Fandom's Finest Comics
by Bill Schelly
(Hamster, 1997)

Amateur comic book magazines in the 1960s and '70s called "fanzines" were a kind of vaudeville for aspiring cartoonists. Some of these artists, writers and editors became professionals, and much of their early, raw talent and love for the art form has been recaptured in 20 stories republished as Fandom's Finest Comics.

Some may find it odd that this enthusiasm for comic books and strips is both the strength and weakness of this wonderful collection.

Then, as now, the superhero genre dominates the contents of FFC, although a sprinkling of the science fiction, sword and sorcery, horror and fantasy genres add spice to the mix.

"Hey, what about that 'strength and weakness' comment earlier, bud?!"

First, my name isn't bud, chum. Secondly, without a real love for comic books and strips, these stories would simply have never been created, fandom would have never been formed, and fanzines never printed. That is an obvious strength.

But this love of comics didn't lead to innovation at first. It lead to imitation, and everything in FFC is derivative of the comics titles from the major publishers of the day, especially DC Comics. There is also a strong flavor of the style of the '40s and '50s in this work. So don't expect originality, and that is a weakness.

Comics notables with early stories in Fandom's Finest Comics include D. Bruce Berry, Robert Crumb, Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Mark Wheatley, John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Ronn Foss, Larry Ivie, Wendy Pini, Jim Shooter, Jeff Jones and Jim Starlin. But the most mature art and story in this anthology is from Landon Chesney, Harry Habblitz, Bill Spicer, George Metzger, Jerry Ordway and Grass Green.

Admittedly publishing a handful of diamonds in the rough, FFC is never the less highly recommended.

- Rambles
written by Michael Vance
published 29 November 2003

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