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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Realm #5
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1st Printing / October 1972 / 60 pages / Ed Romero
The fifth issue of Realm was the last one that fit the definition of a fanzine, as the sixth and seventh issues were both comic books. Realm #5 is a robust fanzine (60 pages) and delivers every type of content that a fanzine typically provides. The chief weakness is that the cover was printed on cheap, uncoated stock, which is a detriment to both the artwork and the durability of the cover. While cheap printing is another hallmark of most fanzines, I wouldn't have expected it from Artie Romero in 1972.

The fanzine gets started with a non-Disney authorized Donald Duck comic by Gary Brown and Doug Potter, "The Rainmaker," which is based on the song of the same name by Harry Nilsson and Bill Martin. The story follows Donald as he arrives in a hot, dust bowl town in Kansas and offers to conjure up some much-needed rain, for a price. Donald succeeds as a rainmaker, but when the town leader (banker, mayor?) refuses to pay him for his services, Donald knows how to make them pay in another way. The story is decently illustrated but ultimately a bit unfulfilling.

After an interview with Ray Bradbury that was reprinted from the L.A. Free Press and a four-page letters section, Jeffrey May provides "The Guardian," the longest fiction story Realm ever published. It's a medieval fantasy about Vanar, a man on the run from authorities and subject to a rich bounty, and Zymah, a young woman who is also hoping to avoid capture by those who would enslave her. They meet while Vanar is trying to escape authorities and their relationship soon blossoms, even though they are both under constant threat from enemies.

Vanar takes up residence in Zymah's humble home, where a seven-foot wax statue with a powerful, magical aura watches over them. Vanar later learns the statue is known as a Guardian, and it has much more relevance to Zymah's past than she realizes. In the end, when their enemies get the upper hand and Vanar and Zymah appear doomed, the Guardian proves to be much more than just mythological fabrication.

"The Guardian" is rich with concocted terminology that defines the era, the people and the culture in May's story, which occasionally disrupts the reading but never derails the plotting. "The Guardian" is an enjoyable adventure that overtly foreshadows its climax but still delivers satisfying action when it plays out.

After an amusing two-pager from Romero and a Berni Wrightson checklist, we get a decent eight-page portfolio by Darrel Anderson and brief reviews of other publications by Romero (including Phantasmagoria #2 and Fantagor #2). A few pages later there's a pair of minor Frazetta illustrations and then a pretty good, very short sci-fi story by Jan Strnad, "A Place for Everything."

Realm #5 closes with a nice six-page portfolio of Romero's illustrations, a short interview with Richard Corben at his home in Kansas City, and a few more illustrations by Bill Black and Dave Taylor. Overall, the fifth and final issue of Realm the fanzine is the better of the two issues I possess, and I imagine that plenty of fans bemoaned its conversion into a comic book. But Artie Romero and his Studio had other creative projects they wanted to pursue that were more in tune with the times, namely alternative newspapers with original underground comics.
There are two printings of this fanzine, both by Artie Romero, though the 2nd printing is credited to Everyman Studios. I don't know the exact number of copies that were printed for either printing, but I bet there are collectors out there who do, and Artie Romero could doubtlessly provide the number. I believe the 1st printing would be 1,000 copies or less and the 2nd printing may be about the same number.

The 1st printing has a 75-cent cover price and the front cover art has a blue border. It was also mailed in an envelope, which I do not have. The 2nd printing does not show a cover price, but it does provide a suggested retail price of $1.75 on the inside front cover. The front cover art of the 2nd printing does not have a blue border.

Artie Romero - editor, 14 (spot illustration collaboration), 23-24, 25 (introduction to checklist), 35 (reviews), 37 (photos), 49-54, 55-56 (interview), 57 (editorial), 60 (collaboration)
Darrel Anderson - 1, 3, 27-34, 46
Michael Wm. Kaluta - 2
Vaughn Bode - 3 (spot illustration)
Earl Holmer - 3 (photo)
Doug Potter - 4-8 (collaboration)
Gary Brown - 4-8 (collaboration)
Marc Shapiro 0 9-10 (interview)
Don Punchatz - 10 (spot illustration), 13 (spot illustration)
Dan Adkins - 11 (spot illustration)
Kelly Freas - 12 (spot illustration)
Tim Kirk - 12 (spot illustration)
Alan Weiss - 13 (spot illustration)
Carl Barks - 14 (spot illustration)
Tom Ruth - 14 (spot illustration collaboration)
Roy G. Krenkel - 14 (spot illustration)
Barry Smith - 16, 19 (art), 21-22 (art)
Jeffrey May - 17-22 (story), 44 (article)
Kenneth Smith - 25
Monte Beauchamp - 25-26 (checklist collaboration)
Charles E. Korbas - 25-26 (checklist collaboration)
Jack Gaughan - 26 (spot illustration)
Dave Taylor - 26 (spot illustration), 38-43 (art), 59 (collaboration), 60 (collaboration)
George Proctor - 36 (article)
Herb Arnold - 37 (art), 56
Dick Addison - 38-43 (story)
Frank Frazetta - 45
William Rotsler - 47-48 (art)
Jan Strnad - 47-48 (story)
Richard Corben - 56 (art)
Buddy Saunders - 57 (spot illustration)
John Cornell - 57 (spot illustration)
Bill Black - 58
Gil Kane - 59 (collaboration)
Realm 5 2nd
2nd Printing
$1.75 price on IFC, no blue border.