FANZINE SCOPE

BY F. TOWNER LANEY

CRACKLE: THE SNAP-ZINE.

Under this title, an individual named Jay Gibson of 24 Kensington Ave., Jersey City 4, New Jersey, is putting out a single sheet item in an edition of one. Each comprises one page of typed text and one full-page ink drawing, and are supposed to be pass ed from hand to hand. I have just received issues #3 and #4, and find myself mildly obsessed by them.

In the first place, one wonders why Jay Gibson does not do her stuff in hekto. Hekto ink would work as well as what she is using for her drawing, and Coswal would no doubt publish it for her for a mere pittance. Then all of you could look askance and s hake your heads!

I dunno.

Jay Gibson says she is a girl, but Redd Boggs says "It is probable that Jay Gibson is not a femme at all." Not that it makes any difference, but that is his opinion, and I list it here so if heesh is unmasked and turns out to have a crew hair cut, gray mustache, and downward slanting eyes, we will know Redd for a false prophet.

The reason I'm mildly obsessed with CRACKLE is the innate fuggheadedness of the contents. #3 consists of an article -- "Dear Fans and Gentle Egos: A Psycho Thesis on the Genus Stfanatic" -- which tells us the Gibsonian ideas of what makes fan s fan, and includes among other quotable lines the following gems: "It seems obvious to me that fans are just young people with fairly good, imaginative minds, who're living in an age when nothing is done to help them take advantage of that talent&qu ot; and after a couple of paragraphs typified by "Thus, a lot of us who might become well-trained specialists making good salaries miss our chance." Miss Gibson hits the high note: "And until the rest of the world catches up with us ... we' ll just have to go along as wild stf fans and dreaming stf authors."

The cover of #3, incidentally, depicts a nude female figure with a rocket ship zipping between her spraddled out legs.

#4 follows up this theme with an article called "The Cautious Approach". Gibson gets in high gear about how she wants to take off in a spaceship with some boy and spend months hurtling across the galaxy ... As soon as I and this boy took off, the very first thing I'd do is strip naked! The second thing I'd do is strip him!" And so on and so on -- almost like a female Crouch. In a footnote she apologizes: "if a bit sexy -- why, I need some way to get that out of my system."

But here is the line that obsesses me: "I know I'd rather act sexy than sneak around and pretend to be angelic -- or submit myself greedily to worse things." (My underlining.)

I dunno.

---ooOoo---

So that takes care of our current fanzine for this time. Maybe your fanzine will be next. Without further ado, the Fanzine Scope turns toward the past and comes to focus on ARTHUR LOUIS JOQUEL II, the man and his works, dedicated to Charles Burb ee.

ARTHUR LOUIS JOQUEL II, THE MAN.

Joquel is a former big-shot in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) who still participates in occasional LASFS doings, as for instance addressing the Westercon last fall on the subject of rocketry. During his heyday in the very early 40's he was also a redoubtable publisher, but before digging into the file of Joquel magazines and pamphlets the temptation to tell of the man Joquel is overpowering.

One of the first things about Joquel that comes to mind is his dramatic entrances and exits. I recall one time in late 1943 when a couple of the LASFS boys forgot to meet Arthur Louis downtown. I was sitting in the clubroom talking with them, and sudde nly the door burst open and crashed against the wall. There stood Joquel, legs spread and braced, eyes bugging, and making the welkin ring as he told these two fellows off in his high decibel voice. He finished his oration, pirouetted like a marionette, a nd almost caught his opera cloak in the door as he crashed it shut behind him.

Oh yes. I hadn't gotten to that yet, had I? Arthur Louis Joquel II had an opera cloak, which he wore at all times in lieu of a topcoat. It added immeasurably to his dramatic entrances and exits and other posturings.

Another feature of the Joquel turn-out was the little golden crucifix he wore at all times in his lapel. Of course lots of people wear little golden crucifixes, but Art always wore his upside down. I remember the first time I noticed this. "Uh, Ar t," I said in the sotto voice I use when tipping someone off that his fly is unzipped, "uh, your crucifix, uh, it's upside down."

