The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: “Lurid tales of skree-honking…”

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Fanzine reviewed: FRAP #2 (CONTINUED)

RGCameron Clubhouse Nov 13 - 2015 ILLO #1 'SANTA PEEP'

Frap (#2) Nov/Dec 1963 (CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK)

Faned: Bob Lichtman. American Genzine.

The art by Ray Nelson (on right) is rather startling to say the least. A nasty Santa indeed, years before any of the bad Santa movies. But it is the Nov/Dec issue after all, and evidently Ray wanted to explode the usual clichés…

Carrying on with my Review of FRAP #2 (begun last week’s column) we come to a reasonably pleasant account of an expedition by Redd Boggs in his car “The Honeybee” to visit Bjo Trimble and her husband where they lived in Garden Grove, evidently some distance up the “Harbour/San Diego/ Long Beach Freeway” from wherever it is Redd lived. He convinces two fellow fen, Bill Blackbeard and Edith Ogutsch, to go with him.

Alas, the Trimbles are not at home.

“If you had any wit, you’d have written or phoned in advance,” remarks Edith.

Note those were the only options available back then. No internet. And yes, people would post paper envelopes to their friends, actual hardcopy letters, to find out if it would be okay to visit at such & such a date. Telephones were often too expensive.

In fact, Redd originally intended to phone, but first he had to go through an operator. On learning that the call would cost him 50 cents for the first three minutes he complained “I could drive all the way to Garden Grove for a buck [of gas] and talk to Bjo vis a vis.”

“Yes, sir,’ said the operator, her tone clearly implying, ‘You DO that, you schlub, and stop bugging me.”

Hence the impulsive decision to simply jump in “The Honeybee,” grab a couple of friends, and drive off… to a house where the occupants were occupied elsewhere.

“To prevent the trip from being a total loss, we decided to stop in Long Beach at Perlou’s ice cream parlour. Blackbeard and I manfully ordered seven-scoop masterpieces, a banana split and a tub respectively ($1.15 apiece), while the Ogutsch, fretting about her waistline, modestly asked for a two-scoop dish…”

“Imagine! A thousand bars are open in this town, and we go to an ice cream parlour,’ marveled Blackbeard.”

“It seems like the fannish thing to do,’ I said.”

After their meal, glancing at a street map, Redd hits upon the idea of salvaging the day by dropping by the home of Paul and Ellie Turner.

“I propose to visit them,’ I told Edith and Bill. ‘I faunch for the sight of sensitive fannish faces this splendid afternoon.”

Partial success, in that Ellie was home, but “the bearded director of the LASFS was buzzing around the mountains in his sports car” so they missed her husband Paul. Back then traffic was light and buzzing around the mountains was probably very enjoyable. “Route 66”ish and all that, the cult of driving for pleasure. I strongly suspect even the mountain roads are too crowded nowadays and driving has become more of a chore, a very expensive chore considering modern gas prices.

By dusk Redd is dropping Edith off at her apartment.

“We made it,’ I said triumphantly. ‘The Honeybee has successfully completed another mission.”

She offers words of solace.

“Don’t worry. It’s not your fault that your plans turn out so badly. You do quite well for a man without brains.”

Red Boggs was noted for his wit and satire. Gentle satire in this case.

Next comes an article by a Canadian fan writing about another Canadian fan, all the while satirising fannish tradition and culture in slightly sharper tones.

“Whatever happened to Georgina Ellis? “ by Norm Clarke.

The question was asked by FRAP’s editor Bob Lichtman. Norm wonders why.

“Ghod knows why HE has this extraordinary interest in the mysterious fate of the legendary Miss Ellis; perhaps it is because he was among that legion of hot-eyed young fans who hungrily pawed through the titillating pages of those Ellis fanzines – MIMI, WENDIGO, GRUNT, MOONCALF – of such long and so many years ago. One can hardly blame him, if such is the case; for those fanzines were eminently pawable, as was Miss Ellis herself.”

“Many were the SOTTO-VOCE long-distance telephone calls Georgina Ellis received in those days, from debonair, sophisticated fans (who invariably informed her that they were standing naked at the telephone, hoping, in their Science-Fictional way, that Teleportation would momentarily prove to be a true fact)…

“But let us backtrack a little bit, here: for it is shockingly but unquestionably true that some of the newer fans (‘Them Newer Fans,’ as I call them) do not remember Georgina Ellis – may, indeed, have never heard of her. “

“Alas! Such is the ephemeral nature of Fandom. Don’t talk to me about ‘timebinding.’ Don’t even mention it! Some of you may think that the publication of a few issues of a fanzine – even a fabulous fannish fanzine – is a guarantee of immortality. It isn’t!”

“Who among us now remembers such once-famous fanzines as QUANDRY, OOPSLA!, SKYHOOK? And yet there was a time when these were all nearly as well-known as MIMI, WENDIGO, and the rest of the fanzines that once poured from the amazingly fecund Ellis mimeograph (‘fecund,’ in fact, is the most apt word to use in describing Miss Ellis.) But who, today, voted for Georgina Ellis, or her publications, in a FANAC poll?”

“You want to know what happened to Geogina Ellis? I’ll tell you… and it should serve as a warning to all of you – especially the Femmefans, or ‘Lady Authors’ as I call them – of the pitfalls, frustrations and futility of Science Fiction Fandom….”

“Ask Georgina Ellis – once a name on every trufan’s drooping lip, once the fabulous Duchess of Canadian Fandom, once a major character in a novel by Wilson ‘Uncle Mike’ Tucker. Ask Georgina ‘Dutch’ ‘Duchess’ ‘Biff’ Ellis where all that fabulous fannish fame has gone. Ask her what she thinks, now, of ‘egoboo’ and FIAWOL and sensitive fannish faces. Go on; ask her what she’s doing now?”

“She won’t tell you, but I will: she’s doing the dishes.”

The punch line depending on the fact that Georgina had married Norm.

Comparing her zines to legendary zines like QUANDRY isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Harry Warner Jr. (THE fandom historian) once wrote that her “fanzines were famous far and wide.” I myself have never read any of them, but I know a little bit about them, and her.

According to William D. Grant, writing in his “Fanzine Publishing in Canada” article which appeared in CANADIAN FANDOM #33A in Feb 1957, Georgina “Dutch” Ellis (Clarke) was the first female fanzine editor and publisher to enter Canadian Fandom.

She began with MIMI, published out of Calgary, a genzine of which at least three issues appeared in 1954. It was listed in CANADIAN FANDOM #22 as a member of CAFP (Canadian Amateur Fan Publishers) so it must have been well regarded by Canadian fen. Norman Clarke of Aylmer, Quebec, was an article contributor, as was Harry Calneck of Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia.

Will Straw, writing to Murray Moore in May of 1973, described what may be a typical article:

“Norm and Gina Clarke have a fanzine that Gina published in the early fifties that contains an article proposing for Canadian fandom much the same type of political organization that Claude Degler pressed for world fandom. It involved every Canadian fan carrying a card of identification that would allow him to crash at the homes of other fans and suggested a very tight regional organization and bureaucratic setup along the lines of the Cosmic Circle.”

Strongly suspect this was a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Deglerism.

Gina contributed art to MIMI. It should be noted she was considered a fan artist as much as she was respected as a fan writer. Her art was somewhat surreal, and she sometimes signed her pieces “Sali Dali.”

Of her art, Taral Wayne wrote: “Gina…had talent, exposure to modern art which showed in some of her surreal or cubist illos, and more than one style.”

Desmond Emery, who corresponded with her for a time, wrote: “Boy could she ever draw! If I was going to be a big-time writer, she would have been the illustrator on whom I would rely to get my vision down on paper…”

Incidentally, Gina was generally known by the title “Duchess” [of Canadian Fandom]. This came about because of her habit, when writing to the genzine actually called CANADIAN FANDOM, of signing her name “Dutch Ellis” which was ultimately shortened by her friends to “Duchess”, and henceforth she was known by that title, in part to honour her many years active in fandom.

Her second genzine was WENDIGO, also published out of Calgary, for eleven issues in 1955 and 1956. Harry Calnek and probably Norm Clarke contributed articles. A twelfth “special revival issue” was published in 1965, and it was again revived, this time as an APAzine, in 1975.

During this period Gina contributed art to the two zines published by Harry Calnek: CANADIAN CAPERS (two issues in 1953/1954) which was meant to be a clubzine (for the pretentiously named “Canadian Science Fiction/Fantasy Fan Association, whose few members were dubbed “The Fanucks” by Howard Lyons in 1954), and FIE, a genzine, for five issues in 1954 and 1955.

FIE featured art by both Georgina and Harry, but, says Taral Wayne, “It was Gina who had talent… her crayon or pencil drawings for Calnek couldn’t be reproduced except by offset and dot-screen. On-stencil illos are less readily identified, and are somewhat in the ‘pretty’ style…”

The first issue featured a cover by Gina, depicting 5 overlapping female visages, as seen from slightly different angles, one face’s lips serving as the eye of the under-lapped face. The lip/eyes are convincing as lips, but as eyes are puff-lidded and alien.

(This is my description based on my memory of looking at a reproduction in a zine somewhere in the BCSFA archive, but darned if I can remember which one.)

Sometime in the early sixties Gina moved to Alymer, Quebec, to marry Norman Clarke (they soon moved to Ottawa, Ontario), and together they began editing DESCANT as their joint contribution to FAPA, though eventually it was distributed more widely. There were at least 24 issues, with first dating May 1959 and the last published sometime in 1973.

Robert Lichtman wrote in VEGAS FANDOM WEEKLY #100 ( 2007 ):

“DESCANT, the ‘other’ fanzine of Norm & Gina Clarke, which saw two dozen issues to HONQUE’s five. Lots of great writing by the both of them.”

HONQUE’s five issues were published 1964/1965. About them Arnie Katz commented (In #99 of VEGAS FANDOM WEEKLY):

“Norm Clarke & Gina Ellis ( Clarke ) edited a fanzine that made up in non-stop hilarity what it may have lacked in refined and slick appearance. Norm’s lurid tales of ‘skree-honking’ and the fine writing of both Gina & Boyd Raeburn guaranteed a good read, liberally punctuated by laughter.”

From 1963 to 1970 the Clarkes (along with Boyd Raeburn) published at least twenty issues of QUEEBSHOTS, an APAzine with the reputation of being quite funny & noted for its “acerbic humour”. Described by Robert Lichtman as “…a series of amusing one-shots.” Each issue had a subtitle of its own, including such as: “Terry Carr in Aspic,” “Songs Some Mother Taught Me,” and “Hoo Ha in Hagerstown.”

All the above makes me faunch to read their work, but so far the FRAP article described above is the only piece I have seen.

Sad to say, the only thing I know about GRUNT is that there was at least one issue in 1956, and about MOONCALF I know nothing whatsoever. Nifty titles though. Possibly APAzines.

Only a few oldtime fen, especially zine collectors, remember the Clarkes, but in their day they were well thought of. Norm Clarke is deceased, but I believe Gina is still alive. However she seems to have luxuriated in gafiation for at least a couple of decades and has consequently passed beyond the ken of fen (always wanted to say that). Still, by Ghu, from all accounts their fanac was an entertaining and popular contribution to zinedom. They deserve to be remembered.

I now quote Norm Clarke from FRAP #2’s letter column:

“Gina handed me FRAP the other day (she goes out to pick up the mail while I’m still sleeping), saying, ‘Ghod! What a fabulous fannish fanzine this is!”

“Really?’ I said. ‘Gimme. That’s a pretty uncharacteristic comment for you to make.”

“”I wasn’t commenting, I was quoting,’ she said. ‘You know I can’t stand fanzines… except maybe KIPPLE. What’s so great about fannish fanzines anyway? There are so many serious and sober topics that could be discussed. Now, in the latest KIPPLE, for instance…”

“Mm-hm… yes, baby… uh-huh…,’ I remarked at intervals, occasionally glancing up from FRAP and nodding enthusiastically, as Gina went on listing all the possible serious subjects for discussion. There certainly are a lot of them. However, I’m happy to see that not one of them is even mentioned in FRAP #1…”

“I’ve been glancing at Gina out of the corner of my eye, and thinking about Greg Benford’s theory concerning (in part) ‘the transient nature of fan marriages.’ Well…”

“”I presume ANGLE (or rather, the remarks about it) is a hoax, since I can’t imagine anyone publishing a fanzine with material by Grennell, Laney, Raeburn, Burbee, etc., and then mailing it to only about twenty people including contributors.” (But Lichtman swears it is not a hoax.)

Archie Mercer (the British fan who invented April 31st “Mercer’s Day” to replace May 1st and thus put an end to annoying Mayday parades and demonstrations) writes:

“I’m particularly glad to see Jim and Greg Benford getting back into the fannish mainstream again. Texas (not to mention that little block of territory to its immediate north) has far too many distractions to allow for the practice of a decent standard of fannish living…”

And Steve Stiles, still an active and popular fan artist, suggests:

“You are a little wrong when you say that fanzines are pretty similar; besides discussion zines and comicbook zines (all one or two of them) there are also these strange things called (note this) SERCON zines, APA zines, and FANNISH zines. I don’t even know if I should mention PERSONALITY zines. And there are different kinds of discussion zines, as witness the difference between POINTING VECTOR and KIPPLE – and HABAKKUK, which kind of started the ball rolling in the area, is far removed from these two. But I think you are kidding when you say all the fanzines you get are pretty similar.”

To which Lichtman replies:

“Let us say I was exaggerating for effect… The thing is, today the discussion zines in particular are the ones making the most noise, tend to be the largest, and like that. The general fanzines, fannish or general in nature, are just too few and somewhat ineffectual, most of them, in making themselves noted and notable.”

Hmm, it occurs to me that nowadays FaceBook has taken over the role of the old sercon discussion zines, absorbed all the trolls and cranks like a sponge, and left the zine field free to explore less frantic, more personal memes.

Not to imply sercon fen of old were ALL trolls and cranks, just the annoying ones.

Anyway, a good zine was FRAP.

P.S. The info on the Clarkes I mostly cribbed from my own fannish research in the Canadian SF Fanzine Archive (see link below).

BY THE WAY:

You can find a fantastic collection of zines at: Efanzines

You can find yet more zines at: Fanac Fan History Project

You can find a quite good selection of Canadian zines at: Canadian SF Fanzine Archive

And check out my brand new website devoted to my OBIR Magazine, which is entirely devoted to reviews of Canadian Speculative Fiction. Found at OBIR Magazine

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