For this article
I wanted to take a break from talking about old comic
books and talk about something different. Specifically, I wanted to talk about a magazine called Amazing
Heroes, or AH, started in the early 80’s as a magazine
that published the news and events of the day.
It is similar to Wizard
but without the price guide, toys, and movie references. What makes AH so interesting these days is the blend of interviews,
promotion for new series, reviews, and trivia style articles
you read a copy of AH, you have to remember that they
were written well before the internet.
It was before Newsarama, Comic Book Resources or
any of the other web pages that update us daily on the
status of the industry. In fact, one of the primary methods of learning
about new projects was read about them in magazines like
are some examples that I found.
Heroes 20, February 1983
issues always follow a simple format; news and events,
a promotional article about an upcoming series, comic
book trivia, reviews, and a letter page.
All sections weren’t equally interesting but there’s
always a gem in there.
addition to all the other material, early issues daily
of AH reprinted the Star Wars daily syndicated strip by
Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson.
I found these strips particularly exciting because
I never knew that Star Wars was syndicated.
I knew so little about the Star Wars strip, I did a little
research and Dark Horse had this to say:
1981 to 1984, comic-book greats Archie Goodwin and Al
Williamson turned out a popular series of Star Wars newspaper
strips. Featuring the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han
in the time between the first and second movies,
Horse reformatted those strips to make them work as a
continuous story in a series of comic books, with Al Williamson
himself redrawing and extending many panels for the new
format. This book collects the first seven issues of the
popular Dark Horse comic, with a new introduction from
Archie Goodwin, new cover art, and never-before-seen art
from the sketchbooks of Al Williamson.
should be obvious that collected newspaper strips read
differently from standard comic books.
It doesn’t make them better or worse, just different. I am something of a purist and I can’t help
but feel that DH’s reformatting of the strips loses something
in the translation. The
same way comic books lose something when they were crushed
down to pocket digest size.
the Star Wars reprints, the news and events section covered
who the upcoming artists and writers are for the various
publishers. It was an easy way to see who was going to
be doing what or to see if there were any blips in the
schedule. Obviously the material is very dated but there
are always gems to be found.
In this case, I learned that Howard Chaykin and
Terry Austin were the art team on Indiana Jones #7.
I may not want that issue in my collection but
it is worth looking at in the store to see how pretty
the art is.
promotional article for this issue is a behind the scenes
look at the Amethyst
Princess of Gem World series.
While the series itself was short lived, this article
makes it look like the next big thing.
The article talks about how the authors, Mishkin
and Cohn, developed the idea and chose Ernie Colon as
the artist. Previously, I discussed Mishkin and Cohn in
my article about Blue Devil if you want to see more of
their work. This article represents why AH is such a great
and Cohn wrote comics for a number of years in the early
80’s but they never reached the super star status of Starlin
or Miller. But
for older readers such as me, they provide insight into
the comics that I read as a kid.
Finally, the article is peppered with art including
comic trivia article in this issue is a hero history of
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, Pt 1, by Lou Mougin. The hero history was a chance for a writer to detail all the events
about a particular character.
Basically, it was a long synopsis of the characters
adventures. I will remind you again that this was 1983
and long before the internet.
Today, there are hundreds of web sites dedicated
to some aspect of the New Gods mythology.
In 1983 there were older fans and this article.
This is 12 pages
of art and text that detail the beginnings of Kirby’s
issue also has a short interview with Fred Hembeck. Fred is one of the funniest men in comics.
This article is full of wit and insight and not
much wisdom. Everyone
knows Fred for his big knee characters, but did you know
that he actually tried to become a serious comic book
is even a sample page that he submitted for review. I love Fred’s work but he is correct when he
says “I was average at best”.
There is a great splash that highlights the some
of Fred’s favorite characters including Superman, the
Question, and L’il Archie.
new comic reviews and letters page fills out the remainder
of the issue.
Heroes 21, March 1983
usual material is still in place but the gem of this issue
is its “silly cover”.
The “silly cover” was a parody of a character or
group using a fake comic book cover. In this case the artist pokes fun at Conan
and the Warlord with his rendition of Barbarian Blood
Bath Comics. The artist is none other than Bruce Timm, creator
of the Batman cartoon.
