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In the Footsteps of Lovecraft

In the Footsteps of Lovecraft

By Earl P. Dean, Bluegrass Writers Studio

I'd like to take a minute to draw your attention to something called the amateur press, which grew sort of as a grass roots effort out of early fandom in science fiction. It's related to fanzines, and to some degree it might have grown out of efforts to create them. But, what is the amateur press? There are several, and they come and go quietly. They're clubs of writers who submit zines to be included in a club organ. That’s a collection of the zines that often comes out bi-monthly, quarterly, or whenever it all comes together. A central mailer is in charge of that and compiles the zines, photocopies the thing, and adds a cardstock cover to make it look good. Members keep funds on account with the treasurer or central mailer. The funds cover production and mailing costs of the organ to the members. There's a minimum page count to submit in order to stay on as a member. So, amateur press is a closed community of readers for your stuff. Most organs have what's called an MC page-- for mailing comments where members can comment on each other's contributions in the next issue. Most amateur press clubs are topical: science fiction, pulps, mystery I'd suppose. I’m pretty sure there’s one only for Robert E. Howard fans.

Early efforts include the United Amateur Press which published H.P. Lovecraft, and which he was active in for a long time. He was very supportive of fandom, and the famous radio personality Willis Conover ran a fanzine as a kid and actually compiled a whole book of correspondence he had with Lovecraft. The book is Lovecraft at Last. I got interested in Amateur Press at one point and found out that the United Amateur Press was still going, and I actually looked into joining. But their topics were more diverse than I wanted, so I looked on and found The Phoenix Amateur Press Alliance. It specialized in science fiction and fantasy fandom. So I joined up and really enjoyed being a member, meeting submission deadlines for my zine which was called Fanflush. It ran for around five years in Phoenix, the organ of the club, and ended at around issue number 25 when Phoenix declared it was folding, and which seems to have simply stopped due to waning participation. The final issue has not come out, so maybe it's just on hiatus. That's how it is with APA's, as they are called. I kind of miss Phoenix as I made some friends there, besides having a nice stack of zines I wrote for it.

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Kristen Thompson

Published on May 06, 2014

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