Harry & Johnny

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Fanwork
Title: Harry & Johnny
Creator: Ruth Kurz and Ad Nauseam Press
Date(s): 1980-1991
Medium: shared universe
Fandom: Dirty Harry & Magnum Force
External Links:
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Contents

Harry & Johnny is a slash fandom created by Ruth Kurz and Teri White with the characters Harry Callahan from Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, and John Davis from Magnum Force. Ruth Kurz recruited many other authors to help write fiction in this very tightly controlled universe. The lives of Harry and Johnny were thought out in every detail and aside from a few planned instances, there was no overlap or contradiction in the fiction.

Ruth Kurz, the publisher of the Harry and Johnny universe rewrote the ending of the Magnum Force movie where David Soul's character is killed off by Dirty Harry. In the Johnny & Harry universe, the David Soul character doesn't die when Dirty Harry shoots him off the dock, instead he returns and the pair fall blissfully in love. Some fans feel that the Harry and Johnny zines were quite possibly the sweetest, most wonderful indulgences that Starsky & Hutch and Clint Eastwood fans ever created. Or as one fan put it: "Each and every one of them was intended as an act of love, and that showed in the stories. Johnny and Harry were the most perfect couple fandom has ever seen, and after twenty years, I still love them and wish they were still being published on a regular basis." [1]

Fan Quotes

"H/J is for fun." -- Ruth Kurz
Harry & Johnny in interior art from Magnetism #1, Ruth Kurz


"I have often said, ‘I can write better than this,’ and in the attempt to prove it, accidentally created a whole, new universe!"[2]


"H/J is a well written, consistent universe precisely because there is only one editor putting out the material and she can be selective. This ensures that H and J fuck at least once a page. If you haven't read H/J, I urge you to try it it really fun."[3]


"It’s okay. Friends don’t need secrets, and H/J is for friends." [4]


"'If others wish to play in my fantasy world, who am I to slam its gates... Why should I deny myself the pleasure... And now I have lots of... friends, who will come into my magic garden and play the old 'pretend games' with me'" -- Ruth Kurz quotes Marion Zimmer Bradley [5]


Two Rare Ads

Harry/Johnny fiction was a word-of-mouth fandom and zine ads were rare. Here are two:

The stories in this continuing saga have always been made available on request to anyone who wants to share the fun of a loving, soapy, sexy relationship. For information on the cost of cloning and for the next publication in the series, please SASE. [6]
From Magnum Force: Davis to Love is a Many-Splendored Zine, all 39 H/J zines will be made available upon request. Mixed Media is still in the works, slowly but surely, with H/J meeting: Yellow Rose, Hardcastle & McCormick, Simon & Simon, K/S, Hunter, B/D, Dempsey & Makepeace, Vas & Dex, Remington Steele, Miami Vice, and S/H -- the responses to Double Play. This will probably be my last H/J zine as I must withdraw from active fandom for sanity maintenance. [7]

