With the coming of the comic book world’s so-called early 1980’s Copper Age, the line between fandom, indie/small press artists, and the major comic publishers became threadbare. While Marvel Comics generally maintained its long standing aesthetic and corporate infrastructure, other companies opened up their pages and distribution channels inviting a whole new generation of outsider artists and little known creators to join their ranks. This move was inspired by a wide variety of socio-economic factors, most notably the rise of direct distribution and hobby-oriented/comic book specialty shops and the vibrant culture and DIY aesthetics that emerged once these businesses became community centers for the new breed of modern fandom.
The following series of Splice Today articles explores this dynamic evolution and the inventive comic book publications that it inspired:
Adventurists In Mass Print (The series’ introduction)
A two part overview of DC Comics’ experimental pro/fan artist collaboration feature “Dial H For Hero”:
The story behind Charlton Bullseye, one of the first major/mass produced comic books to be an exclusive showcase for the work of amateur/outsider artists and fan creators:
In a strange twist of poetic justice, the final parts of this series deal with some of the earliest amateur comics ever made. Hamster Press’ “Fandom’s Finest Comics” is a deluxe paperback anthology series that was compiled and annotated by zine archivist/former zine contributor Bill Schelly. The series began in 1997, but features amateur comic book works originally published between 1958 and 1975. The wildly original outsider comic art included in “FFC” is more than a mere curiosity. These historically important works document fandom as it began to transform from a fringe hobby into a phenomena that would change the cultural fabric of society forever: