Jack Darrow is almost totally unremembered today, but back in the 1930's he was one of the biggest of the Big Name Fans. In those days a fan could establish a reputation solely by writing letters of comment to the prozines, and this was how Darrow made his mark. (Sam Moskowitz says several times in The Immortal Storm that Darrow and Ackerman were "the most prominent letter-writers of the day".) Obviously, then, Darrow had the experience to write the definitive takeoff on prozine letter-hacking in the '30's, and he did so in the spring 1937 issue of The Fourteen Leaflet, the o-o of the Chicago SF Club. While he was at it he also deftly satirized T. O'Conor Sloane, the almost incredibly deadpan nonagenarian who edited Amazing Stories at the time.
Editor: Frightful Tales,
I am but 6 1/2 years of age and hav been reading your marvelous magazine for the past 17 years -- ever since I was a boy. I think it's wonderful, your magazine (or should I say OUR magazine) I mean. The illustrations are punk, except those by Paul -- he being the reason why I think Frightful Tales is so frightfully well illustrated.
Your smooth edges are always cutting my fingers. Couldn't you have rough ones? I think your readers are horrid. They're always complaining about something. A magazine can't be perfect -- especially Frightful.
There was something else -- oh yes, the stories. I enjoyed them all -- except Blotto Sinder's, White Swan Who Floats in a Sea of Milk in a Blizzard at the North Pole in the Winter Time. In the first place so much milk could hardly be obtained in large enough quantities to make a sea. Where would all the cows come from? Also, in such cold temperatures a white swan could hardly float -- the milk being frozen. You've heard of ducks caught in the ice, haven't you? And, why did the story have to take place in the wintertime? The Pole can hav blizzards in summer also -- it's cold then too, you know. There are no white swans at the North Pole anyway. And besides I consider the whole thing very silly.
(It is a pleasure to receive a letter from one so young from the Antipodes. Letters from the fairer sex always intrigue us. We think you a bit hasty in your remarks, as young readers are wont to be. We get the pun in your comment on our illustrators. We think Paul will bear the news well. Paul-bearer -- heh, heh. We don't know exactly what to do about the edges. If they were rough, our readers would probably saw their fingers off. Perhaps if we had no edges --. In the meantime, we recommend iodine. Your comment on our readers is appreciated. It is letters like yours that make us feel as though we were doing a good job. Your comments on Mr. Sinder's frightful tale are uncalled for. After all we can't please all of our readers. How do you know there are no White Swans at the North Pole; have you ever been there? Our author has and brought back a photo of the scene in question. In answer to your remark on the milk being frozen -- milk freezes at a lower temperature than water. Milk keeps better when frozen anyway. Again we thank you for your constructive criticism. We hope our future issues will please you as well.
T. O'Frightful Slow.)
(data entered by Judy Bemis)