Legion Outpost Fanzines Pt 2

Fabulous Find

Welcome back to another edition of Fabulous Finds!  I know this should be a RETRO REVIEW week, but I thought I’d go ahead and hit you with part two of my Legion Outpost fanzine post.  This week I’ll be focusing on issues six through ten of The Legion Outpost.  So without further ado let me begin.

Issue # 6

Issue number 6 kicks off with an awesome Dave Cockrum cover!  The first article is “Introducing the K.A.L.–E.L. Society” by Len Rosenberg and deals with discrimination in general and discrimination against alien / non-humanoids in particular.  For your information the K.A.L.–E.L. Society stands for, Keep Alien Legionnaires Exotic Looking!  Next up are a couple of articles by D C Comics‘ Martin Pasko, discussing the DC Junior Bullpen program of 1973-1974 and Roger Slifer, just having gone pro as an assistant editor at Marvel Comics, discussing Joe Brancatelli’s fanzine, Inside Comix and whatever else he had on his mind at the time!

Next up; Harry Broertjes’ “For the Record” column.  He discusses the new Legion artist, Mike Grell, who is set to take over as the fifth regular artist of the Legion strip since they became a regular feature in Adventure Comics #300.  Grell’s tenure starts with Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes # 303.  Included in his article are cover reproductions of issues # 303 & 304, as well as, reproductions of a couple of interior pages from issue #303.  Harry also brings everyone up to date in other goings on in the industry, as well as in various fanzines being published at the time.

Mike Flynn then checks in with his “My Place” column and he talks about the state of affairs in fanzines, etc.  Rich Morrissey provides an excellent article on “Britain’s Hardcover Comic Annuals – And the Men Behind Them”.  These hardcover annuals were generally printed around Christmas time in England.  The two annuals that Rich discusses at length are the Superman Annual # 1 and the Superman and Batman Annual (unnumbered).  The books featured reprints of American comics, but also included text stories featuring the heroes written by non-comics people.

Lee Rebain contributes a crash course in third-millennium Terran history, including a map of the thirtieth century Earth.  Jay Zilber pipes in with another “Update”.  Zilber also reviews Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #s 199, 200 & 201.

The sixth issue is wrapped up with a nice correspondence section, including letters from Dave Cockrum, departing Legion artist, Mort Weisinger and Irene Vartanoff.  Through-out the issue there is some very nice filler artwork by someone named Matsumoto, Bob Layton & Duffy Vohland and Mercy Van Vlack.  The back cover features a nice Ultra Boy VS. Validus battle royal!

Legion Outpost # 6

Legion Outpost # 6

 Issue # 7

Issue number 7 of the Legion Outpost is actually issue number 7 of the Legion Outhouse!  As the Legion fans that brought us the Legion Outpost turn their hands and heads toward parody for this whole issue.  Behind a great Mercy Van Vlack cover of the rest of the Legion lining up and trying to get Stupidboy to come out of the Legion Outhouse, is an issue containing all kinds of silly and inane things!

First off is an introduction, of sorts, to the folks that were responsible for this issue of the Outpost, Jay Zilber, Harry Broertjes, Mercy Van Vlack & Mike Flynn.  Accompanying their bios are small sketches that might actually be drawn by John Howard, based on style, but I could easily be wrong and they are not credited.  Next is an interview with Dave Cockroach? Conducted by the afore mentioned Ms. Van Vlack.  Next is issue # 2001 of the book; Stupidboy starring the Legion of Super-Headaches by Ms. Van Vlack. Who must get sole credit for this little gem, since no writer is credited.

Next is “1984” a column by Herman C. Braunschweiger” aka Harry Broertjes, wherein he reviews issues of Superboy (starring the Legion of Super-Heroes, Adventure Comics (featuring the Legion), Secret Seven (stories of the Legion’s Espionage Squad) and Weird Sex in the Thirtieth Century.  Harry, I mean, Herman, even suggests the Legion appeared in X-Men comics, as well as Gold Key’s Dark Shadows, which became a feature book for Shadow Lass!

