Archive for September, 2009

Our Raisins D’etre

Saturday, September 26th, 2009



We’re through the looking glass now, people, and into the first issue of Zeus Plug number one! First up, here’s Jono’s welcome to new readers with a bit of a restatement of our agenda, and the editorial, which I was pretty pleased with at the time. Updated thoughts follow…



This is not a fanzine! A fanzine needs to be A5, have at least 20 pages, and have at least one review. ZEUS PLUG isn’t any of those. It is in fact 16 A6 pages long, officially making it the smallest NZ fanzine ever!


In explaining what you’ll get from ZEUS PLUG, it’s perhaps easier to outline what you won’t see in its pages. There won’t be any reviews (bar the occasional new series story), any interviews, list articles, and no fiction. Also ZEUS PLUG is series-centric only, so you won’t see many mentions of books and audios and anyway, TSV already covers these nicely. What you will get is opinion – lots of it. fandom survives on opinion and very little of the above. The reason this zine is so small is because life’s too short to be stuck inside reading a hundred pages of miniscule type. For God’s sake, get some fresh air! Go to the pub – you can take this with you and use it as a beer mat.


Well done on getting your hands on Issue 1 – whilst ZEUS PLUG is meant to be a quick disposable read, we still recommend you put it in a safe place. That way, in 10 years time, you can milk the completists for all they’re worth.


We hope you enjoy this issue – it’s rather wonderful with some friends and a bottle of wine.






Two things I recently observed. The first was heart-warming and, I’ve been told, not unique. On the way out of Whitcoulls I passed a young father and his son –probably no more than four or five years old. “Okay”, the father said “what do you want to look for?” “Docter Oo” “Well there’s plenty of other stuff here first, mate”. Clearly a fanboy in training if another male had to talk him around. The second thing I observed last month wasn’t so good. A debate on a message board as to whether the Children in Need ‘Pudsey Cutaway’ is canon. ‘Canon?’ I had to check the calendar to see that it wasn’t still 1995.

Doctor Who fandom has been around a long time – in organised form probably since the early 1970s; in militant form, probably the mid 1980s. Fans ‘of an age’ have grown into and up with organised fandom and its various endeavours and squabbles over ‘proper’ chronologies and issues of ‘canon’. For the most part it’s been harmless fun – nobody’s lost an eye, and even off-air the series continued to live through fandom, ever growing and changing. Well, maybe changing – I suspect that as a whole we fans don’t like too much change, as several letters to DWM et cetera will attest. Now the series is back, and many of those old fans really are old fans.

We can be proud that Doctor Who nowadays is the product of fans grown up, and has been spearheaded by those who championed it even in its last days and when the original fires sputtered out. Fans kept it alive, but it’s time for fans to move on and viewers to reclaim the series and from them new fans to appear. This doesn’t mean we should stop watching or loving the series, but it does mean we have the freedom to enjoy it again as it was intended, without the self-inflicted burden of responsibility that we are somehow its appointed guardians and curators. We owe it to the next generation of fans to allow them the freedom to interpret this series in their own way and on their own terms; to revise, reinterpret, and hopefully turn fandom on its head. If we don’t, then fandom will have nothing to nothing to talk about, no new ground to cover, and may as well not exist. And then where would we be?


This is the first editorial from Zeus Plug and it’s mine. It was deliberately provocative, intended to get a conversation going, or at least a reaction from the reader. At the time Jono and I were looking toward the new series, listening and reading the advance chatter and anticipating some backlash from fans of the traditional show who were expecting – perhaps dreading, changes to the ‘essence’ of the series with its return.

Five years on and it’s especially interesting to look back on.

I’ve pitched in with my none-too-private opinions on this blog over the years of the RTD era and among the comments I’ve made you could say that a common thread is that there’s some stuff – stuff from the Tennant/Piper stories in particular, that I’ve taken issue with. This isn’t the place to resurrect those complaints or arguments, but it does rather suggest that I have become one of those fans I was warning about in the editorial below. In short, things have changed and at times I have demonstrated that I have not moved on myself. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. Does it make me wrong? Absolutely not. Should I change my mind or indeed ‘move on’? Probaby for my sanity I could have done, but I didn’t and lookee – if I had I wouldn’t be given this gift of an opportunity to re-read past statements and reflect on my failing to live up to them! But I do believe in the statement still, as much as I believe there’ll be stuff we’ll see next year and maybe the year after that at least that won’t sit well with some old fans or some recent fans. New fans are as capable of being riled and of not accepting change as well, as reaction to Torchwood Children of Earth has shown. What does that tell us? Well, we’re fans, we each have our own vision of what the series is and how it should be, and we can at times be if not an unmoveable force then one slow to move. And yet, if collectively we hadn’t moved on and let some of the young fans in the show wouldn’t be in half as healthy a state as it was then, or indeed is now.

Over the weekend I visited friends who have a seven year old utterly and completely into Doctor Who. So much so in fact that despite having seen the Ninth Doctor turn into the Tenth Doctor, she’s so attached to Tennant’s Time Lord that the dreaded ‘R’ word is being avoided at home until the moment comes when it cannot be avoided. And after that, hopefully, things will progress as normal – besides, she still has a great set of DVDs to rewatch if she wants, and being a kid with greater tolerance for repeat viewing, she probably will. The lesson here is that change (you, me, everything) is inevitable in everything but parking machines. And if we don’t like it then we’ll always have the past to keep us company.


Our Man in Cymru makes an exhibition of himself

Sunday, September 20th, 2009


He’s back! And this time he’s indoors!

Jono is at the Cardiff Exhibition (although it’s not always Jono, as you’ll see). Witness the spectacle of a man excitedly opening a door! Gas mask! Beetle! Observe a carefully reconstructed tableau of the Daleks and Terry Nation (I think)! And finally… the bracing splendour of Bad Wolf Bay. Or it might be Cromer.

And once again, an extra taster among the photos here to keep you on your toes… 

tardoor inside k9
beetle gas daleks
sign beach  



Zeus Plug 1

Monday, September 14th, 2009


Al Has It Covered

And so to the front cover of Zeus Plug one. Here’s Al:

It seemed Peter had been suggesting the idea of a zine composed of a single sheet of paper, folded in on itself with complexity rivalling a mobius cube, for quite some time.  Flirting with the dark side of origami was all well and good but the resulting inter-dimensional planes would eventually require actual content to be printed on them.

Typically, Peter was soon walking-the-walk and before I knew it I’d been catapulted from zine artist retirement to making my first attempt at David Tennant.

iss1aArmed with Radio Times reference and a doodle boasting more character than my finished illustration would, I was sent off to suck the ink clots out of my drawing pens and put a quiff on top of Tennant’s Casanova face. As well as a peerless artist and cartoonist, Peter is an imaginative Art Director, and suggested the stained glass window approach.  I forget why, but like Jack Sparrow’s walk or ‘V’s Betty Boop wig, this piece of inspired randomness somehow worked – particularly with the colour version which he published on-line.  Intoxicated with being involved in something new and potentially exciting, I was happy to tackle Tennant’s likeness (although these new-fangled young Doctors lack the inspiring facial crags and crevasses of their predecessors), and depict what is still my favourite Christmas special. 

Being forced to use an absolute minimum of line and tone which this approach demanded gave a result which I’m still happy with today, although I always made sure I supplied a mock-up suggesting how my illustration be used on the cover from this point on.  It was a good lesson learned – never expect someone else to compose a page using your illustration the way you imagine, unless you tell them.

zp1coverblogUpdate: Here’s the final cover, scanned as Jono requested. I didn’t want to include this in case the other details detracted from the topic at hand. But it’s probably the best place for it at the moment!


Our Man in Cymru – On Location

Saturday, September 12th, 2009


Here at Zeus Blog Terraces we may have gone all self-indulgent and DWM-ish on our fanzine pasts of late, but the rest of us have not been idle. Jono for one has been putting his nose to the grindstone on a holiday-filled fact-finding mission deep in the valleys of Davies. He took photos, and here they are.

In This Episode: Jono finds some locations. See if you can identify them!

Did you get them all? We’ll be returning to one or two (one in particular) in our next installment of Postcard from the UK…


badwolf estate bospherus
henricks play set
memorial tower  

Getting Ready for the Limelight

Thursday, September 10th, 2009


A Design for Living

We put a fair amount of time into considering a roll-out of the new zine. Having come up with the name (I’d wanted to call a zine Zeus Plug for years and it was pretty much the name I kept bringing up any and every time Jono and I started talking about that sort of activity) we needed a logo. So I came up with one:

Kiwi Identity Number One

The font is a swipe from [I assume] Kevin O’Neill’s ABC Warriors logo, and it’s a style I’ve aped in the past for a band from my Uni days, and it even turned up in RTP! as a Karkus logo: Ahem. Al rendered it using Freehand, ably putting up with my criticisms (“the Z and S should mirror one another, but not be too curved” – I was even less bearable for the Zeus Blog logo adaptation), and a suitable mascot created – ‘Pluggy’

pluggy2We’ve never seen an actual zeus plug in the TV series of course, though they’ve been described. One story has them as huge things, but the assumption is something a little more portable, something you could carry around idly in your pocket. Like the zine. Pluggy combines the elements I thought the zine’s title needed – he is a plug (specifically a NZ three-point plug), and he has a lightning bolt inside his bulb, both to refer to the God of Lightning and to signify that the radiant bulb of inspiration was definitely ‘on’. There’s a deliberate retro look to Pluggy – he’s not a USB key for one, and his bulb is most definitely a radiant filament job. Around his mid-section are discs from a Dalek eyestalk, and he has a six-sided nut for a bum, recalling the hexagonal roundels of the [then] new TARDIS console interior. His first incarnation had wings for speed, and the current one on this blog gives him a ring of confidence with that lightning bolt returning. There’s another version of him with arms – a further nod to the other inspiration of his design, the Little Helper for Disney character Gyro Gearloose.

As for the roll-out we considered using photos demonstrating the non-fanzine functions of Zeus Plug. We wanted to be irreverent and self-deprecating, so I had images in mind with snappy captions: a Zeus Plug folded up into a paper plane  with the caption “Zeus Plug – pass it on”, an issue being used as a coaster – “Zeus Plug – have a drink on us”, an issue of ZP emerging from the back pocket of a pair of jeans with the caption “Zeus Plug – keep it in your pants” (hmm, maybe not that one). We didn’t use them because we didn’t have the time, but I’d still have loved to. In the end word of mouth and careful enquiries as to the likely turnout of local pub meets was all we needed.


Getting Ready for the Limelight

Friday, September 4th, 2009

limesPart Three: We Folded Before We Even Began

The problem with inviting a swag of people on board for a new fanzine is that unless you have some hard rules, at early stages things can sometimes stray into the ‘design by committee’ arena. We didn’t really have that apart from one aspect, which was how to fold the staple-free Zeus Plug. It wasn’t as simple as it sounded because everyone came to the party with different methods – something I’d not anticipated! We couldn’t come to a satisfactory outcome for days. Here’s Jono’s suggestion:



jplay2And Dave also pitched in. Dave wanted his to open intuitively like a map or schematic, which maybe spoke more of his engineering background. Nobody thought the regular folds and creases of the page needed to act as article borders, but it helped in places.



drlay21And last of all, mine, which won through some democratic action snuggled up with some good old-fashioned autocratic foot stomping. I wanted mine to open like a flower. My idea was to have a folded page that opened like a book, turned itself over and continued to read like a book, then opened out to be a larger piece of paper – one side of the A3 page with which you could do anything. It could be a poster, a flow diagram, a game board, wrapping paper… in other words, it could take a step to the side and be something other than a fanzine. I don’t know if I seriously took that idea to the table with Jono though, I think we just had too much to say, and filled the space available. BAZ is closer to that ideal.



