Checkpoint 44

CHECKPOINT 44 30th December 1973

Checkpoint, the fan newszine, is produced by Peter Roberts, Flat 4, 6 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2. It's available for news, letters, or 5/25p (UK & Europe), and appears every once in a while. Agents: (US) Charlie & Dena Brown; (Aus) Robin Johnson; (RSA) Nick Shears. 4/$1 (airmail), 5/50¢ (sea).

Restormel Press Publication: 90. mi flies with this issue.

THE GREAT BRITISH WORLDCON EXTRAVAGANZA: Some time ago, just before Christmas, Malcolm Edwards came up to me at the Globe and said "How about a British Worldcon, then?" Choking quietly on my Guinness, I managed a casual nod of agreement and produced a likely date.

So, let it be known that Great Britain intends to bid for the 1979 World Sf Convention. Why such a long time off? Well, for a start we'd like to keep it at a good distance and, more seriously, 1979 looks like being the first available year. 1975, as you all know, is the Aussiecon; 1976 and 1977 bids are already in operation. We'd be very late starters for either of these years and would have the added disadvantage of bidding shortly after a foreign Worldcon. 1978 was Malcolm's first choice; but, as far as I can see from the present rotation rules, the Worldcon should return to the West Coast area in that year. Since they will miss out in 1975, having lost to Australia, they would have a strong bid in 1978 against another foreign Worldcon (if we were to win a bid for 1978, the West Coast wouldn't have had a World convention for nine years (1972-81)). This really leaves 1979 as first reasonable year for a British Worldcon.

Obviously at the moment nothing very much has been accomplished. Malcolm Edwards, Pete Weston, and myself have formed some sort of committee to promote the idea and Malcolm has booked a spot at the Tynecon to present and discuss the bid. Pete Weston, you may recall, wanted to make a Worldcon bid for 1975 (just before the 1971 Eastercon where he dropped the idea); he still has some useful correspondence with hotels on the South Coast and that may prove to be the most suitable spot for 1979.

Anyway, the bid is in an early stage, so ideas, general expressions of support, dire warnings, money, or what have you, will be most welcome.

CROTTLED GREEPS, NOUN, ETYMOLOGY DUBIOUS: Elst Weinstein, a Californian fan, is compiling a Fannish Dictionary; since I've been collecting material (albeit haphazardly) for a similar project, we are going to work in collaboration: anyone who can help, or who is interested in the idea, should contact me (provisional deadline: March). More information in the next Checkpoint. Bob Tucker's Neofan's Guide is back in print incidentally – I believe Linda Bushyager is responsible, but I'm not sure yet how to obtain copies. There are also rumours of Fancyclopaedia III...

THE WORLD OF FANZINES: Frederic Wertham, MD. / Southern Illinois University Press, 144p, $10.

The title of Dr.Wertham's book might lead you to think of it as a rather lavish history and survey of fanzines along the lines of The World of Illuminated Maps or The World of Mediaeval Doorknobs. It is, however, an entirely different sort of work: an introduction to fanzines, "a serious study of an unusual and unrecognized subject", as the blurb puts it, which "will be much enjoyed by general readers and will be of extreme interest and importance to those in communication and literature, and comics."

Frederic Wertham is not entirely an outsider to the subject. He notes that he first came across fanzines in the forties and the book itself is evidence enough of his interest. There are few signs of ignorance in the work – no crass mistakes or absurd misinterpretations which are common to virtually all reports on fandom and fanzines which occasionally appear in newspaper and magazine articles. Doubtless any reader can find a clutch of mistakes ("GoH", for example, stands for "Guest of Honour", not "Guard (!) of Honour"), but there are no horrendous blunders. What will make this book strange and alien to most fans, however, is the simple fact that Dr.Wertham is not a fan, but an interested observer. The World of Fanzines is in fact Dr.Wertham's World of Fanzines – it isn't mine and I doubt whether it's yours either.

