Discovered In A Letterbox/Issues 01-05

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Issues 01-05 · Issues 06-10 · Issues 11-15 · Issues 16-20 · Issues 21-24

Issue 1

Discovered In A Letterbox 1 was published in 1997 and contains 42 pages.

cover of issue #1 (copy)
  • From the first editorial:
"This time last year, I barely knew slash existed. Thousands of words and many new friends later, I'm sitting here typing this in a state of dazed incredulity. Now if only I could workout how I got from There to Here. The moral appears to be,Watch out for that slash stuff - it can change your life. If anyone suspects this is leading up to a plea for forebearance, she'd be right I've never done anything like this before. And when the trail has been blazed by such as the terrific Be Gentle With Us - well, that's a pretty hard act to follow. But I hope that the enthusiasm and energy which seem to be typical of Professionals fans will help make DIAL, if not precisely a substitute for BGWU, then at least a worthy successor. You've certainly started well! I've been overwhelmed by the wholehearted support DIAL has received so far. A mere week after the flyer went out, it seemed as though every day brought something fascinating in the post: fiction, beautiful artwork, articles and many wonderful letters. And not just the post email and disks have been used for your contributions more often than I could have hoped; that does, as you might imagine, make the task of editing much easier. Thank you, too, to everyone who sent kind and encouraging words to a nervous first-time editor; you'll never know how reassuring that was!"
  • One fan comments in a zine review:
"... there seems to be more of a split in the presses. The British presses seem to be predominantly producing the happy ending type of story whilst the American ones seem to have more and more of the 'let's kill them off or 'leave them unhappy and apart' endings. I haven't mentioned the Australian presses, mainly because there seems to have been so very little from them of late, although what there has been has usually been at the 'happy ending' end of the spectrum. I would like to ask though - am I in the minority here? Do most fans want gritty realism, Aids, depression and death or, like me, do they want more of the hurt/comfort, angst-but-happy-endings that seem to typify the early stories of the fandom? Comments please!"
  • Letter Column: Topic: Why are we still fascinated with the show 20 years later?
  • One fan writes that she likes both characters equally and there seems to be no limits on creating believable backgrounds for the characters. Another factor that appealed was that, unlike K/S fandom, Professionals fan fiction did not have a lot of slave stories. She also credits the informality of the circuit as being a major draw for many to the fandom. Newer writers were more willing to participate and write since, unlike fanzines, there was no possibility of their work being rejected.
  • Another fan points to the show itself - the actors invested a lot of personality into their characters, pushing their onscreen relationship closer together and offering more intimate body language between the characters. The fan fiction also helped fill in the characters lifestyles and opinions.
  • One fan is pleased that the letterzine is slash-focused and suggests that fans design a slash badge they can wear to help identify one another at gatherings.
  • One writer likes fan fiction because fans can establish the character the way they want (in spite of how they're written onscreen) and then can keep them within that characterization.
  • A writer says she was attracted by the characters but notes that the plots came in a poor second. She also thinks that Pros fan fiction is some of the best fan fiction being written because so many writers apprenticed in other fandoms first.
  • A fan says she was drawn to the fandom by her perception of sexual tension between the characters, the actor's chemistry, the characters onscreen humour, and the completeness of each episode.
  • Another fan also points to the actors who made the characters so believable. She also likes Bodie and Doyle's contrasting backgrounds and the physical attractiveness of the actors.
  • A fan suggest a new topic for discussion: why do so many fans think that Bodie is a hard mercenary with a marshmallow interior? In keeping with the food metaphor she offers her opinion that Doyle is like an olive: pretty on the outside, but tart inside. She concludes by saying she prefers stories where the characters are hard all the way through, tough and more "like men."
  • One fan wonders if the reason she was drawn to the show was because Bodie and Doyle are contemporaries and are British.
  • A fan offers a detailed analysis of her favorite episode "Hunter/Hunted"
  • The editor proposes a letter writing campaign to protest rumors that the character of Raymond Doyle might be killed off the "The New Professionals" a remake of the series

