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A fanzine edited by Leslie A. Croutch, aka Croutch News and Croutch Magazine Mart News and CMMN and Electron.

Light in its varied incarnations was Canadian Fandom's earliest adzine, begun circa 1937/1938. It eventually evolved into Canada's third fanzine (after Nils Frome's SupraMundane Stories and the earlier The Canadian Science Fiction Fan by an unknown faned), but which, in its final incarnation as Light, had a far wider distribution, greater impact and much longer lifespan than Frome's zine. It was in continuous production from 1937 to 1963.

Not even Croutch preserved the first 85 issues of Croutch Magazine Mart News (CMMN). As quoted in the 1952 Evans/Pavlat Zine Index, Croutch stated his own records began with #86A (Sept 1940) "...when I started using regular typewriter paper. Before that I have no copies left." Most sources indicate these early issues were carbonzines, i.e. multiple carbon copies banged out on a typewriter, but surely the top copy would have been on "regular typewriter paper"? Yet Croutch didn't use such till #86A. This may have implied that the first 85 issues were hectographed. However, this is unlikely as Harry Warner, Jr., described Croutch's 1930's output as: "a carbon-copied listing of his stock for trading", and further, John Robert Colombo says that Croutch would type 6 or 7 copies, and not only mail them off to friends, but the original top copy as well! So carbonzine it is. Alas, no copies of any issue of Croutch Magazine Mart News are currently known to exist.

Though originally strictly listings of books and magazines for sale or trade, Croutch gradually began adding filler in the form of cartoons, editorials, and even fiction, gradually evolving CMMN into a genzine.

(Harry Warner wrote a nice, long, remembrance of Croutch in Focal Point V2#11 p5 , which featured material on Light.)

Various titles were as follows:

  • 1 (1937/38) to #92 (Dec 1940) = Croutch Magazine Mart News.
  • 93 (Jan 1941) to #99 (Apr 1941) = Croutch News.
  • 100 (Apr 1941) to #103 (Jun 1941) = Electron.
  • 104 (Jun 1941) to #107 (Aug 1941) = Croutch News.
  • 108 (Sept 1941) to #135 (Fall 1945) = Light.

Then Croutch decided to restructure his numbering system based on the name change to Light. Thus if #108 is considered to have been #1, then #136 must be:

  • 29 (Nov 1945) to #69 (1961) = Light.

Note: There were further issues, but Croutch gafiated some time in 1963. As to production methods: #1-99 were carbonzines, #100-107 were hectographed, and #108 on were mimeographed.

As for choosing the name Light, Croutch wrote: "For the record, it was I who thought of the name Light. It was short, snappy, lent itself easily to punning, of which fact many have taken advantage, was easy to remember, and was distinctive."

Whereas CMMN distribution was around 5 copies per issue, and CN around 10, Light averaged about 50 copies per issue and sometimes as high as 100. Writing in #118, Croutch stated: "Let's see where Light goes. 17 go to Canadians, 5 to English, and the rest (28 approx) to Americans." This preponderance of American trades is typical of Canadian zines. That's where most of the fans are. "Let's look at Light's contributors: 9 of them are Canadians, 5 are Americans & 2 are Englishmen."

Croutch enjoyed a wealth of contributors over the years. Regulars included Americans Forrest J Ackerman, John Russell Fearn & Art Widner, and Canadians John Hollis Mason, Norman V. Lamb and Gordon L. Peck. The two fan artists most often used (apart from Croutch himself), were Bob Gibson (the better of the two) and John Cockroft (who did the only offset cover) with frequent contributions from Nils Helmer Frome (Canada's second faned) and William Grant (most famous for his art in Canadian Fandom).

Of Cockroft, Taral wrote: "Dark, and lavishly textured, his art tends to obscure itself in detail. Poor perspectives make it flat. Unartful compositions made it uninteresting." But of Bob Gibson: "He first appeared to my knowledge in '44... He did most of Croutch's covers for the next several years, only disappearing from sight, after a pause in '48, in 1951. It was all on-stencil, not overly-bad, but difficult to describe, since stencil techniques tend to disguise differences in style. His ideas were usually good, and his skills adequate for them. A Cyclopean creature on the cover of Light #33, an inside page in #34 illustrating what waits in the dark for you to strike a match, and a cover on #46 of a fan trapped in a maelstrom of fanzines not only shows Gibson at his best, but also what a wide range of topics he could successfully handle....Gibson also drew cartoon pages, fillos for the corners, and most logos that Croutch didn't do himself."

Croutch's own contributions included art, of a sort. To quote Harry Warner, Jr.: "Les kept getting into trouble with a few fans over his artistic productivity. His own sketches ran to chic sales as subject matter, usually with some kind of punchline involving sf or fandom. When he published the work of other artists, he had a habit of putting extremely ugly nudes on his front cover."

Croutch's editorials were titled 'Light Flashes', and he frequently printed his own fan fiction. He also tended to include articles reflecting his radio and record player repair business, with titles like "Speaker Data" or "Strictly for the Audiophile", the latter offering this prescient advice: "At the present state of the recording art, storage of metal pressings seems most probable to give long life. Lacquer discs and magnetic tape are as yet uncertain in life, and dependent on storage conditions..."

In addition, numerous puns, jokes, and spoof ads were used as fillers, many of a slightly naughty or off-colour nature. Samples: "A woman is a thing of beauty and a jaw forever." Or: "Here's to the ships of our navy / And the ladies of our land / May the first be well-rigged / And the latter well-manned."

In a 1970 article in Focal Point #11, Harry Warner, Jr., wrote that Light was "the best of all possible crudzines... as comfortable as a pair of old shoes.... I wish someone still produced something as scruffy and unassuming and genial as Light." In the same article, he noted: "Curiously, Les loved Christmas and tried to produce extra large issues of Light decorated with Christmas seals and sketches of holly each December, despite his outspoken opposition to organized religion."

The single biggest contribution of Light to zinedom may be its influence on the evolution of the concept of the usual.

Issue Date Pages FAPA mailing Notes
86A September 24, 1940 titled Croutch Magazine Mart News, now a carbonzine
87 October 1, 1940 story: "The Black Castle" (cribbed from Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula)
88 October 15, 1040
89 October 31, 1940
90 November 15, 1940
91 December 1, 1940
92 December 25, 1940 story: "The Summons"
93 January 1, 1941 now titled Croutch News
94 January 15, 1941 story: "Aboard A Comet: A Story Of 4000 A.D."
95 February 1, 1941 story: "The Radio Mystery"
96 February 15, 1941
97 March 1, 1941 story: "The Haunted Classroom"
98 March 15, 1941
99 April 1, 1941 last carbonzine
100 Now titled Electron
104 June 14, 1941 back to Crouch News, now hektographed
105 July 1, 1941
106 July 15, 1941
107 August 1941
108 September 1941 8 The first Croutch zine to be named Light, and the first to be mimeographed.
109 October 1941 8 Has Croutch's fiction: "A Child Is Born."
110 November 1941 10 Cover art, probably by Croutch himself, features a rather stiff girl in Grecian dress & sandals leaning on a sword, mimeographed in purple & pink. Plus articles by Gordon L. Peck, & Ted White, & a short story by (then fan) Ray Bradbury, called "A Tale of Mangledomvritch".
111 December 1941 11
112 January 1942 8
113 February 1942 8
114 March 1942 16 "Mud Pack" by Croutch.
115 April 1942 14 Cover by Nils Helmer Frome, depicting four nude women, apparently high on a cliff, watching the fiery descent of a Flying Saucer-style spaceship down to the valley floor below. (Long before the 1948 sightings in Washington State which established the Flying Saucer as icon.) In a loc, Donald A. Wollheim comments: "Your mimeo Light is o.k."
116 May 1942 19
117 June 1942 17 "The Devil And The Postmaster", a story by Croutch.
118 July 1942 11
119 August 1942 14
120 September 1942 16
121 October 1942 18 Included Croutch's short story "The Horror In The Hut". Also, according to Harry Warner, Jr.: "...occasionally Light had a cartoon that was amusing enough to neutralize the impression left by the nudes (on the covers), like one by Gordon Peck (a Vancouver B.C. fan) on the last page of the Oct 1942 issue: the explorer being roasted to death in darkest Africa by a native tribesman, who is using a giant test tube supported by an ingenious array of pipes & tubes to turn it over the flames, with the caption: 'Best equipment, bwana.'"
122 November 1942 15 Features a wonderful cover by 'Nanek' (American artist Virginia Anderson). depicting two Flash Gordon-like spacecraft flying past a female space pilot who is wearing sheer tights, leather boots, plunging neck cleavage & flying helmet.
123 December 1942 33 Featured an article by Canadian fan Ted White about "The Birth of Ontario Fandom." Also a three page biography on Canadian author A. E. van Vogt by Croutch himself, containing such tidbits as van Vogt's first sale "was to 'True Story' Magazine, an 8,000 word explanation of how he was a poor girl who had had to live in a park for a while, that brought in $160..." and the story that finally convinced van Vogt that SF was a genre worth writing for was John W. Campbell, Jr.'s 'Who Goes There?' (later made into the movie The Thing).
124 January 1943 12
125 Fabruary 1943 12 Contained the short story "Twenty Ghoul Team" by Croutch, also his "Dream Ship". The cover is described by John Robert Colombo as "perhaps the most graceful of all covers..." A simple line drawing by 'Pluto' depicting two "carefree nude dancers" (female) gamboling along a beach.
126 March 1943 12
127 April 1943 12
128 May 1943 10
129 Winter 1943 9 26 "Recordemon" by Croutch. This was also his first FAPAzine.
130 Spring 1944 This, his second FAPAzine, was his "sexy number" which nearly got him thrown out of FAPA because of an artwork depicting a nude woman with just "a hint of pubic hair".
131 Summer 1944 18 28
132 Fall 1944 20 29
133 Winter 1944 36 32 Included Croutch's short story "The Meteor".
134 Spring 1945 24 33 Contains "Pokergame: A Pete The Vampire Yarn" by Croutch, also his "Bejazers, Dorothy, The Flit!"
135 Fall 1945 16 34 Cover of a woman's head within a globe enclosed in a 5-pointed star against an abstract backdrop of jagged lines, probably by Croutch. This was a special "All Girl" issue, featuring articles by Mary Byers, Jessie Walker, Barbara Bovard & 'Nanek'.

