Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fanzine flashback #2: 1964's "Hobgoblin" by Terry Carr

Previously on "Fanzine flashback"

This series debuted earlier this year1 with a look at a 1964 issue of "Con" authored by Christopher Priest. That post also included, toward the bottom, a list of all the vintage fanzines I plan to feature in future posts. Check it out to see what's ahead.

And now for the second installment, the cover of which is shown above...

Fanzine flashback #2: At a glance

Title: Hobgoblin
Issue: No. 12
Date: January 1964
Primary theme: Book reviews
Pages: 10
Size: 8½ inches by 11 inches
Binding: Two staples
Editor: Terry Carr (1937-1987)
Editor's location: 41 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11201
Artwork: William Rotsler (1926-1997)
Duplicating services: Ted White and QWERTYUIOPress

As it went with researching "Con," I was surprised to discover that the talented people associated with "Hobgoblin" were pretty famous within the greater sci-fi world. In general, I was expecting these fanzines to be the work of people who were fairly obscure in the sands of time. But that hasn't been the case. Maybe that will change moving forward.

Background: About editor Terry Carr

Terry Gene Carr had an impressive and far-too-short life as an author and editor in the world of sci-fi publishing. He was on the verge of his 27th birthday when this issue of Hobgoblin, which he wrote entirely by himself, was published in 1964.

According to Wikipedia, he began working on fanzines as early as 1949. He went on to work at Ace Books as an editor of novels and anthologies. He also wrote a handful of books, including 1963's Warlord of Kor, which has a pretty rockin' cover.

Notably, Carr is also credited with commissioning the first novel by William Gibson.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has an excellent summary of the works with which Carr was associated.

Two other items of interest regarding Carr:
  • The Eaton Fanzine Collection at the University of California Riverside, which is absolutely amazing and contains more than 100,000 zines, "grew out of the collections of four prominent fans: Terry Carr, Fred Patten, Bruce Pelz, and Rick Sneary."
  • You can read an editorial on the development of fanzines that Carr wrote for Entropy #1 in 1964 here.

Background: About artist William Rotsler

William "Bill" Rotsler was an artist, author, sci-fi convention stalwart, sculptor and filmmaker whose career enthusiastically touched on everything from Star Trek to sexploitation films.

During his lifetime, he won five Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist.

Rotsler was reponsible for the title of Harlan Ellison's short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." The title was taken, with permission, from the caption of a Rotsler cartoon featuring a mouthless rag doll.

Here is The Internet Speculative Fiction Database's voluminous page on Rotsler.

There is an annual Rotsler Award in his honor and memory.

Looking inside Hobgoblin

This zine is packed to the gills with short books reviews by Carr and just one additional small illustration by Rotsler. There are 8½ pages, featuring 23 reviews of a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction. Here are excerpts from some of them:

  • The Land That Time Forgot and The People That Time Forgot, by Edgar Rice Burroughs: "Burroughs was a pretty bad writer, and he couldn't plot worth a hill of beans either — he'd throw his characters into impossible situations and have them solve everything halfway through a book, then go off on a new tangest [sic] thereafter. This didn't exactly make for classic unity of plot. His characterization was often ludicrous."
  • Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen:2 "I approached these about half-convinced that no matter how good they might be I'd find them enjoyable primarily only as period-pieces, and I can't recall the last time I was so delighted to be wrong. They're immensely enjoyable novels, charming, witty, droll, and completely absorbing."
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey: "A very well-reviewed first novel, but a bit overrated, I think. ... Kesey's prose is often too perceptive and well-stated for his hung-up and largely uneducated narrator. ... There's also a shallowness of characterization throughout the book which considerably limits its effectiveness. Kesey's characters are almost all good ones, but they have all the depth of a good class-A Hollywood movie, which isn't nearly as much as the book deserves. Still, the story is fascinating and suspenseful, and the individual scenes come to life with feeling and often high good humor."
  • The Violent Bear It Away, by Flannery O'Connor: "This is one of those Southern novels about God and sin and guilt and like that. It's interesting, and strikingly well written at times ... worthwhile reading, I think. But Flannery O'Connor has an irritating fascination with symbolism, and she overdoes it at almost every turn."
  • Trent's Last Case, by E.C. Bentley: "One of the classics of the detective novel, and quite deservedly so. The book is an ingeniously set up double-triple-switch mystery, told in the leisurely style of the early part of this century. (It was first published in 1913.)"
  • The Lost Pharaohs, by Leonard Cottrell: "The book is just a hodgepodge of interesting things about ancient Egypt, and while that's fine as far as it goes I'd hoped for something better."
  • The Blue Nile, by Alan Moorehead: "A fascinating book, a companion to Moorehead's earlier THE WHITE NILE. ... The material is interesting in itself, but Moorehead's writing is the factor which makes the book a must. He has an unerring eye for what's interesting, and the ability to bring people and places to life on the page."

Finally, here is the (wacky) credits section from the bottom of Page 10 in its entirety:

"This has been HOBGOBLIN #12, January 1964, published for SAPS and Redd Boggs by Terry Carr, 41 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11201. Illustrations by William Rostler, fandom's answer to Albert Schweitzer (who never asked). Superb mimeography by Ted White and QWERTYUIOPress. This Is Not A Rameses II Project. Arthur Thomson for TAFF! A bas les Coventranians. Remember the Alamo, the Maine, and the Rooster That Wore Red Pants."3

1. My apologies for taking so long between posts in this series. That is not my intent, moving forward. I want to be deliberate about setting up a schedule for writing about these cool zines.
2. I TOLD you his book reviews were diverse. I wonder what Carr would have thought of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
3. According to Fancyclopedia 3, which quotes 1944's Fancyclopedia 1, "The Rooster That Wore Red Pants" is "a sorta gag line plugged, frequently in parafrazed form, by Walt Liebscher [1918-1985]. According to [Bob] Tucker, the symbol originated in a dirty story, but it was 'distinctly minor fare.'"

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