Stories:

  • A Case of Mistaken Identity by Atropos - 4 pages
  • Mrs Doyle's Bad Leg by H.B. Cavella - 3 pages
  • Waiting by Buzz - 3 pages

Art:

  • drawing by Evelyn of Bodie and Doyle

Issue 2

Discovered In A Letterbox 2 was published in June 1997 and contains 47 pages.

art from issue #2, by Evelyn
cover of issue #2 (copy)
  • A fan is somewhat puzzled as to why she enjoys this fandom: "Like several of you, I have difficulty working out what draws me to the show beyond the obvious, that is). I'm a feminist and a civil libertarian, for heaven's sake!"
  • A fan laughs about her mum who also enjoys Pros: "She is such an innocent. When she was shown a sketch of Mr Spock in all his glory - and I do mean all - her only comment was, 'Oh, darling. Isn't he hairy?'"
  • A fan comments on the Escapade con report in the previous issue: "Interesting to read the US con report but I don't think I could stand so many panels and what else was there to do, apart from the art?"
  • This issue lists the order, along with summaries of the fifteen stories in Eva's "Emma Universe"
  • A proposed fan activity: send in ten quotations (100 words or less) from Pros stories and fans will have to try to guess what stories from which they came
  • fans write memorials about the death of Steve Adler, the actor who portrayed Murphy
  • this issue has flyers with summaries and/or excerpts for Motet #1, Roses and Lavender #1, After the Battle, The Highwayman, and Alter Egos #1, Suffer Little Children,
  • a fan comments extensively on Journey West, see that page
  • The editor writes of contributions and the size of the letterzine:
DIAL has been going now for nine months. As you'll see, it's a lively letterzine whose participants (mostly British, with a couple of Europeans) have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the thing. When I started it back in February (1997) I had no idea it would take off in quite this fashion... While I'm delighted with its success, it has meant changing my original hopes for it: essentially, I can't (as I'd intended) throw it open to American subscribers as well. Basically, it's a question of space. The original idea was to let it find its feet - bearing in mind that I'd never done anything like this before and it could have been a miserable failure! - before inviting people outside the UK/Europe to join in. Unfortunately, that isn't possible in quite the way I'd envisaged. If DIAL gets any bigger it will be too unwieldy to manage, both in terms of cost and my time. (Please remember that photocopying costs over here are very high. To give an example: right from the beginning, I'd worked out that I couldn't cope with more than 60 subscribers; I expected there would be about 35. As of last month, there are 56. More, for various reasons DIAL can't be any longer than 60 pages and as you'll see, it nearly reached that length in issue 3. The result is that I either had to restrict subscriptions to DIALor stop doing it altogether. I hope you'll understand why I chose the former. It was suggested to me, however, that people might like to read it even though they couldn't participate - which is why you're reading this."
"A/U's (alternate universes). Why are there so many of them in Pros fiction? They're wildly various, from reality-with-a-twist to More Alternate Than You Would Have Thought Possible - what inspires people to write them? (Me, I have to confess that it's the costumes every time. Yes, I know, just shows on what a trivial level my mind works. But the thought of Bodie at the Elizabethan court, in midnight-blue velvet with a black pearl in his ear, makes my little heart go pit-a-pat."
  • A fan comments:
"I quite agree with you about the plethora of revolting slave stories in K/S... But don't you think the Pros equivalent is the heavy duty S/M story? Personally, I find them almost equally distasteful, especially as so many of them seem to be well-written. Once it gets beyond the handcuffs and a smacked botty, I'm out of there."
  • A fan comments on the differences between American and British Pros writers:
