( PART I OF II )
"Surprising, the things one finds in a spacewarp"! That was the observation printed in green ink on the cover of a fanzine that popped into various mailslots back in the spring of 1947. To illustrate this contention there was a jack-in-a-box BEM grinning from the three-color cover, but the truth of the statement became fully apparent when one thumbed through the fanzine and realized that, uniquely enough, the entire issue was painstakingly hand-lettered, rather than typed, and despite this ha ndicap, was surprisingly interesting.
There have never been many hand-lettered fanzines; L. R. Chauvenet's Detours (circa 1940) was perhaps the most famous example. And like Detours this new fanzine had an air about it, in the kinder connotations of that phrase. From the very beginning there was an impression that here was a newcomer that eventually must be reckoned with in the fanzine field.
Spacewarp was of course the fanzine in question, and according to the ifc, it emanated from one Arthur H. Rapp of Saginaw, Mich., who was assisted by a staff consisting of Albert Warren and Gerald Dorman. Their offering consisted of eight half-l egalsize pages, set up in semi-newspaper format, with three columns to a page and headlines and subheads at the top. "Any resemblance to other 'zines," remarked an item on page 3, headed FEN TRIO WARP SPACE, "is purely coincidental, since t he staff has seen only two such objects in their collective life. Spacewarp is not published with any specific purpose, other than to promote interest in stf, and to widen our circle of acquaintances in the field ... Right now we're experimenting with var ious types of articles and features trying to determine what will make the most interesting publication."
The editorial decision on this point for issue #1 centered -- as one might anticipate from an editor who has just recently contacted fandom -- on the prozine side of the field. The first Avon Fantasy Reader was reviewed; the " jettisoning" of Sgt. Saturn was hailed; and Al Warren picked his ten favorite fantasies. In addition, the first issue contained "Pillar of Fire", an editorial reprinted, according to a credit-line, from the Thursday Evening News for 20 March 1947. (The full story of this unique, but non-fan, periodical has at last been told in Wanigas #4, SAPSzine published by Rapp.) "The Psycho Lab", an irregular feature of Spacewarp, made its debut with Rapp himself as the subject. In this articlette Art revealed that he was born in Chicago, 29 December 1924, discovered stf in 1942, served in the army 1943-47, and was planning to go to college after he caught up on his stf reading.
That this small, amateurish, though reasonably diverting, fanzine made much of an impression in fandom will be doubted by everyone who ever tried to launch a new fanzine. Still, the second issue (May 47) did not lack for reader comment or for contribut ors. Letters, or excerpts therefrom, from K. Martin Carlson, Rod Palmer, Tom Jewett, Ben Singer, and Wilkie Conner decorated the last page (typical comment: "get yourself a typewriter"), and articles by the two latter writers, as well as Marion Zimmer and Edwin Sigler, appeared in the issue. The trend of the articles was toward discussion of favorite stf stories, a result of the Al Warren article in the first Warp. However, Wilkie Conner, who was destined to become one of the magazine's m ost regular contributors, inaugurated a new subject with his "Fantasy vs. Science Fiction," and Rapp himself wrote an excellent article on "The Fine Art of Titling". This issue also presented the first of Bob Stein's famed hektopix, i n which Bob merrily adopted the technique of splashing the ink on with a brush rather than the conventional pen. These rainbowish concoctions went well with the multicolored balance of Spacewarp and were a distinguishing feature of the magazine f or many issues.
Issue #3 saw Rapp switching to a typewriter. Whether he hadn't used a typer before because he didn't own one or because he thought hand-lettering showed up better in hekto than typing is still a little unclear to this reviewer, but in any case the typ er took over for good now, though freehand headings were still in vogue. By this time the magazine had grown to 24 pages (issue #2 had 20) and sported a number of controversial articles by Wilkie Conner and Ben Singer -- who had taken issue with the form er's contention in Warp #2 that fantasy is superior to stf -- as well as poetry and fiction by Rapp and co-editor Bill Groover. (Parenthetically it should be noted that both Al Warren and Gerald Dorman, original members of the Warpstaff, had by no w completely disappeared from the masthead, being replaced in issue #2 by Groover. Both Warren and Dorman were, needless to say, figments of the Rapp imagination.)
