Paul Neary – Hero Unlimited

James Bacon explores the early comic fanzine work of the late Paul Neary, who passed earlier this month

Heroes Unlimited #7 cover by Paul Neary

The loss of Paul Neary has been deeply felt across the comic book industry.
He was skilled and involved in so many aspects of comic book creation, and
touched many people. His connection to fanzines became apparent to me during Jarvis Cocker’s BBC 4 Zine Scene radio programme on the subject, first broadcast in 2008. I was stunned to hear that there was a 1960s Irish fanzine, and that Paul Neary worked on it. I learned that Cocker was referring Tony Roche’s late 1960s fanzines, Merry Marvel Fanzine and Heroes Unlimited.

Tony Roche had started Merry Marvel Fanzine in 1967. It was a bi-monthly
publication and in June 1967, the fanzine had some serious correspondence, with a letter from Flo Steinberg from Marvel, asking for an extra copy for Stan who wanted it for his scrapbook.

Heroes Unlimited replaced MMF after the third issue and, at some stage then,
Paul Neary got involved, his memory of just how defeated him. “I have to say that I cannot remember how I became involved with Tony Roche (from Dublin, as you say),” he once recalled, “while he was putting together issue 2 of his Heroes Unlimited fanzine.”

Heroes Unlimited #2 - Cover

Tony Roche recalled: “We were good friends in my teenage years. I loved his artwork and was the first to present it to the world in Heroes Unlimited. Paul was pally with Pete Simpson, who was a major contributor to the fanzines and it was Pete who made Paul Neary’s name known to me. Paul sent some samples; his style at the time was very influenced by Carmine Infantino’s Adam Strange, long thin figures with aquiline features. I immediately commissioned a strip, which became ‘Captain Remus and the Phosphor’. He also did some wonderful imaginative spot illos, including one for an article I wrote entitled ‘The Child is Father to the Man’. Paul came over to Dublin for a visit and stayed in my house. We shared a room and stayed up all night talking until my parents banged on the walls and told us to go to sleep.”

Heroes Unlimited #7 illustration by Paul Neary
Above: some of Paul Neary’s interior illustrations for Heroes Unlimited

The relationship was strong and productive, as Paul confirmed. “I drew for five or six issues of Heroes Unlimited and some of this has been posted on the internet… principally a ‘Captain Remus’ episode from issue 7.”

Heroes Unlimited was a step forward. While recognising that the 35 subscribers
would be Marvel fans and promising that the Marvel content would continue within a larger and more ambitious fanzine, Roche brought in and welcomed articles and letters on DC, as well as Marvel. Interviews with professionals started (Al Williamson, Dick Giordano) and there was also coverage of the early comic conventions, including New York in 1968, and the first British con in September 1968. 

Journey Planet Presents Heroes Unlimited #8 - Cover by Paul Neary

The art was attractive and striking, and Neary’s work helped make the fanzine both memorable and popular. The circle seemed to come round. Following contact with Paul, a meeting occurred with Tony Roche in Dublin at Octocon amongst fans. The final issue of Heroes Unlimited, number 8, was produced in 2018 under the auspices of Journey Planet.

Paul very kindly allowed his art to be used and supplied a new front cover. Tony’s son, Merlin, helped his father co-edit a zine that included a variety of fascinating elements, such as a letter from Alan Moore on issue 7, and a story by David Hine.

Paul Neary’s contribution to Heroes Unlimited is but a small yet fondly remembered part of a vast career. His generosity and kindness to fans, not only then but some fifty years apart, is notable and he will be warmly remembered.

James Bacon, February 2024

Much thanks to various people over the years for helping connect me to Paul and Tony are due. Also, Harry McAvinchey, David Hathaway-Price and others for keeping Fanzines alive in the mind

Web Links

downthetubes: In Memoriam: Comic Artist, Writer, Inspiration: Paul Neary

• British Comic Fanzines – Issue 1 of Heroes Unlimited – Background and Digital Edition

Journey Planet 31 - Heroes Unlimited #3 on cover

• British Comic Fanzines – Issue 3 of Heroes Unlimited – Background and Digital Edition

downthetubes: Secrets of Ireland’s first-ever comics fanzine, featuring art by young Paul Neary, revealed

• downthetubes: Journey Planet helps revive ground-breaking 1960s comic zine Heroes Unlimited for one last outing

Journey Planet Presents – Heroes Unlimited #8 on PDF

Issue 31 – Tony Roche & Merry Marvel Fanzine/Heroes Unlimited

Categories: British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, Features, Obituaries

Tags: , , , ,

1 reply


  1. In Memoriam: Comic Artist, Writer, Inspiration: Paul Neary –

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading