Stu Shiffman (1954-2014)

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman died November 26, almost two-and-a-half years after suffering a stroke; he was 60. The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.

Stu was a native New Yorker but moved to Seattle about 20 years ago with his partner Andi Shechter.

Stu always was fascinated by the traditions and in-references of science fiction fandom and loved to incorporate them in unexpected settings that might involve anything from cartoons of talking animals to intricately rendered Egyptian tomb art and hieroglyphs.

When he got into fandom in the 1970s mimeographed fanzines were still quite common. Taral Wayne admired that Stu “was as much a master of pen and ink as he was of stylus and stencil.”

Stu also had a special interest in drawing literary characters like Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Burrough’s John Carter (interests which sometimes merged, as in his ERBzine contribution Adventure of the Martian Hegira: fragments from the Barsoomian Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes.)

In fact, one of his earliest contributions to a fanzine appeared in the sword-and-sorcery oriented Amra (October 1975) — “Goric & Other Limericks” co-authored with NY fan John Boardman.

Stu’s own publications, such as Raffles, co-edited with Larry Carmody, began appearing around 1977.

He became a leader in New York’s faannish fandom when he hosted Fanoclasts. He also chaired the Flushing in ’80 hoax Worldcon bid committee composed of Moshe Feder, Joe Siclari, Gary Farber, Hank Davis, Elliot Shorter, and Jon Singer.

Stu’s soaring popularity led to him being voted the 1981 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. The following year he began his TAFF report, A Raffles Lad Abroad or The Road to Yorcon. (See Chapters 1 and 2 here.)

Stu ordinarily enjoyed his fannish accolades as much as anyone, but he did become frustrated that during the 1980s he established a record for the most fan Hugo nominations without winning. Everyone was gratified when he broke through at last in 1990.

All this productivity happened despite a medical condition Stu was coping with at the time. The symptoms became apparent when he was invited by fellow artists Schirmeister and Taral to join a hike up Mt. Wilson in 1984 and he had difficulty keeping up. Taral explained in The Slan of Baker Street, “Stu will have to forgive me if I relate this imperfectly, but he had an abnormal connection between the blood vessels of his brain that allowed venous blood to mingle with arterial blood. The intermixing robbed his bloodstream of oxygen, and he tired easily.” Doctors corrected this by performing brain surgery in 1985 – an operation lasting 12 hours according to Ansible.

Stu’s interest in mysteries was strong enough to fuel three fandoms with art and articles. He was a Sherlockian (Sound of the Baskervilles, Hounds of the Internet) who contributed to publications like Baker Street Journal, and a Wodehouse enthusiast who sent material to such journals as Plum Lines and Wooster Sauce. And Stu was just as likely to write something about them for an sf fanzine. For example, a 1999 issue of Mainstream featured his “Adventures of the Danzig Mien,” the script of a Sherlockian parody: Stu had a great time festoon­ing a Conan Doyle-esque plot with ridiculous references and in-jokes.

He also produced some similarly-inspired short stories for an anthology series. In “The Milkman Cometh” (Tales of the Shadowmen 5: Vampires of Paris) Tevye meets Sherlock Holmes and confronts Boris Badenov. In “Grim Days” (Tales of the Shadowmen 7) Lord Peter Wimsey and Colonel Haki meet in Istanbul.

He drew a backup feature for Captain Confederacy, the black-and-white comic produced by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone (published by Steeldragon Press), involving two steampunkish characters named Saks & Violet.

So it is not surprising that Stu was attracted to alternate history and for many years was a member of the judging panel for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

His convention guest of honor stints included Hexacon (1980), Minicon XX, Wiscon XII, the Corflu 6 (1989) and Lunacon 2000.

At Corflu 5 (1988) he was named a Past President of Fan Writers of America (fwa).

He had a recipe in the Tiptree fundraiser The Bakery Men Don’t See (1991) – “Grandma Ethel Katz’s Noodle Kugel.” Stu co-edited the 1986 issue of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly with the Nielsen Haydens and Lee Hoffman. He illustrated the 1991 edition of Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator…To the Enchanted Convention by Walt Willis and James White.

On June 14, 2012 Stu suffered a stroke. Two brain surgeries followed. For several months he went back and forth between ICU and acute care, depending on his breathing and heartbeat. Eventually he was reported to be on a gradual upswing and thereafter, though he periodically had serious setbacks, Stu enjoyed sustained improvement.

Andi Shecter visited constantly. Tom Whitmore maintained a CaringBridge online journal that let Stu’s friends to keep abreast of important changes in his status.

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

In 2013 Andi and Stu, who had been together for 25 years, announced their engagement. On June 18, 2014 they married in a ceremony at University of Washington’s Burke Museum with nearly 100 in attendance.

