Fanzines sometimes contain material devoted to science fiction or fantasy, but just as often do not, instead including personal essays and articles on fandom and any other subject that happens to interest the editors. Except in mediazines, fiction is rare, most faneds having come to the conclusion that if a story isn't salable, it isn't worth publishing.
In general, fanzines have irregular schedules, small press runs — well under 1,000 copies per issue (unless they are e-zines) — and do not pay their contributors (except in copies of the publication) or contain paid advertising. While they may take subscriptions, these rarely cover even the expenses of publishing, and most faneds wind up subsidizing their fanzines with cash as well as with labor.
The heyday of fanzines as a means of fannish communication was the 1940s through the 1980s. By the late 1980s, fanzine fans were being relegated to the ghettos of subfandom. While some 21st-century stalwarts still pub their ish, mostly as e-zines (see eFanzines.com), fan interaction has shifted overwhelmingly to blogs and Facebook.
The term is a contraction of fan magazine and sometimes abbreviated as fmz. The more common short form is zine, although that term has been expanded in mundania to encompass all kinds of independent magazines that don't originate in fandom.
Louis Russell Chauvenet coined "fanzine" in the October 1940 issue of his own fanzine, Detours, writing, "We hereby protest against the un-euphonius word 'fanmag' . . . and announce our intention to plug 'fanzine' as the best short form of 'fan magazine.' " By that time such magazines had been in circulation for a decade, beginning with The Comet, published in May 1930 by The Science Correspondence Club (later the International Scientific Association) under the editorship of Ray Palmer.
Oddly enough, the term fan mag is archaic but the abbreviated form, fmz, is not. Fan magazine became unpopular because it was used from the 1930s onwards in the mundane world to describe magazines that published sensationalized gossip and speculation about movies stars.
Types of Fanzines
There are many types of fanzines, the most common being:
- apazines: Fanzines intended for distribution via an apa. They can be any type, but are usually perzines in format. The main thing that distinguishes them from other types is the inclusion of mailing comments. This can get confusing because sometimes the editor of a genzine will become a member of an apa and thereafter circulate the zine through the apa as well as his/her own "general" mailing list. Or an apazine can also be circulated to a large number of people outside the apa (when Warhoon won its Hugo, it was a SAPSzine that had outside general circulation, e.g.)
- clubzines: Fanzines published by a fan club for its members and other interested parties. Again, they can be of any type, but most are genzines, newszines or OOs.
- cardzines: Fanzines published on poctsarcds.
- crudzines: What they sound like — cruddy efforts, generally awful contents or layout or repro (or, frequently, all three.) But we all have to start somewhere, and many a faned has been inspired to pub his ish because he saw a crudzine and said, "I can do better than this!" Oddly, there is no parallel term for excellent efforts, though '70s letterhack Mike Glicksohn of Toronto was fond of "damn fine fanzine." (See also "crudposts.")
- e-zines: The newest type, fanzines of any style distributed via the World Wide Web or by e-mail. These are the most common now, often posted to Bill Burns’ eFanzines.com, so that paper fanzine and dead-tree fanzine have become retronymns.
- genzines: Fanzines of general interest and general circulation, usually with numerous contributors and a wide range of subjects in any one issue.
- letterzines: fanzines that consist entirely or mainly of locs, sometimes a supplement to a fanzine that the locs are about, but not necessarily.
- mediazines: Fanzines published by and for media fans, typically thick publications full of fanfiction based on the editor's favorite movie or TV show. Unlike other fanzines, these are often available for subscription or trade only.
- newszines: Newsletters detailing the latest tidings of fandom at large, a particular group, or the professional science-fiction world.
- one-shots: One-time-only fanzines published on the spur of the moment or as a memento of some fan gathering. They are often cooperative efforts of a group, with everyone adding a few lines. Better one-shots are planned ahead. Trip reports and fanthologies typically fall into this category.
- perzines or personalzines (formerly individzines or personalized fanzines): Personal fanzines usually written entirely by their publishers. Small perzines are sometimes called letter substitutes, a product of the time before word processors and mail-merge programs, when it was considered easier to send out a little fanzine than to retype the same tidings for all one's correspondents. A perzine may have outside contributors, particularly of fanart and locs, but the bulk of it will be by its originator. Perzines are often diaries but they may also feature articles, trip reports, book reviews or whatever it occurs to the editor to include.
- short-shots: small fanzines with limited circulation.
- snapzines: quickly produced, one- or two-page zines. (Even smaller were cardzines, mijimags and infinitesimags.)
- subzines: Genzines produced for paid subscribers, not common after the 1950s.
|From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959|
|(Chauvenet) An amateur magazine published by and for fans. Aside from this practically nothing can be predicated of the "typical" fanzine except its size (quarto) and means of reproduction (mimeo). Much of fandom's energy is expended on these fanzines, which range in quality from the incredibly excellent to the abysmally illiterate. Some species of genus fanzine may best be described here:
Generalzines are fanzines with numerous contributors and a wide range of subjects appearing in any one issue. They may be of subclasses APAzine, Subzine, or OO: namely, published for circulation in an APA, to a subscription list, or as the Official Organ of some organization. (OOs in principle go to all members of an organization; they may or may not have outside circulation.)
