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.