The items in this collection of my artwork were mostly done after I got back into collecting comics in 1985. Somehow, even though I’d done little drawing since my college days, I managed to improve, probably because I became more patient as an older adult.
The early items are the cover of Comique #9 from 1971, featuring my group The O’Brian Gang, and the two Ogre illustrations. (They were done around 1972, as part of a marketing campaign for my brother Dave’s rock group Ogre.)
CAPA-alpha is an amateur press alliance that put out its first mailing in August 1964, and continues to the present day. I’ve been a member three times: twice back in my original period of fan activity (ca. 1969-1970), and again when I re-entered fandom in the 1990s. Members with art ability are called upon to contribute covers. Here are nearly all of the ones I’ve done for this venerable publication, the last survivor of fandom’s Golden Age.
The Immortal Corpse
Literally my first creative act, when I began publishing fanzines in 1965, was drawing my self-created character The Immortal Corpse for the cover of Super-Heroes Anonymous #1 (February 1965).
The Immortal Corpse stories were probably the only worthwhile things offered in my fanzines before Sense of Wonder, largely because all but the origin story were written by Dick Trageser. Dick was a talented writer who worked alongside my father in the Northern Pacific Railroad offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when I was growing up. He wanted to write professionally, and (in my opinion) had the ability, but never made a concerted effort to make it happen.
Dick Trageser wrote four Immortal Corpse stories, and then I continued the characters with my own stories, and those of others (such as Dave Harrer and Ron Norton, in the fanzine Bombshell). I always handled the spot illustrations. There weren’t Corpse comic strips at the time, because I felt the character’s horrific aspects were most effective in text form, allowing the reader to use his or her imagination.
When I began Hamster Press, and was planning a book reprinting the best amateur strips from the fanzines, I decided that the time had come for me to try creating the first Immortal Corpse graphic story. Partly for sentimental reasons, I adapted Dick’s script for “Skimmer’s at the Museum,” a story he had written for Sense of Wonder #1 (May 1967). I’m not the best artist, especially my inking, but this is about the best I can/could do.
From the time I began working seriously on my art, as a teenager, drawing portraits was always something I did best. I remember selling portraits of the Beatles during the summer of 1964 to kids in the neighborhood. For practice, I sketched movie stars from their photographs, and later, John Dean as he appeared on television during the Watergate hearings. When Bruce Springsteen appeared on the cover of Time and Newsweek the same week, I became a fan and drew him from a small photograph in one of those magazines.
When I became involved in fandom again in the 1990s, I found that I was still able to produce suitable portraits of comics people, such as Jerry Bails as a young man in The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, and as a 70-year-old for the cover of Alter Ego. Because I didn’t feel I had a good enough head shot of Otto Binder for Words of Wonder, I drew him. And, to accompany an interview in Comic Book Marketplace, I sketched a self portrait.
These are drawings done in class, when I was a student at the University of Idaho. Most of my college portfolio was destroyed in an apartment fire in 1972, but these were in another location and survived.
- Adam Strange, Batman, Capt. Marvel, Green Lantern, the Justice Society of America, the Marvel Family, Robin are TM and © copyright DC Comics.
- Thor is TM and © copyright Marvel Characters, Inc.
- The Immortal Corpse and The O’Brian Gang are © copyright by Bill Schelly.
- Madman is TM and © copyright by Michael Allred.
- Alter Ego is a TM of Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas.
- The Crow is TM and © copyright by J. O. Barr
- All artwork in this portfolio is © copyright by Bill Schelly.