Jim Theis “Conan the Barbarian” Comic Review in GRAFAN 9, 1971

In “A Tale of Two Conans,” heroic fiction fan/student Jim Theis (“Eye of Argon”) casts a critical eye at Marvel Comics’ newly launched Robert E. Howard adaptation (1971.) Swords clash.

GRAFAN 9 cover

Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 9, May, 1971
GRAFAN 9 is for sale as digital download pdf.
Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, Missouri
18 mimeograph pages + wraparound cover
Circulation: < 100 copies
Editor: Steve Houska
Cover by: Larry Todd
Main feature: “A Tale of Two Conans,” a review of the new Marvel Comic “Conan the Barbarian” series
Additional features: Editorial, Fandom Report by Mike McFadden
Comic-related book reviews by Dev Hanke and Tom Zygmunt
Fredric Wertham interview by Len McFadden and Walt Jaschek
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
Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper

GRAFAN 9 inside cover

I’m listed as “Editor Emeritus” on the inside cover of this, the 9th issue of GRAFAN, but I remember having a hand in much of it, especially the Fredric Wertham interview, and the presentation of Jim Theis’ Conan comic review. [See below.] The issue opens with an editorial by Mike McFadden, and a comprehensive “Fandom Report” on club meetings and other fan-related activities, including cons in other cities.

GRAFAN 9 page 4

Page 6 begins a Fredric Wertham interview I had conducted by mail with questions submitted by Len McFadden and me. Dr. Wertham and I had earlier struck up a friendly correspondence when he subscribed to a previous fanzine I published; from that experience, a few paragraphs of my writing ended up in his subsequent book, The World of Fanzines: A Special Form of Communication.

GRAFAN 9 page 6

By page 9, we come to the main feature, the James Theis review of Marvel’s new Conan the Barbarian comic book series. The header illustration is by Mike McFadden, and the headline is by me. In 1971, 18-year-old Jim was a huge fan of Robert E. Howard, had read every piece of Conan content out there, had written his own heroic fiction (“Eye of Argon,” starring Grignr the Barbarian, published in another zine, OSFAN) and was the most qualified among us to address the potentials and pitfalls of the Roy Thomas/Barry Smith comic adaptation.

GRAFAN 9 page 11

The review begins:

Recently comic books have acquired a new character who has no need for the isolated telephone booth or computerized lab: Robert E. Howard’s bloody barbarian – Conan – is here. However, many of Howard’s techniques are purely literary, and as such, are inapplicable to graphic story form. The comic book writer is necessarily limited to those aspected of a character which can be rendered both visually and literarily – he cannot really develop either quality completely. Therefore, Barry Smith and Roy Thomas are fared with the necessity of separating those unusable qualities from the usable. Here, unfortunately, they have fallen short.

Jim Theis

GRAFAN 9 page 12

Jim takes lengthy exception to the choices and execution of writer Roy Thomas, seeing the Marvel adaptation something other than the Conan readers came to know in the pulps and paperbacks.

Howard depicted Conan as the brooding savage. Conan seldom spoke, and when he did, it seemed incongruous with his character. Thomas’ Conan, however, babbles incessantly. I realize this is necessary, in part, to move the plot, yet Thomas could produce more coherent adaptations by moving his stories through the dialogue of other characters. Possibly, this action is nothing more than an attempt, conscious or unconscious, to transform Conan into a common superhero.

Speaking of superheroes, the review is interrupted by this full-page pin-up, penciller Mohow, inker Mike McFadden, reproduced in the glory of what was then known as the “electro-stencil.”

GRAFAN 9 page 12

After this interlude, Jim has much more to say about the comic, including Barry Smith’s art, “which, unfortunately, illustrates towns with bright, colorful towers which reek of gaety and good cheer … Smith totally destroys the atmostphere.”

Then, after a recognition of the impact on this series of the restrictive Comics Code, making it “necessary for the artist and writer to improvise,” Jim comes to this conclusion.

