actually reading some of the interior material of SS.
The chances of completing a run of Star-Studded Comics is for most, not likely. However, fanzine historian extraordinaire Bill Schelly has given you another option:
The Best of Star-Studded Comics.
From Bill's website:
This 256-page trade paperback book collects 21 of the best comic strips (complete) published in Star-Studded Comics, the classic fan magazine of the 1960s and 1970s. A small press pioneer, Star-Studded was the first publication entirely dedicated to offering alternative comics to fans of the medium—mostly super hero strips, at first, and then branching out into other genres in their later issues.
Originally published by the Texas Trio (Larry Herndon, Buddy Saunders and Howard Keltner) from 1963 to 1972, Star-Studded spanned 18 great issues, all very difficult and expensive to acquire these days. With the permission and support of all involved, I have carefully selected the best strips, starring celebrated ama-heroes The Eye, the Human Cat, Dr. Weird, Powerman, the Blade, White Dragon and many more to give you the “cream” of the fanzine, in this unique 260-page archival collection. In addition, the book includes the “Warrior of Llarn” adaptation of Gardner Fox’s novel, by Roy Thomas and Sam Grainger, as well as complete annotations on every feature by Bill Schelly. There is also “The Star-Studded Checklist” detailing the contents of every issue, and a never-before-published fabulous13-page strip by Biljo White and Howard Keltner called “The Interceptor.”
All told, 60 pages of new material, 21 complete comic strips, ONE EXCITING BOOK!!
This really is a great book, and I have the book and have no affiliation with Bill so it's an honest endorsement.
Issue 7 was printed with a couple of the color plates getting reversed. It resulted in a unique look to say the least! Most people saw it as ruined but I kind of like it.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF STAR-STUDDED COMICS by Rick Kelsey
THE BEGINNING: On February 15, 1963, three young men who loved comic books met at a Carrollton, Texas home to talk about the hobby and the possibility of starting their own comic book. They did just that. The comic was called Star-Studded Comics and those three young men, Larry Herndon, Howard Keltner, and Buddy Saunders, became the "Texas Trio." When the "Texas Trio" started Star-Studded Comics in the early 1960s, it was an exciting time in comic books. New heroes and new teams were premiering like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Magnus Robot Fighter, the Justice League of America. And old heroes were being revived like the Flash, Green Lantern, and Captain America. This was a time before VCRs, DVDs, CD-Roms, personal computers, and cellular phones and when checking your mail meant looking in the mailbox in front of your home not turning on the computer and logging onto the internet. Even comic books stores didn't exist. You got the latest issues of Batman, Superman, the Hulk, or Donald Duck from wire racks in convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and the "five-and-10" shops such as Winn's, Ben Franklin's, and TG&Y. And comic book conventions weren't happening yet. All of that helped to make the entertainment value of comic books all the greater and all the more precious. Fans wanted to meet one another and one way to do that was to publish your own comic book or magazine. Many tried but few succeeded as well as "Star-Studded Comics." The problem? A fan-published comic or magazine didn't usually last or appear with the regularity and dependability of a professional comic. Many fan publications ended or went AWOL after one issue. If you think self-publishing today is a tough job, imagine doing that in the 1960s without computers, desktop publishing software, word processing programs, Fax machines, photo-copiers, a home printer, the internet, or even an electric typewriter. Then toss in the fact that there was little, if any, profit to be made publishing your own comic or magazine. So you couldn't make a living from that. Most of these fan publications were done out of the love of the hobby. And when all of your spare time from your job or school is spent working on a comic or mag, your enthusiasm and dedication can quickly fade. Yet, the "Texas Trio" published 18 issues of Star-Studded Comics and in its time became well-known among fans and professionals alike, gave many future comic writers and artists a start in the industry, and entertained many, many people. And today the comic is a collectors' item and a reminder of a wonderful time when comic books were one of the best entertainment sources and a great escape for youngsters.
The cover to issue 7 had 2 printing plates reversed resulting in an odd cover but to be honest, although at the time it was thought to be ruined, I actually like it!
Gots pizzazz, it does!
Originally created by three fans who called themselves
The Texas Trio, STAR-STUDDED COMICS ran eighteen issues from
1963 to 1972. Larry Herndon, Buddy Saunders and Howard Keltner
wrote and drew most of the first issue themselves. After that,
their efforts were greatly augmented by stories and art by comic
fandom's top talents, including fans who went on to make their
mark in mainstream comics from DC and Marvel: Richard Green, Tommy Fisher,Biljo White Ken Tesar, Ronn Foss, Al Kuhfeld, Ed Lahmann, D. Bruce Berry, Alan Weiss, Dick Tatge, Landon Chesney,Bill DuBay, George Metzger, Rick Schubb, Ron Harris, Steve Fritz, Jim Starlin, Dennis Fujitake, Dave Cockrum, Sam Grainger, Mark Lamberti, George R.R. Martin, Gardner Fox, Roy Thomas and
more! "Some of these guys were published for the first time in
SSC," Bill Schelly said. "It was also a showcase for the top amateurs
to strut their stuff. Strips by Grass Green, Biljo White, Landon
Chesney and Ronn Foss were every bit as popular as the
soon-to-be professionals, though none of them went on to
substantial pro careers. But they were damn good
Issue number one is the first color cover ever for a fan based publication!
Sorry about number 5 being in black and white. It's the only one I have that is not marked.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Here are two examples of Biljo White's Bat Bulletin, issues 102 and 108.
It was published in between issues of Batmania to keep fans abreast of the latest happenings.
He truly lived up to the nickname, 'Batman's number one fan'!
Also included is the NeoBatmania not published by Biljo.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I am missing scans for issues 20 and 21, so if anyone has them and would like to share please let me know. (Update! 10/04/10-I have found a scan of Batmania 20 and have uploaded it.)
Here's Bob Kane's letter from Batmania 17:
September 14, 1965
AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL "BATMANIANS" EVERYWHERE
First, I would like to commend you on your dedication to perpetuate the legend of "Batman;" through your "Fanzine; Batmania, which I think is a very constructive gesture on your part. I'd like you to know that I have been reading it with great-interest since its inception but due to a busy schedule, could not find the time to write you until now.
Now, Biljo, I'd like to emphatically set the record straight, once and for all, about the many "myths" and "conjectures" that I read about myself and my creation, "Batman," in your "Fanzine" and other publications. I can only call all the stories I read about myself "conjectures," because most of them are written without my advice or consent, and, therefore, cannot be entirely the truth, because how can an article about me or the Batman be the true story, when I am not consulted or interviewed? It only stands to reason then, that the writers write what they "think" is the truth, by receiving their information from second and third parties, in fragments, until what I read is so distorted that I cannot believe that the person they are talking about is myself. (They also do this to the movie stars whom they never even interviewed.)
It is true, however, that much is written about the "Batman" because he is publicly exposed in print, but very little is known personally about Bob Kane, his creator, because I haven't given out that many interviews. Here, for the first time, straight from the "horse's mouth" is the real inside story about myself and "Batman," with no holds barred, and I intend to explode the myths about myself and get down to the real truth about the legend that is "Batman," so, fasten your seat belts, Batmanians, as the fireworks begin.
We can call this story, "Inside Bob Kane," or will the real creator of "Batman" sign in, please!
The Myth: Bob Kane is not the sole creator of "Batman." (I've heard this a thousand times in my lifetime), that "Batman" was really created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, Jack Schiff, Julie Schwartz, my publisher, etc., etc., and my housekeeper!
The Truth: All hogwash! I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of "Batman." I created "Batman" in 1939, and it appeared, if memory serves me correctly, in Detective Comics as a six or eight page story, and I signed the first strip, "Robert Kane."
I read your article that you sent to me, "If the Truth be Known,'' ''A Finger in Every Plot," and it seemed to me that Bill Finger has given out the impression that he and not myself created the ''Batman, t' as well as Robin and all the other leading villains and characters. This statement is fraudulent and entirely untrue. That is ''myth" and I quote an excerpt from the article written by Jerry G. Bails, "The Cowl and Cape, the utility belt and gauntlets were all Bill's contribution."
Also, further down in the article and again I quote , "Bill also created Robin, of course, but also Commissioner Gordon, (who appeared in the first Batman story), Alfred the Penguin, The Catwoman, etc., etc.
I challenge Bill to repeat those statements in front of me. I am sorry that I was absent from the comicdom's convention so that I could have answered him. The truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves, and I refute much of his statements here in print The fact is that I conceived the ''Batman`' figure and costume entirely by myself' even before I called Bill in to help me write the "Batman.'' I created the title, masthead, the format and concept, as well as the Batman figure and costume. Robin, the boy wonder, was also my idea, . . . not Bill's.
The only proof I need to back my statement is that if Bill co-authored and conceived the idea, either with me or before me, then he would most certainly have a by-line on the strip along with my name, the same as Siegel and Schuster had as creators of Superman. However, it remains obvious that my name appears on the strip alone, proving that I created the idea first and then called Bill in later, after my publisher okayed my original creation.
