On the State of Fanzine Publishing in New Zealand

It’s anniversary year, and what are you doing for fandom?

The promising news is that it looks as though things are afoot locally for fanzine publishing. Here in New Zealand we still seem to be doggedly sticking to print format, and that’s fine for those who like that sort of thing. Older fans like myself will still remember the frisson of excitement when an A5 envelope drops through the letterbox (more often than not on a wet day) offering the promise of a good evening’s read that you can dip into and out of happily. The best TSVs, Teloses and RTPs of the past were made of this stuff and I like to think there was something in Zeus Plug sticking to its guns in old-tech as well. We may yet see our local zines published in digital download only – certainly the know-how is there and has been practiced by both editors; but for that to happen of course, we need to know that there’s a future for these titles.

That’s where the aforementioned “promising news’ demands more scrutiny. At the time of writing RTP issue 30 is around ten pages shy of a full issue, and once these are provided will go to press, it is hoped, in time for the return of the TV series. I’ll leave further promotion of that to editor Alex, but will say that besides Alex’s usual hard work and attention to detail, the next issue comes about through the efforts of RTP’s main writers, familiar names all. The same can be said for the most recent issue of RTP, and it’s the frustrating ubiquity of that set of writers and illustrators that prevented RTP 29 from being reviewed on this blog. A shame, but we felt it wouldn’t have been honest to do the job ourselves. It’s the nature of fanzines, and is possibly exacerbated by NZ being a small country, but the only way to fix this problem is to acquire new readers and contributors. There’s an anniversary issue of RTP planned for November of this year – the first year in several where more than one issue will come out. Hopefully the occasion and any promotion of the zine will see an influx of new talent. We know it’s out there.

So that’s RTP, what of TSV? Your humble scribe has no information further to that which he reads on the NZDWFC Message Boards. Apparently there’s interest in an issue, and TSV’s current editor Paul has said he’d put an issue together provided the content is there. Like RTP however, I feel the situation for TSV is grim if such a passive approach is to be taken by all. Put simply, TSV has a driver (abeit with his own limited free time) but no evident drive; the scenario is less “build it and they will come” and more “leave some tools about and hope for some passers-by”. There was talk of TSV launching a charm offensive when the series returned in 2005, to re-energise the Club (as was) and revitalise the zine. Some good issues came afterwards, and new faces featured to the credit of Paul and Adam McGechan, although it remains to be seen whether this was on the back of any promotion or whether it was the last burst of a sustained period of goodwill from its past contributors. Now we’re older and poorer in time, with less incentive to put things together. Speaking for myself RTP appeals as an outlet because it’s an established structure with a committed and available editor, better odds than putting together a Zeus Plug issue at this stage. But it also appeals because RTP is a labour of love between a small group of like-minded friends. It has never been the official organ of the national club, and arguably has survived this long because of this degree of intimacy. Though its profile is far better, I do wonder whether TSV has a harder hill to climb, committed as it seems to be to higher page counts and a broader market. I’d love to be proved wrong, and I applaud the efforts of the likes of David French to get things going, but the rest remains to be seen.

And what of Zeus Plug? Well, never say never I guess. For the time being we’ve nailed our colours to RTP’s mast out of habit and past loyalty (and the reasons stated above). But it’s the Fiftieth Anniversary for heaven’s sake – the reason many of us are doing this at all is because we know we’ll kick ourselves come November if we didn’t get off our chuffs and put something together, commemorative or not. Who knows – it might be the last year a fanzine gets published at all in this country.

So what about you? What are you doing for anniversary year?

PA

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