Bruce Timm’s art is good but it isn’t what you
would expect. This is not the Batman style that he currently
The promotional article is a preview of Steve Englehart
and Steve Leialoha’s series Coyote. In this case instead of many pages of text
there is an interview with the author Steve Englehart. As always it is interesting to see what he was trying to accomplish.
I own the Coyote series and it is not going to
be reprinted anytime soon.
I read this article and read the issues. The comparison between what Englehart was trying to accomplish and
the end results are worth seeing for yourself.
As a special bonus, there is a 2 page interview with the
artist Steve Leialoha. You will always learn something in an interview
no matter how short.
In this case, Steve completely redesigned the main
character. This isn’t the most in depth article I have ever read but it presented
a nice balance between writer and artist.
hero history of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World continues with
part 2, by Lou Mougin.
The article is only 9 pages this time but manages
to cover the Kirby New Gods, Mr. Miracle, and Forever
People and the late 70’s revival.
issue wraps up with reviews of the Batman and the Outsiders
Preview, Pacific Presents 1, and Defenders 116. Old reviews are a great way to see what people
thought of old books.
I can’t say that I agree with the Defenders review,
strangely positive, but the reviewer got it right with
Pacific Presents, very positive.
Heroes 71, May 15, 1985 |
Alan Moore issue. There
is no need to say why this issue is so collectable.
first article in this issue previews a new comic book
called Shatter, the first computer generated comic book. It is very common these days to have computers create comics, and
there’s even a controversy about computers doing all the
coloring on comic books but that wasn’t true in 1985.
The art was completely created using an Apple Macintosh
computer which in 1985 was an amazing thing.
It’s interesting to see how the creators felt about
what they were doing. I found it amusing that the art was created on the computer but
was being colored by hand.
real gem of this issue is the interview with Alan Moore
and any interview with Alan Moore is bound to be exciting. There has been so much written about him this
much of this material may have been reprinted since this
article was written.
The introduction lists many of Alan’s early credits
including “”Roscoe Moscow” and “The Stars my Degradation”
which were printed in the British equivalent of Heavy
Metal. The thing about interviews and why this is
collectable even with all the other material out there
is the stories are fresh in Alan’s mind.
If you have read any of the Stan Lee interviews
you know that he can’t always remember everything from
1962. The Swamp
Thing series which propelled Alan to superstardom was
still in its heyday. The stories that he relates describe the environment
aren’t vague recollections but the events as they have
occurred. There is an Alan Moore checklist of his works
up to that point in time.
The list includes the published date, title of
the story, number of pages, and the artist.
Did you know that Alan Moore once did “Fanzine
reviews” or wrote an article called “Stan Lee: Blinded
by the Hype” I have never read either but I am sure they
trivia article for this issue was a check list of the
Brave and Bold team ups for issues 117-200.
The list states the writer, artist and even provides
a brief synopsis of the issue.
This was an invaluable tool for seeking out back
issues in the early 80’s.
Before all of the indexing programs available today
the best way to develop a wish list was to have another
collector publish it in AH.
Heroes 89 February 15, 1986
issue opens with another Silly Cover by Bruce Timm which
is a parody of Dave Steven’s Rocketeer called The Bucketeer.
Another section in all issues was the Previews. These days we have a monthly book dedicated to the upcoming books
but Previews wasn’t around in 1986.
It’s always interesting to see who the writer,
artist, and cover artist were for issues.
There are two promotional articles in this issue, a preview
of the Fantagraphics comic Threat and the new Upshot Graphics
line. The Upshot
Graphics interview by Mark Waid, current writer of the
Fantastic Four. It’s
always interesting to see how today’s superstars made
a living before achieving success. Peter David worked in Marvel’s marketing department
and Mark Waid wrote for a fanzine.
The Upshot Graphics preview consisted of an interview
with Jan Strnad. The line was never successful and eventually
stopped publishing but not before releasing the gem Dalgoda.
trivia article is a Hawkman hero history by Bill Kropfhauser.
Hawkman’s history is one of the most convoluted
in all of the superhero universes. Bill did an excellent job of explaining an
impossible origin. He
does an excellent job of discussing Hawkman’s major storylines
in 70’s when he didn’t have his own series which amounted
to various appearances in Justice League and World’s Finest.
is a special review in which Ken Jones makes the argument
that Big Apple Comix and High Adventure may have been
the first true alternative comics.
