Black Cover

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Zine
Title: Black Cover
Publisher: Rock Dog
Editor(s):
Date(s): 1990 (late summer?)
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: adult het
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
Language: English
External Links:
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Batb black cover.jpg
the flyer
Blackcover1.jpg
the first page of "A Darkness on the Edge"

Black Cover is a 150-page adult het Beauty and the Beast anthology. The fiction is by M. Louis, and it was published by Rock Dog. There is no title on this black-covered zine and no inside art.

Descriptions

From the flyer:

Is it true some secrets are better left untold? Sometimes when lovers are together they are willing to unfold even the worst part of their life to that person they trust most. There are three tales here, A DARKNESS ON THE EDGE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (revised) are stories of facing an unforgiving past that can haunt a person. The third tale WEDNESDAY NIGHT MOVES is one of the promise the future can bring. The darkness of the past can sometimes light the way to an even brighter future.

NOTE: IN ADDITION TO ADULT THEMES, ISSUES ARE EXPLORED IN WHICH THE PRIMARY CHARACTERS BECOME INVOLVED IN OUTSIDE RELATIONSHIPS, THE THIRD TALE INCLUDES A DIANA/VINCENT ENCOUNTER, IF THIS TROUBLES YOU, WE SUGGEST YOU DO NOT PURCHASE THIS FANZINE.
ADULT FAN FICTION "Black Cover" (R, possibly X-rated, this fanzine will not be sold to persons under the age of 21. In addition to adult themes, issues are explored in which the primary characters become involved in outside relationships. If this troubles you, it is suggested you do not purchase this fan zine.) [1]

Contents

  • A Darkness on the Edge (a young Vincent engages in a sadistic menage a trois with two prostitutes)
  • Beauty and the Beast Revised (lawyer Catherine moonlights as a call girl, and one of her clients is Vincent)
  • Wednesday Night Moves (Vincent visits Diana to watch a movie but they ignore the movie and have sex.)

The Rebuttal: White Cover

The negative response to "Black Cover" was so strong that some fans put together a "response" zine called White Cover. Although it was also a het zine, the stories were all rated G to PG-13 and focused on the more traditional romantic interpretation of Vincent and Catherine's relationship.

Reactions and Reviews

The zine was not well received by the Beauty and the Beast fandom. It is difficult to know how much of the outrage was organic or if it was a case of dogpiling and/or the nature of the Beauty and the Beast fandom culture of the time, as well as fans' embroilment in The Beauty and the Beast Wars.

This zine sparked a lot of outrage, both at the stories themselves, the author, as well as at the subsequent reviewers pro and con. The commentary and debate took place in the letterzine Tunnel Talk. It must be said that not all reviews were - or are today - negative, however the author of the zine did take it out of print. The situation proved divisive for fandom. [2]

One of the fans who created Black Cover wrote an open letter to fans called An Exercise in Futility (Or Lessons in How to Beat a Dead Horse): Black Cover.

Beth Blighton wrote an essay in April 1991 called It seems that the trend in fandom is to believe the first shocking thing we hear from the first "politically correct" mouth we hear it from..

The Original Tunneltalk Review (1990)

"Black Cover" was reviewed in Tunneltalk v.1 n.6 (August 1990) and was described as "shocking" and "obscene." The reviewer complained that even though the zine was labeled adult, the warning was insufficient to cover "the violent slash (lesbian) and sado-masochistic stories." The reviewer strongly objected to the characterizations using phrases like "a sick depiction" and "awful and sad". And last, the zine was criticized for containing "an astonishing number of errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation" - while somehow managing to spell all the obscenities correctly. While the zine had an anonymous author, this reviewer "outed" her:

Warning: This review contains material that will upset most (I believe all) B&TB fans.

I had heard stories about a zine—untitled—with a black cover that other fans described as "shocking" and "obscene."

I dislike condemning anyone or anything on second-hand gossip; so I borrowed a copy and read it. In my opinion, it violates every standard of love and decency B&TB ever stood for, and the author is to be sincerely pitied—but NEVER purchased from!

[Since I don't make anonymous criticisms, the first copy of this review, with my name, address, and phone number will go to the author.]

The zine contains the usual warning of adult material but does NOT warn of the violent slash (lesbian) and sado-masochistic stories which comprise this mess. Star Trek slash zines are always clearly labeled as such, and kept out of the hands of minors—shouldn't B&TB fandom be as responsible?

The stories contain an astonishing number of errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It seems that the only words consistently spelled correctly are the obscenities—and this book is loaded (Vincent, referring to Jacob as "My f___ing old man").

I refuse to accept a portrayal of Catherine as a bored, rich-bitch who moonlights as a hooker and agrees to take on Vincent as 'freebie" for her pimp—and calls him "Le Bette." I will not believe a sick depiction of an alcoholic, teenaged Vincent being chained down and whipped by two lesbian hookers who refer to him as their "doggie" and boast of the "tricks" they have taught him. I loathe a Vincent who routinely slashes his sexual partners with his claws and commands them to "bark."

The third story, in which Vincent begins a violent sexual relationship with Diana has Vincent describing his relationship with Catherine; "There were times when I felt she was unobtainable... Now I wonder sometimes if I only loved Catherine because for me, she was... When I was with Catherine I always regretted what I am. With you, Diana, I am finally at peace with myself."

The truly awful and saddest part of this entire zine is her one clear and accurate moment of characterization; when she describes Vincent's aloneness and pitiful feelings of worthlessness. You see, the words tell so much more about herself than they do about Vincent. She has the talent to write so much better that this travesty is much worse than it would be from the pen of an incompetent hack.

The author may use a pen name to try to remain anonymous but the errors in spelling (i.e. lionine, shear), constant use of past, present and future tenses in one sentence, turn of phrase (i.e. blew out), and mailing address all match a zine titled A Future Too Late. I will not purchase from or read anything by this author again. I vote with my dollars! [3]

Specific Comments By Fans About the Review (1990-1991)

[November 1990]:
I read the zine review of Black Cover. I am very angry that such stuff is being written about B&TB.I know that Star Trek has some unusual literature, also, but I never heard of anything like Black Cover. People's sexual preferences are their own business, but perversion and filmy language (by perversion I mean whips and crazy stuff like that) DO NOT belong in B&TB. If I bought such a zine, I'd burn it; I wouldn't even WANT my money back.... Anyway, if anyone plans to write more perverted stuff, maybe CBS will give you a series—maybe Jeff Sagansky can get ratings that way.[4]
[December 1990]:
Beth Blighton's essay on censorship was an interesting addition to the usual letters. I find myself in agreement with 99% of it; any person involved in the arts is all too aware of the issue of censorship. I do, however, feel that while it is NO ONE'S right to prevent the publication of controversial material, be it professional or fannish, it is everyone's right to react, positively or negatively, to anything put out for public consumption, provided said reaction is constructive. Abuse has no place in criticism --but if I feel the need to boycott an item or a publisher, I will feel no qualms about doing so, or clearly (and politely) expressing my reasons I am under no obligation to purchase or contribute to publications that do not meet my own personal standards, or follow my own system of beliefs. I will never tell someone else what they may or may not choose to publish, draw, or say, for neither I nor anyone else has that right. Instead, I will vote with my pocketbook; I will put my money where my mouth is. Which is exactly how it should be. Let censorship be an individual matter, and that alone. [5]
[July 1991]:
I really must object to Beth Blighton's opening comments re: the review that was written about "Black Cover" and more specifically, the personal (and seemingly hurtful) comments about the reviewer. I read the review. I found it to be unbiased, well-thought out and intelligent. Obviously, Beth did not. That's okay. What seems to me to be not okay is the personal attack that Beth launched in her LOC. I only met the reviewer after the review had come out. She was articulate, intelligent and passionate about B&B. Outspoken - YES. Vindictive - NO. As for Beth's comment, "...instead of relying on the highly agitated and biased opinions of a total stranger." (the highlighting is mine). I don't know about the 'highly agitated' part, but all opinions are biased. They're our opinions. If the review had been a ranting, raving diatribe about what a piece of the zine was, I probably would have taken a much harder look at the review/reviewer. However, for me, it was not a drooling, snarling indictment - it was a well- written critique. One last comment on this issue (I can hear the sighs now). I don't call anyone a liar, whether they deserve it or not. I wish that kind of courtesy were more ingrained in this fandom, but from some of the letters I've seen, obviously that's not the case, yet. Well, maybe someday...

