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Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Collection - THE COMIC READER

Like I'm sure many people who feel the need to have comics-oriented weblogs, I have a lot of comics and related publications (11,530 of them according to my database, but some of those seem to be missing and others I have aren't included for one reason or another. Also that's with a kind of loose definition of "related publication" (Maggin's Superman novels count)). As I think I mentioned recently, thanks to some renovations, for the first time in a long time I also have ready access to all of them, and realized I should get rid of a lot of them. I should also update my database to something more functional than a flat spreadsheet.

Anyway, new feature of the weblog, I'm going to start going through each series I have, writing a bit about each and deciding what I want to keep (and for some which issues I need to add to my wantlist). As for the order, I'm counting down in terms of quantity, which currently gives me about 200 entries before I get down to books I have fewer than a dozen issues of (there are a lot of series with only one or two issues in my collection, between bookshelf-type formats, books I tried and didn't like and just short-lived things).

In general I use GCD methods for naming books and identifying series, so new publisher or new official title or long publication gap mean new series even if the numbering continues. There are some exceptions.

And the series I have the most issues of? A fanzine, actually.

The Comic Reader [1964 series]
121 issues [1973 - 1984]
99 - 219

This is one of those exceptions, since #100 was the last issue published by Paul Levitz under the TCR Publications name, with Street Enterprises taking over from 101 to the end of the run (I'm almost certain 219 is the last issue). But I use different rules for fanzines. #100 gives a history of the publication until then (it started off as the "On the Drawing Board" section in Jerry Bails' ALTER-EGO #1, at some point became a separate publication, went through several editor/publishers, switching titles back and forth a few times). I'm still not sure what year to designate the series as starting.

Anyway, I had a few late issues of this from early in my collecting days, and a while back got most of this run all at once. There's a lot of weird fun stuff in here, especially on the covers, a mix of fan and pro work (a few highlights include the Kirby covers on #100, Simonson's Manhunter, Dan Spiegle's Blackhawk, Ditko's Machine Man some good Aragones, Hembeck, Rosa etc.). It was digest sized (5.5x8) with mostly black and white covers (except #99 and #100) up to #137, started adding colour on the covers with #138 (at first just one or two colours, but soon full colour). With #139 they also started to have artwork on the backcover as well as the front. #164 saw the magazine change to regular comic size (7x10) and adding lot of pages as they merged with Street Enterprises' comic strip reprint newspapers, so each issue after that included some comic strip reprints (including Modesty Blaise, Star Hawks, Superman and Captain Kentucky). Some other nice regular features included Fandom Confidential (Jim Engel and Chuck Fiala's fumetti humour page) and Don Rosa's Information Center.

Overall, it's an interesting news fanzine for getting a snapshot of points in that decade of American comics, with monthly lists of releases for each publisher (usually with credits and some covers), some announcements (a few of things that never came to pass) and stuff. I'll definitely be keeping these, and in fact would probably pick up some earlier issues if I see them, though I won't actively seek them out.

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