The principal point is that the author does not reflect fannish values in his consideration of fanzines. If I were writing something like this I'd approach the subject with standard judgements and categories in mind; but Dr.Wertham writes either in ignorance of disregard of these. The names – the BNFs, the Fabulous Fanzines – are all missing: Dr.Wertham's survey is random, without value judgement, without consideration of what is best in past or present, fannish or sercon terms. Hyphen, Speculation, Outworlds, Sf Commentary, – they just don't appear.

This peculiarity is, I imagine, entirely the result of Dr. Wertham's inadequate fanzine collection; this is helpfully listed and, though it contains over 200 titles, it is an impoverished and unsuitable accumulation. Britain, for example, is represented by: Armageddon, Checkpoint, Cypher, Eureka, Fan-Fare, Fantasy Advertiser, Gothique, Haverings, Oracle, Shades of Evil, Stardock, and Twylight – not one of the Golden Age fanzines, nor even a representative selection of contemporary material (the ones you've never heard of are, I think, comic fanzines). The whole list, thought partly designed to show diversity of origin, is extremely restricted: not a single Australian fanzine appears (even though Australia is now the most active fanzine centre outside the US), nor is there mention of fanzines from Argentina, Belgium, France, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Turkey, and so on and so on. Finally, the emphasis on comic fanzines makes the list look pretty strange.

Ok then, let that be a warning to potential fannish readers: do not expect to meet our world of fanzines, but a distorted view resulting from a random external selection and from a general failure to discriminate between comic and science fiction fandom.

Since fanzines as a means of communication is the central subject of the book, it is fair to say that normal fannish standards – that Hyphen is immeasurably superior to (say) Gary Groth's Fantastic Adzine (sic.) – are largely irrelevant. Largely, but not totally. Two things, for example, occur to me (given the intention and scope of the book). Firstly, that fannish judgements must to some extent interconnect with the question of communication; wouldn't it be fair to say, for example, that the fannish preference for certain fanzines of inferior production, small size, and so on is that these fanzines provide (in the terms of the book) particularly effective means of communication? At the same time, shouldn't some comment be made on the esoteric, faanish nature of many of these fanzines? Some considerable investigation of popular fanzines and highly regarded fanzines would, I think, raise a variety of points about communication in this area. The second point concerns Dr.Wertham's refusal to separate comic and sf fandom. He notes the differences on many occasions but nonetheless deliberately disregards it. There is, undoubtedly, a substantial overlap and there are a small minority of fans and a smaller number of fanzines with a foot in each field; but for the most part comic and sf fandom are separate entities and have separate ideals and aims in their fanzines. From what I've seen of comic fanzines I would suggest that they are as a whole far more restricted in content, far more commercially minded than sf fanzines, and rather akin to enthusiasts' publications (Railway Modeller, or what have you). They are not, in other words, particularly effective forms of communication. (They have their own argot too, though Dr.Wertham mixes the two to produce a ludicrous little guide to fanspeak, full of words I've never encountered, even though I'm collaborating in a large Fannish dictionary)

It's about time I gave you some idea of the contents of the book. It starts with no less than 32 pages of drawings and cartoons taken from fanzines; they're guaranteed to make any fan wince, since they range in quality from some fine Tim Kirk cartoons to some hideous crudzine scrawls. I had to grit my teeth and acknowledge that this is indeed The World of Fanzines and not The Best of Fanzines. There follow several introductory chapters, including fair pieces on the availability of fanzines and their origin, plus thin and rather unhelpful and incoherent chapters on sf, fantasy, and comics. After the peculiar guide to fan terminology, unlikely to help anyone, and the Wertham fanzine list, the core of the book is reached with chapters on various aspects of fanzines: "The Production of Fanzines", "The Style of Fanzines", "What is in Fanzines?", "Who Are the Fanzine Fans?", and "The Significance of Fanzines". The book is 144 pages in length, though advertised as being 208 pp (paper shortage?).

