Sunday, August 29, 2010

Masters of Fantasy 2: August Derleth

Way back in 1984 the postman delivered a large envelope containing articles by Nic Howard -- articles on and about August Derleth. Also in that package was a short piece by Ramsey Campbell and many, many illustrations by Allen Koszowski. This was to be the basis for my first small press publication. In time, they were combined and published by the British Fantasy Society as Masters of Fantasy 2: August Derleth. It was a time-consuming, yet an interesting, educational and rewarding, experience: typing it out on an electric typewriter, correcting the typos, using sheets of Letraset to prepare the titles, and cow gum to paste it together.

The booklet contained the following by Nic Howard: "Derleth: An American Life in Literature" and "Dark Glory: Derleth's Achievements", plus a foreword, notes and bibliographical information. Ramsey Campbell's "Derleth As I Knew Him", the introduction, was excerpted from a longer piece. The booklet was just 24 pages in length (plus covers) and looks rather quaint when compared with today's proliferation of small press publications.

Masters of Fantasy 2 was the seventh in the BFS Booklet series. Its cover price was 50p ($1.50). Nowadays, can you buy anything worthy for a mere fifty pence?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dark Horizons 38

Dark Horizons 38 was edited by Peter Coleborn and Mike Chinn – Phil Williams stood down after the previous issue. Joel Lane remained the poetry editor. It was published by the BFS in 1999. I think this was the first perfect-bound issue of DH, a change that’s been with us since. This binding certainly made the magazine look and feel more substantial. It also boasted over a hundred pages – a step up from past issues. And at last, DH used a decent-sized font that made this issue easy to read; it still is, even with today’s aged eyes.

“Invasion” by Rudy Kremberg
“The Suburban Vampire” (verse) by Norman J Olson
“The Ichor of Ilyus Benz” by Linda Talbot
“Clockwise Cryptonia” (verse) by echo syzygy
“Roots of a Writer” (NF) by Anne Gay
“Draining Away” (verse) by Brian Maycock
“Noodles” by James Mac
“The Testament of Empedocles” by P G McCormack
“Monopoly” (verse) by John M Edwards
“Lavender and Lilac: Ghosts, Visits and Old Ladies” (NF) by John Howard
“Queen of Clubs” by Allen Ashley
“A Soldier in Rohgate” by D Harrigon
“The Bezaloo” by Bill Wilensky

The front cover artwork (illustrating “Queen of Clubs”) was by Bob Hobbs. Alas, no interior artwork in this issue, barring a photograph of Anne Gay (by Jerry Bauer) and cover reproductions accompanying John Howard’s article.

Note: NF denotes non-fiction. The piece by John Howard also carried a second sub-title: “A Look at Some Old-time American Domestic Horror”.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dark Horizons 37

After Chills, Peter Coleborn teamed up with Mike Chinn and Phil Williams to edit and produce the British Fantasy Society’s premier publication, Dark Horizons. Unfortunately, their first issue of DH took far too long to appear. The editorial note offers apologies but no excuses – and it’s too far in the past to remember all the details. Anyway, Dark Horizons 37, edited by the aforementioned team, with Joel Lane appointed as poetry editor, appeared in 1998.The cover price was £3.00.

DH37, although neatly produced, used a too-small font, which must have made it hard on the eyes. Dark Horizons included both fiction and non-fiction:

“The Lake” by Linda D Acaster
“Para Dice by the Landing Light” by G W Greenwood. Illustrated by Dallas Goffin
“Worms Feed on Hector: the Gothic Novels of Simon Raven” (NF) by Howard Watson
“A Fence in Rohgate” by D Harrigon
“Terminal” by Simon MacCulloch. Illustrated by Janet Morris
“Heart of the Machine” by Rick Cadger
“Scapegoat” by Alan Casey
“Queue” (verse) by Brian Maycock *
“Scraps” by Paul Finch. Illustrated by Alan Hunter
“Roots of a Writer” (NF) by Storm Constantine. Illustrated by Bob Covington
“Jenna’s Home” by Rick Kleffel
“Looking Through the Glass” (verse) by Steve Sneyd
“Horrorscopes: a Lover’s Guide” by Peter Tennant
“Kwaidan Revisited” (NF) by John Paul Catton
“A Rather Improbable God” by David Andreas
“Bio” (verse) by Mark McLaughlin
“The Last Story in the Book” by D F Lewis

Cover art was by Bob Covington with additional artwork by Alan Casey.

Note: * denoted a reprint and NF is non-fiction.

Glancing through DH37’s pages, I note that the first Alchemy Press title, The Paladin Mandates, had just appeared. That year’s Fantasycon, FCXXII, was held at the Albany Posthouse Hotel in Birmingham over the weekend 11-13 September. The guests of honour were Freda Warrington and Jane Yolen. Ramsey Campbell was the master of ceremonies. Finally, about this time websites were becoming more popular, with the BFS’ first site appearing on the Geocities server.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chills, issue 10

The final Chills, issue 10, edited by Peter Coleborn and Simon MacCulloch, was published by the BFS in 1996 (£3.00/$6.00). The cover illustration depicted a bearded gent reading a tome of some dubious ancient lore. Some people assumed it was a picture of your equally-bearded editor; I assure you it’s not – besides, gent’s nose is too large.

Once again, sadly, we had no artwork illustrating specific stories. In fact, artwork is only represented by the fabulous cover (by Russell Morgan) and one spot piece by Martin McKenna. The contents were:

“How the Buckie Was Saved” by David Sutton
“A Musical Calling” by Raymond Nickford
“Beal’s Scrapyard” by Peter Bayliss
“A Cry For Help” by Martin Plumbridge
“Carousel” by Debbie Bennett
“Someone Else’s Problem” by Michael Marshall Smith
“The Lady With Little Friends in Her Hair” (verse) by Mark McLaughlin

So why did Chills end with its tenth issue? For starters, the ten issues covered a decade, more-or-less, and I felt that it was time to give the magazine a rest, at least for a while; and I wanted to pursue some other activities, including joining the editorial team on the BFS’s elder journal, Dark Horizons. Mike Chinn and I co-edited and co-produced DH with Phil Williams (and with Joel Lane in charge of poetry).

Contributors to Winter Chills/Chills were: Allen Ashley, Clive Barker, Roy Bayfield, Peter Bayliss, Debbie Bennett, Gilles Bergal, David F Bischoff, Sydney J Bounds, Ramsey Campbell, Dave Carson, Alan Casey, R Chetwynd-Hayes, Mike Chinn, Richard Coady, Bob Covington, Ken Cowley, Charles Dougherty, Phil Emery, Frank Forte, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Gallagher, Dallas Goffin, Jim Garrison, Phoenix Hitch, Mark Hockley, Peter A Hough, Tony Hough, Alan Hunter, Ian Hunter, Stephen Jones, Andrew S Jordan, Rick Kennett, Rick Kleffel, Allen Koszowski, Arke Kriske, Joel Lane, Alan W Lear, Ben Leech, DF Lewis, Thomas Ligotti, Steve Lines, Brian Lumley, Martin McKenna, Mark McLaughlin, Brian Maycock, MB, Chris Morgan, Russell Morgan, Russ Nicholson, Raymond Nickford, Jeffrey Osier, Norman Partridge, Nigel Pennington, Jim Pitts, Stephen Player, Martin Plumbridge, Andrew Pye, Mark Rainey, Paul Roland, Nicholas Royle, Jeff Salmon, Guy N Smith, Michael Marshall Smith, Sylvia Starshine, John Stewart, David Sutton, Stephen Skwarek, Steve Rasnic Tem, Tia Travis, Peter Tremayne, Lisa Tuttle, Ian Watson, William Thomas Webb, Conrad Williams … and of course my fellow editor Simon McCulloch. My thanks and appreciation to all of you.

Very quickly BFS and other UK small presses were upping the ante as far as production values are concerned – all down to access to home computers and DTP programs. In comparison, Chills looked a little primitive. But the magazine, along with others in that era, was part of the evolutionary process. Whatever, I look back on it with fond memories.

Glancing through Chills 10, I note that BFS membership was still a mere £15.00 a year. FantasyCon XX was scheduled for 4-6 October 1996, at the International Hotel in London. The guests of honour were Christopher Fowler and Tom Holt, with Kim Newman acting as the master of ceremonies. FCXX was the trial run for the following year’s World Fantasy Convention. The 1997 WFC took place in the same Dockland’s hotel, over the weekend 30 October-2 November. This was the second time the event was held in London.