More on the Appeal of H/J

This fandom was unique in a couple of ways. First, its creation can be specifically attributed to Ruth Kurz and Teri White. Second, it was the first time a fandom existed that had no gen component. Harry & Johnny was created and perpetuated as slash, period. It was based on characters in "Magnum Force," [the second Dirty Harry movie] as played by Clint Eastwood (Harry) and David Soul (Johnny). Both Ruth and Teri started out in ST fandom. Teri also wrote some ST gen and some of the earliest K/S. At the time they created H/J fandom, they were active in S&H fandom. H/J initially was underground -- not in zines, being circulated in manuscript form (like the Pros Circuit stories). As word got out and more fans got interested, they started publishing them in zine form, starting in 1980. Teri was involved primarily in the first several zines, then Ruth took over the primary writing chores. Ruth also did most of the artwork that was included (the zines also were liberally illustrated with "cut and paste" photos -- literally cut and paste, not in computer terms). Over 40 zines were published, and it still was being published as late as 1991. H/J fandom drew contributions from many noted fan writers, poets, and artists of the day. [8]
a family tree
From one fan, Leslie Fish, interviewed by [Linda F]:
She [Fish] likes the psychological honesty in H/J fiction. In comparing it to K/S, she speaks disapprovingly of the Harlequin Romance mentality that characterizes much of K/S. Since Harlequin Romances know nothing of the sexual psychology of men they are extremely unrealistic. They are also dishonest because they refuse to recognize that their heroines are primarily feeling lust. Too many young women are brouqht up with the myth that sexual desire is "love at first siqht", Leslie complains, and this is reflected in K/S. H/J, on the other hand, is very direct about sex. There are no holds barred in H/J zines. [9]
A fan in 1984 writes:
The appeal of H/J lies... in how many times the characters can have sex on a page. It really is part of the fun of the universe. Ruth, and the others who have carved this fandom out of the slim pickings in MAGNUM FORCE, have actually done an excellent job of creating characters. It was, and is, a challenge to have cold-exterior Harry Callahan shiver inside when he so much as looks at Johnny, and make it seem so in character. The stories in this universe tend to be more adventure-type stories mainly because, I think, the issue of sexual preferences was settled in the beginning. With this no longer a source of creative inspiration, the writers were pushed into doing another type of story; the H/J relationship is at the core of the stories, but it is not the sole focus. The boys have sex, but they have also gone on to do other things in life. From being a cop gone bad who crawled out of the Bay, Johnny has become a respected photographer. We've seen a real maturing of both characters as the series evolved. It is a maturity, a growth, many would like to see developed in other universes. The result is one of the happiest fandoms around. An H/J story never fails to make you feel good because the story elements work together to evoke the sense of love the characters share in the readers. [10]

A Sort of RPF in Photos

He may LOOK like Starsky or Paul Michael Glaser, but he is really Dr. Ben Stein, friend and doctor. Artist is Cyndee Morand, the art appeared in A Portfolio of Poetry and Portraits

The Harry and Johnny zines contained a small were portrayed in photos as OMC (Paul Michael Glaser, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Shandy, Paul Newman...). This "RPF" element was physical only; it wasn't the actor or the actor's roles that were referenced, simply the photos.

As one fan explained: "Everyone in fandom back then eagerly awaited the latest installment...and howled with laughter to see their favorite photos of the guys altered to fit whatever unlikely plot was going on." [11]

Intensely Small, Intensely Personal

The Harry/Johnny series is a private saga written for and passed around only among friends who like it. The postage is too expensive to share our few library copies with anyone who would tromp. [12]
I suppose it was I who first mentioned the Harry/Johnny stories in these pages [of the letterzine, S and H] -- only after they were mentioned by the authors during Zebra Con panels. I was asked point-blank when in England if I knew anything about them-- the grapevine had gotten that far, even if the stories hadn't by that time. It's hard to keep something truly secret in fandom; everyone seems to be someone else's best friend. [13]
As for the Dirty/Davis thing, since it's private and goes only to people who know what it is and want to read it, it's not open to review—and it's free of pretensions; the authors are writing simply for the fun of it...kind of like all the erotic Trek stuff was until the zines started publishing and the debates began. [14]
These stories are not 'real' zines offered for sale, but only stories intended to circulate among those friends interested--we must admit to being a little amazed that the list has grown from three or four to several dozen. No one who is not on our readership list is supposed to see the stories. [15]

Harry & Johnny and the Formation of Slash

See History of Slash Fandom for the main article.

In the early days of K/S fandom, there was only K/S, and only a few other same-sex couples were even on the horizon. So people thought of K/S as unique and special, and S/H (Starsky/Hutch) as only slightly less unique and special, and it was only until a pairing like H/J [Harry/Johnny, based on the movie Magnum Force] emerged from the slash-fantasy soup and crawled up on land that fans began to generalize from the unique, special, deep-friendship-based pairings to the more abstract phenomenon of "slash." More specifically, my hypothesis is that it takes a critical mass of at least three same-sex pairings in the fan fiction produced and read by a common core of media fans to generate the concept of "slash" in the abstract. [16]

