Herne's Stepchildren

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Title: Herne's Stepchildren
Publisher: One Handed Press out of New York
Editor(s): Carol M. Burrell
Type: letterzine
Date(s): November 1989-June 1992
Frequency: four times a year, erratically published
Medium: print
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Language: English
External Links:
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Herne's Stepchildren is a Robin of Sherwood letterzine. It contains Letters of Comment, ads, articles, and occasional poetry and fiction. It replaced the letterzine Quarterstaff. There were at least ten issues.

a 1990 flyer


Herne's Stepchildren 0 was a "proto-letterzine, ur-letterzine, what-have-you." It was published November 1989 and contains 8 pages.

front cover of the proto-issue
  • a fan writes about a "new Robin, "one that will be in an upcoming movie: "Does a different Robin disappoint me? While I'm a big fan of both MP and JC, a new Robin does not put me off. In fact, I actually like how they've handled a change of actors. In a backward manner, this sounds like history's Robin. Fact and legend have blurred so much no one can e sure if there ever was a RH, who he was, if the legends of several men have been fused into one myth and so forth. Also, before seeing my first RoS episode, I never thought anyone could ever fill Errol Flynn's shoes, and I've loved both actors' work, so I am VERY hopeful."
  • there are three flyers: The Ezekiel Project, Loxley, and The Outlaw's Guide to Sherwood

Issue 1

Hernes's Stepchildren 1 was published in December 1989 and contains 25 pages. The front cover is by Christine Haire, the back cover is blank.

front cover of issue #1, Christine Haire
  • there appear to be about 15 subscribers
  • the editors says she has gotten this letterzine in the mail on the very last possible day before the holiday rush
  • Letters (4)
  • Banned from Duxford, filk by Ruth Dempsey (8) ("to the tune of Banned from Argo by the incomparable Leslie Fish)
  • Robin Toon: The Legend According to Warner Brothers, article by Patti Heyes (9) (about "Robin Hood Makes Good" (1939), "Rabbit Hood" (1950, and "Robin Hood Daffy" (1958))
  • Always Fading, story by Nancy Bain (11) (part one)
  • listings, photos, cons, clubs, zines (19)
  • includes a flyer for The Outlaw's Guide to Sherwood, Anglofans Unlimited, Apocryphal Albion
  • a fan complains that her local television station "butchered" the re-runs, and she praises Showtime for showing the episodes in full
  • a fan writes that she got hooked on RoS when friends lent her some tapes:
    with the admonition, 'You're going to like this.' Mind you, I was exceedingly suspicious, because that is exactly what they said about Blake's 7, a show I did not like and did not 'grow on me' like it was supposed to. However, Anthony Valentine changed my mind, there is something about a sensual villain that always appeals to me. Michael Praed was not that bad either, but alas, despite two wonderfully romantic leads, I developed a particular liking for the fellow in black with the unfortunate habit of killing people. I make no excuses, I find him sexy in a deliciously dangerous fashion, he's a lust-muffin, period.

  • the editor encourages fans to write Showtime to:
    ...let them know that there's a huge audience out there grateful to have RoS back on the untampered airwaves. Individual letters are weighed more heavily than writing campaigns, so leave out mention of any clubs you belong to. Use your business letterhead or school stationery if possible, and disguise yourself as a mundane.

Issue 2

Hernes's Stepchildren 2 was published in Jan/Feb 1990 and contains 32 pages.

front cover of issue #2, Chris Haire
back cover of issue #2, Chris Haire
  • there appear to be 29 subscribers
  • Letters (4)
  • A Little Bird Told Me (news) by Christine Haire (13)
  • A Piece on the Mysterious Earl Ranulf of Chester by Cindy Fairbanks (15) (article)
  • The Convent Song of Marion by Gaelena Shekely (17) (filk)
  • Thoroughly Modern Robin Hood by Cat Sebastian (19) (humor)
  • Always Fading (fiction, conclusion) by Nancy Bain (20)
  • listings, cons, zines, and stuff (30)
  • the editor writes:
    Unless a minor miracle occurs, Stepchildren is still unbound; this time the printers have no working copier that will fold and staple... They're probably all just Norman sympathizers. We will be looking for another way to get the letterzine copied,or at least bound." [1]

  • the editor comments on comments by Richard Carpenter in Starlog about the show's happy ending:
    He talks about the possible endings for the series, had it lasted another year, and expresses concern that it might have had far too happy and unrealistic a closure -- basically the good guys winning out over the baddies. I have other thoughts: would it really be a happy ending to send Robert and Marion back to the privileged life they once led, and set up the Merries as Stewards? Or would it be a weakening of their convictions?... How soon before they forgot the values that drove them to be outlaws? Not quite the same as being poisoned or bled to death by a nun, but rather depressing, I think.

