Alan L. Light
Light in 1975.
Born (1953-09-15) September 15, 1953 (age 70)
Illinois, U.S.
Area(s)Publisher, Editor
Notable works
Comics Buyer's Guide
DynaPubs Enterprises
Film Collector's World
AwardsInkpot Award, 1975[1]

Alan L. Light (b. September 15, 1953)[2] is a publisher involved in comics and pop culture fandom. He is best known as the founder of The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom (later known as the Comics Buyer's Guide), which was the longest-running English-language periodical reporting on the American comic book industry.

Publishing ventures

Light grew up in the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa; his first foray into publishing was as a 16-year-old when he produced the comics fanzine All Dynamic Magazine.

The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom

As a 17-year-old in February 1971, Light founded The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom (TBG) as a tabloid-format monthly newspaper. Run out of Light's parents' basement in East Moline, Illinois, TBG began primarily as an advertising venue – known in comics fandom as an "adzine", i.e. a fanzine devoted to ads.[3]

TBG's frequency was soon changed to twice-monthly, and prominent fans Don and Maggie Thompson began a monthly column, "Beautiful Balloons." The Thompsons administered the Goethe Awards, which originated with their fanzine Newfangles and then shared close ties with TBG.[4][5] (Perhaps not coincidentally, TBG was given the Goethe Award for Favorite Fanzine in 1972.)[6]

A news column, "What Now?" by Murray Bishoff, was added with issue #26; the Thompsons' and Bishoff's columns provided the editorial content required by the United States Postal Service to qualify for second class mail (along with paid subscriptions being instituted).[7] TBG went weekly in July 1975.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Light "recorded all of the panels and speeches" at the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con "and put together highlights for a limited-edition 12-inch LP record that also featured an interview with Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel."[8] (Light was given an Inkpot Award at the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con.)

Besides Bishoff and the Thompsons, other columnists and contributors to TBG included Martin L. Greim, Shel Dorf, Peter David, Tony Isabella, Catherine Yronwode, and Heidi MacDonald;[9] as well as cartoonists such as Marc Hansen, Dan Vebber, Fred Hembeck, Mark Martin, and Batton Lash.

By 1976, Light had moved The Buyer's Guide headquarters to Rapids City, Illinois.

Light sold The Buyer's Guide to Krause Publications in 1983,[10] having published 481 issues. Kraus rechristened the publication The Comics Buyer's Guide and continued it until 2013; altogether the journal published 1,699 issues.[9]

DynaPubs Enterprises

Concurrently with publishing TBG, Light founded DynaPubs Enterprises, whose main business was publishing black-and-white reprints of material from the Golden Age of Comic Books. Flashback featured reprints of Golden Age superhero comics; DynaPubs longest-running series was Vintage Funnies, which published 85 issues (it had been preceded by Golden Funnies). Light operated DynaPubs from 1971 to 1976.

DynaPubs Titles published

Film Collector's World

In 1976, Light added another tabloid to his publishing roster: Film Collector's World (FCW), which was at first edited by Don and Maggie Thompson, and later by Rick Best. FCW featured, among other items, the Thompsons' regular column, "View from a Darkened Room."

Krause Publications bought Film Collector's World along with The Buyer's Guide in 1983; FCW was rechristened Movie Collector's World.[11] Much later, the magazine was acquired by, and absorbed into, Classic Images.[citation needed]

Feud with Gary Groth

Gary Groth, publisher of The Nostalgia Journal (later renamed The Comics Journal), initiated a long-running feud with Light in 1976. (This came after Light allegedly offered to buy the competing Nostalgia Journal for $12,000 in 1975.)[12] Groth's first editorial in The New Nostalgia Journal, in issue #27 (July 1976),[13] called out Light for what Groth claimed were his "expedient" business practices,[14] and the accusations continued for a number of years afterward.[15][9]

Groth and Light, both teenage fanzine publishers at the time, had been friends before Light published the final issue of Groth's comics fanzine, Fantastic Fanzine. Ron Frantz's history of the WE Seal of approval program (WSA),[16] Fandom: Confidential, outlines Groth's confrontations with Light at conventions and via late-night collect calls. Light in turn cashed a check for a Comics Journal advertisement that he refused to print. Groth acquired a copy of the WSA mailing list, and without authorization, used it to solicit subscriptions; Groth later apologized for what he claimed was a misunderstanding,[17] and soon after broke ties with WSA.

