Comics : Comic Times #1
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Industry Books
This review was first published on: 2008.
The Comics Times is a pop culture fanzine from the 80's. Issue #1 makes the bold claim that it is "published monthly". In practice, Issue #1 was produced July 1980 and Issue #5 was already into 1981. The last issue that I can find any trace of appears to be #6.
Comic Times #1
Jul 1980 : SM Article
Summary: Spider-Man on Cover; Review of Pocket Book Newspaper Strip Collection
The credits for this first issue contain a healthy list of different contributors, including Joe Jusko as artist. This doesn't look like a one-man show publishing out of the back of a garage. The type-setting isn't computerized, it definitely looks like typewriter, cut-and-paste. Old school magazine layouts.
The material isn't purely comics related. In fact, the lead story is a 12 page essay on "The Shining". Featuring many photos, the essay is rather critical of the film, setting the tone for a magazine that certainly doesn't intend to wimp out when reviewing material.
Other topics include the Empire Strikes Back film, then we're safely in the world of comics with a brief history of the last days of DC's J.S.A. There's an interesting critique of Kirby's transition to DC, and why it generally failed to achieve what was expected of it. There's more notes on current movies, interviews with comic book writer Michael Fleisher and artist Joe Jusko, news on DC and independent press, and a checklist of Marvel comics for the month.
Buried in the middle of all that (on page 42 out of 80) the two-page Spider-Man by Jim O'Connor looks at Spidey's transition from comic book to daily newspaper comic strip. Specifically it looks at Pocket Book: Spider-Man Newspaper Reprints (Vol. 1) from April 1980.
In general, the reviews is unkind about the over-simplification and the jerky storytelling, both admittedly required changes for the daily format. The only real good point, says Jim, is the re-uniting of Romita, Sr. with Stan Lee. Romita's art is credited for saving a strip which generally struggles to satisfy.
Oh, Jim also raises the rumor that Stan doesn't actually write the script, and that in fact it is ghost written. Twenty-five years on I can neither confirm nor deny the claim.
This black and white, cheap newsprint with grainy photo fanzine wouldn't have been cheap back then with its $2.00 price tag. It's hard to imagine what fan expectations might have been, back then. Reading it now, the writing is close enough to "professional", but the overall presentation and "quality" factor is pretty low.
There's not much that is interesting here in Comics Times #1, either in "current day terms" or in "historical interest" terms. I can't feel any "fan passion", it doesn't offer any illuminating insight into the industry or fan scene of the times. It's really not at all surprising that the magazine appears to have quietly slipped below the surface some time around #6 of its short-lived publication. It was probably the kindest thing.
Spider-Man's on the cover, and the two page article. But this one is purely for completists only. Two webs.