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by David R. Black
Repent! The end is near!
The cliche says that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. What happens when a part of you dies? Does that part of your life flash before your eyes?
I think so.
Fanzing #1 debuted in December of 1997. Issue #1, I should point out, really wasn't the first issue of Fanzing. Marc Campbell, who went on to become DC Comics' webmaster for a short time, had published five issues of Fanzing prior to December of 1997. These five issues, affectionately known as "Old Fanzing," are markedly different in terms of style and feel (and HTML coding) from the current issue of Fanzing. We've come a long way, baby!
After Marc left, Michael Hutchison took over the editorial reigns of Fanzing, and the magazine became what it is today thanks to Michael's guiding hand and effort. Whereas "Old Fanzing" didn't have much of a cohesive feel to it, Fanzing #1 did. You can tell that Fanzing #1 feels more like a magazine in terms of layout, looks more innovative, would showcase reader contributions better, and creates a better sense of community.
I began reading Fanzing somewhere around issue #8, and most likely, I was drawn in by one of the marvelous covers done by Bob Riley that graced the front covers of Fanzing in that first year. Bob also designed the Fanzing logo, another key component of attracting and keeping readers, and he is still credited in each issue's front cover. Alas, we lost Bob too early, as he passed away in May of 2001 at the young age of 31.
Fanzing #12, in December of 1998, added a new ingredient to the Fanzing mix - the announcement of the first writing challenge. Dubbed "Alt.Showcase.94," all the challenge required was a story featuring one of the "New Blood" characters that debuted in DC's 1994 annuals. The individual stories would be "chapters" that would all fit into the main "bookend" story being written by Joel Ellis Rea.
Well, I thought, I can do that!
And I did. And I did it really fast, too. Fanzing #13 saw the publication of my first fiction piece, "Monsters in Paradise," and my first foray into organized fandom. The story featured Terrorsmith (the required New Blood) and the Injustice League. My upbringing on a steady diet of the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League was easily noticeable.
Getting my second piece of fiction published was a challenge, but ultimately, "Stinging Stars" appeared in Fanzing #17 (May 1999). The story starred the Red Bee and told of the Bee's team up with the Golden Age Starman. It took me four months to persuade Louise Freeman-Davis, Fanzing's fiction editor at the time, that the story didn't automatically suck because it starred an obscure golden age hero. Thankfully, once Louise relented and actually read my story, she changed her mind.
December 1999 (Fanzing #23) saw Louise step down as fiction editor and letters columnist (she did both jobs). Michael asked for two volunteers to take her place - one to be fiction editor, and one to do the letters column. Joey Fuentes and I both volunteered. I didn't have a preference as to which job I'd like, but Joey wanted to do the letters column, so I became fiction editor by default. I've been a member of the editorial staff ever since.
In December of 2000, a little plan was hatched between myself, D.J. LoTempio, Yusuf Madhiya, and Marla Fair. We prepared an entire issue - everything from columns to articles to artwork - in secret and sprung it on Michael. Already formatted in HTML and ready to go, Michael seemed pleasantly surprised and dubbed our issue Fanzing #0. Fanzing #0, the sword and sorcery issue, hit the stands in January 2001, and it remains one of my favorite collaborations with my fellow Fanzing staffers.
January 2001 also saw the update of our woefully outdated archives and the debut of the popular "Fiction by Author" archive page. By the end of January, Michael "promoted" me from fiction editor to assistant editor.
Fanzing's first April Fool's issue (#33) is probably the silliest issue we've ever done. In fact, both April Fool's issues are among my favorite issues. Issue #33 was also the second issue I fully prepared - both editing and formatting contributions to HTML - and Michael must've liked what I did because I've formatted every issue since then!
The "Art by Artist" archive page (the complement to the "Fiction by Author" archive) debuted in June 2001. Compiling this page earned me the designation of Fanzing's unofficial archivist.
My favorite contribution to Fanzing, a fiction piece titled "Opposite Perceptions," was published in Fanzing #35 (June 2001) as part of my favorite writing challenge, the Vile Vial. My work and collaboration with the other authors involved in the Vile Vial saga was one of the highlights of my involvement with Fanzing.
January 2002 marked the second assistant editor's month. Titled "Limbo Rocks" and dubbed Issue #-1, my partners in crime from Issue #0, D.J. LoTempio and Yusuf Madhiya (plus a bunch of other folks), pitched in to make the issue a success.
Michael promoted me to magazine editor in the same month. It seems that Fanzing staff related events happen in Januarys - I began contributing in Jan. '99, became fiction editor in Jan. '00, became assistant editor in Jan. '01, and became magazine editor in Jan. '02. And now, the Jan. '03 issue is Fanzing's last.
