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Title: Stylus
Editor(s): April Valentine, Margaret Delorenzo, Nancy Kippax & Bev Volker, and later, Carolyn Verino
Type: letterzine
Date(s): 1980-1982
Medium: print
Fandom: multimedia
External Links:
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Stylus is a gen letterzine by April Valentine. It was a discussion forum for fanzine editors on mechanics of editing, selecting, etc. The zine Blue Pencil was an attempt to pick up when "Stylus" ceased publication.

The Editorial in Issue 2

"We apologize for the delay in completing the second issue of Stylus, but it took this long to gather enough material. And therein lies the problem. ...We have almost decided to fill our obligations for three issues and then cease to exist."

From Boldly Writing: "This is precisely what they did. In the same editorial, they explained that although they received few contributions, they received a lot of support from subscribers... Meanwhile, Stylus made its best attempt to keep going, starting the issue with a list of suggested topics for articles. Articles in the issue covered topics such as editor/author relations, how to deal with criticism, and tips for writing fan poetry."

Issue 1

Stylus 1 was published in December 1980 and contains 26 pages.

front page of issue #1
  • Editorial (1)
  • Suggested Topics for Articles (2)
  • Issue of the Issue (3) (introduction, no actual question)
  • Amateur vs. Professional: Your Approach to Fanfiction by Bev Volker (4)
  • Hello, Is Anybody Out There? by Leslye Lilker (5) (the decline in LoCs: ("Once upon a time, in a world that seems far, far away, there were LoCs. For a few weeks after the zine's initial mailing, an editor had the joy (or heartbreak) of receiving reader comments... they were the feedback the editor (read 'author') required to judge the quality of his or her publication. Apparently, the LoCers are becoming a breed of readers who are threatened with extinction. The decline has been evident over the past five years. In 1975, I published my first issue of IDIC, sure that I would never sell at least half of the 60 copies, I, with great temerity, had dared to print. Fortunately, it was not so. The run sold out at the first con I attended. With with two weeks I had received approximately 25 LoCs... With their encouragement to continue, I dared to try another story, and a second issue, whole simultaneously reprinting the first. Again came the phenomenon of LoCs, all of which were encouraging; one of the best was two typed pages in length and criticized me (rightly so!) for scene breakdowns, poorly structured plot, absence of descriptions, and ineffective dialogue. (The the character I created, Sahaj, was acceptable. Everyone else stunk.) I had never received a critique of that depth before from anyone, and this was a BNF, a writer whose work I admired, a person who actually had her name on a professionally published book! (No, Jackie, I'm not going to mention you by name.)... And mine was not an isolated case. Other zine editors and writers have also spoken to me of the positive effects LoCs have had on them. So, why have you, the readers, stopped writing them? ... There are several possible reasons for the slowdown: the post office ate your letter; you went pro and don't have time to write; the post office ate your letter; you have your own zine and don't have time to write; the post office ate your letter; you don't know what to say; the post office ate your letter.")
  • Choosing and Editing Manuscripts by Johanna Cantor (10)
  • Some Mechanics of Editing by Mary Ann Drach (12)
  • Copy Quicks by Kathleen Lynch (14)
  • Over-Committed Syndrome by Kathy Carlson (16)
  • Mailing Artwork by Vel Jaeger (17)
  • How to Write a Filksong by Helene Lynn Kent (19)
  • Writing a Fanzine Review by Nancy Kippax (20)
  • a review of Companion series of zines, see that article
  • a review of Enter-comm #3, see that article

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

Stylus, a long-awaited publication, finally came out in December 1980, and although there are a lot of positive things to say about it, frankly, I'm a bit disappointed. The layout and the presentation were excellent. The printing was good quality. The form was presented in a very professional manner. My personal gripe is this: everything I read would have been good, useful information, if I was a new zine editor just starting out, or new to fandom. But what I was looking for was something that I, as one who has been in this game quite awhile, could use to change or improve the way I do things now. Everything that was written was true and born of experience, but I did not find that the experience conveyed to me differed from those of my own. Now, I know that every fan has at least one (and usually several) things that they can relate that is different from anything that anyone else has done. Please don't misunderstand; there were a lot of things I did learn form the articles in 'Stylus.' Hell, I'm using some of the things in Nancy Kippax's 'Writing the Fanzine Review' right now. And Mary Ann Drach's 'Some Mechanics of Editing' made some good points with particularly how she handles revisions with long-distance writers. Beverly Volker brings up the valuable point that one should always approach their writing and editing with a professional attitude, which is a reality we all tend to forget at times. I notice in the opening editorial this statement: "'Stylus' is a format in which writers, artists, editors, publishers, and consumers alike can exchange information." 'Stylus' is this, indeed. This publication has a worthy potential, and I wish to see it continue. What I would like to see are more articles that are a bit off-the-wall, unique personal encounters with situations or difficulties that the author had, and from which we can all benefit. I realize that this is the first issue, and that the first baby is always the most difficult. But 'Stylus' tended to lose my interest rather quickly, mainly because most of the contents were 'old hat' to me. [1]
The format of STYLUS is designed to give those in the creative aspects of producing zines (editor, writer, artist), a place to touch base, share ideas, and compare notes. The focus of STYLUS is improving the quality of the product. I was very favorably impressed with this zine; the articles were clearly well thought and well written including articles by Bev Volker, Leslye Lilker, Johanna Cantor, Kathy Carlson, Vel Jaeger, and reviews by [Valentine] and Volker. The topics range from Lilker's article, "Hello! Is Anybody Out There?" expressing the value and purpose of Letters of Comment and encouraging readers to respond to a writer's work, to Cantor's "Choosing and Editing Manuscripts" describing the sometimes delicate edit/or/writer relationship and some thoughts on how to avoid the pitfalls while still coming up with what is best for both zine and writer. There is also a list of topic ideas for prospective articles and an "Issue of the Issue"; a question just begging for comment. Artists are not left out of this zine, though the fact that many artists are just that, artists and not writers, could produce problems for this zine at a later date. This issue is well endowed with a detailed account, in Jaeger's "Mailing Artwork", of how to safely package, mail and receive word on the arrival of artwork. There is also an article by Kathy Carlson on "The Over-Committed Syndrome" and how artists can avoid it. "Copy Quicks" by Kathleen Shelley Lynch is to be a regular feature dealing with all of those common errors that writers are wont to make again and again, and that editors tear their hair over. In this issue, there was an introduction to the subject and the the its/it's -- lie/lay problems. Surprisingly, it did not turn out to be the stale English lesson that I was expecting, but became a delight to read because of Lynch's light touch and the 'Trek' written examples. The reviews in Stylus are in-depth reviews breaking down to the basic mechanics of the zine/story/stories reviewed as only an author/editor would. They are not your average reviews, and therefore fill a much needed gap in zine reviewing.... Stylus is, as the editorial says, 'a concept whose time has come.' It is warm, diverse, humorous at times, precise, informative, and easy on both eyes and the brain. My only real complaint is that at one point the reviewer of Enter-comm was, I felt, very harsh in her criticism of a story by an author that I had never heard of. It would be very easy for a zine to inadvertantly tread on a new crop of Trek writers and do real damage to the new souls just finding the courage to try their wings. I hope that STYLUS does not fall prey to this danger and in their zeal for improves ment forget the fact that we all had beginnings. STYLUS—an excellent zine for anyone serious about improving their craft, and very definitely worth your zine green. [2]

Issue 2

Stylus 2 was published in July 1981 and contains 27 pages.

front page of issue 2
  • Editorial (1)
  • Suggested Topics for Articles (2)
  • Issue of the Issue (3) "What are some pros and cons regarding artistic, graphics-oriented zines vs. the simple no-frills look?"
  • Choosing the Right Word by Nancy Kippaxx (5) (writing tips)
  • Reciprocal Responsibilities of Editor and Artist by Mary Ann Drach and Vel Jaeger (7)
  • Copy Quicks by Kathleen Lynch (10) (grammar tips)
  • Poetry in Trek by Crystal Ann Taylor (11)
  • Developing a Thick Hide by Vel Jaeger (15)
  • Questions and Answers (19)
  • LoCs (19)
  • a review of Captives, see that page

Issue 3

Stylus 3 was published in December 1982 and contained 28 pages. It was edited by Nancy Kippax, Margaret Delorenzo, April Valentine and Carolyn Verino.

front page of issue #3

From Boldly Writing: "The editors hoped the addition of Carolyn would revitalize the publication. In the editorial, she announced, 'Stylus will be going on a twice-yearly publication schedule.' The publication still contained many helpful hints about fanzine publication -- for instance, Johanna Cantor contributed a short article on 'Coping with a Backlog' -- but issue three was the last issue published."

  • Editorial (ii)
  • Issue of the Issue (1) ("Who is responsible for a zine lost or damaged by the post office? The buyer or the editor?")
  • Realer than Reality by Susan Crites (3) (using physical description in writing)
  • Cheating in Black and White by Mary Lowe (5) (explains the process of "Doubletone," a way to create art out of existing art)
  • Pits and Ladders by Sharon Gates (7) (fanzine publishing hints)
  • So You Want to Publish a Fanzine by Mary Ann Drach (18) (fanzine publishing hints)
  • Coping with a Backlog by Johanna Cantor (13) (hints about how to get out from under a mountain of commitments)
  • Copy Quicks by Kathleen Lynch (15) (grammar glitches)
  • Copy Kats by Mary Ann Drach (18) (about capitalization)
  • Letters of Comment (21)
  • Pardon My Blooper (26)
  • Issue of the Issue question proposed for the next issue (which never happened): "Often, an author will make up her own minor characters for a story or series. Is another fan writer justified in borrowing them for her own fiction?"


  1. ^ from Datazine #10
  2. ^ from Universal Translator #8