(Attention Jerry G. Bails; the self-appointed authority on Batman. If Bill Finger created Batman, as you wrote, where is Bill Finger 's byline on my strip' It is conspicuous by its absence. So?)
Now, Biljo, in all fairness to Bill, I will admit he was influential in aiding me in shaping up the strip, and there are certain characters Bill created, aside from my main characters' and many other characters that I created, including the Batmobile. It's been 25 years now, and truthfully, time sometimes blurs the memory and it is difficult to separate, at times, the myth from the truth, so that I cannot blame Bill too much if at times his memory "clouds."
Aside to Jerry G. Bails: I ought to sue you for misrepresentation and distortion of the truth about your "Finger Article" that blatantly intimates that Bill Finger was the true creator behind Batman, and not Bob Kane. Your article is completely misleading, loaded with untruths fed to you by Finger's hallucinations of grandeur.
May I say to you, Mr . Bails, that before you wrote so smugly and assuredly about Bill Finger being the real creator and ''tour de force" behind the Batman for publication, don't you think that you should have double-checked your information back to me, so that I could verify and clarify Bill Finger's comments? After all, I was involved with the Batman, don't you think? But, of course, you minimized my part in the creation and maximized Bill Finger's part, only because you listened to one side of the story - Finger' s side. I am sure that you have heard that there are "two sides to every story"? At any rate, now you've heard my side. Are you still convinced about Finger's immortality?
I am sick and tired of opinionated people, like yourself, who throughout the years have written distorted and untrue stories about how Batman was created and by whom, receiving their information from unreliable sources, when it would have been much easier to get the true story simply by contacting me, the one and only creator of Batman, that could be proven so easily by merely asking my publisher or simply by looking at the lone by-line of "Bob Kane" on the strip.
I'd also like to state here, Mr. Bails, that although Bill Finger literally typed the scripts in the early days, that he wrote the scripts from ideas that we mutually collaborated on and that many of the unique concepts and story twists also came from my own fertile imagination and that I was not just a puppet cartoonist alone, following a writer's script and contributing nothing more than the art work.
Many a story I "silently'' wrote by giving Bill the premise and he took the ball from there. (I am sure that Bill failed to mention this fact?)
You see, I am also a writer and that is a fact not known by the public in general. The point is, I didn't have the time to literally write and draw the strip at the same time. However, I personally wrote many stories of my early creations, Clip Carson, Rusty and his Pals, Gingersnap, etc . even before Mr. Finger was called into the picture.
The Myth (continued): The "New Look" Batman. It has been hinted and at times stated openly that I do not draw the ''New Look'' Batman, that I am retired and out of the picture. Many of my fans think that Carmine Infantino has taken over the strip and there is constant mention of many fans in your ''Fanzine" who are overly concerned about who inks the strip, who pencils it, who letters it, etc .
The Truth: First of all, let me state that I still draw about ninety percent of all Batman stories. I do all the stories for Batman Bimonthly, and share Detective Comics with Infantino, who draws every other one . Infantino now does all the covers for Batman and Detective Comics. As for inking and lettering, I am not too sure myself who finishes my pencils. However, the results are good, so I don't care.
I do know one thing though, that in the "Golden Age" of Batman, I penciled, inked, and lettered my strip by myself.
I've often been asked, do I like the "New Look'' Batman better than the old look. My answer to that question is, ''Emphatically, no!!" (Although there are certain aspects of the "New Look" that I do like better). I feel that my original style was much more unique and individual and was much more the "real me." It had much more "zing and schmaltz" and I feel that any "immortality" that Batman enjoys came from my original style, that lasted about twenty years, and not the "New Look" style that is only a couple of years old, but improving all the time. I feel that the "New Look'' lacks the individuality of my original style, although it is more illustrative and realistic (like everybody else) . However, "In Rome, do as the Romans do" seems to be the motto, so at editorial request to me to "Keep up with the times," meaning follow the sheep who all draw alike (like Alex Raymond imitators), I conceded.
I have also read comments in your "Fanzine" about Infantino's art being better than mine on the ''Batman" strip.
Let me put it this way: Infantino, I feel, is a better illustrator that I'd ever care to be, as I still try to combine a little of my old "semi-comic" style with the illustrative ''New Look'' style. I think Carmine is a very fine artist but does not capture the essence of "Batman" at all. On his own strips, he excels and he is almost too fine an artist, I feel, for the comic books. He should have been a top illustrator.
