Orlando Worldcon Bid Update

Steve Davidson, The Crotchety Old Fan, remembers “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” That’s why he is spreading the news that Orlando in 2015 has negotiated its function space — a convention center on the grounds of a Disney resort — for $0 if the room bloc commitment is met. (And they are getting a rate of $139/night.) That, he observes, might create “some flexibility in membership fees, particularly discounts for targeted groups – be they families, students, daily tasters, whatever.”

There’s also a new Frank Wu poster on the bid’s website. If you think it’s as “amazing” as Steve does I’m sure that will bring a smile to his face.

Amazing Hits the Road

Over the next few weeks The Crotchety Old Fan, Steve Davidson, will attend two Boston cons, Arisia (January 13-16) and Boskone (February 17-19), drumming up interest in the relaunch of Amazing Stories and campaigning for the Orlando in 2015 Worldcon bid.

If you’re there, drop by his table and say hi. You’ll find Steve near a big poster of this faux cover of the first issue:


The real first cover for the new Amazing Stories will be prepared by Hugo-winning artist Frank Wu.

Do Artists Always Lose Fan Funds?

When Frank Wu came out on the losing end of the latest TAFF race a disgruntled friend of mine declared his surprise because Frank is such a popular fan. But he consoled Frank with a seductive conspiracy theory – that no artist has ever run for TAFF or DUFF and won.

Some of you are trying to climb through the screen right now in your eagerness to correct this impression. Please be patient while I take care of a preliminary question before getting to the main event.

Just who is a fanartist for purposes of this discussion? A lot of fans have had art in fanzines, myself included, without ever being numbered among the field’s fanartists. At least in my mind. So if you feel I’m being too subjective about who they are for purposes of this post, chime in.

Tremendous numbers of fanartists have lost TAFF. Terry Jeeves did it three times (1955, 1971, 1977). Other artists who have lost include Bjo (1959), Eddie Jones (1962), Bill Rotsler (1970), Jim Barker (1980), Grant Canfield (1983), Taral Wayne (1983), D. West (1984), Luke McGuff (1989), Joe Wesson (1995), and Frank Wu (2009).

Frank Dietz (1973) may also belong on the list. His fanzine credits include Luna Monthly and I believe he did quite a bit of art for it, but I had trouble testing my recollection with online research because he shares a name with a well-known Disney artist.

Yet a look at TAFF history reveals the perhaps surprising fact that the list of winning fanartists is almost as long as the list of losers.

Lee Hoffman won TAFF in 1956, followed by ATom  (1964), Steve Stiles (1968), Eddie Jones (1969, winning on his second attempt), Stu Shiffman (1981), Jeanne Gomoll (1987), Dan Steffan (1995), Ulrika O’Brien (1998) and Sue Mason (2000).

The Down Under Fan Fund has also been kind to fanartists: Bill Rotsler (1977), Ken Fletcher (1979; he succeeded to the trip when I had to withdraw, having just been hired by the government), and the trio of Australian artists Nick Stathopoulos, Lewis Morley, Marilyn Pride (1986).

Fanartists can’t win fan funds? The real explanation may be that the winning fanartists are not remembered as they deserve, even by other fanartists. Several did fine trip reports.

2009 TAFF Ballot Released

Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Wu and the tandem of Brian Gray and Anne KG Murphy are your 2009 Trans Atlantic Fan Fund candidates. The winner(s) will go to the 2010 Eastercon.

Wu’s nominators are Guy Lillian III, John Purcell, Kevin Roche, James Bacon and  Michael Rennie.

Gray’s and Murphy’s nominators are John Scalzi, Steven H Silver, Geri Sullivan, Paul Cornell and Cheryl Morgan.

Votes must reach the administrators Chris Garcia or Steve Green by December 22 before Chris Garcia’s watch strikes midnight. (Hint: it’s set to Pacific time).

[Story thieved from Ansible Links.]

The Drink Tank’s Bicentennial Issue

The double-century issue of The Drink Tank (#200), its fourth annish, is more than historic — it’s a hoot-and-a-half. Chris Garcia and a whole slate of interesting fans have packed it with laughs.

When Chris invited Cheryl Morgan to contribute, the word annish seems to have been garbled in transmission. But who could have done a better job than Cheryl of envisioning traditional Amish fanac?

