The Whills

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Zine
Title: The Whills
Publisher: Empire Productions
Editor(s): Eric Larson and Sara Campbell
Date(s): 1981-1984
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links:
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Contents

The Whills is a Star Wars fanzine published by Eric Larson.[1] It ran for two issues.

Issue 1

cover of issue #1

The Whills 1 was published in December 1981 and contains 100 pages.

  • No Greater Love, fiction by Megan Cynara
  • Something X-Tra, an editorial defending Lucasfilm's censorship of fanzines
  • Foolproof by L.T. Salley
  • Discipline Recommended, narrative poem by L.T. Salley
  • an interview with Julian Glover
  • small pieces by Giovann Fregni and Eluki bes Shahar
  • art by L.T. Salley

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

One feels that an unfavorable review of The Whills would smack of cruelty to children, despite the fact that one of the editors... is old enough to have a B.A. in English. Age, or lack of it, however, is no excuse for the unrelenting preciousness of this maiden effort. The Whills contains one narrative poem, one short story, a defense of censorship, an interview with Julian Glover, various filler pieces, and six pages of cute editorials. Eighty percent of the zine is the work of the editorial staff, and both stories are illustrated by L.T. Salley, whose art goes from unrelieved incapable to cheap rip-offs of Pam Kowalski. Except for a couple of slight pieces by Giovann Fregni and Eluki bes Shahar, the incidental art is by complete unknowns and is far below contemporary fan standards. The article, "Something X-Tra," is by Sara Campbell. In it, she constructs a straw dog of Fan Pornography and then defends Lucasfilm's censorship of it. This reviewer has never seen writing and depiction of sexuality such as the author decries in any American-published Star Wars fanzine. [2] More annoying than Ms. Campbell's self-righteous advocation of Lucasfilms edicts is the suggestion she puts forth in her editorial, that 'If you have questions about what is or isn't porn, ask me. I'll help.' Considering the quality of her editorship in this issue, one would tend to doubt her qualifications for the post of Moral Arbiter. Again and again in The Whills, problems that could have been alleviated by editing are left to stand. In 'No Greater Love' the author keeps forgetting that her Han Solo is nine, rather than twenty-nine, and has his foster-mother reacting to him in a girlish manner that is odd, to say the least... 'Foolproof' is equally pointless and full of borrowings, though most of the ones in this story are from professional work and may be intended as a form of homage. It seems to have begun as a Han and Chewie action-adventure story that received a quick face-lift after Empire to become a Lando and Chewie story. However only the names have been changed, the Lando character is merely an imbecilic Han Solo in blackface, and the 'search for Han' that is ostensibly the point of the story gets only an occasional mention. This story contains all the flaws of 'No Greater Love' -- illogic, purple prose, bad plotting -- with the addition of a major confusion on the part of the author as to whether this story is meant as a farce or a realistic piece.... It grinds to an eventual and merciful halt, with nothing accomplished. Information on Han's current location is delivered in passing by a prison doctor, in a manner that the authr must have hoped would reflect the Grim Irony of Life, but only serves as an example of bad pacing. The narrative poem in The Whills , 'Discipline Recommended' is a dialogue between Princess Leia and a female X-Wing pilot. It is the most nearly interesting piece in the entire fanzine, and Salley shows promise as a writer, but will never improve without experience, criticism and advice; none of which the author is likely to get with such an insular form. It is easy to criticize fanzines of the Galactic Flight, The Jedi Journal and 'The Whills' caliber... easy and ultimately futile. The authors and artists angrily insist that their work be exempt from critical assessment as they are 'just doing it for fun.' Where is the amusement in producing inferior work that no one is allowed to criticize? Whatever excellence the contributors to The Whills may be capable of achieving, they have not done so here. This fanzine is not worth the time or money of any save only the most ardent completist. [3]