There is an old saying, ''To the victor belongs the spoils, " and after it is said and done about who does what on the Batman assembly line, and I do not underestimate all of the help I've received, I am assured that in the folklore of legendary comic history of our times, I know that Bob Kane will be remembered as the creator of "Batman'' and no one else .
The trouble with being a "ghost" writer or artist is that you must remain rather anonymously without credit. However, if one wants the "credit," then one has to cease being a ''ghost" or follower and become a leader or innovator. (There must be a moral there somewhere for aspiring young cartoonists and writers).
In conclusion, Biljo, I would like to say that I have some very exciting news to report on the ''Batman." First of all, the Batman is coming to television, and judging from your latest Batmania cover, you are either clairvoyant or heard the news through the grapevine.
ABC Television Network and 20th Century-Fox Films are jointly in the process now of making an extremely high-budget color pilot of an hour a week Batman series that may wind up as two half-hour-a-week shows. The show will be shown in a prime time slot at 7:30 and should hit the TV screens some time next September of 1966 season . This is a top budget show and they are putting the best of everything into it. They are building a special "Batmobile" with a million gadgets an it that will make the "Goldfinger'' car look like a kiddie car. They will have some of the villains that I created, The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, etc. This is going to be the ''in'' show to watch and will be real "camp'' with some very exciting innovations and gimmicks which I would rather not reveal right now.
The time is now ripe for a Batman TV series, following on the heels of the James Bond hysteria, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, and various other satire take-offs. Did you know that I created "Batman" about ten years before Ian FIeming created James Bond?
It took them a while to catch on that ''Batman" would be the greatest, but this year it seems, after celebrating 25 years of its fame, the ''Batman" has had its biggest comeback and has had the accolades paid to me and the "Batman" from every source imaginable: Newsweek article, ''Batman Has Become a Collector 's Item." The San Francisco Pop Ballet had a large ''Batman'' back-drop honoring me, the first time a comic hero was used in a ballet. I received write-ups in various newspapers, Time Magazine, etc., etc. I am quite thrilled with all of this sudden, renewed interest in my indestructible heroes, and the TV series coming up will be the topper to it all. "Batman'' has been acknowledged as a legend in my lifetime.
The second exciting news event worth mentioning is that I am planning a one-man art show of original Batman oil paintings that I will show in New York City at a new gallery in the CarIton House, called the Paul Stooshnoff Gallery, which will be held some time this coming November or December. I will let you know the exact date in advance, as soon as I find out, so that you can alert my fans who would like to attend the opening of this unprecedented show.
It will be kind of "Pop Art" but not really. The paintings are three-dimensional oils that are almost life-like in appearance. I am doing it partly for the Cancer Fund, and it will be a charity affair with a blacktie opening.
There will be all kinds of Batman and Robin shots, some in action, some in portrait, and also a liberal sprinkling of all of my villains: The Joker, Clayface, The Batwoman, The Catwoman, and The Penguin.
The prices of the paintings will be quite high, but I am counting on the rich patrons of "Pop Art" to buy them and I will personally autograph the catalogues for a very nominal fee, so that the younger set could afford them.
Well, Biljo, old chap, this sounds like my autobiography, but I thought that this would be a good time to sound off about myself, as I think that I have been silent too long about my views and opinions, and I have gotten a bit tired about hearing what people think I have said, along with misquotes and distortions of the truth.
As this is the first comprehensive document authored by myself, may I suggest that you keep this original copy so that the historians of comic folklore may one day think it valuable enough to lock in their vault . They can then quote excerpts about the real Bob Kane, instead of getting their information from second-hand sources which are genuinely false in context.
In the future, Biljo, I'd like you to know that I am making you kind of my unofficial guardian of pertinent Batmania folklore and oddities and may I suggest that if you ever want to get the facts straight about me or the Batman, please write to the original source, myself, for the truth, instead of second guessing. I will be most happy to help you and my fans in the future with any information that you may need.
So, good luck to you and all you Batman collectors, may I wish you continued success with your "Fanzine" Batmania and thanks again for your personal interest in my heroes and myself.
With best wishes,
NEXT POST: Bails' "Finger in Every Plot" that propted Kane's letter!
P.S. I would appreciate it if you would devote your next issue to my entire document and use all of the material that I have stated, as I feel that it is important enough to relate to my fans, once and for all, by being as candid and honest as I could. I am sure that this open letter will be welcomed by all my readers that have never heard any real comment about the personal side of Bob Kane, by Bob Kane.
The next issue of Playboy Magazine will have a featured story about the comic book heroes and their creators of the "Golden Age" of comics by Jules Ffeifer. Look for it!
