...and sealing wax...

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Title: ...and sealing wax...
Creator: Sandy Herrold
Date(s): October 29, 1995
Medium: online
External Links:
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...and sealing wax... is a 1995 post to Virgule-L by Sandy Herrold.

It is quoted here on Fanlore with permission.

The topic is print zines and their function as community.

Some Topics Discussed

From the Essay

As many of you know, Media Cannibals are considering putting out a circuit zine. I started flipping through other people's zines to get a feel for things other people had done to start a like/dislike list, and one thing started to strike me: with the except of (generally short) letters from the editor, most zines are amazingly impersonal. Author's notes are as rare as hen's teeth, and editor/publisher notes before stories (the rare graphic sex warning aside) are almost as unusual.

I think this may be one place where modeling ourselves on the professional publishing world works to our detriment.

One of the reasons the impersonal nature of most zines seems strange is: face it, we amuse each other. What is a slash con, but paying large amounts of money to go and listen (and talk) to other fans for 3 days? Very few people really go to cons primarily to buy; you can always ask people to purchase for you, and after the first few years in fandom, there's rarely that much there you haven't already read and seen.

Every con has the problem of Saturday night entertainment: SF cons generally schedule a dance. Not a great idea for a slashcon. After 4 years of spending a bunch of money, and enduring a bunch of hassle to have male strippers provide that entertainment, last year Escapade changed to fannish entertainment: skits and filks by fans for fans, and most people loved it; jokes about us, by us. (It helped that Lezlie is one heck of comedy writer!)

In the Liner Notes thread, fans were asking for more information about how the vids/why the vids were done: saying, in effect, 'vid makers, talk to us.'


I don't know how many times in this last post Zcon week of frantic reading that I have heard fans say something like, "and the end of the story I was laughing out loud thinking how much 'X' was going to like that ambiguous/comforty/death/happy/unhappy ending." When Tina and I went to one of the most recent Zep concerts we weren't sitting next to each other: we know each other's tastes so well, that we spent the concert thinking, 'I bet she's squealing NOW.' Thinking of their fun adds to our fun.

We don't read in a vacuum. We don't write in one either. I don't know how many stories are written as prezzies to other fans, or more casually, how many times it goes through a writer's mind, 'why not have them _X_.' I have friends that cream for that...

I loved Caroline Carbis's editor's notes at the beginning of each story in Noughts and Crosses (liked the zine too, btw), and would to encourage all different sorts of reaching out like that. (And yeah, I know that some of it will be cutesy and annoying; so what. I won't reread it.) And after my cost of zine rants, yeah, I admit I'd annoyed if some huge % of a zine was chat and silliness, but some, yeah, it'd be worth it to me.


In fact, a few years ago, it seemed like more zines did letter cols at the beginning (I think Chalk and Cheese still does). I was always dubious about the value of these as true letters of comment, since most people aren't strong enough to write negative reviews if they know they're going to be published; but I think I overlooked the value of them as general fannish communication (as opposed to specific zine reviews). For people who weren't going to cons (much) and didn't subscribe to apas and lzines, those letter cols may have been the only conversation about zines/stories. I know that, even though I (sorta) sneered at them as reviews, I always read them: curious if friends agreed with me on the best stories of the last issue, even more curious if people I didn't like agreed with me...

I realize that I remember vividly both Shoshanna's author note for Never Let Me Down, and Pam Rose's for Arabian Nights. Maybe we feel (subconsciously) that people should have to write a whole novel before they can go on and on about, 'I wrote this because...' (smile)

Making our zines impersonal 'the work should stand alone' seems to work against our desire for community.

Am I way off on this? Am I encouraging cutesy meet-the-author blurbs that will make teddy bear stories look 'hip' in contrast?