It is my impression that The Whills is a first effort by editors with little exposure to the main stream of fannish publishing. As a result there is no reduction of print, no double column format, and no clever use of dingbats as one sees frequently now in the state-of-the-art fanzines. Far from seeing this as a fault, I must insist that there is room for both types of fanzines in fandom, and there is no reason for an editor to feel she/he is obligated to use such advanced techniques in layout and design. If I am correct in surmising from the editorials and from the tone of Sara Campbell's article "Something X-tra" that this fanzine is seeking a younger audience, the reader must realize that much of the material approximates what the editors feel will appeal to a young pre-teen and/or teenage audience. The jokes, games, trivia quizzes, etc. are rather like what one finds in the slick pro zine Dynamite. The two short stories included here are "No Greater Love" by Megan Cynara and "Foolproof" by L.T. Salley. "No Greater Love" has a nine-year-old Han Solo as its main protagonist. Cute kid. One can see this child growing up into the sort of individual who'd get a kick out of irritating a princess. Unfortunately, the only character he has to offset him is Makani, the sort of supermom image so deplored nowadays. Not only does this woman own one of the largest freight lines on the planet but she also cooks. Using no processors of any sort . My quibble with this is the fact that it would be rather like the president of ITT deciding she'd cook all her dinners over an open fire. Still, this is a harmless piece. With more meat to it, "Foolproof" by L.T. Salley is much more memorable. This is an adventure story with Lando as the main story interest. He's looking for Han off and around various planets when he runs into an old friend. Deneera, whom, we suspect has had a passing affair with Han, inducts Lando into a "family" which is currently running an entire planet. It is, however, an interesting family. Brothers and sisters snipe at each other as well as at Lando. They are, perhaps, a little bloodthirsty but basically friendly towards Lando. There is an interception of a slave ship around which the story's action centers. Overall, I didn't find the story offensive although squeamish types might discover they object to the two villains, Deame and Geddes, as they are truly dislikable sorts. L.T. Salley also has a piece entitled "Discipline Recommended" which is written in the form of a dialogue between two unseen figures. One of these individuals is the Princess and the other is the only other high ranking female, a pilot. I didn't quite understand the point of the piece although it would provide an interesting scene in a story. Other features in this issue are the interview with Julian Glover, two pages of children's artwork, and a recipe (stolen from Yoda' s cookbook) for Rootleaf Stew, presumably for fanzine readers/cooks to tryout on some wandering Jedi. There is also a color poster included of Yoda, which I found to be quite attractive. The concept behind this fanzine is commendable. I hope there is enough market for it among the younger SW fans. L.T. Salley is to be encouraged in her writing as she is already better than many first-timers I have seen elsewhere. There is room for improvement perhaps in catching typos and layout, but those are the sort of acquired skills most editors learn over a number of issues. I must admit that this is not the sort of fanzine that a general reader would rave over, but there is much here to be encouraged. Surely, if there is a fannish parent looking for something to put in the hands of a child whose imagination has been captured by the SW saga, this fanzine would be a good spur to creative effort on the part of the young reader. [4]

Issue 2

The Whills 2 was published in May 1984 and contains 100 pages. It has the subtitle, "The Whills Fanzine.

  • Future Voices, Past Shadows, part two
  • These are the Men Responsible for PG-13?
  • photos and review of Witness (film)
  • photos and art

References

  1. The Fanzine Archives list Schmidt as the publisher/editor, which may be an error
  2. with the use of 'American,' the reviewer is probably alluding to The Dark Lord, a zine that started the whole ruckus with Lucasfilm
  3. from Jundland Wastes #9; this reviewer was taken to task in issue #10 by many fans who felt this review was unfair, cruel, and racist; when the editor of this zine responded to the reviewer in the letterzine, another fan wrote: "Congratulations to L.T. Salley on her/his eminently reasonable and civilized reply to the Teale review. A pers'on would need to have the hide of an armored bantha not to be hurt by such a review, and a reply in kind would be perfectly understandable. It's to L.T. 's credit that s/he has the maturity to answer as here."
  4. from Jundland Wastes #10
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