Nicolas Juzda joined the editorial staff in Spring of 2002, assuming my old fiction editor title and duties. Adding Nicolas to the staff has really kept Fanzing going, both literally and creatively, for the past nine to ten months.
Scattershot, my monthly column in which I basically ramble about unrelated topics, debuted in March 2001 (Issue 42). It's appeared in every issue since, save for issue #49. To be honest, Scattershot has been a failure. I wanted to write a monthly column (and when you're magazine editor you can give yourself a column) but I quickly learned that my writing style doesn't lend itself to the grind that is a monthly column.
(This is part of the reason why I admire Matt Morrison and his work on "The Mount" so much. Matt's written "The Mount since issue 26 and never missed an issue or deadline in two and a half years! Thank you, Matt!)
I've been involved with Fanzing for four years now, and although we've had our ups and downs, one thing is for certain: Fanzing has been a great learning experience and a fun ride!
Thank you time
I'd like to extend a hardy "Thank you" to the following people:
Kurt Belcher - For the imagination and innovation he brought to Spring Into Action /Brainstorm's Corner, the most unique column (and my favorite concept) Fanzing ever had.
Erik Burnham - For Zingers and the unceasing output of quality art.
Michael Condon - In Fanzing's 80 page giant, I wrote a 50 question trivia quiz. Dubbed the "Fanzing Challenge" as a (somewhat) clever homage to the classic DC challenge series, I never thought it would be more than a one shot deal. But Michael proved me wrong. Beginning in Issue #31 (Feb. 2001), Michael began writing the Fanzing Challenge as a monthly feature...and he hasn't missed a month since.
Syl Francis - Fanzing's top scribe has written more fiction than any other contributor, and her stories' quality never suffers due to quantity. A true fount of ideas, Syl's stories run the gamut from all-out action to character pieces that tug at the heartstrings. My favorite Fanzing stories have the name Syl Francis in the byline.
Michael Hutchsion - He's the man who started it all, and without his support and encouragement, all of my efforts would be for naught. Thanks, chief, for letting me play in your sandbox for so long!
Nicolas Juzda - For being a dedicated member of Fanzing's editorial staff and a steady contributor. From "From the Bookshelf" to pushing the rest of the editorial staff when we'd rather rest on our laurels, Nicolas never misses a beat and is the closest person to a true grammar cop I've ever known.
Chaim Mattis Keller - For being there from the beginning and his unending enthusiasm for DC's sci-fi characters - everyone from Space Cabby to the Legion of Super Heroes. Chaim also wrote the letters column and DCU Digest for so long without so much of a thanks, and so Chaim, thank you for all your tireless work!
David J. LoTempio - Not only is D.J. a great guy, but he's a Warlord and Count Vertigo fan, too, which makes him even greater! D.J.'s insightful interviews, articulate articles, and fabulous fiction have provided Fanzing with quality material unparalleled by other zines.
Yusuf Madhiya - My favorite artistic collaborator, Yusuf is only second to Bill Wiist in the number of covers he's drawn for Fanzing. Always dependable when we're in a bind, Yusuf's broad range of abilities enable him to draw everything from sword and sorcery to funny animals to standard superheroics - and to do it convincingly. His women are beautiful, his sorcerers sinister, and his heroes magnificent.
Phil Meadows - For being the art coordinator we needed so desperately for so long. I never seemed to get the knack for formatting the art gallery - Phil's the guy who got it right and had the artistic experience the editorial staff needed.
Matt Morrison - For being dedicated and never missing a deadline. Matt's the kind of columnist editors dream about - You never have to bug him about a deadline and he's never late. I wish I could clone him.
Michael Rees - For all his quality fiction work over the years.
Mathew Rhys & Russ Yocum - For being the double dose of "new blood," Fanzing needed as we climbed past issue 40.
Adrian Tullberg - Fanzing's unofficial "jester," Adrian's humor and sharp satires remind us that comics are all about fun and not supposed to get too serious!
John Wells - No one knows more about the history of the DCU or about the history of any character than John does. Always eager to lend a hand, John's many articles, timelines, and columns, have formed the meat of many a Fanzing issue. And John doesn't miss deadlines, either - He submits stuff months in advance!
Bill Wiist - For all the great covers and artwork.
And most importantly - To all of Fanzing's 200+ contributors and thousands of readers, we never could have done it without you!
And now it's time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Fanzing's had a great run, and I'm glad I got to be a part of it.
David R. Black is Fanzing.com's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....
All characters are © DC Comics
This piece is © 2003 by David R. Black
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
Fanzing site version 7.4