The Whills

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Zine
Title: The Whills
Publisher: Empire Productions
Editor(s): Eric Larson and Sara Campbell
Date(s): 1981-1984
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links:
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The Whills is a Star Wars fanzine published by Eric Larson. It ran for two issues.

Staff: "Eric Larson, Sheryl Jones, Coordinators. Sara Campbell, Story Editor. Mary Schmidt, Devil's Advocate, totally uninvolved and a heck of a nice person."

It has a newsletter sister zine called The Whills Newsletter.

Issue 1

The Whills 1 was published in December 1981 and contains 84 pages. The illos are by Giovanna Fregni, Eluki bes Shahar, Kate Nuernberg, and L.T. Salley.

front cover of issue #1, Kate Nuernberg
From the first issue:
Gratitude:

Pay attention, readers — these are the people who helped put this zine into your hands.

Special thanks are in order to MINDY YOUNG, for the use of her wonderful souped-up Selectric and for her calm advice; to GERI CECI, for lending her talents and enthusiasm (greatly appreciated, Ger!); to MARY SCHMIDT for playing Devil's Advocate and for setting the world's record for uninvolved contribution; to NORMAN LARSON for the generous use of his copying equipment and office space; to DONNA LARSON for the use of her living room, for her patience and for her great Sloppy Joes; to SCOTT LARSON for the moral support; to BOB COTTER for the generous repair work on the Canon 200 copyer [sic]; to AMELIA CORRUP, Eric's grandmother, for her understanding and for being around when she was so needed; to REUBEN C. SCHMIDT for the patience (for a mundane, he's pretty cool); and to MYRON for the old Steppenwolf tapes; oh, and thanks, Rivendwellers, for the tolerance.

Bless you, contributors, for your energy, imagination, skill and generosity! You dove in when it counted. And you made a good zine.

Our appreciation particularly goes to MAUREEN GARRETT for her generous assistance and to MARY PATERNO for setting up the Julian Glover interview.

Speaking of which—thank you, Mr. Glover, for your gracious attention and time. We can hardly express our gratitude sufficiently.

Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without heartfelt thanks to GEORGE LUCAS... for this and that.
[from Eric's editorial]:

Well, here's the first issue of The Whills -- I hope you enjoy it. As with most fanzines, we've had our problems, like where to print, who'll do the typing, and so on; but in the end, it all worked out for the better.

The Whills is the first fanzine with that we call the "small fan" portion -- this is where fans 10 and under have a chance to display their art and writing abilities. It seems to me we should put emphasis on such things, for the future fans of science fiction will be the ones writing the zines one day.

Also, we're the first Star Wars-oriented zine to print in full color. I feel this is a great step towards a better zine. In the future, I hope the entire zine may go color, but for starters we thought just the mini-poster would be best.
[from the editorial by Sara]:

At the last Wiscon, Eric told me that he wanted to start a fanzine. (Our wise friend Mary Schmidt said, "No you don't!" If only we'd listened...) Several months later, it was under way—he'd received Megan's story and had begun badgering artists, and L.T. had begun what can only be called an odyssey. I realized that the zine needed my talents (I'd just graduated with a B.A. in English and was pretty vain about it), and so I jumped in — up to my neck. Then I sank in over my head, Aieeel Soon I was not only the Token Editor, but also Sole Typist and L.T.'s Chief Cheerleader. As well as Eric's Badgerer, talk about a vicious circle...

...and the agony and the ecstasy. Some of the time I was ready to jump into the carbon freezing pit to get a bit of rest; but usually I had a blast.

It's a good thing I love Empire and Star Wars. For the record, I'm also the resident Escape From New York. Alien, CE3K. Dark Shadows. Kurosawa, Michelangelo and Homer fan. Oh—and last night I added Time Bandits to that list ("Stay, Benson!"). And I'm about as fond of Raiders as your typical Spielbergophile. I've been fannish since I discovered Wizard of Oz during infancy, and wrote my first fannish book (based on Exorcist — a spoof) at 14. This had two successors (titled Panic of the Apes and Maws—take a guess, fans). So generally fannishness is part of my nature.

But I'm not fickle—I still watch Wizard of Oz every year. And I still have designs on Snake Plissken. Oh, about this editing "business. I am the one who oversees the fiction in our zine, but don't let that threaten you, I don't just cut out the stuff I don't like. Editing involves a give-and-take relationship with the author: I go through the story, then write to the author with suggestions for improvements — if they're necessary. My only ironclad rule is that our zine doesn't accept porn. Period. If you have questions about what is or isn't quite porn, ask me. I'll help.

As Eric said, we're perfectly open to material from younger fans. In fact, we encourage it. Which doesn't mean that we're more of a kid-oriented zine; we want just as much stuff from older, more experienced fans — both male and female. In other words, we're aiming for a more balanced zine.

