Eighteen people voted in this, the fourth British Fan Poll since the days of Skyrack; nineteen people voted last year. The poll covered British fanac from Easter 1974 to Easter 1975, though these dates were only used as a rough guide. All fans were eligible to vote, though ballots were only distributed through Checkpoint.
The following fans voted: Harry Bell, Graham Charnock, Lisa Conesa, Malcolm Edwards, David Griffin, Rob Jackson, Roy Kettle, Dave Langford, Mike Meara, Darroll Pardoe, Rosemary Pardoe, Greg Pickersgill, John Piggott, Graham Poole, Brian Robinson, Paul Skelton, Keith Walker, and Ian Williams.
BEST BRITISH FANZINE: Twenty-two different titles were nominated, fourteen of which received more than one vote. Five points were awarded to a first place vote, four to the second, and so on down to one point. Checkpoint itself was ineligible. Last year's position is in brackets.
1) TRUE RAT (44 points) (8th) edited by Roy Kettle, 74 Eleanor Road, London E8. (available for trade, loc, &c). Three issues eligible (1974-5). The roguish wit and gay sophistication of Leroy Kettle has long been a feature of London fandom, where his salty quips and easy bonhomie have entertained visitors and residents alike. Until recently Roy's considerable writing talents were readily absorbed by Fouler and Wadezine; but with the disappearance of these fanzines he turned to True Rat and small-time pornography.
The former has proved quite successful. Though with a tiny circulation, mostly in Britain and Italy, True Rat has won the hearts and the minds of its fannish readership. The reasons for this are perhaps obscure: the layout is spontaneous, the composition mercurial, and the subdued artwork is coaxed from the typewriter itself. Essentially, therefore, True Rat's unique charm lies with the editor, with Roy's innate literary sensibility – a certain sprachgefühl which gives the fanzine its piquancy and sheer phrenetic force.
It's also pretty funny. The second issue, subtitled True Rat Too, has a photo-montage cover, an unusual feature for any ratzine. The contents, as usual, are almost entirely Roy's own work, from the anagrammatical editorial, "Real Idiot", to "My Convention by Peter R.Weston (Form II B)", "Uncle Esoteric And His Amazing Facts", and "Media Breakthrough by Rich Coad" which tells of comic book heroes such as Captain Cancer and Lieutenant Leper. Even the letters are written by Roy. True Rat 3, the "Exciting All-Misery Issue" continues in the same vein, whilst the fourth issue is no more than a single page, designed to win the Nova Award and embarrass John Brosnan. True Rat 5 contains the Novacon Report which has won the 'Best Article' section of this Checkpoint poll; it also has the regular scandal column, "Open Flie", letters, and an advert for Was God A Poof?. Altogether, therefore, True Rat is a fine fanzine – lots of laffs and more quips that you know what to do with.
2) WRINKLED SHREW (32 points)(-) edited by Pat Charnock, 70 Ledbury Rd, London W11. (available for trade, loc, &c). Three issues eligible (1974-5). Dissatisfied with her role as "Wife Of The Ex-Editor Of Phile", Pat Charnock decided to do something – and came up with The Wrinkled Shrew. It's a fairly large, eclectic publication, notable for its inspired covers and pretty good duplication. Though it would qualify as a genzine, since it includes various outside contributors, The Shrew is first and foremost a personalzine, displaying the various talents of Pat Charnock, her splendid cats, and her impish husband.
The first issue has a bizarre mixture of contents: Chris Priest on "Status Quo", fiction by both Pat and Graham Charnock, a Tynecon report, selected letters from Graham Hall, oddments from Charles Platt and Dick Howett, and various strange items by the cats. In other words, this initial Shrew contains enough material to keep the average British fanzine going for two or three years – I still haven't finished reading it yet. The second and third issues are more restrained, with pieces by Cas Skelton, Dave Garnett, and Malcolm Edwards, as well as the continuing letters of Graham Hall, assorted Charnocks' prose, and a letter column.
Well, there we are. The Wrinkled Shrew won't make grown men pull their heads off, but it's a good fanzine nonetheless.
3) EGG (29 points)(-) edited by Peter Roberts, 6 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2. (available for trade, loc, etc). Two issues eligible (1974-5). The publication of Egg can be considered as one man's battle against overwhelming lethargy; last year, for example, I managed to produce no issues at all, and even this time I only found the energy for two pretty thin Eggs. In a cosmic sense this clearly reflects the universal slide into entropy and the great, silent void; but in a personal sense it reflects my congenital laziness. No matter.