Conner slugged back at Ben Singer in "In Self Defense" in the July 1947 issue, an article printed, in part, around a Stein illustration which I submit is the best hektopic Bob ever did and one of the best I ever saw. Conner was actually the only Warp contributor of the day, and prolific article-writer that he was, he contributed several items to each issue. This time, his second article was "Why Wave Those Oldies?" Someone named Warren Lewis Blewett appeared with "Return, Sp irit!" a prose poem, and in the Psycho Lab, Bob Stein revealed that "I am usually disappointed in my drawings. They're not outlandish looking enough."
Meanwhile, the newspaper format had almost disappeared, being reserved for editorial sections of the magazine. Virtually no trace of it remained in the 5th issue (August 1947), an issue which saw Jack Clements, stormy petrel of Spacewarp for a brief time, make his bow. In "Is Kuttner Overrated?" Clements concluded that HanK was, and is, but his controversy-stirring effort supreme was still in the future. Hugh McInnis, Guerry C. Brown, and Robert Parris also made first appearances, a s well as this writer, who contributed a poem "The Aliens" under a pename. A learned air was assumed by Spacewarp that issue, and only temporarily, with the publication of "General Semantics and the Scientific Method" by Don B ratton -- though, through some misunderstanding the article was bylined Donn Brazier.
During that summer, the Rapp-Groover team, having nothing at all to do except issue Spacewarp once a month, issued a 20-page one-shot titled Bembook. Published only in an edition of 30 copies, this publication scarcely set fandom afire, but it was distinguished for two things (1) its lettersize format, as contrasted with the Warp's half-legalsize; and (2) its material, particularly two lively sketches featuring a character named Morgan Botts, a beer-guzzling bum who had at one time, back in the 1950's and 60's, been a famous fan and editor. "The Man Who Murdered Fandom" and "Whiffingham's Revenge" were the titles of the first two Bottstories and presumably they either won unexpected favor with Bembook readers or else captured their creator's fancy, for Botts forthwith moved to Spacewarp.
"Anniversary", Warp's first Botts tale, appeared in the September 1947 issue, the other main feature of which was Robert Parris' "The Dome in the Desert" and Groover's "Cosmic Invaders", though somewhere in the issu e Groover urged "Let's Spread Some Propaganda!", echoing the ancient plaint of fans that stf didn't get a square deal from the people of the macrocosm.
With the October issue (Vol. 2, No. 1) Spacewarp made a major change: it went lettersize. It retained a hekto mag, however, and retained the large freehand headings that were a feature of the smaller edition, as well as the colorful hektopix. Stein, however, had taken a rest with this issue, and a thoroughly unstefnal cover fronted the issue: a depiction of a cornshock and pumpkins, with an inset of a horse's head!
That was the issue that featured a debate on the merits of Lovecraft by Wilkie Conner ("Lovecraft: Phooey!") and Boggs ("Lovecraft: Hooray!), which had originated in a trading of comments by the participants through Rapp. Conner and Bog gs never did write more than about two or three letters to each other and did not consider the HPL question more than incidentally even then. Their collaboration, however, gained some fame by being reprinted some Issues later in Spacewarp and even tually winning a minor prize in the "Clubhouse" fanzine contest.
Jack Clements burst out with "Dames!" in the same issue. Among the pronouncements made in this "starting gun for the biggest fan-feud since Shaver", as it was blurbed, was this: "Let it never be said that Evolution has no sen se of humor. When it created man, it played one of the most stupendous jokes that has ever been made since time began. For when it created man, it also created woman .... Instead of making woman a rational, intelligent, clear-thinking being, it created one of the most childish and stupid creatures imaginable ...." JaClem declared that he had retired to an early bachelorhood, "having discovered at a youthful age that dames are pretty unnecessary, no matter what your biology teacher will tell yo u."
Since Clements has long since disappeared from the fan scene, I can reveal here for the first time that JaClem admitted to this reviewer in correspondence that he was in actuality not at all "anti-femme", and his "Dames!" was merely the early reaction to an unhappy affair (presumably of the puppy-love type) of some weeks previously. Reader reaction to his article was mostly predictable, except for Bill Groover's satiric dig in the November issue, "Earth Patrol", a yarn bl urbed on the contents page as about "nefarious events in Cincinnati."
Spacewarp went to bat for the budding author in that November issue, attacking the problem of how to crash the pros in two ways -- one being Conner's accurate and informative "So You Want to Write Science Fiction", and the other being a Morgan Botts yarn, "How to Write Stf".
The final issue of 1947 saw several new names in the magazine, among them Al F. Lopez, James A. Wade, and Forrest J Ackerman. This reviewer must modestly admit that he was responsible for placing all three of these manuscripts with Warp, though how and why I obtained the MSS originally is now obscure to me. The Lopez item, an extremely thoughtprovoking one titled "Experience With Telepathy", must have bounced around for quite a while, so long in fact that Lopez got tired of waiting f or it to appear and decided to make another copy and send it elsewhere. At any rate, the same article appeared almost coincidentally in Necromancer. Ackerman's article was a facetious account of an evening he spent "contacting" HPL, Hom er Eon Flint, and A. Merritt via Ouija board.
Vol. 2, No. 4 January 1948, saw several innovations, not the least of which was the retrenching that was visible. Most of the issue was set up in nonstopparagraphing, and the back page had become a combination contents page and mailing wrapper -- a mo ve to save space in the magazine and thus reduce expenses. In contrast to previous issues of 22 and 24 pages, this number contained only 18 pages, including the back page. The ifc featured an editorial in which Spacewarp took cognizance of the bi tter Ackerman-Graham feud then splitting fandom by stating that Warp would be sent to "The Clubhouse" for review, but observing that "If RAP had deliberately set out to destroy fandom, he would have been hardpressed to find a more ef fective way of doing so than the current actions of the more impulsive fen."
The first installment of "The Great STF Broadcast" also appeared in that January issue. The first fan round-robin ran through eight hectic installments before ending with the October issue. The authors of this strange blend of superscience and fannish humor were Bill Groover, Wilkie Conner, Bill Warren, "Mario Stanza," Redd Boggs, Wally Weber, Paul D. Cox, Radell Nelson, and Jim Harmon.
Jack Clements contributed the second, and as it turned out, the last installment of a column, "The Jackpot", he had inaugurated in the December issue. As one of the chief supporters of Roger P. Graham in the feud, JaClem had seen an advance copy of the first "Clubhouse" column and in "The Jackpot" he waxed philosophical over the plight of the poor Amazing reader seeing RPG's column for the first time.
It would happen this way, said Clements: The Amz reader glances at the "Observatory" and sees a statement by Palmer "inferring that no one in fandom knows who his father is. A few pages later, Phillips contradicts this by saying , 'Everyone in fandom knows who his father is, or at least has a pretty strong suspicion.' [The reader] turns again to the editorial. 'All fans are crazy!' screams RAP. Looking again at Phillips' column he finds that 'very few fen are craz y except for the insane ones.' The young fan sits for some moments in profound thought, then pulls the flush lever and jots down the following notes: RAP: 'All fans are sons of bitches.' RPG: 'There are some feminine fans.' RAP: 'Fans are filthy, di shonest, money-grubbing, yellow and uneducated.' RPG: 'A lie! Some fans have extensive educations.'" Clements concluded that Graham was secretly in the employ of Ackerman.
In the February 1948 issue Roger P.Graham answered Clement's charges. Under the title "Graham Cracks!" he declared: "No kidding, fellows, I'm hurt. I thought he [JaClem] was my friend .... I can't understand why he would turn against me without warning, stab me in the back the way he did, hold me up to the derision of fandom, casting doubts on my integrity -- implying that maybe, just maybe, I might be an honest guy. And after all the lies I've told, too!" He squel ched the rumor that he was secretly in Ackerman's employ: "That is the most dastardly, despicable, impossible, unseemly, unkind, absurd lie of all. Ackerman hasn't paid me a cent in the past six weeks, so I quit just before Christmas."
Also in the February issue was a Morgan Botts yarn -- the 12th, according to the blurb -- called "Vindication", Vaughan Greene's yarn, "Star Dust", and Wally Weber's revival of an old school newspaper standby, "Chemistry of a K iss."
