Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > News Story and Obituary Archive

Jim Harmon, 1933-2010
posted February 18, 2010

Jim Harmon, the author and old-time radio expert who contributed essays to All In Color For A Dime and its namesake column in the legendary science fiction fanzine Xero, died on February 16. The comics historian and writer Mark Evanier says he was told the cause of death was a heart attack.

imageHarmon was born in 1933 in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. He said later he received little formal education due to an unspecified health problem but he "read a lot and thought a lot and imagined a lot." In the 1950s and 1960s he wrote extensively for the still-thriving science fiction magazine field, contributing stories to Amazing Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction among others. He was also a crime, mystery and western writer. Harmon began a run of non-fiction work in the late 1960s with The Great Radio Heroes, doing a ton of original research on the era and the industry just as a wave of nostalgia-interested fandom began to enjoy its heyday. He would author at least six similar books before his passing, for a variety of publishers.

In 1970, Harmon contributed the essay "A Swell Bunch Of Guys," about the Justice Society of America, to Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff's seminal, nostalgic comic book history All In Color For A Dime. From 1974 to 1975, he was West Coast editor on Monsters Of the Movies, one of several attempts by Marvel in the 1970s to reposition their line in the ailing newsstand market, this one a take-off of Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Something of a fixture on the nostalgia-driven convention circuit in the 1970s, Evanier's posting suggests that he was able to speak to the crossover between the early major comics properties and their radio shows, an indication of their mainstream status at the time and the source of some back and forth creatively. Harmon won an Inkpot Award granted by the San Diego Comic-Con in 1977.