RBCC #110 (1974)

The Rocket’s Blast and Comicollector (or RBCC) was one of the longest-running fanzines, or fan-magazines, for comics fans. The zine ran from the very early ’60s up to 1980. It died in 1980, in part due to an ill-fated distribution deal with New Media publishing, who had bigger dreams than resources.

It’s an interesting experience reading a 30-year-old fanzine, perhaps the closest a person can get to travelling back in time. Reading a zine, where all work is created out of passion for the material rather than commercial gain, shows where the passions of the fans were at that time. You also get a feel for the concerns of the fans, their dreams for the future, and, maybe most fun of all, see what comics used to sell for, once upon a time.

For the most part, this issue of the RBCC seems mainly concerned with old stuff. Not stuff that seems old now but was new back in the day. I mean stuff that was old then and now seems positively pre-historic. There are two – count them, two! – articles on old radio shows. "Return in Time" celebrated classic radio science fiction drama from the 1940s through ’50s, while "A Twist of the Dial" celebrates, at great length, an obscure radio comedy duo who apparently were hugely popular in the South between the 1930s and ’50s. "Lum and Abner" sounds like it was probably pretty entertaining, but it’s strange to read nostalgic articles about a medium that was dead even before this zine saw print. There must have been a strong wave of nostalgia among collectors in the mid-’70s, because this seems awfully obscure.

On the comics front, there are three seperate pieces in this issue that reprint of discuss Golden Age creations. We get a 1951 comic story by Wally Wood and a 1940 "Black Condor" piece by Lou Fine. Both are wonderful stories, though the black and white printing of color pages is muddy. There’s also a look back at the Golden Age comics produced by MLJ Publishing, which would later become Archie Comics. Again there seems to be a nostalgia for material printed a quarter-century or more before this zine saw print. That places it well within the lifespan of many of the zine’s readers at the time, but way out of reach for most people today.

The highlight of the magazine is Don Rosa’s "Information Corner." A simple question-and-answer piece about comics trivia, Rosa does a wonderful job of cracking jokes along the way and inserting charming artwork to keep the tone light. Rosa would eventually become highly acclaimed as a cartoonist, creating many distinguished stories for Disney’s comics.

And the ads are fun, too. It’s eye-opening to see very old issues of Action Comics going for $250 to $300 each, a hundredth of what they would sell for today. And of course it’s a hoot to see then-new comics such as Kirby’s Mr. Miracle or comics illustrated by Neal Adams sell for 15 cents each. Those are the ads where the daydream of traveling back in time really comes to life.

It’s just a hoot reading these old fanzines. I love finding them on eBay. Hey, I wonder how eBay would have changed the world of collecting way back in 1974…

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