The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: “exaggerate as much as Hunter S. Thompson”

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The-Club-House-logo-8gFanzines reviewed: CLICKETY CLICK! (#1-7), FLUSTERY CLUCK (#1), and SAM (#17).

(Please note: Zine reviews are normally prepared a week or more in advance of publication of this column and may not necessarily include the latest issue available, but the link to multiple issues given at the bottom of each review probably does.)

RG Cameron Clubhouse Apr 17 2015 Illo #1 'Clickety'

Clickety Click! (#1-7) – Easter 2015 – See multiple below.

Faneds: Mike Scott, Alison Scott, Flick, Jan van ’t Ent, Steve Davies, and others. Conventionzine.

As someone who went insane editing program books for VCON four years in a row, I can tell you all program books, being printed ahead of time, are woefully out of date by the time conventions begin. Consequently pocket programs, printed the day before a convention, are needed to provide the latest up-to-date information regarding program changes, or news of Guests of Honour being struck by meteorites and sending in their regrets, or any sort of disaster really. Anything the congoers need to know.

But what about changes DURING the convention? Simple. A daily bulletin. Sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, but always necessary and generally more entertaining than mere notices tacked to doors or walls. Case in point: Clickety Click.

Why call it Clickety Click? Isn’t it obvious? No? Here’s the explanation:

“This is Clickety Click!, the official newsletter of Dysprosium. Why are we called Clickety Click? Because Dysprosium is the 66th Eastercon and Dysprosium is the 66th element in the periodic table. The bingo call for 66 is ‘Clickety Click!’ So there you go.”

Ah, sure. Why not? I would have thought it had something to do with the sound of the brilliant fannish journalist typing busily on their computer keyboards to compose CC, but that would be too obvious.

What sort of brilliant journalists? Here’s a clue:

“The newsletter room can be found at The Sign of the Moose and Crossbones. It’s very handy for the Real Ale bar, where we’ll probably be if the newsroom is shut: look for the pink newsletter ribbons.”

Not only do the CC staff, being proper newsmen, intend to spend as much time in the bar as possible, they want the congoers to provide both amusing copy and amusing photos, thus saving them the effort and freeing up more time in the bar. This is not possible in real life. The public does not write for mundane newspapers, so reporters have to slog through all the hard work, but in fandom… every true reporter’s dream I tells yah.

Seven issues were printed: one on Friday, three Saturday, two Sunday, and one Monday morning. That’s dedication for you! Unfortunately two of the issues are mostly blank on my computer screen. I assume a glitch in my computer’s ability to read the file.

Nevertheless I am able to read the bulk of the material and note that, yes, there is much shifting of programming about. One item in particular stood out for me. A Worldcon bid party put on by Montreal fans hoping to capture the 2017 slot. Good for them, but I think they handicapped themselves by offering a “free drink.” Guys. You’re trying to impress British fans. ONE free drink? Surely you mean an open bar all night long till sunrise? That’s the proper way to garner votes with British fans. Of course, I’m going by hearsay and by what I’ve read in British fanzines over the years. It may be they exaggerate as much as Hunter S. Thompson, but, if Bob Shaw’s wonderfully entertaining stint as VCON Guest of Honour years ago is anything to go by, maybe not…

And there’s the customary, indeed mandatory, outright begging of attendees to volunteer as gophers, techs, and whatnot lest the convention collapse. I don’t actually know if this sort of desperate pleading in convention zines works or not. I do know it is quite common for newbies, once things have been explained to them in hospitality suite and they’ve put a few drinks behind their belt, to suddenly burst into a fervour of fever (or fever of fervour?) to volunteer on the spot, or burst into song, burst into something. It’s amazing the effect fannish conviviality has on some fans on their first exposure. It can lead to a St. Paul on the road to Damascus-style conversion to con participation and even planning. Older, experienced fans are relatively immune, being all-knowing and wise in the ways of fandom, which is why these exalted beings are darn near invisible at conventions, except at the room parties, the ones with the free drinks, but I digress…

Of course, the convention being past, what I look for in conzines such as this are the amusing, quirky bits, the items that were inserted for the purpose of lifting the interest level of the contents into a “must read” habit on the part of the congoers.

