Bhob Stewart

(November 12, 1937 — February 24, 2014)

Robert Marion Stewart was a writer, artist, illustrator, editor, educator, and blogger devoted to comic art, film, and other aspects of popular culture. His earliest fanzines were published under the name "Bobby Stewart," but he adopted the fannish 'h" around 1958 in part to distinguish himself from California fan Boob Stewart.

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Stewart was living in Kirbyville Texas, when he published The EC Fan Bulletin in 1953, one of the first fanzines relating to comic books. He remained associated with EC Comics for the duration of his active life, writing essays and introductions for reprints, conducting interviews with the original creators, and granting interviews to a new generation of historians.

During his years of vigorous fanac, he contributed illustrations and articles to many fanzines including (in rough chronological order), Zip, Fansciful, Void, Cosmic Frontier, Potrzebie, Fractional Rotator, Image, Habakkuk, Aviary, Axe, Comic Art, Groupzine, Talk, and Enclave. Stewart was art director of Xero, which was awarded the Hugo, in 1963.

Stewart's fannish contributions abated after 1964 after he took over editorial responsibilities at Castle of Frankenstein and turned his attention to professional activities within the genre. Later fannish ventures included the zines Nuz and Ophemera, and the blog potrzebie.blogspot.com. He was a member of The Cult and the Fanoclasts.

After graduating from Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville, Texas, where he was active in the drama club, Stewart moved to New York City, immersing himself in the vibrant subcultures of science fiction fandom, experimental performance, and jazz. Taking classes at the Actor’s Studio, he acted in plays and films by LeRoi Jones, Andy Warhol, and Joe Marzano. He produced his own experimental film, The Year the Universe Lost the Pennant, in 1961 and performed with it for two years.

He was a regular cartoonist for the satirical journal The Realist, and contributed illustrations to the Village Voice, Venture, Cavalier, and other periodicals. Stewart coined the term “underground comics” in 1966 and was active in that subculture as well, contributing illustrations to Roxy Funnies, and penning an underground pastiche, Tales from the Fridge (1973). In 1969 he took over from Vaughn Bode as the editor of Gothic Blimp Works, a comic offshoot of The East Village Other. That same year he coordinated the first exhibition of underground comics, at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.

From 1967 to 1970, Stewart worked as an editor at Topps Chewing Gum as part of the creative team that developed Wacky Packages and other humorous novelties; he continued to develop ideas for Topps until his last months. While at Topps, Stewart also worked as an assistant to comic artist Wallace Wood and scripted stories for Ghostly Tales, Creepy, Eerie, and other comics. From 1989 to 1996, he worked in the special projects department at DC Comics, and wrote a style guide for contributors to Mad magazine.

Stewart contributed widely to mainstream and countercultural magazines throughout his career, both as a writer and editor, and as a consultant on layout and graphic design. From 1963 to 1967, he was a staff editor at TV Guide, writing capsule reviews for movies shown on television; during his off hours he worked with Calvin T. Beck to produce the magazine Castle of Frankenstein, which offered in-depth analyses of classic horror films, an association that lasted until the last issue was published in 1975. He was a regular contributor to Algol, The Comics Journal, Heavy Metal, and other publications. From 1984 until his death, he wrote brief reviews for Publishers Weekly. Among the books he wrote or edited are The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook (1968), The EC Horror Library of the 1950s (1971), The Fabulous Fondas: Henry, Jane and Peter (1976), Scream Queens (1978), and Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (2003).

Ever generous with his expertise and his enthusiasms, Stewart fostered several generations of artists and illustrators, both informally and in his capacity as an instructor at New England School of Art and Design in Boston, where he taught from 1970 to 1984, with a stint from 1988 to 1989 at the School of Visual Arts in New York. During his last years, he devoted much of his time to his blog, Potzrebie, and to Wikipedia, to which he contributed over 1,000 entries.

fan