A fanzine produced by science fictional Amish, therefore, would be composed on an Apple Mac, or a Dell running Windows XP (which, incidentally, is still on sale in the future because Microsoft still haven’t got the bugs out of Vista, or whatever they are calling the latest release).

Cheryl shows that being a fine writer can take you far. Beth Zuckerman proves that fine writing combined with advance preparation goes even farther toward ensuring your convention experiences will yield great fanzine material. No conreport of mine can ever hope to achieve anything like her account of Arisia 2009:

I did have to seek out a t-shirt vendor, because while my 51-lb suitcase was fully equipped with rocketship pajamas, the ostentatiously unnecessary coin bra, an entire No. 6 costume with eyebrow makeup, a veritable mountain of lingerie, and a generous supply of little rubber things, somehow I entirely failed to bring anything to wear during the day before the parties started.

Pro wrestling is one of Chris Garcia’s passions. In this issue, his friend Bobby Toland has a lot to say about professional wrestler Kurt Angle’s need to learn humility, and how those lessons might be imparted. One of the hallmarks of good fanwriting is its ability to make fascinating a subject that ordinarily would be of little interest, which is my default response to pro wrestling. Toland held my attention from start to finish.

I also admired the trivia quiz “Fantastic Fours” by Frank Wu and Brianna Spacekat Wu. I answered more than half of them wrong, but everyone reading this review should be able to name the foursome composed of Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.

Christian McGuire spends most of his time as one of the leading conrunners of the age, but thanks to Chris Garcia he hasn’t been completely lost to the world of fanwriting. Plenty of people will want to read all about McGuire’s adventures at Further Confusion 2009 once I mention that one of the lines in the report is: “A prurient Pink Panther holding up the tail of the Tiger before him offered Andy the choice to play jump rope with the tail. All I can say is that Andy can Double-Dutch with me any day.”

Leigh Ann Hildebrand is yet another friend of Chris’s with a great sense of humor. This is not even the funniest line in her list of “Five Things I’m No Longer Allowed To Do in the Fanzine Lounge”:

4. Not allowed to offer impromptu origami classes using materials at hand, even with the justification that it’s a form of performance art expressing my thoughtful critique of the phrase “core fandom.”

Every issue of The Drink Tank is highlighted by a combination of original art and assorted graphics liberated from the internet. An example of the latter, my favorite in issue #200, is the wry parody of RIAA’s anti-piracy ads showing a woman in a pre-WWI hairdo manipulating two Edison phonographs under the caption “Home Cylinder Duplication Is Killing the Music Industry.”

It doesn’t seem that long ago Chris was gushing poetically about what it might be like to produce his hundredth ish, at the time something only a select few active faneds like Arnie Katz, Knarley Welch and Mike Glyer could claim. Within five seconds after mentioning this in File 770, I immediately heard from myriads of offended fans who’d been left off the list, the most impressive being Mark and Evelyn Leeper who wondered what was the big deal, since their MT Void has published fifteen “one-hundredth” issues.

But the point is that it’s my turn to live vicariously through Chris’s experience. At the rate I’m producing issues there’s a good chance I will have to wait until 2028 or so to have a 200th issue experience of my very own. Great work Chris!

New File 770 Issue
Posted at eFanzines

Cover of File 770 #154Now find File 770 #154 at eFanzines.com.

A cover collaboration by Brianna Spacekat Wu with Frank Wu adorns the issue. The news inside is complemented by Taral’s article about La Dolce Vita of being a fanartist. My Denvention 3 report is matched with Chris Garcia’s autobiographical explanation about “How to Present a Hugo.” John Hertz’ Westercon Notebook covering the con in Las Vegas, is followed with con reports by Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon and Francis Hamit, and the collected Adventures in Speerology from Patricia Rogers.

Snapshots 8

Here are four developments of interest to fans: 

(1) Preview the artwork Brianna Spacekat Wu sent for File 770, done with an assist from her husband, Frank. He explains: “I helped out a little at the beginning and end, but the vast, vast majority of the work was her.”