Comments by the Creators of "Black Cover" (1991)

[February 1991]:
[In February 1991, the author of the zine wrote to Tunneltalk]:

Editors of "TUNNELTALK":

I just received a distressing piece of news. It was about a "zine review" that was recently printed in TT.

Whether the fanzine Black Cover is trash to some people or not and wish to express their views in print is not an issue that concerns me. That is what freedom of speech Is all about. And free enterprise gives an individual the choice of whether to purchase a certain piece of merchandise or not.

Whether I wrote the fanzine or not should never have been an issue in [Arwen B's] "zine review." To write an accusation based on assumptions bearing as little facts such as address and grammar was ridiculous. Her personal assessment of my character based on those assumptions was unprofessional.

The fact that you printed the "review" with those insubstantial assumptions towards me was not only ludicrous, but slanderous. I am extremely disappointed that TT would print this type of material without thought or further research. Unfortunately, this causes me to question credibility in any areas of the letterzine where the written word appears.

[the editor's reply]: When Arwen sent her review to us, the first thing we did was ask her If she had sent a copy of the review to you, Michele, and told you that it would be published in our zine. She informed us that she had, so we printed it. I'm not sure what else we could have done, except possibly get in touch with you ourselves, which seemed a little redundant. But if you feel that we should have done that, we apologize for that lack of action. To say that her words were "unprofessional" is a little strange, since we are, none of us, professionals in this field. Neither does the term "slanderous" seem to apply.. What Arwen said is that she found Black Cover offensive, didn't want to buy such material, and was disappointed that an author she admired had written it—those are all merely opinions. She identified someone as the probable author; since you seem offended and angry that you were so identified, I am puzzled as to why you would write to protest this identification using the same address that one would order Black Cover from. You have made the connection more obvious than Arwen herself did—so just what is the problem? I tend to think that if the review had been a positive one, you would not be protesting. Bad reviews are simply the risk you take for putting your material out there to be read—and judged. — Barbara)
As an addendum to this note, I sent a copy of the above to Michele, since she is not a subscriber, so she would be aware of it. She replied, informing cue that since she had taken the zine out of circulation entirely last September, she hoped that this would be the end of the matter. We had already—before receiving this letter from her -- gotten two other letters concerning Black Cover, representing both sides. Since the zine is no longer in print, perhaps that will be the end of the matter.[6]
[March 1991]:
[addressing An Exercise in Futility (Or Lessons in How to Beat a Dead Horse): Black Cover by James Pirkola]: James — I don't believe we share the same understanding of B&TB, or the words "adult" or "fantasy ."Which is okay — but l found your letter condescending and offensive, which I don't think is okay. You have the right to throw up on someone who has a different opinion from you? Come on; at the very least, I find that attitude indirect opposition to someone who says they found B&TB "enchanting" and "fun." And I don't agree with your definition of a critic, either. Of course, a critic brings the author/performer of a work and their previous works into play in the course of a review, comparison and judgment of the quality and contents of a work are part of a critic's job, though—I believe—a moral judgment s not Your definitions of the words "adult" and "fantasy" are rudimentary ones, and are in no way an accurate or definitive advisory on the contents of Black Cover. Neither was, in my judgment, your first flier; your second one was much more accurate. l am amazed at your surprise over people's reaction to the zine; to assume that all people understand the words "adult fantasy" to cover the entire range of sexual proclivities—or that those two words carry the same meaning to all people — is asking a little much. Yes, these activities do exist and go on every day, but they are not as commonly accepted as you seem to think. Your inference that people who cannot accept them are out of touch with reality, and are not, in fact, being"adult" people l found the most insulting and unkind remark in your whole letter. Not to mention untrue and narrow-minded; who's being intolerant and unimaginative now? You ask people to be more accepting and understanding—but where is your own acceptance and understanding of others who do not share your point of view? I believe you wrote your letter in an attempt to defend your friends, but was it necessary to insult/ridicule/belittle every B&TB fan who disagrees with them in the process? I hope that, if you feel moved to write again, you'll find more positive, constructive ways to support your friends and to communicate with fellow fans.[7]

A 1991 Plea by a Fan (Leslie H)

Leslie H, a fan, wrote two letterzines with a letter asking fandom at large to censor it.

The editors of both these letterzines' (Tunneltalk and Once Upon a Time... Is Now) editors included comments of their own.

[March 1991]:

I would like to make a rather passionate plea to the editors of [Tunneltalk] and all other letterzines and fanzine reviews. There exists a zine that should not be included, and I think even Beth Blighton would not label its exclusion as "censorship." I hope this letter is foredoomed to automatic reject, flowing so closely behind Beth's eloquent speech for freedom of expression, and certainly intends no offense against her. This fanzine is Black Cover, appropriately named and undignified by an author's name or address. I freely admit, I've only read a review of it, by another person who managed to force herself through it and immediately issued a warning to other fans. I'm grateful to her, but I think it should be taken one step further.

This zine apparently belongs to the "S&M" genre, as its focus on sex and violence, and B&TB is simply being used as an interesting new arena of expansion. I have no idea how popular it is, but I can be pretty confident that it would be of interest to only a tiny fraction of B&TB fandom. Most of us have more respect for the show than to want to see it treated in such a manner. To me, it is jarringly discordant to see BC listed with such sincere, loving efforts as Kaleidoscope, Destiny, and my own Bondstories. Not only does this listing give BC the same free advertising as all the rest, it gives this kind of "literature" the same implicit acceptance. Yes, I know about the disclaimers and the "write for flyers first" cautions: I just don't believe it belongs there in the first place.

"How does a simple "Thank you, but we're not going to carry this ad," constitute censorship? To me, that says we don't think our listing is the appropriate place for this ad—well within an editor's prerogative. How much courage does it take to make a stand for decency and common sense? I'm sure the ACLU won't descend on us, and I bet the BC authors won't make a fuss either—they'd have to reveal themselves. If we don't take a stand now, what happens when this zine spawns sequels? Let me guess: Vincent has "ulterior motives" for bringing lost, helpless children to the tunnels, or—there's more to Father and Vincent's relationship than we would have dreamed. Will that finally do it? Or not even then?

