GRAFAN zine, 1970-71 | St. Louis Comics Fandom Remembered

Comics, Fanzines

Covers and content lists for ATLANTIS #1 and GRAFAN #2-9, 1970-71, “official propaganda organs” of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis.

I love the smell of mimeograph stencils in the morning.

Good thing, because as a teen-age fanzine writer and editor in 1970s St. Louis comics fandom, I smelled a lot of ’em.

And so did my pals and fellow members of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, who co-created dozens of mimeo zines throughout the decade, bursting with news, reviews, articles and artwork, often accompanied by covers featuring sketches we begged from pro comics and science fiction artists at conventions.

GRAFAN, as the “graphic fantasy society” was known, was a well organized, fee-based club, with regular monthly meetings for years (in the basement of members’ parents’ homes,) and kept a fairly rigorous monthly schedule for its zine/newsletter, containing at very least minutes of meetings past and previews of meetings upcoming. “It is published every month,” the indicia of every issue said, “with a little bit of luck… and magic.”

The club was a warm community of nerds; I say that proudly as one then and now. It was a self-selected tribe of fast-frozen and long-held friendships among talented young people sharing enthusiasms, putting their still-forming work out there, and squinting together into adulthood and creative careers.

Some were “older” teens and even 20somethings – a few in college, a few in Grad School. Founding members in my memory, were brothers Len and Mike McFadden; Bob Schoenfeld (of “Gosh Wow”;) and Bob Gale (of “Green Vomit,” then later, “Back to the Future.”) Len and Bob were at the older end of that age range. But when I first joined the group, in 1969, I was 14 years old, and when I inherited the editor position of GRAFAN, its monthly zine, as of issue #6 in 1970, I was 15.

The regulars who leaned in to publication of GRAFAN and its follow-up zine SON OF GRAFAN were founders Len and Mike McFadden; Walter Stumper, Steve Houska, Jim Theis, Joe Caporale, Dev (Brock) Hanke, Paul Daly, Don Secrease, Larry Nolte, me, and others I’ll remember as soon as I’m done posting.

Here are the covers and overview of contents of ATLANTIS # 1 and GRAFAN #2-9. The name changed with issue #2 to align more closely with club name. (Better branding, I said back then, and still say now.)

Atlantis 1 cover

ATLANTIS 1

June, 1970
18 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Vaughn Bode
Features include:
Editorial
Fandom Report
Meeting minutes and news about next
Ozark-Con 5 flier
Zine reviews
Upcoming con listings

Grafan 2 cover

GRAFAN 2

July, 1970
6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Mike Royer
Features include:
Editorial by Len McFadden
Fandom Report
Meeting minutes and news about next
Member survey

Grafan 3 cover

GRAFAN 3

August, 1970
4 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Larry Todd
Features include:
Editorial by Mike
Fandom Report
Meeting minutes and news about next

Grafan 4 cover

GRAFAN 4

September, 1970
6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Joe Caporale and Mike
Features include:
Editorial by Mike
Fandom Report
Article on Ozark-Con 5 by Marsha Allen and Mike
Meeting minutes and news about next

Grafan 5 cover

GRAFAN 5

October, 1970
6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Vaughn Bode
Features include:
Editorial by Mike
Fandom Report
Meeting minutes and news about next
Member survey

Grafan 6 cover

GRAFAN 6

GRAFAN 6 is available as an instant download pdf here.

November, 1970
16 pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Michael McFadden
Cover: Larry Todd
Features include:
Denny O’Neil interview, part 1
Editorial by Mike
Fandom Report
Meeting minutes and news about next
Book reviews by Len McFadden

Grafan 7 cover

GRAFAN 7

GRAFAN 7 is for sale as an instant download pdf.

January, 1971
A typo in this issue incorrectly lists date as January, 1970
16 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Walt Jaschek
Cover: Steve Houska and Mike McFadden
Features include:
Denny O’Neil interview, part 2
Editorial by Walt Jaschek
Fandom Report
Club Election Results
Book reviews by Len McFadden
Read more about GRAFAN 7

Grafan 8 cover

GRAFAN 8

GRAFAN 8 is for sale as an instant download pdf here.

February-March, 1971
18 mimeograph pages + mimeograph cover
Editor: Walt Jaschek
Cover: Vaughn Bode
Features include:
Denny O’Neil interview, part 3
Editorial by Walt Jaschek
MiamiCon 1971 Report by Steve Houska
Grafandom letter column:
Letters from Ralph Green, Tony Foster, Joe Caporale, Ruben Hayes
Read more about GRAFAN 8

GRAFAN 9 cover

GRAFAN 9

GRAFAN 9 is for sale as an instant download pdf here.

May, 1971
20 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover
Editor: Steve Houska
Cover: Larry Todd
Features include:
Fandom Report by Mike McFadden
Conan the Barbarian Comic Book Review by James Theis
Fredric Wertham Interview
Book Reviews by Dev Hanke
Comic strip by Vince Rhomberg
Granfandom ketter column:
Letters from Dennis Rogers, Charles Spanier,
Tim Seidler, Ed Spring, Tiny McClemmons
Poem by Ed Spring
Inside Back Cover by Joe Caporale
Back Cover by George Barr

Here’s more information about GRAFAN 9.

Longtime followers of fandom might recognize quite a few of these names. The late Editor Emeritus Mike McFadden went on to be a prominent comic book grader for CGC in Florida. The late writer Jim Theis became well-known in science-fiction fandom for his fiction, including the story “Eye of Argon” starring Grignr the Barbarian, originally published in another St. Louis mimeograph fanzine of the era, OSFAN. Bob Gale, who was part of the group who interviewed Denny O’Neil (issues #6, 7 and 8) became a Hollywood screenwriter and part architect of the “Back to the Future” franchise. As for me? Well, you’re on my site! Click around.

Len, Mike, Bob, Jim and other prominent figures in GRAFAN have since passed – see grafan.org for dates. It is to honor their memory I post these covers.

A robust follow-up zine, SON OF GRAFAN, would carry on from 1971 until years later; I shared editorship of that publication with Walt Stumpers and others. It, too, was packed with cool, mimeograph content. But that, son, is a story for Part 2.

Part 2: SOG / SON OF GRAFAN

SOG / SON OF GRAFAN cover collage. Photo by Walt Jaschek

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