Jani Hicks

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Fan
Name: Jani Hicks
Alias(es):
Type: fan writer, fanzine editor and publisher
Fandoms: Star Wars, Darkover, Hill Street Blues
Communities:
Other:
URL:
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Jani Hicks was a gen Star Wars writer. She published the zines Twin Suns and Thunderbolt under the press D'Ego-Boo Press.

After the Lucasfilm ban on adult themed Star Wars fan fiction in 1981, Jani announced she would be ceasing publishing Star Wars zines:
Due to the move by Lucasfilm to attempt prior restraint and censorship of Star Wars fanzines, I will not be publishing, editing, writing, illustrating, or buy any professional or amateur Star Wars products after the appearance of Twin Suns 3 in May of 1982. [1]

In an ad in Datazine #19 (April-June 1982), she asked for submissions for a Hill Street Blues zine she was planning, called "On the Hill."

In 1982, she was nominated for a FanQ award and submitted the following bio to The Annual Fan Q Awards Nominations Booklet:
My first convention was 2'Con, and I started TwinS shortly after that. I've been published as a writer in most of the 'old' SWs 'zines and 'zines printing SWs (FF, MET, WS, TIME WARP, GUARDIAN, etc.) and if I haven't hit the 'newer' SWs 'zines it's because I've been too busy the last two years finishing my baccalaureate degree in nursing... I am a Harrison Ford fan but not a Fordie (I don't care how he knots his sox), and minimally involved in Darkover fandom. I'm also a Pagan in process of coming out of the broom closet. Last year I said that TwinS' distinction was that it came out early; TwinS 2 was only six months late. *sigh* I'm nothing if not inconsistent. Doing a 'zine is fun but I'm emphatically not only in fandom for the beer -- I expect to learn something here and do something worthwhile."

In 1983, a Puzzle

In 1983 and 1984, Jani ceased communication in fandom, causing many fans to question where the zines they had paid for were.

letter sent to Southern Enclave, click to read

One example of a personal statement in 1984: When I wrote to her she responded by saying the copies were $15.00 each FC. I sent her a check for $30.00 in August of 1983 and have yet to hear one word out of her. I wrote to Jani in October, 1983 (enclosing an SASE) and asked her if there was some problem with the processing of my order —she never replied. I wrote to her again several weeks ago and again there has been no reply. The only conclusion I can reach is that [Jani H] has, in effect, stolen $30.00 from me. I would advise everyone to stear clear of her offer. [2]

When a fan, Ann W, wrote a letter to Universal Translator #22 complaining that she had sent Hicks $30 for two zines which she had never received, she got a letter from Hicks' "estate" instead. This fan passed the letter onto Southern Enclave #4 which printed it in full. The letter:
Since October, 1983, I have been handling the affairs of Sara J. Hicks, who is no longer among us. Among her papers were a number of threatening letters from persons whom she had allegedly defrauded regarding reprints of her defunct fanzine. Her financial affairs are still nothing short of chaotic, and as of now her resources are completely nil. However, recently I have again received letters addressed to her containing such things as threats to involve the postal authorities over the ASTRONOMICAL amount of thirty dollars; and I have therefore resolved to restore to those who have been So Damanged their Stellar Losses from MY own meager pocketbook in order to uphold my circle sister's good name. I certainly hope that those penurious folk who drove Jane to such drastic action can live with the consequences of their deeds INCLUDING those in the fandom she loved so well, and which bankrupted her so thoroughly, both financially and emotionally. I wish you good health and peace of mind. /s/ M. J. Barrowman-Harper [hand-written postscript] Your letter threatening action "within 10 days" was undated. Defamation of character can be a devastatingly expensive tort. With people like you, I can almost understand what she did.
The editor of Southern Enclave commented on the above letter from "M. J. Barrowman-Harper":
Ann was understandably upset by this ugly and enigmatic letter. A check from M. J. Barrowman-Harper was enclosed with the notation in the comment space "For Blackmail." Taking this letter on the surface, it seems to say that Jani committed suicide, and yet it also seems to circle ali around that statement without actually saying it, as if it meant for people to take that meaning. Does anyone have any information about Jani Hicks?? I am frankly quite puzzled by it all. Taking it on the surface, I am quite distressed by an apparent death, but on second thought I tend to think less charitable thoughts, like someone choose this rather bizarre way of skipping debts. The note is certainly hostile and threatening in itself and Ann points out that it is interesting that polite inquiries brought no response at all from the person above, and only a threat to turn Jani in for mail fraud, a federal offense, got a reply. Please, please—let me hear from anybody out there who has had a similar experience or who has some inside information on what has happened to Jani Hicks. [3]

Some fans speculated that this was quite possibly a case of pseudocide.

One fan wrote:
I have heard from several people, who seem to be in the position to know, that Jani Hicks and M. J. Barrowman-Harper are one and the same and that she/they are alive and well. Why Jani is passing herself off as having committed suicide and as acting as the executor of her own estate remains to be seen. I've passed more detailed information on to Ann as I've received it, but generally there seem to be a LOT of eyebrows raised in fandom about this whole charade.[4]
Another fan wrote:
The letter from M.J. Barrowman-Harper on Jani Hick's behalf was a truly fascinating example of both condescension and intimidation. All references to Jani were written in the present tense, so I don't believe that she is dead, it's a shame that her coven sister had to write for her and that Jani can no longer speak for herself. Whatever the case, sending threatening letters isn't going to cancel out the fact that she owes money and that it should be paid back anymore than the saccharine sweet letter from Ronnie Sacksteder is going to take the onus of what she is doing off her. Both have taken money from people who sent it to them in good faith. Since no zines have been forthcoming or are going to be forthcoming from either of them and many letters have been written to them asking and finally demanding the return of the money sent, then some nethod of getting that money back must be taken. if threatening legal go to it! [5]

The editors of Universal Translator #23 wrote in response to Hicks' letter that "We have reason to believe that Jani Hicks is alive and well and living in California."

References

  1. from a letter by Jani in an issue of Forum, also reported by Joan Verba in Boldly Writing
  2. from Scoundrel #3
  3. Southern Enclave #4/WebCite
  4. from Southern Enclave #5
  5. from Southern Enclave #5