I keep reading in apas and LoCs that
"young (that is people in their teens and 20s) fans aren't doing fanzines." There's
a great deal of weeping and wailing about the 'death' of fanzine fandom as there are
no younger fans coming up to keep the tradition going.
At this point, the discussion invariably points toward computers and how they (a) "make pubbing an ish too easy" or (b) "stop young fans from doing a fanzine" by turning them into games addicts or by drawing them into the computer net and away from traditional fandom. The discussion usually dies out at this point with participants shaking their heads over the situation.
However, if you feel that the 20-somethings are forsaking print media for electronic, then you haven't heard about their latest discovery -- *zines*. The world of alternative press publications has been covered in depth by Mike Gunderloy when he was publishing Factsheet Five, as many of you undoubtedly know. Lately, however, I've seen articles in mundane magazines and newspapers on the alternative press and at least one story on NPR's All Things Considered has covered this *hot* topic.
Rich and I even played a small part in an article that appeared in The Washington Post on the subject.
A few months ago we were contacted by a Post staff writer who said he was preparing an article on fanzines and would like to talk to us. We were non-committal, since we value our anonymity here, but Rich talked to him for a few minutes and sent him a copy of Mimosa.
A few weeks went by and we hadn't heard back from the reporter. Rich called the fellow back and was told that he really liked Mimosa, but he wasn't going to include anything from their discussion in his article. However, he was interested in SF fandom in the area and would be getting back in touch. (The reporter also expressed interest in attending a meeting of WSFA, the local fan group, but has yet to show up.)
So a few more weeks went by and a Friday rolled around. On Fridays, The Washington Post's Weekend section runs a feature story usually about something that's happening in the area, such as where to find dinosaur exhibits. This particular Friday, however, the feature story was "The Zine Scene." The cover of the Weekend section was small reproductions of covers of some of the local fanzines and there on the bottom of the page -- between Teenage Gang Debs and The Shattered Wig -- was Mimosa!
Profiled inside were a number of people in their twenties who produce zines. Their zines covered, among other things, the punk rock movement, The Brady Bunch TV show, and writings on everyday life. I especially enjoyed the article's definition of zine: "...a small-circulation periodical produced mainly for kicks and almost always at a loss to the publisher." Stressed throughout the article was how these zines are done on the cheap with "...excellent writing and tight editing not the hallmarks of the genre..." (emphasis mine). The article went on to say that this 'independent-press boom' began in 1982; it concluded with a description of how to get started and how to circulate a zine. All in all, it was a light-hearted article that provided useful information about producing a zine yet trivialized the editing and writing of one.
At the very end of the article was a list of local zines, with a brief description of each and how to get them. Included in the list was Mimosa, even though it (and we) had not been mentioned.
On reading the article, I could see how Rich and I (and Mimosa) didn't fit the feature writer's idea of zine editors or of a zine. We were beyond our twenties, had a tightly edited zine with well-written articles, and had been doing this for about 15 years. The story was about the 20-year-old people who were 'radical' enough to be part of this *new* movement, who started pubbing in their teens, and who were mining topics, such as how they felt about The Brady Bunch or the latest music trend. Mimosa just didn't seem to fit the 'grunge' profile evident in many of the zines.
Nevertheless, we did get inquires from two people who wanted copies of Mimosa. Haven't heard back yet from any of them, though...
Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead