Comic Book Questions Answered - where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.
In a recent discussion in the voting thread for The 25 Greatest Valiant Stories Ever Told, reader The Third Man asked a question about the famous Valiant series of #0 issues (Valiant had a thing where you could redeem vouchers for a copy of Magnus Robot Fighter #0), namely "I was actually wondering that about the zero issues. Was Valiant the first company to publish a zero issue, or did someone beat them to it?"
Read on for the answer!
The very first #0 comic came out decades before Magnus: Robot Fighter #0, although it comes with a bit of a catch.
Robert Crumb's Zap Comix was one of the first really successful independent comic book series, but doing an indie comic at the time meant dealing with some iffy publishers. So Crumb's first issue of Zap Comix ended up being lost, as the publisher up and moved to India, leaving him in the lurch. So he did a whole new comic and that became Zap Comix #1 in 1967.
After the second issue of the book was completed, Crumb managed to track down some photocopies of the first issue that he had made. So he then released what would have been Zap Comix #1 as Zap Comix #0 in 1968...
So while that is the official answer, obviously there that doesn't really seem to fit the modern idea of #0 issues, which are used in a lot of different ways, but mostly intended as origin stories or introductory stories before an ongoing series. In which case, 1983's Albedo #0 by Steven A. Gallacci is more likely the first #0 issue as we currently know it, it even dubbed itself as a "prototype" comic (and when #1 came out, it was dubbed "the first real issue")...
So there ya go, third man!
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