Issue 3

Hernes's Stepchildren 3 was published in March/April 1990 and contains 38 pages. The front cover is by Barb Johnson, the back cover graphic by Jean M. Pellerin.

front cover of issue #3, Barb Johnson
  • on the front cover: "(the better-late-than-never or this-is-starting-to-be-a-pattern issue)"
  • it a appears there were 33 subscribers
  • want ads (3)
  • letters (4)
  • Nottingham, filk by Gaelena Shekely (15) (tune: Capernaum as sung by Jean Redpath)
  • Tales of Robin Hood by Clayton Emery, a review by Ruth Demsey (16)
  • A Little Bird Told Me, news by Christine Haire (17)
  • Travelling in Nottinghamshire by Lin Wood (18) (an article about visiting some Robin of Sherwood places in the UK)
  • more from the little bird (news) (22)
  • A Letter from Our Honorary Foster Father (23) (a letter from Kip Carpenter: he mentions some projects he's working on, he says there will be no season four of RoS and that Praed and Connery aren't going to be in the film
  • Robin Hood and the Stranger, part one, fiction by Nancy Hutchins and Judth Covington (24)
  • listings of cons, clubs, zines, stuff (32)
  • photos and clippings (35)
  • there is some chat about what constitutes a happy ending
  • some fan write in that "Showtime," the rat, has indeed edited some RoS episodes
  • a fan writes that she was:
    ...comforted to read many familiar fannish names in the letter section and of course a good selection of new fans as well. New fans give the fandom new blood and I at least welcome all of them with open arms. Not only do they have enthusiasm, they oftimes give fresh insight and views on many aspects of the series. And talking to the fans, new and old, is where I get 95% of my story ideas. Never let a good resource go to waste, I say!

Issue 4

Hernes's Stepchildren 4 was published in June 1990 and contains 36 pages. The front cover is by Scavella, the back cover is blank.

front cover of issue #4, Scavella
  • letters (4)
  • Lilith by Gaelena Shekely (18)
  • Robin Hood and the Stranger, part two, fiction by Nancy Hutchins and Judith Covington (19)
  • listings: cons, clubs, zines and stuff (34)
  • there appear to be 46 subscribers
  • a fan responds to an earlier fan's remark that RoS fan fiction is too much "pathos": "The first several pieces of fan fiction I read were well written, thoughtful, detailed, feeling, meaningful, and very solemn. I did start to fear that RoS fans as a whole must be a very serious lot! However, I have since obtained many more 'zines, and the mix of seriousness to humor is out there!"
  • regarding the seriousness of current RoS fan fiction, a fan writes:
    I have written sane of the many stories occurring after "Time of the Wolf". I wrote these stories for two reasons: one, I hate loose ends! HTV may have ended "Robin of Sherwood" but I wouldn't. Only after the cliffhanger was resolved could I write or attempt to write passable fan fiction. Second, at the time, no one else was doing Robin of Sherwood fanfic. A small but determined group of fans were trying to get zines created and to do that we needed material. You know the old saying, "If you want something done," etc. So I began with the most glaring loose end. As you know, every writer works differently and they all must concentrate on the themes they feel most comfortable with. The upcoming issues of many of the zines I think will offer a variety of stories that should hopefully satisfy everyone.

  • about non-happy ending:
    I agree entirely with [the] anti-tragedy stand. I can pick up any newspaper if I want tragedy, and while I recognize that most lives back then were short and brutal, I don't need that shoved in my face. I did think the final episodes of Blake's 7 and Beauty and the Beast were terrific, but the death of Loxely is tragedy enough in RoS.

