Through Sleet, Etc
Comes the U.S. mails ...
(A letter herein entitles
the writer to a free ish)
508th MP Detchm't.
Ft. Sam Houston, Texas
All sorts of apologies for not sooner acknowledging receipt of that magnificent convention issue of ABstract. I guess the sheer size and excellence of the mag overwhelmed me so I find it hard to say anything about it except WOW!
The detailed convention coverage was marvelously interesting, and although each reporter seemed to be attending a different convention, I guess that's only natural, now that the World Cons have become such big affairs that no one fan (even Harlan) can be in ALL the bull sessions at once!
Only disagreement I have with YOUR narrative of Con events is your dismissal of "Born of Man and Woman" as an amateurish job. I dunno, having no technical experience with moviemaking, whether or not it was up to par in that department, but I certainly feel it put across the spirit of the story remarkably well. Prior to seeing the film, I was quite sure that any attempt to make a movie of that particular story would be a horrible failure, but since they had the strength to resist the temptation to actually show the monster on the screen, it took only a little cooperation from the imagination of the audience to give the film a real air of horror. And if stfen haven't got imaginations, who has? But this is a very minor quibble; I guess we simply have different tastes in literature (or films).
To me, one of the highlights of the Con was EEEvans' uncalled-for slamming of the Detroit club's chances for the next Con. I realize that he might be somewhat prejudiced against young fans -- it's been such a long time since he was one. But as Harlan took pains to point out (and which I happen to know is correct) the Michigan group includes a large number of older fen, probably more than the Clevelanders have. Surely Martin Alger is no juvenile fan, nor Howard Devore. What made Evans' speech doubly surprising is that he is a former Michigan fan himself. He's lived in California for the past decade or so. and I really don't think that's any loss to Michigan.
All in all, after seeing this ABstract, I'm glad I'm not publishing a subzine these days. If I were, I'd still be a brilliant green with envy. Come to think of it, I certainly don't envy you all the work involved. Gad, you must be superhuman, or at least superdevoted to crifanac!
Personally, Art, I did not take Ev Evans' seconding speech as being too much of a slam against the Detroit club. I think he was speaking what he personally felt -- not fully realizing the number of oldsters in the group. I felt, myself, and I know a number of other people felt the same way that the representatives were all or mostly the younger set from Detroit. People just don't put much faith in us'ns under 21.
170 Upper Newtownards Rd.,
Belfast, Northern Ireland
The last ABstract -- the Conish -- was one of the most fascinating things I've ever read in Fandom. Your own conreport especially; it struck me as that very rare thing in fanzines, a completely objective report. I don't mean that your own personality didn't show through -- it did -- but that you seemed to report everything as it really struck you without any colouring by prejudice, preconceptions or hindsight. Perhaps it's just this clear, honest and cold-light-of-day view of events that's made me grateful ever since reading this ABstract that I got to the States in 1952, not 1954. This feeling is probably based on a mere illusion, but I can't help thinking that I would not have enjoyed any of the Conventions reported in this issue. As I said, this is probably because of the "morning-after-the-nite-before" techniques of reporting used by the writers, but there is at least one concrete instance which gives some justification for the instinctive feeling that many of these younger or newer fans would be excessively unpleasant to know. This Fellow Fletcher for instance. I've been reading fanzines for eight years without finding anything to shock me -- my mind is so broad as to be virtually two-dimensional -- but I think it is a bit sickening to find a fan openly admitting behaviour like his in that affair of the manuscript at the auction. This is theft. I can understand a person stealing something in a moment of weakness, and perhaps even under stress or in drink behaving as he did to the neofan, but I can't understand his proclaiming to fandom at large exactly what he did as if it was a clever thing to do, and as if fandom accepts it as normal behaviour. I'll try to ignore his existence in fandom in the hope that he'll go away.
There were other things that depressed me in this issue -- people calling Paul Mittelbuscher, fandom's current whipping boy, names like slob apparently just because he makes typos and can't punctuate, or is too dogmatic in his opinions of other people's fanzines ... people bidding other people out of money they could perhaps ill afford out of sheer mischief ... people bullying halfwitted 14 year old children into drinking hair cream ... people printing information they were given privately ... but at least they generally don't seem to be particularly proud of them; and I don't want to be censorious about matters where I don't know all the facts and personalities involved as intimately as those concerned.
