WaP! #7: The Penultimate Issue
The Forgotten Activist Prozine Continued: Part 16
WaP! #7 was comparitively modest 20-page issue, with no postdate (the issues were now mailed in a flat envelope).
This issue sported my one and only WaP! cover art (above), caricaturing the leaked memo from Texan comics retailer Buddy Saunders. As a lifelong fan of westerns (novels, movies, comics, and TV shows), I couldn’t resist playing up the Texas connection—with all due apologies to Buddy—which definitely had its political overtones. Besides, in ways I’ll explain (and did then and there), this was becoming an increasingly personal as well as a professional concern for me.
The controversy was covered in the lead feature by John Ostrander, whose DC Comics title Wasteland was prompting a certain amount of retailer outrage and activism spearheaded by Saunders.
My cover art was also the only editorial cartoon in the entire issue. WaP! was already in transition.
I had my own reasons for thinking the leaked memo from Saunders chain of comic shops was ominous: As I’ve detailed exhaustively here at Myrant in the past (see links, below), Dave Sim‘s reasons for scuttling his publishing imprint Aardvark One International on the cusp of publishing Taboo included his certainty that retailers would scapegoat any creator or title he published if they were angry at Dave over something completely unrelated to Aardvark One International‘s projects.
As I explained in my own coda to John Ostrander‘s article, Saunders and the Zeta Beam Sequence documentation was proving Dave absolutely right—and with Taboo 1 just hitting shops in the fall of 1988, I was now on the firing line with retailers and the retail community, and I was among the creators and publishers putting the retailers on the firing lines, too.
I’ve already shared with you my entire serialized “The Politics of Cowardice” essay, which prompted a letter from Jan Strnad in this issue of WaP!
- specifically in reaction to the concluding installment of my serialized “The Politics of Cowardice.”
There was also a letter from Nat Gertler making a couple of salient points about WaP!‘s self-publishing issue, noting (and I am in full agreement with Nat on this, as I was then) that self-publishing wasn’t quite the proper term for those who weren’t exclusively publishing their own work. Nat quite rightly cited Taboo as an example of an anthology that wasn’t per se self-published:
I wanted to be sure Jan got to say his piece here, too, in this context.
Suffice to note I, for one, am a much happier comics creator, comics/comix reader, and film and television viewer now that we’re in 21st century retail environments sans comicbook or graphic novel labels, or the expectation of any like that, and where unrated uncut DVD and Blu-Ray editions of past and current feature films and television series are easily found in a wide range of retail venues (not to mention streaming online and such).
Hell, I’m 58 years old—yes, I have grandchildren, but I know where the children’s book sections are in bookshops and libraries, and for myself, I still prefer the lack of ratings on literature, comics, and graphic novels. Now that the CCA (Comics Code Authority) is gone, too (as of 2011), it’s all history—for the time being.
What else was in WaP! #7 (December 1988-January 1989)? Here’s a sampler, along with a complete contents list:
The above two items are from #7′s “Rumors and Innuendo” gossip column (pp. 18-19), and illuminate two things: how the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s in comics was comprised in part by the larger publishers gobbling up significant independent publishers—co-opting those they could, crushing those they couldn’t—and how the cottage comics reprint industry of the 1980s paved the way for the creator abuses and oversights we still have today.
Contents of WaP! #7: 20 pages, 8 1/2″ x 11,” photocopied on white paper.
Cover by Stephen R. Bissette (above).
Pg. 2: “Good News About Taxes” by Joyce Brabner (on “The Technical Corrections Act” exempting “freelance artists, writers, and photographers from the uniform capitalization provision” discussed earlier in WaP!, and citing the book The Art of Filing by Carla Messman as an invaluable resource).
Pp. 3-4: “The Secret Wars of Buddy Saunders” by John Ostrander with “The Saunders Memos,” and coda (on pg. 4) “A Footnote” by Stephen R. Bissette (all above).
Pg. 5-6: “A Few Words from Some Tired and Cranky Editors” (uncredited overview in Q&A format of WaP! policies and controversies); “New Deadlines” (short statement of 1989 deadlines for WaP! submissions “due to the restructuring of WaP!’s schedule”).
Pg. 7-11: “An Article on Spec” by Mark Evanier with input from Steven Grant, Nat Gertler, Steve Gerber, Christy Marx (on the issues related to doing any freelance work on spec, discussed in part via excerpts from an online discussion board conversation at the Writers’ Exchange Bulletin Board); “Back Issues” (ordering info for WaP! back issues, pg. 11).
Pg. 12-16: “Mail” (letters from Alex Krislov, Dennis O’Neil (reacting to Steve Skeates‘s letter in WaP! #6), Terry Echterling, Jack C. Harris, Nat Gertler, Jan Strnad (reprinted above in their entirety), Brent Eric Anderson, John Dennis, and Arnold Drake.