Individzines, on the other hand, are written practically entirely by one individual, the editor-publisher. There were one-man fanzines at least as far back as 1936, when Dollens launched the SF Collector, but this type is really a product of the APAs and comprises most of the contents of any bundle. Two subtypes are distinguished by Speer: alpha has the outward appearance of a subzine, with separate articles on unrelated subjects, departments, fillers, cover illos, ktp. Subtype beta is very much like a conversational monolog, in which the editor moves along from one subject to another as he is reminded of it, with no attempt at formal or objective, timeless style. Letter substitutes are the end product of this.
The first fanzines were club organs, published mainly for members and a few non-locals who might be interested. The first important fanzine was The Time Traveller (1932) which was absorbed by Science Fiction Digest and the combined mag shortly re-named Fantasy Magazine. Subscription fanzines blossomed thereafter at a quickening rate; in 1937 came the newsie and around 1940 the individzine.
Originally the names of fanzines were simply descriptive: The International Observer (ISA), The Science Fiction Fan, Fantasy News, etc. Gradually the stock of such names ran low, and titles were taken from anything pertaining to fantasy to feed the insatiable publishing mania of stfans: Le Zombie, Skyhook, 2000 AD, usw. Eventually even apparent reference to fantasy was lost in such titles as Wild Hair, Grue, Archive, and Garage Floor. However, these three stages overlap, and new pubs still appear with explicit titles. Many also have pet names.
The longest run enjoyed by any fanzine is that of Taurasi's Fantasy/Science Fiction Times, currently working on its third hundred; first to appear was R. A. Palmer's The Comet (May 1930); most ornate was Bill Rotsler's Masque, "The Gaudy Fanzine", which had artwork of every possible type except statuary (indeed, there were some photos of that). Largest was EYE #3 with 185 pages; most reliable, perhaps, was Lee Hoffman's SF Five-Yearly, which really did appear at the stated intervals; most cosmopolitan in point of production was the wartime Fantast's Folly, run in the US from German-made stencils captured in France and cut in Austria.
As to announced periodicity, there have been: one hourly fanzine, several dailies (all these continuous for short periods only), weeklies, biweeklies, and triweeklies, monthlies, bimonthlies, quarterlies, annuals, one (Wild Hair) biseptimensual, the abovementioned five-yearly, and of course one-shots and frankly irregular items. Unfortunately, most of the others are irregular too, generally appearing much less often than their announced frequency, and suffering such a high mortality rate that the mag that reaches an annish is a real achievement. (Forbye, when subzines fold it isn't considered sporting to return your money; Harry Warner and A. L. Joquel are the only stfnists known to have done so.)
Fan magazines are the great vehicle of thought in our republic of letters, and our most characteristic product.
from Fancyclopedia 2 Supplement ca. 1960: Several fans wrote in indignantly to say that they too refunded sub moneys; Dan McPhail, for instance, and Art Rapp. ("Via a mimeo'd form letter, during the first couple of weeks I was in the Army", explains the latter. "I kept running back and forth to the PX to get change so I could scotchtape the proper coins to the letters.")
A title I neglected is the anagrammatic one, like Ed Cox' Esdacyos ("EdCoSays"). Another is the acrostic, as in the one-shot Bar-Rag, whose title came from the names of the participants: Bill Groover, Arnim Seielstad, Ralph Fluette, Ray Nelson, Art Rapp, and George Young.
|From Fancyclopedia 1 ca 1944|
|(Chauvenet) - An amateur magazine published for fans.
The first fanzines were club organs, published mainly for member and a few non-locals who mite be interested. First important fanzine was The Time Traveller, 1932, which was absorbed by Science Fiction Digest and the combined mag shortly renamed Fantasy Magazine. Subscription fanzines blossomed thereafter at a quickening rate, and in 1932 came the newsie and around 1940 the individ fanzine.
Originally the names of fanzines were simply descriptive; [[The International [ISA] Observer]], The Science Fiction Fan, Fantasy News, etc. Gradually the stock of such names ran low, and titles were taken form anything pertaining to fantasy to feed the insatiable publishing mania of sf fans: Polaris, Le Zombie, the Lovecraftian, usw. Eventually the apparent reference to fantasy was lost completely, in such titles as Sweetness and Light, Milty's Mag, FAPA-zine, and FANEWS[CARD]. However, these three stages overlap, and new pubs still appear with explicit titles. Many fanzine also have pet names.
The Check-List of fanzines by title uses a code indicating the editor, format (size of pages), approximate pageage per issue, method of reproduction, and type of contents. The Yearbook also gives announced periodicity, address, and price (most common price is 10 cents per copy, three for 25, but they have ranged form perhaps 20 cents to 2 cents, no counting those distributed free or merely exchanged). The Check-List also gives variant names of a given zine, summarizes dates by volume and number, and includes information and rumors on proposed magazines that never appeared or got beyond the dummy sage (which are legion), and titles merely humorously suggested.
As to announced periodicity, there have been one hourly fanzine, several dailies (both of these continuous for only shot periods), newsweeklies, triweeklies, monthlies, bimonthlies, quarterlies, annuals, one-shot publications, and frankly irregular ones. Unfortunately, most of the others are irregular too, generally appearing much less often than their announced frequency, and suffering such a high mortality rate that the mag that reaches an anniversary issue is a real achievement.
Fan magazines are the great vehicle of thought in our republic of letters, and our most characteristic product.