Walt Willis

To beguile subscribers to Slant during the fleeting interval between issues I've entered into a symbiotic relationship with Chuck Harris, my best friend & severest critic (alternately) to publish this new international fanmag. Chuck's other qualifications were that he is one of the few English fans not already working fulltime for Ken Slater, and that he has acquired a very striking duplicator. However the duplicator insisted on staying on strike despite heroic efforts by Vince Clarke -- see opposite -- so I've run off the mag myself on a machine I picked up the other day at an auction in an effort to get Bill Temple's last Convention Report out before this year's. Blame all mistakes on me.

When we get over our labour pains we might bring out this thing quite often. We'd like to make it a sort of link between British and American fandom, which is one of two or three reasons for its name. I've always thought it would be a good thing if world fandom was better integrated, if only to raise the standard of fanmag material and increase its circulation, and we're in a good position to help to bring that about since the 300 odd subscribers to SLANT are scattered all over the civilised world -- not to mention parts of Los Angeles.

This present issue, though, is mostly repercussions from the last issue of Slant, and I hope you new subscribers won't feel too much as if you had come in in the middle of something. If you aren't interested in getting further issues of '-' just send this one back and I'll restore your Slant sub credit. Future issues of '-' will have material by Harris, Clarke, Shaw, White, and me. Also readers' letters and lots of other informal stuff we were never able to print in a stuck-up mag like Slant, so let's hear from you readers and writers. I guarantee, no typoes. When we get the standard of reproduction we want we'll be running a series of special features too long for SLANT, starting with the serialised memoirs of Forrest J Ackerman, The Autobiography of a Happy Fan.

A sudden spurt in the activities of Belfast's legal profession has taken half the solicitors off the streets. Some time ago Bob Shaw heard from Cartier's legal representatives and had to engage a criminal lawyer, all the honest ones being busy defending me against the libel suits following my Convention Report in Quandry. And now this arrives:

My Dear Sir,

It has been requested by my retainers, the Association of Science Fiction Magazine Publishers, that I write you with the intent of bringing to a prompt halt the publication of your professional hootchzine, the infamous Slant.

Your temerity has seldom been equalled in the annals of the publishing trades. For decades, the cry of the embattled fan, the very rallying point of the perenial battle twixt publisher and reader, has been;


Valiantly, the publishers have resisted every form of treachery, spurned the blandishments and enticements of the fan press. Never have they yielded one iota from their slogan: "RAGGED EDGES AND LIKE IT!" And now you, a veritable unknown, worse, an unregistered lobbyist for the filthy fan hordes, you have the gall to bring forth a magazine with not merely one of the finest covers ever offered for the approbation of fandom, an original story by that dean of British sf writers A. Bertram Chandler, and articles by Hoffman, Ackerman, etc...not content with this you use three staples, and then--oh the horror of it---TRIMMED EDGES!!

Needless to say, the ASFMP cannot tolerate such unethical practices. I shall expect to hear from you by return mail that you consider yourself properly chastised and will revert your magazine to its former fannish format. If you fail herein, rest assured that your reviews in all ASFMP magazines will ensure the prompt and early demise of that notorious name Slant!

I.M.A.Wiffenpoof (Distraught Attorney)

Well, all we have to say to Mr. Wiffenpoof is "Bah. Bah. Bah!" He can take it on the lamb and shear off. We have reason to suspect that this so-called "Wiffenpoof" is none other than the notorious Heinrich de Burwell, the fiend behind the underhand plot to stab us in the back with cut-throat competition in the form of his disgustingly excellent SF Digest. The reason for our suspicions is that we believe that even in Atlanta, Georgia, representations of the creature known, we understand, as 'Pogo Possum' do not figure prominently on letters from genooine natural born lawyer-type writers.

But I loved that description of Jack Chandler as a dean.

Occasionally competitors write to us to vent their jealous rage, attempting to persuade our talented contributors to prostitute their genius for filthy lucre. Sometimes Carnell intercourse takes place:

Dear Sir,

I have been reading fanzines for the past 17 years, and have never missed an issue of one of them. Yet I have never written to an editor before this! But at long last I am blasted out of my lethargy by this magnificent, super colossal zip-dinger of an issue of yours dated Winter 1951/2.

It was the cover, sir, the cover, which simply made me put axe to granite and chip out this little ol' affadavit ((sic)). This guy White certainly has something -- I don't know what, but whatever it is, he's got it. The subtelty of the illustration will be lost to all your editors and reader, but to me it is obviously a picture of the needle editor John Carnell got when he read your Quandry Conwrite-up. The haystack in the background is one of the finest I have ever laid ayes ((sic)) on, too.

