'Fandom Is A Way Of Life'
I used to be a Fine Art and Graphic Design teacher. I now spend my time dog-sitting our three rescue girls, working on my own comics projects, and trying to unshackle myself from the scanner...
A little bit of history.
My first brush with Comics Fandom occurred in the late 70's, and centered on the discovery of an advert for a Fanzine called 'CEREBRO', in one of the British weekly comics. To my shame, I'm no longer sure which one it was, It may have been 'The Titans', 'The Mighty World Of Marvel' or 'Spider-Man Comics Weekly', I was reading most of the British Marvel reprint output at the time.
As a young teenager, growing up in a small South Wales town, the realisation that there were other people out there older than me, who not only enjoyed reading, and talking about comics, but who were publishing their own magazines on the subject, was a real eye-opener.
I wasn't alone.
Sending my scraped together 35p, to the editor, Geoff Willmetts, I purchased my first sample copy of the zine, and the slippery slope began. A zine review column in that first issue of CEREBRO led to me buying an issue of Gez Kelly's 'GRAPHIC SENSE', which led to 'BEM', which led to 'FANTASY ADVERTISER', which led to... Well, you get the idea.
Over the next few years, I made many friends through Fandom, some of whom I'm still lucky enough to know today. After publishing my own zine and running several APA's I eventually dropped out of the scene in about 1990, a lack of interest in the comics themselves, entering University as a 'Mature' student, and growing family commitments meant that Fandom was no-longer 'a way of life', and the hobby faded from my consciousness.
Fast forward to last year: Having renewed some old friendships on Facebook, and having started following some Comics centric groups, I was pleased to see Jamie Grey posting some covers to issues of 'CEREBRO', he had managed to track down on ebay.
My own collection of zines had either been thrown away by myself (or others - don't ask), and Jamie's post included the front cover of issue 23, which was my one and only effort. I hadn't seen the zine or the artwork in years and ended up feeling very nostalgic.
Jamie very kindly sent me a copy of that cover, and I decided that I'd really like to track down my own copy. As I started the search, and went beyond ebay, I come across some very informative blogs by Dez Skinn, Lew Stringer, Harry Mcavinchey and Russell Willis. Reading them, I realised that although the zines were fondly remembered, very few of the originals were in circulation.
A few people back in 2006 or so, had mentioned on one of Lew's blog posts how nice it would be if some of the zines were to be made available to read on-line, and suggested that 'someone' should scan them and make them available... Needless to say, I couldn't find anyone who had actually taken up that gauntlet (I can understand, it is a lot of work), so I decided to have a go myself.
Over the last two years, I've been collecting together as many Fanzines as I can get my hands on, and contacting as many editors as I can find, to ask for permission to produce PDF files of their zines and place them on-line. The response has been amazing, and you can see the first tentative steps to the idea becoming a reality, here.
I hope that this will prove to be a real kick for those of us who were involved in the scene to be able to read these again. Nice as well I hope for the 'Net generation' to see what all the fuss was about.
Of course, there's nothing quite like holding an original zine in your hands, and because they are so rare, there is a healthy collectors market for these things.The pdf files presented here are in no way intended to replace physical copies of the zines, and I would encourage anybody who can, to track down and purchase the originals. They are hard to find though, and it seems a shame that with so few in circulation, the wonderful work produced for these publications should remain seen by so few people.
Together with the help of some very kind people mentioned on the credits page, I've scanned the zines we've been able to find so far, and cleaned up the sometimes crumbling and poorly printed pages in Photoshop.
Personal addresses have been removed from the zines (after 30 plus years, they are probably out of date, and besides, the guilty need to be protected), and the pdf files are then generated.
This is very much still only the start of the project, and the zines presented here are only scratching the surface of what was produced. It's a huge undertaking, and I would welcome anyone who would like to help by donating their own scans and information to this project. Several people have loaned me their own zines, (which I treat with the utmost care and return quickly after scanning) so that's also an option.
I'm under no illusion that I can do this all on my own, but with help, I'd eventually like to be able to provide a repository of as many Comics Fanzines printed in the U.K. as possible. Please feel free to contact me if you feel you can help in any way.
I hope you enjoy reading the zines. A lot of love and care went into them originally, and I've tried to give them the same respect myself, here.