Monday, June 22, 2015

Gamut magazine

In the mid-1970s, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, produced four (or possibly five) issues of a comic magazine called Gamut. At the time, the college ran a "Cartooning" course, which was geared towards comic strip and comic book creation. As such, the 'zine primarily featured student works spanning fantasy, superhero, and other more traditional genres--as well as a spattering of horror.

The cover artwork was illustrated by professional artists of the day, including Mike Ploog, Will Eisner, and Bernie Wrightson--all of whom were at one time guest lecturers at the college. I unearthed issue #1 at The Beguiling in Toronto, and have included some of the more interesting aspects below. And, being a huge Wrightson fan, I'm now madly searching for the remaining issues--since it appears as though some rare work of his was reproduced therein (and he contributed the covers for issues #3 & #4).

The first issue was published in 1975, with subsequent issues published annually through 1978 (with a possible fifth issue in 1979). The cover for issue #1 (above) was illustrated by Mike Ploog, who at the time was working for Marvel on such titles as Werewolf By NightFrankensteinMarvel Premiere (Dr. Strange), and Marvel Spotlight (Ghost Rider). What's also interesting is the inclusion of rough sketches by Bernie Wrightson. One of these became the cover art for issue #213 of House of Mystery, while the other was a page from the story "The Gourmet" from issue #1 of Plop! (although the dialogue was replaced with a more Sheridan-specific context).

Illustration by Bernie Wrightson from Gamut #1

Wrightson illustration from Gamut #1
Cover by Bernie Wrightson for House of Mystery #213

Page from "The Gourmet" in Plop #1

Bat-Bunny by Bernie Wrightson
(from Gamut #1)

While as a guest at Sheridan College, Wrightson also began a new tongue-in-cheek story featuring "Bat-Bunny," whose sidekick, Robyn, has just been run over and sliced in half. Bat-Bunny laments, "Judging from the expression on Robyn's face, and the tread marks on his chest...I think I'll have to solve this case solo. And every other case from now on!"

(Click on the image to view it full-screen. It also includes some more rough sketches used in "The Gourmet.")

Also included is artwork from Will Eisner, as well as this sample from Neal Adams that features several well-known characters--including Son-O'-God, whom Adams co-created for National Lampoon magazine.

Art by Neal Adams, published in Gamut #1

The student work featured in Gamut #1 is well-done across the board, beginning with the story "Know Thine Enemy" written and illustrated by Dave Matthews. Another example is a one-page tale, "Confrontation...", where a vampire has a hard time finding his next meal. This was created by Mike Cherkas, whom I believe is the same artist who would later contribute to Cerebus, and co-create the graphic novels The Silent Invasion and Suburban Nightmares.

Page from "Know Thine Enemy" by Dave Matthews
"Confrontation..." by Mike Cherkas
The story "The Swinger's Turn" features some macabre panels illustrated by James Craig, who likely is the same artist that later contributed to the Canadian superhero Northern Light. This character first appeared in Orb Magazine (1974-76) and later in Power Comics (1977).

Detail from "The Swinger's Turn" by James Craig

The cover for Gamut #2--a wrap-around--was illustrated by Will Eisner, who visited Sheridan College in November, 1972. He was a pioneer in the American comic book industry, who was perhaps best known for creating the syndicated comic strip The Spirit (1940-52), which followed the adventures of a crime-fighting vigilante. This cover features his best-known characters, including The Spirit, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Hawk of the Sea, and Uncle Sam. Truly an amazing piece of art for Eisner fans! (This issue is available for viewing at the Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library. I've had a look; there's some more great student artwork, but unfortunately there's nothing contributed by Wrightson.)

Gamut #2 cover by Will Eisner (courtesy Sequential Arts Confidential)

The covers for issues #3 and #4 were illustrated by my horror hero, Bernie Wrightson. At the time, this prolific artist was known for his work on titles such as House of MysteryHouse of Secrets, and of course, Swamp Thing. He's also now widely known for his amazing work on Frankenstein, which was first published in 1983. (Side note: I had the pleasure of meeting Bernie at Fan Expo 2014 in Toronto!)

Gamut #3 cover by Bernie Wrightson (courtesy Rich Dannys)
Gamut #4 cover by Bernie Wrightson (courtesy The Golden Age)

Here are a few more selections from Gamut #1:

Page from Gamut #1, art by Dave Matthews
Page from Gamut #1 featuring a vampire (artist unknown)
Vintage ad for Fancon in Toronto, from Gamut #1

Finally, this is an ad for Gamut that was printed in issue #3 of Orb Magazine (1974), which features some of James Craig's art from the story "The Swinger's Turn."

Gamut ad from Orb Magazine #3

(Thanks to Rich Dannys for providing some background info!)


  1. Thanks for posting this, Brad. I was a student of the course and had the pleasure of having a piece run in the 1979 GAMUT. I don't believe there waas a 5th issue, because the course was discontined after our claass graduated. A few of we students had the idea of doing one our own, with Mr. Hanson's blessing. We thought of doing a MAD Magqzine-style tribute to the 1980 Olympics, but of course, that was the year USSR invaded Afghanistan and most of the Western nations boycotted. Unless someone telse took it by the horns, GAMUT V never left the stable. ~Jeff Wilson

  2. Thanks for commenting, Jeff! Appreciate the info, as well. Cheers!

  3. I took the cartooning course from 1974-76 and we had great visitors, including Reese & Hama from National Lampoon & other comics. Jim Craig, mentioned in your post, was a cartooning instructor at the time if I remember right...a graduate who then started instructing.

    1. More great info! Thanks very much for sharing, Gerry

  4. Still have Gamut 1 and 2 from when Dave and I were there. There were so many different directions that artwork was being made then. Jobs that followed benefited from what we experienced at the course. And now, years later, remembering working on Gamut and various classes we took and friends we had, still makes me smile.

    1. Great to hear from another one who was there, Chuck! Thanks for sharing your story, cheers.

  5. I was also a Cartooning student at Sheridan College Oakville for it's final two years, and was actually Jeff Wilson's (Toonguy85) roommate during the '78-'79 school year. There was another issue of Gamut for 1978. The cover featured Audrey Strickland's comic strip "Leroy", which had just been picked up by the Toronto Sun Newspaper Syndicate.