Margie Spears contributed a look into various Legionnaires’ medicine cabinets.  Then another comic book/strip “The LSH VS the Fetal Five” by Zilber & Van Vlack.  Next up Rich Morrissey gives us “Lettercol Cut-Ups” featuring a letter column made up of letters entirely from Richard Morrissey!  But to those of us who knew  Rich, this wasn’t so far fetched!

Next is a review column called, “Reviews” by Jay Zilber, followed by “The Brojium Trail” Part MMMDCCLVII by Tim C. Coun.  Next are some Carggish Jokes provided by Len Rosenberg and then finally another comic strip, “The Unconvinceable Ironical Man Meets the Fwantic Fewwo Lad” by Harry Broertjes & Mercy Van Vlack!

Issue # 8

Issue number 8 (summer 1974) of the Legion Outpost leads off with another terrific Dave Cockrum cover featuring Colossal Boy battling Validus.  This was drawn in 1973 prior to Dave leaving DC comics for Marvel.  The back cover was a very nice drawing of Mon-El and Shadow Lass out for an evening on the town!

The main feature of this issue is a long interview with Jim Shooter conducted by Harry Broertjes.  The interview was done about five years after Jim gave up scripting the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Jim started writing comics at the very young age of 13 and “retired” from comic book writing at the ripe old age of eighteen!  The interview is accompanied by unpublished art that Jim did featuring the Legion, including Jim’s original conception of Tharok and Validus of the Fatal Five!

Next up is Mike Flynn’s “My Place” where he recounts his experience with Julycon, held at the Commodore Hotel in New York City.  He also laments having to pay 50 cents for a copy of Swamp Thing #10, which had only been out for a couple of months.  This is followed by “The Poor Fan’s Almanack” by Broertjes.  It’s his take on Talok-1.  And what exactly was Talok-1, you ask?  Well it was the first official gathering of “The Annual Legion Outpost Konvention!  Aren’t you glad you asked?  It was the first of the planned yearly get togethers.  The very first was attended by, the afore mentioned, Harry Broertjes, as well as, Jay Zilber, Mercy Van Vlack, Mike Flynn and Rich Morrissey.

Their first order of business was to visit the offices of DC Comics, then located on the 6th floor at 75 Rockefeller Plaza.  The met up with DC editor,Murray Boltinoff, as pre-arraigned.  In turn they also got to chat with Cary Bates.  It was interesting to note that Harry got to see where the letters from fans were kept on file and he confirmed that the Legion fans sent in 3 to 4 times more letters than fans of other DC books!  The group also got to chat with Alan Asherman, Carl Gafford, Jack Adler, Guy Lillian, Nelson Bridwell and eventually the new Legion artist himself, Mike Grell!  This report was accompanied by various photos of the DC employees, as well as Mercy, in her Phantom Girl jumpsuit!

Next up was “Update”, but this issue’s update was provided by Rich Morrissey, giving Jay Zilber a break.  Rich spends his time discussing Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #s 202 through 205.

This was followed by another interview, this time of Otto Binder, the writer of the original Big Red Cheese, Captain Marvel!  The interview is profusely illustrated by Cap artist supreme, C. C. Beck!

And wrapping up this issue is the Correspondence/letters section, this issue featuring LoCs from pros Tony Isabella, Bill Gaines, Murray Boltinoff and E. Nelson Bridwell.  Also of note is a letter from Dave Sim who was a Legion fan at the time and who went on to become famous for his self-published, Cerebus the Aardvark comic!

Besides the artwork mentioned above there were spot illustrations provided by Margie Spears, Bruce Patterson and Matsumoto!  All in all a very nice issue of the Legion Outpost from the usual suspects!  

Legion Outpost # 8

Legion Outpost # 8

 Issue # 9

Next up is issue number 9.  This issue didn’t appear until sometime in the summer or fall of 1975, about a year after issue 8.  It features another great cover, this time by Curt Swan and Klaus Janson!  It continues the trend towards looking more like a professional magazine, as the inside front cover has a paid ad for Dungeons & Dragons from TSR Hobbies, Inc.  The actual issue starts with a page long editorial why Harry did not get the Outpost out for so long.  He also discusses the sale of an Outpost project by Neal Pozner that was to have appeared as a special double issue of the Outpost, to DC Comics that was published as Amazing World of DC Comics # 9!