By October, Stu had recovered to the point that he’d been able to use a powered wheelchair for the first time since his stroke. However, only a week later, he had a fall and required surgery from which he did not regain consciousness.

Then, this afternoon, he died after his heart stopped. Tom Whitmore explained: “Aides found him when they went to prepare him for a shower. He was given CPR and 911 was called. The EMTs were able to get a heartbeat and pulse back and he was being readied to go to Harborview Emergency Department when he heart stopped again. They were unable to get him back. They tried for about 40 minutes.”

I am so sad that Stu wasn’t able to make the recovery we all hoped he would have, and am very sorry for Andi’s loss.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

Allan Kornblum Passes Away

Allan Kornblum, founding publisher of Coffee House Press, died November 23 at his St. Paul, MN home, of leukemia.

Andrew Porter recalls, “He was on the edges of the Minneapolis SF crowd.”

Kornblum’s death just about closes the book on a generation of small press pioneers. Porter explains —

I knew Kornblum, mostly from seeing him at the annual ABA (now BEA) conventions. He may have been active in Midwest small press, but there were many others, especially Len Fulton of Dustbooks, Noel Young of Santa Monica’s Capra Press (who, for instance, published Le Guin’s Wild Angels chapbook in 1975), and especially Harry Smith here in NYC. I worked with Harry — who lived a few blocks away, on Joralemon Street, and though I’d see him in Brooklyn Heights, more often saw him at the ABA conventions — and other people such as Jackie Eubanks, a library at Brooklyn College, on organizing and running various NY small press book fairs. Back then David Hartwell was doing small press, too (which is how I got to meet Margaret Atwood…).

Then there was COSMEP, originally the Committee of Small Press Editors and Publishers, the nationwide org for small press publishers run out of the SF Bay Area. Run into the ground in a few months by its last president. And the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, CCLM, which decided, after I applied for a grant, that SF wasn’t literature…

Many gone, now, except for … me? How did that happen?

The Publishers Weekly obituary elaborates on Kornblum’s place in history:

Kornblum was one of the leaders of the small press movement that emerged out of the 1960s-era passions for social change. Kornblum, 65, founded Toothpaste Press in Iowa City in 1973 to publish poetry pamphlets and letterpress books. After moving to Minneapolis in 1984, Kornblum relaunched his press as a literary nonprofit and named it Coffee House Press. It was one of the original eight literary small presses distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution. The press, which specializes in literary fiction and poetry, but also publishes nonfiction, became renowned for publishing writers of color under Kornblum’s leadership, particularly Asian-American authors.

Kornblum was known for his erudition, on display in a 2013 Soapbox column for PW that advocated Revolutionary War hero Henry Knox be named the patron saint of independent booksellers. Knox ran a bookstore before enlisting to fight, and rose to the rank of general. His most visible monument is Fort Knox. Kornblum appreciated the irony that a military base known as a gold bullion depository would be named for someone who once was a struggling bookseller.

[Via Paul Di Filippo and Andrew Porter.]

Walt Lee (1931-2014)

Cover Walt Lee Reference Guide To Fantastic Films“I’m very sad to report that my father, Walter W. Lee, Jr. — physicist, writer, historian, consultant, and friend to the science fiction and fantasy community — passed away on the evening of Sunday, November 23, 2014, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s,” writes Steve Lee.

Walt Lee was born in Eugene, Oregon on August 16, 1931.He is best known for compiling the Reference Guide to Fantastic Films. The three-volume work published between 1972 and 1974 was the first major compilation of film scholarship for science fiction, fantasy and horror films.

Bill Warren shared Steve Lee’s call to send birthday cards to his father with File 770 readers this past summer. Says Steve —

My mother, sister and I all thank you for your warm wishes and support during this difficult time. I would also like to thank all of those who took the time to send birthday cards to my father on this last August. He enjoyed and cherished them all.

He also invited me to publish his e-mail address – hwdslee (at) gmail (dot) com – for anyone who wishes to forward messages to the family.

Film critic Warren paid tribute to the Reference Guide to Fantastic Films and its author:

It was the first truly major work of film scholarship in the area of science fiction, fantasy and horror. It wasn’t easy to do; while being a father and holding down a job, he researched that exhaustive book.

This was long, long before the iMDB, long before most books on movie research. He spent hours upon hours in the files of the Motion Picture Academy, UCLA, USC, Forry Ackerman (a lifelong friend) and elsewhere. He corresponded with people all over the world — he was determined to make the book as inclusive as possible, and he did. It was the first citation in print (other than industry books and magazines) for hundreds upon hundreds of movies. He was one of the first researchers to routinely include many of the great Hollywood cartoon shorts.  Walt was there first, before anyone.

