Thanks, I Guess

FANZINES: The DIY Revolution (Chronicle, paper, $40) by Teal Triggs is one of three books Steven Heller covers in his New York Times review “Irreverence You Can Almost Touch”.

Heller’s review has drawn fannish attention because it quotes Triggs giving proper credit for the fannish origin of the word “fanzines” in the Times’ hallowed pages:

Fanzines are extremely diverse and intensely personal — some filled with rant, some with reason — and their adherents use the form much like a blog, to communicate and interact with like-minded people. “The term ‘fanzine,’ ” Triggs explains, “is the conflation of ‘fan’ and ‘magazine,’ and was coined by the American sci-fi enthusiast and zine producer Louis Russell Chauvenet in 1940 in his hectographed fanzine Detours . . . when he declared his preference for the term ‘fanzine’ rather than ‘fanmag.’ ”

But gratifying as that may be, Heller otherwise gives 100% of his attention to zines devoted to rock music, comics, fashion and politics – significant to him products of a counter-cultural underground. I feel as if all those decades when fanzines were the torchbearers of sf fandom, and that alone, got shoved aside and wonder how long it will take for this view of fanzine history to imprint itself on the curators of the several university library fanzine collections founded over the past few years?

[Thanks to Moshe Feder and Gary Farber for the link.]

Snapshots 19

Nine developments of interest to fans:

(1) The UK has academic fanzine collections, too. A BBC story “Fanzines enter pages of history” says “The National Library of Scotland is to embark on the laborious task of tracking down and cataloguing the countless thousands of fanzines published in the UK over the past 70 years.” That includes sf and fantasy zines. And the Beeb interviews Professor Chris Atton, whose fascination with music fanzines goes back decades.

(2) YouTube videos about Ray Bradbury’s play Falling Upward are linked here and here.

(3) Canadians, would you rather have Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, TV cop T.J. Hooker or Boston Legal lawyer Denny Crane running your country? Well this is your lucky day – you get all three if you accept William Shatner’s offer:

“The 77-year-old star said: ‘My intention is to be Prime Minister of Canada, not Governor General, which is mainly a ceremonial position.'”

(4) The Marvel Comics version of Stephen King’s The Stand is being sold only through comics stores, not bookstores. Publishers Weekly reports:

Faced with restrictions on the distribution of its much-anticipated comics adaptation of Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic bestseller, The Stand, Marvel Comics is working to turn them into a plus. After releasing the series in periodical form in the fall of last year, Marvel announced plans to release the hardcover graphic novel, The Stand: Captain Trips, on March 10 exclusively through the comics shop market.

(5) Jennifer Schuessler’s New York Times article asks:

These days, America is menaced by zombie banks and zombie computers. What’s next, a zombie Jane Austen?

In fact, yes. Minor pandemonium ensued in the blogosphere this month after Quirk Books announced the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an edition of Austen’s classic juiced up with “all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem” by a Los Angeles television writer named Seth Grahame-Smith. (First line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”)

(6) Cheryl Morgan draws an irresistible parallel between the “social grooming” of monkeys and bloggers:

People who study primate behavior apparently recognize a lot of what happens in social networks as “grooming”. And you know, that makes a lot of sense. Link love is essentially a grooming activity. Us low-status monkeys indulge in mutual grooming with people we think of as allies, and we groom high-status monkeys whom we admire and whose troop we wish to belong to. High status monkeys don’t need to groom others, but may do so to reward their followers.

Thanks for pointing that out. A bunch of bananas is on the way…

(7) Your one-stop shop for history and images of Ace Books.

(8) Dave Barnett has written an enoyable and insightful article for the Guardian on the reissue of John Crowley’s Little, Big

Little, Big spans several generations of the Drinkwater family and their relationship with the world of faerie. The concept is rescued from tweeness by author Crowley’s dazzling feats of aerobatics with the English language, which at first – especially in my tightly-typeset Methuen edition – take a bit of getting used to but, ultimately, draw you in and trap you with their beauty, not unlike the fabled world of faery itself.

(9) Artist Joy Alyssa Day, a friend of Diana’s and mine, is hard at work on a solid wood rocket ship:

The fins are finished! They were cut from solid cherry boards with my radial arm saw and trimmed up with my bandsaw. The blade on that could use some replacing…. Cherry is so hard that mostly the bandsaw blade just burns it while it’s trying to cut. Funny, burned cherry wood smells exactly like popcorn. Now I’m hungry!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster and David Klaus for the links they contributed to this article.]

 

What Passes for History

Cheryl Morgan points out Tim W. Brown’s poorly-researched post on Galley Cat masquerading as a brief history of zines, chortling over the prospect that Core Fandom will stroke out when they read such “facts” as –

The most widely credited ancestor of the contemporary zine was the “fanzine” first appearing in the 1970s. An offshoot of the fan club newsletter, fanzines published bits of fact and rumor about favorite rock bands in pamphlets mimeographed in editions of fifty or a hundred.

Cheryl’s not the only one who enjoys the idea of Core Fandom finding a little grit in its oyster, but this post should offend anyone who uses the Internet as a learning tool. The correct information about 30’s sf fandom’s role in inventing fanzines is readily available without having to sift the Eaton Collection. Brown would not even have had to personally read Fredric Wertham’s World of Fanzines if he’d sought out articles like this one by Steven Perkins, author of the far more accurate essay “Science Fiction Fanzines.”

Bwana’s in the Organlegger Business

Mike Resnick, best known to the internet’s luxury shoppers as Bwana25, always keeps a cargo of vintage fanzines for sale at his outpost on eBay. Every now and then that includes an old zine of mine.

