Up To Now: New Fan Magazines, Fly by Night and Permanent

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Decline and Fall of the Era«« »»The Second Convention and the Shift of Power

The European Middle Ages were a period of transition, yet they had a distinctive civilization of their own, even tho it lasted in its full state only two or three centuries and carried in it the seeds of its early destruction. Similarly, the First Transition in fandom was a system that couldn't last, yet was quite distinctive while it did exist.

The Old Fandom was gone, but being a fan had been too much fun to be given up just like that merely because the professional magazines hit the downgrade. Old friends and enemies — those that remained — sought, perhaps unconsciously, a new set of interests under which they could continue their contacts.

There was yet one center of the fan world that seemed as strong as ever. The NYB-ISA was now acknowledged the leader of the fifty or so who remained with the hobby, and the ISA's International Observer rose to new heights, putting out one issue specially designed to appeal to science-fiction fans rathern scientists.

But the hegemony of the ISA did not discourage other attempts to take the place of Fantasy Magazine. Olon Wiggins' Science Fiction Fan ran three printed issues, all at a great financial loss to the editor and associate, and Wiggins was forced to conclude that there weren't enough interested fans left to support a printed magazine's high cost. Others discovered the same bitter truth. Hayward S Kirby's Science Fiction World flared and died. Daniel McPhail expanded his Science Fiction News, first published only for his own amusement, into a carbon-copied magazine for circulation in the Oklahoma Scientifiction Association and exchanges outside the state. He was later able to print it, and made a mighty effort for high circulation. Then he moved away from the printing shop. The Philadelphians put forth their effort, Fantasy Fiction Telegram. The Atom and the early Helios, both printed, belong to a slightly later time.

Shepherd and Wollheim's Phantagraph continued to mutate with every issue, passing thru a bewildering succession of formats. They also issued the hektoed Astonishing Stories and made a bid for commercial publishing with Fanciful Tales, from which Weird Tales has reprinted Lovecraft's "The Nameless City" (it is not infrequent for professional magazines to take stories that appeared first in the amateur publications). Then Wollheim broke with Shepherd, and took in another ISA New Yorker to form Michel-Wollheim Publications. From their printing press came the Phantagraph, mainly, by this time, for the amateur press associations Wollheim belonged to, and their mimeograph produced the Mijimags, the book of ghughu, and other gosh­ awfuls. Ego-Pohl gave the world two issues of Mind of Man. Jim Blish of The Planeteer retired with the passing of the old days, and the title The Planeteer passed to new fan Taurasi. All attempts at printed magazines were failures.

Well. If you couldn't print them profitably, what was to be done? With the supreme Fantasy Magazine gone, every fan could aspire to be an editor, and most of them were. The mimeograph came into wide use, but the cost of the machine and stencils was too much for most fans.

Gradually hektographed publications began to point the way. Which came first after the TFG Bulletin the writer does not know. "A Taurasi Publication" appeared on many little hektoed efforts. The Science Fiction Fan, after a time, resumed via hektograph. But to the Science Fiction Collector should go the credit for elevating hektoed work to a presentable level. One day fans thruout the country got post cards announcing a new fan magazine to be published by a guy named Morris S Dollens, Jr. They didn't even know how to pronounce "Dollens" but some bought. The first issues were mostly fiction, by the editor. But material began to come in from other sources, and the Collector expanded. Several times Dollens wavered between monthly and every-three-weekly issuance, conflicting statements even appearing in the same issue, pages of which were done at different times. The contents never did get very good, but somehow fans liked them.

In conjunction with Hayward Kirby, Dollens tried to organize the Fantasy Fiction League; its organ, Fantasy Fiction Digest, was a twin of the S-F Collector, and was mailed with it, sometimes combined with it. The organization was a failure, as were many others that "juveniles with Napoleonic complexes" attempted: The Phantasy Legion, the Science Fiction Advancement Association (last to go, tho it died in spirit early), the Fantasy Fans' Fraternity, the Jules Verne Prize Club — many of these began in the old days, but reached their "peaks" in these years of flux. Most of them were never anything more than a name, a membership card (perhaps), and an official organ. Some excitement was added, where there were dues, in charges and countercharges of financial crookedness.

Dollens also did illustrating for the hektoed Science Fiction Fan and other fan magazines. And then he had to drop out, apparently due to parental pressure because of the time his hobby occupied. Philadelphia's Baltadonis took over his Collector after a lapse of some months.

The Decline and Fall of the Era«« »»The Second Convention and the Shift of Power