Warren Clarke (1947-2014)

Clarke (far left) in A Clockwork Orange.

Clarke (far left) in A Clockwork Orange.

Warren Clarke, a British actor who appeared in A Clockwork Orange and was best known for his role in television’s Dalziel And Pascoe, died November 12 after a short illness. He was 67.

In Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange he played Dim, one of Malcolm McDowell’s sociopathic droogs who tagged along on his sprees of “ultraviolence.”

On the 40th anniversary of the film’s release in 2011, Clarke spoke to The Guardian about working with Kubrick:

“If he thought your performance was false he would ask: ‘Why are you doing that?’ If you didn’t have an answer, he’d shout at you. But I got on well with him and I would shout at him if I thought he was pushing us too hard,” said the actor.

The film’s violent scenes of rape and murder passed British film censors, but when the film was blamed for copycat violence Kubrick withdrew it from British distribution in 1974 and it was not shown there again until after the director’s death in 1999.

Clarke’s extensive professional resume includes turns in genre series such as The Avengers (1968) and Blackadder the Third (1987).

[Via Andrew Porter and Paul Di Filippo.]

Glen Larson (1937-2014)

Glen Larson. Photo by Judd Gunderson (LAT).

Glen Larson. Photo by Judd Gunderson (LAT).

Glen A. Larson, producer of Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider, and Six Million Dollar Man, passed away November 14 of cancer.

He also had many non-genre hits: Quincy, M.E., Magnum, P.I. and The Fall Guy, plus a few that weren’t hits – Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Adventures of Sheriff Lobo and Manimal.

Although he was not well-regarded by sf fans during his heyday, who demanded better writing and effects for his shows, by now most fans have developed a nostalgic appreciation for all the sf icons he brought to TV.

He spent his early career at Universal Studios before moving to 20th Century Fox in 1980 with a multiseries, multimillion-dollar deal.

Six Million Dollar Man was based on Martin Caidin’s 1972 novel Cyborg.

Harlan Ellison, in a 1996 book about his Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” infamously called him “Glen Larceny” and accused him of using others’ movie concepts for his TV shows.

However, Fox in 1978 sued Battlestar studio Universal for infringing on Star Wars copyrights but eventually lost the suit, providing a degree of vindication.

[Via Andrew Porter and Paul Di Filippo.]

Michel Parry (1947-2014)

The passing of Michel Parry, horror author and anthologist, was reported November 1. He was 67 and had been diagnosed with cancer some years ago.

James H. Burns says, “I would have first ‘met’ Parry in the pages of Castle of Frankenstein, but I think his anthologies were probably encountered by everybody.”

Michael Parry

Michael Parry

Parry edited about 30 anthologies, including the six-volume Mayflower Book of Black Magic Stories series, the multi-volume Reign of Terror Books of Great Victorian Horror Stories for Corgi, several others co-credited with Christopher Lee, and The Rivals of Dracula, The Rivals of Frankenstein, and The Rivals of King Kong. Most came out within a five-year period in the 1970s.

His own fiction included a film novelization, Countess Dracula, Agro (as Nick Fury), and Chariots of Fire and Throne of Fire with Garry Rusoff.

He had the negative distinction of having two novels pulped. The first was More Devil’s Kisses, credited to Parry’s pseudonym, Linda Lovecraft (an amalgam of Linda Lovelace and H. P. Lovecraft) due to a complaint that one of the stories involved “some explicit goings-on at a children’s party.” The other was Agro, because of complaints that the book libeled the Hell’s Angels. (Parry then revised the book and a different publisher released it under his own name.)

He worked on horror films, too, writing and directing the short film “Hex” in 1969, and writing the screenplay for The Uncanny (1977), starring Peter Cushing, Ray Milland and Donald Pleasence.

For Castle of Frankenstein he conducted an in-depth interview with Christopher Lee that was serialized over several issues.

James H. Burns also observes: “It is odd, and sad, that four of the early, and in at least one case KEY contributors to Calvin T. Beck’s fantasy film magazine, Castle of Frankenstein have passed within the same year: Bhob Stewart, Larry Ivie, John Cocchi, and now Parry.”

Update 11/14/2014: Corrected headline’s spelling of name.

Leigh Chapman Passes Away

By Andrew Porter: Leigh Chapman, 75, 1960s actress-turned-screenwriter, died November 4 at her West Hollywood home, after an 8-month battle with cancer. Chapman was familiar to TV viewers as Sarah, Napoleon Solo’s efficient secretary in several 1965 episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But she found her calling as a scriptwriter … in TV with My Favorite Martian. She penned six scripts for The Wild Wild West, one of which earned Agnes Moorehead her only acting Emmy.

