Fanzines – Creative Genius at the Grass Roots (Part Four)

Okay, here’s the fourth and final part of my ramblings on my memories of and experiences with fanzines. This one takes us right up to the present day and the most modern fanzines.

I’ve already mentioned how I faded away from collecting fanzines in the late-1990s, and have only really rekindled the passion for zines again over the past five years or so. I’ve seen some really big changes since I came back to collecting fanzines again. The number of print zines has obviously declined drastically over the years, at least since I last collected fanzines on a regular basis, back in the mid-1990s. Things are obviously very different nowadays compared to how they were “back then”, and many former zine editors and writers have either turned professional, or moved on to different creative activities, totally unrelated to fanzines.

At one point, particularly in the 2000-2005 period, I was beginning to think that the traditional paper Doctor Who fanzine had become an extinct species (which is the main reason I didn’t get back into them again much sooner). But fortunately there are still a few traditional paper zines out there, if you look hard enough for them, and there seems to have been a minor resurgence in Doctor Who zines in recent years, most likely as a result of the popularity of the modern Doctor Who television series.

Of the modern DW “paper” zines, I’ve managed to get together a nice little collection of a few of the best:

Richard Farrell produces the excellent Plaything of Sutekh, a new A5 kid on the block, which has two issues under its belt so far. This one certainly looks like it’s going to be a front-runner among the new breed of Doctor Who zines. Richard also produces the equally excellent Andersonic, another high-quality A5 zine dedicated to the Gerry Anderson television shows, in particular the two live shows, UFO and Space: 1999. Both of Richard’s zines are inspired by the classic Circus, which he was a great fan of (and a contributor to, if I recall correctly). This should give you an idea of how high the quality is of both these zines.

Oliver Wake produced seven issues of the excellent Panic Moon, a sexy little A6 Doctor Who zine, before calling it a day. Most of the issues are still available from him.

Grant Bull edited three issues of Blue Box, before moving onto bigger things. Blue Box is an unashamedly retro/cheapo A5 zine, deliberately produced in the old pre-computer DTP style, paying tribute to the classic cut ‘n’ paste photocopied Doctor Who zines of yesteryear.

Kenny Smith has just put out the 12th issue of The Finished Product, an excellent A5 zine dedicated to the niche market of Big Finish audio adventures of the Doctor and his companions.

Richard Bignall has produced three issues of the classy Nothing at the End of the Lane, a huge A4 prozine of incredible quality, dedicated to behind the scenes aspects of Doctor Who. Issue three is available directly from him, and an omnibus of the first two issues is available from Lulu.com.

Colin Brockhurst and Gareth Kavanagh have put out two issues of the simply amazing Vworp Vworp!, another high-quality and colorful A4 prozine which pays tribute to the classic official Doctor Who Monthly/Magazine of days gone by.

Most of the above still have a few back issues in stock. All fans of Doctor Who, or of fanzines, or of both, should do themselves a huge favour and try out some of these zines. They cover a wide range of types, from tiny A6, through traditional A5 (both retro cut ‘n’ paste and more slick DTP), to gorgeous, full-sized A4 glossy colour prozines. They also cover an enormous range of subject matter, but each and every one of them is stuffed to the gills with amazing Doctor Who (and in the case of Andersonic, Gerry Anderson) goodness.

They’re unmissable gems, every single one of them, and there’s absolutely nothing on the newsstands remotely as good, as enjoyable or as deserving of your meagre pennies. Support these zines, buy a copy of each, and encourage the editors to keep producing these wonderful slices of fannish goodness. I know one thing for sure – my life would be a lot poorer and less interesting without them.

There are also many other fanzines out there, both physical/paper and electronic, most of which I haven’t gotten around to trying out yet (but I will). Go find them, and enjoy. Happy hunting!

Fanzines – Creative Genius at the Grass Roots (Part Three)

In my previous two posts, I’ve talked about my general experiences with, and thoughts on, fanzines. Now I’ll share a few more specific thoughts about the actual zines that I’ve come across over the years.

The earliest zines that I collected date from the 1970s and early 1980s, and were mostly based around SF literature and comics. But these were sporadic, one-off zine purchases, and I didn’t really become a hardcore zine collector until well into the 1980s. The pattern of zine purchases in that latter period was also different to what it had been before, in that most of the zines that I collected from the mid-80s onwards were deliberate, regular purchases of individual titles, in order to have a complete collection of each of my favourite zines. The pattern was also different in that the vast majority of these newer zines were based around my favourite sci-fi television series, rather than SF literature and comics.