Room still stands for the argument of whether or not Marvel’s free adaptations are legitimate and worthwhile. Certainly, they have been approved by such people as Glenn Lord. However, Lord, though the manager of the Howard estate, is not Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard created Conan, along with ab entire entire world, equipped with workable governments, racial strains, geographic features, etc., and did not give permission to any others to utilize their creations. Thusly, since Howard is no longer alive to give permission, I believe that his memory should be honored to the extent of accurate adaptations.

Jim Theis

Followers of the Jim Theis story and his treatment post-mortem might find extra nuance in that sentiment.

The issue keeps going, including a robust letters column…

GRAFAN 9 page 14

…and concludes with this delicate ballpoint convention sketch from the amazing George Barr, a science fiction and fantasy artist whose work has graced hundred of pulps, magazines, books and gaming kits.

GRAFAN 9 back cover

I thought “A Tale of Two Conans” was a smart, informed review when it was published, and I still think so now. I squirm at the misspellings and typos – hard to know which was the work of 18-year-old Jim or us 17-year-old typists – but if a college freshman had cleaned this up and submitted it to an introductory English class, it would have gotten an “A.” Or maybe an “B+” It was also refreshing to read a critique that came from a less gushing “Make Mine Marvel” point of view than I was used to in comics fandom.

(By the way: Make Mine Marvel.)

This #9 was the last issue of GRAFAN. The weight of ever-increasing expectations for its expansion kept it from reaching issue #10; instead, a leaner (at first) SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) took its place for 40+ issues. By issue #13 of SOG, Jim returned to his Grignr the Barbarian character for the first part of a new novella.

And Conan got competition anew.

GRAFAN 9 is for sale as digital download pdf.

For more of GRAFAN, see also:
ATLANTIS 1 and GRAFAN 2-8 (1970-1971) / covers and content summaries
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) (1971-1975) / select covers and content summaries
Club home: granfan.org

Latest from the Blog

“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me! Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, … Continue reading “Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

Christopher McKarton: Retired Detective

He’s seen it all. And solved it all. But when an 8mm movie of his past shows up, Christoper McKarton might be back in the game. The Retired Detective A novel with video By Walt Jaschek My name is Christopher McKarton. I’m a detective. Or I was. I’m retired. Blissfully. I prefer detecting buds in … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Retired Detective

GRAFAN #8, Feb. 1971, Denny O’Neil interview, Part 3

St. Louis comics fandom wraps up its 1970 interview with native son and DC comics writer O’Neil, weeks away from revamping Superman, Batman.

GRAFAN 8 cover

Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 8, February/March, 1971
[This issue is for sale as a digital download pdf.]
Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, Missouri
18 mimeograph pages + offset cover
Circulation: < 100 copies
Editor: Walt Jaschek
Cover by: Vaughn Bode
Main Feature: Part 3 of interview with DC writer Denny O’Neil by Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld, Bob Gale and Walt Jaschek
Additional features: Editorial, Fandom Report (member and meeting news), Miami-Con 1971 report by Steve Houska, letters from from Ralph Green, Tony Foster, Joe Caporale, Ruben Hayes
Interior art by: Joe Caporale, Tom Foster, Chester Gould, Steve Houska, Len Wein
Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper

In January, 1971, at the ripe young age of 15, I was putting finishing touches on the 8th issue of GRAFAN, the mimeograph fanzine newsletter of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, the enthusiastic, young fan hub of this Midwestern city back in the day. The zine was, according to the indicia, “conjured every month with a little bit of luck… and magic.” All the issues included “Fandom Report,” a preview of upcoming meetings, TV airings and movies of interest, and minutes of previous meetings.

We were a tight and dedicated bunch of what we now call nerds (I say proudly,) and I really don’t know how I would have survived my teen-age years without this funny, supportive group of fellow fans and aspiring writers and artists.