Larry Latham Passes Away

vault-of-doom1-400x293Larry Latham, the Lovecraft Is Missing webcomic artist, died November 2 of cancer. His wife Kelly Reynolds announced his passing on the site’s blog. She promised the tale would be completed:

This webcomic was his crowning achievement and brought him more joy than any other creative endeavor he has ever participated in. He was so appreciative of his readers and did not want to leave the story unfinished. I ask for your patience as I attempt to carry out his wishes and resume posting new issues in the near future with the help of many talented friends.

Latham began writing, drawing and publishing Lovecraft is Missing in 2008. The project had been originally conceived in 1994 as a CD-ROM game (never produced), then went into development as an animated series, with the rights finally reverting to the artist.

From the 1970s through the 1990s Latham enjoyed a successful career in animation, working at various times with Disney, Hanna Barbara and Marvel. His credits as a story director included The World’s Greatest SuperFriends, Godzilla, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, The Smurfs, and Challenge of the GoBots, and as a storyboard director or artist on the earlier My Little Pony and Friends series, several videos, and assorted episodes of about a dozen other shows.

He gained his greatest recognition as a producer and director for Disney’s animated series TaleSpin, the pilot episode of which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.

As a youth, Latham was one of the founding members of the Oklahoma Alliance of Fandom, which had its 40th anniversary convention in 2007.

After Latham was diagnosed with cancer he blogged about the progress of his treatments and his hopes for recovery. Not only did this feel right to him, it paralleled what Lovecraft himself had done

Lovecraft kept an actual journal of his dying days, even through all the tremendous pain. An odd one to the end, he.

IMDB has a complete list of his credits.

Larry Latham at the grave of H.P. Lovecraft.

Larry Latham at the grave of H.P. Lovecraft.

[Thanks to Steve Johnson for the story.]

George Slusser (1939-2014)

George-Slusser_-Eaton-CollectionGeorge Slusser, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at UC Riverside, died at home November 4 of cancer.

“He was a fine man, insightful critic, innovative educator, buoyant spirit. Founder of the Eaton Collection and much else,” said Gregory Benford.

Slusser wrote several author studies for the Borgo Press in the 1970s, including one of the earliest studies of Ray Bradbury’s work, The Bradbury Chronicles (1977), also Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976), The Farthest Shores of Ursula K. Le Guin (1976), Harlan Ellison: Unrepentant Harlequin (1977), The Delany Intersection: Samuel R. Delany Considered As a Writer of Semi-Precious Words (1977) and The Space Odysseys of Arthur C. Clarke (1978).

He was a prolific scholar throughout his career. Slusser’s Gregory Benford was published earlier this year by the University of Illinois Press as part of its Modern Masters of Science Fiction series.

Slusser was the first Curator (Emeritus) of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction &Fantasy Utopian and Horror Literature and over 25 years he grew the collection from 4,000 to 135,000 hardcover and paperback books in 24 languages. It was always a battle, as he explained to Cristan Tamas who interviewed him for Europa SF:

What I did is called “collection development,” and Eaton became a prime example of this. Of course, I had to adapt to personnel changes, unenlightened head librarians and such. But this is par for the course for any bootstraps operation within an established bureaucracy. Sometimes it felt we were running an underground operation. But I won a couple of large grants that allowed us to catalog huge amounts of material, and we were on our way.

Slusser’s vision for the Eaton Collection, which originated with the donation of J. Lloyd Eaton’s 6,000 hardcover sf books, grew to encompass many topics, including fanhistory, augmented by the fanzine collections donated by the late Terry Carr, Rick Sneary, and Bruce Pelz. It is the most extensive fanzine collection available to researchers.

2013 Eaton Conference poster.

2013 Eaton Conference poster.

Slusser also pioneered the Eaton fanzine collection website. His original design can still be seen online via Wayback Machine. Its ingenious splash page displays the animated rocket of Fanac blazing across a background the color of faded Twiltone — complete with two rusty staples in the margin. Five icons link to the website’s main divisions – which also animate when you click on them.

The narrative portion of Slusser’s original website showed remarkable sensitivity to fanzine fandom’s nuances. And he was not immune to faannish outbursts of his own, such as the impatience he showed with the claims of teenaged faneditor Harlan Ellison: “[His fanzine’s] cover promises ‘Ponce de Leon’s Pants,’ a fantasy by Mack Reynolds, which is nowhere inside the covers. Why bother to copyright this stuff?”

Slusser coordinated 23 Eaton SF Conferences. During his career he also won appointment as a Harvard Traveling Fellow and a Fulbright Lecturer.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford and Steven H Silver for the story.]