The eighth Egg contained a short fannish parody by Gray Boak, "A Boy And His Scarf", a second piece on the politics of the Heicon, this time by Waldemar Kumming, and a regular column by John Brosnan, "North Sea Nog". The letter column was pretty timeless, which was just as well, since most of the locs were a couple of years old. The ninth issue appeared just after the Seacon and was notable for its decadent cover, a product of the Charnock's splendid tastelessness. Greg Pickersgill made a rare appearance inside with the hideous tale of a Star Trek convention; the editor wrote an equally rare article, whilst Eric Bentcliffe contributed fanzine reviews and John Brosnan continued his column.
The tenth Egg is promised at some future date. Let's leave it at that.
4=) INFERNO (20 points)(-) edited by Paul & Cas Skelton, 25 Bowland Close, Stockport, Cheshire, SK2 5NW. (available for trade, loc, &c.). Three (?) issues eligible (1974-5). Inferno is a straightforward personalzine that's gradually emerged from the moribund world of the British apas – so quietly that I missed the earlier issues. It's distinctively produced in an octavo format, neat and largely illustrated by Paul Skelton himself; the contents are loosely tied into a personal diary, producing a strange mixture of editorial ramblings, letters, reviews, diatribes, and assorted oddments. With a British circulation of less than twenty, it might seem surprising that Inferno polled so well; after all its predecessor, Hell, a more substantial genzine, never attracted much attention. The answer is that this new personalzine is a lively, entertaining publication – the old Hell never really got off the ground and was, in a word, boring. Inferno certainly isn't that.
4=) ZIMRI (20 points)(1st) edited by Lisa Conesa, 54 Manley Rd, Whalley Range, Manchester, M16 8HP. (available for trade, loc, &c. or 25p) Two issues eligible (1974-5). Joint winner of the 1974 Nova Award and outright winner of last year's fan poll, Zimri remains one of the best British genzines currently being published. The drop to fourth place this year reflects less on the quality of the fanzine than on the changing tastes of the voters: this is the era of the personalzine, after all, and Lisa has always seemed to keep her distance in Zimri.
Both the sixth and seventh issues are large – seventy pages of A4 each – and they're impressively illustrated with the graphic work of Harry Turner who is now established as the art editor. Zimri 6 starts off with Brian Aldiss's "Twelve Magnificent Ways To Die" and follows this with an assortment of items: an interview with Slawomir Mrozek, fiction by Rob Holdstock (no less), an account of the voyage to see the solar eclipse, an OMPAcon report by John Hall, pieces by Ted Tubb, Harry Turner, and Ian Williams, book reviews, guest fanzine reviews by Greg Pickersgill, and finally a lengthy letter column. The seventh issue, partly printed, partly duplicated, has an interview with John Brunner, more fiction from Rob Holdstock, pieces by Jo Withisone, Harry Turner, Chris Priest, and Ian Williams, and the usual reviews and letters.
Zimri has had two fine issues this year, therefore, and, after a short-lived rumour to the contrary, now looks well-established. There's a hint of the Bigger & Better syndrome at work, with the multicoloured covers and the move towards printing; but I'm confident that Lisa won't fall into that potential trap – and Checkpoint, of course, is never wrong!
6) Maya (18 points)(-) edited by Rob Jackson.
=7) Triode (13 points)(-) edited by Eric Bentcliffe.
=7) Spi (13 points)(-) edited by Graham Poole.
9) Cypher (10 points)(-) edited by Jim Goddard.
10) Big Scab (9 points)(-) edited by John Brosnan.
There's been some considerable movement, therefore, in the Top Ten. Out from last year's list are: Vector, Blunt, Cynic, Ritblat, Hell, Magic Pudding and Erg.
True Rat attracted the largest number of voters (12) this year, whilst Inferno received the largest number of first place votes (3).
BEST SINGLE ISSUE: Thirteen issues of eleven fanzines were nominated.
1) True Rat 5 (Roy Kettle)(3 votes).
2) Spi 2 (Graham Poole)(2 votes).
BEST BRITISH FANWRITER: Twenty-three people were nominated, thirteen of them receiving more than one vote. Points were awarded as in the 'Best Fmz' section and last year's positions are again given in brackets.
1) ROY KETTLE (55 points)(6th). Well, what can you say? With fourteen people voting for him, Roy won this section with even more ease than the 'Best Fanzine' one. There's worse to come too – if he'd torn a stencil artistically, he'd have won the fanartist poll, for sure. So it goes.
Anyway, Roy's fanwriting has been largely confined to his own True Rat, apart from a rare letter elsewhere. It's very funny, very good, and I'm damned if I'm going to say any more than that.
