Featuring Don Newton, Bernie Wrightson, Wally Wood and MORE…
By PETER BOSCH
In 1966, three years after I read my first comic, I discovered there were other fans like me. My awakening to all of this was an adzine/fanzine called Rocket’s Blast Comicollector. The magazine was originally two separate fan publications that began in 1961, “The Rocket’s Blast” (from G.B. Love) and “The Comicollector” (started by Jerry Bails). In 1964, they merged, with Love as publisher and editor.
I don’t know how I heard of RBCC in the first place (likely through an ad in a comic) but when the issue, #45, arrived I was amazed. It was a ditto and photo-offset publication featuring approximately 90 pages stapled together. The front cover was a tribute to two Golden Age heroes from Hillman Publications, Nightmare and Sleepy, drawn by then-fan Richard Buckler.
And, inside the issue… well… for me, it was the equivalent of what it must be like for a comics fan walking into the San Diego Comic-Con today for the first time. This was an exciting, crowded world full of dealers, publishers of other fanzines, and fans who wrote articles about comics’ four-color history. Though I did not know it at the time, many of those inside that issue were truly the heart and start of comic fandom: Jerry Bails, Biljo White, Bill Spicer, Phil Seuling, Rick Weingroff, Raymond Miller, D. Bruce Berry, Tom Fagan, Ronn Foss, Russ Cochran and Roy Bonario. There was even a letter from former fanzine editor turned pro Roy Thomas. And then, of course, there was G.B. Love himself, the editor and publisher of RBCC.
Gordon Belljohn Love was a Florida-based fan who may well have been the most strong-willed of all. Though he suffered from severe cerebral palsy, including having to use a pencil gripped
in his hand in order to use the eraser end to punch one typewriter key at a time while he edited RBCC, Love also published other comic-related fanzines at the same time and helped put on
mini-conventions. (It must also be mentioned Andy Warner helped him with numerous duties.)
There were many other fanzines out there, but RBCC — published by Love’s Science Fiction and Comics Association — would end up being the one with the biggest circulation and the place for all other fan publishers to advertise. As my copy of #45’s front cover noted, it was reaching 900 people. It would eventually increase to over 3,000 readers. However, in 1971, a new, free publication, “The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom,” came into existence and it focused primarily on selling old comic books.
By the next year, TBG had a circulation of over 4,000 (and would soon double that) and people’s interest in RBCC began waning. Love realized this and that he was financially comfortable enough to sell RBCC to his then-assistant James Van Hise in 1974 and move to Texas. RBCC continued for another decade, with its final issue, #153, in 1983. (In 2002, there was a four-issue revival of RBCC by Van Hise. G.B. Love died in 2001.)
To this day, that first issue I saw of the Rocket’s Blast Comicollector still means something very special to me. Sure, it opened the door to make me realize there were other fans out there but,
even more, it made me appreciate there were others like me who believed we too could one day be part of the industry in some way. Some of those fellow believers were great fan artists who drew the RBCC covers and went on to professional success.
Here are 13 of my very favorite RBCC covers from those wonderful years:
RBCC #45 (1966). The nostalgic issue that started it all for me, with a cover by a young Rich Buckler.
RBCC #55 and #60 (1967 and 1968). A pair of covers by John G. Fantucchio, who was (in my opinion) the most dynamic of RBCC’s cover artists.
RBCC #56 (1968). Comic pro Wallace Wood donated two covers to RBCC, including this one of Daredevil and Dynamo.
RBCC #67 (1969). John Adkins Richardson gave this issue a Time-inspired cover.
RBCC #73 (1970). Robert Kline was another of the fanzine’s great cover artists.
RBCC #81 (1971). Richard Corben was just getting known when he contributed this cover.
RBCC #86 and #117 (1971 and 1975). Bernie Wrightson’s work embellished RBCC’s covers four times, including these two.
RBCC #89, 100, 104 and 106 (1972 to 1974). And, finally, one of the best, Don Newton, is represented here by just a few of the many covers he did for RBCC, but they are all spectacular.
— DC COMICS, 1963: Oh, What a Year! Click here.
— MARVEL COMICS, 1964: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Click here.
PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, has just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.
June 25, 2022
No Keno Don Rosa? Where’s Captain Kentucky? Lancelot Pertwillaby?
June 25, 2022
There were so many covers I’d like to have included. Don Rosa did three RBCC covers and I was tempted by his memorial tribute to Vaughn Bode for #121. (He also did the Spirit for #116 and Pertwillaby for #148.) With only 13 covers to choose from for my article, I decided to highlight my absolute favorites, and that meant having to leave off Rosa, Gil Kane, Mike Zeck, Mike Ploog, and others.
June 25, 2022
The Buddy Saunders covers in the teens and twenties were my favorites.
October 3, 2022
Wonderful tribute to the legendary G.B. Love- family friend and fixture at my dad’s first comic shop. Also thanks for mentioning dad who’s nearly 90 now and residing in a memory care facility- he enjoyed your article and says “keep up the good work”!