Blimey! What’s not to love about this 1983 issue of the British comics fanzine Chain Reaction (Issue Five), edited by Frank Plowright, the late, great and still much-missed Steve Whitaker and Hassan Yusuf?
Initially titled Direct Currents (the name changed after objections from DC Comics), Chain Reaction, published in 1983 – 1984 ran for seven issues and was one of several black and white zines I tried to follow in the days when UK comics gatherings were confined, for the most part, to the London Westminster Comic Marts and around the same time, the annual London UKCAC event (it’s hard to believe that now when comic events large and small compete for attendees almost every weekend across the country).
Wrapped in front cover by Mike Collins and Mark Farmer, with a gorgeous back cover by Pete Martin, this issue – available to read online for free on the Classic Comics UK Zines site curated by David Hathaway-Price – includes a fascinating interview with the brilliant American editor (and also much-missed) Archie Goodwin. He’s tackled on many aspects of his career in the piece, including his hopes for Marvel Epic. It’s a real snapshot in time.
But that’s not all – the zine also features great interviews with editors Sal Amendola (who started his career as an artist in the 1960s) and Jim Shooter (then Marvel’s Editor in Chief, enthusing about comics merchandising, a new phenomenon back then), and it’s crammed with silly cartoon strips poking fun at superheroes, some by the brilliant Nigel Kitching and others by the acerbic Howard Stangroom (now Will Morgan of 30th Century Comic shop fame in Richmond) and P. Chokran.
This issue of Chain Reaction is the latest addition to a growing site documenting UK comics fandom through past zines that includes titles such as Paul Duncan’s Arkensword (later, simply ARK), BEM, Comic Media News, Hellfire, Russell Willis’ wonderful INFINITY (which I still have print copies of in a box somewhere!), Speakeasy and Worlds Collide.
“The aim of this site, is to create a digital repository of the comics fanzines published in the UK,” David explains.
“These fan publications contained work by artists and writers who would sometimes move into, and shape the industry that they loved.
“Equally, they contain work by people who simply appreciated the sense of community offered by taking part in fandom, and who may now look back fondly on a hobby no longer followed.
“These fanzines were printed in very limited numbers, sometimes as few as 50 copies and have become quite rare over the years.
“I hope to use this site to celebrate these publications, and the people who produced and contributed to them.”
• Check out the site at davidprice5.wixsite.com/classicukcomicszines
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.