"Certainly it is!" bellowed Arthur Louis Joquel II. "I worship the Devil."

It came out in the wash that he spent a good deal of time practicing black magic. Dry runs, that is. At least he never raised anything. It was partly Ackerman's fault though, because when Joquel asked Ackerman to give him Tigrina to use as the altar fo r his black mass Ackie for some reason refused. Most uncooperative, especially when you consider that Tigrina too was a Satanist -- at least she said so in VOM.

Joquel simply did not Believe. This is one of the reasons he wore the little golden crucifix inverted in his lapel. He was also a Fortean. Yeah. Even published a Fortean magazine at one time.

I remember one time I wandered into the LASFS clubroom with a seafaring book in my hand. Joquel was there, noted the book, and said, "Well, are you interested in seafaring tales?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Why?"

"Well, what do you think of the MARIE CELESTE?"

I had never been especially impressed by this great mystery of the sea, but vouchsafed a few materialistic theories as to what might have happened to the crew of this ill-fated ship. Arthur Louis Joquel II looked at me smugly.

"They were removed!" he said impressively.

"Horse dung," I remarked in my polite way.

Arthur Louis Joquel II drew himself up to his full height, distended his priest-like paunch, and glared at me with his pale blue eyes.

"THEY WERE REMOVED", be bellowed, and turning on his heel, he stomped out the door, his opera cloak swirling madly about him and the inverted crucifix (which he wore to show he was just a bloody old skeptic, bah jove) gleaming palely.

Oh yes. This seems to have led into another fascinating facet of this character. Not consistently, but whenever he thought of it, he affected a pronounced British accent.

I fear I make Joquel sound like a rum duck. Actually, he wasn't such a bad guy. The LASFS respected him about as much as they do E. Everett Evans, for whom they once held a banquet.

And Joquel thought a great deal of the LASFS too. After one of the times he had quit the club in high dudgeon (I don't recall if it was one of the two times he quit because someone criticized an issue of Shangri-L'Affaires he had edited or one of the t hree other times I recall from the 3 1/2 years I belonged to the club -- during which time in my stable way I only managed to resign from it twice) he came back in, paid up his dues, and sat down with a contented sigh.

"It feels good to be back home," he said. Forrest J Ackerman beamed like a railroad flare.

But all this may give some idea as to what manner of person was the man-child of a woman whom I know only as Butch. "Butch." Yes, that is what he calls his mother. She no doubt has some other name.

I always liked to have Joquel in the LASFS when I was a member. For one thing, he was one of the few guys who had the guts to stand up to Walter J. Daugherty and the voice to shout him down, and further, his atrophied sense of humor made him a wonderfu l person to bait.

He's moved on, though, to greener pastures. A friend of mine who attended the Westercon asked someone if Joquel still messed around with Black Magic.

"Oh no. He's grown up now. He's experimenting with rocket ships.

---ooOoo---

ARTHUR LOUIS JOQUEL II, HIS WORKS.

As a fanzine publisher, Joquel was no small shakes. His output was consistently well-arranged and neatly reproduced, he was the originator of at least three innovations of format and content, and quite a bit of his output is still eminently readable to day -- eight to nine years after its publication. You cannot say that about most fan publishers.

His first fanzine, SPECULA, published in January 1941, is thick, on half-size pages, has neatly trimmed edges, and a square back very similar to pocketbooks. The second (and last) SPECULA, SCORPIO (March 1941), and at least four of his booklets of poet ry also use this same format -- which unquestionably is one of the most impressive ever to be used on a fanzine. These compact, neatly mimeographed, professional looking publications are the type of thing to show to the skeptical non-fan. The content of S PECULA and SCORPIO is totally outside the pale so far as I'm concerned, consisting chiefly of amateur stfantasy fiction. Since I don't consider even the pro stuff to be worth reading, I haven't read any amateur stuff lately either -- but contemporary read er comments from sensible people like Harry Warner seem pretty favorable to the stories in SCORPIO and SPECULA, most of which were written by Joquel himself.

