The O’Neil Observer #5

A book review article by: Jason Sacks
It’s great to see an old-school fanzine. Print fanzines are a lost art in this age of message boards, blogs and email. The O’Neil Observer is a neat old-school fanzine, a mix of articles, fiction and comics. Like most zines it’s a mixed bag, but there’s a lot more good than bad content in this zine.

As you might imagine from a zine called the O’Neil Observer, the main focus of the zine is the life and career of famed comics writer Denny O’Neil, best known for his work on such comics as The Question, Azrael, Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow and many other titles. GL/GA is in fact the focus of this issue, and the articles and interviews devoted to the series are the best pieces in the zine. John Wells’s “Green Lantern/Green Arrow By the Numbers” is a terrific analysis of the sales of the GL/GA series, and answers many long-running questions I had about DC in the late 1960s. Bob Brodsky’s interview with O’Neil about the series is also a standout. Thirty-five years after GL/GA first came out, O’Neil obviously feels free to share his honest opinions about the series, and it’s a joy to get a fresh perspective on the series after all these years.

Other featured pieces in the issue are Scott McCullar’s exhaustive analysis of the best appearances of Green Arrow, and Lou Mougin’s look at Green Arrow’s solo ‘70s stories. I might have enjoyed a bit more opinion to go with Mougin’s recitation of facts, but considering the amount of ground he covers, Mougin’s approach makes sense. There are also shorter opinion pieces, an quickie interview with Steve Englehart, even a hilarious reprinting of an old letter’s page from an issue of Action Comics, complete with editor Mort Wiesenger’s rather nasty replies. Mort was no creampuff, that’s for sure!

The only pieces I really didn’t enjoy in this issue were the bits of fiction in the back. Each felt somehow out of place in a zine such as this. The Marvel Family piece was light and charming, but it’s always jarring to read print fiction about characters who ordinarily appear in comics. A comic strip in the back of the issue, a virtual reality Green Lantern/Green Arrow piece, is cute, but I kept feeling like there was a joke that I didn’t quite get.

Even with those small complaints, this is a terrific fanzine. At $5 postpaid for 44 pages, it’s well priced, and it’s wonderful to see an actual print fanzine! Copies can be ordered from:
Bob Brodsky
33 E. Normandy Drive
West Hartford, CT 06107

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