The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: “I don’t know what ‘Boopledoggin’ means either.”

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 The-Club-House-logo-8gFanzines reviewed: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK (#1), and THE ZINE DUMP( #34).

Fanzines reviewed: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK (#1), and THE ZINE DUMP( #34).

(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.)

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Enter At Your Own Risk (#1) – June 2015 – Find it here

Faned: Chuck Connor. UK Perzine.

Chuck is perhaps most famous (among Fantiquarians like myself) for his colossal oneshot “All Our Yesterdays: An Omnibus of the Writings of Harry Warner Jr.” which contain forty of Harry’s columns detailing the history of early fanzines. It’s a priceless treasure trove of fascinating information on a par with Harry’s famed fannish-history hardcover books “All our Yesterdays” and “A Wealth of Fable” which revealed fannish shenanigans of the 1940s and 1950s. Chuck published his valuable contribution to Harry’s legacy in 1991. The copy I possess came covered in coffee stains, but I value it highly nonetheless. Find it here.

At the same (the 1990s), he was noted for his fanzines “Thingumybob” and Lollygagging.”

Currently Chuck is the O.E. of eAPA, the monthly electronic APA, to which I also belong, and for which I have been producing a contribution titled “The Canadian Science Fiction Fan” (same title as the very first Canadian fanzine, published in the spring of 1936) since November of 2011.

Chuck, on the other hand, has been a member since issue #24, which came out in April 2006. His contribution is called “Boopledoggin’.” I don’t know what it means either. I’ve never asked. Guess I should.

Now he has seen fit to launch the personalzine “Enter At Your Own Risk” which consists largely of old “Boopledoggin’” articles with added commentary, or even partially rewritten. This has two virtues. It brings his writing before a larger fannish audience, and it enables him to explore the consequences of his articles as previously published.

For instance, he once described, in a typically fannish fashion rife with self-deprecating humour, an extremely rare skin disease causing him no end of trouble. Immediately the rumour spread that he had contracted AIDS, when in fact it was “just” a skin disease called “Pemghigoid” (any SF editor would reject it as an “obviously made-up name”), a kind of inflammatory reaction which has no known cause but fortunately is somewhat treatable. It seems to fall into the category of seemingly science-fictional diseases only recently discovered. Is it something new? Or something medical knowledge has only just become sophisticated enough to detect and identify? It puts Chuck at the cutting edge of evolving disorders but I don’t think he appreciates this. He’d prefer to be old-fashioned enough to be in good health, methinks.

If you are new to zinedom you may be asking “What’s Pemghigoid got to do with fanzines?”

Truth is writing about one’s health, especially among the bulk of faneds who are getting on in years, is extremely fannish. Every fresh disaster offers the opportunity to “editorialize” on personal trials and tribulations but mainly, an opportunity to heroically rise above such nuisances and reach out to fellow fen with humour and grace. Done it myself, I have. It’s the thing to do when medical disaster strikes.

So now you’re thinking, “What IS a fanzine anyway? Aren’t fanzines supposed to be all about the latest Sci-Fi movies, or stuff like that there?”

Coincidentally in one of the reprinted “Boopledoggin’” articles Chuck quotes British fan D. West as saying, back in the eighties, that “The test of an authentic fanzine is that it includes at least some material which could be found nowhere else but in a fanzine… just because something calls itself a fanzine doesn’t mean it is a fanzine.”

Chuck comments “In practical terms, the West test is all but inapplicable—it is extremely difficult to think of anything in any fanzine which could not conceivably appear in any other kind of publication.”

He then goes on to discuss the phenomenon of fan awards for fanzines and informs us what is really going on:

“Come on, let’s be serious here—most fan awards are based on the number of people within your in-crowd, who turn up at a convention (or whatever) and vote for you because you are you, as opposed to the product itself—or because you’ve held back and pubbed your ish right on the deadline so that it’s about the last thing to fall out of the mailbox before people vote—or, even more common, you pub and distribute your zine at the convention itself, nailing the floating voters be having some friends brag you up at the bar prior to handing out the ballot sheets.”

Now I know that some of you are shocked, “Shocked!” you say, at such nefarious manipulation of voters. The pristine purity of fan awards has been sullied!

