Passages (Beauty and the Beast letterzine)

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Zine
Title: Passages
Publisher:
Editor(s): Karen Bates
Type: letterzine
Date(s): March 1988 to at August 1989
Frequency: monthly
Medium: print
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
Language: English
External Links:
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Passages (March 1988-1989) is a letterzine with eighteen issues. It hailed out of Nebraska, US and was the first letterzine devoted to the Beauty and the Beast universe.

Description from Datazine #54: "A forum for comments, critiques, discussion and exchange of ideas for anyone interested in The Beauty and the Beast universe."

The letterzine ceased just as fans were getting information that the last season was going to have a different direction and tone. These fans did not yet know the extent of these changes, and their optimism that TPTB would "do the right thing" was combined with their wariness. See the progression in the comments in individual issues. Also see Things Began to Heat Up: February 1989.

See List of Letterzines for similar fanworks.

The Attention of TPTB

The letterzine had the attention and support of TPTB.

In "Passages" #16/17 (July 1989), the editor wrote: "I would like to thank Mr. Roy Dotrice and Mr. George R.R. Martin for their gracious support of this publication. A thank you is so little in return for their timely gestures."

Ron Koslow was quoted in Pipeline v.2 n.8 (August 1989) about the show's retooling and different direction in the third season:
"This isn’t necessarily new news. Look at what happened last season. I’ve talked in some of my convention speeches about how glad we were to get away from the demand for action, and to be able to do straight character drama. But when we actually did that at the beginning of the 2nd season — “Passages,” “Once Upon a Time ...Is Now,” and the various other letterzines were full of letters from the fans complaining that something was missing from the show. And when we returned to that in “The Outsiders” and for the rest of the season, there seemed to be a great groundswell of happiness from the fans. So I don’t know, in some ways what the network wants and what the fans want might not be too far apart.”

The Issues

See these subpages for details about individual issues, including quoted opinions and summaries of fannish views on topics current then, and now.

Passages (Beauty and the Beast letterzine) Issues
Issues 001-002 Issues 003-004 Issues 005-006 Issues 007-008
Issues 009-010 Issues 011-012 Issues 013-015 Issues 016-018

Editor's Note: October 1988

From issue #6:

An editor's note about "Passages": This publication is independently edited and published by me and is not associated with any organization, club or publication. It is the intention of this editor to provide a neutral forum for the expression of ideas and opinions about all aspects of "Beauty and the Beast."

"Passages" will never dictate decisions or editorial policies to any other organization, club or publication and it is the wish of this editor that the same consideration will be reciprocated.

It is hoped that others will not claim participation where there is none. Each publication is a separate entity and should be respected as such.

Some General Fan Comments

Bravo! My heartfelt thanks to "Passages" for giving us a place to exchange viewpoints. [1]
What a joy "Passages" is! Being able to read the ideas and visions of other fans makes me feel like I'm part of a special community family even if I don't live below. [2]
With "Passages", I am able to feel part of a special event that is starting to blossom! Without the information from your zine and other fandom literature, I would not feel a special part of the Beauty and the Beast extended family. [3]
What fun! A place where one can say their mind on our favorite subject. [4]
I want to thank Karen for "Passages." It is a most enjoyable and informative forum. It's like a full mailbox all at once. [5]
Thank you for a forum to discuss Beauty and the Beast. Letterzines and fan clubs are so important in a world where so many people do not understand the attraction of the premise of B&B, or simply dismiss the show as ridiculous (like the television critic at my local newspaper). [6]
Congratulations" to all for "Passages." It is a first class publication and if CBS, stars, staff and crew of Beauty and the Beast have not seen it, they definitely should. [7]
Hello fellow "Passages" readers. It's great to hear all of these voices (pens) speaking their opinions on this great series. It's like a party line for B&B fans! [8]
I'd like to compliment you on "Passages." I consider it the finest B&B publication, and it's monthly yet! You certainly helped me get through the long HOT summer. [9]
I must say that I am both surprised and delighted with Passages. I had assumed that it would take a long time for a following, of what I find to be an incredibly good TV series, to get started. [10]
I am so happy to find you, "Passages." I live in an isolated part of the Rocky Mountains and also have a chronic illness that makes traveling difficult, so an opportunity to discuss Beauty and the Beast is rather rare — although my soulmate husband is also an enthusiastic fan! v from issue #7 (November 1988) </ref>
Yes, yes, yes! Renew my subscription to "Passages"! I received the first six issues in one day and O.D. on B&B letters, discussions, cons, and the spirit of sharing contained in every issue. [11]
Thank you!" for publishing "Passages." I just love having the luxury of the meeting of minds with fans of like disposition. [12]
I have been a loyal fan of B&B since the very first show, I am new to fandom, and for a long time I felt as though I was a little "crazy" for being so moved by, and so involved in, this show. Then, happily, I discovered (quite by accident) another fan in Oklahoma who is at least as "crazy" as I. God bless her; she told me about Helper's Network which led me to "Passages." Now I know that the followers of B&B are everywhere, and that there is a forum for us to express our feelings about the show. [13]

Some Specific Topics Discussed

  • there was much discussion about how viewers and fans were treated by showrunners and TPTB regarding the show's plotting, characterizations, and threats of cancellation. (Note: George R.R. Martin addressed some of what he saw as the realities of these things two years later in an interview in Starlog and in 1992's Lionheart Exclusive Interview: George R.R. Martin.)
  • while many fans were satisfied with the show, many fans expressed their unhappiness in the direction the show was going in terms of plotting and characterization; these fans in turn were told to tone down their criticisms as, 1) they should be grateful for what they had, 2) even at its worst, the show was better than other things on television, 3) if TPTB heard about these opinions, they might have their feelings hurt and take it out on the creative elements of the show
  • there were many retyped reprints of articles from newspapers and magazines in this newsletter, and fans commented upon them; the article that garnered the most comments (all of them outraged) was one by John Lofton called Strangest beast that he ever saw... on TV; one fan described Roy Dotrice reading this article aloud at a convention in early 1989
  • general indignation at how the show is discussed by reporters and reviewers
  • the appeal of the show, the appeal of Vincent Wells, and to a lesser extent, the appeal of Linda Hamilton
  • the writers' strike that affected this (and many other shows)
  • the show's shift in which night it was shown
  • MUCH detailed discussion of episodes
  • the interruption by news announcer, Dan Rather, during a show which frustrated many fans
  • the pursuit, use, and joy of VCRs and fans' new-found power to control their viewing in this way
  • various encouragement by fans to voice their opinions to TPTB
  • a growing unease about the possibility of the show being taken off the air
  • while none of the letters criticized Linda Hamilton/Catherine Chandler, there were allusions to this happening elsewhere; one fan wrote: "Catherine-bashers beware! Vincent would slash you if he knew what you said about his girl!"
  • discussion about the literate, intelligent content of the show appealing to literate, intelligent fans and why this was an anomaly in other television shows that were vapid, cheap, full of violence, full of explicit sex
  • discussion about how the show had been deemed a "women's show" and did that fact hinder it?
  • there were some very detailed and lengthy descriptions of visiting and observing the show being filmed, of meeting the actors at conventions, at publicity events, and other venues
  • fans were quite open in how the show made them feel: 1) less lonely, 2) accepted for who they are, 3) how they'd never felt that way about another show
  • some fans discussed their faith and what they felt to be the Christianity of the show, with a few comparing Vincent to Jesus
  • fans often criticized other shows on television for their vapidness, violence, and excessive attention to sex
  • two big topics, 1) was Vincent a man or a beast, 2) would Vincent and Catherine share an intimate kiss, and possibly more -- and were the writers and PTB avoiding this intimacy due to pressure from the network and general society due to issues of perceived bestiality?
  • there was much discussion about the power of the Neilson Ratings, about power of sponsors, and for some fans, a dawning realization that viewers of shows were mostly valued as consumers
  • did Vincent have a tail?

Things Began to Heat Up: February 1989

For more on this topic, see Beauty and the Beast Fans and TPTB.

Up until early 1989, fans' comments in in earlier issues had been almost universally appreciative and generous in their praise of the show. Criticisms were moderate and stated in fairly non-inflammatory ways.

But fans were beginning to become wary of the direction the show was going. The writers' strike didn't help things, the poor reception of the show in dismissive reviews made them angry, and fans were getting contradictory messages from TPTB regarding plot and characterization.

Many letters by fans expressed fear that the show they'd come to rely on and identify with was going to either change, or not return to the screen.

Fans' comments included statements about writing letters, about "storming" network offices, and other actions.

In February 1989, the editor of "Passages" included an editorial in issue #10, something she had not done before.

Although it is new, Beauty and the Beast fandom has, like every fandom, generated its own self-appointed arbiters of both studio and fans. These few voices, strident in their endeavors to dictate and control, have caused untold damage to everyone. Fandom is not just a few voices, it is a choir; important as individual parts, harmonious as a whole.

A mere handful of fans have, unfortunately, obtained information from the studio, through various means, and distribute it, in a rippling effect, to other fans. Regrettably, the vicious personal letters, sent to the studio, spawned by this rumor mill, have caused great damage, not only to the show, but to the majority of fans who weren't even involved in the rumor chain.

Everyone has the right to an opinion, but with that privilege comes the responsibility to use it prudently. Fandom cannot exist in a gray limbo of rumor and innuendo. It needs black and white facts which are immutable, or at least can generate intelligent discussion. Shifting sands of half-truths and unsubstantiated stories cannot support fandom, it must have a solid core of truth to survive and be effective.

In light of this, I wish to publicly refute the intimation that "Passages" is involved in this rumor network. "Passages" was created, by me, for the "reciprocation of information and opinions" about Beauty and the Beast. It will remain a monthly forum for the exchange of honest letters of opinion, be they positive or negative. Without opposing views, fandom would become stagnant.

There can be no excuse for the behavior which has perpetrated this serious dilemma. Inaccurate information was disseminated by those in search of glory, and swallowed by the unsuspecting.

The studio has the right to maintain the freshness of their material, in my opinion. We, as fans, have the right to tell them how we feel about it after it has been aired.

As a strong supporter of Beauty and the Beast, I urge everyone to write positive, encouraging letters to CBS, the studio, even the sponsors. The very real danger of cancellation looms before us. Don't allow the actions of the few to destroy this wonderful show for all through their thoughtless and irresponsible behavior.

August 1989: The End of the Road

From the editor in the last issue:

I wish to thank my staff, Jeanne, Liz and Jane for their many hours of helping me meet the publishing deadlines each month. A special thank you also to my parents for the last minute proof-reading of many issues. Without these people, the labor of proofing, collating and mailing could never have been accomplished. I would like to thank Teri Meyer for her continued support and wisdom these many months. Having experienced the tremendous effort it requires to produce a letterzine each month singled-handedly, I have only the highest regard for her twelve years of doing the Star Trek letterzine, Interstat.

In response to those who have written asking to continue "Passages," thank you, but no. I created it and have no desire to give it to anyone. To those offering their help in an effort to continue it: I appreciate the gesture greatly, but it is logistically unfeasible to accept.

It has come to my attention there has been considerable speculation concerning my reasons for discontinuing "Passages." By nature a private person, it is with difficulty I write this personal statement, but I wish to set the record straight. Since May of 1988, I have written and/or published eight fanzines ("Star Trek" and "Beauty and the Beast"), besides doing "Passages" each month. This amount of publishing in addition to two jobs and going to graduate school has proven too much. I need a rest, and I need time to prepare my recital. Unlike the tunnel musicians, I require time and energy to learn the Shostakovich [sic] Cello Concerto...

Doing "Passages" has been an enjoyable experience, one I shall never forget. There are so many genuinely nice people in this fandom, too numerous to mention by name — I shall regret their loss from my life.

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful support and terrific letters each month. "Passages" has grown from a nine-page first issue (May 1988) to ones ranging from 25 to 37 pages each month. The letters were so articulate and delightful every month, it was a joy to open my mail daily in anticipation of what I would find. I will miss each of you, and wish everyone continued success and happiness.

Goodbye.

References

  1. ^ from issue #2 (June 1988)
  2. ^ from issue #3 (July 1988)
  3. ^ from issue #5 (September 1988)
  4. ^ from issue #5 (September 1988)
  5. ^ from issue #5 (September 1988)
  6. ^ from issue #5 (September 1988)
  7. ^ from issue #5 (September 1988)
  8. ^ from issue #6 (October 1988)
  9. ^ from issue #6 (October 1988)
  10. ^ from issue #6 (October 1988)
  11. ^ from issue #8 (December 1988)
  12. ^ from issue #9 (January 1989)
  13. ^ from issue #15 (June 1989)