Drink Tank’s Sunset Date

Chris Garcia announces in The Drink Tank #365 [PDF file] that he and James Bacon will ring down the curtain on their Hugo-winning fanzine on January 31, 2015.

That’s right, we’re gonna call it a day in exactly one year. The Tenth Annual Giant Sized Annual will be the last issue of The Drink Tank. Ten years and, what I assume will be more than 400 issues. Neither will be a record, but both feel like enough to me.

They’ll keep doing Journey Planet and Chris will continue Claims Department, and Exhibition Hall and Klaus at Gunpoint. Which is to say, they’ll still keep eFanzines as busy as Chicago’s O’Hare International…

A Century of Taral Celebrated in Drink Tank

By Taral Wayne: So many issues of The Drink Tank, so little time to fill them.  However, as of this issue, I’ve filled 100 of them!  To commemorate the event, Chris Garcia and I collaborated on a Special Issue!  I began my appearances in DT way back in 2007, with a two part interview conducted by Frank Wu.  I was a little slow reappearing, but once I got into the habit, it was a hard one to break.  In the 187 issues since, I’ve added to the pages somewhat more often than once every other DT.  Most of the pieces I contributed were moderately short, but that’s still a lot of writing any way you slice it.  Somebody should have told me it was habit forming.

There has been a lot of careless talk about the zine’s “golden touch,” as though to be a regular contributor was a punched ticket to the Hugo Ceremonies, right up front where the other nominees sit.  It has won Chris the Rocket for Best Fanzine, along with his co-editor, James Bacon.  It has also won DT’s frequent cover artist, Mo Starkey a Hugo for Best Fanartist.  But I recommend caution before throwing around irresponsible theories like that.  If it were so … where’s my Hugo?  I am the living proof that Chris and Mo earned their Hugo some other way than by merely appearing in Drink Tank.  Bribery perhaps?

Drink Tank 340 was finished a couple of days ago, and ought to be posted on eFanzines just before this issue of Broken Toys.  Oh … and by the way.  As a Special Celebration of the Special Issue, I have ceased writing for Drink Tank.

It is said that the best way to create a demand is to limit supply, you see.  Now that my writing in Drink Tank will be in very short supply, perhaps it will stimulate voter interest, so that I may someday – finally – have my very own silver rocket to cradle in my arms!

The Comics Hugo

Yes, that’s what the cognoscenti call the Best Graphic Story Hugo – “The Comics Hugo.”

I didn’t know this before I paged through The Drink Tank #336 where the cognoscenti have to lot to say about the Hugo-worthy work of 2012.

Chris Garcia notes Paul Cornell’s strong recommendation for Fables but says it will not be a choice for him: “Now, looking at this coming year, well, Fables is nowhere near my ballot. Dial H (one of my all-time favorite comics concepts written by China Miéville) Saucer Country (by Paul Cornell), Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and perhaps most importantly of all, Justice League.”

Chris also reports that Paul Cornell is so disappointed with the track record of the Best Graphic Story Hugo category that he’s now referring to it as a “fan Hugo.” I guess that’s supposed to be an insult, otherwise you’d think it would help his purpose since everyone knows no one can win a fan Hugo but a pro. In fact, Paul took one home in Best Fancast just last year.

James Bacon speaks about Grandville Bete Noir by Bryan Talbot and suggests that “Straight away I would have to say that SAGA (by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples) is a definite. Any SF fan who has not read this, is missing out, not only for the ideas, but the terrific dialogue and humour. It is a wonderful mix of Fantasy in a space setting and is terrifically personal, in a very skilled way.”

He also recommends, Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis J Wiebe, art by Tyler Jenkins, “an alternate history, messing with the famous children’s literary characters, with Hauptmann Hook on the Horizon” and Marvel’s Hawkeye which “may be a marvel mainstream comic, but the aesthetic look and the excellent dialogue makes it a winner, the humour and sense of absurdity, pitched in a realistic way, make it delightful.” He also mentions Storm Dogs, which has only had two issues published in 2012, by Doug Braithwaite and David Hine.