May I suggest that this needle be worked up (far up), into a national fan emblem and be worn in the left earlobe so that we can always recognise another slant when we see one, thereby being able to hurredly cross the road and take evasive action!

While on the subject of artwork, for Pete's sake throw out all of your interior illustrators. They are useless. Most of them are cribs from Cartier (Ghod rest his soul), but even so your artists don't know the difference between a torso and a lasso. Take Shaw's on page 17. He's drawn the fellow with a size 11 left foot and a size 8 1/2 right, and underneath the buttoned jacket he's got the guy's waistcoat buttoned over from right to left. WHY DON'T YOUR ARTISTS READ THE STORIES BEFORE THEY DRAW THE PICTURES? And the girl! Duck's disease ((sick)) and thick ankles. Tsk! Tsk!

Shaw's illo on page 43 has the Bannister ((sic)) the wrong side of the stairwell, up against the wall. This isn't good enough for our mag. I know you are trying. Very. But an editor must notice these little things before the mighty presses start turning.

Regarding the literary side of the mag, what I could read of it, as my copy seems to have been printed on some Izal off-cut -- this new fan Eric Frank Russell seems to be able to write. I suggest you keep right after him and don't let him get away. He shows great promise, and I predict a great career in front of him if. Chandler is another fine writer. I just don't know how these fans keep up the ideas!

I was sorry to see that our magazine has started a discrimination campaign --- I was horrieied ((sic)) to notice that that great British Magazine New Worlds was only mentioned twice in 60 pages and, at that, once in small letters. It is a dangerous practice to get into political arguments, I know, but way out here at the back of beyond I rely entirely upon the few small crumbs of information I gather from your groaning table ....

This guy Fiske's column was the best in the issue, I thought. What was it all about? Reminds me that I used to be a skipper in the Aemy ((sic)) by the same name. Someone shot him in the back. No relation, I suppose?

I have noticed your request for new fiction, and I am delighted to tell you that I am nearing the end of an original story that will knock you right out of your editorial chair. I won't give the plot away now, but you certainly are in for a surprise when you get it. It will probably arrive by rail, as I have been working on the synopsis for the past 22 years at the rate of 4512 1/2 words a day. My deadline to complete the epic is December 21 this year, and I'm a couple of words behind.

Which is one reason why I must close this off now. By the way, I'm in touch with a couple of fans on Mars and one on Venus and one in Abertillery. We swap used bus tickets. If any of your readers are interested, Xxtlsj up on Venus is short of No.G8559 3D. red on the Glasgow Corporation Buses, for a complete set dating back to 1889. I know he's love to hear from a couple of redheads your way.

Signing off, as my friend Colonel Slater puts it,

Elmer (Mr. E. Carnell)

PS. This is to certify that I am free, white, sane and over 21. Signed before me, a notary public and justice of the peace this 7th day of November 1951. My licence expires on 6th November 1951.

Of course, we have no time to reply personally to every obscure prozine editor, and since the usual printed form hardly seemed suitable we passed the letter on to our office staff to deal with as they thought fit, at their convenience. One of the junior employees found it hanging there and actually replied to it.

Dear Mr. Cornell,

I have shown your letter to Mr. Willis, and he thinks we might use it in place of the advertisement for Athlete's Foot which is not running in the next issue. For some reason he thinks you might take the place of the heel. This is of course not the sole reason for printing your letter, which in my opinion is tantamount to sabotage. Certainly I wooden shoes it myself, but then Mr. Willis is always willing to help struggling prozine editors. I have heard of your little magazine, "New Words:, and by all accounts it is, apart of course from the format and contents, one of the finest published in Stoke Newington Rd. I am glad to notice that you have been able to pick up some of our cast-off authors.

Of course I haven't actually read the magazine, but if you will send me review copies on each publication date, or even when the magazine is published, we shall try to find something nice to say about it. Or at least we shall quote your name and address, which may attract a few subscriptions from people who haven't already seen the magazine.*

Mr. Shaw, who is a structural draughtsman in his spare time (the partition of Ireland has gravely reduced the number of structural draughts) asks me to inform you that his illustration is of a cross section of the staircase. After your comments it is if possible even crosser. Your remarks about the Bannister have been forwarded to Kansas City by newel post.

I must express my thanks for the story you are sending us by rail. If it is on the right lines I'm sure it will be the goods.

I am sorry you don't like out paper, We find it suits our ends admirably. Watch out for our next two covers -- diagrams of atomic piles and a symbolic painting of Uranus.

Yours sciencerely,
For and on behald of Mr. Willis
J. W. Campbell
Assistant Private Secretary to
Mr. Willis's Confidential Typist

* We shall use capital letters, if we get any more of them.

