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Alan Sissom reviews Heroic: Heroes Past

Alan Sissom, publisher of Collectors Link Fanzine and fellow United Fanzine Organization member, forwarded me his review of Heroic: Heroes Past from the latest UFO newsletter, Tetragrammaton Fragments #265. The USPS hasn’t seen fit to deliver my copy yet, so Alan’s generosity allows me a jump on what hopefully will be arriving any day now.

With Alan’s permission, I reprint below:

Speaking of reprinting stuff in order to keep people reading them, Tom Fellrath has given me a perfect example with his comic book here. It’s a compiled sampler of his past work, and a showcase of the characters he’s co-created all in one.

Okay, but — on the other hand (for me personally, I mean) — here’s yet another comics
creator that can somehow talk others into drawing his stories for him! In the past, I’ve already expressed my envy of Steve Keeter that he can get artists to draw his comics and acknowledge his copyright ownership of those characters — and I recently read that Jim Main was able to do the same thing in past issues of his publications, particularly referring to a character called Kitkat. (I think. But I may have misspelled the name as I don’t have the source material right in front of me at the moment.) In my own experience, every time I myself have tried to get other artists interested in drawing my own creations and have suggested a collaboration, either they’ve tried to co-own the character’s copyrights, or they transform my creation completely into something so different that I no longer recognize it anymore; and then somehow in order to end the deal I always end up being the one trying to draw one of their characters instead! (Therefore, I now only draw someone else’s creations very rarely, and only when it looks to be pure fun without ownership squabbles!) So I’ll have to add Tom Fellrath to the growing list of writers I envy for this knack!

This comic book sampler has a very nice mixture of various artists presented throughout the volume, lots of names I’ve never encountered before — Anthony Gray, Matt Kanaracus, Dale Martin, Scott McClung, Mike Rogers, Donald Tenney, David Tryzenski and Brian Waters. The real prize here, however, is that Tom has collected several of his co-creations from the eighties in order to present them in a “re-” introductory showcase of his heroes, obviously intending (now fifty years later than their original appearances, as he tells us, but it appears to be closer to forty) to continue their stories now that he has come back around to creating fan comics once again.

HEROIC: HEROES PAST is presented as a collection (as Tom phrases it in his introductory letter that was sent with the book’s mailing) of “teenage” Tom’s hero stories. Collected volumes are right up my alley these days, as I usually no longer buy individual comic book issues; instead preferring the entire collections of issues from past comic book faves (you know: packaged as Marvel Masterworks, DC Archives, Essential Marvels, Showcase Presents, and Epic Collections volumes). HEROIC: HEROES PAST is as nice a volume as anyone could expect, and worthy to sit side-by-side with those professional volumes that I’ve mentioned parenthetically above.

Tom’s characters featured are the Accelerator, Hologram, Laser-Disc, The Light, and Patriot. Could Tom be building toward a hero team someday? Well, he’s certainly got a full pantheon with which to do so if he so chooses! Each character gets a nice write up about him or her, the story of their creation, and a reproduction of the cover from the original source from where they originally appeared, ranging from fanzines published throughout 1987 and 1988, according to the dates given. The Light, with artwork by Matt Kanaracus, looks the most amateurish during his first appearance, dated February 1987, but Tom indeed does tell us that this was his earliest effort, and that must have been equally so for Kanaracus, who obviously improved over time as testified by the fact that he did a well-rendered cover for the compilation itself. Heck, we all have to learn as we go!

The Light is the most extensively represented and gets several appearances compared with the others. The Light’s stories improve with the appearance of Anthony Gray handling the pencils within the reprinted material from The Light issues #2 and #3.

Tom amazingly includes every scrap of information or item that he has rediscovered
recently in connection with his characters, even including original scripts and unfinished art to one of the tales intended for the character called Patriot, and details for us his unfulfilled plans for a future tale for The Light that even had a teased introduction in a second epilogue used in The Light #2.

Most of these episodes are “origin stories”. I found it interesting that Tom admitted that the one presenting the creation of Accelerator was pretty much a direct copy of the origin of Doctor Manhattan in Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. But, at least Tom’s being honest about it! Most would — I assume — pretend not to be aware of any pre-existing similarities. So kudos to Tom for that honesty!

At any rate, I had a great experience reading this HEROIC: HEROES PAST compilation, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a charming window into vintage fan-produced comics with the potential of new stories no doubt waiting to appear sometime in the near future. Well done, Tom Fellrath!

Thank you for the kind words, Alan! HEROIC: HEROES PAST represents the best of what I had to offer in the late 1980s, and there certainly is a satisfying feeling to be able to compile everything into a single “omnibus” volume (even at this relatively small size). I’m glad you enjoyed.

You can order HEROIC: HEROES PAST in both digital and hard copy through the “Order” tab at the top of every page on this site.

And for those interested, Alan’s Collectors Link Fanzine is a very good one. His most recent issue on hand is #2 ($6.00 postage paid for a 52-page, digest-sized, photocopy publication — Collectors Link Fanzine, PO Box 842, Greenwood IN 46142 or email: Comics, reviews, interviews and more. CLF is one of the top all-purpose publications in the modern small press marketplace, and you’d be wise to subscribe!

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