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).
Soft Targets (A6).
Brave New World.
Purple Haze.
Cygnus Alpha.
Game of Rassilon.
Club Tropicana.
Burning the Ground.
the original Skaro.
Shockeye\’s Kitchen.
Timelines (the fanzine of the Grand Order of the Time Lords).
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.
Antoinine Killer.
Metamorph II.
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:

Silver Carrier and many other one-off fictionzine \”novels\” by the excellent Seventh Door Fanzines.
Cosmic Masque (the fictionzine of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society).
Inner Door.
The Key and The Key Presents.
the various Gallifreyan Presses publications.

Inferno Fiction.
Fan Aid – The Storytellers.
Wondrous Stories.
Black Pyramid.
Universal Dreamer.
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…


4 responses to “Fanzines – Creative Genius at the Grass Roots (Part Three)”

  1. Lee Rawlings avatar
    Lee Rawlings

    Just to let you know. Cygnus Alpha has risen again. Last year at PHONICON 2013 a special edition was released, issue 13 followed and now issue 14 is ready to roll out in Pdf form as well as hard copies. You can find us on Facebook . Nice article!

    1. Phil Friel avatar
      Phil Friel

      Thanks Lee! I’ve already got copies of the special edition and issue 13. Looking forward to issue 14, and I’ll give it a plug here on my blog.

  2. montagfire avatar

    Fabtastic! Do you think you might be interested in writing a piece about fanzines of the past for the new site? And linking you blog to it? There is no rush. We are always on the look out for new contributions and this is an important part of fandom history in my eyes.

  3. Phil Friel avatar
    Phil Friel

    Sure, Lee, I’d be game to write something as long as there’s no specific deadline, and I’ve got plenty of time to put it together. My life is so full of stuff that it’s very hard to find free time, so doing extra stuff like research and serious writing would be spread out over a long period of time. However, I am also a 25th Dan black belt Master Procrastinator, so you’d need to give me lots of gentle reminders. 🙂

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