For instance, I gather people were wearing a variety of differently coloured pegs (on their noses?) to signify their mood, or at least their level of approachability on meeting them in the hall or at a room party. Clickety Click has suggestions beyond what attendees were already wearing, like:

Blue – No children may approach me.

Green – Please buy me a drink (real ale preferred).

White – You have my permission to move my badge pouch aside to read the slogan on my

T- shirt.

Aubergine peg – Please talk to me unless you’re creepy.

Octarine peg – I am colourblind and have no idea what your peg means.

Flashing peg – Why are you staring at my chest?

The possibilities are limitless!

And being something of a fan historian, the following intrigues me:

“You may or may know that London fans have been meeting every first Thursday of the month since 1946, and you’d be very welcome if you’re in London!”

Talk about longevity! Meeting monthly for 69 years!

And last excerpt I’ll provide, an example of how history can bite, printed in the Monday issue:

“Finally someone’s complained about the newsletter: I saw your ‘Sad Puppy’ illustration in the previous issue. Don’t you know a V-2 killed my grandfather you insensitive clods? – Outraged of Addiscombe actually.”

Clickety Click! worth reading? – Yes, it’s mildly amusing in spots. But more importantly, if you are looking for insight into how to produce a zine of this type for your upcoming convention, this will give you a good idea of how to compose an informative yet entertaining zine people will enjoy reading and, indeed, look forward to the next issue throughout the convention. A combination of cheeky humour and brief info bites works well. A lesson worth learning.

( Multiple issues of Clicket Click here )

RG Cameron Clubhouse Apr 17 2015 Illo #2 'Flustery'

Flustery Cluck (#oo) – Easter 2015 – Find it here

Faned: John Coxon. Spoofzine.

Ah yes, “John Coxon, who is thrilled to see that his name has been legally changed by the newsletter staff.” Presumably the “other” newsletter, of which Flustery Cluck is a kind of windup-the-con spoof. Only a single sheet of two pages.

The second page is reserved for photos of people reacting to “the Worst Apology in the World” which I assume is analogous to Monty Python’s “Most Dangerous Joke in the Wold” allegedly used as a weapon in WWI. From the expressions, the apology joke is almost as fatal. Long-time fan Ben Yalow is quoted as saying “It is perhaps a wise decision not to print it.” Sure enough, it is not printed. I can only wonder if it was generic humour, or unique to Eastercon, or perhaps pertaining to the current HUGO scandal. I guess I’ll never know.

The first page prints the “Second Worst Apology in the World,” plus a slightly obscene song under the heading “Could Not Have Been More Obscener” which IS devoted to the current Hugo controversy, a couple of quotes, and a few last-minute-news items pertaining to the con. Reprinting any of it here would deprive the reader of a huge percentage of the zine’s contents, so I won’t.

Flustery Cluck worth reading? – Yes, at least a quick glance, since that’s all it takes to absorb what’s offered. Worth checking out for the kind of exhausted instant-nostalgia most cons leave in their wake. For the people putting it together, call it a cathartic experience enabling them to make a final break from the con experience and slip back into their mundane lives. This theory utter bosh of course, but that didn’t stop me from presenting it. But that’s just me, making up stuff as I go along.

Point is, Flustery Cluck exemplifies the fun spirit of Eastercon. I’m assuming. Another theory…

RG Cameron Clubhouse Apr 17 2015 Illo #3 'SAM'

Sam (#17) – May 2015 – Find it here

Faned: Steve Stiles. Corfluzine.

First of all, the cover shown above is not actually the cover. It is an illustration from the upper left corner of the cover, the other three quarters being text. I like the illo so much I decided to feature it as the “cover.”

Second, ignore the thin line under the heading line. It’s the shadow edge of the strip of paper I used to cover up Steve’s address and e-address. Figured I didn’t need to broadcast it here.

Now, I note at one point Steve writes “To be honest, every evening this week I’ve been

spending an hour listening to Bach and Vivaldi on my iPod while reading Bruce Sterling’s SchismatrixPlus. [This now qualifies as a s.f. fanzine.]”

Two jokes here. First, it’s a given that many science fiction fanzines never mention anything about science fiction, and people “in the know” don’t need to be told this, so stating the obvious is a bit of ironic comic excess. Unless, of course, the reader is new to the game and lacks the reading experience to understand the trope, which is why I point it out. I can be annoying that way.