[snipped]

When I first started writing my idiotic piddling fan stories, I used to get myself into the most bizarre scenes without the faintest idea of how to write my way out of them. Usually, I didn't succeed, either. I just flopped around, as the friends who read this stuff could tell you. So as a public service, I'm going to run quickie how-to guides in each issue (please send suggestions). The first one, which is in this issue (funny how these things work), is more of a how-to-not.
[from the editorial by Sheryl]:

Well, here we are at last! THE WHILLS will be out by October 1980, definitely!,..December 1980, probably... March 1981, possibly...June 1981? Maybe?? THE WHILLS will be out? THE WHILLS is out?! THE WHILLS is out! Hooray!

My first co-editorship has proven to be a valuable experience. It's not easy! What, will we take? Who'll do it? How can we avoid filling the 'zine with our own literature? Why are we so late? Would you believe a tribe of Wampas smashed all the typewriters and ate all the manuscripts? No? I didn't think so. I can breathe a sigh of relief now that this is off the presses and in your anxious hands! What a job! But I'm ready for number two.

There are a few writers making their debut to SW fandom: Myself with a couple of filks and cartoons, Eric with the recipe, Sara, and L.T, Salley with her story, illos and dialogue. And, of course, the "kids' corner". New authors and/or artists are encouraged to send in their work for upcoming issues. In the next issue we will have a column for LoCs and would greatly appreciate any correspondence. As long as it's constructive criticism. We don't want to know that our fanzine stinks, if that's the case; we want to know WHY it stinks. How else can we improve it?

(On the other hand, if you think that this is the greatest fanzine ever ever ever, well, we might accept letters to that effect too.)
  • Gratitude (1)
  • Editorials (Eric Larson, Sara Campbell, Sheryl Jones) (3)
  • Letters (These are not actual LoCs but instead descriptions of letters by fans.) (7)
  • Interview with Julian Glover by Eric Larson (9)
  • Filks by Sheryl Jones (to the tune of "If," to the tune of "The Rose") (15)
  • Something X-tra, an essay by Sara Campbell, defending Lucasfilm's censorship of fanzines (17)
  • Life on Dagobah (20)
  • Empire Quiz by Eric Larson and Sheryl Jones (21)
  • No Greater Love, fiction by Megan Cynara (23)
  • Puzzle by Sheryl Jones (35)
  • Rootleaf Stew Recipe by Eric Larson (36)
  • Kid Art: Probot by Scott Larson, Imperial Walker Battle by Joel Pisieg (37)
  • Discipline Recommended, narrative poem by L.T. Salley (39)
  • Foolproof by L.T. Salley (47)
  • Answers to Quiz (82)
  • Ads (84)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

See reactions and reviews for Something X-tra.
[zine]:

One feels that an unfavorable review of The Whills would smack of cruelty to children, despite the fact that one of the editors... is old enough to have a B.A. in English. Age, or lack of it, however, is no excuse for the unrelenting preciousness of this maiden effort. The Whills contains one narrative poem, one short story, a defense of censorship, an interview with Julian Glover, various filler pieces, and six pages of cute editorials. Eighty percent of the zine is the work of the editorial staff, and both stories are illustrated by L.T. Salley, whose art goes from unrelieved incapable to cheap rip-offs of Pam Kowalski. Except for a couple of slight pieces by Giovann Fregni and Eluki bes Shahar, the incidental art is by complete unknowns and is far below contemporary fan standards.

The article, "Something X-Tra," is by Sara Campbell. In it, she constructs a straw dog of Fan Pornography and then defends Lucasfilm's censorship of it. This reviewer has never seen writing and depiction of sexuality such as the author decries in any American-published Star Wars fanzine. [1] More annoying than Ms. Campbell's self-righteous advocation of Lucasfilms edicts is the suggestion she puts forth in her editorial, that 'If you have questions about what is or isn't porn, ask me. I'll help.' Considering the quality of her editorship in this issue, one would tend to doubt her qualifications for the post of Moral Arbiter. Again and again in The Whills, problems that could have been alleviated by editing are left to stand.

In 'No Greater Love' the author keeps forgetting that her Han Solo is nine, rather than twenty-nine, and has his foster-mother reacting to him in a girlish manner that is odd, to say the least... 'Foolproof' is equally pointless and full of borrowings, though most of the ones in this story are from professional work and may be intended as a form of homage. It seems to have begun as a Han and Chewie action-adventure story that received a quick face-lift after Empire to become a Lando and Chewie story. However only the names have been changed, the Lando character is merely an imbecilic Han Solo in blackface, and the 'search for Han' that is ostensibly the point of the story gets only an occasional mention. This story contains all the flaws of 'No Greater Love' -- illogic, purple prose, bad plotting -- with the addition of a major confusion on the part of the author as to whether this story is meant as a farce or a realistic piece.... It grinds to an eventual and merciful halt, with nothing accomplished. Information on Han's current location is delivered in passing by a prison doctor, in a manner that the author must have hoped would reflect the Grim Irony of Life, but only serves as an example of bad pacing. The narrative poem in The Whills , 'Discipline Recommended' is a dialogue between Princess Leia and a female X-Wing pilot. It is the most nearly interesting piece in the entire fanzine, and Salley shows promise as a writer, but will never improve without experience, criticism and advice; none of which the author is likely to get with such an insular form.

