originally published in VECTOR 45, July 1967,
BEHIND THE SCENES - Malcolm Edwards
Back to square one, with a VECTOR that provokes happy memories of the Archie Mercer administration of three years ago. Yes, three years! Shut your eyes for a moment, and they seem like a bad dream, a sickness, a self-delusion that the B.S.F.A. was a 'prestige' organisation. Think of the sterile little magazine that looked so nice but was never read, and compare it with a VECTOR that does what it should, that keeps members in touch, is warm, human and personal.There’s no mystery to me that the Doreen Parker/Ken Slater show of recent months, “editerrible” and all, has attracted so much in the way of letters, material and interest. After all, there is such a thing as providing what the readership wants!
Here’s me going on as if I actually had something to do with the VECTOR production line,as if I had any idea what to talk about. Charles Legg complains that there is no fan news in this column. Not knowing any fan news, or even whether there is any fan news, I felt a bit nonplussed on hearing this. And then by borrowing a few current fanzines, I managed to learn quite a lot. The fuss about the WSFA has died down, but now there’s this business about the ‘Pong’. Yes that’s right, the ‘Pong’, as in bad smell. And bad smell there is about a move by the New York World Convention Committee to replace the ‘Hugo’ for best amateur magazine with a fan award. Now I ask you, if you were a fanzine editor, would you want something sitting on your sideboard labelled ‘Pong’? Imagine a visitor asking “What is it?’ - and imagine the involved embarrassed explanation. that would follow! One experience of this and the thing would be hidden at the back of the box room!
If I were a fanzine editor I’d be just a little annoyed at a high-handed, unnecessary, and foolish change in standard award-giving practice.There ought to be some hard and fast rules about these yearly presentations. Reamy with TRUMPET, Rolfe and Meskys with NIEKAS, and the DOUBLE:BILL dynamic duo refused to accept if they win one. Latest news is that the New York Convention Committee has decided to withdraw the name "Pong" from the fan awards, due to adverse reaction from fandom.
Then there’s this other business in American fandom, about the Amazing-Fantastic-Ultimate Publishing Company policy of paying only token amounts for reprinted material. Some dedicated fans want to launch a boycott, so that all of fandom stops buying the magazines and shows the evil publishers the error of their ways. Two reasons why this idea is laughable; one that the whole of fandom has never united for any reason, and two, that if they did, it would be an insignificant proportion of Sol Cohen’s total sales. In other words, I doubt that he is losing any sleep.
Closer to hand, there is a blitzkreig pending over the OMPA mess. After many years successful operation, this one and only British Amateur Publishing Association is in trouble, due mainly to an Official Editor who hasn’t done anything for nine months. Brian Jordan has been sitting on organisation magazines and records, and President Archie Mercer has threatened to get things moving by storming Sheffield. Whether any members are sufficiently interested to make OMPA a going concern again after so long, is open to doubt, particularly since the BSFA sponsored Publishing & Distributing Service continues to draw in newcomers and grind out carbon-copy new magazines.
Has PaDs ever produced anything worth reading? I don’t know much about the history of the organisation except that it sprang full grown from the ruins of the ‘New Wave’ era and (rumour has it) is still haunted by Charles Platt’s ghost.
I may be unkind here, but a recent mailing provided me with what I assume is a typical cross-section of material, and it was nearly all terrible. PROTEUS was running the dullest fan-feud ever. Nearly all was bad, hardly a spark of imagination, literary talent or of interest.
As far as other fanzines are concerned, there’s a new and more sickeningly-perfect than ever issue of TRUMPET now available from Desmond Squire, 24 Riggindale Rd, Streatham, London, 3/6. Not only is this a glossy Playboy-like fanzine, but it is also extremely well-written, making me sincerely glad for the thousandth time that I don’t actually edit a magazine of my own to be shown up in comparison.
The Christmas issue of QUIP is finally out, 100 pages worth waiting for, with a mainly humour content and the occasional serious item. I liked almost everything in the magazine.
Finally, Cringebinder Publications present. LES SPINGE, named after the famous Stourbridge Fan Leslie P Hinge who first used the Darroll Pardoe pseudonym. Number 17 arrived recently, slim, neat, and funny, and available on request from 11 Cheniston Gardens, London W.8. I get this as one of the ‘perks’ with. this column, and I think I have earned another couple of issues.