"Have to agree with you that American zines do tend to be of a darker nature. Now. I don't mind that as much as most fans seem to; I quite like a strong, dark story from time to time. However, I have to say that I prefer happy endings and find that British zines, and authors, do tend to suit my overall taste more."
  • A fan is very happy with this letterzine:
"... congratulations on the first edition of DIAL. It surpassed all expectations and it really is so pleasant to be able to read about The Chaps again and to read the various views of like-minded gentle perverts. Bliss. I entered this world via K/S, thanks to wonderful people who literally opened their Libraries and said 'Go for it'. When I came up for air, I met more lovely people - and that seems a contradiction in terms, I mean, Bodie and Doyle are basically thugs attached to a violent organisation yet we all love 'em. I do have little forays into other fandoms but first and foremost come the perm and the pout in tight cream trousers."
  • On tolerance:
"I'll defend to the death people's right to read what they want, be it death, rape or torture, but whilst I groom my fluff (so to speak) I choose not to read about it. Life is painful enough. Reading and writing B/D is my fantasy life and while I like angst and H/C, I also like my fantasy life to be happy. Maybe it is Pollyanna-ish but hey, IDIC and all that."
  • A fan comments that the source material sometimes becomes secondary to fan creations:
"I haven't watched Pros in ages, although I still love reading stories, but somehow the series never seemed to live up to the relationship which the circuit and other stories brought me to expect (Backwards, I know, but it's the same in most fandoms and it doesn't matter whether you are talking straight or slash here)."
  • A fan explains her fannish trajectory:
"Twenty years of the Pros - it doesn't seem that long ago I first saw it. Of course, I didn't get into Pros slash until much later - was it at Zircon or T'Hy'la? - can't remember the con or the year but it was definitely through [name redacted], with her offer of episode copies. I think it was only my second slash fandom after K/S or did Blake's 7 (A/V) get there first? Anyway, it was Bodie who drew me; Doyle, like Spock, was nothing. Doyle could look sexy but at other times, just plain ugly. Bodie, however - ooh! Unlike some people, I never had any trouble with the politics or morals of CI5's existence and (unlike a friend of mine) I can read them in AU situations. I don't read gen stories in any of my fandoms, only slash, but there doesn't seem anyway to be that much B/D gen around - it seemed to head almost straight to slash."
  • A fan explains her fiction preferences:
"As regards types of story I like: I love happy endings, dislike death stories very strongly, don't want rape or either of them having been abused as a child but don't mind mild S/M or bondage. I prefer Bodie on top. Doyle has grown on me but I still prefer Bodie. In all my slash fandoms, there's always one partner I prefer to the other. I dislike stories where Doyle is a real bastard to Bodie on the emotional (and sometimes physical) level where Bodie really suffers but takes Doyle back at the end. I can read Bodie/Cowley, though its not really something I'd look for. I'm afraid Cowley just doesn't do anything for my hormones. I could also read Bodie/Murphy - I remember one story (as usual, name and author escape me) [1] where Bodie had to choose between Doyle and Murphy The ending was left open with the reader having to decide who the chosen one was. I had a nasty feeling it was Doyle but was rooting for Murphy because Doyle was such a bastard."
  • Fans discuss the recent negative comments Martin Shaw made about the show:
"And I do agree with you about the sadness of MS's attitude to the show. I sympathise with his feelings of being haunted by it but it does seem a slap in the face to everyone who enjoyed it that he speaks of it now merely with distaste. Still that doesn't stop us from being enthusiastic about The Boys amongst ourselves."