March 1948 saw Spacewarp winding up its first year. In an editorial titled "First Birthday" Rapp said: "There always have been, and probably always will be, better fanzines than Spacewarp. We're not trying to put out the best zine in fandom -- we are trying to put out the kind of zine that we like to read. If your tastes happen to coincide with ours, that probably makes you happy; if not, well, maybe you find something to interest you in the Warp now and t hen, at least". No doubt the same editorial criterion still applies.
"Truly in response to a popular demand" the Conner-Boggs debate on Lovecraft was reprinted that issue; Guerry C. Brown reviewed Tales of the Undead; and after 5 months' absence, the letter column, heretofore never an extremely strong feature, finally bowed in again, under the tentative title of "Mail and Femail".
Spacewarp began its second year by coming out in mimeographed form for the first time. "... paeans of praise," wrote Rapp in the first "Timber!" editorial, written for this April 1948 issue, "should be directed toward B en Singer and the Detroit ex-Hyperboreans, who took pity on our deep purple woes and lent us their mimeo." Though the text was mimeographed, the cover was still hektoed and there was a request for more hektoed illustrations. In place of the colorfu l freehand headings were numerous rubber-stamped heads in bright red. A strange feature of Spacewarp in its new format was its use of hekto-paper, despite its discarding of that reproductive process. Though Art still defends this idea as a significant i nnovation, I incline to agree with Don Wilson who in the Fantasy Annual remarked that "mimeoing on hekto paper was not exactly as the ghods of publication would have intended it."
Despite the snitzy new format, the April Spacewarp was below par in contents, a Morgan Botts yarn, "Once in a Long Long Time", being almost the only item worthy of mention. May saw a slight improvement, mostly the result of Radell Nelson's c ontribution, "A Fan Views Bradbury", a too-brief commentary that nevertheless contained such acute observations as this: "His [Bradbury's] underlying theme, it seems, is the interpretations of beauty through emotion. He has observed that when a person feels fear, his senses sharpen; he sees, hears, and thinks with a new vividness. Another writer can say 'Green music' and everybody laughs, but when, in 'The Coffin', Bradbury says it, you can hear the funeral organ playing.&q uot;
Two little "idea stories" featured the June 1948 issue: Nelson's "The Story Teller" and Donn Brazier's "Man of Imagination". The latter was a manuscript I rescued from the dusty files of John Gergen's one-time fanzine Tyc ho, where it had reposed unpublished during most of the war. In addition, Wrai Ballard presented "Perfection", which is a rather weird slant on the alien-life theme, and Vaughn Greene contributed "Secrets of Shaverism", an article dis tinguished by the fact that it was not "the usual partisan moaning, but a carefully documented research into the persons and source-books involved." Concluded Greene; after noting that RAP was well repaid for pulling the greatest hoax of modern times, "RAP is one fellow to watch -- anyone with his foresight and courage to take such a daring risk ... is to be commended, regardless of the moral issues" -- a more Machiavellian viewpoint than most fans have ever expressed on the subject.
The July 1948 issue was one of Spacewarp's very best. In it Rapp scooped even the fanewsies by presenting, less than a week after the event, an eight-page report on the Torcon. Despite its hasty composition, "Torcon Daze" was well enough wr itten to rank among the best convention stories to appear. This was the report that told the whole story of Singer and the Birthday Suit; Singer and the Explosive Telephone; Singer and the International Incident; and Singer and the Alum; as well as other items hardly about Singer at all. Squeezing into the issue, too, was a Bottstory, "The Lost Chord."
In the August 1948 issue r-t Rapp apologized to Shaver. Rapp had written Shaver, accusing him of having no sense of humor, but Shaver showed he did have one by putting Art on the mailing list of the Shaver Mystery Club. Otherwise, however, the issue was subpar. Singer and Conner continued to controverse about something or other, and Zoda P. Mishler, a great correspondent friend of Charles Burbee, kicked some Fortean data around in "Strange -- But True", but the spark wasn't there. Nor was the September 1948 issue much better, though Wilkie Conner's H. P. Longhammer (who was just Horace Longhammer at this time) made his bow, and Ed Cox contributed a lively little yarn, "Dark Night". Andy Gregg interviewed the "Wizard of the Weird", August Derleth, but missed a chance to write a distinctive article by merely rehashing everything already known about Sauk City's first citizen. But Andy was to redeem himself later.
- END of PART I -
Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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