  • a fan comments about fan fiction in a letter that generates a lot of comments later:
    I'm going to introduce myself to this letterzine with some controversial comments, so look out! Regarding fan fiction: What's the point? Robin of Sherwood, like all good art, is inspiring. It's great if the show makes you want to learn more about medieval history and culture, and greater still if you choose to create something new with what you've learned, my problem with fan fiction is that its writers base their stories in someone else's universe, using someone else's characters. I take the art of prose writing pretty seriously, and I have serious artistic and ethical problems with sponging off the creative output of others. Maybe I'm just a college snob, but as an English major who took several creative writing courses, I learned one thing for certain: It's bad form to write a piece around someone else's characters unless you're prepared to do something revolutionary with it, like Tom Stoppard's take on "Hamlet" in his "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead". (Of course, it's easier to toy around with someone's stuff when the copyright has long since lapsed, like Stoppard with Shakespeare or even Richard Carpenter with his twist on the old Robin Hood legends.) What it boils down to, I guess, is that there's plenty of room for petty theft in art. John Williams gets away with stealing bits of Horst and Stravinsky for his soundtracks because the bulk of his music is his own. But lifting an entire creative framework from another is, well, tacky. When I try to put aside this major prejudice and read a piece of fan fiction that drops into my lap from the piles of stuff folks send to Carol, I am almost always put off by one or a combination of the following factors: boring, ungranmatical, or cliche-ridden writing style a plot in which very little is at stake emotionally (so Robin outsmarts the Sheriff again. Big deal.) stories in which everything is subservient to the plot (including character development and consistency, texture of setting, logic, etc.) Reading some of these stories,I get the feeling the writers don't read very much, except maybe for other fan stories. If I could get past these things, I might be able to cope with fan stories were it not for the various genres out there ('slash', 'hurt and comfort', 'Mary Sue' stories). I can't help but find the psychological implications of injuring a character so he can be vicariously nursed back to health rather frightening. And what the hell is the appeal of slash? I suppose, like lesbian porn for men, it gives a 'two-for-the-price-of-one' type of thrill. Never mind that with the exceptions of Guy, the Sheriff, and Philip Mark, it has nothing to do with the characters as presented on RoS. Never mind that the Middle Ages were the most homophobic time in the history of the world with the possible exception of early Ancient Persia, Victorian England and 1980's America. Never mind that exhaustive descriptions of sex make really dull reading. Maybe I'm being too hard on fan fiction, judging it by standards I've learned to apply to literature. But I don't think so. What do you think?

Issue 5

Hernes's Stepchildren 5 was published in August 1990 and contains 36 pages. The front cover is uncredited (drawn by Scavella), the back is a list of subscribers.

front cover of issue #5, Scavella (uncredited)
  • Letters (4)
  • Castle Black (a 13th century ballad)
  • A Little Bird Told Me: Acting Credits for Michael Praed and Mark Ryan, compiled by Christine Haire (27)
  • Robin Hood and the Stranger, part 3, by Nancy Hutchins and Judith Covington (29)
  • a letter from Sherri Strain, Touchdown Productions, in which she explains about the problems with the competing Robin of Sherwood films (37)
  • listings for cons and stuff (39)
  • includes a supplementary bonus insert "A Brief History of the de Briouze (or Briouse, or Barose) Family" by Cindy Fairbanks
  • a fan writes: "Slash in general (and in this particular fandom) is boring and somewhat insulting to the spirits of [the] characters."
  • a fan comments on slash: "Slash is a definite blight on fandom. But as long as people continue to buy it -- fans will continue to write it. Fortunately, we don't have the extent of the problems other fandoms do. So, let's try and keep it that way."
  • the editor writes, apparently in response to a letter in the last issue regarding the pointlessness of fanfic and to another letter that was uncharacteristically critical (in this fandom) of some specific fanfic and well as other things:
    Let's face it: when a group is thrown together by circumstance and common needs, and some members have very strong opinions and no qualms about expressing them in a forthright manner with no dissembling and no fancy diplomacy, there are going to be clashes. Sometimes someone's going to walk off into the forest mist and it may be a while before that someone comes back— maybe after mugging the odd fleeing family— but the merries are always understanding of each other; after all, they have the same cause,and the same feelings in the larger scheme-of-things. 'Spose the question is: how far must one temper one's opinions in the interests of not offending anyone? When is a statement that goes directly to the point too sharp, and when is skirting around an issue with qualifiers and friendly words absolutely pointless? Perhaps for some people fandom is that place where everybody treads lightly and no one ever ever steps on anyone's tender spots— but in the closest families, and bands in Sherwood, there are squabbles, and we get over them... Sherwood without Will? I'd rather sit knitting in a convent.