About the rest of the issue, Bloch was excellent ... and it's typical of the quixotic generosity of the man that, with all his other business, he'll agree to write a column for a young fan's fanzine. Do you really think your readers will have to look up "suppurates"? My Ghod. The dialogue on pages 63-66 was of some clinical interest, like the writings of mental defectives, though there were a couple of lines worth printing in their own right. Wegars' bit was the best piece of writing in the issue I thought, with Bloch's article, though your own conreport was the most interesting. The Conish was a wonderful job of publishing, Congratulations!
You can breathe freely, Walt, as I haven't seen or heard anything from Mr. Fletcher in quite awhile. I certainly hope that you don't judge American fandom -- or rather the younger set of American fandom from his example. For yours and the other readers' information, pages 63-66 of ABstract #8 had to be deleted from every American-sent copy because it made the difference between 8¢ postage and 32¢. Canadians, Irishmen, and assorted Englishmen received those pages, but no Americans. The three pages consisted of the dialogue between Burton Satz, Charles Wilgus and myself at my house, during the pub- lication of the Conish.
2361 N. Mississippi
Portland 12, Oregon
I was deeply impressed by that cover. It struck me as being the best Cobb work I've seen to date, and that is saying something. He does tremendously well with the scratchboard technique. I just love the way the water is handled .. and the rocket flame ... and the clouds ... and the rocket itself. Only one niggling thought, tho: seems to me that the rocket would not be too stable even on a calm sea; seems like a moderate ocean sea would topple the thing over.
Very nice contents page indeed. Rotsler has done more for your mag than anyone ... he has given it a characteristic style ... AB wouldn't be AB without Rotsler, it seems like now.
Bradley does very good work in spirit; his use of the shading plate is something more artists in spirit should emulate. It is not accidental that many of his pictures are characteristically beer infested. I know ...
Bloch was superb ... and I think it best if I stay close to Portland for a few years. Certainly I ain't goin' to no conventions! This guy is probably waiting to slit my throat at the first opportunity. I know those people who hear voices from their Ghod ... That kind of gets my nanny!
Jeez ... all those convention reports were somewhat enervating. I am now surfeited and fed up with them. I think every other person at the SuperManCon was taking notes for a report, for every fanzine for the last six months has contained at least three pages of the things! Then come the letters. I am full up to here on con reports.
Denis Moreen makes a nice point in his article, and I think a valid one. I wish he would write more in this vein ... he does it well. Your own SF Con report I found very interesting. Not so much as a factual report as an insight even further into your own personality. It must have been fun, but not, I fear, for an anti-social introvert like me.
1517 Penny Dr., -Edgewood
Elizabeth City, N. Carolina
Abbie #8 was very good. Now don't get me wrong, lad. I like it and appreciated your reserving me a copy. However, it was just so-so as far as material goes. The only outstanding features were your art and photographs. (Both were superlative). I wonder if you're not spreading your own personality too thin. I personally like smaller issues of ABBIE, in which you comment, etc., throughout. The impression I got from the mag was one of weariness. I hope your next ish returns to the norm somewhat. I would rate it only as a "B" -- a plus if I were judging well.
I liked Stewart's column. I want to keep liking it. Enclosed is some dough for the Con pics and an extra copy of the cover if you have one.
Yes, extra copies of the cover and the Con pics are available if you want them. 10¢ gets you the Con pics and a 3¢ stamp gets you a copy of the cover. Unfortunately, the cover must come folded, since I can't afford large envelopes for sending them flat. Sam, I fear, that you will be one of those people who will be unhappy to see AB in this offset form. Then again, perhaps you will be pleased ...
38 Seville St.,
San Francisco, Cal.
The cover was very good but not as good as the cover on AB#2, but nevertheless, it was good -- the art work that is -- didn't care for the lettering though. Loved the contents page! Material content of the Conish was enormous but was nothing outstanding, except, perhaps for "Swamp Dust", by Harlan Ellison, enjoyed it very much. Your con report was very good, most enjoyable! And to Claud, who suppurates, oh no, not another one! Grennell's column was extra good, I found loads of useful information.
Your con report comes to mind again. It was very good. Chuckled through the whole thing and even laughed outloud in a few parts. What?! I was not sitting on the ledge of a ninth-story window laughing so hard I nearly fell out! It was the tenth-story. I can just picture, in the minds of your readers, me dangling gaily out of a ninth story window with a drink in my hand. It weren't true! I was sitting well within the open window, on the sill; so what if the window was open a yard or so? The sill was very wide. Let your readers know, somehow, sometime, somewhere, where I was really sitting, please?