What are Dr.Wertham's judgements? Well, after The Seduction of The Innocent, he was vaguely known to some fans as the slightly crazed innovator of the Comics Code; rumours of a book on fanzines fearful or jocular comments about a Fanzine Code and the possibility of a condemnation of the international fannish conspiracy (young minds distorted by sensual Rotsler cartoons and Algol centre-spreads!). The World of Fanzines, however, is the work of a fanzine enthusiast. Dr.Wertham makes no substantial criticism of fanzines, either in general or in particular. If I were to write a book on the subject (and this review is getting dangerously near that length), I would undoubtedly be far harsher; I rather think, in fact, that Dr.Wertham is too happy with the phenomenon of fanzines:

"In my analysis, the editing of fanzines is a constructive and healthy exercise of creative drives. As for the question of morbid alienation or estrangements, which is psychiatrically decisive is that occupation with fanzines is not by any means a flight into solitude or isolation. The fanzine fan seeks communication and not the opposite. Fanzine editors are not idle dreamers. They do not run away from the rest of the world. In fact they cope well with very real people and institutions, like the paper merchants and the Post Office. Often they show what amounts to an extraordinary amount of energy and goodwill. Fanzines are a healthy part of our society." (p.121)

I'd like to have confidence enough in fanzines to say the same thing, but I wouldn't make such an assertion without a mass of qualifications and some misgiving. Incidentally, the institution of fandom as a whole is not considered in the book and that may be one reason for some of the more peculiar judgements: fanzines cannot be isolated from fandom; they have to be considered in context.

Dr.Wertham finally makes several useful and interesting observations; the most important of these is that fanzines are virtually the only means of communication that lack censorship, either overt or indirect (through commercial or social pressures). Furthermore, faneditors show no sign of abusing this freedom (if freedom can be abused, that is). Fanzines in fact are free lines of communication – a radical reply to the many pressures of commercial, impersonal, and dehumanized society; as such, they form a small, but genuine and constructive critique of the modern world.

Just remember that before you tear up the next Neo's Krudzine...

The World of Fanzines (which I recommend, incidentally – if you can afford it) is available in the UK from Transatlantic Book Service, 51 Weymouth St, London, W1N 3LE. There are no plans at the moment to issue it in paperback.

ENERGUWORLDS? Bill Bowers writes to say that the Mae Strelkov Fund is a distinct success ($1351.65 having been raised by December 1st). There should be enough money to allow Mae to do some travelling in the US, as well as attend the Washington Worldcon. Energuworlds? Well, Bill Bowers and Mike Glicksohn intend to produce a joint, celebratory fanzine for the occasion, & that should merit examination...

*************** fanzines received ****************************************

Chao 13 (42pp:¼o:d) John Alderson, Havelock, Vic.3465, Australia. (20p) Chao is a fairly large and fairly frequent genzine which owes a lot to the personality of its editor. I'm afraid I'm not that keen on it myself, but you may think differently.

Copra 2 (28pp:½fscp:p) Antonio Pedro Pita & Jose de Matos-Cruz, Rua de Montarroio, 28 Coimbra, Portugal. (?) Copra is a well-illustrated comic fanzine with articles on Secret Agent X9, Tintin, Vampirella, and such like; it also contains an eight page supplement of reviews. Its Portuguese origin is naturally it's most interesting feature at the moment – you can puzzle your way through the language too...

*Cynic 6 (23pp:A4:d) Gray Boak, 6 Hawks Rd, Kingston, Surrey, 1KT 3EG. (free) It's infrequent and rather thin, but this issue of Cynic is excellent; Gray has turned it into a personalzine and makes use of it to comment on fandom and conventions – all most readable and entertaining.

*Fiawol 1 (4pp:A4:d) Arnie & Joyce Katz, 59 Livingston St, Apt 6B, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA. (free) Arnie has decided to revive this short-lived fannish newszine and I hope he's successful; past attempts have been good and amusing, but a bit thin on news. We shall see.

Girl's Own Fanzine 3 (32pp:A4:d) Sue Clarke, 2/159 Herring Rd, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia. (75¢) This is that last issue and comes bound with The Mentor, Ace double style; articles on education provide a theme with the letters still concerned with the role of women. It's all ok, but nothing of particular note, I fear.

Instant Message 138,139,140 (7-11pp:A4:d) NESFA, Box G, MIT Branch PO, Cambridge, Ma.02139, USA. ($4 p.a. membership) The newsletter of the New England Sf Association, it contains mostly local information.

