Thursday, August 2, 2012


In addition to watching films and reading books and comics, there half a dozen magazines that I read from cover to cover on a regular basis. The subjects of these publications are comic books, monster movies and World War II. Here are the mags in alphabetical order.

ALTER EGO. This fine, full-color magazine focuses on the Golden Age of Comics, which, contrary to popular belief, was more than slightly ahead of my time (I'm a Silver Ager through and through). The mag features in-depth interviews with comic book creators of the past and sadly, there aren't many of these men and women left to talk to these days. There's great artwork, interesting articles and a lively letter column. It's edited by Roy Thomas who had a hand in the original iteration of ALTER EGO as a fanzine in the early '60s. Thomas, who had a long and distinguished career at both Marvel and DC, remains to this day my all-time favorite comic book writer (sorry Stan!). Jack Kirby is my all-time favorite comic book artist in case you're interested. ALTER EGO is highly recommended for anyone who has an interest in the history of comic books.

BACK ISSUE! A sister magazine of ALTER EGO (they're both published by TwoMorrows Publishing), this magazine is similar to AE except with an emphasis on Bronze Age comics (roughly the '70s through the early '80s). I was in high school and college during the peak of the Bronze Age and even though it's not my favorite era of comics, there were tons of cool books published during that time. BACK ISSUE! is also full-color, chock full of interviews, art and articles and comes highly recommended.

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE When I bought my first subscription to this publication it was then called THE BUYER'S GUIDE FOR COMIC FANDOM or simply, TBG. Back then, in the early '80s, TBG was a bi-weekly newspaper for all things comic book related. In addition to news items, reviews and articles, there were tons of ads from dealers and fellow collectors. I used to advertise in the mag on a regular basis and got to know a lot of fellow collectors around the country through trading, selling and buying comics with them. In the days before the Internet and eBay, this was the way these things were done.

Over time, TBG became a weekly newspaper and changed it's name to THE COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. Under the editorial guidance of Don and Maggie Thompson, the publication became indispensable and the arrival of a new issue in my mail box each week was always eagerly awaited. Things changed over time. Don Thompson died way too young, the publication was purchased by Krause Publications out of Wisconsin, new editorial blood was brought in (although Maggie, God bless her) is still there. The publication became a monthly, full-color magazine about ten years ago with a heavy emphasis on a price guide, features about all of the comic book based films and entirely too much attention paid to third-party graded comic books (CGC, the grading company, was a major advertiser).

The magazine is still being published. It's gone back to being published on newsprint with some color in each issue. The page count has been drastically reduced and it takes me about twenty-minutes to read each issue (in the old tabloid days, I'd barely finish one issue before the next arrived). With so much of the material that made CBG indispensable now readily available online (buying/selling comics, hundreds of comics related websites, etc.), I feel that the magazine has become almost completely irrelevant. It simply doesn't have anything to offer that I can't get somewhere else.

I know that CBG will not survive as a printed magazine for many more years. The odds are against it. I struggle over the decision to renew my subscription on an annual basis. Do I pull the plug and disconnect now or wait until the inevitable end? I've decided that I've come this far for this long and as long as CBG keeps being produced as a printed publication, I'm going to continue to support it. We've been through too much together (good and bad), to give up now.

FAMOUS MONSTERS This is the new iteration of the legendary monster magazine that played such a vital part in shaping the raw clay of my youth. Printed in full color on slick paper the new FM contains a nice mix of features, spotlighting new films as well as the classics of days gone by. It's not Forry Ackerman's FM but nothing ever will be again. The new mag goes out of the way to acknowledge its' indebtedness to FJA, while at the same time blazing a new path for us monster kids who just can't get enough of this stuff. Recommended.

SCARY MONSTERS A throwback to the monster magazines of yesteryear, SCARY MONSTERS delivers a ton of material in a black-and-white format that is chock full of stills and articles. Many of the features are written by fans who provide some great "monster memories". There's a somewhat heavy emphasis on television horror hosts of the '50s and '60s and the overall tone of the magazine is light, breezy and fannish. Nothing wrong with that. I enjoy it and recommend it.

WWII HISTORY This a very well done magazine that contains a variety of articles in every issue. Almost every aspect of the war is featured in regular departments: Profiles, Ordnance, Insight and  Top Secret along with book and video game reviews. The feature articles cover all theaters of combat, from Europe to the Pacific and all points in between. Battles on land, sea and air are documented and all of the major players in the war receive equal time, both the Allied powers (U.S., Great Britain and Russia) and the Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan). I learn something new in every issue. If you're a hardcore war buff or a newcomer to this endlessly fascinating subject, WWII HISTORY comes with my highest recommendation.

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