Carl Brandon

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Carl Joshua Brandon was a hoax fan created by Bay Area fans Terry Carr, Ron Ellik, Pete Graham, Dave Rike and Boob Stewart. "Carl Brandon" started out as just a pen name but evolved into a full-fledged hoax, engaging in fan activities and putting out fanzines ostensibly all his own, including Joshings.

Not long after Brandon's name was put on the FAPA waiting list, a conservative member posed the hypothetical question of what, if anything, FAPA might do if a Negro applied for membership. "Carl" wrote to say that it wasn't a hypothetical question — he was black, but hadn't thought to mention it because he didn't consider it important. FAPA didn't either. Nor fandom.

Carl's wit and writing prowess elevated him to early BNFdom, and most fans were sincerely disappointed when he turned out to be a hoax.

His back yard was the supposed site of the Tower of Bheer Cans to the Moon. Whenever fans visited the BArea, Carl was always "visiting his grandmother in Oakland." He succeeded Carr as Official Arbiter of The Cult, where he and Carr "debated" Descartes — Brandon arguing that cogito ergo sum was little more than a parlor trick that proved nothing. Brandon held that existence simply could not be proven: "Hell," he wrote, "I can't even prove I exist."

The hoax was revealed at the 1958 Worldcon, the Solacon — Carr signed a quote card which was being passed around, and handed it to Ted White, who immediately recognized, beneath Carr's signature, the signature of Carl Brandon, with whom he had corresponded. Lars Bourne had apparently known about the hoax all along, but was largely gafiated while it was going on, so he never told anyone.


Brandon was perhaps best known for writing full-fledged near word-for-word parodies of well-known fiction (the majority of his writing was done by Carr with some by Ellik); by the time the hoax became known his published parodies included The Cacher of the Rye, On the Road, My Fair Femmefan and The BNF of Iz, among others.

Brandonization became a term applied to Brandon’s style of faanfiction parody. These went quite a bit beyond pastiche; they were close to word-for-word "translations" of certain mundane works into fannish. Brandon's parody, The Cacher of the Rye, of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, for example, has Holden Caulfield getting kicked out of FAPA rather than an exclusive boarding school, living in a slan shack instead of a dormitory, interacting with other fans rather than school mates and faculty &c. By elevating fannish concerns to such levels, the works often served as effective satires.

After Carr died, the stencils for a collection-in-progress of Brandon fanwriting were discovered in his papers. These pieces had all appeared in 1950s fanzines. Jerry Kaufman published them as The Portable Carl Brandon for Corflu 5.

He was also listed as one of the publishers of Dolor with Dave Rike, Ron Ellik, and Terry Carr.

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
The name of a reputed Berkeley fan for several years; a Bay Area fandom hoax up until the SoLACon, and after that a sort of house name for Berkeley Fandom. Carl's first name appeared in a letter, February 1953, but he did not really become an actifan till the middle of 1956. From that time up to the revelation of the hoax during the SoLACon he was one of the most popular writers in fandom. (His specialty, rather appropriately, was parody.)

About 75% of Brandon was the work of Terry Carr, with Rike, Graham, Ellik and Stewart seconding him or using the name independently from time to time. A mythos gradually was built up; Carl was a Negro, a Moldy Fig [traditionalist jazz fan] in musical tastes, ktp. In 1958, Carl even established a false identity for himself (!!) as Norman Sanfield Harris a sercon-fuggheaded type. And when the gaff was blown Carl was well ahead in the voting race for FAPA OE, after having been drafted to serve as OA of the Cult.

Comparison with the Joan Carr and John A. Bristol hoaxes gives Carl Brandon honors for the most successful hoax of all fan history; neither of the others successfully ran for office in a national/international fan group; Bristol, tho living in fanhabited territory, was not notably active; JoCa, tho hyperactive as a writer and publisher, "lived" in the Middle East (with the British forces there). Brandonhaus [he used the addresses of inactive local fans] was located in a very hotbed of actifandom and specialized in crifanac, yet the hoax remained unrevealed for over two years.

There actually was a Carl Brandon at one time; a small black cat owned by Pete Graham. He died, and Pete got another cat named Josh Brandon.

See also: Carl Brandon Society.

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