"How is it that two writers can each write a precisely canonical Professionals story, and in the two stories Bodie will be instantly recognisable as Bodie, no one else, and yet Bodie in "No Unicorns" is an utterly different Bodie from "Never Let Me Down"? Well, creating a character on the printed page who is recognisably the same person as the character in the TV series is a matter of several elements.

First, to get the voice right to make the character in the story speak as the character in the series does. The same construction of sentences, the same chaiacteristic vocabulary, the same stress-patterns. Second, to get the actions right to make the character in the story react to situations in the story in the same way that the character in the series would. Third, of course, the visual element (and in media fiction, the least important): to describe the character's physical appearance so that someone reading the description in the story would recognise the character in the series at first sight."

Stories:

  • Neither Heat Nor Cold by Atropos - 2 pages
  • Defence Manoeuvre by Gene - 3 pages
  • When in Rome by Hestia - 4 pages

Art:

  • drawing by Evelyn of Bodie as a North American Indian

Issue 3

Discovered In A Letterbox 3 was published in Sept 1997 and contains 58 pages.

cover of issue #3 (copy)
  • The editor suggests the discussion topic: "The Story I'd Most Like to Read a Sequel To"
  • The editor explains the Huggy Awards and offers to send a copy of the ballot to any fan that asks for one
  • A fan writes of her love for fanfic:
"There's little commercial fiction out there that can give the same pleasure as a good fan story - and I don't just mean the zing of a hot steamy sex scene! I like the involvement I feel when I read fanfic, even if this borders on possessiveness when I feel the characters have been mangled beyond recognition. There's a part of me waving a banner and declaring people write what they want. Then I read something that I personally find distasteful and it all gets complicated I don't know whether it's because we're all in the same boat, with fan fiction as some great big communal pool into which you pour your own offering and hope like hell it doesn't turn the water brown. Maybe that's why certain stories cause so much controversy. It's the equivalent of seeing someone pour in their dirty bath water. I have to keep reminding myself that were sharing the pool, I don't have to swim in the deep end."
  • A fan comments on the prevalence of the fragile Doyle:
"It's not necessarily A/U stories that girlify Doyle. There are more than enough CIS-based stories that have Doyle as a fragile flower who weeps down big butch Bodie's shirt front at the slightest opportunity. I don't recognise that view of Doyle at all."
  • A fan explains her fannish tastes and trajectory:
art from issue #3, Evelyn
"I started off as a Star Trek fan and read my way through K/S from 'Green Plague' onward. Then I was introduced to Bodie and Doyle by friends who gave me "Masquerade" to read and I was lost. I'm first and foremost a Professionals fan. I rarely read K/S now and while I still love the characters of Kirk and Spock (well, Spock mainly) the magic isn't there the way it used to be. I love Starsky and Hutch and will read some S&H fiction, though I was never in S&H fandom. I'm also a big MUNCLE fan - I have adored Illya ever since I saw the series back in the 60s. But that's it, and while I'll occasionally read a well-written story from another fandom, I have no desire to find out more about that particular fandom or its character."
"I have a great deal of affection for A/U's. They are an extension of the fact that most slash fans have vivid imaginations. If you can imagine two pre-supposed hetero characters being gay, it's just as easy to see them, say, as a pair of vampires. Why are there so many? Maybe it's easier because of the type of series Pros is. It's firmly stuck in the 1970's/80's. When you take, say, Blake's 7, it's already so versatile there's not a lot you can do to make it 'different', if you see what I mean. Almost anything can happen in a sci-fi universe, and does, without turning it into an A/U."
  • The article, "The Art of the Plagiarist" by [J C], tells of how she is haunted be a story she wanted to write, one that she'd have to borrow from another author. She tells of contacting the author and the author's blunt refusal. Excerpt:
"I explained what I wanted to do. Effectively, I wanted to borrow the story. Not the plot, or the story idea, I wanted to borrow the story itself, and use it for another story. I wanted to be absolutely clear in this letter how much I wanted to take from her original story, because I hoped very much she'd say yes, and I certainly didn't want any unpleasant surprises when she read my story. I wanted to steal descriptions. I wanted to steal whole scenes. I even wanted to steal lines of dialogue, because the story I had conceived all those years ago was very much a retake of her own novel - her novel, looked at from a slightly different angle. Well, she said "No". She said no in such away that it was clear that I had hurt her feelings very much simply by asking, and also that she would never change her mind, nor her feelings, about that novel... She suggested that I should try writing my own stories, not plagiarise from other writers..."

Stories:

  • Serendipity by Linda - 5 pages
  • 'Airy-Fairy' Dreams by Gene - 3 pages
  • Discovered in a Flat by Cherilyn - 2 pages

Art:

  • drawing by Evelyn of an older Doyle

Issue 4

Discovered In A Letterbox 4 was published in December 1997 and contains 52 pages.

