Marvel's Bullpen Bulletins began back in 1965, with Stan Lee using the page to promote the Marvel name and image, and to give the whole thing the feeling of a cool, exclusive club for those in the know. It started with the inclusion of a checklist on the letters pages, but soon an entire page was devoted to Marvel news, previews and profiles. A major feature of the Bullpen Bulletins page was "Stan's Soapbox", a monthly column in which Stan Lee himself would pen a few words for the Marvel masses. Sometimes he would speak about an upcoming project, other times he would editorialize a bit. And sometimes, there would be a guest writer (as in this example, wherein Roy Thomas fills in).
Reading the new month's "Bullpen Page" was always a highlight of the first books in a new month. I really liked the inclusive, 'part of the gang' feel of the page.
DC followed suit in 1966 with "Direct Currents", which gave news of upcoming titles and teasers for other comics then on the stands. This was more a partial checklist than a news page, and would give brief descriptions of a few current titles (and feature cover illustrations, as well}. Unlike the more personal feel of the Marvel page, "Direct Currents" had the sensibility of a movie theater "Coming attractions" trailer.
Years later, by the later 70's, DC had a full news and feature page of it's own, called "Meanwhile" . This followed more closely Marvel's format of discussing not only the comics, but the creators as well.
Once I'd really gotten bitten by the comics fandom bug, I took the next step and tried this:
Available by subscription, the Comic Reader had articles, comic strips and nice, pro-illustrated covers. This issue's cover shows lets John Byrne give the 'new' X-Men an old treatment (image courtesy of the Grand Comics Database). My favorite feature was the listing of the month's comic titles by company; every title was provided along with a brief description (and frequently a humorous comment or two).
Then there the larger, more in-depth publications, such as Gary Groth's Comics Journal. It had previews, reviews, articles , and interviews aplenty. At times controversial, but always interesting. This issue featured a lengthy article by Harlan Ellison. It also featured the pictured ad below, which seemed likely to provide some interest: check out the prices for that original art for sale. Yes, I said Original Art...
Finally, in the 80's at my local comic shop, I discovered "Amazing Heroes". This became my favorite fanzine: lighter in tone than the Comics Journal, with the previews, articles and reviews one would look for. It even reprinted, in serial form, Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson's "Star Wars" strip. But the big attraction, for me, were the covers. "Amazing Heroes" regularly sported incredible covers with the best of talent. This issue had one of my favorites- a "jam" style cover of some of the era's Independent comics characters, each drawn by their individual creator.
Another issue had a beautiful cover of Jonny Quest by his illustrator Doug Wildey (and a great set of articles, as well).
Nowadays we can get our information anywhere, at any time, on any subject. We have news sites, fan sites, and we have BAB! But this certainly wasn't always the case, and these pages and publications remind us of the era when you actually had to 'wait for it'. Has the internet, and it's ability to shower us with information, been a good thing for the hobby? Or was there something more special about it when it all wasn't so readily available? Did you have a favorite fan page or fanzine? Your thoughts, please...