Friday, 4 May 2018

Fanzines (slightly-out-of-focus)

Fanzines (slightly-out-of-focus)

There's been renewed interest in the world of 'Doctor Who' fanzines recently and from time to time some long-forgotten A5 labour of love emerges blinking from our cupboard-under-the stairs. I like to imagine them looking slightly perplexed at the Strange New World that has evolved since they were printed in the late 80s or early 90s.

Now I don't want to sound like The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch, but in those days we 'ad it tough. Best you could hope for was a sixth-generation black-and-white copy of 'Doctor Who And The Silurians', and this is reflected in the contents of Issue One of 'Five Hundred Eyes'.

Published in Autumn 1987 by David Gibbs (aged 20 at the time - just have to put that on record, as I accidentally aged David by six years when doing the commentary for the video), it provides not only an interesting read, but a snapshot of fandom at the time.

You didn't have access to everything - the official VHS releases had only been going a few years and (apart from the compilation version of 'The Seeds Of Death') were pretty much restricted to 4-part stories in 625-line colour. (Although the review of the 'Death To The Daleks' video deals with this matter in more detail, as Part One was actually a 525-line conversion job)

As I reader, I was interested in what these stories were actually like. Quoting chunks of dialogue wasn't filler material, it was as near to experiencing the actual episodes as you were likely to get. The 'Doctor Who Magazine' Archives were fine as far as they went, but I wanted DETAIL. So big chunks of small text were the thing. Photos were difficult to photocopy well and I tended to pass over most fiction, as it hadn't been on the telly.

But one day neither was 'Doctor Who' and the early 90s sees fandom questioning itself over where to go next. Jumping to 1990 and Issue One of 'Brave New World', we note that there's a significant amount of material themed around the shiny new 'Star Trek : The Next Generation'. But 'Star Cops', 'Brass' and 'The Black And Blue Lamp' are also included in the mix and for Issue Two I somehow managed to get them to publish my piece about 'Clangers', which was nice.

There's a mere three years between these titles, but they clearly illustrate how fandom was a-changing. There were a lot of keen young things not afraid to try new ways of doing things. We didn't know at the time where it would lead us, but that was the exciting part.

What remarkable is how well many of those fanzines stand up today, so hurrah for all those people who just got up and did stuff! I would take my hat off to you, but it's over there on the table.

On top of a pile of old fanzines, funnily enough...

(By Andrew Trowbridge)

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