When DC Comics had a fanzine, and a convention

Amazing World DC 1 cover
All material ©DC Comics, Inc.

In the mid 1970s, when comics fandom was still forming, both Marvel and DC comics published their own version of fan magazines, or fanzines, to promote their company and products. Marvel’s was “F.O.O.M”, or Friends Of Ol’ Marvel, which began in 1973. DC, already feeling the hot breath of competition on their neck from the fast-growing rival, decided to do THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, first issue’s cover above, dated July 1974.

Written mainly by DC staffers, and produced by the DC production department, these were 8.5 by 11 inch magazines, 48 pages, with top quality white paper, much better than the comics of the time. They still look great today, and are full of rare material, including interviews with DC creators, features on DC characters by writers such as Paul Levitz, Mike W. Barr and E. Nelson Bridwell, listings of then-current DC publications with small cover reproductions, and many issues also had unpublished or rare stories.

Kirby Mob page

Here’s the one from the first issue, a then-unpublished story by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer from what would have been the second issue of Kirby’s IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB. Other issues reprinted unpublished Wonder Woman, Batman, and Justice League stories, or reprinted rare Superman giveaway comics. For anyone interested in DC Comics history, these books are a treasure-trove of material and behind-the-scenes photos and articles.

Amazing World 10 cover

One of my favorite issues is this one, number 10, focusing on the DC Production Department as it was in 1975, two years before I started working there. On the cover are my first boss Jack Adler, his friend publisher Sol Harrison, and some cool Murphy Anderson art. Inside are lots of photos of folks I worked with, including John Workman on the first page.

The rarest issue of the run is number 9, focusing on The Legion of Super-Heroes. This sold out quickly to Legion fans, who were even then…well, legion. Many other issues had a theme or focus, including ones on Julius Schwartz, Batman, Sheldon Mayer, Joe Orlando, Superman, Super-Villains, Humor, The Justice League, Wonder Woman, The Golden Age, and Shazam.

Justice League Headquarters page

The Justice League issue, number 14, had diagrams of both JLA headquarters, as above, nicely lettered, and probably also drawn by John Workman. Many issues had cool items like that you won’t find elsewhere.

Issue 16 title page

I came on staff at the tail end of the series, and you can see some of my really awful hand-lettered article titles in the final two issues, like the one above from number 16. I was just learning how to letter, and it was a good place to practice. I actually did most of the production work on the final issue, 17, and if issue 18 had seen print, it would have had at least one article written by me, maybe two. But DC pulled the plug on the series, I’m not sure why. Perhaps because it was taking up too much time for staffers, or costing too much, or DC felt the same ground was then being covered by outside magazines.

DC Con program book cover

There was one other book in the series not part of the regular run, and much smaller, this program book for a comics convention hosted by DC, in conjunction with Phil Seuling. I think it may be the first and last time a con was put on by a major comics publisher. In addition to a program list that shows many DC creators on panels or doing workshops, the book contains the same sort of material as the regular AMAZING WORLD issues, just smaller.

Superman story page

Here’s the first page of the rare Superman giveaway story reprinted in the program book. There’s also a five-page Neal Adams Superman story reproduced from his pencils. I didn’t attend this con. In fact, the first I heard about it was when I found a spare copy of the program book in the DC offices when I had started there on staff. Looks like a fun show.

Okay, here comes the commercial. This week I’m putting up my complete collection of these books for auction on eBay, continuing the gradual “uncollecting” process I started in 2000. I enjoyed them, but now would like to pass them on. If you’re interested, and to read more detailed descriptions of each issue’s contents, you’ll find my eBay auctions HERE. (Bookmark the link for future checks of my auctions, if you like.) And thanks for looking!

7 thoughts on “When DC Comics had a fanzine, and a convention

  1. RAB

    So much great stuff in those books. My recollection is that Neal Pozner originally created the LSH issue as a special issue of The Legion Outpost fanzine and Mark Gruenwald likewise intended the JLA issue as a fan publication before each project was acquired and published in AWODCC…so in that sense, this book genuinely was an officially sanctioned fanzine at times, rather than merely a PR exercise.

    (And then there was that lovely Steve Gerber issue of FOOM, about which Stan Lee later said he would never have allowed it to be published if he’d known the sort of things Gerber was going to say in it. Good times!)

  2. Martin Gray

    Thanks for that, wish I’d been in the US and able to get AWoDCC – hmm, wouldn’t a colection of issues make a terrific TwoMorrows book? Off to their website now . . .

  3. Grant G.

    This is fantastic! I’d also like to see a reprint of these zines. I had only one as a kid – the Wonder Woman issue, released to tie in to the old TV series – and I’m afraid that my brother and I used it as a coloring book!

  4. Jim DeLorenzo

    I was fortunate enough to be a 14-year-old boy with indulgent parents when DC Comics had the Super-DC Convention in NYC in 1976…I still have the program book, which was digest-sized, in which I met (and got autographs from) Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Neal Adams, and a dozen other creators…I remember they had the original art to the DC Super-Spectacular with the Justice League and Justice Society cover that Neal Adams drew, I must have stood at the table staring at that cover for 30 minutes…I subscribed to the Amazing World of DC Comics and all of them are in storage right now, but I treasured them (especially the JLA headquarters diagrams) and the special LSH issue. Great article, brought back a ton of great memories…Thank you!

  5. Marc Tyler Nobleman, "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman"

    While researching a book I was writing on Bill Finger, I bought #10 to see the story mocking him not long after he died. (Say what you will, but it didn’t come across as all-in-good-fun.) Yet #1 included the kind of tribute to Bill that these days run in the comics themselves (for the biggest creators, anyway; I’ve posted the Siegel and Shuster ones at http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2008/03/fighting-for-superman.html). As with anything nearly forgotten, these fanzines are an invaluable resource for researchers and I hope you get fair prices for them on ebay.

  6. Pingback: Blog@Newsarama » The Lightning Round

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 63 = 69

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>