In 1983, when Light sold The Buyer's Guide, a Groth editorial denounced Light, calling him "fandom's first real business predator. His career of hustling is a monument to selfish opportunism and spiritual squalor."[18] As a result, Light filed a libel suit against Groth, claiming that he had damaged Light's reputation;[19][20] the suit was eventually dropped.[21][22][9]

Later activities

Light's sales of his publications to Kraus in 1983 enabled him to pursue his interest in photographing film and pop music celebrities.[citation needed] He attended the Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards on a number of occasions.

Light later retired to Iowa City, Iowa.


For his work promoting comics fandom, Light was given an Inkpot Award at the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con.

Further reading



  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ Light entry, Grand Comics Database. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  3. ^ Frantz 2000, p. 53.
  4. ^ Miller, John Jackson. "Comics Buyer's Guide: A Look Back: Launched as The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom, how a publication started by a teenager ran for nearly 1,700 issues," Comichron. Accessed Jan. 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Thompson, Maggie. "Comics Fan Awards 1961-1970" Comics Buyer's Guide (August 19, 2005). Archived September 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Miller, John Jackson. "GOETHE/COMIC FAN ART AWARD WINNERS, 1971-74," Comics Buyer's Guide (July 19, 2005). Archived September 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Groth, Gary. "Editorial", Archived 2010-05-31 at the Wayback Machine Nostalgia Journal #27 (July 1976).
  8. ^ Brown, Tracy; Lewis, David; Phillips, Jevon; and Woerner, Meredith. "Timeline: Downey Jr. dances, Arnold surprises, Spider-Man rushes the stage: Every year of Comic-Con in one giant timeline," Los Angeles Times (July 8, 2015).
  9. ^ a b c d MacDonald, Heidi. "RIP: Comics Buyer’s Guide (1971-2013)," The Beat (Jan. 9, 2013).
  10. ^ "Light Sells Buyer's Guide to Krause Publications", The Comics Journal #80 (March 1983), p. 22.
  11. ^ "In Memoriam: Chet Krause," Scoop (June 2016).
  12. ^ Williams, Joe Bob. "Alan Light Offered $12,000 for TNJ!", The Nostalgia Journal #14 (Sept. 1975), p. 3.
  13. ^ Groth, Gary. "Editorial,", The Nostalgia Journal #27 (July 1976).
  14. ^ Light had "[taken] over the publishing chores of Fantastic Fanzine Special II, the last issue of FF I edited" - Groth, ibid
  15. ^ Maheras, Russ. "The Comics Journal #32, Jan. 1977", The Comics Journal Message Board (Feb. 9, 2007): "The earliest issues focused on a clash between Groth and Alan Light, publisher of competing adzine The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom."
  16. ^ Frantz 2000, p. 128–173.
  17. ^ Frantz 2000, p. 149.
  18. ^ Groth, Gary. "Editorial," The Comics Journal #181 (May 1983).
  19. ^ United Press International. "Two competing comic book collectors are entangled in litigation,...", UPI Archives (Mar. 2, 1984).
  20. ^ "Alan Light Sues Gary Groth and Comics Journal for Libel," The Comics Journal #89 (May 1984), p. 13.
  21. ^ Frantz 2000, p. 169, 171.
  22. ^ "Alan Light Drops Libel Suit Against Fantagraphics, Gary Groth," The Comics Journal #112 (Nov. 1986), p. 12.