It Comes In The Mail 6 (19pp:A4:d) Ned Brooks, 713 Paul St, Newport News, Va.23605, USA. (free) A mixture of fanzine reviews, letters, and news – it depends what the postman brings, I suppose. Good.

*Kwalhioqua 9 (21pp:A4:d) Ed Cagle, Route 1, Leon, Ks.67074, USA. (50¢) One of the most entertaining of current fanzines, Kwal succeeds largely as a result of its editor and the presence of the splendid John Bangsund. It has a varied, but humerous content and is hereby recommended.

Les Spinge 30 (11pp:½A4:p) Darroll & Rosemary Pardoe, 24 Othello Close, Hartford, Hunts., PE18 7SU. (free) A short, but pleasant personalzine.

*Magic Pudding 1 (18pp:¼o:d) Malcolm Edwards, 19 Ranmoor Gardens, Harrow, Middx, HA1 1UQ. (50p) A longer personalzine, and a particularly fine one.

Media 31 (3pp:A4:d) John Mansfield, PO Box 830, CFPO 5056, 757 Baden-Baden 1, Germany. (10¢) Devoted to cuttings about tv programmes (Diana, &c).

NLF 44,45/7 (8 & 10pp:A4:p) Martin Eisele, 7332 Eislingen/Fils, Schillerstrasse 20, Germany. (65pf) A combination of two former newszines, Fanews and NewsLetter, NLF is a good, regular newszine covering both sf and fandom. It's in German.

*Prehensile 9 (71pp:A4:d) Mike Glyer, 14974 Osceola St, Sylmar, Ca.91342, USA. (50¢) This is a good and thick genzine with material ranging from the fannish madness of Aljo Svoboda to the tedium of book reviews. There are usually several worthwhile pieces in each issue, often hidden in the editorial or letter-column; it's a big enough fanzine to pick them out, enjoy them and leave the rest.

Revolting Tales of Sex & Super Science 4 (8pp:¼o:d) John Bangsund, PO Box 357, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia. (free) Only a letter substitute, but almost as fine as the rest of John's small fanzines.

A DELAY IN CHECKPOINT (and in letter-writing) is the result of my being without a typewriter. This issue is hurriedly typed on odd occasions at work and probably looks like it. I am, however, investigating the possibilities of buying a fine new machine. We shall see.

ALL ROADS LEAD TO LONDON: Bruce Gillespie arrived here recently and intends staying in Britain for a few weeks before returning to Australia. Robin Johnson also tells me that another Aussiefan, Allan Sandercock, is in London – no sign of him at the moment, however. Don Miller is expected over here at some unspecified time in 1974. The American Mike O'Brien turned up at the December Globe on a flying visit – little was seen of him, since the pub was absolutely packed, it being the 20th Anniversary Globe Meeting.

THERE'S A DEATHLESS HUSH AT THE GLOBE TONIGHT, mainly because they are pulling the place down... They will rebuild it, however; but the pub which has housed the regular London meetings for the last twenty years is changing owners and is likely to be completely revamped. I'm not yet sure when the place is to be closed, but I believe there's some leeway yet. Meeting will be arranged elsewhere, at any rate.

The LASFS, incidentally, have finally got their clubhouse. Called Freehafer Hall (11360 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, Calif.), it was officially dedicated at a meeting on November 18th. A first meeting there, somewhat earlier, attracted 100 or so people, including many sf luminaries. If you're ever in Studio City on a Thursday at 8.00 pm – take a look in...

HARRY WARNER'S SECOND BOOK is, according to Fiawol, in the process of being written. As anticipated, this one will deal with fandom in the fifties. Harry doesn't think that the locs will be flowing very swiftly until he finishes writing – I suppose we can let that pass as a reasonable excuse, eh?

Mike Glicksohn, 141 High Park Av, Toronto, Ontario, M6P 2S3.
Milt Stevens, 2989 Beverly Glen Blvd, Sherman Oaks, Ca.91403.



Peter Roberts
Flat 4
6 Westbourne Park Villas
London W2

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