Sunday, February 06, 2011
One of the best gifts you can get for your birthday is something you really like but didn't know existed. Cliff, having read my post about the Spawn of Cthulhu anthology, and having discussed it with me at length, recalled a Fanzine from 1972 which was equally important and influential to the growing popularity of the Cthulhu Mythos, a massive 144 page amateur magazine titled simply HPL. (subtitled on the inside cover, A Tribute to Howard Phillips Lovecraft. )
Don't let the term "amateur" confuse you. There is material in this magazine that many an editor of professional anthologies would have given an eyetooth for. There is fiction by Manly Wade Wellman, Gary Myers, Ramsey Campbell, and even the first chapter of Brian Lumley's Arkham House novel The Burrowers Beneath. There are articles by Joseph Payne Brennan, Robert Bloch, E. Hoffman Price, Richard Tierney, and Fritz Leiber. There are also tons of illustrations by artists like Steven Fabian and Richard Corben, plus poems from L. Sprague de Camp and Robert E. Howard and a couple of (at that time) unpublished letters. An amazing package that went for three bucks back in the day and is almost impossible to find now. My copy is actually made from Cliff's own copy of the original.
What I particularly like about this magazine is that while it contains material from all the professional writers and artists mentioned above, there is also a wealth of articles, stories, and art done by fans of Lovecraft. This gives the mag its 'fannish' feel, which greatly appeals to me. I have always loved fanzines. In the pre-internet days, APAs (amateur press associations) were the way that fans communicated with and hopefully informed one another.
Fans would type out long and often well researched articles about their favorite subjects and mimeograph copies to send to fellow fans. Sometimes groups of fans would mail such fanzines to a central mailer and those zines would be collected and stapled together by the CM, who would then send copies of the collected zines out to all the folks who had contributed. I once belonged to just such an APA (though we had photocopy machines by that point) and my blog still reflects the sensibilities of those days. A little autobiography and a lot of articles. Much like blogging. They even had comments. You just had to wait until the next issue of the APAzine to read or reply.
Anyway, as I mentioned, I'd never heard of the HPL zine until Cliff presented me with a copy on Wednesday. I have spent much time perusing it, and it is a fine addition to my Lovecraft collection. HPL was put together by Meade and Penny Frierson and there's an interesting article on how the zine came about here: