More bad news: Jerry Bails passed away last week. (How I didn’t hear about this until today, I don’t know.)
Dr. Jerry Bails was perhaps the single individual most responsible for there being a comic book fandom. In the early 1960s, he seemed to be the glue which held together the nascent fandom, in the days when DC was still re-launching many of its golden age characters, and Marvel was so much the new kid on the block that it seemed to be viewed with an innate skepticism by long-time fans. He founded the first comic book fanzine, Alter Ego in 1961, and founded the first comics APA, CAPA-Alpha, in 1964. (I was a member of K-a – as it’s abbreviated – for a year or two in the early 1990s.)
The debt both fans and pros of comic books owe to Bails is probably incalculable, due (if nothing else) to the sheer number of comics fans who became comics pros in the 60s and 70s due to being active in fandom, fanzines, and APAs. While fandom might have formed later without Bails’ efforts, the fact is that he did what he did when he did it, and he gets to claim the credit for those things.
- The Comics Reporter profiles Jerry Bails.
- Mark Evanier eulogizes Bails.
- Fannish historian Bill Schelly chronicles the birth of Alter-Ego. Schelly’s book, The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject, and you can order it direct from Schelly.