Would the silent majority of fans really object to the exclusion of this ONE ad? Remember—even gallery owners unashamedly segregate some artwork from the main showing, depending on its controversial nature. It's there, but not automatically included in the main tour. Would it be a crime to expect S & M devotees to look for their literature elsewhere? How do other editors feel about being associated with this kind of writing? I apologize ahead of time if this starts some kind of disproportionate debate over censorship: to me the issue is very simple, and could have been avoided completely with a polite letter of rejection. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to the subject since Bl- is so close to Bo- alphabetically, and every time I see my ad, I see this other one. But it is just as valid an issue as any other in fandom. Thanks for your consideration. [8]
Response by the Editors of "Once Upon a Time... Is Now" (Jan/Feb 1991)
On another note -- we are printing a letter that I think may generate a lot of response from all of you. I know it caused an immediate reaction in me. It centers around the issue of censorship and whether the zine BLACK COVER should be advertised. Quite frankly, I hesitated to print the letter; not because of the viewpoint, but because I know the fan who wrote the zine. She is really a very nice person and I feel she has been bludgeoned quite enough from our fandom. A scathing review was published in a couple of the other newsletters and I felt it was a little exaggerated. Yes, I too had some trouble with this zine as I have openly discussed with the author, but I do not think it was bad enough to cause the vindictive sniping that this poor woman has been subjected to. BLACK COVER is no longer being offered for sale although some of her ads continue to run because the information has not yet made the rounds. I am hoping the author will forgive my opening up this debate in OUT...IN because I think this is a fascinating and timely subject to discuss. The question seems to be should anything be censored and by who's criteria. Who judges what is art and what is obscenity? Should guidelines be set up or, as Kathy Cox once said, should we vote with our checkbooks? What are YOUR views? [9]
Response by the Editors of "Tunneltalk" (March 1991)

[Leslie H], of course we printed your letter. I also happen to agree with you that Black Cover, as it has been described to me, sounds disgusting and has nothing to do with my perception of B&TB. However, that is where we part company. What you are advocating is censorship, whether you want to believe it or not. And that is something l cannot condone. According to Webster's Ninth, to censor means "to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable," which is what you're suggesting we do to Black Cover— but without the examining.

I also object to your suggestion that editors who do not agree to the censoring of this zine lack courage. I have been called a lot of things in my life, but "coward" is no tone of them, and I resent your attempt to emotionally intimidate people into your point of view. It is not any editor's prerogative—or right—t make decisions for their readers about what they are or are notable to handle in the way of reading material. Again, it's called censorship—not to mention condescension and lack of respect for an audience's intelligence of the most rampant kind. I don't think an apology would be out of order—not just to us, but to all editors.

I realize that you take offense at the idea that Black Cover is listed with the "sincere, loving efforts" of zines that you do find acceptable. But this brings me to the crux of the problem with censorship of any kind. A couple of years ago, when B&TB was still in production (and before the third season), a woman in fandom found out about adult zines; she was so offended by the idea that people would cheapen what she saw as the ideals and values of the show by writing about a physical relationship between Vincent and Catherine that she started a petition, which she intended to deliver to the production office, asking them to suppress all such zines.( When she discovered that the production office did, indeed, know about these zines, and actually had some of them, she called off her campaign, and actually sent out letters of apology to all the people she had written to—an action I found very admirable.) Under this woman's guidelines, Leslie, your own zine — Bondstories — would have been unacceptable. Yes, I know there are no truly explicit scenes in it, but Vincent and Catherine do have a physical relationship which is what she objected to. Does this constitute censorship also? Yes, it does. And it illustrates my basic fear—who will make the decisions as to what is objectionable? I know I am not qualified to do so—nor would I want the job; I am one person and can only make moral decisions for myself. I don't believe anyone on this planet has the right to do otherwise.

So what's the solution? To let material we find morally offensive exist without comment? No. That is exactly what we should do —- make comments, talk about our feelings and beliefs—but as an exchange, a true and positive communication, not an imposition of those beliefs on others who may not share them. Anything that exists in the darker areas of moral ambiguity gains power from that darkness, Leslie. Exposing it to the light of scrutiny is the only way to drain that power; if something is truly objectionable, and people are able to see that it is, it will not survive. lf we find any reading material morally objectionable, we should be telling others how we feel about it, not hiding it. Please—reconsider your stance on this subject. Even though Black Cover has been removed from the market, I still feel this is an important issue that deserves our consideration. [10]

Response by Leslie H (July 1991)

Leslie H was the fan who'd written Tunneltalk and Once Upon a Time... Is Now with the original request to fandom to censor the zine. Leslie replied to the discussion in fandom five months later:

I appreciated the writers in the last issue who acknowledged my opinion about Black Cover in a respectful way, whether they agreed with me or not. My letter was reactional, emotional and unedited and would have benefited tremendously from a few days' cooling-off period. I was relieved to see that for the most part the issue was treated calmly despite strong feelings on both sides.

I can accept the observation that there is such a wide range of quality and content in the zines out today that it would be impossible to draw a line anywhere, between sensual romance and pornographic sex, or violent good/evil confrontations and blood-and-gore titillation, or even between purposeful mental suffering and blatant emotional abuse for the sake of a plot. From that viewpoint, I can accept that there is no way to expect an editor to censor ads for zines, although it should be her prerogative.

[Marilyn D] offered an incisive opposing question: if we don't decide what's appropriate, then who? That's what I wonder also.

It's either us or someone outside of fandom or we simply set no standards at all. As a mother, I've re-learned the necessity for rules and limits and their enforcement, and after seven years of child-rearing I've learned to have confidence in taking a stand. In my mind, B&B is a fragile reality. Even as we push its boundaries outward with our artistic explorations, we need to protect and nurture its essence. We need to judge what is worth a risk to our reputation as a fandom that upholds and understands the ideals of the show. If censorship isn't the answer, that means even greater responsibility for each of us individually.

[...]

In the aftermath of the negative experience this controversy has been for many of us, perhaps we won't have to deal with this question I of appropriateness again. I'll be as glad as anyone to see it dropped. I don't understand why this topic evoked so much response... [11]

Comments by Fans (1991)

[January 1991]:
Which brings me finally to Beth Blighton's wonderful LOC in Issue 8. The issue of censorship and intolerance in this country could indeed become the "racism" of the 1990s, and may already be such. As a man who happens to be gay, I find it saddening to live in a society that, for the most part, equates "different" with "bad" or "evil." I am outraged when I realize that some people/organizations believe that my very existence is a mistake, "phase," perversion, or "sin." I am more than my sexual orientation (which I had nothing to do with choosing, in case some people still don't understand that -- nobody "made" me this way!), just as Vincent is more, much more than a half-man/half-beast. I'm sure we've dealt with very similar personal "demons!" It might've been interesting to see how the show dealt with that issue! Thank you Beth, and TT, for creating a space open and safe enough in which such issues could be addressed — I had no idea I'd be "coming out" here when I started this letter! (If there are any other "club members" out there reading this who might be interested in corresponding, I'd love to hear from you.)[12]
[January 1991]:
The zine Black Cover: I read the review in TT: this zine should be withdrawn from the market (It has been; see letters in TT volume 1 #12- editor), and refunds offered to people who want them. I object to using our beloved V & C and the character of Diana, portrayed in this way. Freedom of speech is one thing, but it can be taken too far. I've seen the flyer for this zine; it does not begin to explain the contents. 'Sexually explicit' needs to be replaced by a different phrase, or broken down more. Love scenes between V & C are explicit in many zines; in most they are beautiful. The stuff in Black Cover is sick and weird. What is next? V & C as child molesters or drug dealers? If people must write this disgusting junk, why not make up their own characters? Why involve B&TB? I don't feel pity only anger.[13]
[January 1991]:

I hold no brief for censorship in any form. I support Robert Mapplethorpe's right to make his photographs and I support Dennis Barrie's right to exhibit them.