The more astute of you, on the other hand, have just realized that Chuck is offering you advice on how to improve your odds of winning an award. Tempting advice, I must say.

Wouldn’t work with Canada’s Aurora Awards though, as the voting is cut off weeks before the actual ceremony takes place at the host convention.

Next Chuck speaks about fans like himself being “tired of the misconceived meritocracy that was (and still is in many respects) based on the put-down, rather than the pick-up. KTF (“Kill The F**kers”) fanzine reviewing has been repeatedly defended by its exponents as being a necessary evil when, in fact, it was just an excuse to spit vitriol and one-liners at those not in the same clique or sub-group as the writer.”

British fandom in particular used to be quite famous, or infamous, for this. I can’t help but wonder if it didn’t drive away many a newbie faned tentatively offering their first fanzine, or even influence potential converts not to bother joining the “tribe.” Could the decline of SF zinedom be, in part, attributed to unfeeling jerks trying to be clever? May haps, but I doubt it. KTF was just a fad that has now largely run its course. I don’t think it was ever taken very seriously. Possibly considered a badge of honour to be attacked. And should the vituperation prove tiresome, all one had to do was shun the zines involved and pub for different circles. Very much like modern fanac on the web. You soon learn which fellow fans to avoid.

Enter at Your Own Risk worth reading? – Absolutely. I figure Chuck will carry on in the same vein, namely writing about both his mundane life and his fannish life with equal verve and insight. Definitely worth reading.

P.S. If you want to check out eAPA, you can < find it here >. Normally it is closed, requiring a password, but the April and October 2014 issues are open for the public, so you can see what it’s all about.

Or you can contact Chuck at < Chuck Connor > and ask him to send you a copy. We have seven members at the moment and could use a few more.

It’s a bit like having a bunch of pen pals you communicate with on a monthly basis. Personally I think it’s a lot of fun. If you like to write, if you crave the freedom to write about whatever you want, and you are particularly keen on getting a guaranteed response to everything you write, check out eAPA!

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The Zine Dump (#34) – June 2015 – Find it here

Faned: Guy Lillian III. American Reviewzine.

If you are at all interested in fanzines (and if you are not, what the heck are you doing reading my column?) “The Zine Dump” is a fantastic guide to current SF zinedom, a comprehensive guide. (Granted, the term “dump” is open to several interpretations, but I’ll not speak of that.)

To give you an idea, consider the titles of the zines reviewed: Alexiad / Argentus / The Art of Garthness / Askance / Askew / Banana Wings / Beam / BCSFAzine / Broken Toys / Brooklyn! / Cargo Cult: Books and Notions / Christian New Age Quarterly / Chunga / Cybercozen / Dagon / DASFaX / Data Dump / De Profundis / Enter at Your Own Risk / File 770 / For The Clerisy / The Insider / Instant Message / Journey Planet / The Ken Chronicles / Lofgeornost / MT Void / The NASFA Shuttle / Newsletter of the Middle Tennessee Science Fiction Society / Nice Distinctions / Nowhere Fan / OASFIS Event Horizon / OBIR Magazine / Opuntia / Orpheum / Pablo Lennis / Paper Radio / Purrsonal Mewsings / The Reluctant Famulus / Rodney’s Fanac / SAM / SF Commentary / Swill / Taffworld / Vanamonde / Vibrator / Warp.

Forty-six zines in all. Not a complete review of all the zines currently being published, but a very good selection. Only three or four have little to do with SF.

One of the forty-six is mine. Nineteen I’ve reviewed at least once. Twenty-three I read more or less every issue. Room to expand, for sure.

Point is if most of the zines reviewed are unfamiliar, but you want to find out which of these zines would appeal to you, then download each and every recent issue of “The Zine Dump,” read what Guy has to say about them, contact their faneds (Guy includes contact info with every review) and you’ll soon be inundated with fanzines.

The Zine Dump is a godsend for people seeking the “zine habit.” Best way to get started.

Now I’ll contrast Guy’s review of “Enter at Your Own Risk” #1 with my review (above) to give you an idea how he approaches the task.

