Ah, nostalgia! Be it that old cartoon, a favorite toy or a comic book from days gone by, isn’t it great, when out of the blue, the memories come flooding back, and you’ve no choice but to exclaim “Holy Crap! Remember?”
The recent demise of the once-great publication known as Wizard Magazine signaled what may have been the end of comics reporting in any sort of print medium. Wizard was definitely a giant in the field of comics journalism during its heydey, but it was not the only mag on the stands that specialized in comic book news at the time. Nearly a decade before the first issue of Wizard came out, a magazine named Comics Scene was the first strictly comics-centric periodical to grace the shelves of newsstands and grocery stores.
Comics Scene debuted in 1983 and was published by the same company that gave us the beloved genre magazines Starlog and Fangoria. In its thirteen-year existence, the magazine became well-regarded for its well-written reviews, in-depth creator interviews, and overall excellent coverage of the comics industry. Their coverage was not relegated strictly to the Big Two. Several pages of each issue were devoted to creator-owned and independently-published books like Reid Fleming, Cerebus, and Flaming Carrot. They also widened the scope of their subject to include creators of newspaper comic strips and animated TV shows.
Much like its more famous successor, Comics Scene boasted a very enjoyable letters column, in which die-hard comics fans shared their obsessions with each other. Within the letters page were also original cartoons drawn specifically for the magazine that lampooned some of the popular trends in comics at the time. Being a young comics reader at the time, it did my heart good to see that there were others out there who shared my high regard for the medium.
Near the tail end of the eighties and in response to the success of Tim Burton’s Batman, Comics Scene began to cover current and upcoming film and TV adaptations of comic properties, but it didn’t devote itself entirely to this trend. The back pages of each issue listed several comic properties rumored to be in-development in what looked like an early version of the Internet Movie Database. Much like with IMDB, many of the rumored films and programs listed in this section never came to fruition. Comics Scene was inevitably cancelled in 1996, leaving Wizard the undisputed king of comics-related periodicals. While Wizard was a very enjoyable magazine for most of its existence, I honestly preferred its predecessor’s penchant for substance over style, which hearkened back to a simpler time when comics weren’t solely considered vehicles for Hollywood franchises.
Back issues of Comics Scene can be aquired online and may be found at comic shops, flea markets, or any other outlet for old magazines. While the information found in a given issue is not exactly timely, any ardent comics fan is sure to find something in it that will interest them and perhaps turn them on to an old book or creator that previously may not have been on their radar. If anything, leafing through an old issue of Comics Scene will take the reader back to that pre-Internet era when information about the things we love wasn’t always instantly at our fingertips and made it seem like we were part of a more insular world than fandom is considered today.