This weekend Bwana’s selling a copy of Organlegger #7, from my first foray into fannish journalism back in 1973. The copy looks in good condition (it might be better than my file copy!), and that’s a pleasant surprise when you’re talking about twiltone paper printed with oil-based mimeo ink. If any of the earliest issues are still readable that’ll be even more surprising, for reasons that will be revealed in a moment.

Organlegger #7 came out in August 1973. The first issue had been produced just the month before. So was it a weekly? Never. But it had been a daily.

Elst Weinstein hauled his ditto machine and supplies to San Francisco in case they’d come in handy for whatever mischief we got into at the 1973 Westercon, a 5-day convention. The Westercon daily newzine had an aloof tone, and was full of official announcements. Elst and I were tempted to parody it until we considered how much real news we knew and that it would be more fun to launch a rival zine and play it straight.

Though it was a Sampo Westercon in the Bay Area, many of the con’s most interesting stories involved Southern Californians. Larry Niven was a GoH (in those days he was also hawking memberships in the highly-amusing parody Trantorcon in 23,309). Marjii Ellers scored a coup in the Masquerade as the “Queen of Air and Darkness”. The LA smofs bid for (and won) the right to try their own Bay Area Westercon, OakLaCon in 1975. And so on. Elst and I filled several ditto-reproduced issues of Organlegger by the end of the con.

The experience also confirmed I’d been bitten by the newzine bug. When I got home I took over the title and set out to print all the fannish news people felt Locus was neglecting (which was plenty even then, in only its fifth year of publication!) Organlegger failed to last only because I was a college student who simply couldn’t afford the project. The zine survived just long enough to report LASFS’ purchase of its first clubhouse — indeed, 2008 is the 35th anniversary.

If you’re someone who enjoys all the nostalgia brought on by a whiff of twiltone, don’t miss this opportunity. Bwana wants six bucks minimum. Buyer pays postage. Bidding ends February 18.

A Salute to Tim Kirk

How good a fanartist is Tim Kirk? So good that in the 1970s he won five Hugos during the greatest era in the history of fan art, running against a field including George Barr, Alicia Austin, Steven Fabian, Bill Rotsler, Grant Canfield, Steve Stiles, ATom and others.

Tim drew the signature Geis-and-Alter-Ego logo that ran above the editorials in Science Fiction Review, the dominant fanzine of the late 60s/early 70s. He did lots of terrific fanzine covers. With paint and canvas he brought vividly to life all kinds of rumpled gnomes and alien creatures, including  “Mugg from Thugg.”

Tim made a huge splash at the 1972 Westercon art show with a display of 26 Tolkien-themed paintings he’d done for his thesis project while earning a Master’s degree in Illustration from California State University, Long Beach. Thirteen of the paintings were selected for publication by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar.

Tim’s stunning entries in other art shows included vast pen-and-ink drawings that were busier than any scene by Hieronymous Bosch and infinitely more entertaining. Whenever they could, the Nivens would top all bidders at auction and take these drawings home to make them centerpieces on the living room walls. This was lucky for visitors to the Nivens’ after-LASFS poker games, like me. Once I gambled away my $5 limit I had plenty of time to study in detail all the lore Tim stuffed in every corner of Merlin’s workshop and other pictures til my ride was ready to leave.

Fandom still had a bit of an inferiority complex in those days about the mainstream’s disrespect of anyone with an interest in sf and fantasy, so when Hallmark Cards hired Tim some of us felt a little bit vindicated to see a talented artist rise from our midst and apply his abilities to products everyone in America used. Tim was with Hallmark from 1973 to 1980, doing progressively more professional art and, as seemed logical at the time, fading out of the fanzine scene altogether.

As it happened, Tim soon leaped from one pinnacle of success to another. From 1980 to 2001 he was employed as a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, and was instrumental in the conception and realization of several major theme park projects, including the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, and Tokyo DisneySea, which debuted in September 2001. In 2002 he, along with his brother and sister-in-law (also Disney veterans) founded Kirk Design Incorporated, specializing in museum, restaurant, retail and theme park work.

Their firm was responsible for the conceptual design of Seattle’s new  Science Fiction Museum, exhibiting some of Paul Allen’s vast collection, which opened in 2004. Tim also serves on the Science Fiction Museum Advisory Board.

Tim’s work on SFM led to renewed visibility in fannish circles. He was at the 2003 Westercon during Greg Bear’s SFM presentation making illustrated notes on an easel. In 2004, he contributed a highly interesting autobiographical essay to Guy Lillian’s Challenger, accompanied by a beautiful portfolio of his classic pen-and-ink drawings.

Since then Tim has been guest of honor at ConDor XIV (2007), the local San Diego convention, where Jerry Shaw photographed him at the masquerade showing off the souvenir tile they gave him.

It’s a great thing when a fannish giant proves you can come home again!

The Answer is SF/SF 42

Jean Martin and Chris Garcia’s latest issue of Science Fiction/San Francisco covers fan news the way it should be done. There’s all kinds of excellent story angles I plan to steal from admire in SF/SF #42.

The most valuable revelation in the issue is Chris Garcia’s “Confessions of a Serial Fanzinista,” the diary that explains how he manages to produce his sensational output and still hold a job, as well as his less successful but quite humorous attempts to interest his youngster Evelyn in fanzines and China Mieville.

Another regular treat in each issue are the BASFA meeting minutes. Here’s where you learn that the president of the club, Trey Haddad, “reviewed ‘300’ as the font of all manliness and those seeking historical accuracy need not apply [and there was much talk of rouged nipples] – but there were some neat scenes and worth – well, it’s a rental.”

You’ll find every issue on eFanzines. Go. Go now!