Squa Tront.

I was trying to find some biographical information on the editor John Benson when I ran across this 2012 interview with Casey Burchby, from which I quote the opening paragraph:

Squa Tront is dedicated to the relatively brief but enormously influential output of EC Comics. Through interviews, rare sketches and artwork, corporate ephemera, and panel discussions, Squa Tront (which takes its name from two words often uttered by aliens in EC’s comics) pays tribute to the writers and artists behind titles like Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Frontline Combat, and Mad. Although Squa Tront has its roots in EC fandom, its meticulous editorial focus has long since moved the magazine much closer to scholarship. May saw the release of its 13th issue in 45 years.

That is just the kind of cultural detritus I love; I mentioned the phrase a few years ago in this fantabulous post, but I thought I’d give it its own feature, since it’s so great. Also, if anyone knows anything about this John Benson (as opposed to the many other John Bensons — not one but two described as “calligrapher and stonecarver”!), do speak up.


  1. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Father and son, although I’m not sure that a family business of calligraphy and stonecarving is particularly less odd…

    Apparently their business has been running since 1705. That would be deeply impressive here; over there…

    (Actually, when I think about it, it would be older than the country here too, if you want to be pedantic. Older than two countries… no, three?)

    Completely sidetracked from the iteration you’re interested in, sorry!

  2. No, no, I welcome all information! As I just told my wife, I’ve spent my life trying to sift knowledge into my brain even as it pours out from every (metaphysical) crevice, increasingly as the years pass.

  3. And it goes without saying that I want to be pedantic. This blog is witness thereto.

  4. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Information derived solely from wanderings in wikipedia, in this case 🙂

    I do know that America is not just a country of New Things, but I think I’m impressed both that something like that was going by then, and that it hasn’t been turned into something else!

  5. I am too!

  6. One more.

    The Tuttle Farm of Dover, New Hampshire, United States, is located between the tidal waters of the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers on Dover Point, and has been operating continuously since 1632.

    The Tuttles sold the farm in 2010 since younger generations of Tuttles were no longer interested in farming.

    The oldest farm in America was acquired for 3 million dollars by another farmer.

  7. Squa Tront

    Not to be confused with Spa Fon.

  8. I immediately thought of the John Benson who edits this dark literature magazine: https://not-one-of-us.pub/about/

    But if it’s the same one, I don’t know why they didn’t mention his zine.

  9. Mickey Coalwell says

    Steve, I have also been searching for biographical information about John Benson. Here’s all I know: He is the only child of Lewis Vivian Benson (1906-1986) and Sarah Rhoads Potts Benson. Lewis, his father, is recognized as a the greatest expert of the 20th century on George Fox, the English Dissenter who founded the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). According to interview, John Benson was born in Evanston, Illinois in December, 1940, which means he turns 80 this year. His family relocated to Pennsylvania almost immediately, and John spent most of his childhood and teen years on the East Coast. John does not have a biography or author information listing anywhere on the web, that I can find. And I’m a librarian. I have a lead on Roger Hill, who is a personal friend of Benson’s, and will reach out to him to see if I can obtain contact information. Mr. Benson’s contributions to comics fandom, fanzines, comics, and EC appreciation in particular have been recognized by many people. His relative obscurity in public records and sources remains mystifying. He was interviewed by the late Bill Schelly in Alter Ego some years back (a delightful three-part interview) and by a few others. But verifiable biographic info on him is scarce.

  10. Mickey Coalwell says

    octopus, the John Benson who owns and edits NOT ONE OF US is not the John Benson who edits Squa Tront. Different people.

  11. Thanks a lot, Mickey — I’m glad I asked! Please report back if you find out more.

  12. John Cowan says

    I do know that America is not just a country of New Things, but I think I’m impressed both that something like that was going by then, and that it hasn’t been turned into something else!

    Indeed, the U.S. is politically speaking the oldest New Thing in the world with the exception of the U.K. Every other state (not nation) has heavily revised itself since 1783.

  13. @Mickey Coalwell: My mistake. Thanks for the information!

  14. Jen in Edinburgh says

    JC: 😀

    However, why excepting the UK? In 1783 it was still Great Britain, and it’s been two United Kingdoms since. (Actually, why 1783?)

  15. January First-of-May says

    Actually, why 1783?

    Not sure either. Surely the relevant date is 1789.

  16. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Looking up 1783 to find out why it sounds vaguely familiar (the end of the Great Siege of Gibraltar, I think, rather than the end of the larger war), I discovered that the city of Sevastopol was founded in that year by a man called Thomas Mackenzie or Foma Fomich Mekenzi (son of another Thomas, who might actually have been born in Scotland. Or maybe not).

    I just like the names 🙂

  17. PlasticPaddy says

    One of the Mackenzie officers in the Jacobite army of 1715 was Colin Mackenzie 2nd of Kildun….A younger son of Kildun called Thomas had gone to sea where he fell in with the grandson of an ex-Royal Navy Captain who, having been dismissed the British service for his Jacobite sympathies, had risen high in the Naval Service of Russia (in going to that country Thomas Gordon was simply following in the footsteps of another of his clan, Patrick Gordon, who in the mid-17th century had befriended Czar Peter the Great and as a consequence rose to become General-in-Chief of the Russian Army). Admiral Thomas Gordon obtained commissions in the Russian service for both his grandson, James Young, and for Toma Caileenavitch (Thomas son of Colin) – who subsequently married his grand-daughter Ann Young on his way to becoming a Rear Admiral himself.”ii

    ii Rebecca Wills, The Jacobites and Russia (East Linton, 2000), 15, 180-1

    Toma Caileenavitch = father of Foma Fomovich

  18. John Cowan says

    However, why excepting the UK? In 1783 it was still Great Britain, and it’s been two United Kingdoms since. (Actually, why 1783?)

    In 1783 it was the United Kingdom of Great Britain. In my view, neither the Act of Union 1800 nor the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 fundamentally changed the constitutional structure of the UK, though the transition from Empire to Commonwealth of 1926-49 transformed its external relations.

    1783 was a mistake on my part: that was the date of the Treaty of Paris that established the independence of the U.S. I meant to refer to the U.S. Constitution of 1787, though it is not normally called that, as there has been no other. Of course, without 1776 there would have been no 1789, and not merely numerically.

    Update: Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein and pro-Treaty) said in reference to Erskine Childers (author of The Riddle of the Sands and anti-Treaty) “I will not reply to any damned Englishman in this Assembly.” I only wish Childers had retorted, “I on the other hand am happy to talk to any Welshman, damned or saved.”

    Childers was indeed of English origin but became convinced that English rule over Ireland was illegitimate altogether, though he wound up executed by an Irish Free State military for the possession of a weapon. He appealed his conviction, but was turned down on the ground that due to the Civil War, for which he was at least politically responsible, appeals from military tribunals to civil ones were not possible.

  19. Allan from Iowa says

    A fanzine bibliography that I published in 1976 has two listings.

    * Squa Tront, published by The Million Year Picnic and edited by Jerry Weist in Cambridge, MA.

    * Squatront Magazine, published by East Coast Comix in Las Vegas.

    No John Benson mentioned.

    These are almost certainly garbled reports of the same publication. I should not have been so accepting of second-hand information.

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