The NO-EYED MONSTER and John Merkel's THE UNKNOWN (and his other titles) were launched, basically, to provide a place for fan writers of science fiction and fantasy (and in John's case, a more general pulp adventure fiction, often of a superhero nature, and amateur comics) to "get in print" -- hoping for constructive criticism -- from the readers -- to help the writers improve. (John and my major writing, at that time, was our own fiction -- both of us hoping to become professionals, in time.)
So my side was initially intended to be along the line of a fannish in-print Writers' Workshop -- but focussed on the best material I had available. We were aiming for entertaining zines -- worth reading.
(Our first editorials would spell out our "purposes" at that time best and I may type those onto the computer, in time...)
The nature of the Monster evolved in line with the nature of submissions. From the beginning I was certainly receptive to good (sf) reviews and sercon nonfiction -- and anything creatively "different". (What I ran by myself provided a guideline as to what I was looking for -- from others especially if they could do it better than I! Occasionally I ran material not-as-good as what I was doing, myself -- just for "encouragement" purposes.)
John prepared his own ditto masters; I prepared mine. I ran it all off and financed the enterprise -- handling the distribution.
The first issue of NEM I did the first half; John prepared (entirely) the 2nd 30 pages. Except for John's initial half of NEM we did a mock-up typing to justify the right-hand margins; so it was all typped twice!
For the 2nd issue I suggested the Ace Double Novel back-to-back style. I was totally in charge of my half; John was totally in charge of his. I suggested this circumstance (unlike other genuinely co-edited zines) because John was a rather up-tight Salvation Army sort, at the time; and I was sure there'd be severe conflicts relative to him not approving of some of the more "liberal"-type content I was willing to run. Running a piece involving a whore as a character (as with "In Front of the U.N. Building" in #8, I believe) would've been just absolutely unthinkable to the younger John Merkel -- who was still clanging the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime (still a senior in high school for our first two issues).
When John joined the Navy he felt he wouldn't have time to keep up with THE UNKNOWN. I encouraged him to do a shorter zine -- just do what he could find time for -- and I'd run that. Thus the change to MERK-MAG #1.
A bit of friendly back-to-back rivalry spurred us both on to do the best we could.
Whenever John would receive submissions he didn't care to run, he'd pass them on to me to consider for the Monster side. That is how I began running quite a bit of Charlie Pearson's stuff -- so much of it turned-down by John, initially. (Something like "Thief's Apprentice" -- the entirety of NEM #12 -- John didn't care to run because he preferred to run his own material! -- no matter how excellent Charlie's piece was! ;)
The first 9 issues of our back-to-back zines were run on the Brandon Schools ditto machine (I was teaching there, at the time; later I got canned for playing an Allen Ginsberg record to my creative writing class at the Brandon High School whereupon he read his "America" and "Howl" -- with the speaking of those "forbidden" 4-letter-words that were always scrawled on the restroom stall-walls...); then we bought our own ditto machine (but a $100.00 cheapie -- rather than a $300.00-plus quality machine) and the 10th issue of NEM (and Joheme's THE NEW UNKNOWN #1) were pubbed on that. It was the absolute worst issue (reproduction-wise) we ever ran; terrible show-thru and sometimes very light dittoing.
Probably it was Howard DeVore who suggested I switch to mimeo; he had an extra machine and lent it to me for years. Eventually I bought an (extra) micro-elite long-carriage typewriter from him (for the lettercol and used for Paul Powlesland's short book, Paradise Playland -- the entirety of NEM #17) -- and in time traded that back to him for the mimeograph machine after his daughter dropped and wrecked HIS micro-elite typper -- leaving him in need of the one I had to type his catalog updates on!
Seeking new subscribers to NEM I began sending issues for a listing in TRACE -- a major Little Magazine which had a lengthy "revolving directory" of Little Magazines in every issue. That listing sold no issues -- but (unexpectedly) brought in lots of poetry submissions from contemporaries trying to get their poetry published on the Little Magazine scene (among them some of the college professorial crowd). Listings of NEM in TRACE are probably what drew forth the submissions of some of Janet Fox's earlier tales to yours truly.
So -- due to the nature of the best material I was receiving, NEM's 15, 18 (and the unpublished #20) had at least a third of the pages filled with contemporary poetry (of least interest to my -- predominantly -- fannish circulation).
Due to my association with the Detroit MISFITS issues 16 and 19 of NEM were "fannish" in focus (with a lowering of the standards of a "higher literary" focus I was trying to maintain, already, then, generally speaking).
In retrospect, probably Charlie Pearson's (and Paul Powlesland's and Janet Fox's) material was the best fiction we pubbed (damn close to "professional" level -- and some material was genuinely "professional" in level, I believe). At least one Reader LoCed wondering why some of my contributors were sending that material to a zine rather than circulating it thru the professional markets and maybe getting paid for it!
I sent around at least one MerkZine with NEM #11 (and maybe a couple others with later issues?) -- separately bound. I have memories of a NEW UNKNOWN #2 (and maybe further issues?) dittoed full-sized. John had to stay ditto to continue doing his very wild and utterly inimitable ;) comics. So baaad they were zanily good! (Joheme was to comics what Rick Sneary was to letter-hacking in the old s-f pulps!)
John later went on to produce about 10 issues of ALTERNATIVE (professionally printed) -- almost entirely his own material (though he reprinted Renfew's Pet with some nice artwork therein). He ran most of a serial, therein (THE DEAD MAN) that was as good as the Carter Brown mysteries, I would say; as good as some of the better "complete adventure novels" run in pulp adventure magazines of the 30's thru mid-50's... If he would've made the effort (and fleshed it out a bit) it should have been marketable as a "paperback original" somewheres...
Quite frankly, the amount of sheer effort involved in putting the entirety of Paul Powlesland's Paradise Playland onto mimeo-stencils amounted to an equivalent to that gigantic Annish that spelled the doom of many a fanzine (so I've heard). I felt I did not want to be putting that much effort, in the future, into circulating other people's Major Works -- that such was taking too much time away from my own writing. So -- to further what I was most interested in writing, then, I joined the APA MYRIAD and began producing issues of THE PORNOGRAPHIC ONION -- eventually working on Merkel to join, too (by franking thru some of his old stories he'd left in my care, while he was in the Navy). Eventually he redirected his major focus (with his free time in the Navy) to producing personalzines for MYRIAD -- and was on the productive/creative track again.
Twenty Years Later
To view a Fanzine issue or Archive that is available on-line, please click on it's Zine column.
|NO-EYED MONSTER||1||Winter||1964||Norman E. Masters
|62||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||2||Spring||1965||Norman E. Masters||32||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE UNKNOWN
(Ace Double-Novel style)
|1||Spring||1965||John Merkel||32||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||3||Summer||1965||Norman E. Masters||31||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE UNKNOWN||2||Summer||1965||John Merkel||32||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||4||Fall||1965||Norman E. Masters||51||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE UNKNOWN||3||Fall||1965||John Merkel||32||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
"The Zine In The Middle"
|1||Fall||1965||John Merkel||20||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||5||Winter||1965||Norman E. Masters||42||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||MERK-MAG||1||Winter||1965||John Merkel||19||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||6||Spring||1966||Norman E. Masters||50||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||MERK-MAG||2||Spring||1966||John Merkel||39||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||7||Summer||1966||Norman E. Masters||51||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||MERK-MAG||3||Summer||1966||John Merkel||40||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||8||Summer||1966||Norman E. Masters||50||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE UNKNOWN||4||Summer||1966||John Merkel||40||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||9||Fall||1966||Norman E. Masters||52||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE UNKNOWN||5||Fall||1966||John Merkel||40||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||10||Winter||66-67||Norman E. Masters||52||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|backed by||THE NEW UNKNOWN||1||Winter||66-67||John Merkel||40||5½ X 8½||Ditto|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||11||Spring||1967||Norman E. Masters||52||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||12||Summer||1967||Norman E. Masters||49||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||13||Winter||67-68||Norman E. Masters||59||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||14||Summer||1968||Norman E. Masters||59||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||15||Spring||1969||Norman E. Masters||71||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||16||Spring||1969||Norman E. Masters||63||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||17||Summer||1969||Norman E. Masters||70||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||18||Summer||1970||Norman E. Masters||59||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||19||Spring||1974||Norman E. Masters||54||5½ X 8½||Mimeo|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||20||material still in a couple files -- unpublished|
|NO-EYED MONSTER||21||material still in a couple files -- unpublished|
Copyright © Norman E. Masters and John Merkel or the authors that are credited with the specific material
Updated May 13, 2001. If you have a comment or question about these Web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.