The Worst Zine in the World

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: The Worst Zine in the World
Creator: Paula Smith
Date(s): June 1985
Medium: print
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.


The Worst Zine in the World is an essay by Paula Smith.

It was printed in Blue Pencil #1.

The Essay

I have nightmares of someday being called upon to review the worst zine in the world. I've seen plenty of bad ones, but so far not the one that combines all the worst features within its ineptly stapled pages. Maybe, like the monsters in horror movies, you can't catch sight of them till it's too late, but at least I can tell you some statistics, some of the dread signs by which you will know you too are in its holy presence.

Sign #1: In 1978 you saw an ad in your friendly neighborhood letterzine announcing the imminent sale of AUSTRALOPITHEZINE, promising a three-part story set In the Bobbsey Twins universe, so you sent in your bucks. It is now 1985. Your letters of inquiry are coming back marked "missing in action". There are rumors that the editor has been kidnapped by ailens from Ursa Minor. But finally you get a flyer saying that the zine really is nearly ready, and to receive it all you have to do is send in another five bucks to cover the editor's unexpected expenses.

Sign #2: The zine arrives. You pull it out of its envelope. It falls apart Immediately. Or else the envelope, too flimsy for the zine's weight and mailing class, has disintegrated en route and it arrives in a plastic body bag. This gives you a notion of the P.O.'s opinion of the zine's viability, anyway.

Sign #3: Inside, the pages are not numbered. When you read through the zine, pages, paragraphs, sentences and words are missing or out of order. True, this gives the stories a certain sense of wonder -- that is, you wonder what the heck is going on in them.

Sign #4: Going over the table of contents, you notice there is not a single piece in the zine more than three-and-half pages long. Whole universes are created, evolve, and die; species of beings live, love, go to war, bring peace and peach-flavored ice cream to their interplanetary empires; and General MacArthur returns. Then in the next paragraph...

Sign #5: The zine is typed with double, triple, or fourple spacing. Granted, it is 350 pages long, but that's because there are only 79 words on each page. The zine is also printed on one side only. If they should have reduced print, the reduction rate was 285% and there are approximately three billion words per page.

Sign #6: The only illos are those of crayoned floating heads, whose blank, staring eyeballs contain what look like tiny, little wagonwheels branded on the irises. These are invariably accompanied by a Mary-Sue story in which Kirk or Han or Hutch or Remington or the Doctor or Bert Bobbsey falls in love with the heroine for no particular reason that anybody but the author can detect. If not, the last sentence of the story reads, "And then he woke up."

Sign #7: Ten percent of the words are misspelled, including the zine's title in the editorial column. The editor seems to believe that "grammar" refers to a kind of cracker, and that a "plot" is something in a cemetery (not that the deadliness of the stories doesn't gainsay this). In a Star Trek story, it is evident that Spock was unavailable for work that day, and the author got Jerry Lewis to fill In for him. The serious stuff is funny, and the funny stuff isn't.

And then I woke up.