Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Marvel-ous Bit of History

Lance Thingmaker continues his high-quality fanzine reprint project with an amazing hardcover reprint of the entire five-issue run of the Marvel Tales fanzine from 1934 & 1935. In many ways, this is more like a semi-prozine collection rather than a fanzine; it includes fiction from H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, Frank Belknap Long, and many other members of the Weird Tales crew. William Crawford, the editor, knew these creators well and was able to offer them an outlet for high quality fiction, as the contents of these five issues proves.

It's amazing how much effort Lance puts into this book; just as he did with his Fantasy Fan hardcover reprint collection, he produce the covers on colored paper to match the colors that were used for the original (Ah, glorious goldenrod! How all of us who printed our own fanzines love thee!). Since the fifth issue of Marvel Tales was published in a larger trim size than the first four, Lance had to scan the fanzines and then enlarge the first four by 15% and reduce the final issue by 10% to get them to look right when reproduced at the same size; the result is a very handsome and readable book that reflects the high production values of William Crawford's original fanzine.

I think it's wonderful that someone is willing to put this sort of effort into preserving these rarely-seen fanzines in durable high-quality hardcovers. As someone who produced many fanzines in the 1970s and the 1980s (several different amateur press alliance personal fanzines as well as the SF fanzine Future Retrospective and the Atlanta Science Fiction Club's Atarantes), I have an abiding love for this all-but-overlooked medium, and I applaud efforts to make these now-public-domain rarities available for future generations.

If you've ever enjoyed the Weird Tales cadre of writers and have an appreciation for print history, you should check this book out. Lance still has copies available on eBay (search for "Marvel Tales fanzine").

Lance tells me that his next project will be a massive reprinting of the entirety of the Mort Weisinger/Julius Schwartz fanzine Science Fiction Digest/Fantasy; the pagecount of this fanzine run is so large that Lance will have to publish it in four hardcover volumes. Those of you who recognize the names Weisinger and Schwartz through their historic work in the comics field might enjoy seeing what they did before they reshaped DC comics. I know I can't wait to add these four hardcovers to my collection!


Edd_Vick said...

Well, I probably shouldn't have, but I sprung for a copy of Marvel Tales on your recommendation. I've been organizing my fanzine collection, much of it bought from Texas comics fan/dealer Larry Herndon in Texas a few decades ago.

Cliff Biggers said...

You'll be glad you did! (And I remember Larry Herndon's fanac from my early days in comics fandom--what a great fanzine find!)