Fanzine Review
by Tommy Ferguson

The Apak fraternity did a good thing for a while in the production of a frequent, dependable zine. It covered a multitude of roles: focal fan point, zine reviews, contemporary lettercol for issues of the day and an opportunity to feature short, concise articles by fan writers of little and major renown. Its demise was not noted as well as, say, the demise of Attitude; but its loss is mourned.

A good wake is always about two things: remembrance of times past and a renewal for times to come. In this respect I think both The Jezail and Squib are as good a wake as you can get. They both carry on the tradition of the ensmalled zine. They both come out more frequently than any other paper based zine than I can think off. They both feature articles by fannish heavyweights, excellent letter cols and a strong editorial presence. However much one remarks on the similarities though, the differences from the parent issue of Apak are glaring obvious as well.

Victor’s personality thoughts and ideas run through his zine like a dose of Epsom salts. His attitude and thoughts on fandom are resounding, especially in his latest issue which details his coming of age in the on-line world of RASFF and other newsgroups. His thoughts are striking in their forcefulness, and as I mention below sometimes very misplaced and out of order. But he gets away with this because of the strength of his writing and his style. In Squib 3 for example, we see a classic example of this:

"Who is this retarded truck driver (Jim Trash) to say anything about my work? To call ‘okay’ a piece the quality of which he will never replicate?"

But in the same article we also get this:

"The horizon was in my mind, a distinct range of mountains that superimposed itself on my retina, tracing a false arc for what I knew must exist somewhere. I would blink, and the illusory horizon would disappear and I would remind myself that I didn’t really know where it was."

I’ve had arguments where Victor’s writing is described as turgid and full of self-importance, and that as a reflection on his character it was all too revealing, and not nice for it. That is getting away from the point of reading fanzines though. I vehemently disagree with a lot of Victor’s views on fandom, its inhabitant and the things they get up to. We’ve discussed in person and I’ve come to look on Victor in many ways. His social interaction with me is something that I look forward to but in a completely different way than when I get one of his zines. The zine is a very different thing from the person and to say that Victor’s writing is full of self-knowing importance is to confuse the two.

How many times have you met a person with whom you had been corresponding with for ages only to find out that they are a complete prat, obnoxious and full of crap in real life? (Or the reverse, indeed...) Andy Hooper was like that for me. I had heard so much about him, read his Apak contributions and his high minded views on fandom, which I had agreed with but not in the way he said it.

I had been told by English fans that had met him that he was a colossus on the fannish firmament and to disagree with him would be instant retaliation. I was even warned of things nebulous going on in the dark depths of con rooms. This turned out to be dope smoking and illustrates one of the things I have begun to really detest in fandom scurrilous gossip. Needless to say when Victor introduced himself to me, he’s that kind of guy, I was extremely nervous.

A quick conversation, chinese lunch, some music and comic shopping later I had fallen under his spell. Andy is a really nice guy. I like him a lot. In some ways it is therefore unfortunate that a lot of these qualities and the good things that he represents in fandom don’t come across in The Jezail. It is a good zine, again full of the presence of Andy.

It is just that unlike anything since, it is an obvious continuation of Apak: new times, fanzine reviews, short idiosyncratic Andy articles and a quick lettercol. There just isn’t much more to it. when Andy reviews File 770, he states:

"I’ve always admired his ability to relate fannish connections and involvement within the great machinery of big time international fandom. Given that he’s still willing to pay for a 34 page fanzine, he has room for lengthy memorials and tributes to Ross Pavlac, and shorter obituaries for Ted Pauls, Lester Simons and Ed Cox, fan fiction - pretty entertaining fan fiction, too - by Ed Green, and numerous fannish news stories that I’ve shamelessly ripped off for my own column."

It almost as if Andy was doing an Apak wannabe but in the wrong order. Again there is nothing wrong with this, if you’re going to aspire to anything, it might as well be the best. But it is almost as if Andy is: "Keeping his feet on the ground but reaching for cigars..." As I always thought that mad American was saying when watching The American Top Ten Show at 3.30am on Ulster TV.

Good, but we all know it can be a lot better.

Back to contents