Beth, however, does not seem to realize that the National Endowment for the Arts is, in itself, a form of censorship. Yes, the NEA sponsors many "dance troupes and community theaters around the country." But there are many, perhaps more, that are denied a government subsidy. Some art is deemed worthy of support, preservation, performance, exhibition or whatever. Some is not. "(And just who will be the genius who decides . . .)"?

Anyone who believes that "covering your body with baked beans" is art, is welcome to his belief. Further, he is welcome to practice it. I draw the line, however, at requiring the taxpayers to buy his baked beans. One man's art is another man's obscenity.

"I, for one, do not need anyone telling me what is right and proper entertainment for me or my family." Substitute the word "art" for "entertainment." I don't need the NEA to spend my money for me. I support the work of artists whose work pleases me by buying it, and, in one case, by marrying the artist. I have no reason to believe that the government is any wiser than I am and more than a few reasons to believe that it is not.

[snipped]

Beth thinks that "If we lose the NEA... galleries will close, artists of all types will not be able to find work. If we limit the NEA, then we will also limit the creativity of artists; each new idea will then be judged not on it's (sic) merits of originality and validity, but by someone else's moral and sexual standards."

Somehow I doubt it. I don't really expect Beth to stop producing her drawings because of the lack of a grant from the NEA. I don't expect Kathy Cox to close down Destiny Press because the NEA goes out of business. Will Cynthia Hatch cease writing and publishing because there was to support her?

Most artists must create as a sideline and work at a mundane job to pay the bills. A very few become so good at what they do that they can support themselves as artists. Quality will survive, schlock will not. Art comes from the heart, not from government subsidies .[14]
[March 1991]:

I read as many zines as I can and some I don't particularly like. But, I can usually find something in each that I do like. Any dislike usually stems because I feel our favorite couple is out of character (or just plain dull stories). I believe that most people would dislike "Black Cover" because they would find Catherine and Vincent out of character. They would not like to see these characters, that we've come to know and love so well, sink to this level of existence. However, I did feel that if the stories had been written about anyone other than Catherine and Vincent, they would be plausible.

I also feel most of us are not qualified to decide what is obscene and what is not. He can only decide what we feel would be unacceptable to us arid avoid it. I will never forget a woman sitting near me at the Tunnel Con art auction loudly exclaiming that the artwork shown was "disgusting and obscene". I'm sure that most there would have disagreed with her.

What came as a surprise to me was Jeanne's comment that she knew the girl who wrote "Black Cover". I always felt that it was written by a man. It just seemed to favor a man's point of view when it comes to sex, at least in my opinion. [15]
[March 1991]:

I certainly understand why anyone would dislike this zine, but I don't feel we have the right to censor i t by refusing to advertise it . As with other mediums where the questions of censorship have arisen, I believe the answer is correct labeling. Definitely this zine should be rated XXX. I'm a firm believer that if you don't want to see it or read it, don't watch it or buy it.

I feel that our fandom has reached a point where each person has their own limits of what they feel is acceptable to them concerning what they want to see or read when it comes to Beauty and the Beast. Concerning "Black Cover", a friend of mine, after reading Leslie's letter, stated she was more upset by the relationship between Vincent and Diana portrayed in the zine and the fact that Vincent had a problem with alcohol than she was with all the "seedy" sex portrayed in the first two stories. [16]
[March 1991]:

How to Destroy Fandom in Ten Easy Steps

STEP #1 - Find some issue that you can complain about with such intensity that no one else's opinion matters but your own.

STEP #2 - Gather other like minded people around you so that you can cause more damage together than you could alone.

STEP #3 - Be the author or instigator of hateful, accusing and demanding letters of comment and criticism to be sent to all those who oppose you.

STEP #4 - When contacted by phone for information as to your point of view, be as obnoxious as you can. Make all your demands known and by all means hurt and offend the person calling. Then proclaim you did nothing wrong.

STEP #5 - Applaud each other's efforts at continuing the maliciousness. Pump each other's egos constantly. By doing so, you can keep the momentum of hatred rolling.

STEP #6 - Blacklist all individuals of the opposing camp. Do all you can to degrade and discredit them. Use hateful criticism and even lies. Then say i t ' s only the truth. Other NON-THINKING people will always believe you and in their deception help you to continue the tyranny.

STEP #7 - Make sure that everyone knows your name. True leadership must be publicized. This will make it easier for you to manipulate others.

STEP #8 - Find new and unusual ways to cause more trouble, after all it's so much fun!

STEP #9 - Align yourselves with other prominently hateful people in the fandom. You know CANCER is always more effective when it spreads!

STEP #10 - Now that you have successfully snowed everyone around you, (by now you should be believing your own lies), state that you are the answer to the problem, not it's cause, and then proclaim YOURSELVES to be the ELITE of fandom!

Please note: Don't forget to use an appropriate name for this group of yours. Hay I suggest the "B&B NAZIS" would be most descriptive.

Sad to say, the above 10 steps are not just a joke. These things are being done in this fandom. Let's hope those who are using these tactics will see themselves here and change their attitudes. He DO NOT need this kind of selfish, hateful behavior in this fandom.

He must move beyond this GARBAGE and get back to the love, tolerance and friendship that are the reasons we all came into this fandom.

Now IS the time for positive, loving change! Hay it be swift and sure!!![17]
[March 1991]:

I am writing in response to [Leslie H's] letter regarding a fanzine titled Black Cover. I can, I hope, see both sides of this issue. Certainly the author of Black Cover is entitled to write whatever she pleases whether the subject is "Beauty and the Beast" or something else. Since this 'zine is no longer in circulation, let's look at a hypothetical situation instead. Let's say Ms. X writes what could be considered an X-rated "B&B" story. No doubt she will attempt to advertise her story in one or more newsletters and letterzines. The editors of these publications then have the option to reject her ad. I don't consider this censorship, just good business sense. The author then can pursue a more direct route of advertising by mailing out flyers. If she's honest in her description of her story, and she should be, it's more than likely that only a handful of people whose tastes run to this type of material will buy it. If she glosses over the truth about her 'sine and a lot of people buy it and are disappointed/disgusted/horrified, the fandom grapevine will see to it that word gets out and this author's reputation soon will be toast.

On a more personal note, I have no desire to read a “B&B" story that deals with sadomasochism, bondage and degradation, incest, pedophilia or anything else along these lines (I'm taking my cues here from [Ms. H's] letter). A great many people today wrap themselves in the cozy protection of the First Amendment in order to defend their concept of art and further to excuse themselves from acting out of any sense of what I personally consider decency or social responsibility.

Here is where accurate information is our best and most reliable friend. The writer decides to write what she will; the editors must make their decisions in terms of advertising space and the marketplace they serve; the informed reader can then make her own decision as to how she is willing to spend her money. Let's face it: one woman's erotica may well be another's pornography and vice-versa.

That's a decision we each have to make for ourselves. [18]
[April 1991]:

The big "to-do" lately has been the reaction to Black Cover, both in this and in other letterzines. I have not read the zine (nor do I intend to), but I've heard enough about it, in detail, that I feel I can speak on this topic. On the one hand, I believe it is the right of the author and publisher of this zine to produce it. No matter how much I may dislike the topics presented (and, I assure you, I do), I have no right to tell this individual what she may or may not write and publish. Provided she is not breaking any laws, my only influence on her decision to publish must be my willingness or unwillingness to buy the product.