The highlight of this issue was Part 3 our our round-table discussion with St. Louis native and ascendant DC Comics writer, Denny O’Neil (“Wonder Woman,” “Green Lantern,” “Justice League of America.”) The recorded and transcribed conversation took place in Bob Gale’s basement late in 1970, with questions from Bob Schoenfeld, Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob and me. Most of these guys were in their late teens; Denny was in his late 20s. I was, as mentioned, 15. Imagine my thrill.

Here’s the first page of the interview, with a header designed by me right on the mimeograph stencil, and an opening cartoon by me, as well.

This part of the discussion was focused on comic book sales and the target audience. Is it spontaneous (“That looks interesting, I think I’ll buy it”) or uniform (“I will buy this every month no matter what.”)

GRAFAN: It seems to me that the company should either go to an all-spontaneous audience or a uniform audience. 

DENNY O’NEIL: Well, we’re not going to be able to go to a spontaneous audience for a number of reasons, among which are merchandising problems. We can’t put comic books out like they put TV Guide out, with point-of-purchase displays and that sort of thing. It seems to me, that our best hope is to try to build a solid audience; to do that it’s going to require some major upheavals. A lot of attitudes are going to have to be changed. The Academy of Comic Book Arts is in business to change the attitudes. First we have two change the attitudes of the readers— the public — toward comic books. For years comics have 

been synonymous with the most imbecilic entertainment. And we are going to have to change the attitudes of the publishers…

GRAFAN: And the editors…

DENNY O’NEIL: Well, no, you give the editors a good product, and they get turned on. Julie Schwartz is a fantastic man now… he’s bubbling and happy because he’s doing science fiction.

GRAFAN: Growing long hair, wearing beads…?

DENNY O’NEIL (smiling): Not quite like that.

Much of the discussion was about declining sales and the potential demise of comic books altogether.

GRAFAN: So you’re going to have a good time as the comic industry slides downhill, is that it?

DENNY O’NEIL: Well., that could be. We may be on a real Ragnarok trip. The end may be very soon. But I think there are things that can be done. A lot of bu­siness things–thing that should have been done ten years ago. But ten years ago, Superman was good for 750,000 co­pies and the money was just rolling in. I guess at that time they didn’t see any need to engage in what I feel are very simple basic business practices that would tend to build an audience am get the magazines displayed. Practices that would broaden the base of the operation, so that if you had a bad year with the comics, you don’t stop altogether. Well, obviously, [ownership by the] Kin­ney [Corporation] is good for that, so that’s at least one thing that has been done. 

And some of the discussion was prophetic: talk of new formats and distribution models that would take years to manifest.

GRAFAN: Is the Kinney Corporation significantly interested in DC Comics to really institute some revolutionary changes in distribution?

DENNY O’NEIL: Sure. They’ re talking about all sorts of things.

GRAFN: What sort of things?

DENNY O’NEIL: Oh, there is the package con­cept, the subscription concept, the bigger-magazine with higher-price concept, which would make comics more attractive to retailers. People are talking about paperback book formats, and even hard cover formats. A lot of things are being kicked around….

Here on the back page is an actual sketch of Dick Tracy by creator Chester Gould. It was an original I received in the mail from Mr. Gould after I sent him a fan letter. But of course it had to be traced onto the mimeograph stencil by someone. You guessed it: me.

Being “editor” was a role for multi-taskers!

To read this part of the Denny O’Neil interview:
GRAFAN 8 as digital download pdf
And to read the rest of the interview:
GRAFAN 6 as a digital download pdf
GRAFAN 7 as a digital download pdf

For more of GRAFAN, see also:
ATLANTIS 1 and GRAFAN 2-8 (1970-1971)
SON OF GRAFAN (1971-1975)
granfan.org

Latest from the Blog

Hero Nots™

Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, reluctant team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films now has its own site. Hero Nots™ Episode 1 Screenplay by Walt Jaschek This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in … Continue reading Hero Nots™

Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

Walt serializes his new comic book script on the new Kindle Vella platform. It’s the pilot episode for action hero Satin Brass™, Overdue Accounts Collector. You can read the first three chapters for free on Kindle Vella. Then purchase tokens from Vella to unlock more chapters! Satin Brass is a high-tech bounty hunter in a … Continue reading Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony

The St. Louis Media History Foundation asked Walt to add some comedy to its 2021 Hall of Fame video. This “Zoom call” is the result. Congratulations to the new honorees in the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame, which due to The Current Situation is a video celebration only, archived on YouTube.Ken Ohlemeyer Jr., producer … Continue reading Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony

GRAFAN #7, Jan, 1971, Denny O’Neil Interview, Part 2

In first issue under new editor Walt Jaschek, St. Louis fanzine GRAFAN continues in-depth, 1970 conversation with writer of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Justice League.

GRAFAN 7 cover

GRAFAN #7 is available as a digital download pdf.

Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 7, January, 1971
Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis
16 mimeograph pages + offset cover
Circulation: < 100 copies
Editor: Walt Jaschek
Cover by: Steve Houska and Mike McFadden
Features: Editorial, Fandom Report (member and meeting news), book reviews
Main Feature: Part 2 of interview with DC writer Denny O’Neil by Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld, Bob Gale and Walt Jaschek
Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper

Covers and content lists for all 9 issues of GRAFAN (originally ATLANTIS.)

GRAFAN 7 page 3

50 years ago this month, at the unripe young age of 15, I was putting the finishing editorial touches on the 7th issue of the fanzine GRAFAN, “official propaganda organ” of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Lous. I inherited the Editor role with this issue from beloved, late founder Mike McFadden. Oh, how I remember being excited that this January, 1971 issue was to feature original cover art by Steve Houska; the second part of our in-depth, far-ranging interview with the late Denny O’Neil, superstar DC comics writer [see below;] and other fun fannish fodder. The mimeograph machine was running hot that cold Midwest winter.

GRAFAN 7, page 4

GRAFAN the organization was a St. Louis-based, comics-focused fan club, composed mostly of teens and young adults with passion for storytelling, writing, art and collecting. It met regularly in the homes of members and fostered creative collaborations of all kinds. One subset of members met on a dark, 1970 night in Bob (“Green Vomit”) Gale’s basement to interview a guest: DC Comics writer and St. Louis native Denny O’Neil on a brief return visit home. I was with Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld and Bob Gale for the long, recorded conversation with Denny. It was transcribed and ran across three issues. The second part ran here in issue #7.

GRAFAN 7, page 6

Here is an excerpt from the interview.

QUESTION: You’ve scripted all of The Creeper stories so far, right?

DENNY O’NEIL: All but the first one, in Showcase.

QUESTION: How did you like working with Steve Ditko?

DENNY: Yeah, sure is nice weather we’re having.

(Laughter)

DENNY: Oh, Steve is a very talented guy, but we disagree in every possible way to disagree, on politics, on morality. So after the second issue of The Creeper, I wasn’t working with Steve anymore, I was working through Dick Giordano. It was even worse for Steve Skeates, who looks like a hippy, and was doing Hawk & Dove with him. Ditko is very big on Ann Rand, and Mr. A really sums up his philosophy. He didn’t like — I think he didn’t like — The Creeper because we had the character sort of self-satirizing in the thought balloons. He made fun of himself, and it’s one of Ditko’s tenets that heroes have to be serious and straight. I don’t think he liked how we handled the character at all…

GRAFAN 7, page 7

Another section of the interview, from page 8:

Q. With National trying out these new Western titles, I don’t suppose there’s any chance they might revive Bat Lash?
Denny O’Neil: There is a chance! There’s no chance of it being feature in his own book; Bat Lash had the worst sales in the whole 30-some-odd-year history of National Periodical Publications. We’re targeting it for a back-up feature in one of Giordano’s books.
Q. Was Infantino as excited about Bat Lash as everyone else was?
Denny O’Neil: Oh, it was Infantino’s baby. He kept it alive three issues after the business office told him to stop publishing it.