My first regular fanzine (which I have every issue of, more than twenty of them) was published in the mid-80s, the excellent Flickers ‘n’ Frames, a reviewzine, which now has its direct descendant on the internet in the form of The Borderland website. Flickers ‘n’ Frames ran the gamut of pretty much everything, publishing reviews of sci-fi films, TV series, books, graphic novels, music, and the occasional piece of fiction. This one zine pretty much kick-started my current obsession with collecting zines, and I immediately moved on to collecting other fanzines, mostly based around telefantasy and SF.

My main fanzine collecting years coincided with what is known as the “Golden Age” of Doctor Who fanzines, circa 1985-1995. And so most of the zines in my collection are therefore based on Doctor Who, which just happens also to be my favourite ever TV sci-fi series. Although I’ve got quite a few non-Doctor Who zines in my collection, such as the previously mentioned Flickers ‘n’ Frames, and a large number of other zines covering various cult television shows ranging from Star Trek, to Blake’s 7 and the various Gerry Anderson TV shows, the bulk of my collection is made up of Doctor Who zines. That love of Doctor Who zines continues right up until the present day, and I still collect as many of the current batch of zines as I can.

The hoard of zines that I collected over the years covered many different themes and types, but most of them tended to fall into several different categories.

The first, and largest, category was the general review and article-based zines, which covered not only Doctor Who and other telefantasy series, but often other completely unrelated topics as well. They usually also included the occasional piece of fan fiction. These were mostly traditional A5 zines, and included (off the top of my head):

Circus (which also went A4 for several issues out of the eight-issue run).

Star-Begotten.

Soft Targets (A6).

625.

Brave New World.

Purple Haze.

Peladon.

Cygnus Alpha.

Auton.

Game of Rassilon.

Club Tropicana.

Burning the Ground.

the original Skaro.

Rumours.

Apocrypha.

Shockeye’s Kitchen.

Timelines (the fanzine of the Grand Order of the Time Lords).

Frontios.

Cybermag.

Sonic Screwdriver.

Queen Bat/Space Rat.

Eye of Harmony.

Vipod Mor.

Drake’s Drum (an A5 Star Trek zine).

and a few others that I can’t recall right now. But occasionally the zines were A4 and glossy (or sometimes not), such as:

Celestial Toyroom (the news/reviewzine of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society).

Second Dimension.

Matrix.

Skaro.

Antoinine Killer.

Metamorph.

Metamorph II.

Shadowsphere.

Neutron Flow.

The Tomb.

and a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

The second category was fictionzines, mostly A5 but sometimes A4, zines composed almost totally of fan fiction based on Doctor Who, Star Trek or other telefantasy series. I’ve always had a soft spot for good quality fan fiction, so I have a LOT of fictionzines in my collection, including:

A5:

Mandria.

Silver Carrier and many other one-off fictionzine “novels” by the excellent Seventh Door Fanzines.

Chronicle.

Cosmic Masque (the fictionzine of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society).

Inner Door.

The Key and The Key Presents.

the various Gallifreyan Presses publications.

A4:

Inferno Fiction.

Fan Aid – The Storytellers.

Wondrous Stories.

Black Pyramid.

Universal Dreamer.

Vortex.

Trenchcoat (US Letter).

Myth Makers (US Letter).

and, again, quite a few others that I can’t recall right now. Again, mostly Doctor Who zines.

The third category was the larger A4, glossy (and often more colourful) semiprozines such as:

The Frame, which contained an enormous amount of photographs and background information on Doctor Who.

DWB, which started off as a semi-prozine dedicated to Doctor Who, but then morphed into Dreamwatch Bulletin and finally the professional newsstand magazine Dreamwatch, which covered telefantasy and sci-fi cinema of all shades.

Century 21 (based, obviously, around Gerry Anderson shows).

Portal 31 (a tribute to the classic TV21 comic).

There are quite a few other zines that I haven’t mentioned, as this is all from memory, but this is a good sub-section of them, all falling into the three categories which cover most of the zines in my collection.

To Be Continued…