This is where there's a lot of confusion rampant in this fandom. Censorship comes from the word "censor," defined as "a person authorized to examine letters, books, films, etc. and remove or ban anything regarded as harmful. To subject to such examination or removal." Have we such an individual in our fandom, who is set up to ban materials? We do not. ) The choice of an individual to purchase or NOT to purchase a product is NOT CENSORSHIP. My refusal to buy a specific item, and my explanation of reasons for this decision, does not mean I have any power to ban the product. It means that I am taking advantage of my freedom in this society to support what I choose to support, to buy what l choose to buy, and let the laws of supply and demand take their course. If I refuse to buy zine "A" and write to theauthors to explain my reasons, I am not committing "censorship." Censorship is some individual or body who HAS THE POWER to actively prevent something from being written, published or distributed. If a zine doesn't sell, don't blame me. Take a look at what you're writing, and wonder why it isn't popular. Then make your own decision about whether or not to proceed. Ultimately, in fandom, it is the choice of the producer alone; no potential audience or consumer can prevent publication. When I read editorials saying "I will not be censored" in response to criticism (admittedly sometimes quite rude), if s really beside the point. In fandom, the censorship is self-censorship only. No one else has that power.

We all have our dividing lines, our point of "no return," beyond which we cannot accept the scope of a story or zine. For some of us, it's anything in which Catherine is dead. For others, if s something like Black Cover, which certainly pushes beyond the limits of what many find acceptable variations on the B&TB theme. But, once again, this remains an individual decision.[19]
[April 1991]:
[Arwen B, the fan who wrote the original review in "Tunneltalk"]: I read Beth Blighton's essay with great interest. I'd be a whole lot more impressed by it if Beth hadn't tried to pressure an editor into censoring my review of Black Cover. Perhaps she should reread that very good warning and vow to practice what she preaches.[20]
[April 1991]:
I share John's dislike of censorship in general. Yet, even I have my "point of no return" — including sexual violence against women and child pornography. I would cheerfully ban both with no regrets. But that's my cut-off point. (Everyone's is different, which is why censorship is dangerous. WHO will decide what is okay, what is not?) I have no problem with gay-related materials or lifestyles—one of my dearest friends is lesbian, and two of my favorite co-workers were gay men. (That old cliche— right? But true). However, I know well that there are elements of this fandom, as well as society in general, that regard such "aberrations" with horror. Because we all feel so differently, ifs hard to impose standards of morality beyond the basics most of us agree on (murder, rape, etc.). Whew, this is too complicated to discuss here. [21]
[April 1991]:

Ordering fanzines, I believe, closely resembles entering the Reader's Digest Sweepstakes. The odds of being a big winner are about the same. Every order is sent off with a wing and a prayer. Sometimes these prayers are answered in surprising ways.

Let me digress. As a child I loved to draw. I created pictures of houses (squares), trees (triangles), and odd flower gardens. I had an Irish Setter at that time who I loved very much. I started to draw Irish Setters instead of landscapes. As time went by I came to realize that as much as I loved my dog I would never master the art of drawing him. Even more horrifying was the fact that everything else I drew closely resembled a misshapen Irish Setter. I reached the brilliant conclusion at the age of seven that I was not a naturally gifted artist, and this piece of self-awareness has saved many of you time, money and disappointment.

[...]

There are many fanzines that I file away as ’’dogs." Black Cover is just one of them. Incidentally, the main female character is a hooker without a heart of gold. The male character is a chemically addicted john with fur. These "characters" are named Catherine and Vincent. The most painful part of this collection of words is not its S&M base. Not only is it awful S&M, it's just plain awful!

Would I censor this writer? No, I think not. We in Minnesota have a firm conviction that anyone can benefit from participation in a group. I believe that the person who threw together Black Cover should consider entering a group called RWWSNW - Recovering Writers Who Should Not Write. I might concur that BC is on the cutting edge of bad taste, but bad taste is a matter of taste. I would like to nominate some other general categories of writing into this select group.

1. Cooking with Vincent - These zines contain many verbs more closely related to a night over the stove: sizzling, boiling, tasting, savoring, nipping and kneading. Immediately after finishing one of these gems, I throw myself against my poster of Vincent and head for the kitchen to eat everything in sight.
2. Decorating Vincent - These zines are written by women who truly understand spaghetti in all its erotic forms. These stories present Catherine with wonderful opportunities to lick Vincent and cheer him up at the same time. He usually gets a bath, a back rub and he is totally oblivious to the fact that most of his glorious head and body hair have been lovingly stroked off in the process.
3. Tunnel Aerobics - Catherine experiences curling toes, sweat, tingling limbs and rapid heartbeat. Vincent is the cause of this dangerous physical state. Father is usually on the verge of a massive coronary just observing them.
4. Vincent in Chains - These are usually crossover stories, whatever that means. Vincent is not happy about being in another dimension. Catherine is usually somebody else.
5. Deflowering Vincent - a very popular theme.
6. The Gutsy Plagiarists - These people are an interesting bunch. They literally copy the work of others, often word by word and claim it as their own.
7. Tunnel Twilight - Catherine returns, sort of.
8. Catherine's Beastie Boy - Vincent is slightly naughty. He is usually quite dim but cute as a button. Secondary characters are adorable, too.
9. The Beastly Kids - or domesticated beast.
10. Who is That? - The general level of art that accompanies every story with the above themes.
11. The Beauties - These are the stories that make the risk worthwhile. It would be fun to list my favorites, but, alas, it would be only my very subjective opinion. That brings us right back to the censorship place. It would seem that censorship has caused the B&B community enough pain. Censorship by opinion has pretty much made interpersonal decency an ideal, topside. My hope is that some fan fiction writers will stop to smell the roses long enough to notice that their own bouquets very closely resemble Irish Setters.[22]
[April 1991]:

I am very disturbed by the editorial - for a lot of reasons. First of all, why did the author of the "Black Cover" have to be dragged into a discussion on censorship? Although I understand [Leslie H's] point of view (in her LOC), I do not believe in censorship AT ALL. If there is something that a portion of the population has trouble with, LABEL/RATE everything. They do it for films and music - they should do it for literature (including 'zines). Simply rate 'zines that are explicit as such - R or even X-rated. That way we, as consumers, will know EXACTLY what we are buying BEFORE we buy it.

Secondly, I thought the review done on "Black Cover" (in another publication) was excellent. The reviewer wrote an unbiased, clearly thought out review. The reviewer did not mention the appropriateness OR inappropriateness of the themes touched upon in the 'zine but simply gave the outlines of the stories for us (the buyers) to think about. Also, the reviewer said that a copy of the review would be sent to the author so that she (the author) would be aware of what had been said. I thought it was a very nice gesture as I am not sure what a reviewer is obliged to do. I also heard from a pen pal who had read the 'zine and she agreed with the review. If the editor of OUT...IN felt that there was some 'exaggeration', I would appreciate being informed where this exaggeration occurred. 'Zine reviews are extremely important to me (let me not speak for any others!)

I would also like to know why the author of the 'zine has to be protected from criticism. She wrote something that obviously upset a lot of people and now they are letting her know - in no uncertain terms! If you write something controversial, there is bound to be feedback. That doesn't have to be bad, though. Maybe the thoughts of the fans can be a guideline for future endeavors on the part of this author.

[...]

I believe in artistic freedom, but, with that freedom comes responsibility, not only for the artist to be true to him/herself, but also to the readers who make that gesture of trust in even picking up the literature to be read.... just because criticism is levelled at authors, this does not automatically mean that the critics are right and the author is wrong - it is simply an OPINION. If we, as fans, cannot give our honest opinions on things, then we are in just as much danger of being censored as the writers!