NOTE: At this point Croutch started numbering from the first issue named Light, which was #108. Thus, instead of #135, the next issue becomes #29.
29 November 1945 12
30 January 1945 12 "Sweet Sue" by Croutch.
31 March 1945 12 "It Came To Pass" by Croutch.
32 May 1945 16 "One Meet Ball" by Croutch.
33 September 1945 34 40 "Herby's Flying Pig" by Croutch.
34 January 1948 18 42
35 April 1948 14 43 Cover by faned/artist Don Hutchison depicting a nude female genie rising out of a lamp amongst a swirl of stars.
36 August 1948 20 44 The famous Torcon issue, with his review of Torcon 1 called "Torcon Memories" and reprints of the infamous "ZAP! ZAP!" Globe & Mail article on Torcon, and another from the Toronto Daily Star. These 3 articles were later reprinted in #33a (Feb 1957) of Canadian Fandom with the addition of an article by Ned McKeown describing the Sunday of the con which Croutch did not attend.

Some quotes from Torcon MEMORIES: "I was less interested in the fan business or the speeches than in the personalities involved.... Ackerman turned up... After reading Laney's memoirs, and hearing the myriads of stories out of the LASFS about what went on there, I had quite a conglomerated idea of what I would see... What I did meet surprised me very pleasantly. Ackerman... didn't rant and rave or wave his arms forcefully as I had half suspected. Ackerman went up in my judgment tremendously..."

37 September 1948 12 46
38 November 1948 14 46
39 January 1949 12 48 Included the short story "Christmas Story", by American David H. Keller, M.D., who'd been quite a prominent professional SF writer in the 1930s.
40 April 1949 12 48 Of particular note, this issue thru to #43 (Dec 1949) featured a serial article "Mimeo Ink In My Veins" in which Croutch discussed early Canadian zinedom and his own printing history. I'd dearly love to read this. (Was later reprinted in Canadian Fandom #31, Nov 1956) J. R. Colombo describes it as "an insight into the excitement he experienced acting as a writer, editor, publisher & illustrator." Also featured in this issue: "The Victorious Bride", a story by Croutch.
41 July 1949 12 48 "Mouse In A Stocking" by Croutch, later reprinted in Canadian Fandom #22, Sep 1954.
42 September 1949 22 49
43 December 1949 10 50
44 February 1950 10 50 "The Immigrant" by Croutch.
45 July 1950 10 52
46 October 1951 12 54
47 November 1951 14 57
48 November 1951 8 57
49 January 1952 12 58 Cover by Croutch depicting 4 disembodied heads floating (by virtue of their propeller beanies) up & down in front of the nylon-stocking legs of a woman whose upper half is unseen, smacking their lips as they stare wide-eyed, an angry devil's visage above spurring them on.

"The Propositioner" by Croutch reflects the spirit of the cover. Done in a pseudo-hardcore detective fiction style about a man propositioned off the street by a pimp. Sample: "I expects this babe to start the long blather but she's quiet as the proverbial grave. Maybe she's dumb, I think, and am happy, as I don't like my women yak yakking all the time." When undressed, the woman turns out to be three-legged, and the man flees, convinced he was about to be entrapped by an alien. The character's final comment: "I feel sorry for the girl." Presumably he wouldn't have if she had turned out to be an ordinary prostitute. The SF element is very weak. The story reflects what Croutch seems to have regarded as his crusading zeal against prudery, but what more and more of his readers found to be sniggering prurience. Poor Croutch failed to keep pace with the maturing of fandom, and thus fell away from the mainstream of fannish evolution, but at least he always remained true to himself.

