I am a comparative youngster in Fandom, having been a fake-fan for nigh unto 2 years (May, 1953 - May, 1955, historians, don't forget those dates!) I cannot say that I remember the first issues of any of the above-mentioned editor's mags. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't know the first issues of PEON, OOPSLA!, or GRUE if I fell over them. Ah, but I do have (and cherish) the first issues of both HYPHEN and PSYCHOTIC. PSY was the first fanzine I ever read, so I'll take Dick Geis and PSYCHOTIC first ...
JULY, 1953 was the date PSYCHOTIC #1 was shuved at Fandom. The cover was barely visible and the dittoing was just average. The material was written mostly by Dick, the rest by assorted fans.
In the last year and a half, PSY and Dick both have risen. In my '54 Ten Top Fanzines poll, PSY won hands down as the best fanzine. It has all or mostly been due to the fact that Dick Geis is the fanzine editor. Granted, his material has been well above average, it has been Dick's own personality that 'sold' the mag.
With this last (#16) issue, PSYCHOTIC is now lithographed. I'd say, judgeing from L.A. prices, the magazine cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100, plus about $10 for postage. Compared to an average dittoed issue, this is about $50-$60 more ... and (though Dick has switched to bi-monthly) I wonder how long this can be kept up. I am facing the self-same problems myself and my mag will be lithoed as long as reader-subscriber money keeps rolling in, perhaps Dick is in the same boat.
I believe that Dick Geis in PSY had Fandom's best dittoing. The 15th issue was unsurpassed by any other mag I've seen in the dittoed category. This last issue showed that Dick has a few things to learn in the offset preparation end of editing, but knowing Dick, he'll come through and will probably do wonders in that field also.
One of the most interesting things in PSYCHOTIC, both past and present is the letter column ... it's always long, and what's more, interesting. Pro- and Anti- fan-fictionists dominated it in the beginning. Pro- and Anti- Seventh Fandomists took over later on. Pro- and Anti- Convention behavior in recent issues. Something always is going on in Section Eight.
Vernon McCain and his PADDED CELL have also been a highlight in PSY. Earl Kemp, Bill Reynolds, Terry Carr, Bob Tucker, Harlan Ellison, Joel Nydahl, and many others have written for it. PSYCHOTIC has been the gathering place for Fandom.
With the recent additions of Jim Bradley and Bob Kellogg, Psy has also been leading the other zines in art-work. All in all, it is the best all-round fanzine which is why it is the best.
When talking about 'the best fanzines' it is always difficult to select one. It is difficult because you cannot select and say that one editor's personality is better than the other. Personalities, like the magazines that reflect them, are of different types. One cannot divide them into 'humorous' and 'serious' alone, and further classification is enough to stump anyone.
Walt Willis' HYPHEN was originally started to fill the gap between issues of SLANT. It was mimeographed,, and much more cheaply than the beautiful (and defunct) SLANT with its glorious wood-cuts. Gee, I was just thinking how lucky I am to have lived in the era of SLANT. That was one magazine I had the privilege to receive a few copies of. Many fans these days wouldn't know I copy if it bit them. Ah friends and those of you who knew -- sniff! -- dear departed SLANT, shed a tear .......
Well, enough of this slobbering sentimentality, by now Willis must have left to get a new handkerchief and I can really tear into HYPHEN.
One of the little things that makes HYPHEN what it is, is the back page interlineations. Those, together with the ones that Willis runs up and down the pages, give me -- and I trust numerous other readers -- loads of belly laughs. I believe it's the humor in "-" that has me sold on it.
The letter section in Hyphen is also very interesting. It gives an insight to most of Irish and English fandom -- they seem to have a personality of their own.
The SuperManCon report, all 20 some odd pages of it, had me in stitches on the floor. I never laughed so hard. For sheer humor, Hyphen and Walt himself are unsurpassed. Recently I've been reading my back Quandrys and between those and the ones recently appearing in OOPSLA!, my supply of humorous as well as interesting material has been filled.
I've sent a letter to Walt a week ago, asking for permission to reprint two poems that have appeared in "-". One was in #1, the other in #3. The FANTHEM, the latter one, was the greatest piece of fan poetry I've read in fandom and I think it should be memorized and recited by every fan at every fan gathering.
I'd like to extend my appreciation to Walt for the 6 ishes of "-" that I received in 1954 and hope that he continues publishing for many a year to come.
As most of you know, when Q died, THE HARP THAT ONCE OR TWICE went to OOPSLA! And Gregg must thank his lucky stars for that. Names like Silverberg, Tucker, Grennell, Boggs, and Willis have made OOPSLA! a haven for the Bnfs. Never have I seen them altogether in any other zine. Gregg himself is quite a good fan-writer, and the conglomeration of these boys is one that can't be beat. I'd say material-wise, OOPS is the best in the field.