The really ironic thing is that we here in Canada will never be able to make up our own minds about this 'zine because it has never been offered in Canada. I am curious as to why - is it because explicit materials cannot be transported over the border?

[...]

Well, I feel I've gone on quite enough. I apologize for my vehement tone but really - a 'zine was written, a review was done. Can't we leave it at that? I wish...[23]
[April 1991]:

It seems that the trend in fandom is to believe the first shocking thing we hear from the first "politically correct" mouth we hear it from. Looking in to a rumor or a statement further would be too much like doubting the word of "one of our own". And if that one person might be wrong in this instance, then it might cast a shadow over their entire position. And in a fandom that's reduced itself to the ideas of you're either absolutely, righteously correct or you're damned to complete wrongness I guess there's not much room left for mercy or tolerance or even plain common sense.

I'm not saying that Leslie made these statements maliciously. She really might hate "Black Cover" if she were ever to read it. What I am saying is that there is an entire climate that is pervading this fandom that is setting up a house of cards built on intolerance that will sooner or later cause the whole works to crumble.

It is my personal opinion that Arwin Bauer's "review" of "Black Cover" (which started this whole controversy) was motivated more by her personal disagreements with it's author than with anything the 'zine might have portrayed. [See more of this letter at It seems that the trend in fandom is to believe the first shocking thing we hear from the first "politically correct" mouth we hear it from. [24] (April 1991)
[April 1991]:

I have read with interest the great censorship debate in recent issues. Now I do think it's rather pointless to be debating a zine that was yanked from print over six months ago but having both read BLACK COVER and seen the first flyer for it, I felt inclined to comment. While the flyer did make it perfectly clear that this was an "adult" zine and contained a Vincent/Diana story, it in NO way indicated how "adult" the stories would actually be. Now I have lived in Los Angeles my entire life so NOTHING shocks me but to describe a story as a "retelling of Beauty and the Beast" in no way prepares a reader for Catherine as a part-time hooker and Vincent as her trick! To the amusement of many friends, I had to admit that of the three stories found in this zine, this confirmed "Classic" fan found the V/D story to be the most believable of the lot. The condescending LOC by James Pirkola did little to invoke any sympathy on my part, either. (I also noticed this same LOC was sent to another letterzine where it contained an additional, crude paragraph.)

I am a self-confessed zine-aholic but in recent months this activity has become problematic for me. As we are all aware, fandom is divided into many different groups, with specific likes and dislikes. I am tired of ordering zines only to discover stories which I do not with to read. I realize that many of you are interested in Vincent/Diana/Third Season stories. I am not, just as many fans don't wish to read the more sexually explicit zines. From some of the editorial pages I have read, some people have resorted to extreme actions to voice their displeasure in situations like this.

I think it would make it a lot easier for everyone involved if flyers clearly stated just what a zine might contain. Is Catherine alive? Are there any "outside" relationships for the principals? Is Diana friend or lover? There's even been controversy over the manner in which one author returned Catherine to her Vincent — as a spirit - -which apparently bothered many people. So, it's not just the "To Diana or not" question that can cause trouble. I've even had the misfortune of ordering two "resurrection" zines only to discover that there was also a V/D sexual relationship going on to pass the time until C's return. Spare me, please. Several zine editors have gone out of their way to publish concise, informative flyers — Kim Prosser comes to mind — and they should be commended. I agree with [D V] that every zine has the right to be advertised. People are then free to purchase it or not.

However, I feel entitled to the right to criticize any story that disturbs me or misleading advertisement that comes my way — but not ad nauseam. [25]
[April 1991]:

Pardon me, but after reading some of the letters in Issue #30 of OUT...IN, I began to suffer a bout of indigestion, which I seem to get whenever I have too much poppycock. This poppycock was on the subject of the dreaded word "censorship" and how it might apply to fan fiction of beautiful BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; about what "adult fantasy" really is and whether we are qualified to say if anything is obscene or not.

My first twinge came when I read the instructive letter that told us that some fan fiction writing is ADULT fantasy. In this peculiar realm all sorts of perversions, cruelties and degrading things may be done by people beloved and held dear to us, because it isn't real, you see, and so it's harmless.

Moses could be a flasher, Jesus Christ a drug addict and Vincent could be cruising the streets of N.Y. for someone other than a heterosexual Beauty, because that's how things sometimes are, and who's to say it can't happen, even to the best of us?

True adults must acquiesce to this view, or we are only naive bumpkins. Real adults prefer Hustler Magazine to The New Yorker, prefer XXX movies to ordinary PG-13 fare. Adult entertainment in this country, you will notice, is always about sex and violence, never about ideas, ideals or character. That's boring; classic fairy tale stuff. Real adults stand around in magazine stores with one hand deep in their trench coat pockets for a long time, turning the pages of girlie magazines with their teeth, or curl up at home with a good incest-multiple rape novel, which they hide when the kids come in from school. They don't waste time with anything less than "real". Another letter in the zine surrendered all personal control over quality by saying ingeniously: "Who are we to decide what is obscene, or not?"

If not us, Honey, then who?

If we aren't to be trusted to decide what's bad, are we worthy to decide what's good? You know, maybe BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is really dreck. Maybe the sets were junk, the costumes lousy, the scripts stupid and Ron Perlman and Roy Dotrice can't act. If we're so dumb we can't tell what's rotten when we smell it, then how can we say this was a show that deserved all its awards? How can the people who gave it awards even tell? The whole world is one big mystery, no?

Or else, we're like sundials: we count only the sunny hours and cannot tell the night. [26]
[April 1991]:

I am a self-confessed zine-aholic but in recent months this activity has become problematic for me. As we are all aware, fandom is divided into many different groups, with specific likes and dislikes. I am tired of ordering zines only to discover stories which I do not with to read. I realize that many of you are interested in Vincent/Diana/Third Season stories. I am not, just as many fans don’t wish to read the more sexually explicit zines. From some of the editorial pages I have read, some people have resorted to extreme actions to voice their displeasure in situations like this.

I think it would make it a lot easier for everyone involved if flyers clearly stated just what a zine might contain. Is Catherine alive? Are there any "outside" relationships for the principals? Is Diana friend or lover? There's even been controversy over the manner in which one author returned Catherine to her Vincent -- as a spirit - - which apparently bothered many people. So, it's not just the "To Diana or not" question that can cause trouble. I've even had the misfortune of ordering two "resurrection" zines only to discover that there was also a V/D sexual relationship going on to pass the time until C's return. Spare me, please. Several zine editors have gone out of their way to publish concise, informative flyers — Kim Prosser comes to mind — and they should be commended.

I agree that every zine has the right to be advertised. People are then free to purchase it or not.

However, I feel entitled to the right to criticize any story that disturbs me or misleading advertisement that comes my way — but not ad nauseam. [27]
[April 1991]:

I'm writing to respond to [Leslie H's] letter about the zine Black Cover and Jeanne's editorial asking for opinions on censorship. (Jeanne, did you KNOW the can of worms you were opening?).

Censorship is a slippery issue at best, the problem being defining precisely when individual freedoms to do something and individual freedoms to choose not to promote/participate in that something clash. Part of the problem is the very real fear that allowing limits to be set opens the door to the possibility that the thing being limited will eventually be disallowed altogether. That, by the way, is the heart of the record label debate. Many recording artists are afraid that their records will no longer be sold if stores create policies not to sell records above a certain rating, so they fight against records being rated like movies at all.

