Sunday, 28 June 2009


Back in The Bronze Age, before anybody ( with the possible exception of Jack Kirby ) had even conceived of such a thing as the Internet, there was really no such thing as Fandom. At least not for me and my friends in our home town of HaverHell. As I've mentioned before, the concept that we could actually go to a comic convention, and meet other kids like us, seemed as remote and impossible as a trip to Barsoom. In fact, I doubt the idea ever occurred to us.
Not that we cared particularly that the rest of the world couldn't see what we could see in comics. Outsiders are drawn to outside pursuits, and the fact that comics put us even more on the edges of popularity mattered not at all. In fact, I'd guess we took a kind of pride in it. So when the first fanzines started appearing in England, it wasn't a case of finding other brethren, more like just enjoying something else cool to read. And the best, certainly the easiest to get hold of fanzine, had to be BEM.

That's the cover everyone remembers from BEM's run ( 1978 to 1981 ), a real early Brian Bolland. Inside there was also a Dave Sim piece done especially for the mag, with Cerebus & Howard The Duck facing off against each other (which, alas, I don't have ).
BEM had huge, sprawling interviews, and in those days, none of the big comic companies had quite got their publicity spin act together, so you read stuff in BEM you probably wouldn't see today.
Like this excerpt from an interview with Steve McManus, then editor of 2000AD:

How different to these days, when all you hear about is how this summers' 'event' will change the face of that companies' universe permanently and forever. Until next week.

What BEM also had was letters pages. Holy God, did it have letters pages. In type even smaller than the rest of the mag, fans went on ( and on ) about the issues of the day. Still, it was alive, it was exciting, it was incredibly difficult to read without a magnifying glass.
The age of the fanzines is long gone now. It's just a lot easier to do it via the net, plus you reach more people, but it's not quite the same buzz as getting something through the letterbox, is it?
As you've noticed, several soon-to-be pro's contributed covers ( and interiors ) to BEM. Here's a few more for your delight & delectation.


  1. Never seen or heard of it but I love the covers...particularly the Cat/Bat one! Thanks for sharing as usual!

  2. I got a few of these, icluding the McMahon cover, the Gibbons conver and one lurid (all the colours were lurid - they couldn't afford colour separations it seems) portrait of Dez Skinn on the cover, I think drawn by Gibbons. Right I remember the tiny type.

  3. I can remember seeing my first BEM around Dean Willett's house, probably with you. There followed a few half arsed attempts at doing some drawings to send off in the hope they got printed. Never did get round to that though.

  4. Oh... these bring back memories.
    I was buying Richard Burton's Comic Media News for the last couple of years of it's existence (Still got the last issue somewhere, which was brought out awhile after the regular run had stopped)
    Bem took over as the fanzine to buy after that... I think the first issue I bought was #24 with Jack Katz's First Kingdom on the cover.
    All Long gone again sadly.

  5. Sean, it was at Dean Willett's house: He had the Bolland one I think, and wouldn't swap it, the git! Did manage to con him out of Star*Reach though.
    There's a blog subject, those hold outs who JUST WOULDN'T SWAP ANYTHING. I guarantee Dean gave all his collection away for nothing in later years, just like Andrew Holder...

  6. Brilliant blog and a lot of info very cool!

    It is very interesting your theory of the 70 as the best era in comics!!

    In France and Japan for sure!!

    Here in argentina, mmmmmmmmm it a big fight between de 70s and the 80s!!

    saludos from argentina!!

    and keep up the good work!

  7. Know a little about the French Bronze Age
    ( basically thanks to Heavy Metal ), and Japan a bit, but NOTHING about Argentina. Tell us more!

  8. I really should have done a web-search earlier - nice to see Bem remembered! What shocks me is the prices one sees for old issues, time for me to check which issues I still have copies of in boxes upstairs...