Archive for the ‘MEDIA CIRCUS’ Category

Reverse the Polarity! 24

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007


As fans we often pride ourselves on being part of a highly creative community and reading RTP! seems to really make this ring true.  This issue not only gives us the mix of reviews, fiction, interviews, artwork and opinion that you’d expect, but also manages to present an original 8 page comic strip.  More on that later, but I mention it now to illustrate how RTP! always manages to surprise with its content, in an almost ‘bigger on the inside’ sort of way.
Anyone who knows Andy Poulsen must have read the absorbing interview with a wry smile on their faces.  I’ve always liked him, and if Poulsen occasionally comes across as a little full of himself, reading about his various enterprises and achievements makes it very difficult to deny him that.  The interview seems to shy away from nothing, and I’m left wondering if NZ fandom should feel a collective twinge of remorse over what Poulsen’s had to bear in the wake of 1990’s WhoCon, and collective admiration at how well he’s come out of it since. The centrepiece of the issue is undoubtedly Peter Adamson’s latest instalment of his Cydonia epic.  Stark and beautifully crafted images with an almost poetic narrative make this strip unique and fascinating. More frivolously, I wonder if Adamson is re-establishing the might of the ‘other alien race’ which appears in this strip, to redress the treatment they received in their recent televised ‘monster-match’?But what really made RTP! 24 a Fanzine that I wanted to read was the fact that it tackled Torchwood (At last!)  Literally tackled, given the tone of the relevant articles.  I seem to be part of a minority that enjoyed Doctor Who’s first adult spin-off, but David Ronayne does argue very convincingly for the prosecution.  Slightly less convincing was Editor Alexander Ballingall’s sweeping statement: “The regulars beyond Jack are all boring…” RTP! is better than that, and so is Ballingall in his reviews, artwork and replies to one of the wittiest and most entertaining letters pages which I’ve ever read.

In this incredible age of ‘Who healthiness’ which we’ve unexpectedly found ourselves living in, RTP! manages to find its own particular, fun and irreverent voice to celebrate this as well as showcasing fan talent of an international standard.  That the ‘funky vegetarian platter’ of New Zealand Fanzines deserves a wider audience and contributor list is beyond doubt.  But I have the impression that it has been a little overlooked and neglected by Fandom in the past (although this never shows in quality) so perhaps it should be asked: “do we deserve RTP!”?


Ed note: RTP!s new online home is at

TSV 74

Friday, May 4th, 2007

This time last year TSV began its regeneration from its former chatty self. Issue 74 features the latest change to the zine, the removal of a series news page, similarly the length of reviews (although still the largest component of the zine) has been reduced. So what’s making up the issue nowadays?

Let’s begin with the cover. A good, central image and focal point, although it does strike me as a tad generic; the third consecutive one in fact to scream ‘this never happened on the telly!’. No bad thing, but having done my fair share of illustrations like this, I’ve the feeling I’ve seen it all before. The back cover however is just lovely, and would have been a welcome front piece for a Survival review – hopefully earmarked for TSV 75 or, dare I say it, any feature on the McCoy Era.

Inside the illustrations are a step up from the wobbly lines of fanzines past, although theNth generation xerox-like’ Series 2 accompaniments lack any impact whatsoever, and Amy Mebberson’s cartoons for editorial and inside back cover, while very charming, needed some explanation on the message board as to who they represented, which is a pity following such a stunning online debut.

Beyond this the content is actually pretty varied once you take the reviews out: perhaps befitting the editor’s UK location and access to some of the show’s personnel there are two interviews, one of which could be reasonably filed under: Curious – but not earth-shattering. There’s also the continuing saga of David Lawrence’s long excursion through the EDAs. To call this a review would be to diminish it unnecessarily, as it’s David’s prose which keeps it moving along, and while they’re not my cup of tea, it’s good that the zine is still acknowledging other media this way. Audio reviews feature – although Paul McGann’s recent radio adventures are curiously overlooked, and Jon Preddle brings back Doctor’s Dilemma after a long absence, though it’s a quiet slip through the door rather than a fanfare and red carpet. Back in the ’90s you could be assured a little controversy with Jon’s regular piece, but I wonder whether in this age of Google and Wikipedia the reign of any Who oracle has passed? And speaking of such, Andrew Pixley gives us another of his exhaustive Missing Moments, this time from The Sea Devils. Not a story I’m greatly engaged by, and it’s telling that one of its excised scenes reveals the thrill of someone getting up from a chair, checking a monitor and sitting down again. Maybe my concentration span wasn’t built for such articles; but I did like the illustration Al! And Jamas’ drabbles were fun for me, a person with a limited attention span for fan fiction at the best of times.

The rest of TSV can be reliably summed up as reviews. There’s no way twenty years ago that even a six-monthly fanzine reviewing contemporary episodes would have been lumbered with twelve separate stories, so it must be acknowledged that some of TSV‘s repetition of these (the series, followed by the DVD releases) has to do with new series format. But something should address this in itself. TSV Being a bi-yearly zine we can expect this sort of carry-on every second issue. The zine is clearly swamped with the weight of new series material, edging out in this issue the original series DVD releases for one, but even this controlled pulling back is making reading a challenge, and if personal elements like a letters page and club update are being withdrawn to make room for reviews, then this can not be a good thing. A national fanzine has a responsibility to inform fans, document its achievements and help maintain its community. TSV won’t do this by series reviews and story files alone.

I see an occasion in a few years’ time where this issue of TSV might be looked at in retrospect to see what local fandom was busying itself with, and that investigation coming up rather lean. In fact, over the last twelve months of the life of the NZDWFC a reasonable amount has happened – a pretty serious dust-up on the message boards, the appearance of Zeus Plug and accompanying it the revival of the main centre chapters and fan gatherings. In short, we fans actually got together and did what you’d expect healthy creative fans to do. Six months down the track, and you’ll find no mention of this in the national fan club journal. Seemingly in dumping the new series news page TSV has also done away with the local news and sport.

So it’s another gradual shuffle forward. If the new series hit us like a double decker bus then TSV is gradually regaining its ability to walk. It will be a slow recovery. Next issue is the celebratory 75, surely an occasion to look back and tell that story about running issue one off on the University photocopier again. To paraphrase another thing that screened (and was overlooked) between issues, TSV 76 is where it’ll all happen, and the zine had better be ready.