Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Crowded Life in Comics –

 Comic Art’s Forgotten World

by Rick Marschall

Recently I wrote in this space about a magazine that died stillborn, the most unlikely collaboration it would have been, between Stan Lee, Johnny Hart (BC and Wizard of Id) and myself. GROG! would have been a European-style magazine – that is, in the tradition of the day’s Linus or Eureka – focusing on strips, comic books, history, interviews, and such. I have since unearthed some of the working memos and proposals, and I will share them.

I have launched five magazines in my career and edited eight. In our field, I steered 31 issues of nemo: the classic comics library, as well as a few spinoff publications and book series. I am working hard on another crazy (= fantastic!) magazine, also for Fantagraphics, a nemo 2.0 – the same general focus, but more pages, larger page trim, full color. Heavy lifting, but it will be great. We’re getting a lot of support from scholars and fans.

I also conceived of Hogan’s Alley and somehow convinced Tom Heintjes to join… actually, be a partner. He, and my old friend David Folkman as Art Director, have really run with it. It is healthy and, although still one-third owner, I seem to have been scrubbed from a public affiliation with it. What’s a masthead between friends? I do not want to forget writing for TBG and more important, frequently for The Comics Journal, a point of pride.

With all these memories and current activity floating around in my “head,” I recalled another magazine about comic art – a real pioneer, short-lived, full of great dreams and promise.

The World of Comic Art was published between 1967 and 1972. Dorothy McGreal was the Editor and Publisher out of California. It existed on the virtual intersection of “overly ambitious” and “ahead of its time.” Slick paper, 48 pages, color covers… minimal advertising, unfortunately.

But Dorothy received cooperation from cartoonists, and she scored some important interviews. The magazine ran five or six issues before giving up the ghost, fondly remembered. And a real pioneer in the field. Dorothy died in 2000, I believe.

Just before I left for college I inquired about writing for her, and pitched a couple articles, one on F. Opper, and an interview with Harry Herschfield, who had generous befriended me. I wrote neither, and if I wrote anything else I am embarrassed to say I don’t recall (my issues are in storage). I went off to college – Washington DC in the late ‘60s – and actually started selling political cartoons. Distractions; plus I casually thought The World of Comic Art would last forever.

Even the ‘60s did not last forever,

Issues can be found in the collectors’ market, and any fan – any reader of the web magazine Yesterday’s Papers or interested in the imminent resurrection of NEMO – would naturally be interested to have them.

Here, a letter from Dorothy responding to my inquiry; and covers of the late, lamented  World of Comic Art.


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