  • a fan writes:
    Regarding [name redacted's] letter about fanfic in the last issue of HS, before I say anything else, I do want to commend [her] for having the courage to express a controversial opinion. That said, I'd like to address some of the issues raised. What's the point of fanfic? To a lot of fans (myself included), that's like asking what's the point of cons. For starters, fanfic is a way of communicating with other fen, illustrating points about the narrative as it stands... Granted, there is a lot of duplication of ideas in fanfic, but so what? Mainstream fiction has its share of similar themes... Questioning the purpose of fanfic seems particularly odd to me in the context of the "Robin of Sherwood" TV series. Richard Carpenter didn't invent the characters of Robin, Marion, Little John, Will Scarlet, the Sheriff or even Gisburne. He doesn't have them doing anything radically different than they've done in the past eight century's worth of stories about them— Robin and the guys still rob from the rich and give to the poor while the Sheriff tries to stop them. A number of episodes are, to quote the letter, "Robin outsmarts the Sheriff again." It's all more or less been done before. So why should Carpenter— and all those folks at Tri-Star, 20th Century Fox, etc.— bother? Well, for one thing, it's never been done exactly like this before. Some stories only work if the context is already familiar to the reader/viewer— otherwise it takes so long to set up that there's no time left to elaborate upon the particular details the writer wanted to explore. Next, the writer wants the fun/challenge of being part of bringing the characters and environment back to life. It's the same impulse that causes us to sing along with favorite songs, rather than remain silent or go off and compose something entirely different. We want to feel actively involved with this thing we love in some way, not to just sit back and enjoy it passively. Third— remember the third season of RoS? Various writers besides Carpenter contributed episodes using his version of the characters and the Heme mythology specifically created for the show.Except for the fact that their work was filmed and the fan stories are confined to the printed form, the principal difference (apart from perhaps quality) between these writers and fans who write for the zines is one of motivation. Is writing done for profit more legitimate than writing motivated by enthusiasm for the subject matter? Fanfic is also the only arena I've found where as a writer you've got a built-in audience who care about your topic and are pulling for you to do a good job. If they think you've botched it, they'll tell you, but their objections are based on a common frame of reference, not on left-field judgments like, "I hate stories about outlaws, make them weavers," or, "Well, what we can really use is an episode set in a napkin-making factory, please change yours to that —or you're fired." Also, in the case of fanfic that is based on anything other than written books, the form is adaptive rather than imitative. Film based on books are not seen as despicably derivative— why should printed narrative based on televised stories be condemned—especial-when the fanfic more often than not has plots unused on the series? Hurt/comfort and Mary Sues are both topics involved enough to merit separate discussions. So is slash as a generality, but the subject is a red herring in the context of RoS. Richard Carpenter has requested that the fans not have the characters exhibiting sexual inclinations they didn't display on the series, the fans have obliged, no mainstream RoS editor will print slash and, apart from one short story in a long-out-of-print publication, no one seems to be aware of any RoS slash, period. Slash aside, Richard Carpenter has publicly expressed his approval of fanfic. If he feels "ripped off," he's given no indication of it. I agree that it's tacky to write a piece around someone else's characters if you are treading on their professional toes or preempting some use they might make of their own creation, but fanfic is by definition non-professional— all the writing can possibly do is promote the series, generate interest in it and publicize Carpenter and his work. Fanfic extends the lives of the characters in our minds, gives them adventures we never got to see them have on the air. To diabolically paraphrase Shakespeare (if we're going to talk about derivation, might as well go whole hog) -- 'So long as fen can write and eyes can see. So long lives this and this gives life to thee.'

