FANSCENE 2 is a free 212 page PDF fanzine, out now, celebrating over fifty years of Comics Fandom in Ireland and the UK, with its focus this issue on Comic Conventions, from the very first held in Birmingham and organised by Phil Clarke in 1968, through the glory days of UKCAC, to the wide range of events that are being held today.
Here, Editor David Hathaway-Price, who also runs the terrific Classic UK Comics Zines online archive, reveals more about the project – and his plans for a third next year…
FANSCENE 2 is another 50th celebration. This time though, it’s making a ‘bit of a fuss’ about the comics convention scene in the UK.
The first British Comic Art Convention was held between the 30th August and the 2nd September 1968; organised by (yes, it’s that man again) Phil Clarke. I’d kind of hoped that ICE Birmingham this year would have been an ideal collective celebration of the event, and I know that at one point, there were tentative plans in place for a ‘Fan’ panel to be held, reuniting some of the father figures to chat about the original event.
However, due to ill health (get well soon, Mike), and commerce (Phil was earning a crust that weekend at a Mart — once a dealer, always a dealer) it didn’t happen. A real shame; though it has to be said that Shane Chebsey’s event was hugely enjoyable in any case, and a great example of how the smaller, comics-centric events can go toe-to-toe with the huge multimedia events, and provide just as much entertainment.
So it falls to this humble publication to pay tribute in a small way to the convention scene over those 50 years.
This isn’t a comprehensive history of every convention that has taken place in this country… it’s a celebration of the scene; picking out some highlights over the years as people see them.
I feel I have to point that out, as although reaction to the last issue was very positive, I did get a little criticism that particular individuals or publications had been overlooked. My only defence is that it was a Celebration rather than a History — I tried my best to reach out to as many people as I could find contact details for (and also through social media), for the best part of six months. I can assure anyone who wasn’t included that no snub was intended, and that now that Fanscene is set to become an ongoing project, I hope that everyone who was involved with fandom over the years can eventually be honoured. If you’re interested in your story being told, and I haven’t yet contacted you, please contact me.
And yes, you read that correctly. I do now see this zine as being an ongoing project. Tony Foster’s ComicScene is doing sterling work as a commercial magazine, and it would be lovely to see in on the shelves of WHSmith, alongside INFINITY, but I do think that there is room for an occasional (two or three times a year?), free, nonprofit making Special being produced. And for it to fill a very particular niche.
The fact that I want to keep these special editions non-profit making (and thus, as widely available and read as possible) does mean that I can’t offer a page rate I’m afraid, and that I will need to rely on people’s good nature, to provide their hard work and talent for the sheer love of it. Thankfully, there seems to be no shortage of goodwill for both the archive and the zine, and I am, and shall remain, eternally grateful to everyone for wishing to be involved.
And on that note: A huge Thank you to everone who has contributed to this issue. Especially of course to Mark Wayne Barrett, for another wonderful cover. “We’re the Editors?” visualises a whole host of fictional comics editors, attending a convention, and getting the standing ovation they so richly deserve. There’s a key to the featured characters elsewhere in the issue, but see if you can name them all yourself first.
Of course, the real historians amongst you will also be able to name the real editors behind the personas… .
Covers for next year have already been offered, and you can look forward to more beautiful work from Nick Neocleous, Mark Ammerman and Carlos Garzón. You really are in for some treats.
As well as celebrating the convention scene, this issue features tributes and personal recollections of several people who have recently passed on. Ron Hall writes about his former business partner and great friend, Colin Gould, and there are multiple memorials to Harlan Ellison, and Steve Ditko.
Of course, in reality this entire issue could now sadly be filled with articles about people we’ve lost in the last few months; Marie Severin, Russ Heath, Norm Breyfogle, Gary Friedrich, Terry Wiley… It’s a list this year, that is already far too long.
And then of course, just a couple of days before I write this… Carlos Ezquerra.
I never met Carlos, I was hoping to see him at this years ICE in Birmingham, but he had to cancel due to his lung operation. It was so lovely to see his Facebook message mid-September, telling all his well wishers that he had beaten the cancer. With many others, I wished him well in the comments, and told myself that I would make sure that I was at his next appearance.
Always try to meet people you admire, when you have the chance…
Carlos was such a brilliant artist (and by all accounts, a wonderfully warm and friendly human being). Strangely enough, he wasn’t my favourite artist on Dredd (Brian Bolland as it happens), but he was of course, the definitive Dredd artist, and his Strontium Dog just blew me away, right from the earliest days in Starlord.
As I write this, reaction has been instant and overwhelming. There have been so many wonderful tributes online that anything I put here would pale in comparison. If anyone would like to write an indepth one for the next issue, please just let me know.
So… a second issue. Not quite as large as the first, but hopefully just as enjoyable. There are some other very exciting projects that I’ve been invited to take part in over the next few months, but my focus is, and will remain, this zine. Hope you enjoy it.
Deadline for the next issue is: February 1st, 2019
• What’s your first memory of a British comic convention? Why not comment below?
• FANSCENE 2 features work by Mark Ammerman, Kyle Andrews, Enrico Ariis, Joy Barrett, Mark Wayne Barrett, Richard Bruton, Nick Buchanan, Neil Burton, Dan Butcher, Les Chester, Jenni Cole, Nevs Coleman, Richard Crouch, Steve Dillon, Tony Esmond, Glenn Fleming, Carlos Garzón, Trevor Goring, Ron Hall, David Hathaway-Price, Stephen Hooker, Dave Hornsby, Paul Hudson, Floyd Hughes, Trevor Hughes,Iskander Islam, Jonny Kurzman, Manny Maris, Joe Matthews, Harry McAvinchey, John McShane, Robert Menzies, Glenn Miller, Bill Naylor, Nick Neocleous, Adrien Perkins, Steve Poulacheris, Luke Rainford, Estelle Riviere, Sean Roberts, Anthony Roche, Bun Sakashita, Richard Sheaf, Jay Slack, Mike Teague, Mort Todd, Alan Roman Walsh, Steve Whitaker and Andy Williams
HOW TO BUY FANSCENE ISSUE TWO
The ‘MOBILE’ version is small enough to be viewed on line, while the main ‘FANSCENE 2’ link takes you to a version that is best downloaded and viewed on a desktop device.
A printed version will be available to purchase from David in due course (depending on interest and demand).
Please note, this project has been released as Donationware. If you like what you read, please consider donating £5 to your favourite charity in response. What about the Hero Initiative, which supports comic creators in need, for example?
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.