BU: Well, to say that Dan is a walking billboard and encyclopedia of information on everything comics may be a slight UNDER exaggeration. I spoke with Dan at length and could have easily kept talking for another hour or two…without any repetition in his informative dialogue with me. So, without further ado, please, let me warmly and enthusiastically invite you into the World of DANIEL HOWARD FOGEL.
BU: OK, Dan, you’re no stranger to interviews, so why don’t you brief me (Boy, did I learn there is nothing brief about Dan) on yourself. How you got started, your loves, your dislikes, etc.?
Dan Fogel (DF): Primarily, I’m a comic book publisher, writer, collector, retailer, and professional historian, focusing on the past century or so. That covers the gamut from the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Ages to the present. I pretty much cover the range of selling comic books, toys, posters, original art, trading cards, patches, pins, LPs, etc. Just about anything in our sphere of collecting I’ve learned and dealt with and studied over the years. Then I kind of evolved from the Mainstream into the Underground Comix and Counterculture sides of that as well.
BU: So, how did this all start?
DAN: Well, my older brother used to watch the old BATMAN show, and of course, I watched it as well. In fact, one of the very first words I ever spoke was “BATMAN”. (OK, that must be some sort of record or something…and it sure beats my “Birdie” at 9 months old).
BU: Wow. So, that is definitely a sure sign that there will be comics in your future, yes?
DAN: * Laughs. That would be fairly accurate.
BU: OK, so you watch Batman and one of your first words in fact WAS BATMAN…what’s next?
DAN: Well, I learned to read by picking up comic books. (*sheesh…I am beginning to wonder if Dan himself IS a comic book character).
BU: OK, what’s your first real step into the world of collecting? Officially.
DAN: Well, as soon as I could, I began buying comics at drug and convenience stores and even some smoke shops that carried them. By 1975 I went to my first convention and discovered comic book stores at age 10. By 6th grade, when I was 12, I began buying low and selling higher to my friends at school.
BU: SO not surprised by this. You really started young with a penchant! What do you attribute this to?
DAN: Well, in 1968 when I first got into the comic books themselves, I had already been indoctrinated in the characters by the many syndicated and Saturday Morning cartoons and of course by Adam West and Burt Ward. I started with Superman and Batman titles on the DC side and Thor, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man from Marvel.
It was a very exciting time to start. Jack Kirby was at his peak and Neal Adams and Steranko hit the medium like a hurricane with revolutionary visuals. From there, in 1981, I began selling at comic conventions, and running them in 1983. When I went off to UC Berkeley I was hired by pioneering retailer Robert Beerbohm to work in his Telegraph Avenue store Best of Two Worlds and eventually became his marketing guy for the chain. I started selling at San Diego Comic-Con and became a Special Adviser for Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide. Soon after that I met my girlfriend at a Comic Con! (really?)
BU: So, what about your publishing background?
DF: Well, by the early Nineties I was writing and editing the Cherry line of Adult comics for creator Larry Welz, which was the best-selling Underground comic line at the time. By the end of the decade we began publishing ourselves and from that I branched out into publishing other artists and writers, both new material and classic reprints. I focused on top talent from the Sixties like Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, and Spain Rodriguez, but also cutting-edge stuff by current talent like Kieron Dwyer and Rick Remender. In 2006 I released my first Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide, which filled a huge need in covering the Adult, Independent, creator-owned and uncensored part of the market, as Jay Kennedy’s seminal Guide had been out of print for a quarter-century by then.
BU: Is there anything you DON’T DO?
DF: Well, although I have a little training I don’t draw very well….
BU: I know we could (and will!) go on and on. You are a veritable walking encyclopedia of information on the comic world. Would you be interested in continuing this conversation with me?
DF: Most definitely.
BU: WHOO HOO! I know this will just get better and better!
*Watch for more about Dan in upcoming newsletters! You can reach him at www.hippycomix.com