This is interesting:
Bill Schelly wrote that one "key reason for the formation of comics fandom was to provide collectors with data about their favorite comic books. Who were the artists? The writers? For the most part, no one knew, until the information was gradually ferreted out by tenacious fans." Bill Finger's rare appearance at the 1965 New York ComiCon began to shed light on his immense contributions to the character of Batman, and his role in scripting — and co-creating — most of the key aspects of the strip, including the character itself. This appearance led Jerry Bails to write in CAPA-alpha #12 (Sep 1965) about "The Silent Legend Behind the Batman!", namely Finger. Describing Kane's hiring of Finger and likely becoming the first source to state that Finger "put words in the mouth of the Guardian of Gotham," Bails attributed the status of co-creator of Batman to Finger. This led to a "lengthy retort" from Bob Kane himself appearing in the Batmania fanzine, "written just days after seeing the Bails piece," but unprinted until the 1967 Batmania Annual (issue #17), publication delayed because Finger had communicated to Tom Fagan that he and Kane were intending to talk things through prior to the letter's publication.
Bob Kane's creation assertion
Kane's 6-page letter (reprinted by Roy Thomas in the pages of Alter Ego, as published by TwoMorrows Publishing was written on September 14, 1965, and after congratulating White on Batmania aims to rebut the various "myths" surrounding the creation of Batman. Opening his attempts to "explode the myths" about the creation of Batman, Kane writes:
"I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of "Batman." I created "Batman" in 1939 . . . and I signed the first strip.."
The letter sparked a debate among comics fandom over the contributions made by Kane, Finger and Jerry Robinson (among others), a debate that continues to the present day. The letter itself, while much less charitable towards Finger than Kane would later be, appears carefully worded to rebut "the impression that he [Finger] and not myself [Kane] created the "Batman," as well as Robin[, etc.]" rather than to address Bails' issue of co-creatorship. Part of Kane's logic hinges on Finger's signature/by-line not appearing on the strip, even though such anonymity and relinquishing of credit was commonplace in the comics industry of the 1930s and 1940s. Kane further threatens legal action against Jerry Bails, asserting that, while Finger "was influential . . . in shaping up the strip", the idea was conceived solely by him prior to bringing Finger in to script the work, and therefore was created solely by him. Batmania — and other forums — have since debated whether the "influential" assistance of Finger was deserving of more credit than Kane was — at the time — willing to apportion him.
Biljo was one of early comics fandom's most active fan writers and artists. Beginning with Komix Illustrated in 1962, living in Columbia, Missouri, by the name of Bill J. White. Just about everyone called him Biljo or Capt. Biljo.
Biljo was a huge influence on early fandom and well known by all involved in it in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Other accomplishments include being co-creator of “The Eye”, creator of “The Fog”, Art Director of fanzine Alter Ego, as well as publisher of The Comiccollector for a time, and The Stripper, a magazine for fans of comic strips.He drew many such strips but his most famous was The Eye, a freakish crimefighter with an eyeball for a head, much weirder than any evil-doer he ever vanquished.
Batmania had the tacit approval of DC, after White sent a copy of his first issue to renowned fan-friendly editor Julius Schwartz, who liked it, and even gave it a plug in the pages of Batman #169, causing the membership of the fledgling "Batmanians" group to grow "nearly 1,000-strong". The first issue was in such demand that White:
"kept printing up more and more copies, until the ditto masters gave out — and I still couldn't satisfy all the requests. It convinced me more than ever that there was a large body of fans who enjoyed the adventures of Batman and Robin as much as I did.
Batmania became the unofficial "fanzine for Batman fans. Appearing under the motto "For Batman, we accept nothing as impossible," It was released a year after sales on the two Batman titles — Batman and Detective Comics (DC Comics) — had "dipped alarmingly."
Biljo White had a block building out back of his house that in it's glory days, was filled with more Golden Age comics that you could imagine.
The 'White House of Comics' it was called.
Roy Thomas would use the comics Biljo owned for research when doing articles, including his contribution to Xero.
But Batman was his favorite. So much so, that in addition to creating many characters of his own and publishing them in various 'zines (plus becoming art director for Alter Ego with Roy Thomas) he decided to put out a little ditty called 'Batmania'. As far as I know, he coined the phrase basing it on the then-rampant Beatlemania. It was a natural fit.
He also produced a 'Bat-Bulletin' to update subscribers in between issues. He had an extremely amiable personality and wonderful whimsical art style that made for good copy and it became a huge success.
A few issues came out after Biljo's tenure including a 'Neo-Batmania'