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A fanzine (portmanteau of fan and magazine or -zine) is a nonprofessional and nonofficial publication produced by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and first popularized within science fiction fandom, from whom it was adopted by others.

Typically, publishers, editors and contributors of articles or illustrations to fanzines receive no financial compensation. Fanzines are traditionally circulated free of charge, or for a nominal cost to defray postage or production expenses. Copies are often offered in exchange for similar publications, or for contributions of art, articles, or letters of comment (LoCs), which are then published.

A few fanzines have evolved into professional publications (sometimes known as "prozines"), and many professional writers were first published in fanzines; some continue to contribute to them after establishing a professional reputation. The term fanzine is sometimes confused with "fan magazine", but the latter term most often refers to commercially produced publications for (rather than by) fans.

Science fiction fanzines

When Hugo Gernsback published the first scientifiction magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926, he allowed for a large letter column which printed reader's addresses. By 1927 readers, often young adults, would write to each other, bypassing the magazine. Science fiction fanzines had their beginnings in Serious & Constructive (later shortened to sercon) correspondence. Fans finding themselves writing the same letter to several correspondents sought to save themselves a lot of typing by duplicating their letters.

Early efforts included simple carbon copies but that proved insufficient. The first science fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago and edited by Raymond A. Palmer and Walter Dennis. The term "fanzine" was coined by Russ Chauvenet in the October 1940 edition of his fanzine Detours. "Fanzines" were distinguished from "prozines," (a term Chauvenet also invented): that is, all professional magazines. Prior to that, the fan publications were known as "fanmags" or "letterzines".

Science fiction fanzines used a variety of printing methods. Typewriters, school dittos, church mimeos and (if they could afford it) multi-color letterpress or other mid-to-high level printing. Some fans wanted their news spread, others reveled in the artistry and beauty of fine printing.

The hectograph, introduced around 1876, was so named because it could produce (in theory) up to a hundred copies. Hecto used an aniline dye, transferred to a tray of gelatin, and paper would be placed on the gel, one sheet at a time, for transfer. Messy and smelly, the process could create vibrant colors for the few copies produced, the easiest aniline dye to make being purple (technically indigo). The next small but significant technological step after hecto is the spirit duplicator, essentially the hectography process using a drum instead of the gelatin. Introduced by Ditto Corporation in 1923, these machines were known for the next six decades as Ditto Machines and used by fans because they were cheap to use and could (with a little effort) print in color.

The mimeograph machine, which forced ink through a wax paper stencil cut by the keys of a typewriter, was the standard for many decades. A second-hand mimeo could print hundreds of copies and (with more than a little effort) print in color. The electronic stencil cutter (shortened to "electrostencil" by most) could add photographs and illustrations to a mimeo stencil. A mimeo'd zine could look terrible or look beautiful, depending more on the skill of the mimeo operator than the quality of the equipment. Only a few fans could afford more professional printers, or the time it took them to print, until photocopying became cheap and ubiquitous in the 1970s. With the advent of computer printers and desktop publishing in the 1980s, fanzines began to look far more professional. The rise of the internet made correspondence cheaper and much faster, and the world wide web has made publishing a fanzine as simple as coding a web page.

The printing technology affected the style of writing. For example, there were alphanumeric contractions which are actually precursors to "leet-speak". (A well-known example is the "initials" used by Forrest J. Ackerman in his fanzines from the 30s and 40s, namely "4sj". Fans around the world knew Ackerman by three letters "4sj" or even two: "4e" for "Forry.") Fanspeak is rich with abbreviations and concatenations. Where teenagers labored to save typing on ditto masters, they now save keystrokes when text messaging. Ackerman invented nonstoparagraphing as a space-saving measure. When the typist comes to the end of a paragraph, they simply moved the platen down one line.

Never commercial enterprises, most science fiction fanzines were (and many still are) available for "the usual," meaning that a sample issue will be mailed on request; to receive further issues, a reader sends a "letter of comment" (LoC) about the fanzine to the editor. The LoC might be published in the next issue; some fanzines consisted almost exclusively of letter columns, where discussions were conducted in much the same way as they are in internet newsgroups and mailing lists today, though at a relatively glacial pace. Often fanzine editors ("faneds") would simply swap issues with each other, not worrying too much about matching trade for trade, somewhat like being on one another's friends list. Without being closely connected with the rest of fandom, a budding faned could read fanzine reviews in prozines, and fanzines reviewed other fanzines. Recent technology has changed the speed of communication between fans and the technology available, but the basic concepts developed by science fiction fanzines in the 1930s can be seen online today. Blogs - with their threaded comments, personalized illustrations, shorthand in-jokes, wide variety in quality and wider variety of content - follow the structure developed in science fiction fanzines, without (usually) realizing the antecedent.

