David A. Kyle
(February 14, 1919 – September 18, 2016)
Dave Kyle was an actifan from the early 1930s until his death in 2016, making his fannish career among the longest ever. He chaired a Worldcon, NYCon II in 1956, and was Fan GoH at Constellation, the 1983 Worldcon.
For decades, Dave would walk around conventions asking fans to write an entry in a notebook he carried with him. Traditionally, you could spot Dave clad in his bright red jacket emblazoned with a First Fandom patch.
Born in Monticello, New York, David Ackerman Kyle started as a science fiction fan in the early 1930s writing to the prozines and then to other fans who also wrote to them — his first correspondent was Forrest J Ackerman! He wrote his letters in purple ink and called himself the "Purple Bat." While in Monticello, he founded Chapter 5 of the Science Fiction League (Fred Pohl claimed that Kyle met the requirement of having at least three fans as members by adding two fictitious names, but Kyle said he had high school friends as members ... live bodies, even if they were not fans.) Chapter 5's main activity was writing letters under Dave Kyle's name.
In the mid-1930s, he went to art school in the Flat Iron Building in NYC while living in the 23rd Street YMCA. In 1936, Kyle became a member of the NYBISA, a chapter of the ISA, which met at Will Sykora's house. Even though the ISA was nominally a science club, so many fans joined that the group became an sf club, which some argue was first organized club in New York. Kyle traveled to Philadelphia with the NYBISA late in 1936 to attend the First Convention, accompanied by Fred Pohl, Johnny Michel, Don Wollheim and Will Sykora.
New York fandom was extremely fractious, and there were soon multiple clubs. Kyle stuck with his friends in Manhattan, a group who became the Futurians and with whom he retained contact while he was at college in Alabama (though he finished school at Columbia).
At the first Worldcon in 1939, there was a rift between the Futurians (who had originally been chosen to lead the convention and were politically lefists) and the members of New Fandom (who replaced them and were conservatives). Kyle published a Michelist (sf-oriented Communism) pamphlet he wrote, titled A Warning!, and hid the copies in the lobby when he entered the Caravan Hall where the convention was held, but the convention committee found them, and Chairman Sam Moskowitz, in the first Great Exclusion Act, banned Donald A. Wollheim, John Michel, Frederik Pohl, and Cyril Kornbluth. Kyle, who wrote and published the pamphlet, was already in the con by then.
His enthusiasm for fandom often exceeded his grasp of the consequences, such as when he brought his girlfriend, Lois Miles, a New York fashion model, to the 1949 Worldcon, Cinvention, and without asking anyone, arranged for her to promote the con to Cincinnati news media as “Miss Science Fiction,” posed in a skimpy outfit. Fandom was largely not amused. (Apparently, neither was Lois; soon afterward, she married Jack Gillespie.)
In the ’50s, Kyle was at the epicenter of much fannish activity. He headed the failed Amalgamated Greater New York Fan Groups in '53 Worldcon bid and co-chaired Metrocon 1 in 1953. His next bid succeeded and he was chairman of the 1956 New York Worldcon, NYcon II.
That's where “Dave Kyle Says You Can't Sit Here” and the Balcony Insurgents became fannish legend. That incident was "remembered" one year at Lunacon when Dave was appointed as the usher for the VIP seating section at the Masquerade, so he could tell people whether they were permitted to sit there or not.
He met Ruth Landis at the Clevention in 1955. By 1956, she had moved to NYC and was secretary of NYcon II. Sometime after the Worldcon, he moved to Potsdam, NY, where he had set up a radio station. In 1957, for their honeymoon, he organized the (in)famous Plane Trip to the first non-U.S. Worldcon, Loncon, in the U.K. It got caught up in the penumbra of WSFS, Inc. and resulted in a lawsuit.
He died of complications from an endoscopy.
With Fred Pohl, he was a founder of the Hydra Club in the late 1940s. (The War had pretty much ended fannish activity in NYC and riding back to NY from the first post-War Philcon, they had the idea of starting a club in New York. As it turned out, the Hydra Club became more of a pro association than a fan one.)
Beginning in 1948, Dave was a partner in Gnome Press with Marty Greenberg, which became controversial due to nonpayment of writers, and was part of the first Science Fiction Book Club. Greenberg was the idea man who found manuscripts, while Kyle handled editorial and production as well as doing art design (and sometimes the art itself.) The very first book, The Carnelian Cube, was printed by Kyle's family printing business, but later books were done by a specialist book printer that Kyle located.
More About Dave
- Entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia.
- Philcon 2012, including his memories of the First Convention. at
- Original Member Spotlight in the New Series #42, 4th Quarter 2014, issue of Scientifiction: The First Fandom Report.
- Founding Member article in .
- 2019 2-volume First Fandom Annual, with a comprehensive bibliography.
Kyle on Kyle
- Fanhistory articles in Mimosa
- His reminiscences of many Worldcons from the Noreascon Three PB:
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1961 -- Knight of St. Fantony
- 1973 -- Big Heart Award
- 1976 -- Novacon 6
- 1981 -- Future Party '81
- 1982 -- Rivercon VII
- 1983 -- ConStellation
- 1989 -- Lunacon 32, Genericon V
- 1990 -- Genericon VI
- 1991 -- Genericon VII, Raymond Z. Gallun Award
- 1994 -- Arisia '94
- 2001 -- Balticon 35
- 2004 -- Albacon 2004
- 2012 -- Philcon 2012
- 2013 -- SFContario 4
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