It is now mine. Mine mine mine. Because, Charles Vess. Also, poor impulse control.
Strange thing happened when it arrived, though. I thought I was buying an early issue of The Comics Journal. As soon as I unpacked it — and stopped cooing over the Charles Vess cover — I noticed that it was not an issue of The Comics Journal. It was something called The Comic Times.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I never heard of The Comic Times. Had to look it up and everything.
I’m embarrassed because the early 80s was when I was pretty much completely immersed in the comics scene. I was buying and reading comics by the truckload, from Arthur’s Place in downtown Ottawa. Frank Miller’s Ronin, Cerberus, Love and Rockets, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Keith Giffen’s Legion of Super Heroes, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg, Pacific Comics… I didn’t need something called The Comic Times. I was living The Comic Times.
I’m sure enjoying reading it now, though. It’s a fun and informative little zine, and I bet I would have gotten a lot out of it back in 1980. Near as I can figure out, it only lasted six issues. It was edited by Dennis Cieri and Mark Gasper, and published out of New York. Like The Comics Journal, it was printed on newsprint and looks like it was typeset with a Smith Corona.
This issue is 82 pages, and includes a 13-page interview with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter (“I want to make this place bigger than Disney”) and features on Elfquest, Thundarr, and Investigating Detectives, Inc by Don McGregor.
There’s also an obituary for Tex Avery; a Charles Vess art portfolio and original comic (“Children of the Stars,” part 2); TV, book, and music reviews; and eleven pages of Comics News (“Gerber Sues Marvel! Byrne Quits X-Men!”). Eleven pages! Who knew that much could happen every month.
Especially delightful were all the ads, mostly for independent comics publications and comic shops — including Russ Cochran’s The Complete Weird Fantasy, the Little Nemo Shop & Gallery in New York (oh, for the days when tiny comic shops advertised in nationally distributed magazines), Pacific Comics distributors, Issue #4 of Fred Hembeck’s terrific fanzine Bah, Hembeck!, Charles Vess’s early graphic novel The Horns of Elfland, and a 96-page art book by Berni Wrightson, The Mutants, priced at a lordly $9.95.
All the ads were not delightful. No. No. The inside back cover was taken up with a full page ad for the Village Comic Art Shop in New York. This features a grizzled, decrepit old geezer, coated in dirt and flies, saying “I get all my heavy comix from th’ Village Comic Art Shop in New York City, then I hitchike out to th’ west coast and read ’em…”
This ancient, barely-alive comic fan is identified as “The Forty Year Old Hippie.” For the record, I am currently 49.
Now, doubtless I would have agreed wholeheartedly with the attitude of the young comic sellers and artists who created this ad back in 1980. But that’s not the point. The point is, young people suck.
Other than that painful collision with my past, I wholeheartedly enjoyed this nostalgic trip back to the days when I looked forward to comics day with mounting excitement.
Naturally, since it’s cool, vintage, and genre-related, copies of The Comic Times are criminally cheap. I paid $2.50 for mine (including shipping), about the same as it would have cost to purchase it in 1980. Copies are currently for sale, on eBay and elsewhere, for less than 4 bucks.
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.