Shortly after this interview, the same group of fans escorted Denny to St. Louis tv station KPLR-TV, where he was interviewed live on-air about his comic book work as we watched from the green room. Could there have been a bigger thrill for me, a 15-year-old comic book fan also fascinated with journalism TV production? No, of course not. But there was hardly time to take it all in. There was another issue of GRAFAN to put out…

To read this part of the Denny O’Neil interview:
GRAFAN 7 as a digital download pdf
And to read the rest of the interview:
GRAFAN 6 as a digital download pdf
GRAFAN 8 as digital download pdf

For more of GRAFAN, see also:
ATLANTIS 1 and GRAFAN 2-8 (1970-1971)
SON OF GRAFAN (1971-1975)
granfan.org

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) zines 1971-75 | St. Louis comics fandom

The second fanzine/newsletter of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis was edited by a dedicated few, including me. Fun times!

A long time ago in a St. Louis comics and science fiction fandom far, far, away – well, darn close, actually – I was an on-again, off-again editor and producer of SON OF GRAFAN (nicknamed SOG,) the newsletter of the fan club and community GRAFAN. This was 1970 – 1975, when I went from being a 16-year-old high school nerd to a 20-year-old college nerd.

Don’t worry. I had a serious girlfriend or two in there. I wasn’t completely hopeless. In those years, I was also serving as editor my high school newspaper and my college newspaper, all concurrently with fandom activities. The connective tissue was writing. Editing. Typing. I must have been always typing.

“GRAFAN is dead! Long live SON OF GRAFAN!” So declared our club, the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis in 1971, when its “official propaganda organ,” became too unwieldy under ever increasing expectation of editorial and production pizazz. GRAFAN lasted 9 storied issues; I edited a couple of those, too. On both runs, I was happy to be involved and part of the fun.

The leaner, more streamlined (at least at first) SON OF GRAFAN kept the mimeograph machine cranking with meeting news, minutes, reviews, announcements, article and art, all revolving around St. Louis comics fandom and its enthusiasms, and expanding to science-fiction in those early 1970s, as well.

Here are the covers to the only issues of SON OF GRAFAN I still have in my files. All of the printing, unless otherwise noted, are by friend, master of the mimeograph Walt Stumper.

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 1

July, 1971
2 pages
Edited by Mike McFadden
“Son of Editorial” by Mike McFadden
“Son of Fanac Calendar”
Member and meeting news

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 2

July, 1971
2 pages
Edited by Mike McFadden
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Filthy Pro News” by Mike
Letter from W. C. Rhomberg

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 3

September, 1971
4 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Features include:
Upcoming meeting details
Previous meeting minutes
Member news
Fanzine reviews by Walt J
“Pro News”
“In the Mass Media” news

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 5

October, 1971
6 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Features include:
“Fanac Calendar”
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Dreck” column by Dev Hanke
Fanzine reviews by Walt J.
Non-subscriber list [weird]

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 6

November, 1971
6 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Dreck” column by Dev Hanke
1971 Goethe Awards ballot
“Pro News” from Newfangles
“Around Town” news

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 11

February, 1972
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Cover art by Larry Nolte
Features include:
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Human Violence Can Be Abolished” by Frederic Wertham, M.D.
“Coming Attractions” by Paul Daly
Fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 12

March, 1972
6 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek and Walt Stumper
Staff and club officials list
“Dreck” column by Dev Hanke
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
“From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek
Letters from Paul Daly and Charles Spanier

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 13

SON OF GRAFAN 13 is for sale as a digital download pdf.

April, 1972
16 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Cover by Larry Nolte
“Editorial Notes” by Walt Jaschek
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
“The Sacred Crest: Part 1” fiction by Jim Theis
starring Grignr the Barbarian
“The Spider and Mr. Moke” comic strip by Paul Daly
Upcoming conventions list
“From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek
1971 Comic Art Fan Awards ballot

More information about SON OF GRAFAN 13.

