Reminisce With Me/Making Contact

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The following represents the 2008 fannish memories of Nancy Kippax, which she recorded on LJ in the last months of her life. Permission to archive these memories has been granted to Fanlore by April Valentine.

Mar. 19th, 2008
It turned out that "Contact" was to be our gilt engraved invitation into this baby fandom that was just getting its legs out from under it. The best and brightest of what Kirk-Spock fans wanted had been our initial goal, and it was fulfilled in spades over the next few years. We aimed our first issue for December 1975, but a lot would happen in our insular world before that date.
After we complied with Sondra Marshak's demands, Carol F. called Bev and asked if she knew that Nimoy was appearing over at the University of Maryland, and would we be interested in going to see him. Would we?! We made plans to meet with her and some friends on the Saturday of Nimoy's talk. As I recall it, Leonard cancelled and we never did get to see him, but we met members of the M.A.S.T, (Metro Area Star Trek) [1] club from Washington, DC and its environs, and Carol F. These were people who were actively involved in fandom, and we felt like the greenhorns we were. M.A.S.T., under the editorship of Carol Lee, was already publishing the fanzine Rigel. But they were nice, and welcomed us with open arms. Carol F. said she might be able to push some submissions along to us for our zine, and seemed genuinely delighted to hear what we were planning.
Not too much later, we received a vignette (kind of an obsolete term now, it once denoted a Ficlet, or a very brief but insightful story, usually under ten pages long) written by none other than Connie Faddis (who was both a writer and illustrator we admired greatly), with a note from Carol saying "This might be too dark for your zine, but I thought you might be able to give it a home." Could we? Would we? You bet! It was a three-page zinger called "De Profundis", now a classic in its genre. It was a simple scene of amazing poignancy. I have to admit, all these years later, that it did give us pause, because it seems that I had written another very dark piece, and we feared the zine would look too maudlin! Oh, how we laughed over that in time to come, over the idea of actually turning down a Faddis story, and over the concept of our zine being rejected for its ominous themes!
A word or two here about pronunciation. The term "zine", short for "fanzine" is pronounced zeen correct? Well, for some inexplicable reason, Bev and I called it zigh-n, as if to rhyme with "sign". Another mispronunciation we made was the term for the illustrations used in a book. In the beginning, we called them "illio-s" instead of "illos" for some unfathomable reason. Both these mistakes we quickly corrected, or had corrected for us! Both were the topic of much self-deprecating humor for some time to come.
Basically, we were operating in a vacuum, making things up as we went along. But that was okay, because so were a lot of others in those days. We learned about taking pre-orders and on how to produce and price our zine. Bev's husband, Russ, had a copy machine where he worked and would be able to print the copies for us in his spare time at no cost to us. We priced this first run of our first issue at a mere $2.00, cheap even in those days.
We had received a "word search" from a young male fan, which we'd accepted because originally we planned on having word puzzles and cartoons, an idea we ultimately scrapped. We decided to feature a running "Story Contest", in hopes of hooking prospective buyers. Bev had about a dozen of these little "openings" that she'd written just for fun, and we challenged readers to come up with the rest of the story in five pages or less. And then, there was our first installment of what we anticipated being our ever-running Star Trek soap opera, "Phase Two".
Russ was also our resident artist. With a talent for drawing, we dubbed him the official Contact illustrator. Besides, no one else had volunteered. I was the only one who could type, so it fell to me to do all the final copy. The pages were typed on my trusty old Royal portable, distinctive for its flying "n" key that printed above the line. It took only cloth ribbons, which tended to print somewhat blurred. Later, we would learn about carbon ribbons and the clarity of IBM Selectrics with their interchangeable balls.
I think we may have been one of the few zines in history that managed not only to meet their initial publishing deadline, but to actually be mailed out almost a month before our projected "December" 1975, Early in November, we gathered at Bev's to collate the 80-some pages of our first 50-copy run. "We" being all family members old enough to do the job, with Russ' mother showing us how it was done at the bindery where she had worked. Almost before it was mailed out, we had sold the 50 copies and were ready to reprint. That first run, though, was unique in one very curious way: Russ didn't know how to print on both sides of the page, so the finished product was single-sided with blank back sheets. By the reprint, he'd learned how to make it double-sided, so it was only those initial 50 copies printed like that. If you ever run across one, grab it up because it's a rarity!
By now we were corresponding with fans all around the globe. We had letters from people in Great Britain and Australia, as well as most states in the U.S. Closer and/or richer folk phoned to talk in person. Every day it seemed something new and exciting was happening, pulling us further and further away from our mundane lives.
I think I'm safe in saying that every one of us has experienced that special moment in this ultra-creative environment when we have known we were not alone. Star Trek Lives! called it "The Discovery Effect", and it electrified all of us to one degree or another.
What about you? Were you one of those earliest of fans, carving out a niche for yourself in this newfound association of those whose creative juices were primed by Star Trek? Or perhaps you came along later and followed a different path. I'd love to hear from you, to learn where life and fandom has led you. Please feel free to leave a detailed comment and touch bases with our shared heritage. Ask questions if there's anything you'd like for me to clarify or explain. The purpose of this journal is to create a bridge from the past to the present, to show how fandom was and how it has changed. Share with me, both the old and the new. . .

References

  1. this was actually "Maryland Association of Star Trek