2) JOHN BROSNAN (25 points)(3rd). Apart from editing Big Scab, a jont winner of the 1974 Nova Award, John has spent the last year filling the pages of Sf Monthly and Vertex, and has also had another book published. Big Scab would doubtless have done better in the poll if it had appeared in the last couple of months; but apart from writing in this personalzine cum scandal sheet, John has turned up in other fanzines such as Egg, where he has a regular column, 'North Sea Nog'.
3) PETER ROBERTS (19 points)(9th). That's very civil of you all. Thanks. I haven't, I'm afraid, done anything very much – just writing for my own fanzines, Egg, The Little Gem Guide, and the last of the pre-Pardoe Checkpoints, with a few other oddments and letters thrown in.
4) GREG PICKERSGILL (17 points)(2nd). Greg has probably been more active this year than last; but his fanzine, Ritblat, appeared early on in the year and fans have notoriously short memories. His trenchant fanzine reviews have, however, turned up in Zimri and Egg published the fearful tale of the first British Star Trek convention.
5) PAT CHARNOCK (15 points)(-). To the best of my knowledge, Pat has stayed with her own fanzine, Wrinkled Shrew, writing articles, editorials, and even fiction for it. Graham Charnock, incidentally, came in 11th. The cats didn't make it (you damn voters are just prejudiced).
6) Gray Boak (13 points)(4th)
7) Bob Shaw (12 points)(-)
=8) Ian Williams (11 points)(5th)
=8) Paul Skelton (11 points)(11th=)
10) Eric Bentcliffe (6 points)(-)
BEST ARTICLE OR REPORT: Eight pieces were nominated (one vote each, except:)
1) ROY KETTLE – Novacon Report in True Rat 5 (five votes).
BEST BRITISH FANARTIST: Twenty people were nominated, thirteen of them receiving more than one vote. Points were awarded as in the 'Best Fmz' section and last year's positions are given in brackets.
1) HARRY BELL (49 points)(2nd). Harry has once again topped the poll – the third time in four years – and his artwork, mostly cartooning, has obviously proved to be as popular as ever. Recently he's branched out from the Gannetzines of the North East and has been seen in American fanzines, as well as UK ones.
2) HARRY TURNER (26 points)(3rd=). Harry Turner once again kept within Zimri, where he's had good opportunity to demonstrate his skill as an artist (and writer too). His cover for the sixth issue was once of the winners of the 'Best Cover' section.
3) ANDREW STEPHENSON (25 points)(1st). Less evident in fanzines this year, Andrew has nonetheless continued to produce some excellent science fiction artwork, notably the cover of the Seacon programme book which was voted joint first with Zimri 6.
4) DAVE ROWE (18 points)(3rd=). Another fanartist who's been fairly quiet this year, Dave has nonetheless continued to provide material for British fanzines (and a couple of American ones), including a cover for the final Lurk.
5) PAUL SKELTON (17 points)(7th). Paul is rapidly becoming the new all-round fan, since he makes his appearance in the 'Best Fanwriter' – he's also on the Mancon committee! His cartoonwork has enlivened his own fanzine and others in the UK.
6) Jim Pitts (15 points)(-)
7) Terry Jeeves (12 points)(13th=)
=8) Dick Howett (10 points)(-)
=8) Steve Jones (10 points)(-)
=10) John Mottershead (7 points)(-)
BEST FANZINE COVER: Eleven covers from ten fanzines were nominated.
=1) Zimri 6 – Harry Turner (2 votes).
=1) Seacon Programme Book – Andrew Stephenson (2 votes).
There it is, then. Another fan poll bites the dust for another year. One less voter than last year makes this the lowest turnout so far. A few people whom I expected to vote didn't, but perhaps they're no longer subscribing to Checkpoint. Still, I'm quite content – and, after all, all but one of the voters this time are fan-editors, so I reckon that makes the results of some considerable interest.
CHECKPOINT is published by Darroll Pardoe, 24 Othello Close, Hartford, Huntingdon, PE18 7SU. It's available for trade, news, or 12/£1 (12/$3 US). This supplement to the 63rd issue is edited by Peter Roberts, 6 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2, and is being sent to all voters in the 1974-5 fan poll. A few copies are available for 12p (inc.post). Retormel Press Publication: 98. 15th June, 1975.
THAT OLD URGE: To print news, that is... With apologies to Darroll, I'll use this space for any oddments I have on hand that might be of interest.
Hmm. That's more advertising than news; it's a good job I'm no longer editing Checkpoint, I think.
Keep yourself amused. I'm off now.
Printed Matter Only