There’s perhaps no better historian on American comics fandom than Bill Schelly. Having been a part of the zine scene in the 1960s and early 1970s, and starting when he was a teenager, Schelly worked with many of the movers and shakers within the fan community and published several fanzines of his own. In the early 1990s he returned to comics as a chronicler and as a historian, writing various overviews of comic fandom, and then later making his mark as a comics biographer, covering the lives of such creators as Joe Kubert, Otto Binder, John Stanley, and Harvey Kurtzman, the latter biography earning him a 2016 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. On this interview episode, Derek talks with Bill about his new book, Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom – the Whole Story, and his decisions to revise and expand this memoir from its original 2001 version released through TwoMorrows Publishing. This new edition of Sense of Wonder, published by North Atlantic Books, is significantly expanded, covers Schelly’s entire life up until now, and is written with a much more personal, and revealing, tone than the original. Bill discusses in detail his history in comics fandom and his growth as an editor and writer, as well as the personal milestones that have marked his life.
Andy and Derek are pleased to have as a guest on their show Bill Schelly. A new edition of his book, Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary, was released earlier this month from North Atlantic Books. The guys talk with Bill about the legendary writer’s work on the Captain Marvel and the Marvel family, his impressive run on Superman titles, and his role in the early science fiction pulps (mostly under the name he used when collaborating with his brother, Earl, Eando Binder). As they point out in the conversation, there are facets to Binder’s life that are overshadowed by his work on The Big Red Cheese, and Bill’s book thoroughly chronicles the sides of Otto Binder that you may not have known. Examples of this would include Binder’s work at EC Comics, his writing for Jim Warren’s Creepy, his close ties to comics fandom, his attempts at becoming science magazine publisher, and his later-life research on UFOs. They also discuss the darker aspects of Binder’s life and the challenges he faced in his last decade. In addition to their discussion of the new Otto Binder book, the Two Guys also talk with Bill about his other works, including last year’s biography of Harvey Kurtzman, his research on Joe Kubert, his upcoming book on John Stanley, and his histories of comics fandom. The guys come away from their conversation arguing that Bill Schelly’s research is indispensable to comics scholars and that he continues to provide detailed and highly readable, almost novel-like, chronicles of the medium.