  • another comment on this subject:
    Hi! Controversial is right! Ooh, are you gonna get it! What fan fic have you read? No, don't name names! You are being too hard on it! It's not supposed to be great literature. It is supposed to be 1) FUN; 2) A creative outlet for fans to share ideas; 3) A venue for fans to explore and expand upon the characters, situations and ideas that you are in fandom for. By the way, this is all being done with Kip's blessing. He reads them. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is it not? That is great that you are an English Major and have serious creative writing courses. Not all of us are afforded that opportunity. So we have fan fic and fan art for creative outlets. We want to explore things Richard didn't get around to. Just like Anthony Horowitz and other writers have written stories based on his universe. What's wrong with that? I think you should reserve such harsh judgement of fan-fic until you've been in fandom longer and read more fanzines. I think people are going to get the impression you are a "college snob" when you generalize that fan writers "don't read very much". Excuse me?! We have professional writers and history professors contributing to RoS zines! Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly about slash, hurt/comfort, and Mary Sue. But, I just don't read that crap. If other fen get off on it— that's their personal problem. I just ignore it and hope it will go away. There is very little, if any, of it in RoS fan-fic. The bottom line is, if you don't like fanzines, don't read them. But don't criticize us or demean us because we do. We have taken these characters to our hearts. We want to explore the possibilities beyond the TV series, and most of all, have FUN. We're not trying to "sponge off the creative output of others." We're trying to explore it, add to it, change it, embellish it, continue it, etc. We're keeping ourselves entertained with our attempts.

  • a fan comments on an earlier fan's letter:
    I think you crossed the line with your last letter from criticism into insult. I think you completely missed the point of a letter-zine. The point is to communicate with fellow fans, discuss ideas, and debate points occasionally in a constructive way. This is supposed to be FUN.

  • a fan disagrees with another fan on her dismissal of fan fiction and writes at great length to tell her so; she ends her letter with one point of agreement, though:
    ... I agree completely with your views of slash. I have no use for slash. I see no logical reason for it being produced and read. But it is out there. Why? Because people enjoy writing it and reading it. I have solved my problem with it by simply refusing to read it or be associated with it in any way. Richard Carpenter and the actors have all expressed their wishes that no slash Robin of Sherwood fan fic be written and published. I can safely state the die-hard and mainstream RoS fans have adhered to this policy. If for some reason, you and [name redacted] have been receiving such material, I would suggest it be quickly be put in the circular file."

  • a fan attempts to explain slash to other RoS fans:
    Slash began when a Trek writer tried very lyrically to apply the 'Greek ideal of male love' to Kirk and Spock (in terms of Alexander and Hephaistion); and other people read a lot more into it. Whoosh! Slash as soft porn has invaded almost any fandom that's based on a concept with two, or more, male friends. It is, for me, just totally unbelievable, in terms of the various characters it's applied to; and... quite dull.

  • a fan responds to the Alexander/Hephaistion idea:
    Just what do you think Alex and Hephaistion were doing in that tent on a cool evening? I'd certainly read a lot into a story comparing Kirk and Spock to Alexander and Hephaiston, or Achilles and Patroclos, or any other fandom pair I don't feel like thinking about right now... The Greek ideal of male love wasn't, well, exactly platonic. Maybe some slash is well-written erotica, but I suspect it's more likely to be what you say: soft porn for people with poor imaginations.

  • a fan writes on the hot topic:
    Your comment on genres sounds precariously like a vote for censorship. And the comment on slash seems gratuitous, as I know of only two slash stories, one of which was written for another fandom. In this fandom, I think we respect Mr. Carpenter's wish for no slash, but I also think that Philip Mark is presented as gay, so slash does exist in the ROS universe. As for the men and women who like slash, again: if you don't, don't read it. Many fans loathe it, many love it. Most of both sides are nice people, and can't each be allowed to read or to read what they choose? I think it's fine if you personally find slash revolting, but I also think it's fine if adult people want to read it. Again, if you don't like it, don't read it.

  • a fan writes a letter that sums up a lot of comments in this issue regarding a letter in the previous issue regarding the character of Tuck and religion:
    I enjoyed your discussion of Guy's character, and mostly agree, but am I wrong in thinking his reaction to the wolves of Fenris was cowardly, particularly in contrast to the Sheriff's response? Guy turned immediately upon threat of death. The Sheriff basically spat in their faces, even though he knew he was headed for an unpleasant death. On the negative side, unfortunately in tune with most of this letter, your letter is awfully negative, and I'm very uncomfortable with your observations about Tuck's role in fanfic, not because you're not making a valid point, but because you seem to be presenting your opinion as fact. I don't think Tuck turned pagan, either, but is a fan writer not allowed to explore this possibility? I'm also tempted to say: I'd like to take you on about In the Shadow of the Wheel, but from what I've heard, [names redacted] are going to do a better job. Does that sound as argumentative to you as your statement did to me? Your remark about causing trouble makes me think you want to bash people over the head with your opinion, instead of inviting them to see an alternate viewpoint and change their opinions. Arguing to cause trouble isn't too much fun to read, while arguing to explain and advance a new view point is fascinating. That's my opinion. And by all means, write your stories if you can't find what you like in fanfic. Write them even if you can! I want to read them. Despite what you probably think, I don't want to be your enemy (or [name redacted]). But in this presentation of your arguments, you run the risk of others viewing them as mere polemic, splitting fandom down the middle into those for you or against.

