Comics : The Irving Forbush Gazette #2

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 5 Feb 2017.

Background...

The Forbush Gazette is now known as The Irving Forbush Gazette. That’s not the only thing that has changed.

If you read the review of The Forbush Gazette #1 (December 1966-January 1967, you know that Bill Schelly, in his A Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Fandom: A Personal Memoir of Fandom’s Golden Age, describes “the Marshall Lanz E-Z Method” as “First: obtain a front cover drawn by someone impressive, like Dave Herring or Doug Potter. Then send it off to be printed photo-offset. All Lanz zines had, at least, offset covers. Nothing cheap about them. Second: beg, borrow or steal an article from Raymond Miller or Larry Herndon or someone with marquee value in fandom, and make it the cornerstone of your zine. Of course, you might want to cut it in half and print it in two successive issues, thus getting twice the advertising mileage out of it. Or just print part of it, then drop it because your interest moves on to something else. Third, fill up the rest of the issue with a rambling, nonsensical editorial, a few pointless letters, and several pages of ads for other Lanz zines, Schelly zines, or anything else you care to plug. Throw in a pin-up or two, and presto! Instant fanzine!”

Dave Herring cover? Check (though marred by a strange psychedelic swirl overlay). Article by Larry Herndon? Check (though it has nothing to do with comics). Article by Raymond Miller? Check (though it has nothing to do with Marvel). Pin-up? Check. Fill the zine with ads? Check (check and double check).

Bill also tells us that “Lanz was constantly shifting his plans about what he was going to publish next, so unwary fans who had ordered Forbush #2 would receive The DCTC Bulletin #4 or the Flash Comics Special.” Perhaps one of those zines contained the follow-ups to “Pan, Master of Sound in The Threat of Lawman X,” “Collector’s Notebook,” Bill Schelly’’s “Fantastic Four” article and the X-Men sequel to “Wah-Hooo!” because they sure aren’t here.

In Detail...

The Irving Forbush Gazette #2
Year 1967 : SM Article
Summary: Spider-Man on Cover
Editor In Chief:  Marshall Lanz
Cover Art:  Dave Herring
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Review

We don’t need Bill’s historical perspective or insider knowledge to see what’s gone wrong with Marshall’s fanzines. All we have to do is read Marshall’s feature Hay Preguntas, Spanish for “There are questions.” In it, he addresses four questions: “I sent you $1.50 for such and such issues of this and that you advertised. So far, I’ve gotten nothing. What’s up?” “Howcum your zines are always late?” “What’s with this Forbush #2 you just sent me? Where’s the Bulletin?” and “I’ve heard some bad things about Graphco. How about telling me about your club yourself?” The answers aren’t important 50 years later except that they demonstrate the disarray of Marshall’s fanzine empire and the discontent from the fans. Two sentences are worth quoting for our purposes. “You’re probably also wondering what zine this is since I said Forbush was discontinued…” “What I mean is that while I’m calling it Forbush Gazette #2…it is really the Bulletin #5.” And there you have it. There is nothing in this issue that relates to Marvel other than the cover. If you can’t make it out through the psychedelic swirl, the cover shows Iron Man and Daredevil beating up on Dr. Doom in a way that makes it look like a mugging. Spider-Man is climbing the wall of the building behind while Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson peek out of windows. Around the corner, a man is walking while reading an Amazing Spider-Man comic. “Comics are stupid!” he thinks, “Who could believe that such ridiculous super-heroes could actually run around loose,” little knowing what he is about to run into. In the Editorial, that opens the issue, Marshall thanks Bill for coming up with the design on the cover “which is really a piece of my wallpaper” and for “dipping into his ACE (Amateur Contributors and Editors) files and coming up with Larry Herndon’s piece and the satires on interviews and comic sales + pin-up by Rich Buckler.” More and more, this issue is looking like something quickly cobbled together to keep the complaining subscribers at bay. And, yet, even in the midst of this unrest, Marshall ties up his “Hay Preguntas” explanations with an ad for The Dangling Conversation #3, promoted as “the official organ” of the DC Trade Center and promising “All readers get their name listed in the next issue.” The next page is a “Comics for Sale” ad in which Marshall tries to sell off some of his collection along with ads for DCTC Bulletin #4 and DCTC Bulletin #3. And the facing page is an ad for Bill’s zine Sense of Wonder.

Finally, we arrive at an actual article; Larry Herndon’s How You Can Help to Save Star Trek which has nothing to do with Forbush or Marvel and that came from Bill Schelly’s files as we learned in the editorial. It is a short, simple article in which Larry informs us “if the viewer ratings don’t improve, Star Trek will be dropped. DEAD! FORVER! NO MORE!” Which is sort of funny in retrospect when you consider how much Star Trek we’ve had since then. But, yes, this was a real danger at the time and Larry suggests “we can swamp NBC with letters of comment, telling them how great we think Star Trek is.” Larry continues with “In my humble opinion, Star Trek is the greatest show that’s ever been on television this year.” (The last two words sort of water down his assertion.) He fears that “if Star Trek fails, we may not have any more s-f shows on tv for many years to come.” Larry then suggests five points to use in your letters to NBC.

  1. Start off by telling them that you always watch Star Trek every week and enjoy it very much.
  2. Comment on how “mature” the stories are.
  3. Tell them how great the actors are on Star Trek.
  4. You might add that your parent like Star Trek too.
  5. Tell them that all your friends at school watch Star Trek.

“And don’t just write one letter…write 3 or 4! Or a dozen! Or if you’re a real science fiction fan, then write NBC a letter EACH WEEK and comment on each show…Star Trek is the greatest thing on tv…let’s fight to save it! Star Trek forever!”

And, as you all know, Larry’s efforts (and the efforts of others like him) paid off. Star Trek lasted another year which gave it enough episodes to put it into syndication which meant I could see the episode with Apollo half a hundred times because it always seemed to be the one that was on whenever I turned it on in syndication which led to the Motion Picture and to The Next Generation and on and on and on. All you Star Trek fans should thank Larry Herndon for his role in that.

Having finally gotten an article of sorts, we move on to two pages of ads for the Comic Book Society, Bombshell #7, Odd #12, Forbush #1, DC Collector #1, Comic Comments, Super Adventures #6 (put out by Marvin Wolfman of Flushing, New York with the help of his friend Len Wein), and Heroic #1. Then comes Rich Buckler’s pin-up of Boomerang versus the Butcher of Berlin from LB Cole’s Terrific Comics; a piece that also came from Bill Schelly’s files. And on the other side of the pin-up? An piece (entitled Amateur Artists – Read This!) suggesting artists and writers send their work to Bill Schelly who will place them in various fanzines. Plus ads for Comic Core #1 and Men of Mystery #4.

The Blackhawks, an article by Raymond Miller is, at least, about a comic book. It covers the history of Blackhawk and his men from their days in Quality Comics’ Military Comics series but it is a bit of a mess. On the third page, the article seems to split in two with one column describing women encountered by the Blackhawks and one column mapping out where Blackhawk has appeared in both Quality and DC Comics. That column ends in mid-sentence and continues on the fifth page of the article. The fourth page follows from neither column and ends with a “Continued on Next Page” except that the next page is actually a continuation of the column from page 3 as mentioned before. There is also an ad for Sanctum #7 on the third page of the article and one for Sense of Wonder #1 following the end of the article on the fifth page.

”Comic” Advertising Dept. is a spoof of dishonest comic mail-order back-issue comic dealers overcharging for issues in wretched condition or never sending out orders at all. (“If you do not receive the books, then don’t send to this address because I have moved. Special bonus offer: For every 100 items your order you will receive a coverless copy of any funny animal mag of the fifties of my choice! If we haven’t got the books you ordered, then be sure to specify whether you want your money returned or not.”) Unfortunately, it is all bit too close for comfort to the excuses Marshall makes in his Hay Preguntas. Perhaps that is because it was not written by Marshall but is from Bill’s files, as mentioned in Marshall’s opening editorial. (The “spoof on interviews” mentioned in the editorial, however, doesn’t seem to have made it into the issue at all.)

It all ends with ads for Super Hero #6, Spectre #13, Heroic #2, Bombshell, Fandom’s Special #4, Fantasy Forum #1, Shroud #1, and Comic Vendor #4 as well as a call to Join the DCTC and an Original Art Sale! as Marshall sells a “Full Page Spirit Illustration by Alan Hutchinson” but mostly tries to sell his own work.

In General...

I love these old zines and I have great respect for the young guys who put them together but you can’t call your publication “The Irving Forbush Gazette” and not have anything Marvel-related in it besides the cover. (Even if Marshall does claim that the issue is really Bulletin #5.) Issue #2 is half the size of issue #1, contains none of the features from #1 that were supposed to be continued in #2, has only the one sketchy Blackhawks article for any comic-related articles at all, and is mostly filled with ads for other fanzines. Imagine subscribing after reading #1 and getting this for #2. That’s assuming you even got this issue and not Bulletin #4.

Overall Rating...

A major letdown. It’s no wonder there was no issue #3. (There wasn’t, was there?) One-half web.

Footnote...

Marshall Lanz died in 2011, five days shy of his 60th birthday. His family has posted this YouTube Tribute.

Next: At last! 1968! And Amazing Spider-Man #56!