Friday 3 May 2024

Memory Mixtape #31: The 15 Fame-Filled Minutes Of The Fanzine Writer

The Boomtown Rats - Fanzine Hero

Continued from yesterday's post... when I was about 16 or 17, I was invited to join an APA. I had no idea what an APA was and the internet wasn't around to explain like it is nowadays.

You Am I - Bitter Young Man Of The Franzine Press

Iffypedia tells us...

"An amateur press association is a group of people who produce individual pages or zines that are sent to a Central Mailer for collation and distribution to all members of the group."

Initially I was just writing individual pages for a zine called Comic Critics Cavalcade, in which letter-hacks from all over the world could share their thoughts on new or old comics or the changing face of the industry. 

After a year or two doing that, I was allowed into the inner circle: Inertron, an APA in which a small group of British comic fans made their own zines every couple of months, photocopied a batch, and sent them off to a central mailer for distribution to the rest of the group.

Fanzines are cheap, I know
Shape your mind

A week or so later, we'd receive a huge parcel containing every else's zines which we then read and commented on. Some of those zines were huge (for anyone who thinks writing this blog must be a time-consuming affair, it's nothing to the amount of time involved in being part of an APA). Yet it was also a lot of geeky fun... otherwise else why did we spend so much time on it? 

Not everyone involved was a teenager like me - some of the other contributors were in their 20s, 30s or even older... but nobody thought there was anything odd about that. We were united by our shared love of comics... but also, films, music, TV shows, and life as we knew it. Nobody agreed on everything, but nobody violently disagreed either. We were interested, rather than angry, when someone liked different things to us. Being a part of that group was a natural precursor to the blogosphere - or this comfortable little corner of the blogosphere anyway. 

I recently found all my old APAs up in my mum's attic, and I'm in the process of scanning them to digital files for posterity. Below is the cover to the first issue of my zine Rock n Roll, named after the sign off line I used for all my fan letters. At the top of the post is a cover from a later edition. Even though this was an APA for comics fans, we could write about whatever we wanted in our own zines, so music was a big part of my witterings even back then. 

Until I found that dusty old box up in mum's attic, I hadn't thought about my time in the APA group for maybe a quarter of a century. I'm not sure why it stopped, but I suspect it was partly that the internet took over. I did find myself quite active in online comics groups from the mid-late 90s, and I suspect quite a few of my fellow APA-ers made a similar leap. I was also spending more and more time producing my own comics by then (not to mention completing my English degree and working in radio) so something had to give. I miss the creativity and community of it all, but other things came along to fill that hole... like writing this blog. I guess I've always felt the need to put my thoughts down and have them read by others, all that's changed is the medium.

In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of someone stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer


  1. I love that the cover of Rock'n'Roll 3 is so clearly your work - the selection of faces is exactly the usual suspects I'd expect after so many years of reading your blogs.

    1. Some of those images made me scratch my head a little. I was obviously a huge family of the Lethal Weapon movies at the time... haven't watched one of those in years!

  2. Is Central Mailer any relation to Norman?

  3. Wonderful, just wonderful. I feel lucky too that this corner of the blogosphere is perhaps as close as we can get to the whole experience, attitude, creativity and camaraderie you had in your APA. And of course I love your fanzine covers!
    I did my own little one-woman fanzine in the mid-80s about psych music, all painstakingly hand-written and hand-drawn, but never had a dedicated group to share it with / swap, etc. What a lovely idea.

    1. I thought of you while I was putting this post together C. Sad that you never had similar, to share your zines with.

  4. As I was reading through this, I thought that it sounded very similar to the way our blogging community has evolved to where it now finds itself....the very point you made a few sentences later in your piece!!

    I was heavily involved in a football fanzine for many years, one that is still fondly recalled by those who read it at the time (90s/early 00s). I'm often asked why it stopped being published and also would the collective brains trust ever bring it back. The answer to the latter is no, and it's linked to the answer to the former, which is the onset of the digital age. Like so many great relics of the bygone era, they were of their time and place. But reading through them, they have stood the test of time (contents wise) - and I bet it's the exact same for 'Rock'n'Roll' (although I bet you're kicking yourself that you didn't drop the second 'l' in the title!!)

  5. That was me up above!!!! don't know why it appeared as anonymous

    1. I did consider Rock n Rol for a sign off / title, but it just looked weird and a bit egotistical, so I preferred the full expression.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...