You Didn’t Tell Me There Was Gonna Be a Test

Cover Art (c) 1979 by Tim Hammell

Cover Art (c) 1979 by Tim Hammell

Well, okay, I’m not grading this. I’ve talked before about the magazines that have come and gone, but today I started in on some of my files in preparation for moving, and I’m turning up things even I’d forgotten about. How many of you have heard of a magazine called The Twilight Zone? Maybe a few of you, since the TV show will likely appear in re-runs until the heat death of the universe and there was a well-regarded print magazine (redundant at the time. ALL magazines were print) dedicated to publishing TZ-esque stories. In theory. In reality it published dark fantasy of many types. It was a good magazine, I read it and hoped to write for it one day, but it ended before that happened.

Well, I can get a lot more obscure than that. How about Shayol? No? Perhaps Myrddin? Anyone? Bueller? Prelude to FantasyEldritch Tales? Fantasy Macabre? Fantasy Book? Copper Toadstool? Weirdbook? Maybe a few more on that last, since it’s been recently revived, or at least is going through the process. These were all small press fantasy/sf magazines that existed back when producing a magazine meant printing and distributing a magazine. It was expensive, and most didn’t last any longer than the publisher’s money and enthusiasm. Quality of the package ranged from saddle stapled with typewriter typography to typeset and perfect bound, usually with b/w line illustrations, but sometimes full color.

They’re like little time capsules, many of them. At a time when there weren’t that many outlets for fantasy writers/artists especially, people flocked to magazines like this. Which is why you’ll find names like Charles de Lint, Steve Eng, Tom Reamy, Pat Cadigan, and Brad Foster among the names on the contents pages. Right there along with people you’ve never heard of, and likely never will hear of, but that was the thing—everyone, from publisher to writer, to artist, was participating, creating, strictly for the love of the form, because nobody was making any money.

One or two even had someone named Richard Parks. Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that guy. Regardless, I’ve been doing purges because anything I don’t get rid of, I have to move. And that is a hassle. I likely will be tossing a lot of rough drafts and ephemera, but most of these old zines? Yeah, I’m keeping them. There are some things, some ideas and ideals, you just can’t—and shouldn’t—let go of.