Meanwhile Joe Gordon on the Forbidden Planet International Blog also recommends Grandville Bete Noir, Saga, Manhattan Projects as well as The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and Ian Culbard, Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos/Trifecta by Wagner et al (2000 AD), Prophet by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy et al and Batwoman by JH Williams III, Haden Blackman, adding a few other choices, but definitely confirming interest in some titles.

Drink Tank Handicaps the Hugos

The Drink Tank’s relentless schedule usually means that by the time I get ready to comment on “the most recent issue” there is an even more recent issue.

Issue #315 of The Drink Tank is the one I have in mind, where Chris Garcia and James Bacon, joined by Niall Harrison, Aidan Moher, Charlie Jane Anders, Jay Crasdan and Chris M Barkley, set about “Handicapping the Hugos”.

The premise of Hugo handicapping is to ruthlessly predict the winner – not rank one’s personal favorites, or arrange the nominees in ascending order of objective quality.

And Chris and James have certainly done that in the fan categories. Wiping the tears from their eyes, the duo predicts all the nominated blogs, bloggers and web artists will make a clean sweep of the fan Hugos. Yes, they can haz cheeseburger! Randall Munroe will overcome last year’s one-vote loss to be named Best Fan Artist. Pro writer Jim C. Hines will be annointed Best Fan Writer. SF Signal will win be voted Best Fanzine.

Is that true? Is the only remaining question whether concessionaires will be able to keep enough rope in stock at the Chicago Worldcon for all the fans who’ll want to hang themselves? Because these seem like pretty reasonable guesses to me. Can no one save us from this electronic doom?

But wait! I forgot one thing! Chris and James are kings of the internet too! They not only put out a PDF zine, last year’s Hugo winner whose titanic 300th issue will be featured in the Hugo Voter Packet. Their award acceptance video got over 40,000 views. They went viral! Who else on the ballot has done that? The only time I ever went viral was in high school with the Hong Kong Flu. They got four Hugo nominations this year! What’s with all this modesty? Why would the voters suddenly stop liking these guys? They didn’t predict themselves to win, the only thing that might have jinxed them — so look out world! I’m thinking that if Randall Munroe wins a Hugo this year, the main reason will be that Chris and James never took up drawing…

Aidan Moher Made Me Look

In a comment about Aidan Moher’s Thoughts on the 2012 Hugo Award Shortlist at A Dribble of Ink, Chris Garcia confessed that his Hugo nominations have not been a source of unalloyed pleasure.

Says Chris:

I find it interesting that the two groups that are least happy with our nomination in Short Form are the Forces of Blogs and The Old Boys Club membership! I find myself wondering who actually nominated us.

The “Forces of Blogs” includes Staffer’s Book Review, whose author feels Chris’s nominations are more of the same-old, same-old.

And The Old Boys Club? They’re camped on my own doorstep! But just because two guys who don’t vote in the Hugos came to my blog, hiked their baboon butts in the air and ostentatiously crapped all over Chris doesn’t mean they were the certified ambassadors of world faanish opinion.

One of the many quaint and curious things about the internet is its ability to produce the mirage of majority opinion from a microscopic sample. Wherever two or three agree, that’s suddenly treated as having the popular force of an Occupy demonstration.

Chris ironically asked — Who nominated him? His question contains the seeds of its own answer. It’s the people who wrote his name on their Hugo nominating ballots. Dozens of fans. Including me. I’m happy to identify myself as a voter for Chris and James’ The Drink Tank.

Drink Tank Looks at Before Watchmen

The File 770 post ”Before Watchmen – A Dissenting Voice” was so widely viewed I’m sure many of you will want to see James Bacon’s and Chris Garcia’s discussion of Before Watchmen in The DrinkTank #309 [PDF file]. Evidently the two of them disagree. James hints, “One editor is conflicted, and generally disappointed; another feels it’s possibly the savior of the industry.”