The second Joquel innovation was the first chain-letter to circulate in American fandom. He published the entire bulky discussion, including neat facsimiles of the various stickers, etc., which adorned many of the letters. While this opus may be critic ized for the undue effort taken to give facsimile reproduction (the Vom influence, no doubt), at least Joquel published it, just as he promised to do in his letter that inaugurated the chain. There have been lots of other chains -- but how many of them were published, as promised?

The third A. L. the Second innovation was the digest fanzine. FMZ (Pronounced "Femmes") DIGEST (yes, that is the title!) was a fanzine patterned after Readers Digest, and ran six issues from February to October 1941. Each issue contains abrid gements (usually) of the articles Joquel thought the best of those appearing in the contemporary fan press. Whatever its faults, FMZ DIGEST makes an eminently readable item, although one wonders if it was worth the bother. The title "FMZ" is an amusing word. Joquel objected to both fanmag and fanzine, so came out with his own term. When he was called on it by someone or other, he made a startling ratiocination on the subject which I'm not gymnast enough to follow. ((Ah, this composing on the ste ncil! While trying to relocate the reference to Joquel's ratiocination, I ran across an article in FMZ Digest #1 by Ackerman which tells us the word was coined by Donn Brazier and the pronunciation devised by Ackerman. This is the same Ackerman who once w rote, "Can a man fall in love with metal? My God! I have!" But I'll still maintain that Joquel was the chief apologist for this now abandoned term.)) One of Joquel's "reasons" for folding FMZ DIGEST is perhaps worth quoting: "If t he material is not worthy of preservation, then the publication of a fm to preserve the best literature is a mockery and a waste of time and energy." (FMX Digest #6, p. 1)

It is rather difficult to know just where in Joquel's stuff to start reviewing. In addition to his various fanzines: Sun Trails, Fanfile, Spectra, Specula, FMZ Digest, and Scorpio; Joquel published a number of booklets of poetry: Songs With Certain Dis sonances (Frances Meyer); After Armageddon and Others; Black Noon and Others (Fywert Kinge); Embers and Ashes, Songs for Sorrow and Beauty (James Kepner); and perhaps others. And as though this were not enough, he also published two different magazines de voted to Professional Pacifism, and Coventry, a Fortean periodical.

The poetry booklets can be disposed of easily. Meyer and Kinge are just too, too arty, although Kinge (actually T. Bruce Yerke) has his moments from time to time. Generally speaking, though, these blank verses are just the sort of stuff lots of teenage rs write in the course of growing up, and usually shudder at when they reach maturity. The Kepner items are thoroughly disgusting. All are unbelievably poorly written. Many of them in addition are simply not readable by a normal mind. (I take it that the typical normal mind recoils from love poems written by one Boy to another Boy.) This James Kepner who wrote all this homosexual doggerel is the same James Kepner who was at one time the director of the LASFS. He is now a columnist for the DAILY WORKER. &q uot;De profundis ad Astra," as Forry would say.

I regret that I don't have any of Joquel's pacifist publications. At one time I must have had 18 or 20 copies of this stuff, but threw it away. Too bad, for this rubbish literally teemed with wonderful, quotable lines.

COVENTRY, "publication of the Society for the Investigation of Unusual Phenomena", is fuggheadedly Fortean or Forteanly fuggheaded -- take your choice. The Fortean reader will take it all in stride. Others will alternately shake their heads a nd guffaw. Most of #1 (the only copy I have) is filled with "Fortean" crud culled from the daily papers. The entire issue is keynoted by the lead article, "Charles Fort -- Liberator" by Arthur Louis Joquel II. I'll quote the first sent ence: "In every period of history there have come forth those daring individuals who have spoken the truth as they saw it, even though it brought down upon them the wrath of "authority" manifested as science, church, state, press, or other medium to restrict and enslave the minds of mankind." This was written by the same Arthur Louis Joquel II who constantly wore an inverted crucifix in his lapel to show he did not Believe. This skeptical non-believer is the same man who was so firmly convinced that the officers and crew of the MARIE CELESTE were "removed" that he stomped out of the room in a huff when other suggestions were brought forth.