Yes, Leslie, editors do have the right to say to anyone — that means you, too - "thank you, but we're not going to carry this ad." No, that is not censorship. Every paper, every magazine, every newscast, every organization in this world has its own standards and policies and has the right to judge material by those standards....

[...]

However, in my opinion, you have overstepped the bounds from policy to censorship by, in your own words "making a passionate plea to the editors of this and all other letterzines and fanzine reviews." (emphasis added) It is policy to decide for yourself what is acceptable. It is undeniable censorship to ask that something you find unacceptable be wiped off the face of the earth, thereby making the decision as to what is acceptable for everyone else. (If a zine can't advertise, it is doomed.) It is, as always, a fine line.

Saying that you wish no one would advertise this zine because you find it disquieting is your own opinion, which is as valid as anyone else's. Pleading that others take action on your opinion is skating on thin ice, censorship-wise. Particularly if, as you state, you do not have any first-hand experience with the item in question!

This is not to say that I like S&M either, nor that I have any particular respect for anyone who doesn't sign their own name to their own work. Personally, I too would not buy such a zine, nor does the policy of the zine I am part of allow us to run an ad for it. But I must support the right of that zine to exist, like it or not, and the right of other editors to print the ad for it if they wish to do so, just as I must support the right of the KKK to parade and anti-abortionists to demonstrate. The very thought makes my gorge rise, but if I deny their right to speak their opinion, mine could be the next to go...

Like Beth, I dislike the thought of other people deciding what I should be able to read or buy. If Black Cover publishes disclaimers in its ads and counsels that you should write for flyers first, then they are fulfilling their duty to warn the public that they are controversial. Let the buyer beware... would it be the first time that any one of us has bought a zine through the mail and been disappointed with it? There's many a "sincere, loving effort" that has landed in the cat box because I personally didn't like it. However, that is between me, my standards and the cat. I have no more a right to tell others not to read -and enjoy— it than they have to tell me that I must read or enjoy it.

Leslie, I think that your letter was well thought out and as calmly stated as possible, considering the nature of the subject, and I have tried to do the same. It's just that I'm afraid that I cannot agree with you.[28]
[May 1991]:

I agree with Barbara again on [Leslie H's] remarks on zine editors excluding Black Cover from advertisement (a moot point now, but let's pretend it isn't). I think that such zines should be included, with the understanding that some sort of warning of the controversial/adult nature of such a zine is clearly stated, and/or the editor makes clear that every potential buyer send a SASE for further information. It is then the responsibility of the author of said zine to make ABSOLUTELY CLEAR the contents of the zine if it goes beyond what is generally considered "adult fantasy"—i.e. something that includes strong elements of sexuality. I think most people will agree that Black Cover is a zine that goes well beyond what anyone would expect from something that calls itself merely "adult fantasy"—at least as established IN THIS FANDOM.

However — and I've said it before — even I would have to draw a line at certain things. If a zine ever appeared (God forbid) that included child pornography—well, I would definitely be for excluding that from advertisement. But, as I've also said before, that's MY line. For some that line is Vincent and Catherine in a sexual relation, for others Black Cover, for others (sadly) if s beyond mine entirely. We can only pray that such a situation never arises.

As for James Pirkola's letter — Barbara said it all. Mr. Pirkola, I know what fantasy is. (I've been reading SF and fantasy of all kinds since age 14.)That's why I choose what fantasy I want to embrace—and what I choose to reject. It's my decision. You publish what you want, and that's fine by me. I never had the least desire to buy Black Cover, and therefore was never in a position to review or protest it.[29]
[May 1991]:
The title for false advertising still remains with Black Cover as far as I'm concerned—a "retelling of Beauty and the Beast, as one story was described, hardly prepares a reader for Catherine portrayed as a prostitute with Vincent as her trick. To be honest, I'm reluctant to order zines lately and wish that all editors would CLEARLY state EXACTLY what their zines contain. I NEVER again want to receive a zine that contains a story—unmentioned in the flyer—which has Vincent and Diana "involved" (I can't say the words ...) and THEN has Catherine return. Ick. Ick. Ick. I can't imagine what the purpose IS in writing something like this, but the author is entitled to do so and I am entitled to know BEFORE I spend my money.[30]
[May 1991]
Gloria is probably suffering through great grief and please God didn't realize the severity of her statement... wishing BANKRUPTCY on fellow fans simply because they are writing and printing stories she herself does not care to read! Gloria, one man's baloney is another man's smoked ham, and as long as no one is holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to read those zines, it seems rather uncharitable and unkind of you to wish such a terrible thing on fellow fans who are putting a lot of work into their [third-season] stories and doing no one any harm! (I wouldn't even wish bankruptcy on the author of Black Cover, if that stuff floats her boat, great, so long as I don't have to read it!) PLEASE reconsider your words! Did you REALLY mean that? [31]
[May 1991]:
I must admit that I would be at a loss if I were asked about the problem of censorship. I am deeply convinced that true growth is only possible in freedom. But as I am a very vulnerable person myself I can understand that people who feel offended or even hurt by some fanzines feel compelled to protect others (as weU as their own inner worlds). I don't know BC, but what I read about it... Well, one should not judge things he/she doesn't know. I learned from some fanzines I could manage to receive despite the great distance how different some authors see V&C's love, especially its physical expression. I was fortunate because almost everything I read was passionate, tender, and spiritual. I thought it would be impossible to see it in another way, but obviously ... [32]
[May 1991]:

On responsibility: An excellent point to raise. But I'd like to point out that reviewers have a responsibility both to the writers and the potential readers. Reviewers can wield considerable power;

that power must be used as fairly as is humanly possible. Reviewers must not allow their personal feelings about subject matter to color their evaluations of actual writing quality. Was Black Cover badly written? That's my number one concern. Controversy doesn't put me off — lousy writing does. But, if the review I'd read was biased — if a reviewer lied to me—I might pass by something I might possibly want to read. [33]
[May 1991]:

On responsibility: An excellent point to raise. But I'd like to point out that reviewers have a responsibility both to the writers and the potential readers. Reviewers can wield considerable power; that power must be used as fairly as is humanly possible. Reviewers must not allow their personal feelings about subject matter to color their evaluations of actual writing quality. Was Black Cover badly written? That’s my number one concern. Controversy doesn't put me off—lousy writing does. But, if the review I'd read was biased — if a reviewer lied to me—I might pass by something I might possibly want to read.

On the nature of "controversy:” As Beth so eloquently pointed out, the censor-able list could be endless. We don't need it, not so long as we have access to reliable, trustworthy reviewers. Because, to sum up Marilyn Durham's point, we may not be able to define pornography, but we know it when we see it. All pornography is degrading and defiling to the human spirit, male and female alike, whether it involves anonymous characters or the very real to us people of the tunnels. And it does hurt me to think of Vincent or Catherine being made into objects of humiliation. While it is no doubt true that bad things do happen to good people, I believe that the core of the spirit of B&B is love, and any story which does not have love (in any one of its myriad forms) as its theme is not true to the spirit of the show. For example: "Outsiders". An episode which featured animals masquerading as humans. Bad things happened to good people in that show, but yet it also gave us our best, most in-depth look into how Vincent feels about his dark side. And into how much he loves his world. And into how much Catherine loves Vincent, dark side and all.