Issue 6

Hernes's Stepchildren 6 was published in January 1991 and contains 30 pages.

front cover of issue #6
back cover of issue #6, two fans at Herne's Con
  • Letters (3)
  • Wolf's Head, poem by Gail Molnar (17)
  • So You Want a Wedding? Okay, story by Gini L. Hefty (18)
  • Robin Hood and the Stranger, conclusion, story by Nancy Hutchins and Judith Covington (21)
  • the centerfold is a copy of the cover of a 1988 book by Donald Carrick called "Harald and the Great Stag"
  • this issue has a handful of black and white photos taken at Visions '90
  • a fan comments that the prevalence with get 'ems in fan fic only reflected aired canon 1960s shows: Dr. Who and such
  • the editor writes: "Issue 6, supposed to be November 1990 and now it's January 1991, go figure"
  • a fan is skeptical:
    You really thought Philip Mark was gay? I thought he was ruthless, arrogant, egotistical, and cunning, but there didn't seem to be any obvious sign of sexual preferences (unless I completely missed something). My feeling is with guys like deRainault, Mark, and to a lesser extent Gisbourne, are only interested in money and power. They seem to regard any personal relationship as more a nuisance than anything.

  • the fan who wrote the letter criticizing the writing of fanfic (calling it plagiarism) says she is relieved to hear Kip Carpenter is "no problem with fans using his characters" and that:
    All of you raised points that gave me something to think about. For the truly irate, I'd like 'yall to think about this: it's no heresy to question the purpose and worth of fanfiction. Perhaps if you been in the fandom a long time, it's easy to forget that some of us who are relatively new or run on the fringes of fandom find some of its aspects puzzling. For myself, it is precisely because writing good fiction is so hard that I wanted to know why so many people put so much time and effort into fan fiction, a point where my brain kicks in and says, 'It's just a TV show!' Anyway, if it's any consolation, you guys care about loving fanfic a lot more than I care about hating it.

Issue 7

Hernes's Stepchildren 7 was published in March ("really April, who do we think we're kidding") 1991 and contains 32 pages. The front cover is uncredited, the back is a list of subscribers.

front cover of issue #7, uncredited
  • there are 84 subscriber addresses listed
  • Letters of Comment (3)
  • On Writing Robin Hood (from "The Outlaws of Sherwood") by Robin McKinley (20)
  • The Morning After (a bawdy piece, read at your own risk) by Lady Anonymous (22)
  • Zine Review: Peers of the Realm, see that page (22)
  • Should Have Taken that Left Turn at Odessa (a -- well, see for yourself, and let us know what you think) by Alma Weisswald (26)
  • a fan writes that she enjoys Robin of Sherwood fandom (also Beauty and the Beast and Twin Peaks) but that she doesn't go to conventions due to time constraints, and that "I tend toward solitary fandom due to some horrific experiences with internal squabbles with clubs."
  • another fan says the character Mark is gay because the actor said so at Scorpio
  • fans write in with complaints about what they've seen and heard about the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie: Costner's too American, Morgan Freeman too black (and is called a Moor, "for lack of imagination"), the movie is too Hollywood, Costner is dressed in too much leather...
  • many fans agree that writing fan fiction is a step towards writing pro fiction, "training wheels" of sorts
  • a fan attempts to explain slash:
    ... slash exists in many universes, in fan-written stories. But the inclusion of a homosexual character in one episode of RoS does not mean that slash exists in the series. For one thing, I doubt Richard Carpenter even knew about the phenomenon when he was writing the series. And by definition, slash refers to a same-sex physical relationship between two major characters in a given genre. The term slash comes from the / mark between the initials of such characters, as in K/S from Star Trek.