(2) There are a lot of librarians in this country who stay informed about electronic storytelling so they can pass the information on to library users. For example, here is what the Imperial County (CA) Free Library blog has to say about three podcastin services, Escape Pod, Pseudopod and PodCastle.

(3) Publishers Weekly’s “Nuts & Bolts” ran an interview with Kelly Link.

(4) Ellen Datlow has news about Howard Waldrop.

[This post includes links from Andrew Porter and Michael J. Walsh.]

Update 10/24/2008: Changed link for Brianna Wu art.

Andrew Wheeler’s Hugo Handicap

It’s no surprise that Andrew Wheeler’s 2008 Hugo predictions are interesting in direct proportion to his actual familiarity with the nominees. Or that they sputter and completely run out of gas the moment he ventures into the fan categories:

[Best Fanzine] I’m terribly ignorant about the fan categories, and so tend to make predictions based on the entrails of small mammals or the flight patterns of sacred birds. I vaguely recall that Mike Glyer is a West Coast guy, so I’m going to predict that File 770 will win.

[Best Fanartist] Frank Wu, the current 800-pound gorilla of the category, is nowhere to be seen. (Did he take himself out of contention?) Brad Foster and Teddy Harvia are both former 800-pound gorillas here, Harvia slightly more recently than Foster, and Mason wins whenever the Worldcon is in the UK. My Magic 8-Ball says that Brad Foster will take it this year.

It’s lost on me why Wheeler makes such a public display of contempt for the elementary work needed to make informed comments about these categories, there being links to all five fanzine nominees from the Denvention 3 website. Are we supposed to think it reflects badly on the nominees that they aren’t worth Wheeler’s effort to read? Guess again.

And what about poor Frank Wu, his courtesy to the field ignored. I’m reminded why Charlie Brown never withdrew Locus again after his comparable gesture in 1978 was also ignored.

The League of Extraordinarily Selfless Fan Artists

Frank Wu has preemptively announced that he will decline if nominated for Best Fan Artist in 2008.

“This essay is incredibly hard to write. I don’t want to be misunderstood, to come across as churlish, arrogant, calculating or ungrateful…. Having won three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist, in three of the last four years, I have decided that – should I be nominated – I will decline the nomination [in 2008],” wrote Frank in an editorial published in Abyss and Apex issue 24, dated the fourth quarter or 2007.

I learned about Frank’s decision when his editorial popped up in response to a Google search about another fan artist. Such news must have been reported and discussed long since (though not anywhere Google could show me). Such a remarkable example of selflessness is worth retelling, in any case.

Frank thoughtfully explains that his decision has been made for the sake of the vitality of the Best Fan Artist Hugo category. He wants to “break the logjam” for other fan artists like Alan F. Beck, Taral Wayne, Dan Steffan, Marc Schirmeister, Alexis Gilliland, and Stu Shiffman. (Though Frank surely must know Gilliland and Shiffman have won before.)

To help show that withdrawing is not an ungrateful response to his popularity, Frank lists many other people who withdrew from past Hugo races. He might have added the two most important examples from the Best Fan Artist category itself. There’s not another category where serial winners have been so conscientious about sharing the limelight.

Phil Foglio won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1977 and 1978. During his last acceptance speech, Foglio withdrew from future fanartist Hugo consideration saying, “I know how hard it is to get on the list, and once you do it’s even harder to get off.” Victoria Poyser won the category in 1981 and 1982, then announced she would not accept future nominations. Foglio and Poyser both went on to professional success.

Frank does tell how Teddy Harvia and Brad Foster declined their nominations in 1997. He speculates, “Apparently they were trying to clear the path for fellow nominee Bill Rotsler, who would pick up his Hugo and then pass away a month later.” Well, no. Just the previous year (1996) Rotsler had won the Best Fan Artist Hugo, a Retro Hugo, and a Special Committee Award. He’d already cleared his own path.  The reason Harvia and Foster gave in 1997 is that they had a self-perceived conflict of interest created by their close involvement with the San Antonio Worldcon. Foster had drawn the covers for all the Progress Reports, and Harvia contributed other art. They made a highly-principled decision. A past progress report artist had been criticized for having an unfair advantage over competitors for the Hugo — that’s fandom for you, where someone demands that our top talents forego Hugo nominations as a condition of being allowed to provide art for free!