Open Letter by Vel Jaeger Regarding "Alien Brothers"
|Title:||no official title|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The 100th issue of Interstat contained an open letter by Helena Seabright, the editor of the zine Alien Brothers. In it, she explained the difficult time she has had with some fans regarding the production of her zine. For the text of this letter and fans' reaction to it, see Open Letter by Helena Seabright Regarding "Alien Brothers"
The Text of Vel's Letter
This is in response to the letter by Helena Seabright which appeared in INTERSTAT #100 — I am the "California artist" referred to so obliquely... and I cannot in any conscience allow INTERSTAT readers to be so inundated by Ms. Seabright's tidal wave of what is, in my opinion, incredible paranoia. It has been my experience during the ten years that I have been an active Trek fan that no one is out to "get" anyone, there is plenty of room for new editors, and that most of Ms. Seabright's troubles are — again, in my opinion — entirely of her own making. I must ask the indulgence of the readership in allowing me to describe my communications with Ms. Seabright, and let them judge for themselves where the fault, if there is indeed any, lies.
Way back in November of 1984 I found I had some spare time for contributing to zines again, and sent out a half-dozen or so inquiries for commissions, mostly to new editors/zines — among them Helena Seabright's ALIEN BROTHERS. I heard nothing in reply until January of 1985, when Ms. Seabright wrote the following: "I would have been glad to ask you for a piece or two/three of art, but after reading your letter in UT [a reference to my statement regarding the infamous NAKED DOUBLES flyer, I have decided against it. I simply do not want to get involved in this sort of thing, fan factions, rumors, character assassination — all the sorts of things that make fandom less than acceptable. I do not want to take sides, which I would be forced to do eventually if I allowed this to have anything to do with ALIEN BROTHERS. And I don't want to be forced to deal with something so very unprofessional, with fans who would involve me in this." Well, after I put my eyes back in their sockets and picked my teeth up from the floor — and cooled off for two weeks—I wrote back that "I find it intriguing to be placed in the role of character assassin, being one of the victims of the NAKED DOUBLES flyer. Or perhaps, from your lofty view above all us petty montrels, you've somehow managed to escape that bit of yellow journalism..." and I'm afraid I continued pretty much in that smartass vein. To my surprise, Ms. Seabright wrote back, beginning her letter with, "Thank you for your offer of artwork, but I really must decline. I am looking for versatile, flexible, and stylish artists, capable of doing a variety of things well — artists with whom I can work comfortably, with a minimum of strife and misunderstandings. You simply do not qualify." I re-read my original response, to make sure we were really discussing the same correspondence, and concluded that we would never communicate on the same wavelength — nor did I care to.
Now comes the vast conspiracy — I freely admit to making a few photocopies of my correspondence with Ms. Seabright, and including those copies with correspondence with at least 3 or 4 other editors (who didn't find me impossible to work with) — with the verbose comment, "Do you believe this?!!" I then dropped the topic, and forgot all about it. If that constitutes a campaign to utterly destroy the fruits of Ms. Seabright's editorial labors, then get out the wet noodle and start lashing, for I am surely guilty as sin. I did see copies of some letters written to Ms. Seabright by some of my friends and colleagues, as fandom is like a big family that shares their activities — I did not, however, instigate any of them; I save my letter campaigns for Paramount.
Imagine my confusion then, when nine months later in December, 1985, I received an incredibly abusive letter from Ms. Seabright, accusing me of "...circulating destructive rumors about myself and my zine, ALIEN BROTHERS. I expect to hear from you immediately that you will cease and desist in this behavior, otherwise I intend to publish letters about this situation in NTS and UT, etc.," and "Whether the rumor comes from you personally or from [insert here the "writer in Poway, CA"] and all your friends I expect you to do something about it, since it was apparently our correspondence which sparked the situation. I really don't want to have to drag everyone's name through the mud in a 'personal statement' in the letterzines. So I hope to hear from you within the next few days that you are taking action about these rumors." And then, "These rumors must stop immediately. And I want you and your friends to write to Caro Hedge and apologize for misinforming her. If I do not hear that you have taken action on this, then I must. It won't look very good for you and your friends if I do." Ms. Seabright then concluded with the offer " — in return for your cooperation, I would be willing to consider publishing some of your artwork in ALIEN BROTHERS." In a pig's eye, lady!
Now I was thoroughly lost — true, I know Caro Hedge, having done some art for her SUBLIGHT READING 2 some years ago. But our fannish paths had taken us in different directions, and I hadn't had any contact with her in ages. Was I being accused of vindictive telepathy? My response was the same that I give to any ultimatum: I ignored it. During the time that Ms. Seabright has me armpit deep in conspiracy, I was totally involved in getting assorted TREKisM AT LENGTH issues to print, working and/or attending school, all while staring a cross-country move in the face. I didn't have time for such juvenile behavior — much less the inclination.
Now that everyone is thoroughly bored with this recitation, I leave it to you readers to draw your own conclusions. I don't have the slightest interest in taking Ms. Seabright to court — I wouldn't waste the money on an attorney. From both sides of publishing, as an editor and as a contributor, I have always treated my fellow fans with the dignity and respect they deserve — but when I'm slimed, I don't turn the other cheek. Not very Christian, perhaps, but then I've never claimed to be applying for sainthood. And as to Ms. Seabright's judgment of my artistic skills, she's entitled to her opinion. I learned long ago that illustration is a most subjective medium — were I to attack every editor who rejected my work, I'd be a very lonely person. Besides, I draw for my own pleasure — contributor's copies are the byproduct — and am well aware of my weaknesses. More than anything, that has been the benefit of finally being able to study art formally: learning to work within my limitations.I must have had a premonition that I had not heard the last of Ms. Seabright, as I saved all the correspondence, and will send copies of all four letters from which I have quoted to anyone who has nothing better to read and is interested. One final word, since Ms. Seabright is so concerned with moral issues — where is the ethic that allows you to reveal Caro Hedge's pseudonym in a publication for all to see? Where is your respect for her privacy? Look to your own house, Ms. Seabright.