  • a fan explains why she thinks a character on the show was gay:
    What you might have missed was somewhat subtle and understated—at least I thought so, but it was there. The presence of the young, handsome pageboys in Mark's retinue, the proprietary gestures he used towards Guy and Robin, ann most telling of all, the insult hurled at him by Robert de Rainault. However, the term "catamite" does not strictly apply to Philip Mark, as it more accurately describes the use he might get out of his page boys. Then again, that would double the insult value. The word "posturing" is a good description of how Lewis Collins played the character. You could probably add sadistic to his last of traits, to the extent that he enjoyed having pain inflicted on others, though not to the point of dirtying his own hands doing it. The words obsessive and compulsive ("I must wash") could also apply.

  • another fan debates the gayness of Philip Mark:
    Nancy (re Joan's Philip Mark being gay): I don't know how Joan will respond, but I have always believed he engaged in homosexual acts (remember that being a homosexual was a late nineteenth century invention. Before that, there were just people who did things with their own sex). I base this belief on the scene when Mark finally throws DeRainault out of Nottingham—the thing that sets him off is the ex-Sheriff's comment that he is, "a posturing catamite." Catamite was a medieval (and earlier) term for someone who engages in sodomy. DeRainault might simply be insulting Mark, but in every other episode, the Sheriff has chosen to insult intelligence rather than sexuality. And Mark's response leads me to believe that there was something besides nastiness behind the insult. Not to mention the worried look Guy gets when Mark pats his hand and says, "You're mine now."

  • more on Mark's sexual preferences:
    Er, well, I agree with your comment that de Rainault is more interested in power than sex (although I do think he dislikes women) but yes, I'm afraid I do think you missed something as regards the sexual preference of Philip Mark. There is the use of the word "catamite',' there are his actions towards Guy (I find it annoying in Pros fandom when someone tells me that the characters are obviously gay in the series because of an interpretation only that fan sees, but Mark really did indicate he found Guy attractive—and I'd love to know what's going on in Guy's head during this episode), and I also heard one of the actors involved say Mark was gay when asked about a certain ring. I do think Mark's sexual preference is a "given."

  • about fan fiction as being only one part of fandom, it is:
    ... only one aspect. Since I've started watching Robin of Sherwood, I've developed a real interest in medieval history and culture, archery, and costuming... I've made lots of good friends and acquired numerous pen pals... I've even been inspired to dust off my sketchbooks and pencils and attempt some drawing for the first time in six years. So, I've personally benefited a lot from being involved in fandom... Fandom doesn't begin and end with 'zines.

  • on the acceptability of fan fiction:
    This fan thinks if Mr. Carpenter (or Marion Zimmer Bradley, George Lucas, etc.) says it's okay for me to play in his garden, then my conscience is clear. I just don't see how it can be plagiarism to write in someone else's universe with permission and with the original creator being given full credit. What's the difference between we who write RoS fanfic with permission and the authors who write shelves full of Star Trek books or John Gardner and his best-selling James Bond books except they get paid? Also, I think Star Trek fans are the most literate in fandom—only because there are more of them.

  • and the age-old fannish topic of feedback: where, when, how --
    The problem with commenting on fan-fic in a letter-zine comes when people name names and hurt feelings. It is a total breach of fan etiquette. Comments should always be constructive and sent to the fan directly or the 'zine editor as a LoC. It's fine to discuss trends, styles, genres, etc. in general. The problem is what happened in Issues 4&5. You make an interesting point about praise being okay but criticism not. Yes, but people do this as a hobby. They put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. It's too personal to rip their work apart "in public." On the other hand, all of us insecure 'zine contributors need praise wherever we can get it. It's just like on the job. It's okay for a boss to say, "Good job, Carol!" in front of the rest of the crew. But if he wants to bawl you out, he should take you into a private room to do it.

Issue 8

Hernes's Stepchildren 8 is not dated though the editor calls it "post-con" (1991?). It contains about 25 pages. The front cover is by Scavella, the back cover is blank.

front cover of issue #8, Scavella
  • Letters (4)
  • Beginnings Endings by Gail Molnar (poem)
  • Marion at Huntingdon by Carol Burrell and Gini Hefty (filk)
  • Terry Walsh's Blues by Lady Anonymous (poem)
  • Robin-in-the-Hood by Julinda Watson (poem)
  • ads start at page 19
  • there are 80 subscribers listed
  • there is a review of the Costner Robin Hood movie: "It's too-stupid-to-live in laces, hilariously inept in others, anachronistic, overacted, underacted -- and actually emotionally involving from time to time.... It's a shame the movie had just about nothing to do with Robin Hood, but you can't expect miracles."
  • the letters are slim in this issue, and mostly talk about Robin Hood history