As far as Black Cover goes, I wouldn’t classify it as a fantasy or a ’’retelling”. I'd label it "alternate universe" - in the extreme. By definition, an alternate universe is one in which things occur or are presented which contradict the "known facts" as revealed in the aired episodes. (Which, I believe, covers any story in which Vincent is not a virgin. Obviously, before Lisa, he had no idea how his other side could take over; after Lisa he swore himself to celibacy. Being Vincent, he could do no less.) Most fan fiction is alternate universe to one degree or another. But advance warning is imperative! The classic a/u example, from Classic Trek: the episode "Mirror, Mirror."
[34] }} [May 1991]:
It was reassuring to discover that I wasn't the only person baffled and bothered by some of the fan fiction out there. Since EVERYTHING seems to start a controversy these days - look at "The Black Cover" - I've refrained from bringing the subject up. However, the Catherine rape story in "Heartsounds III" [35] and others like it are far too horrible for my taste. (I loved the rest of the series, however, and the art is gorgeous!) The same goes for "You, Darkness" found in "Acquainted with the Night." For me, "Beauty and the Beast" was love and light, hope and the promise of a happy ending - all WITHOUT such horrible pain and suffering. (However, I would never seek to ban these zines. It's always a matter of personal choice. [36]
[June 1991]:

I thought Beth Blighton was right on the money for most of her LOC, especially the 'hurt/comfort' theory. How many zines have I read where either Vincent or Catherine is in the greatest peril (and this can and usually does include everything from 'emotional' to 'physical') before they are allowed their 'happy ending'? I really must object though to her opening comments re: the review that was written about "Black Cover" and more specifically, the personal (and seemingly hurtful) comments about the reviewer. I read the review. I found it to be unbiased, well-thought out and intelligent. Obviously, Beth did not. That's okay. What seems to me to be not okay is the personal attack that Beth launched in her LOC. I only met the reviewer after the review had come out. She was articulate, intelligent and passionate about B&B. Outspoken - YES. Vindictive - NO. As for Beth's comment, ...instead of relying on the highly agitated and biased opinions of a total stranger. (the highlighting is mine). I don't know about the 'highly agitated' part, but all opinions are biased. They're our opinions. If the review had been a ranting, raving diatribe about what a piece of the zine was, I probably would have taken a much harder look at the review/reviewer. However, for me, it was not a drooling, snarling indictment - it was a well-written critique. One last comment on this issue (I can hear the sighs now). I don't call anyone a liar, whether they deserve it or not. I wish that kind of courtesy were more ingrained in this fandom, but from some of the letters I've seen, obviously that's not the case, yet.

Well, maybe someday... [37]
[June 1991]:

I appreciated the writers in the last issue who acknowledged my opinion about Black Cover in a respectful way, whether they agreed with me or not. My letter was reactional, emotional and unedited and would have benefited tremendously from a few days' cooling-off period. I was relieved to see that for the most part the issue was treated calmly despite strong feelings on both sides. I can accept the observation that there is such a wide range of quality and content in the zines out today that it would be impossible to draw a line anywhere, between sensual romance and pornographic sex, or violent good/evil confrontations and blood-and-gore titillation, or even between purposeful mental suffering and blatant emotional abuse for the sake of a plot. Prom that viewpoint, I can accept that there is no way to expect an editor to censor ads for zines, although it should be her prerogative.

[Marilyn D] offered an incisive opposing question: if we don't decide what's appropriate, then who? That's what I wonder also. It's either us or someone outside of fandom or we simply set no standards at all. As a mother, I've re-learned the necessity for rules and limits and their enforcement, and after seven years of child-rearing I've learned to have confidence in taking a stand. In my mind, B&B is a fragile reality. Even as we push its boundaries outward with our artistic explorations, we need to protect and nurture its essence. We need to judge what is worth a risk to our reputation as a fandom that upholds and understands the ideals of the show. If censorship isn't the answer, that means even greater responsibility for each of us individually. (Thanks, Marilyn, for the great belly laugh I got imagining Zach calling Father and Vincent "dweebs"!)

In the aftermath of the negative experience this controversy has been for many of us, perhaps we won't have to deal with this question I of appropriateness again. I'll be as glad as anyone to see it dropped. [38]

Comments by Fans (2000)

Some fanzines have been controversial, Nan Dibble's "Acquainted with the Night" series for example and the notorious "Black Cover" zine; but, the infighting has for the most part not been about fanfic. It has been about the desire of some fans to impose their view of BATB on others.[39]

Comments by Fans (2012)

CatalenaMara: What a boring zine that was! What a disappointment! I got that zine thinking this was going to be something really interesting. Bad writing! Really, full of typos. Uninteresting story! There was nothing about it that was worth talking about, much less wanking about. (laughter)

Franzeska Dickson: That's terrible, because Fanlore made me want to read it! (laughter)

CatalenaMara: Don't bother! (laughter) If you ever see a copy, and you need to go to sleep, start reading. You'll be dozing off within five pages. (more chuckles) [40]

Comments by Fans (2014)

Review 2014: I disagree with the reviews above. These stories are diamonds in the rough. Although there are no few technical and spelling errors, the stories are beautifully and sensitively imagined - and, most importantly, Vincent's character rings true. Beauty and the Beast, a pre-series story, is both unique and very erotic - the best I have read in a long time. A Darkness on the Edge is Vincent telling Catherine of a shameful period of his youth, after Lisa left. It's a tale of self-disgust and redemption. Wednesday Night Moves is a post-Season 3 story about Vincent and Diana's growing friendship as they watch videos in her loft. Those who condemn this series as "shocking obscenity" clearly did not read it with an open mind. I have edited them all and converted them to pdf, so they are available to fans. I hope they receive some much-deserved, appreciative exposure. Early indications are positive. - Angie [41]

References

  1. ^ from an ad in Pipeline v.3 n.4/5 (April/May 1990)
  2. ^ from The Crystal Rose Lending Library
  3. ^ the review in the August 1990 issue of Tunneltalk v.1 n.6
  4. ^ from November 1990 "Tunneltalk"
  5. ^ from December 1990 "Tunneltalk"
  6. ^ from the February 1991 issue of Tunneltalk
  7. ^ a response from the editor in Tunneltalk v.2 n.1
  8. ^ from the March 1991 issue of Tunneltalk. This letter is also printed in full in Once Upon a Time...Is Now #29 (Jan/Feb 1991) where it has an introduction by the editors
  9. ^ from the editors of Once Upon a Time...Is Now #29 (Jan/Feb 1991)
  10. ^ from Tunneltalk v.2 n.1 (March 1991)
  11. ^ from Once Upon a Time... Is Forever]] #33 (July 1991)
  12. ^ from the January 1991 issue of Tunneltalk
  13. ^ from the January 1991 issue of Tunneltalk
  14. ^ from the January 1991 issue of Tunneltalk
  15. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #30
  16. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #30
  17. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #30
  18. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #30
  19. ^ from Sue K in Tunneltalk v.2 n.2
  20. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.2
  21. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.2
  22. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31 (April 1991)
  23. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31 (April 1991)
  24. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31
  25. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31 (April 1991)
  26. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31 (April 1991)
  27. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31 (April 1991)
  28. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #31
  29. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.3
  30. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.3
  31. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.3
  32. ^ in Tunneltalk v.2 n.3
  33. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #32
  34. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #32 (May 1991)
  35. ^ The story referenced here is "Of Beautiful and Impossible Things" by Lynne Gutshall.
  36. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #32 (May 1991)
  37. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #33 (June 1991)
  38. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #33
  39. ^ comment at Catherine, Diana, and Bad Endings, August 22, 2000
  40. ^ Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with CatalenaMara (2012)
  41. ^ Review posted on Fanlore in response to the older reviews on Tunneltalk. Posted directly to Fanlore by Angie on March 24, 2014.