The second gag is that the final line is in the typical courier typewriter font that was the ONLY font available back in the glory days of early fandom, its use proving the provenance of this mag as a legit fanrag. Those unaware just how limited the choice of font was back in the day of typing stencils for rotary printing machines might not get the joke, which is why I point it out, so that I can be double-annoying.

Elsewhere Steve states that using his illo for the cover reinforces his claim “that this is indeed a science fiction fanzine.” Especially this particular illo. He explains:

“As sharp-eyed readers will realize, the cartoon on the first page utilized a Frank R. Paul alien—presumably a Martian– which I craved to draw. Mind you, this is my homage, a tribute, and not a lowly and despicable swipe (I enlarged the ears, for example). Paul’s alien graced the back cover of the May 1939 Fantastic Adventures, the cover of the April 1940 Superworld Comics, and the cover of the Sept. 1965 issue of Fantastic Stories. The alien also appeared in Quip, Hugo Gernsback’s Christmas magazine (1949), and on page four of 1953’s Science Fiction Plus. The earliest known version of the Martian, according to Frank Wu’s Frank R. Paul Gallery, appeared in the Aug. 1924 issue of Gernsback’s Science And Invention.”

I’ve previously mentioned that the entire concept originated in Hugo Gernsback’s 1911 novel Ralph 124C 41+ in the form of the pigeon-chested Martian character Llysanorh CK 1618. You cannot possibly get any more science fictional than good old Llysanorh, so kudos to Steve Stiles for selecting this wonderful piece to illustrate his point.

The caption carries the humour. Quite well, methinks. Steve claims to have a lot of trouble thinking up suitable captions for his illos. I doubt that. His output is remarkable and often extremely amusing. Nevetheless he includes a list of captions or ideas for captions that he claims never quite jelled in terms of producing a “toon.” For instance, quoting the first four he offers:

1.) Mermaid hiking in the Adirondacks.

2.) Vampire still has his baby fat.

3.) Alien sex and the G Spot problem.

4.) Alien sudoku.

Aha! Insight into his devious mind! He offers these ideas gratis to anyone willing to take a bash at converting them into illos with appropriate captions.

A running gag of his, by the way, has to do with being nominated for the “Best Fan Artist” Hugo innumerable times but never actually winning. Round about Worldcon time he concocts assorted hoax Hugos he “secretly” won. One time wearing a Hugo rocket that had pierced his head (if my memory is correct)—a variation on the old arrow through the head gimmick. Others get in on it too. Taral Wayne once posted “forbidden” photos of Steve’s den with a dozen or more half-hidden Hugos scattered about in odd spots. A variation of the “spot Waldo” theme.

Steve’s Hugo annual Hugo joke is a classic example of the fannish propensity to take a negative or at least somewhat frustrating situation and utilize it as inspiration for humour. Steve Stiles is a master at this. A good egg, to use an old expression. He is one of the most fondly popular fans in contemporary fandom, and deservedly so.

Steve’s fannish credentials are rock solid. He’s won the FAAn Award “Best Fan Artist” several times, and in 1998 he was the first to win the Bill Rotsler Award for his fan art. Not only that, but he’s been active in fandom for over fifty years. For example:

“SAM #1 was published in 1961, under inked and published on a school mimeograph machine, laboriously typed up on a 1910 Underwood, and cleverly stapled in the upper left hand corner. As for the material, all I can remember is a review of “Bye Bye Birdie.” I do recall that Marion

Zimmer Bradley gave me a favorable review in Ted Pauls’ KIPPLE: “I read it on the bus, and laughed all the way to work.” This review gave me an incredible blast of egoboo…”

SAM worth reading? – Yes! The whole point of this issue of SAM, produced for distribution at Corflu, the one convention entirely devoted to fanzine fandom, is to celebrate, indeed, wallow in tradition and history. SAM #17 is a hodgepodge of memories and memorable events “randomly” culled from his half-century plus of fanac, all of it interesting, intriguing, and in some cases, delightful. I’ve barely touched on the topics he’s crammed into a mere six pages. SAM is a splendid example of what fanzine fandom is all about.

( Multiple issues of Sam here )

BY THE WAY:

You can find a fantastic collection of zines at: Efanzines

You can find yet more zines at: Fanac Fan History Project

You can find a quite good selection of Canadian zines at: Canadian SF Fanzine Archive

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