Since 1937, science fiction fans have formed amateur press associations (APAs); the members contribute to a collective assemblage or bundle that contains contributions from all of them, called apazines and often containing mailing comments. Some APAs are still active, and some are published as virtual "e-zines," distributed on the Internet.

Specific Hugo Awards are given for fanzines, fan writing and fanart.

Media fanzines

Media fanzines were originally merely a sub-genre of SF fanzines, written by science fiction fans already familiar with apazines. The first media fanzine was a Star Trek fan publication called Spockanalia, published in September 1967 by members of the Lunarians. They hoped that fanzines such as Spockanalia would be recognized by the broader science-fiction fan community in traditional ways, such as a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. All five of its issues were published while the show was still on the air, and included letters from D. C. Fontana, Gene Roddenberry, and most of the cast members, and an article by future Hugo and Nebula winner Lois McMaster Bujold. Many, many other Star Trek zines followed, then slowly zines appeared for other media sources, such as Starsky and Hutch, Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Blake's 7. By the mid-1970s, there were enough media zines being published that adzines existed just to advertise all of the other zines available. Although Spockanalia had a mix of stories and essays, most zines were all fiction. Like SF fanzines, these media zines spanned the gamut of publishing quality from digest-sized mimeos to offset printed masterpieces with four-color covers.

Men wrote and edited most previous science fiction fanzines, which typically published articles reporting on trips to conventions, and reviews of books and other fanzines. Camille Bacon-Smith later stated that "One thing you almost never find in a science fiction fanzine is science fiction. Rather ... fanzines were the social glue that created a community out of a worldwide scattering of readers." Women published most media fanzines, which by contrast also included fan fiction. By doing so, they "fill the need of a mostly female audience for fictional narratives that expand the boundary of the official source products offered on the television and movie screen." In addition to long and short stories, as well as poetry, many media fanzines included illustrated stories, as well as stand alone art, often featuring portraits of the show or film's principal characters. The art could range from simple sketches, to reproductions of large elaborate works painted in oil or acrylic, though most are created in ink.

In the late 1970s, fiction that included a sexual relationship between two of the male characters of the media source (first Kirk/Spock, then later Starsky/Hutch, Napoleon/Illya, and many others) started to appear in zines. This became known as slash from the '/' mark used in adzines to differentiate a K&S story (which would have been a Kirk and Spock friendship story) from a K/S story, which would have been one with a romantic or sexual bent between the characters. Slash zines eventually became their own sub-sub-genre; in many fandoms you rarely saw slash and non-slash stories appear in the same zines. By 2000, when web publishing of stories became more popular than zine publishing, thousands of media fanzines had been published; over 500 of them were k/s zines.

Another popular franchise for fanzines was the "Star Wars" saga. By the time the film "The Empire Strikes Back" was released in 1980 Star Wars fanzines had surpassed Star Trek zines in sales[citation needed]. An unfortunate episode in fanzine history occurred in 1981 when Star Wars director George Lucas threatened to sue fanzine publishers who distributed zines featuring the Star Wars characters in sexually explicit stories or art.

Comics fanzines

Comics were mentioned and discussed as early as the late 1930s in the fanzines of science fiction fandom. Famously, the first version of Superman (a bald-headed villain) appeared in the third issue of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's 1933 fanzine Science Fiction. Malcolm Willits and Jim Bradley started The Comic Collector's News, the first comics fanzine, in October, 1947. By 1952, Ted White had mimeographed a four-page pamphlet about Superman, and James Taurasi issued the short-lived Fantasy Comics. In 1953, Bhob Stewart published The EC Fan Bulletin, which launched EC fandom of imitative EC fanzines. A few months later, Stewart, White and Larry Stark produced Potrzebie, planned as a literary journal of critical commentary about EC by Stark. Among the wave of EC fanzines that followed, the best-known was Ron Parker's Hoo-Hah!. After that came fanzines by the followers of Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, Trump and Humbug. Publishers of these included future underground comics stars like Jay Lynch and Robert Crumb.