Pg. 17: “Workers Unite!!” WaP! subscription ad (art by Howard Chaykin & Walt Simonson)
Pg. 18-19: “Rumors and Innuendo” gossip column; indicia (pg. 19).
Pg. 20: “Lights Out” (below); “Next Issue,” “Pushing the Envelope” (on mailing WaP! in an envelope for mailing).
The final page of this issue bears reprinting, if only to make sense of the Bill Sienkiewicz editorial cartoon (in the next installment) from WaP!‘s final issue, and to provide essential context of interest to Alan Moore scholars out there (I know some of you are reading this!):
To be continued!
Repeating: This material has never been seen online before, anywhere.
I’ll continue sharing it, as long as the following groundrules are honored.
This serialized essay is ©2013 Stephen R. Bissette. The individual archival images and text pieces are ©1988, 1989 their respective authors and creators.
Note: I have not granted permission for these posts to be shared at Goodreads.com or any other thieving sites that cull blog content from non-participating creators; if this post is appearing anywhere but at the genuine Myrant blog/site (http://srbissette.com), it is stolen and should be immediately shut down and reported.
Some ground rules: Please respect these rules, and please report to me (via comments thread or email — email@example.com) any breaking of these rules.
If all goes well, I’ll do more of this at Myrant; if the virtual archives are robbed, so to speak, this will be the last and only time I get into these kinds of archival materials at Myrant.
1. Post links to the relevant Myrant posts; please do NOT lift the graphics to place them on your own blog, journal or website.
2. Please do NOT lift these posts, and my text, verbatim and place them on your blog, journal, flicker pages or whatever.
3. Please note all copyright notices at the end of each post, and respect them. I do not own this copyright material, nor do I claim to; I am sharing it here (with correct copyright ownership noted) to share this material with fans, scholars and researchers.
4. If there are any problems, I’ll just tear this all down and abandon the project.
PS: I have removed subscription info from all images/text; the WaP! address is no longer active, subscriptions/copies are obviously no longer available (and no, I don’t know where/how you can find copies, sorry).
Let’s see where this goes. Thanks!
For those who want to read and/or know more:
An earlier, in-depth Myrant serialized essay detailing where Taboo came from — which covers in excrutiating detail the events framing and following this 1986-87 DC Comics standards and practices and ratings hubbub — is instantly at your fingertips by clicking the links below. It might answer many questions about what happened next, including the Aardvark/Diamond Comics controversy, WaP!, and what led to the historic Creator’s Summit of November 1988.
- SpiderBaby Archives: Taboo Origins, Part 1 (which covers Dave Sim‘s experimental offering to creators he cherry-picked, and details the events of 1985-1986);
- Taboo Origins Part 2 (horror comics and the birth pangs of Taboo 1, 1985-86);
- Taboo Origins Part 3 (1st draft, the Taboo Manifesto);
- Taboo Origins Part 4 (the Taboo Manifesto);
- Taboo Origins Part 5 — here’s some meat & potatoes concerning the pivotal 1985 Mid Ohio Comics Convention, my meeting Frank Miller, and my departure from Swamp Thing and DC Comics;
- (and this followup post on why I didn’t meet Frank in 1977 — I was to busy heading off to the movies!);
- Taboo Origins Part 6 — “The Learning Curve; Or, How the System Worked, and How It Didn’t” — discussing the events of 1986-87, including Dave Sim‘s battle with Diamond Comics Dist., John and I leaving Swamp Thing, and John and Alan beginning work on their incredible Miracleman arc, which you can now read in the greater context of the DC Ratings Debacle of that same time period (I told you a lot was going on, didn’t I?);
- Taboo Origins Part 7 — detailing Dave Sim‘s publishing experiment of 1987 that spawned a new book format ceiling for all comics publishers, as well as what Aardvark One International was meant to be, and what became of it, and why SpiderBaby Comix & Publications was born;
- Taboo Origins Part 8 — the events of 1987-88, with a focus on Dave Sim vs. Diamond Comics Dist. and the shockwaves in the creative community that spawned;
- SpiderBaby Archives: Taboo Origins, Part 9 (Conclusion) — which covers the events the led from Sim vs. Diamond to the first Creator Summits of 1988, and the first-draft ‘Manifesto for Creators’ — which culminated in the November 1988 Scott McCloud “A Bill of Rights for Comics Creators.”
- Finally, here is Scott McCloud’s page on his own website concerning the November 1988 creator summit and his revised draft of the Bill of Rights for Comics Creators.
All WaP! images, content ©1988, 1989 the respective creative contributors and proprietors. All other cover art or comics images © respective year of original publication their original creators and/or proprietors. Original text material ©2013 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved. Permission to link, post pingbacks granted, but please do not quote excessively or post these essays on your own blogs, websites or venues; it’s not yours to play with. NOTE: All images are posted for archival and educational purposes only, under applicable US Fair Use laws.