“Picked over and rewritten pieces’ from Chuck’s e-Apa zine, ‘Boopledoggin’” presented in a sideways 8 ½ X 14 format, with cover byZach Billissimo [sic] an inventive combination of Ralph Steadman and Basil Wolverton. Connor begins, traditionally enough, with his fannish genesis—a great used book store feeding a lust for SF, a first fanzine (in 1979) leading to hundreds more, a painful FAFIA, a rejuvenated if rueful return. From these issues, it seems like his energy is unabated, as he describes job-seeking, partner wedding (with lookalike Den), age-facing and drug-guzzling (the shudder you felt through these words is sheer reader definition) and an exercise he admits to being fruitless, “fanzine”-defining. His words on fanzine awards are wise. Bottom and basic lines: Connor is a funny and infectious-in-the-best-way fan writer, and EAYOR is a risk well worth taking.”

See? Two different fanzine reviewers. Two different styles. As to be expected.

Incidentally, of my “OBIR Magazine” (OBIR = the Occasional Biased and Ignorant Review), guy writes: “He starts off with an anthology, “Fungi,” wailing on each of the stories therein, plus the contents of various magazines, and shows himself to be an entertaining and valuable, if strongly subjective, reviewer.”

Thank you, Guy! And let me take this opportunity to mention he also produces a perzine titled Spartacus and a huge genzine called Challenger. Both excellent reading. A very productive faned Guy is.

Zine Dump isn’t just zine reviews though. Guy always throws in three or four thoughtful pages on the latest concerns in fannish politics. Here are his comments on some recent fan awards:

“Speaking of awards, we note with dismay the demise of Britain’s Nova Awards for fanzine activity, cancelled due to ‘lack of interest.’ We feel a touch of defiance, therefore, in sending congrats to the FAAn Award winners presented at the British Corflu…” which consisted of:

BEST WEBSITE – efanzines.com run by Bill Burns.

BEST SINGLE ISSUE – “Trapdoor” #31, edited by Robert Lichtman.

BEST CORRESPONDANT – Paul Skelton.

BEST FAN ARTIST – Dan Steffan.

BEST FAN WRITER – Mark Plummer.

BEST ZINE COVER – “Banana Wings” #56, by D. West.

BEST PERSONALZINE – “Vibrator” edited by Graham Charnock.

BEST GENZINE – “Banana Wings” edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer.

NUMBER ONE FAN FACE – Steve Stiles.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT (not a FAAn Award) – Peter Weston.

“Completing the long FAAn Awards ballot—forty spaces or so to fill out—was a challenge for many, and many didn’t bother. I submitted my choices just before the deadline and was told that mine was only the 18th ballot received. Andy Hooper maintained on FB recently that more would participate were the ballot less daunting…”

Well, let’s compare the FAAns with the Faneds (the Canadian Fanzine Fanac Awards—now in their fourth year—which I founded and administer). There are but four categories to vote on (zine / writer / letterhack / artist) and I supply the list of candidates, a list easy to browse through as there aren’t that many since Canadian zinedom is somewhat moribund of late.. All the voter has to do is choose their favourite five in each category and number their choices from one to five (one = 5 points and 5 = I point). Whichever candidate receives the most points wins in their category. A very simple system, actually. Something for the FAAn people to think about.

I, too, voted late for the FAAn awards. I believe I was the 26th to vote, and a number of people voted after me. So over 30 votes at least, maybe quite a few more. Last year, if memory serves, about 25 people voted for the Faneds.

You may be thinking, these are mighty small numbers. Well, you’ve got to remember the power of fannish apathy. Even some of the people who had been told they were nominated for the Faneds didn’t bother voting. Such is fannish reality.

On the other hand, the people who DO vote are usually highly motivated super active fanzine fans. In that sense both the FAAn Awards and the Faned Awards are legitimate, in that they represent the peer approval of the most rabid fans. So one shouldn’t worry too much about the low numbers.

At any rate, fan awards aren’t dead yet. Zinedom isn’t dead yet. Fandom isn’t dead yet. I’m not dead yet. You’re not dead yet. So things are looking pretty good.

“The Zine Dump” worth reading? Hell yah, especially if you’re keen on discovering what zinedom is all about!

( Multiple issues of The Zine Dump 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

And check out my brand new website devoted to my OBIR Magazine, which is entirely concerned with reviews of Canadian Speculative Fiction. I do a daily blog for it. Today’s topic: “The Critic as Death Demon.” Expect something different. Found at OBIR Magazine

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