  • A fan encourages others to do as they please:
art from issue #4, Evelyn
"To anyone accused of making either of our heroes 'wet' or "wimpish' or whatever, can I suggest (although this won't be entirely appreciated by everyone) that occasionally you just give in and 'girfify' Doyle all you want if the fancy takes you. Or Bodie. Just keep him like that through the whole story and let him continue to, or learn to, respect himself and I'm fine with the idea. I've not read a lot of B/D yet, but I'm sure there's room for all sorts of interpretations. Isn't gender or sexuality more like a sliding scale than just a choice of two categories anyway?"
  • A fan comments on an essay in the previous issue:
cover of issue #4 (copy)
"[name redacted] raised some fascinating issues in her article on plagiarism. And I agree with her totally; within fandom, where there's consent it isn't plagiarism. But to pinch knowingly (to knowingly pinch where no fan-writer has pinched before - sorry, too much caffeine) someone's idea or characters and not to acknowledge the fact is not one. Not that I can remember an incidence of it happening between fan writer and fan writer in B/D fandom. But it must be torture to have a story that's begging and gibbering to be written which you can't because the original author has vetoed it. I can't really understand that - even if whatever the concept is doesn't appeal. It's such a compliment that something you've created has sparked a stranger's creative juices. Also, surely anyone with an ounce of curiosity would want to see what someone else made of 'their' characters."
"Someone mentioned placing Bodie and Doyle in a Pern setting. I agree, you could have fun with that. How about a couple of other Anne McCaffrey books? The brain/brawn mix in the Ship series of books probably wouldn't work as they'd have a great deal of trouble getting it together - However, the Darkover series could prove fun, with all those empathic/telepathic powers. Just think what they could get up to inside each other's heads!"
"There is a circuit story called "Dark of the Heart" by kk which deals with this [a Doyle/Macklin pairing] (amongst other things). I found it a powerful melancholy piece; the D/M pairing is only a part of the story but the relationship portrayed between them is surprisingly affectionate. Well, surprising until I was made to think about it; the skill of the author made it ring true in the context of the story (which is S/M)."
"In the evening came the Fancy Dress - Oh, Lord, Imagine the scenario - [name redacted] supercilious and mysterious in black, black and more black; spike heels, leather festooned around with chains, studs and handcuffs (don't ask) and The Whip. Now she tells us it was only for the party - Hmm. Anyway, there was I attached to the whip as she sauntered, and I grovelled, through reception. To my horror a male American voice sounded out: "Say, girls- Just what is a ZebraCon?" I can only hope he accepted my muffled explanation, in very British tones, that it was a meeting of animal-lovers. The costumes were fantastic. One chap - yes, there were some males there - went as Starsky and Hutch, even to the point of shaving off half of his moustache. [Name redacted] went in false male chest, complete with hair, and a bit that God would never have recognised as part of the female anatomy. The wonders of the perverted mind and a sock win through again! Then there was the art auction - Evelyn's work went so well - even I didn't get a look-in. Suzan Lovett's final part of her triptyrh stayed in America for $600, but we were all allowed time to study it in great depth later that night in the bar. Heaven knows what those working there thought."
  • two fans send in reviews of the play, "The Ideal Husband" with Martin Shaw
  • there are no zine reviews in this issue

Stories:

  • Christmas Trimmings by Fiona Murray - 7 pages
  • Equilibrium by Felicity M. Parkinson - 2 pages
  • Kiss and Wake Up by Kitty Berman - 2 pages
  • Making a Statement by Cherilyn - 2 pages
  • Morning Glory by Jenny Parkinson - 2 pages
  • Suck It and See by Mo - 2 pages
  • Thank You, Endeavour by Ginny - 2 pages
  • That's What Friends are For by Olympian Heights - 3 pages
  • Two Sacked Santas? by Gene - 3 pages
  • When I Consider How My Light is Spent by Skuld - 2 pages

Poetry:

  • A Visit from St Nicholas by Joan
  • Panto Pants by Jude
  • The CI5 Christmas Songbook by Joan

Art:

  • drawing by Evelyn of Bodie and Doyle

Issue 5

art from issue #5, Martin Shaw as "Lord Goring" -- artist is Evelyn. The editor comments on this art in issue #6: "If you thought the black & white copies came out well you should have seen the original. It was half-tinted on a rich cream paper -just the faintest touch of blush pink to the rose in his lordships buttonhole and a gleam of green to his eyes and the rosebuds leaf- and the texture of the shading was luscious. Absolutely mouthwatering, take my word for it."

