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

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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