Another wellknown editor we heard from was MAX KEASLER, whose remarks we reproduce in all their original beauty:

Dear (/ S / O / B / ) Snobb,

Best fnamag in the world indeed. Must you rub it in. Anybody could print the best fanzine in the world if they knew how. That's all it takes. (We didn't say we were the best fanmag in the world -- we implied we weren't. We're the most modest fanmag in the world.))

Liked Hoffman's article bestest and The Prying Fan follows a seconded with all the rest wagging their tales behing them. Only I disagree about Ralph. ((Huh?)) He would never do a thing like that, specially with his granmother like she is and all. It was unfair of you and I'd report you, but can't think of anyone to report you to. ((Rick Sneary?)) The cover was a beautiful mess, you couldn't of done better if you tried. Also the rainbow on p. 31 is nice for a rainbow. Giving Mother Nature a good run for her money. Also liked your mimeograph-pamthelt. Well, at least I gave that word a good fight, even if I did lose. Wait a minute and I'll look it up. It's pamphelt. ((It is?))

Bob Shaw's artwork is quite good if you like Cartier and I like Cartier. (Perhaps mispelled) ((True)) But I shant stope so low and tell you how great your fanzine is. I leave that to the masses. Besides you already seem to know this.

Just before I left college ((name withheld for fear of action for damages)) I printed and mailed my new mag. It is called Wombat (spelled right). When I get back up to school I send you a copy also too. (I think I've been through this.) ((Not school, surely?)) I know there are rally wombats cause I saw one at the zoo. Of course he didn't say he was a wombat, but he didn't deny it either. Also there was a little sign under him that said "This is a Wombat". It didn't take me long to know that HE really was a Wombat cause I catch onto things.

Ever-loving yers,
W. Max Keasler

PS. you might as well stop reading cause this is all.

Well, not quite. First some extracts from the works of A. Vince Clarke, the well known robot.

Dear Walt and Etcs.,

We have decided to form a club for science fiction fans ... it is about time we were organised. As we have heard that you have some interest in the medium, we thought you might like to enter into the spirit of the thing by donating a small sum. Even the smallest ghost to show ....

Sorry, wrong opening, as Ken said to the ceiling. Our new SFNews letter heading rather carried me away, and I'm in a slightly confused state .... also, I have this beautiful new ribbon (no, not in my hair, silly boy). You will be proud to know that 'Dear' was the first word I wrote with it. It was also the first I said about it. But don't let us have any of this old buck, for staggering down the road comes a postman. This'll cost us a packet of doe. Last time we had a letter from Ireland we had to pay for the PO van's springs.

It's Slant! Oh Ghu. What have they done this time. Look at it! (Quick, Watson, the sunglasses.) How did they get these reproductions staple through all that get that red smear on the cover manage to typeset all this do it at all? I rejoyce ...... Having just got down to linocutting (what happens when your cutter sticks in the floorboards?) I can appreciate James' work even more. Incidently if he wants to be associated with a clean minded zine we'll always be glad to hear from him.

Funniest thing in the ish was Bob Shaw's '1961', with of course 'The Prying Fan' running a close second.

'Out Of The Silent Planet' wasn't bad, tho a bit overwritten, but I didn't quite follow the train of thought in the middle.

Funniest thing in the ish was 'The Prying Fan' , with '1961' a close second.

Jackson's column ... faintly amusing. One of the most active SFS members, Jackson, He wrote in twice. ((How many times were you supposed to write in before you got an answer?))

Most humorous thing in the ish was '1961' , though 'Prying Fan' ran it close.

We were to have a Big Weekend. (This is different from Ken's "Red Maria", which has a weak big-end.) Answer all letters Saturday, visitors on Sunday. Come up stairs Saturday dinnertime. Met by wild-eyed figure towing bathful of plaster and broken glass. Peering beneath the hair and dusty spectacles, I recognise this Grey Lensman to be none other than Ken. Seems the ceiling has fallen on him ... a warning from Almighty Ghu to keep his mail up to date in the future, lest he be cut off in his prime before having further enriched fan literature. ((Some of those letters you answered must have been holding the ceiling up.))

Changing to Slant again: Chuck's plaint about red-blooded American heroes in every prozine could easily apply to a bloody red Irishman in every fanzine, turning up like a bad penny. Francly, it's centsless to spend your dime on taels for so money fanzines when you could make your mark by writing for Gold, but life would be dollar (if not obulus) without Slant, so don't lei it off but use your talents to bring it out each quarter. Piastre you for coinsideration.


Data entered by Judy Bemis

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