Discovered In A Letterbox 5 was published in March 1998 and contains 38 pages.

  • Several fans comment that only Starsky & Hutch can get away with using "babe" as an endearment, and that only cop shows seem to have characters using this endearment.
  • A fan comments on an article by [J C] in issue #3:
"Continuing your point about plagiarism, I don't understand either why someone would worry about their characters or universe being used or built upon by others. Surely that has to be the greatest of compliments? It is exactly what fandom has done with the original series. Just think how much poorer life would be if plagiarism from those source materials had never taken place. Using someone else's storyline, though, is not one. The second person has to do something different."
  • About the feminization of characters:
"How I agree with you re. the feminisation of characters. The Chaps are hard men, really thugs with licences to kill (and thrill) but authors are empowered to do anything they want to them... and do, and I have no problem with that as long as it doesn't go too much over the top. But what does intrigue me is just why we do it? Is it a touch of the Mary Sues or is it done because it fulfils something in ourselves? Anyone have any ideas? Also, how is the individual Johnny or that lovely JTK. And as for poor old Iolaus, such a little cutey, Lordy but does he weep a lot. There again, so does Vila, so maybe I should scotch that particular theory."
  • A fan is a little disappointed in the tone of the Christmas stories in the last issue:
"Congratulations to all who sent in Hatstands - they were all well done and it's not the authors' fault I was taken aback and disappointed in some of them. Perhaps it was naive but I expected them all to be Xmas tales, cosy and happy. A couple of the stories had underlying portents of doom and a lasting sadness, which I don't like in stories at any time of year; particularly Xmas. Their being held back to another issue wouldn't have changed my opinion but would have made the whole Hatstand reading experience more enjoyable. I know real life isn't rose-tinted, even at Xmas - it can be a sad time for those lonely and bereaved, but who wants real life? I'm not condemning nor complaining, it's just my expectations were too high, and there were some gems, eg. Skuld's story."
cover of issue #5 (copy)
  • A fan has to explain an earlier comment in which she appeared to be horrified at the idea of a naked Cowley:
"A naked Cowley is so awful because in the first flush of new-fandom-fervour - more years ago than I care to think about - I was given aversion therapy. We'd all gone to a Trek con, hired a video and sat glued to the few Pros tapes we had acquired. The video had excellent freeze-frame and I was happily anticipating watching Doyle coming and going and breathing and walking and talking in that multi-talented way he has when some swine frame-by-framed Cowley emerging from his shower in that white towel. Over and over again. Very slowly. I was nominated President of the Cowley Half Dressed Society - for which, I might add, I had surprisingly few queries - and I still have to lie down in darkened rooms to recover from the experience."
  • a fan asks if anyone has "read Mel Keegan's new book, 'White Rose of Night'?"
  • a fan writes an essay entitled: "Confessions of a Doyle Devotee" about her conversion to being a Bodie fan as well
  • there are two reviews of the panto, "Beauty and the Beast" which starred Martin Shaw
  • two reviews of No Holds Barred #16, see that page
  • a review of Tea for Two, see that page
  • a review of Roses and Lavender #1, see that page
  • a review of Tea for Two, see that page

Stories:

  • Out of the Frying Pan by Hestia - 2 pages
  • Famous CI5: Chapter 2 by Joan - 2 pages
  • Medusa's Curse by Gene - 5 pages

Art:

  • drawing by Evelyn of MS as "Lord Goring"

References

  1. It's "Call It What You Like" by Meg Lewtan and appears in a The Hatstand Express.