In 1960, Richard and Pat Lupoff launched their science fiction and comics fanzine Xero. In the second issue, "The Spawn of M.C. Gaines'" by Ted White was the first in a series of nostalgic, analytical articles about comics by Lupoff, Don Thompson, Bill Blackbeard, Jim Harmon and others under the heading, All In Color For A Dime. In 1961, Jerry Bails' Alter Ego, devoted to costumed heroes, became a focal point for superhero comics fandom and is thus sometimes mistakenly cited as the first comics fanzine.

Contacts through these magazines were instrumental in creating the culture of modern comics fandom: conventions, collecting, etc. Much of this, like comics fandom itself, began as part of standard science fiction conventions, but comics fans have developed their own traditions. Comics fanzines often include fan artwork based on existing characters as well as discussion of the history of comics. Through the 1960s and 1970s, comic fanzines followed some general formats, such as the industry news and information magazine (The Comic Reader was one example), interview, history and review-based fanzines, and the fanzines which basically represented independent comic book-format exercises. While perceived quality varied widely, the energy and enthusiasm involved tended to be communicated clearly to the readership, many of who were also fanzine contributors. During the 1970s, many fanzines (Squa Tront, as example) also became partly distributed through certain comic book distributors.

At times, the professional comics publishers have made overtures to fandom via 'prozines', in this case fanzine-like magazines put out by the major publishers. The Amazing World of DC Comics and the Marvel magazine FOOM began and ceased publication in the 1970s. Priced significantly higher than standard comics of the period (AWODCC was $1.50, FOOM was 75 cents), each house-organ magazine lasted a brief period of years.

In Britain, there have since 2001 been created a number of fanzines pastiching children's comics of the 1970s and 1980s (e.g. Solar Wind, Pony School, etc.). These adopt a style of storytelling rather than specific characters from their sources, usually with a knowing or ironic twist.

Rock & roll music fanzines

By the mid-1960s, several fans active in science fiction and comics fandom recognized a shared interest in rock music, and the rock fanzine was born. Paul Williams and Greg Shaw were two such SF-fans turned rock zine editors. Williams' Crawdaddy! (1966) and Shaw's two California-based zines, Mojo Navigator (full title, "Mojo-Navigator Rock and Roll News") (1966) and Who Put the Bomp, (1970), are among the most important early rock fanzines.

Crawdaddy! (1966) quickly moved from its fanzine roots to become one of the first rock music "prozines," with paid advertisers and newsstand distribution. Bomp remained a fanzine, featuring many writers who would later become prominent music journalists, including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ken Barnes, Ed Ward, Dave Marsh, Mike Saunders and R. Meltzer. Bomp featured cover art by Jay Kinney and Bill Rotsler, both veterans of SF and Comics fandom. Bomp was not alone; an August 1970 issue of Rolling Stone included an article about the explosion of rock fanzines. Other rock fanzines of this period include Flash, 1972, edited by Mark Shipper, Eurock Magazine (1973-1993) edited by Archie Patterson and Bam Balam, written and published by Brian Hogg in East Lothian, Scotland, beginning in 1974, and in the mid-1970s, Back Door Man and denim delinquent.

In the post-punk era several well-written fanzines emerged that cast an almost academic look at earlier, neglected musical forms, including Mike Stax' Ugly Things, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna's Kicks, Jake Austen's Roctober, Kim Cooper's Scram, P. Edwin Letcher's Garage & Beat, and the UK's Shindig! and Italy's Misty Lane.

In the 1980s, with the rise of stadium superstars, many home-grown rock fanzines emerged. At the peak of Bruce Springsteen's megastardom following the Born in the U.S.A. album and Born in the U.S.A. Tour in the mid-1980s, there were no less than five Springsteen fanzines circulating at the same time in the UK alone, and many others elsewhere. Gary Desmond's Candy's Room, coming from Liverpool, was the first in 1980, quickly followed by Dan French's Point Blank, Dave Percival's The Fever, Jeff Matthews' Rendezvous, and Paul Limbrick's Jackson Cage. In the US, Backstreets Magazine started in Seattle in 1980 and still continues today as a glossy publication, now in communication with Springsteen's management and official website.