Big Apple Comix was published by “Fabulous Flo”
Steinberg and featured such talents as Marie Severin,
Archie Goodwin, Wally Wood, Herbe Trimpe, and Neal Adams
providing adult oriented material.
High Adventure was the brain child of Mark Evanier
with help from Steve Leiahola and Mike Royer. Both
books were one shots that are highly collectable and present
some amazing talent doing some bawdy work.
of the highlights of any AH issue is the review section.
Like today there were so many comics produced that
it was hard to know which one were or were not good. There are many review sites on the internet
but that wasn’t the case back in the day.
This was one of the few ways that you could make
a decision on what to buy.
In this issue, the new comic reviews included At
Home with Rick Geary, The Adventures of Captain Jack #1,
Nemo, The classic comics library #16, Love and Rockets
#15, Threat #1, Neat Stuff #2-3, Journey #22-24, and
Critters #1. The best part about reading old reviews is when they get it completely
1 is the first appearance of the long running, critically
acclaimed series Usagi Yojimba by Stan Sakai.
The reviewer describes an action sequence this
way “…six pages of swordplay that aren’t nearly as entertaining
(as the character development pages) and are in fact mildly
have to say that with all the violence and adult material
in comics this is an interesting opinion on the ronin
rabbit. But to
the reviewer’s credit, he did compliment the art.
Heroes 111, February 15, 1987 |
issue was packed full of shorter, trivia style articles.
The lead off was ‘The Dark Knight History of the
DC Universe’ by Andy Mangels. This is an interesting breakdown of everything Miller Dark Knight.
This is very similar to the annotated “League of
E. Gentlemen” websites.
is an essay called “Ditko: An Overview” by Rodney Schroeter.
As you surely know Ditko doesn’t do interviews.
In fact Ditko does very little with regards to
the comic book media. I think it is safe to say that he doesn’t like
the media at all. Since
he won’t speak for himself all that is left are the essays
that people write about him.
This was an excellent one. Unrelated to AH, The Comics Journal recently
did an all Ditko essay issue.
If you are interested in him and his work at all
I strongly recommend having Rusty getting you a copy.
there is a Secret Society of Super Villains hero history
by Greg Gildersleeve.
If you have ever wondered where I get my gobs of
useless information about old series, it is from articles
just like this. The
best part this article is that it actually makes me want
to find these back issues.
I know that the SSSV series was terrible but I
still want them after reading this article.The
majority of the issue is taken up by an interview with
Ty Templeton. This
article predates his work on the JLA and How to Draw Batman
or How to Draw Superman books.
Ty is a very funny man who has done lots of funny
things in the industry. I highly recommend reading this.
art was always appreciated by AH. In this issue is a small sketch by a young
Phil Hester of Green Arrow fame.
While not the best art Phil has ever done it is
far better than what I can do. It is always interesting to see an artist’s
Heroes 123, May 15, 1985 |
only reason to find this issue is for the Frank Thorne
interview. I fell
in love with Frank Thorne’s art from the first time I
saw it in Red Sonja. Unfortunately I knew so little about him that
it was difficult for me to find any other books that he
had worked on. It was almost impossible for me to find any
information about the man himself.
But as always, there is so much information to
be gained from interviews that aren’t written anywhere
else. In this
case, I had incorrectly assumed that Frank’s first work
was Red Sonja. Boy was I wrong. It turns out that he was doing daily strips from 1957 until 1962
for a feature called Dr. Guy Bennet. I haven’t even heard
of the strip but apparently it was direct competition
for Rex Morgan, which is still running to this day. I even learned that Wendy Pini, creator of
Elfquest, used to dress up as Red Sonja and attend conventions
with Frank. That must have been a sight to behold.
place that you find the most interesting things is in
the advertisements. In
this case there is a full page ad for Dave Stevens interview
in The Comics Journal. Now I have talked about the Comics Journal
before but they do some of the most in-depth, best interviews
ever. A Dave Stevens interview with unpublished art
(at that time) is something worth trying to find.
in the letters section there is a great Conan head sketch
by Gary Kwapisz. Gary
would draw many, many issues of Savage Sword of Conan.
I don’t know if this is pre-Conan or if he already
had the job.
conclusion, Amazing Heroes is a great way to see what
the “hot” books of the day were.
It is a great way to find forgotten gems such as
Dave Steven’s interviews. Finally, it is just plain fun to see artists
such as Bruce Timm and Phil Hester long before they were
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