Fell in love with the Convention pictures. I spent hours looking at them again and again. Every time I looked at them another time, I remembered something else that happened at the Con which was enjoyable. Enjoyed the pics largely and better than all your material. A slight contradiction of what I said previously, but that was previously.
Harlan Ellison was, practically the life of the Con, while Strickland was strictly the strictnine of the whole affair. I might add that those girls who came to the Ball with Dave, Don, and Jim, besides my sister Betty, was my cousin Nadine, and my sister's girlfriend, June. I really supplied the girls, didn't I? Only trouble though, I didn't have one for myself. Sadness.
Artwork was terrific! Great Stuff!! It made me drool. The whole ish was commendable, Pete. Most of your readers must appreciate the time and effort you put into it. The issue was long awaited by me and I'm not a bit disappointed. My satisfaction may be less to satisfy than others, but just the same I liked the Conish.
One last word in answer to Boob's bit this ish. "Come home, Junior, all is forgiven." Bob is personally a swell guy, when you know him other than through his written words.
I hope Ronnie, Bill, and Jim are listening to all those raves on their artwork, being a poor lowly faned I have no money to pay them and henceforth can only give them the egoboo as dealt out by my readers. I hope the three of you will stand by me in '55. As you can see, almost every reader likes your work. Yes, having known Bob -- got my very first card of correspondence from him -- for quite a length of time, I can also personally say that he is one heck of a swell guy -- and he'll be around in AB for quite awhile.
Sta. 1, Box 514,
Thought I'd better get this letter written before Xmas and things get me all tied up. I've wanted to comment on each ish of ABstract before, as soon as I got them, but it seemed the needed time just wasn't there. Now I must take time to tell you how much the Conish impressed me.
The cover was simple, and good. Liked it immensely ... The articles and features were, if not outstanding for the most part, very readable and interesting. Especially enjoyed your report of the Con, and the Face Critturs by Terry Carr.
Incidentally, you made a slight error in your SFcon Personalities feature, where you mention that I have two girls, the oldest one of which is 9. Nope, -- she's only 6 -- whaddya want to do, make me older than I already am, or a child bride??? I'll admit that I was young when I married (only 17), but after all, 14 is or would be slightly over doing things, you know.
All of Dean Grennell's work is generally good, even when he's just writing a rambling letter. Maybe I should say especially when he's writing a rambling letter? So by all means, continue pubbling anything of his you get your grubby little paws on!
Yup, all in all, this ish was the best you've had yet, -- maybe you can outdo yourself with the Annish, but I won't bet on it. Lots of luck ...
Grubby Paws!? Who's got "Grubby Paws"? Okay, so you're not a child bride ... tch, tch. I hope you like Dean's column in this ish.
219 Broadmoor Dr.,
Jackson 6, Mississippi
Congratulations on a superb Conish -- even after you moaned all the way through about how utterly and miserably shot the whole deal was.
Why did you have to spoil it? I'm referring of course, to SWAMP DUST, by Ellison. Now understand, I have nothing against Harlan, but please let's leave fiction to the prozines. One of the good points of AB is/was the remarkable lack of second-rate crud (and that's getting pretty low).
I gather, since Geis long ago reviewed AB#7 and it never showed its grimy little cover here, that my sub has expired. Now I'm being extremely optimistic by sending this hard earned money for another year.
I repeat: The Conish was great.
I'll bet, Miss Sadler, that every faned wishes he had a subber like you. Here you start a one year sub with ABstract 5 and by ABstract 7 you feel that your subscription has run out and send me a dollar and twenty cents. I have just one back ish of #7 I'll send you to make up for the one missed, but your sub does not run out until after the March issue, and then you get it for one more year. I'm sorry you didn't like SWAMP DUST, but wasn't calling it 'second rate crud' rather harsh termination. It was well-liked by most people -- even if it wasn't stf.That's why I like publishing an amateur publication ... I can run what I want -- be it stf or not. Harlan's story this issue, may or may not be considered science-fiction, but I'm sure you'll like it.
There must have been fully one hundred letters on last issue -- and quite admittedly I did not print most of the interesting ones. The ones herein express most of the thoughts of most of the readers -- I'd have printed more but I also forgot to bring down my letter case when I left the College for vacation. Actually, I could have printed another 100 page issue on just the letters I've received. Look at that hill, I've typed ...... pjv
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