One page is devoted to Let's Swap. Offers pocketbooks like A. Merritt's Face In The Abyss for 50¢, and 1940's SF magazines from 25¢ to 50¢ each! Sounds cheap now, but most new pocketbooks were in the 35¢ range at the time, so Croutch was actually charging collector's prices

Typical Croutch pun: "'Well, bless my soul,' said the ram, as he plunged over the cliff. 'I didn't see that ewe turn.'"

A crossword puzzle by Robert W. Gibson offers such clues as "Author who introduced tendrils, callidity, and toti-potency." (Answer: A. E. van Vogt.)

The longest article is 'Light Flashes' by Croutch, on the subject of record players. He reveals that cactus needles damage the grooves, and that taking out a steel needle and putting it back in is a bad idea, for one or two plays will have ground the end of the tip into a chisel shape and "you are sure to get it turned so the chisel tip becomes a chisel in fact and it will cut into the record groove and ruin the record."

50 May 1952
51 August 1952 10 60 No cover art. A 'serious' article on blood by 'S. Wilmer Midgeley' is probably by Croutch, judging by such puns as: "White corpuscles are all named, and all possess the same name, namely, Luke O'Cyte (these Irish emigrated everywhere)."

'Fantasy Vignettes #8' is the 8th in a series of book reviews by Norman V. Lamb, in this case a single-author anthology of horror stories titled 'The House of Lost Identity' by Donald Corley. It is a very poor review. Instead of discussing the strengths & weaknesses of each story, Lamb simply describes the plot, including the ending, of every story, thus ruining any chance of the reader actually enjoying the book.

In his "excuse for an editorial column" 'Light Flashes', Croutch complains about always being in hot water for what he prints, such that "I am a heel, a low crude character, or one of the devil's minions in disguise!" He then attempts to offend more people.

On the subject of the Korean War: " is a made to order testing ground for both sides to try out their new weapons... We are told the Communists do not want peace. What proof do we have that OUR side want it any more?... After reading the theories of censorship & propaganda & conditioning in the SF magazines, one goes on to the idea that perhaps there is no war... This hypnotic conditioning might also be carried to the armed forces so THEY believe they are at war and so report when writing home..." Conspiracy theories nothing new it seems.

Croutch goes on to attack Christianity: "What assurances do we have that ANY of it is the gospel truth?" and SF writers: "These days the writer is so danged scared of predicting something that WON'T come to pass that he plays safe and contents himself by being sickeningly puerile!"

Light being a FAPAzine at this stage, Croutch concludes with reactions to the previous FAPA mailing which included zines with titles like Choog, Fantasy Jackass, Al la Baboom, Unasked Opinion, Duckspeak and, of course, Harry Warner, Jr.'s Horizons.

52 October 1952 10 61
53 January 1963 10 62
54 March 1953 10
55 July 1953 10 64
56 November 1953 10 66
57 February 1954 10 67 No cover art. The lead article is a reprint of an article which appeared in the Canadian Industrial Equipment News the previous November. Fortunately funnier than it sounds, for it's an opinion column on nightclubs being the "monument to man's knack for self-delusion". There are instructions on converting your living room into a nightclub, such as: "Tie a hammer to the turntable of the record player" & "Into the fireplace throw a few large chunks of French tobacco & some old mops. Light fire & close damper."

Croutch has three lengthy fake advertisements with the headings: "When did you last get a raise?" (a sort of proto-Viagra pun), "She's lovely, she's engaged, she uses FIG LEEF" which turns out to be "The implement of rapturous desire that the first Woman used to get the first Man", and "GENETICS, the Science of the Bowels." Typical Croutch humor.

In his article 'Strictly For Audio-Philes' Croutch discusses the likely lifespan of the relatively new invention, the magnetic tape. Everyone's best guess is a maximum of 50 years. "We do know definitely that storage under hot, dry conditions may reduce the life to a few months..."

FAPA response & locs by Sam W. McCoy & Norman V. Lamb make up the remainder.

58 May 1954 12 67
59 August 1964 10 69
60 January 1955 10
61 April 1955 10 72
62 June 1955 10 74
63 December 1955 10 74
64 December 1956 10 78 "The Authentic Apologue, or The Maladroit Iconoclast Exposed" by Croutch.
65 December 1957 10 83
66 July 1958 8 85
67 May 1959 10
68 1961 15 95 "Jason Crull" by Croutch.
69 February 1961 14 99
70 1961

Light online at

Publication 19371963
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