Cataloguing work is continuing on Harvard College Library’s zines collection. The latest zines to be listed are the so-called “APA” (amateur press alliance) fanzines published during the 1980s.
APAs are networks set up by people who wish to discuss a common interest in a single forum. While the first APA in the United States – the National Amateur Press Association – was set up in 1876 to further amateur journalism as a hobby, many were founded from the 1930s onwards by fans of science fiction, comics, music and other topics. Their contributions to the “APAs” are known as “fanzines,” the precursors-in-part of the 1990s “zines” plain and simple.
APAs are organized around a central person, often called the Official Editor, to whom members send their zines. At regular intervals, the editor collates the zines, prepares a table of contents, and sends the packages to the members. Most APAs require a minimum number of original pages and payment of a modest fee from members.
The APA fanzines listed thus far in Harvard College Library’s zines collection were mostly written for southern APAs such as Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) and Myriad. They contain reviews of science fiction books and films, and personal, diary-style entries on anything from a crown replacement to buying a new car or moving house.
Most of all, however, they contain comments on other people’s fanzines in previous APA compilations. In fact, mailing comments – or “MCs” – take up most of these fanzines, with some made up entirely of comments, so that the fanzines read like conversations.
As the website of the Southern Fandom Confederation notes, although science fiction fans did not invent the APAs, they were the first to transform them into an interactive medium akin to today’s on-line discussion groups.
Below are excerpts from three southern APA fanzines:
Excerpt 1: Author of “Dial M for Minac” responding to three fanzine authors for the 106 issue of Southern Fandom Press Alliance
Excerpt 2: Author of “Tyndallite” responding to two fanzine authors for the July 1988 issue of Southern Fandom Press Alliance
Excerpt 3: Author of the “Tyndallite” responding to the author of “The Dillinger Relic” for the January, 1989 issues of Southern Fandom Press Alliance
Thanks to Alina Lazar for contributing this post. Alina is a second-year PhD candidate in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard. She is one of the initial cohort of Harvard Library Pforzheimer Fellows, working with curator Leslie Morris at Houghton Library to compile a title listing of Harvard College Library’s Printernet Collection of approximately 20,000 zines. The Printernet Collection was assembled by an anonymous collector, and was purchased by Widener Library in 2012. The current project to create a title list is the first step in the process to decide where the collection, or portions of it, might best be housed at Harvard, and how it will be made available for research.