THE HARP in the U.S. is something I've come to look forward to for many issues -- that alone is worth the whole issue ... but when you get all the others, how can you go wrong?
Gregg's been publishing for quite a while and one of the most amazing things is the fact that he hitchhikes innumerable miles from Camp Pendleton to Santa Monica to spend most of his leave working away on OOPSLA!
I must confess that I felt quite sorry for myself when I bussed home those eight weekends to do nothing but slave away on the CONish while home, but Gregg has equalled and surpassed that feat, having done almost the same over an even longer period of time. You've got to hand it to him -- he puts out a terrific mag on top of the handicap. I'd hate to see what kind of a mag he'd turn out when he's his own boss again. Brother!
One often takes for granted these fanzines that are the best that come out regularly. I know that there'd be a rather large gap if and when OOPS! ever goes. Gregg is the only one of the five top faneds that I've had the pleasure of meeting. It was back around the time of ABstract #4 ... late May, 1954 ...
I wrote Gregg a note saying that we were having a NAPA Meeting on one certain weekend and that if he could get away, to come on up and join us. He had a cover for OOPS! that he wanted to have offset which he was also going to bring.
The meeting, as did most of our NAPA meetings, degenerated into a free-for-all and we wound up in big juicy mass-solitaire contests. We had as many as five (each with his own deck) playing solitaire on my bedroom floor. When Gregg left, we exchanged zines and bid each other fond farewells.
Gregg's a fine boy, and apparently works quite hard on Oops!, he never did get that cover offset, temptation to buy a gun intervened, and I guess that must be one of the few instances when something besides the Marines came ahead of Oopsla! -- truly one of fandom's finest.
Dean Grennell is just about the most fascinating fan I've ever had the pleasure swapping letters with. Between he and Tucker and Bloch, I don't think three adult fans ever had so much fun. Seems as though the revival of LeZ has brought Tucker back to actifanning -- next thing we'll know, our F. B. I. agent Bloch will have condescended to am-pubbing.
It doesn't seem as though Dean is a comparative newcomer .. why when you get down to it, he's only been in Fandom about a year longer than I have .. and that ain't too much.
Dean's mag, GRUE is almost a mirror of his personality. I don't know if I ever published that letter or not, but it seems that Dean is quite a pistol champion too. Besides his guns and his fanning, there's photography, pro-writing, and ghu only knows what else! Such talent.
You can find just about everybody in the pages of GRUE, both fan and pro. THE FICKLE FINGER, the letter column, is worth reading every word of ... it's sort of like entering a room and finding a whole bunch of your favorite fans all sitting around talking -- but not at the same time. Dean might slay me, but I would say GRUE has its merits as a letter-zine. Interesting letters from just about everyone predominate the issue, and as Dean says in FILLER #523 (page 42 of this issue) thats one of the ways to keep every reader commenting on the mag -- and also one of the factors for a successful zine which GRUE certainly is. The first issue of GRUE I saw was #19 ... I'd sure give a lot to get my hands on the rest -- any offers?
If you think this is just a lot of babbling -- or perhaps nothing but a set of glorified reviews, I guess you'd be right. But these five mags and their respective editors are five that I think are deserving of such praise, even if only mine.
Next on the list is Lee Riddle and his mag, PEON. Since my issues of PEON are buried in my garage and it's now 12 o'clock p.m. Saturday night of January 15th (the day, by the way, which AB -- this issue -- was first supposed to reach all of you -- the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY DATE of ABstract to the day) and I'll be damned if I'm going to get them.
Of the five fanzines, each I believe is famous in a different way. PSYCHOTIC for its editor, HYPHEN for its unsurpassed humor, OOPSLA! for its great contributors, GRUE for its fascinating characters and letters and PEON because it is a quality fanzine and has been over the years. I get a sincere pleasure with every issue I read of PEON.
It was when I was first burrowing through Tom Piper's fanzine collection that I came upon my first issue of PEON. It had an Emsh cover of two men playing checkers next to their crashed rocket -- oblivious of the situation. I can't for the life of me remember the number of the issue. Ever since, I've been lucky enough to receive P. And you know what? I've never commented on an issue, other than in my review column. I feel guilty now that I come to think about it. I hope you'll forgive me Charles ... For all I know I might have been already cut from the mailing list. I know I've done the same thing to people I've sent AB to who have neglected to comment on it.
PEON, it seems to me, has never been overly exceptional. Yet, in the eight-odd years it's been published, I've yet to see a bad issue. Of course, I've only seen about 10, but I guess that's enough to formulate an opinion on. I think PEON is about the most consistently good fanzine out today.
Well, Time and Space have just about given out ... I can shut up now and go back to my editorial writing. I've said what I wanted to say. I've rated what I think are the FIVE BEST in 1954. Who knows? Maybe five different ones will be the five best in '55. My first active year in Fandom has terminated and those are the ones that have had a lasting impression on me. Maybe you have five different ones in mind ... how 'bout it?
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