Issue 9

Hernes's Stepchildren 9 is undated (1992) and contains 22 pages. The front cover is by S. Foley, the back is a list of subscribers.

front cover of issue #9, S. Foley
  • the editor calls it the "Second Annual Too-Late-For-Anything-But-The-Second-Anniversary-Of-The-Founding-Of-Rome Issue" and thanks "all the folks who have been so supportive during the various crises, and thanks to all for being a shield against the villains and the not-very-nice-people of the world"
  • there are 82 subscribers
  • fans discuss Robin Hood history, discuss episodes, and complain about the inaccuracies of the Costner movie, "Prince of Thieves"
  • there is some discussion about fan writers remaining fan writers rather than going pro: "For some people, like me, when you HAVE to do something, no matter what it is, it's not fun any more. Depends on the person, but it's not always a good idea to turn your hobby into your business"
  • another fan comments on going pro:
    I'm a refugee from pro writing myself. For years I've been writing and marketing stories and novels. I got as far as one story sale and one novel placed with an agent, (a big accomplishment in itself.) Still no luck. After my novel got bounced for the final time (instant depression) I got an acceptance from a RoS fanzine. (Instant joy! This probably saved my sanity.) This brought the truth home to me in graphic way: There are lots of good writers out there, and not nearly enough pro markets to accommodate them all. The competition is fierce for the attention of bored and overworked editors. Contrast that with the fan markets, where there is an eager audience for your stuff—even if your talents are not up to the standards of a Tolkien or a Bradley. So why beat your head against a wall and collect rejection slips, when you can be published in a glorious fanzine like Albion? For all but a very few, fan fiction holds far greater rewards than pro writing. For years my pro writing friends have been looking down their noses at fan writing. Well, I'm astounded at the quality of the writing I've seen in RoS fanzines. Not only that but there seems to be a very large proportion of writers in RoS fandom. Am I wrong? I also wonder how many of you writers have also done/attempted pro fiction.

  • a fan answers another fan's question about fanon vs. canon:
    The two of us, Caitlin Sebastian and I [Julianne Toomey], are responsible for the "forest magic" to which you referred. You're right. You never heard the term in the series. Fan writers made it up. I'm not sure who was the first person to use it, but I've used it in my writing and Caitlin and I made it central to the story to which you referred: "Walk in Soul" in Apocryphal Albion 2. Our tale was intended to be apocryphal—and it was extremely apocryphal! We wrote it at 3 a.m. in the first flush of good times and discovering that there really was another person in the state of Massachusetts who enjoyed this show. (Just goes to show how time can change things.) We had a great deal of fun incorporating fantasy elements into the story. Please don't think it's canon! It ain't!

Issue 10

Hernes's Stepchildren 10 was published in Solstice (June) 1992 and contains 28 pages. The front cover is uncredited, the back is a list of subscribers.

front cover of issue #10, uncredited
  • there are 87 subscribers listed
  • Convention and Zine Listings (2, 25-27)
  • Letters (10)
  • Miscellaneous Missals (21)
  • Clippings & Stuff (24-28
  • Members & Addresses (28)
  • the editor writes: "To make up for our previously pathetic publication schedule, we've extended subscriptions by a couple of issues. Of course, we'd like everybody to sign up for another year! Thank you to all who've already renewed -- Herne Protect!" -- the editor lists the next four issues' publication dates, but there is a pretty good possibility that issue #10 was the last issue
  • this issue has much discussion about "what makes Robert tick?"
  • a flyer for the third annual Alan-A-Dale Bad Ballad Bonanza & Free Verse Freestyle contest, results were to be published in the next issue of Herne's Stepchildren
  • this issue has a full-page flyer announcing the sale of the four-hour video tape of Son of Herne's Con, see that page

Possible Issues

In issue #10, the editor proposes these future issues, though it is likely they never got off the ground.

  • Hernes's Stepchildren 11 right after Weekend in Sherwood which that year was in July.
  • Hernes's Stepchildren 12 October 1992.
  • Hernes's Stepchildren 13 Dec/Jan 1993.


  1. ^ A minor miracle must have partially occurred, as the zine is folded, though is secured only by a single staple.