I Heart My Old Fanzine

Jim Shull's cover for Prehensile #6 Paula Marmor cover for Prehensile #14 

I’ve been very fortunate that File 770 gets so much support from fan artists. In comparison, it must be a challenge for start-up fanzines to get original art today. What a change from the era of my big mimeographed genzine Prehensile, the 1970s, when fandom was jammed with enthusiastic and talented illustrators and cartoonists, some of them still active to this day. I think a combination of editorial ingratitude and bad repro thinned out the crowd by the end of the decade. But what great stuff we were allowed to print in the glory days.

Such memories made me wonder if any trace of Prehensile was online (I haven’t posted anything ’til now) so I ran a Google search and was pleased to find someone (Dean Sweatman?) has scanned in every single cover. And done the same for an enormous number of other fanzines.

Of course, that includes fanzine covers that I drew myself. How much extortion might I have paid to keep that from happening had I been given the chance! (Well, I have always liked my attempted portrait of Damon Knight on the cover of Prehensile #0 quite a bit, truth be told…)

Posted to three different sites is Jim Shull’s gorgeous cover of Prehensile #6, with bold graphics quite like a woodcut print. For example, it’s displayed by the University of Iowa Libraries Horvat Collection site:

In 2004, The University of Iowa Libraries received an enormous collection of science fiction fanzines accumulated by Martin M. (Mike) Horvat, who was offering the set in an online auction. A sampling of covers and tables of contents from the fanzines has been digitized in order to give scholars and fans a feel for this unique collection.

Indeed, my search for references to Prehensile revealed two additional university fanzine collections whose online presence is new since I wrote my 2004 article Future of Fanzines Past.

Syracuse University lists a fanzine collection.

And Duke University now boasts the Murray Fanzine Collection of 1150 fanzines accumulated by brothers Edwin L. and Terry A. Murray of Durham, N.C. over a 40-year span. It’s divided into various parts:

The second section consists of a sampling of science fiction and fantasy fanzines (including fantasy fiction) ranging from 1952 to the early 1980s, including information on artists and writers such as Vaughn Bode and Harlon [sic] Ellison. Most of the fanzines in the collection were printed independent of large scale publishing techniques, utilizing ditto, mimeograph, hectograph and, later, photocopy, on paper of varying degrees of quality.

When I see Harlan’s name typoed, it’s easy to be humble about Prehensile‘s pretensions to literary immortality. But hey, not too humble — I’d say Peter Roberts took the measure of Prehensile in his review of #9 for Checkpoint 44:

*Prehensile 9 (71pp:A4:d) Mike Glyer… (50¢) This is a good and thick genzine with material ranging from the fannish madness of Aljo Svoboda to the tedium of book reviews. There are usually several worthwhile pieces in each issue, often hidden in the editorial or letter-column; it’s a big enough fanzine to pick them out, enjoy them and leave the rest.

History, Where Is Thy Sting?

The University of Iowa has made a very nice beginning in publicizing the M. Horvat fanzine collection on its website.

There’s also a page devoted to describing the way amateur press associations (apas) work. I wish its section on Contributors was less celebrity-driven:

Apas have historical signficance in that many of them contain the amateur work of famous genre writers and illustrators. Much of this material predates the writers’ fame, although this is not always the case. In addition, many apa members, though not professional writers, were significant voices in the world of fandom. Examples of apas with contributors of significant importance in the field include Apa-Five (Frank Miller), APA-H (Harlan Ellison, as “Cordwainer Bird”), Apa-L (Alan Dean Foster; David Gerrold; Larry Niven); Apanage (Jane Yolen); Elanor (March Laumer); Fantasy Amateur (Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Silverberg, Donald Wollheim); Rehupa (Charles de Lint; Michael Stackpole); and SAPS (Jack Chalker; Gordon Eklund).

In this case the fascination with famous names has hoist the writer by his own petard. How can somebody understand the notion of an apa for hoaxes and still be taken in by the contributions of Cordwainer Bird? All of Cordwainer Bird’s contributions to APA-H were written by Elst Weinstein or me.