In the late 1990s, notorious fanzines and e-zines flourished about electronic and post-rock music. Creme Brulee fanzine was one of those that documented post-rock genre and experimental music.

Videogaming fanzines

Back in the Atari era of videogames, newsletters for computer user groups and stores were not uncommon, though not always well-known, and there were some subscriber-based newsletters, the most well-known of which was probably The Video Game Update, later Computer Entertainer. There was also at least one publication, Joystick Jolter, that may have been an actual fanzine.

Later, as desktop publishing tools became more accessible, there was a period of fanzine activity, generally coming in two varieties: classic gaming (examples: 2600 Connection, Classic Systems & Games Monthly), and current gaming (examples: APE, The Subversive Sprite); occasionally fanzines covered both realms (example: Digital Press). The group of zines, initially small, got bigger when videogame magazines like Video Games & Computer Entertainment, EGM and Tips & Tricks published columns by Arnie Katz and Chris Bieniek which reviewed fanzines which they had been sent, and introduced a lot of faneds to each other.

The videogame fandom era diminished greatly with the rise of the world wide web, though some zines—particularly the classic gaming ones—continued past the mid-90s, and occasionally new ones arise (like Classic Gamer Magazine and Video Game Collector). The rise of "on demand" publishing has led to a new outlet for print zines, like Jumpbutton and Scroll.

The videogame fanzine era seemed biggest in the US and Canada, but there were/are zines from other area too, like the UK (Retrogamer and more recently Pixel Nation), France (Revival, now translated to English as well) and Japan, where there are lavish doujin created.

Sport fanzines

The first association football fanzine is regarded as being Foul, a publication that ran between 1972 and 1976. In the UK, most Premier League or Football League football clubs have one or more fanzines which supplement, oppose and complement the club's official magazine or matchday programme. A reasonably priced 'zine has a guaranteed audience, as is the culture of passion in being a football fan. The longest running fanzine is The City Gent, produced by supporters of Bradford City FC, which first went on sale at Valley Parade in November 1984 and is now in its 26th season. Following close on its heels was Nike, Inc. which was first released in 1989. At the time it was not the first of its kind with Terrace Talk (York City), which was first published in November 1981 and Wanderers Worldwide (Bolton Wanderers) having already been established but since disappeared. In 1985 the emergent When Saturday Comes (a fanzine without a specific club focus that was subsequently launched as a mainstream magazine) promoted a 'fanzine movement' that gave birth to many more club titles during the late 80's which was something of a glory period for fanzines. Much of the energy that was put into football fanzines subsequently went into the development of supporters' websites. Examples of other UK football fanzines include A Love Supreme, TOOFIF, 4000 Holes and War of the Monster Trucks (a Sheffield Wednesday fanzine named after a local TV station elected not to show the final scenes of an unlikely cup victory).

Fanzines are not exclusive to the top tiers of football however, with Northern Counties East League side Scarborough Athletic FC having a fanzine titled Abandon Chip!, a pun based on both the perilous situation of predecessor club Scarborough FC and that club's sponsors, McCain.

And also away from the world of Football there are a number of established fanzines, for example Rugby League has such notable publications as Who The Hell Was St. George Anyway? (the world's longest-running Rugby League fanzine, by supporters of Doncaster RLFC) and Scarlet Turkey of National League One club Salford City Reds. The fanzine movement has even spread to the United States, where ice hockey fans have produced several popular fanzines. In Chicago two examples include the formerly published Blue Line Magazine and currently The Committed Indian, both produced by Chicago Blackhawks fans. In St. Louis there are Game Night Revue and St Louis Game Time for the St. Louis Blues.

There are also a number of fanzines to be found in Ireland of which Shelbourne's Red Inc. is the longest running.

Recent developments

With the increasing availability of the Internet in the 21st and late 20th century, the traditional paper zine has begun to give way to the webzine (or "e-zine") that is easier to produce and uses the potential of the Internet to reach an ever larger, possibly global, audience. Nonetheless, printed fanzines are still produced, either out of preference for the format or to reach people who do not have convenient Web access. Online versions of approximately 200 science fiction fanzines will be found at Bill Burns' eFanzines web site, along with links to other SF fanzine sites. In addition zine festivals are held each year in American cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn.