Saturday, November 16, 2019

1978 AFTA Article by Brian Hayes

In the late 1970s I was devouring just about every comics fanzine I could find. In 1977 I came across the very unusual AFTA #1 as edited and produced by the very idiosyncratic Bill-Dale Marcinko. That issue's cover by George Perez featured Captain America and Iron Man, and the tagline at the bottom of that cover speaks for itself: "Reporting on Comics, Fanzines, Films, and Nay, I Say, Life... Itself"

I was impressed with and enjoyed that premier issue of AFTA and I wrote to Bill-Dale asking if I could contribute to the second issue. He wrote back and said yes. It's too long ago and I don't remember if he assigned me to review a specific comic book or it was my own choice, but I wrote about The Beatles.

AFTA #2 featured a cover by Jack Kirby and my article appeared on page 52. The photo below came out amazingly blurry so I will transcribe my review for you:

Marvel Super Special 
The Beatles

It often amazes me how much Marvel can get away with. Marvel Super Special 4, featuring "The Beatles Story,"  is a prime example of the sheer commercialistic pap they can peddle to young , unsuspecting comics readers who are stuck on "Spider-Man" and "Stan Lee Presents." Yet they can get away with it.

In the first place, the very idea of putting the life story of The Beatles in a thirty-nine page (I counted) is presumptuous beyond even Stan the Man's boundaries of presumptuousness. Or so I would have thought.

Another prime gripe-point is the flat color. I liked the color in the Conan Super Special, but then the Close Encounters issue reverted to the flat color in the Kiss issue, and here we have it again. Leave it to Marvel to keep cutting corners for as long as they can; I figure that the Beatles book (as well as Kiss and Close Encounters) were aimed at non-comics people who would buy the magazine for the subject matter and not care very much about the color. But can Marvel get away with it? You bet they can; they've got "Spider-Man" and "Stan Lee Presents," haven't they?

As for the art, hey, it was no bargain either, nor was the wall-to-wall lettering. All in all, "The Beatles Story" is a dollar and a half's worth of disappointment. Will Marvel get away with it, though?



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