It is easy to criticize fanzines of the Galactic Flight, The Jedi Journal and 'The Whills' caliber... easy and ultimately futile. The authors and artists angrily insist that their work be exempt from critical assessment as they are 'just doing it for fun.' Where is the amusement in producing inferior work that no one is allowed to criticize? Whatever excellence the contributors to The Whills may be capable of achieving, they have not done so here. This fanzine is not worth the time or money of any save only the most ardent completist. [2]

It is my impression that The Whills is a first effort by editors with little exposure to the main stream of fannish publishing. As a result there is no reduction of print, no double column format, and no clever use of dingbats as one sees frequently now in the state-of-the-art fanzines. Far from seeing this as a fault, I must insist that there is room for both types of fanzines in fandom, and there is no reason for an editor to feel she/he is obligated to use such advanced techniques in layout and design.

If I am correct in surmising from the editorials and from the tone of Sara Campbell's article "Something X-tra" that this fanzine is seeking a younger audience, the reader must realize that much of the material approximates what the editors feel will appeal to a young pre-teen and/or teenage audience. The jokes, games, trivia quizzes, etc. are rather like what one finds in the slick pro zine Dynamite.

The two short stories included here are "No Greater Love" by Megan Cynara and "Foolproof" by L.T. Salley. "No Greater Love" has a nine-year-old Han Solo as its main protagonist. Cute kid. One can see this child growing up into the sort of individual who'd get a kick out of irritating a princess. Unfortunately, the only character he has to offset him is Makani, the sort of supermom image so deplored nowadays. Not only does this woman own one of the largest freight lines on the planet but she also cooks. Using no processors of any sort . My quibble with this is the fact that it would be rather like the president of ITT deciding she'd cook all her dinners over an open fire. Still, this is a harmless piece.

With more meat to it, "Foolproof" by L.T. Salley is much more memorable. This is an adventure story with Lando as the main story interest. He's looking for Han off and around various planets when he runs into an old friend. Deneera, whom, we suspect has had a passing affair with Han, inducts Lando into a "family" which is currently running an entire planet. It is, however, an interesting family. Brothers and sisters snipe at each other as well as at Lando. They are, perhaps, a little bloodthirsty but basically friendly towards Lando. There is an interception of a slave ship around which the story's action centers. Overall, I didn't find the story offensive although squeamish types might discover they object to the two villains, Deame and Geddes, as they are truly dislikable sorts. L.T. Salley also has a piece entitled "Discipline Recommended" which is written in the form of a dialogue between two unseen figures. One of these individuals is the Princess and the other is the only other high ranking female, a pilot. I didn't quite understand the point of the piece although it would provide an interesting scene in a story. Other features in this issue are the interview with Julian Glover, two pages of children's artwork, and a recipe (stolen from Yoda' s cookbook) for Rootleaf Stew, presumably for fanzine readers/cooks to tryout on some wandering Jedi. There is also a color poster included of Yoda, which I found to be quite attractive. The concept behind this fanzine is commendable. I hope there is enough market for it among the younger SW fans. L.T. Salley is to be encouraged in her writing as she is already better than many first-timers I have seen elsewhere. There is room for improvement perhaps in catching typos and layout, but those are the sort of acquired skills most editors learn over a number of issues. I must admit that this is not the sort of fanzine that a general reader would rave over, but there is much here to be encouraged. Surely, if there is a fannish parent looking for something to put in the hands of a child whose imagination has been captured by the SW saga, this fanzine would be a good spur to creative effort on the part of the young reader. [3]

Issue 2

The Whills 2 was published in May 1984 and contains 100 pages. It has the subtitle, "The Whills Fanzine.

cover of issue #2
  • Future Voices, Past Shadows, part two by Scotty Perkins (69 pages)
  • Gathering Pawns by Jon Manzo (Bib Fortuna waits for Boba Fett) (7 pages)
  • Introspection by Scotty Perkins (3 pages)
  • These are the Men Responsible for PG-13?
  • photos and review of Witness (film)
  • photos and art

References

  1. with the use of 'American,' the reviewer is probably alluding to The Dark Lord, a zine that started the whole ruckus with Lucasfilm
  2. from Jundland Wastes #9; this reviewer was taken to task in issue #10 by many fans who felt this review was unfair, cruel, and racist; when the editor of this zine responded to the reviewer in the letterzine, another fan wrote: "Congratulations to L.T. Salley on her/his eminently reasonable and civilized reply to the Teale review. A person would need to have the hide of an armored bantha not to be hurt by such a review, and a reply in kind would be perfectly understandable. It's to L.T. 's credit that s/he has the maturity to answer as here."
  3. from Jundland Wastes #10