Amazing Heroes #85 (December 15, 1985). Cover art by Alan Davis.
|Editor||Michael Catron (founding editor)|
Kim Thompson (1981–1992)
|Categories||comic books news and criticism|
|Frequency||varied between monthly and biweekly|
|First issue||June 1981|
204 (plus a number of special issues and annuals)
|Based in||Stamford, Connecticut (1981–1984)|
Greater Los Angeles, California (1984–1989)
Seattle, Washington (1989–1992)
Amazing Heroes was a magazine about the comic book medium published by American company Fantagraphics Books from 1981 to 1992. Unlike its companion title, The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes was a hobbyist magazine rather than an analytical journal.
Fantagraphics decided to publish Amazing Heroes as another income stream to supplement The Comics Journal. As long-time Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson put it, "If you want to look at it cynically, we set out to steal The Comic Reader's cheese. Which we did."
Amazing Heroes' first editor was Fantagraphics' head of promotion and circulation, Michael Catron. His inability to meet deadlines led to his being replaced after issue #6 by Comics Journal editor Kim Thompson.
The magazine was initially published under the Fantagraphics imprint Zam, Inc., through issue #6. Beginning with #7, the publishing imprint became Redbeard, Inc. It remained under Redbeard through at least issue #61, but by issue #68 was being published directly by Fantagraphics Books, Inc.
The magazine began as a monthly, then appeared twice a month for many years, and then went monthly again beginning in 1989. The magazine ran for 204 issues, folding with its July 1992 issue. It also released a number of special issues. The final issue was released as a double number, Issue 203/204.
In February 1993, Fantagraphics announced that the publisher Personality Comics had bought the rights to Amazing Heroes, and planned to revive the magazine. Nothing came of it, however, as Personality itself folded later that year.
Format and content
Amazing Heroes' first 13 issues were magazine-sized, while the rest were comic book-sized.
The regular content included industry news, comics creator interviews, histories of comic book characters and reviews. Features included Hero Histories of various characters/features, previews of upcoming series, and letters page. Other regular features were a column called "Doc's Bookshelf" by Dwight Decker (which ran from 1987–1989), and a question-and-answer feature called "Information Center", which ran from 1986–1989.
There were regular special editions for previews of upcoming comics, and "swimsuit editions" in which various comics artists drew pin-ups of characters in bikinis and similar beach apparel. The Amazing Heroes Preview Special appeared twice a year (beginning with the Summer 1985 issue), presenting previews of all comics slated to appear over the next six months. These were extra-sized issues, and were often square-bound. Many issues of the AHPS also contained joke entries. The editors fluctuated between publishing these as separately numbered specials and special issues of the regular series itself.
The Amazing Heroes Swimsuit Special debuted with a June 1990 edition.
The Jack Kirby Award
From 1985 to 1987, the magazine presented The Jack Kirby Award for achievement in comic books, voted on by comic-book professionals and managed by Amazing Heroes managing editor Dave Olbrich. After a dispute in 1987 over who owned them, the Kirby Awards were discontinued. Starting in 1988, the Kirby Award was discontinued and two new awards were created: the Eisner Award, managed by Olbrich, and the Fantagraphics-managed Harvey Award.
Amazing Heroes won the U.K.'s Eagle Award for Favourite Specialist Comics Publication four years in a row, from 1985 to 1988.
- 1985: Eagle Award — Favourite Speciality Comics Publication
- 1986: Eagle Award — Favourite Specialist Comics Publication
- 1987: Eagle Award — Favourite Specialist Comics Publication
- 1988: Eagle Award — Favourite Specialist Comics Publication
- 1992: Compuserve Comics and Animation Forum Award — Best Non-Fiction Work
- "'Everything Was in Season,'": Kim Thompson: "We decided to do a magazine that would cover the mainstream in a more fannish manner."
- "'Everything Was in Season,'" The Comics Journal (DEC. 08, 2016).
- "'Everything Was in Season,'" : Gary Groth: "Mike’s problem was that he was an incredibly meticulous editor and, as a result, incredibly slow. He edited about six issues, several of which were late."
- Amazing Heroes #6, "Editorial", p. 62
- Michigan State University Libraries, Special Collections Division, Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection ("Amazing Bear" to "Amazing Robot").
- Amazing Heroes #6, November 1981, p. 5 indicia
- Amazing Heroes #7, December 1981, p. 5 indicia
- Amazing Heroes #61, December 15, 1984, p. 3 indicia
- Amazing Heroes #60, March 31 "and a half", 1984, p. 3 indicia
- "Newswatch: Amazing Heroes Folding," The Comics Journal #149 (March 1992), p. 22.
- "News Watch: Personality Buys Amazing Heroes," The Comics Journal #156, February 1993, p. 21.
- Olbrich, Dave (December 17, 2008). "The End of the Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards: A Lesson in Honesty". Funny Book Fanatic (Dave Olbrich official blog). Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Newswatch: Kirby Awards End In Controversy", The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), pp. 19-20
- TH. "1984 Eagle Awards announced," The Comics Journal #101 (Aug. 1985).
- Previous Winners: 1986 at the official Eagle Awards website, archived at The Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 22 September 2018.)
- Previous Winners: 1987 at the Eagle Awards website, archived at The Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 22 September 2018.)
- Previous Winners: 1988 at the Eagle Awards website, archived at The Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 22 September 2018.)
- Bethke, Marilyn. "The New Kids on the Block," The Comics Journal #70, January 1982, pp. 110–111.
- Ringgenberg, Steve, editor. The Best of Amazing Heroes #1 (Redbeard, Inc., 1982).
- Spurgeon, Tom with Michael Dean. "'Everything Was in Season': Fantagraphics from 1978–1984: Amazing Heroes," The Comics Journal (DEC. 08, 2016).