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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
Realm #4
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Only Printing / July 1971 / 40 pages / A. Edward Romero
I don't own any of the first three issues of Realm, so I can't really say how much Realm #4 was an improvement over previous efforts. However, the letters page in this issue would seem to indicate that the third issue was an improvement over the second, and based on Artie Romero's description of the first issue ("unnoticed by almost everyone, a little ditto fanzine") I would presume it was the least accomplished of all the issues.

Realm #4 includes two pure comic stories, one being an ambitious 10-page sci-fi allegory by Darrel Anderson and the other a two-page snippet of humor by future comics legend Brian Bolland (a very early example of Bolland's comic art produced while he was still in art school). Anderson's "From the Inside" is a well-crafted parable with highly stylized, boldy contrasted artwork.

There are two fictional short stories, one by Chiquita Korabaski and the other by Jeffery May. Korabaski's tale is a lighthearted sci-fi story almost entirely built on dialogue, much of it playfully burlesque. It was reprinted from the fanzine Mithras #10. May's story, "Dark Beginning," is a nicely written sword and sorcery epic efficiently compressed into a six-page story.

Doug Potter is featured in a four-page portfolio; his work is pretty good, though he hasn't mastered every aspect of anatomy and it shows when he draws nude fairies. Still, some nice inkwork and his art certainly outclasses many people who managed to get into print in underground comics.

Realm #4 closes with an intriguing article reprinted from the prozine Aramco Illustrated. It's an article about a comic-book publisher in Beirut, Lebanon that translated American comic books in Arabic, published over 2 1/2 million books a year and distributed them to 17 countries in the Middle East. The short article, which features fascinating examples of Arabic publications, provides interesting insights on the many challenges that the publisher overcame to achieve their success.

The irony behind the Arabic comics article is that it was a last-minute replacement for a Berni Wrightson checklist that Romero could not get approved/confirmed by Wrightson before the press deadline for Realm #4. In retrospect, the article proved to elicit a lot of positive reader commentary and gave greater exposure to an obscure area of the comic-book industry.

Realm #4 is a well-produced fanzine with a nice balance of comic artwork and text, for which editor Artie Romero should be given due credit.
I don't know the exact number of copies that were printed of this fanzine, but I bet there are collectors out there who do, and Artie Romero could doubtlessly provide the number. I believe the it would be 1,500 copies or less. It has not been reprinted.

Realm #4 was mailed in a custom envelope with an illustration by Michael Kaluta, which I do not have. It also included a 4-page advertising supplement that was inserted in the fanzine and featured an illustration by John Buscema, which I also do not have.
Artie Edward Romero - editor, 2
Darrel Anderson - 1, 5-14, 24 (spot illustration)
Vaughn Bodé - 3 (spot illustration)
Bill Black - 4 (art)
Chiquita Korabaski - 15-18 (story)
Ben Katchor - 15 (spot illustration), 17 (spot illustration)
Doug Potter - 19-22
Joe Jenkins - 23 (spot illustration)
Carl Gafford - 23 (spot illustration)
Alan Weiss - 24 (spot illustration)
Brian Bolland - 25-26
Jeffery May - 27-33 (story)
John Cornell - 27 (spot illustration), 33 (spot illustration), 40
Brian Hoye - 34-39 (article)