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 14

April, 1972
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Cover by Mike McFadden
[I have only the cover to this issue. Weird.]

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 15

May, 1972
16 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Cover by Paul Daly
“Editorial Notes” by Walt Jaschek
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Upcoming Comic News”
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
“From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek
“The Sacred Crest: Part 2” fiction by Jim Theis
“Howls from the Belfry” club news by Walt Stumper
Current release science fiction paperback book list
1972 Albuquerque Science Fiction Society “Bubonicon” promo flier
“Reference Guide to Fantastic Films” promo flier

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 16

July, 1972
18 pages
Edited by Walt Stumper
“Howls from the Belfry” by Walt Stumper
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Coming Attractions” by Paul Daly
“Comics of French Canada” by Ralph Alfonso
Fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek
Letters from George Vincent; Harry Warner, Jr.; Frederic Wertham

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 17

August, 1972
10 pages
Edited by Walt Stumper
Cover by Larry Todd
“Fandom Report” by Walt Stumper
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
Letters from Gary Goersch, Steve Frischer, Celia Tiffany, Ed Hummeny

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 19

October, 1972
8 pages
Edited by Walt Stumper
Upcoming meeting news
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
Book and magazine news
Phantasmagoria ad flier
Upcoming conventions list
Letter from Ralph Alfonso

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 22

December, 1972
14 pages
Edited by Walt Stumper
“Fandom Report” by Walt Stumper
Club library list
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
Los Angeles Science Fiction & Fantasy Film Convention Report
by Larry Arnold
Upcoming conventions list
Fantasy and science fiction book news & reviews
“Color It: Comics” Comic reviews by Don Secrease
Reviews of TV shows “U.F.O.” and “The Protectors” by Paul Daly

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 23

March, 1973
Edited by Walt Jaschek
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
[My issue is incomplete. This is the only page I have.]

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 24

April, 1973
16 pages
Edited by Walt Jaschek and Walt Stumper
Cover by Larry Nolte
Editorial by Walt Stumper
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
News release about Frederic Wertham book about fanzines
“Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly
Books of interest by Walt Stumper
“Color Them: Comics” reviews by Don Secrease
Fanzine reviews by Walt Stumper
Letter from Chuck Kallenback II

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 29

February, 1974
10 pages
Edited by Mike McFadden
Cover by Vince Rhomberg
Editorial by Mike McFadden
“Fandom Report” by Mike
“Coming Attractions” by Vernon Shelton
“So Speaks the Stump” by Walt Stumper

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 36

August, 1975
Edited by Walt Jaschek
Cover by Mike McFadden
[GRAFAN Mini-Con promotion]
Editorial by Walt Jaschek
“Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden
“Dreck” column by Dev Hanke

See also: ATLANTIS 1 & GRAFAN 2-9, 1970-71

Montage of GRAFAN covers. These were the zines that came before SON OF GRAFAN.

Club info: Grafan.org

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

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

Latest from the Blog

How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

“How to Kill a Pitch” is a short ad biz satire written by Walt, directed by Angie Lawling, shot by Chris Lawling, produced by Mercury Films. Oh, creatives! Don’t fall on that sword over your favorite idea. Client not loving your latest idea? There’s another one, you know. Come up with it and live, damn it! … Continue reading How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

22-Minute Writing Sprint

Overcome procrastination and writers’ block! In a new “timed writing” video, writer Walt Jaschek prompts you to join him as he writes uninterrupted for 22 minutes. (It works!) Is there something you need to write? Are you in avoidance mode? Would a timed, 22-minute deep dive move something along? And would watching Walt write at … Continue reading 22-Minute Writing Sprint

HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Walt Now fires up his new HyperX Quadcast USB external mic and records a video with it – to review the mic itself. (It’s on Amazon. #ad) Looking for a good, external USB mic for your home/office? Found a cool one! I realized I needed an external USB mic to up my YouTube game (and … Continue reading HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action