Contributors Kate Laity, Tony Keen, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Laura Sneddon, Robert Curley, Carol Connolly, Michael Carroll, Martin Pedlar and Lynda E. Rucker also speak on the matter.

The issue’s art comes from Kev Levell, Mark Lewis, Brian Hess, Thais Yuki Jussim, plus a stunning acrylic cover by Mo Starkey.

Drink Tank 300

Chris Garcia’s and James Bacon’s The Drink Tank #300 [PDF file] celebrates another century mark in an epic way; 320 contributions from a bodacious number of writers and artists fill 272 pages, which translates to 11 megabytes of faanish goodness for those of you who read Drink Tank electronically. (“Is there any other kind?” barks Col. Jessup.)

Chris and James get 18 pages just from listing the contributors. The quick and the dead alike have been enlisted for this issue – Hieronymous Bosch one of the latter. All the rest, with the exception of Harlan Ellison (shh! it’s a secret! at least from Harlan) have enthusiastically and willingly joined this great zine’s post-Hugo victory party.

Many took inspiration from the issue’s several themes: wrestling, Los Angeles, and “Your Worst Idea Ever.” There are also articles by people who seem to have thought there was a theme “But wait, I’m important too!” And of course you are.

The number 300 is a theme itself and Julian West’s sublime “300” is a grunt’s-eye view of glory at Thermopylae, limned in gallows humor.

Contributions come in every form, genre and style — a haiku by Kevin Roche, computer code (“The Garcialyzer”) from Liz Batty, a micro fotonovela with art by Rick Bretschneider, an extremely cool travelogue by Eleanor Farrell, Liam Sharp’s interesting short-short “It Was Like Sorrow”, several reviews, and an interview with Michael Whelan conducted by Sarah Lorraine Goodman.

Some of my other favorites include seductively-titled bits of ingenuity like Bill Higgins’ “The Shmoos of the Tevatron,” which is actually nonfiction, and Dann Lopez’ brilliant, masterful, and don’t let me forget to say hilarious Wizard of Oz parody “Ozzie’s Broom.”

Jason Schacht even lost 150 pounds for the occasion. Well anyway, he really did lose 150 pounds – and it’s all documented here.

Check it out! It’s for reading experiences like this the long Thanksgiving weekend was made.

Overserved at The Drink Tank?

Two of the last three Best Fan Writer Hugos have been won by Hugo nominated novelists. Taral vents his frustration that more people don’t find this controversial in “The Way the Futurian Blogs,” an article in The Drink Tank #259 (PDF file). I’m not a fan of the accompanying graphic, an altered paperback cover of Pohl with a hole in his head — both distasteful and disrespectful.

Also not very perceptive, if the idea behind the image is to fault Pohl for winning. Pohl did not ordain this result, his victory came out of a popular movement. I understood this much better after hearing the tone in Andrew Trembley’s voice as he told fans at Westercon how much he loved reading anecdotes about the history of the sf field on Fred Pohl’s blog. At that moment I thought d’oh! I’d forgotten what it is like to hear these stories for the first time. Some I heard as a young fan from Pohl’s First Fandom contemporaries. Others I read in Pohl’s 1978 autobiography The Way the Future Was. To the latest generation of science fiction fans they are brand new. And they’re great stories. And they’re about science fiction, which (big news here) a lot of science fiction fans still find interesting.

Yes, I tried to persuade fans to go in another direction and vote for someone else. Somebody who’s not already a famous sf writer. Guess what? I lost. World ends, film at 11? No, and what’s more, I’m even allowed to like the winner.

Taral Fills The Drink Tank

Taral will soon be making his 50th contribution to Chris Garcia’s frequent fanzine The Drink Tank as we reported not long ago. But then the dynamic duo asked themselves — why stop there? Taral writes:

You might be amused that the entire issue of Drink Tank 258 will be written and drawn by myself, with the exception of some photos found with Google. Chris and I cooked up the idea when discussing the upcoming 50th Drink Tank article by me. I’ve already written three articles for it, an editorial, and all the locs. I “invited” Chris to write a guest editorial, and he’s doing all the production work.