Where H/J Falls On One Fan's Slashibility Scale

In 1984, a fan rates four television shows on their levels of "slashability":
... let us proceed to the series in question: STAR TREK, STARSKY AND HUTCH, THE PROFESSIONALS and MAGNUM FORCE. Considering each in turn, they can be ranked in terms of the series with the most evidence for a "/" relationship. STARSKY AND HUTCH is number one in this regard. There is a great deal of physical contact, obvious affection and a definite attempt on the part of the actors to portray two french kissing homosexuals opps that's a line from the blooper reel — to portray two men who dare to care. STAR TREK places second. There are some moments in the episodes that are SOOOO K/S, that I'd like to know who was responsible for them—the script, the director, the actors, and that magic, that chemistry and interplay (must be the chemistry, didn't Bill admit that he and Leonard have loved each other for years?). THE PROFESSIONALS ranks a distant third. (I msut [sic] admit to making this judgment after seeing only the 6 episodes Darien Duck so graciously loaned Central Ohio and Lower Michigan). I am a confirmed fan of Doyle-he of the cute derriere (although Paul Michael still has the best in my book and Shatner can't be left behind), curly hair, twinkle in the eye, nice chest (Freddie's, though, is much better). There is not a lot to construe or misconstrue in this series. In fact, I felt as if I were seeing a late stage in a relationship, one in which the principals had been lovers but had taken other lovers even though they remained close friends and linked to one another in such a way that whither the one went the other would go. Of course, then there is that scene in the bowling alley when Bodie's hands managed to grope all over Doyle's body. MAGNUM FORCE (as the source for Harry/Johnny) is fourth, mostly by virtue of the fact that the fandom springs from one look in the middle of the movie. (One must applaud the writer of H/J for finding a way to make Johnny, a cold blooded killer a sympathetic figure -- that's fine writing folks!) [17]

Vids

Harry and Johnny was a very small, very private fandom and this may explain why there were few songvids produced. The additional challenges of creating a constructed reality vid may also have been a factor. In 1995, Stacey D submitted her Harry/Johnny vid "The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" to the Escapade vid show to mixed reactions. "If meeting Dirty Harry was the best thing that ever happened to Johnny," one convention goer remarked wryly, "then I feel very sorry for Johnny."

Harry & Johnny Zine Timeline of Events

This list is summarized and wikilinked from Ruth's timeline in "Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?". For a list of these stories, see: Harry & Johnny/Stories As They Fit Into the Timeline

Timeline from Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?, click to enlarge
Timeline from Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?, click to enlarge
Timeline from Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?, click to enlarge
Ruth writes about her universe in Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?, click to enlarge

The Zines

a price list/listing of zines from Whatever Happened to Harry & Johnny?

The creation of the zines was somewhat unique in that they were based on a combination of a formal shared timeline, with multiple independently written offshoots. The original idea behind putting the fiction into zine format was that the fiction would be shared with a very limited number of people for the price of zeroxing and mailing. Those original zines cost about three dollars each (plus first class postage). However, the popularity of the fandom grew and the zines were also sold at conventions.

The Davis Diary and Callahan Calendar series (co-written by Teri White and Ruth Kurz unless otherwise marked). Each novel focused on one month in the life of Harry and Johnny in 1975.

Novels:

Harry & Johnny Anthologies:

Multimedia Anthologies with Harry & Johnny Content:

References

  1. Source: multiple discussions on the Virgule-L mailing list in 1995 and the Venice Place mailing list in 2002, accessed June 25, 2011
  2. the fandom's creator, from a 1981 issue of S and H
  3. from 1984, a comment in Not Tonight, Spock! #1
  4. from a 1981 issue of S and H
  5. In Whatever Happened to Harry and Johnny, Ruth employs Marion Zimmer Bradley's quote from the introduction of Bradley's first Darkover anthology, "The Keeper's Price"
  6. from Pop Stand Express #3
  7. from Pop Stand Express #10 (1986)
  8. See History of Slash Fandom.
  9. from an interview summary in On the Double #7/8
  10. from Not Tonight Spock! #6
  11. source: multiple discussions on the Virgule-L mailing list in 1995 and the Venice Place mailing list in 2002, accessed June 25, 2011
  12. Ruth Kurz describes H/J in S and H #19 (March 1981)
  13. from S and H #19 (March 1981)
  14. from S and H #19 (March 1981)
  15. from S and H #19 (March 1981)
  16. from Judith Gran at Alternate Universes: Fanfiction Studies, accessed 5.10.2011
  17. from Not Tonight Spock! #3
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