Folding paper is a design process of course. The bound book is usually only read in one direction and reveals more of itself as each page is turned, the design of a book-style fanzine is largely immutable however; anything straying from the norm becomes an exercise that consumes time or staples, or more paper. By folding an A3 page in a particular way we would be giving Zeus Plug pages too, without recourse to binding. And of the three ways we came up with individually, no one way provided fewer or more pages, which was interesting but it didn’t help the decision-making process.  The issue of limited, finite space was embraced as well. I would have liked the subtitle for Zeus Plug to be ‘Adventures in Relatively limited Time and Space’, but the others thought it was a bit too cute, and they were right. It was a discipline though, fitting so much onto such small area; ideas had to be distilled, arguments strengthened rather than bolstered or driven home by repetition. Andy Diggle, former editor of 2000AD envisaged his tenure as reinventing the comic in the style of “a shotglass full of rocket fuel”, being punchy, daring ideas in short stories. Zeus Plug was supposed to be a bit like that – concentrated, fixed, focussed. Early emails between Jono and I would often take the form of dialogue about cutting articles down rather than fleshing them out or including illustrations to fill the gaps (surely fanzine editors don’t do that, do they…?)

Editing is exhilirating, but that’s perhaps easier for me to say – Jono was the one with the Publisher software, doing the hard yards!


Fast Return – August 2009

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

meddlehartOkay everyone, we’re over halfway through the year with little to show for it but a polka dot tie and a Song, but let’s look on the bright side…

Ooh! Zeus Blog exclusive! Wellingtown readers and those with capital connections might want to familiarise their phalanges with the Dom Post’s TV Week supplement for the 8th of September. Inside is a two-page spread on the good Doctor (and the current incarnation as well), written, laid-out, feem toon written and sung and everything by Local Fandom’s Own Alistair Hughes. Well done, that man!

Just in time for Christmas comes out the new Tenth Doctor Who Role-Playing Game which we’re eager to see, but before we dust off our pencils and pads and GM shields here’s an overture in the form of a solo game in which YOU play THE DOCTOR, et cetera. We haven’t played it yet, but it might be worth a look now that the new series has made the sonic screwdriver so gosh-darnedly USEFUL for every sort of problem you might face.

Reverse The Polarity! Issue 28 is in the can and about to hit a letterbox near you (if you’re a subscriber). Being a loosely comics-themed issue look out for it and find out what one-time TSV artist Paul Potiki is up to these days, among a lot of other stuff we expect the RTP blog will be filling us in on any day now. Issue 29 is due out around the end of 2009 and will look at the aforementioned DWRPG in a larger games-themed focus.

People said that nothing would happen this year with Doctor Who reduced to a few burps before a Christmas/New Year/whenever send-off, but they were wrong! We’ve not only seen the world of Torchwoodiness ripped asunder, but just as he did in 1997 and 1993 before that, Tom ‘badgers’ Baker has returned to the show! So there’s a fair amount of anticipation from those who like that sort of thing for forthcoming BBC Audio series The Hornet’s Nest. Tom was rather looking forward to it too, as he intoned to DWM, especially as he’d be reunited with old co-star Nick Courtney. Except that, unfortunately The Brig had to cancel due to ill health. Nevertofear – Mike Yates is here! Cue reaction from Tom, succinctly illustrated by Tachyon TV:

Oh well. We suppose they’ll have plenty of time to be introduced.

And all the best for a speedy recovery, Brigadier.

Be sure to check out Tachyon TV’s ess-clusive line of DW-themed merchandise. We don’t understand all the gags, but we do very much like the t-shirt with Owen’s smooth chat-up line from Countrycide on it. If only we could find the right social engagement to wear it to…

Is the Doctor already turning into Mr Popplewick?