Next up is a painting by Mercy Van Vlack of the Emerald Empress and her Eye defeating Superboy.  Followed by another edition of The Poor Fan’s Almanack by Harry Broertjes entitled, Jim Shooter Doesn’t Write the Legion Anymore.  In his article he discusses Jim Shooter’s return to writing Legion stories and why in his opinion they are not up to par with his first stint as Legion writer.  It boils down to the DC Comics’ editors!  To quote Harry, “By God, National editors edit”.  Harry goes so far as to say that  “Shooter is being stifled, shackled.  It’s to his credit that he hasn’t already thrown up his arms in dismay and chucked the whole comics scene once again”.  Interesting such comments from Legion fandom way back in 1975, as to be repeated time and again over the years and even unto today!

Next is a nice article by Mike Flynn, Why the Legionnaires are wearing those funny uniforms … what everybody thinks about them … and what’s the difference?  Paul Decker nicely illustrates it, as well.  Another negative article follows, When Is a Legionnaire Not a Legionnaire? by Margie Spears.  The short answer that she supplies is … when written by Cary Bates!  She finds fault with Bates’ forcing the Legionnaire women into the background of Legion importance.  She even supplies the illustration to accompany her article.

Len Rosenberg returns with an article entitled, About Porcupine Pete, washboard abdomens and facial fuzz …  Again Len is on about the need for alien Legionnaires, but he does praise Mike Grell for changing up some of the Legionnaires facial features, such as making Chameleon Boy’s eyebrows busier and Lightning Lad’s hair much longer.  He goes on to suggest some Legionnaires need to sport facial hair, such as mustache or even a beard.  I don’t remember exactly when Star Boy starting sporting a beard, but it might well have been shortly after this issue of the Outpost was published.  Does anyone know?

Following close, on the very next page, is an interview with Mort Weisinger.  This interview was conducted by mail and transcribed by Matt Lage.  Then another interview, this time with Fawcett editor (1941-1943) Rod Reed.  No credit was given to the interviewer, but this looks right up Rich Morrissey’s alley!  Next is a three-page memoriam article by C. C. Beck dealing with the passing of Otto Binder, who had recently passed away.

The rest of the issue # 9 is six pages of correspondence.  Interesting to note, that that guy, who created Cerebus, Dave Sim, supplied the back cover!

Legion Outpost # 9

Legion Outpost # 9

 Issue # 10

And that brings us to the last published issue of the Legion Outpost, number 10, published in the spring of 1981, thirty-three years ago.  The cover of the last issue was drawn by Bob Smith and featured Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra lad trying to break through to the Time Trapper.  There was a delay of 5 or 6 years between issues 9 and 10, thus putting the short wait between issues 8 and 9 as nothing!

Again, Harry Broertjes supplies us with a page long editorial explaining why the long delay.  Maybe the best thing I can do is just reprint what Harry had to say in part of his editorial.  “So what happened to the Outpost?  The rise of Legion fandom in the early 1970s was a phenomenon unmatched by any that preceded it, with the possible exception of Batman fandom during the early and mid 1960s, which was nurtured by Biljo White and his classic fanzine, Batmania.  Similarly, The Legion Outpost united hundreds of fans during the years when the Legion was locked in the clutches of, first, obscurity, when it hadn’t a book to call it’s own, and then, mediocrity, after it took over Superboy and the dust settled from the initial rush of Dave Cockrum’s and Cary Bates’ fresh, if sometimes misdirected, interpretation of our favorite series.   Letter and phone calls flew among the Outpost’s principal contributors, and friendships were sealed between them and other Legion enthusiasts – friendships that, in many cases, came to owe less to the common denominator of Legion fandom and comic books than to simple affinity for like minds outside the fannish context.  For better or worse, the Outpost was no longer the cornerstone of our friendships, and it slid, bit by bit, down our priority lists.”

Add to this that six months after Outpost #9 was published in late 1975, the formation of the Legion apa, Interlac, took place and as has been said so many times, things weren’t ever the same again!  Interlac became the method of communication for fifty or so core Legion fans, and as everyone knows there were still plenty of Legion fans out there who couldn’t join Interlac, so Klordny was founded, and still later (In 1992) APA-LSH was founded!  Fandom had found the joy of apas and a semi-quarterly fanzine just wasn’t enough for everyone!

Issue number 10 was the finest in quality of all of the issues in terms of production and you can easily see the influences of the Legion Issue of The Amazing World of DC Comics on the final issue.  The staff had learned so much more and it showed!  Great artwork abounds in this final issue of this great fanzine.  There are spot illustrations by Legion artist James Sherman, a great piece by Judy Renee Pope with art by Strick and Mercy, also by a bunch of people I do not know and can not decipher their signatures.  There is also a three page comic strip by Michael Ellis entitled, What if Toy Rhombus Wrote the Legion of Super-Heroes?  Who or what is a Toy Rhombus, you ask?  Try switching the T and the R and replacing the bu was an a!  Ok, now you got it?  Thought so!  Being a long time Marvel fan from way back, I enjoyed it!

Interesting there is also a Roy Thomas interview, conducted by Ken Gale, where they discuss Roy’s upcoming assignment to write The Legion of Super-Heroes!  Also there is “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” by Jim Shooter, which was written for a DC digest text page but was never used, so Jim turned it over to the Outpost for publication.  There is also another interview, this time of Mike Barr and Len Wein, conducted by Jay Zilber and Ken Gale.  Len had been the Legion’s editor and was turning the reins over to Mike at the time of this interview (December 1980).

Kim Metzger supplies “An Open Note of Suicide” in which we learn that he designed Saturn Girls outlandish pink bikini uniform based on one of Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel leather suits!  He also goes on discussing the various costume changes made over the last few years.  Next up is Rich Morrissey’s A Legion of Writers covering all of the writers of the Legion of Super-Heroes since the inception of the Legion!  A section entitled Speculations follows this.  Which was made up of various articles by a number of different authors covering different topic, such as, Dungeons and Dragons, A Portrait of Orando, and Politics on the Edible Planet, just to name a few.

Legion fan fiction also returns in issue number 10, with Judy Rosenbaum’s “Shrew?”  Harry Broertjes returns with part four of a series, this time it’s The Legion: 1966, where he discusses Adventure Comics numbers 346 through 351.  Mike Flynn returns one more time, with another My Place edition.  He tries to answer the age-old question, “just what’s so great about those dumb Legionnaires, anyway?”  Nearing the end of the final issue we have a nice response columns from Carol Strickland, who would like no more Adult Legion of Super-Heroes stories and for the other side, Ken Gale, who responds with a resounding, “why NOT more Adult Legion stories?

Jay Zilber provides a final Update column, which wraps up the issue in all its glory.  In his column, Jay looks back on the humble beginnings of the Legion Outpost and on how far it and the people who have put it together have come in ten years and the final pages show the first nine covers of the Outpost and the back cover is by Andy Mushynsky based on a sketch by Jim Shooter that espouses what if Marvel Comics published the Legion of Super-Heroes!

And that was it, the final issue of a great fanzine!  Of course, the Legion Outpost was just one of hundreds, maybe even thousands of fanzines that have been published during the last fifty years.  In Jay’s own words, “the Outpost was one of a noble, but common breed of medium budget, modest scale fanzines, through which it’s contributors learned their craft of visual and verbal communication, some whom later chose to pursue that field as professionals.”

Fanzines, such as the Legion Outpost, were never particularly easy to stumble across, one had to make a concerted effort to find fandom in those days, for there were no reliable procedures for fan publishers.  Those simple fanzines were left behind twenty-five years or so ago and this writer feels that comic book fandom is worse because of it.  The days when an individual fan put pen to paper, or typewriter to paper, to sing the praises of their favorite comic book is long gone I’m sorry to say.  This makes me sad and I truly wish that I had gotten more involved back in the hey-day of these simply fanzines.  I stumbled across The Legion Outpost number 5, but I never made the effort to write or draw for it, I’m sorry to say.  My loss definitely!

I hope you enjoyed my two part look at the Legion of Super-Heroes fanzine, The Legion Outpost!  ANd please come back next Friday for a new RETRO REVIEW!  Be seeing you …

About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.

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