This brings us to the Joquel fanzines. SPECULA can be passed over fast, since they consist largely of fiction. There is one snicker in SPECULA #2 -- an article titled "The Rosetta Stone" by Walter J. Daugherty. The mention of Daugherty in his Egyptologist facet brings a smile to most people who've seen this side of the guy; the article itself is innocuous, being apparently cribbed from some reference work. SPECTRA #1 is the chain letter previously mentioned.

This lad Joquel was/is a creature of contradictions, as we see when we examine SUN TRAILS, his organ for the disseminating of "high-test vitriol and first-grade TNT" (ST #2). We actually see Joquel taking the sensible or Insurgent view of thi ngs. Under the title "Stfans -- Race of the Future", Joquel dissects the "fans are slans" theme which back in 1941 was being considered with a surprising amount of seriousness, and comes up with the obvious conclusion of phooey. (ST #2 ) In the same issue "Less Introspection, Please!" is another basically sound article, tho it is marred by characteristic Joquelianisms. The article is written around a quotation from the Britisher D. R. Smith in which he describes a fanzine as a place where "persons whose opinions interest nobody may air those opinions to persons interested in nobody's opinions but their own." But Joquel writes one characteristic sentence which I must quote: "Some alleged fans seemingly fail to re alize that fandom, as such, is more or less on trial before a critical public." My, my. Ain't we great big men?

Also in SUN TRAILS #2 appears some dope on the Roman numeral in Joquel's name, which reminds me that I forgot to mention in "The Man" part of this dissertation how frenziedly angry it made Joquel to be addressed as "Junior". (This r eaction had the natural effect of causing people like Burbee and Laney to call Art "Junior" whenever possible.) Anyway, in the course of answering an attack one of the Futurians had made on him, Joquel says: "'Roger Conway' also criticizes the 'II' on the end of our name, calling it incorrect. If there were an 'ALJ' living who would be "Senior", 'Jr.' would be correct. But since Arthur Louis Joquel, Senior died honorably in the last war, our geneologist (sic) assures us that the u se of 'II' after our name is quite correct." Uh uh. According to a Lady related to me by blood who wishes her name withheld, but who was listed in the AMERICAN COMPENDIUM OF GENEALOGY as one of the official Idaho genealogists during the period 1925-1 937, "II usually indicates a grandson named for the grandfather when the father did not carry the same name, or less frequently a nephew named for an uncle. It is never correctly used for a father and son, which is "senior and junior" until the father dies." So Art's genealogist -- excuse me, geneologist -- has led him astray. I guess it's within the law, though, junior.

SUN TRAILS #1 contains, among other things, an article giving the graphologies of a number of well-known stf personalities of the day. This skeptical Fortean -- just didn't believe in anything, did he? Or maybe he was kidding, even though the article i s prefaced: "It is difficult to draw much information about a person from their signature alone. While the signature is the key to personality, there are many characteristics which, by the very nature of writing, cannot appear in the signature." And so on. Maybe one or two of the analyses are quotable:

"RAYMOND A. PALMER. The editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures shows a strong extravagant characteristic. He is a good reasoner, and friendliness and kindness are intrinsic parts of his character."

"FORRY ACKERMAN. 4sj's handwriting is a deliberately affected one, and doubtless conceals some characteristics which might be shown if he wrote hastily or without forethought. He displays pride and self-confidence, and a strong streak of obstinacy . He is clannish to a fault. Intuitive almost to the point of psychism, he at once displays both mechanical and artistic ability. He is a very trusting soul -- even slightly naive in his outlook."

"ARTHUR L. WIDNER JR. The autograph of the "poll cat" shows a tremendous egotism, which is contrasted by the apparent inferiority complex which is shown here. He is interested in cultural subjects."

Oh well.

