Fanzine Lounge

In the science fiction community, fanzines are amateur publications by fans, for fans, one of the most distinctive forms of fan activity, beginning well before the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939.  They publish anecdotes, essays, drawings, reviews, letters of comment.  Pros sometimes contribute.

Many SF cons have a Fanzine Lounge, where fanzines and those who love them may be found.  We’ll have one at Westercon this year.  I’ll be your host.  We’ll have some historical and some current fanzines you can hang around and browse through; I hope also some free copies you can take away.

Some fanzines go on for decades; some vanish, or re-emerge.  Some seem hardly to talk about SF at all: that and much else may be taken for granted.  A love of SF is the thread on which the beads of fan activity are strung.

A picture is worth a thousand words; that was true when fanzines were mainly illustrated with a stylus on a mimeograph stencil, and is true still.  Artwork in a fanzine may not be illustrative; it may suit a mood, or a layout.  A love of whimsy often runs with a love of SF.  Some of the best fanart is monochrome line drawing.

Until the rise of the Internet it was understood fanzines would be on paper, although there are legends about slices of bologna, or worse.  Circulation for paper fanzines then and now may be a few dozen or a few hundred.  Today electronic zines too appear.

Besides the thread of SF, fanzines are a voluntary world of letters, where people write, and read, and draw, for love.

Classically, one writes to faneditors requesting sample copies of their fanzines; one returns letters of comment, offers contributions which seem suitable, proposes to trade for one’s own fanzine, “the usual” for which fanzines are ordinarily exchanged.

The fundamental guides remain “To become one, ask one” and more generally “Seek and you shall find”.

– John Hertz