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Eventually we plan to have a nice long history section here. Yeah, first there were the mini comics in 1984, and there the Slam Bang digest books started up in 1985 and continue to this day. But along that road there were lots of great contributors and awards from fanzines! So we must toot our horn here.

NEWS FLASH: CLICK HERE to see the all new Contributor Mega List,

SEE THE COMPLETE SLAM BANG COVER GALLERY HERE

 
How it began....by Allen Freeman.

Well first I saw an ad in a comic book on a club that was looking for members. It was the first time I'd heard of a fanzine for people interested in reading and collecting and creating comics. The Comic Collectors Newsletter. This was about 1983 I think. Anyway I loved the idea that anyone could create their own original comics and have others read them and comment on them. Mostly this club talked about reading comics. Though there was this one member who I had heard of before, T.M. Maple. I'd seen all the letters he had had printed in the comics and figured this guy could probably write comics as well. I started doing the cover art for some of the newsletters and even made some wrap-around cover mailing sheets and airbrushed color on some of them! I decided to start my publishing empire Fan-Atic Press and start small with a mini-comic or 2 and get my feet wet. The first one I created was about 8 pages and it was called Zippy Stardust and the Beatles from Neptune . This was in 1984. Yeah, a take off of the David Bowie album I liked at the time: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Anyway, I made up a poster for the comic store and handed them out. Then some where I met Jeff Gaither also from KY, and together we did Evil Doll, and maybe one other. Then I started printing up other ceators mini-comics....like one by Willie Peppers, something about man and machines. Then Brad Foster sent me a mini comic making fun of Willie's mini and I printed that one.

Anyway, one thing lead to another and I then saw a fanzine by Kevin Collier about small press comics. This was exciting as it was like making rock stars of small press publishers. Photos, reviews and more...I loved it! And I wanted to be a rock star! Or at least just have my name mentioned in the newsletter. Anyway, I thought to get my name in the newsletter I should have something important to put out. So while I was typing up the press release I came to the part where I needed a name for the anthology digest I was hyping and I just typed SLAM BANG without missing a beat. I never considered any other name. I also never had heard of a comic with this name and it sounded like a cool name to have lots of different comics all thrown together in one publication.
See all the covers to Slam Bang HERE

"I needed a name for the anthology digest I was hyping and I just typed SLAM BANG"

 
NEWS FLASH: CLICK HERE to see the all new Contributor Mega List,
soon to include everyone that has ever contributed to Slam Bang (1984-2007)
or the Slam Bang Yearbook (1989).

So I mentioned the comic Slam Bang and some contributors started sending me some great art and comic strips. Since I didn't really know what I was doing, or the direction of the comic yet I pretty much used whatever came in. I did remember that I asked Jeff Gaither to do up a design for the contents page which he did. I wanted to do the cover and looking back it's not very good but hey, this was to be a showcase for my work...but as you know now I pretty much turned it over to the masses as I liked their work better! Sure I had my moments here and there, and used the centerfolds for showing off some paintings I was doing. But this became a place for me to help other artists get known or seen at least.

Getting back to T.M. Maple, from the Comic Collectors Newsletter...I'd been mailing letters back and forth to T.M. and he had a great character Captain Optimst that he needed an artist for. So I said I'd do it! He kept sending the scripts and I did the first issue. We had it lettered by Susan Dorne, another member of the CCN. I published this first issue in 1985 or 1986 under the Fan-Atic Press logo and printed up a few. I quickly realized I didn't have the ability to draw a comic book. Of course if I'd keep trying I'd be better at it but I enlisted a great artist, Chuck Haspel, to help me out. On issue #2 I did the rough pencils and Chuck inked them. Pretty much redrawing most of it so he became the penciler on future issues with me laying out the book, inking it etc...


There were 5 issues published between 1986 and 1989. Captain Optimst was a crazy superhero with the power to make people more optimistic of course. He had an opti-car, opti-phone, etc, that could talk to him and help him out. Well, you'd just have to read them. (I'll have to reprint them someday for that to happen.) Anyway the good news is that Chuck Hapel is working on a 6th issue that will most likely be #1 of a new series of Cap in a full color comic. More about this later....

OK, back to Slam Bang....I'm getting tons of mail everyday, submissions, comics, free stuff. This was a blast. I put out Slam Bang about every 3 months, pretty much depending on how many comic pages I had. I'd send all the contributors a free copy and eventually I had over 200 subscribers and a lot of regular customers as well. So about 1988 or so I started getting the real rave reviews in the small press publications. Tim Corrigan put out The Small Press Comic Explosion about this time and then the small press craze really took off. His mag was in all the comic stores! Now lots of people wanted to create their own comics!

Around 1986 I heard that a lot of small press people were planning to attend the Chicago Comic Con. I was all set to go and finally meet the people who I'd been reading about and creators I'd been publishing! But it was not to be as I had a schedule conflict and had to wait until 1987. So that was a long year to wait but I finally got a friend of mine, Todd Ritter, to go with me and get a room at the hotel where the comic con was to be held. It was very exvciting and I'll never forget it! Todd had been helping me put some of the issue together at this time I believe (my first employee, though he never got paid and had no benefits other than a free copy of the books, etc...) and we put books out on the huge small press table. Yeah, they had one room off to the side with all the small press books on one huge table. We took turns manning the table! Now if that isn't a comic community event I don't know what is. I remember meeting Mark Martin at this con. He didn't say much and left early but it was cool to meet the first of the creators in Slam Bang! I remember my turn to run the table and someone came up to the table and asked if I was Allen. I said yes. Must of had one of the covers of the comic printed on my t-shirt or something. He asked if I'd sign his comics. And sure enough he had about 6 of the books I'd been doing covers for some very small publishers. I was knocked out! A fan! All this time I'd been doing covers for indy comics, and tons of mini comics and digests....pretty much anyone that asked me for a cover got one. Rarely I even did some short comics for inside their books but mostly a one page pin-up or something. Anyway, I loved it as I'd been in advertising since 1978 but doing the covers for these guys was way more fun as I could do anything I wanted!

I eventually attended the Chicago Comic Con 1987-1992 with the boom of the small press attendance at the start of this period and declining as the years went by. 1988 was a great time and about equal to the 1987 year. I was on the panel that year and it was filmed by Matt Feazell and in 2005 I put it on DVD wih a commentary from me and Wade Busby who was also on that panel that year.

Anyway, I continued putting out Slam Bang and getting tons of great submissions but was running out of time as my commercial art studio was getting busy. Chuck Haspe,l a designer and Todd Ritter, who was about to start college jumped in and helped me keep assembling the issues and from the years 1990-1992 Slam Bang was coming out just about every month! There were 33 issues in the first run of the title. There were no issues from 1993-2002, but in 2003 I brought back the title, thus the vol II series where I put out 7 more issues. Then in 2006 I put out the largest issue of Slam Bang ever by far! Slam Bang #1 vol III was 200 digest pages from 50 contributors!

And now in 2007 I'm about to put out Slam Bang #2 vol III with another 200 page issue! Wow!

Oh, and in 2006 I put out some other comics as I want to bring Fan-Atic Press to a larger audience.

For more info or questions: EMAIL ME.

---Allen Freeman
San Diego, CA
2/21/2007 (updates: 11/12/2010)

 

 

 

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