SUN TRAILS #1 also carries a controversy between Joquel and Isaac Asimov. The latter had written an article comparing Lovecraft, Merritt, Cummings, and other hacks very disfavorably with Heinlein, van Vogt, and others of the Street and Smith stable. It s intemperance was exceeded only by that of Joquel's answer. After calling Asimov "a pampered brat", "an infant", an "infintisimal" (sic) self, and "self-styled intelligencia"; Joquel says, "Are we not gentleme n, or must we dredge the depths of the language to express ourselves?" Heh. This was in February 1941. In Sun T(r)ails (October 1941), Joquel refers to this spat, says it's all over: "Since we once heartily condemned Asimov, we now want to prais e him just as highly."

SUN T(r)AILS, by the way, is a hail and farewell sort of thing, "explaining" why Joquel is quitting fan publishing for the most part and "delaying" everything not discontinued. Compared to F. Towner Laney, Joquel displays an enviabl e economy of words -- devoting only two elite pages to the subject. Apart from my 130 page Memoirs, I've only published about 16 pica pages on the same subject. I can't even feel smugly superior to the way this ex-fan Joquel went right on publishing stray SHANGRI L'AFFAIRES and other fannish items for years. Look at what I'm doing this very moment.

But at least I never predicted that stencils would become unobtainable within two months of the outbreak of WW2, as did Arthur Louis Nostradamus II, or rather Jr. And I must quote another reason: "Most fans apparently have no other hobbies outside of fandom, but we have. For example, our research work regarding earth's lost continents has suffered badly. So has our music. Our intention to write an orchestral suite based on A. Merritt's "Snake Mother" has remained an intention. We have no t even had time to finish our projected orchestration of Tigrina's "Hymn to Satan"!"

The rest of SUN T(r)AILS is a melange of filler items of varying degrees of quotability. I can't resist all of them, durn it:

"Those of you who received the first issue of SCORPIO have found that the cover, while having a very nice finish when new, rubs off after some handling. This has been a source of some worry to us ....."

In another item, Joquel tells of an article by Robert Bloch in the July 1941 Writer's Digest which "tells what would be necessary to complete a fantasy magazine to sell to an estimated 8,500,000 Americans interested in fantasy. (Interesting , yes? But the LASFS refused to have the article read at, not one, but several of their meetings.)" ((This was 1941, but the same old LASFS -- "De profundus ad astra," as Forrest J Ackerman would say.))

And this brings us to the last Joquel publication, FANFILE #1, of February 1942. This is a fascinating mixture. It is partly an autobiography of Arthur Louis Joquel II, and partly a chronology of his publishings (which out of deference to Coswal I won' t reprint), and largely to publishing all the letters he had ever received which had not already been published in one of his other fanzines. All? Well, nearly all of them, I guess.

Before I start quoting stuff, I'd like to mention that FANFILE even lists all the refunds of outstanding fanzine subscriptions that Joquel made when he quit. And I know for a positive fact that Arthur Louis Joquel II did refund to everyone who h ad not skipped out with no forwarding address. From personal knowledge of Joquel, I am solidly convinced that if someone who did not get his refund (and if there is such a someone it is through no fault of Joquel's) were to hit Joquel for it even at this late date, he would get his dime or quarter without a whimper. Of how many other fanzine editors past and present can this statement be made? ((Don't go fitting that halo on me, Jackson -- I'm of the majority!)) To my knowledge, Harry Warner is the only o ther major fan publisher who refunded his outstanding subscription moneys when he quit.

For some reason I got a chuckle out of the fact that #1 SPECULA went for numbered copies, as evidenced by the list of who got which copy.

A letter from Donn Brazier written 11/20/40 says in part: "Maybe there is a book like that ((THE NECRONOMICON)), and when HPL saw the morbid, curious interest of his young, impressionable readers, he made up the story that it was all a hoax in or der to stop the hideous turn of events. Does that make you feel better? You can bet I was mighty furious myself when I discovered that the book was a product of the imagination. It is my personal opinion that there does really exist a book of this natu re. The strange death of the master, his fear of the salt water and all life connected with the ocean, and his abnormal allergy to cold -- all this lends support to the view that he knew things that the ordinary man does not." And Joquel comments: "We think so, too, Donn. And perhaps the truth may come to light sooner than we think."

I think the joy of this quote from an unnamed Britisher (that is, I'm not naming him) may come from regional word usage: "Some kind guy bunged me over a copy of your DIGEST ...."

Says Dave McIlwan, in the english portion of a letter written mostly in esperanto: "I have not yet encountered Blavatsky's "Secret Doctrine" but have browsed through another of her recondite tomes of Theosophy ... and like yourself, I a m amazed at the correlation between these visions of the mystics and the theories of modern science."

On page 14, there is a quoteworthy quote from Art Widner, but I got cold feet at the last moment. After all, I said a few things when I was 20 or 21 I'd hate like hell to have thrown in my face today, though it would give a better picture of Arthur Lo uis Joquel II to quote him actually for once taking the sensible Insurgent view of things.

Joquel spends a couple of pages explaining that his future is fraught with uncertainty because he is a conscientious objector to military service, and so he must really quit fan activity. So far as I know, the nearest ALJ ever got to a conchie camp wa s the LASFS clubroom. But all this does remind me of an occasion in late 1943 when I asked Joquel, in the presence of Ackerman, if it was true he had given money to the 4-F Ackerman to act real physical and pass the Army medical examination so he could s erve in Joquel's place. For some reason, this annoyed the hell out of both of them. Made them almost as mad as it made Joquel when I asked him if any of the verses in SONGS FOR SORROW AND BEAUTY were dedicated to him. "I merely published them!&quo t; he bellowed, and made one of his dramatic exits which was severely marred by his return a half hour later to get his opera cloak which he'd left hanging in the closet.

The last quote: (part of the yours truly part of the windup of FANFILE #1) "On this last page we were going to take potshots at different people: Walter J. Daugherty and the Pacificon, which is going to pot because Walt has lost all interest; E. Everett Evans for thinking that a few fans can really influence the professional magazines, enlarge their circulation, and then demand all the things that fans have yelled for for so many years; Glen F Wiggins and Art Widner Jr. for uncalled for displays of racial and national prejudice; the FAPA; the NFFF; the Futurians, Wollheim and Michel in particular, for attempting to swing fandom into drum-beating and flag-waving support of the war ..... But we won't do it. We love everybody ....."

No. That was the next to the last quote. I just found FANFILE SUPPLIMENT (sic): "With this mailing is enclosed an article by Tiffany Thayer, reprinted from THE FORTEAN SOCIETY MAGAZINE. It echoes our views on the war situation and the general w orld condition. "Did you ever sue Tiffany for plagiarism, Arthur?

No article on Joquel is complete without a mention of J's frantic struggles with the editorial we. "Our mother" is a commonplace. The overall effect is more of a Louis Quatorze we, and the cumulative impact was one of the biggest kicks in t he whole file.

I'd like to close with something that should have been in ARTHUR LOUIS JOQUEL II: THE MAN. It is by way of praise of the lad. Now he has been interested in a whole lot of the different tassles of the borderline crackpot fringe: graphology, Atlantis, Esperanto, Blavatsky and Theosophy, pacifism, Forteanism, and something called "FutuREsearch" which I never did find out anything more about because I laughed so sacriligiously when he started to tell me about it. But there is one redeeming fe ature of his more outre interests -- he usually passes through them swiftly and goes to something else. Contrast this comparatively sensible behavior with that of a fellow I know who decided at the age of 10 or 12 that Science Fiction is All and at the a ge of 34 still feels about the same way about it.

---ooOoo---

PROGNOSTICATION.

Future installments of this column will be nowhere near as long, but after all, Anniversary issues should rate a little extra something. Next time I hope to cover the first fanzine, THE TIME TRAVELLER of 1930. While it is a very dull item, it surely is of historical interest. And for spice, I guarantee to dissect some fugghead and his works. Gee. Don't miss it. It might be YOU.

---ftl


Data entry by Judy Bemis

Updated August 21, 2001. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.