Long, long ago on a primitive planet teenagers went amok. Fed by imagination and fueled by pulp paper and ink they formed little local clubs and passed Weird Tales and Hugo Gernsback scientifiction (later Sci-Fi and SF) back and forth between each other. When a “pen pal” in a far off town couldn’t get the latest works of E Hoffmann Price, Seabury Quinn, Dr. David Keller, Ray Bradbury, Damon Knight, L Sprague deCamp, Isaac Asimov, or some other fantasy-horror-weird tale writer, they traded them or sold extra copies.
Not content to merely talk about it, or send a USPS letter about it (long distance! too expensive!), they made their own “fanatic magazines”, or fanzines. These were the rawest of raw by the most amateur of amateurs. The art was drawn, and then hectographed (by gelatin plates) or sometimes a raid to the local high to use the mimeograph machine!
Crude? You bet. Fun? Better than an Indie forum firefight. In fact, fanzines invented the flame war. One of the first practitioners of the flame war was a guy from Providence named Howard Lovecraft. When “H P Lovecraft” wasn’t calling down astrologers in the newspapers, or ripping into Edgar Rice Burroughs for not portraying Mars correctly, he critiqued other people’s stories. That is until he met a kid from California named Forest Ackerman. Whew, was that something. Later, along came cratchity Harlan Ellison, frenetic Ray Bradbury, and a boy from Florida whose name was almost as long as his state: Linwood Vrooman Carter.
Those were days when amateurs drooled to be in the “prozines”, or *gasp* land a letter in the PULPS! A few rare dreamers thought they might one day live to have a short story published like their heroes Robert Bloch, August Derleth, or Robert Heinlein. Darest they reach for the stars and think they might even get a BOOK published?
Many youths between the years 1935 and 1975 learned their craft and landed contracts (such as Marion Zimmer and later Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, Jr), became critics or editors (Sam Moskowitz), or went on to write for radio, television, and movies (Arthur C Clarke is one example). As they say, cream rises to the top.
Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of those fandom days is how 4SJ managed to sneak him risqué magazine covers through the USPS censors! Hey, anything for the G. I. Josephs!
So the next time you visit an Indie horror forum and post there, think how hard that person is working to grow the genre. Support Horror! It may be down, but it ain’t over yet!