The Comic Reader #95 (1973)

From about 1963 to 1982, The Comic Reader was sort of the TV Guide of comics, providing short news blurbs and a checklist of coming comics. I’ve fallen into collecting back issues of TCR. For some reason, this humble fanzine really stimulates my imagination. I’m not sure if it’s the wonderful old news items, the checklist of books released in that far-distant month, or the idea of watching history as it happened.

I have a prety nice collection of this fine old zine, basically every issue from 1972 to the present. The issues between #75 and #100 are especially interesting, as they’re edited by Paul Levitz. Levitz edited the zine as a high school student in New York, eventually parlaying this work into an internship, then an editorship, and finally a Vice Presidency at DC Comics. These old zines show, as much as can be seen from a mostly news-oriented magazine, the prejudices he had at the time. That said, you really need to look between the lines to see Levitz’s future direction. He was definitely well-organized as a teenager, that’s for sure!

But of course, the most amazing thing about reading a zine from 1973 is how low-priced everything seems. At that time, comics were 20¢ each, by and large, so a dollar could go a long way. In fact, to buy copies of all 82 comics listed for March 1973, you would have spent an amazing $18.90! That sounds like an amazing deal in 2005, but when calculated in inflation-adjusted dollars, your stack of comics would have cost a much more expensive $83.45. $21 a week isn’t too bad, but, damn it, cash doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Actually, my favorite thing about this issue is the fact that the cover, by longtime fan artist Ronn Sutton, has a postmark on it. There’s something really very cool about that somehow.

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