Vintage Tolkien Fanzines

Extollager

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My quest for a Mt. Doom - Mt. Elbrus connection

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/546846-mt-doom-and-mt-elburz-in-the-caucasus.html

has led me to spend time lately with my odds and ends of old Tolkien fanzines. In case others are interested, here are some notes on the availability of vintage American Tolkien fanzines.

1.So far as I can tell, many of the vintage Tolkien-related fanzines from the 1950s and 1960s, such as Entmoot, are not available at all or else only occasionally as expensive items offered on ebay or at abebooks.com.

2.However, one can gain a sense of these fan-produced magazines by reading Hildifons Took's (Gary Hunnewell's) ongoing series of Tolkien Fandom Review issues, which are archived online. Here's the first review:

http://efanzines.com/TFR/TolkienFandom2ndEd.pdf

Here's a link to the whole series:

eFanzines.com - Tolkien Fandom Review

3.Hildifons/Gary has also made available a complete scan of what I would consider the single issue likeliest to qualify as the greatest early Tolkien fanzine issue, namely the 18th issue of Niekas, with a lengthy interview with Tolkien:

eFanzines.com - Niekas

4.The Mythopoeic Society sells photocopies or, in some cases,original printings (still?), of one of the best Tolkien fanzines, Tolkien Journal. Its own publications, Mythlore and Mythprint, have published much worthy Tolkien-related content.

Inactive Publications | Mythopoeic Society
Mythlore History | Mythopoeic Society

In my experience, orders for back issues may take months to fill, but given the very attractive pricing, this is no big deal. You see scattered single issues popping up for sale at much higher prices at abebooks.com.

5.A complete run of the longest-lived American Tolkien fanzine, the monthly newsletter Beyond Bree, is available for purchase, from March 1981 to the present. Contributors have included some notable Tolkien authorities such as Christina Scull, Nancy Martsch, Mark Hooker, and others. I recommend that you subscribe to this dependable 'zine!

Beyond Bree

6.A book that reprinted some fanzine material and was (I think) remaindered, so that used copies might not cost much:

The Tolkien Scrapbook - Tolkien Gateway

7.The above list emphasizes American fanzines. The England-based Tolkien Society has published Mallorn and Amon Hen for many years, but I began to receive these only a dozen or so years ago, and early issues seem unavailable unless one has very deep pockets, if then. I suppose there's much good content in these, but they might as well have sunk with Númenor for all the good they do me!

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has knowledge of vintage Tolkien fanzines to share.
 
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Extollager

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Here's a photo of Ned Brooks, a fellow who's been involved with fanzines for a very long time.


He's listed his 'zines:

Fanzine Index

He has, or at the time of this posting had, such rarities as I Palantir #1 (1960)


in his collection. Neat! However, my sense is that the vast majority of his collection isn't Tolkienian (and probably wouldn't interest me, anyway, all that much). How is it he doesn't have a file of Mallorn to list, for example?
 
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Greetings!

What questions do you have? I have the largest collection of Tolkien fanzines in the world (all have been promised to Marquette University). I make them available for researchers, so if you are looking for something in particular, let me know.

Hildifons
 

Extollager

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Greetings, Hildifons! Thanks for joining us. I don't check the Tolkien subforum everyday, so I only just saw your message.

Personally, I'm always interested in stories people tell about how they discovered Tolkien in the pre-movie days. (It would be great to get your story!) I'm also interested in accounts people might have about how their Tolkien reading affected their lives; one of my all-time favorite comments on Tolkien is Tom Shippey's in the video biography of JRRT done about 20 years ago, in which he said that reading Tolkien makes people bird-watchers, tree-spotters, hedgerow grubbers. And I'll bet reading Tolkien has nudged people towards becoming walkers too, or has helped them enjoy walking more. I suspect that the Tolkienian experience has been a factor in the small-is-beautiful attitude, the locavore ethos, etc. And maybe his work stirred an interest, for some people, in maps.

Also, it's interesting to get glimpses of how people tried to synthesize the "lore" that was available before publication of The Silmarillion and later works.

Not that I'm asking you to dig into all of this for us or to provide a ton of raw material so that I can try to do that. Perhaps, though, you'd have some odds and ends to share that come to mind when you read the above.

I hope Marquette takes excellent care of the 'zines it has and gets. These deserve to be treated well. There was a lot of labor-of-love involved.
 

Extollager

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Here's a photo of Ned Brooks, a fellow who's been involved with fanzines for a very long time.


He's listed his 'zines:

Fanzine Index

He has, or at the time of this posting had, such rarities as I Palantir #1 (1960)


in his collection. Neat! However, my sense is that the vast majority of his collection isn't Tolkienian (and probably wouldn't interest me, anyway, all that much). How is it he doesn't have a file of Mallorn to list, for example?
Ned Brooks died a few days ago -- a loss to Tolkien fandom as well as to fandoms in which Ned was more prominent. So far as I know he didn't write a detailed account of his involvement in it. One wishes more people who were involved with Tolkien's writings in fannies ways -- especially if their involvement predated the establishment, in the 1970s, of fantasy as a publishers' and moviemakers' niche -- would write their reminiscences. Perhaps Ned would have felt, modestly, that he wasn't all that deeply involved. Still -- !

http://file770.com/?p=24679
 

Grimward

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Sorry to hear that, Ex. From the obit, he sounds like he was quite the collector, promoter and general historian of fanzines. As one of the obits suggested, I hope he's peacefully enjoying an eternal "worldcon".

Your post here got me wondering about what might be lurking around near me. A little digging turned up The WSFA Journal, published original by a Don Miller, who apparently lived and published this Journal only 5 miles away from where I live now (and I've biked and driven past that house many times, all unsuspecting...Mr. Miller passed away in 1982). The fanzine itself goes back to 1965, but none of their pre-1974 copies are available yet (imagine they have similar challenges finding physical copies). If I turn up anything interesting, I'll weigh back in.
 
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Greetings, Hildifons!

Also, it's interesting to get glimpses of how people tried to synthesize the "lore" that was available before publication of The Silmarillion and later works.
I'm right there with you. In fact, I'm just about to start reading Jim Allan's "A Speculation on the Silmarillion" published in 1976 and would love to find other writings on the same subject from that era, whether in book form, scholarly article, or fanzine.
 

Extollager

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Welcome, Barding!

You could check early issues of Mythprint and Mythlore, which are available in (mostly) reprint form, affordably, from the Mythopoeic Society. They are slow! But they get the materials to you eventually. As far as I know, Paul Kocher, in Master of Middle-earth, was working just witch publishers sources (1973). This book was from Tolkien's official US publisher for hardcover editions, Houghton Mifflin.
 
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Welcome, Barding!

You could check early issues of Mythprint and Mythlore, which are available in (mostly) reprint form, affordably, from the Mythopoeic Society. They are slow! But they get the materials to you eventually. As far as I know, Paul Kocher, in Master of Middle-earth, was working just with published sources (1973). This book was from Tolkien's official US publisher for hardcover editions, Houghton Mifflin.
Thanks for the welcome.

I have a few issues of Mythlore bundled away somewhere. I'll have to dig them out. I also have Kocher's book; thanks for reminding me of it.

I just finished reading Jim Allen's brief pamphlet "A Speculation on the Silmarillion" (1977; original edn. 1974) and it's filled with many interesting tidbits, including such previously unknown (at the time) factoids like the existence of "The Wanderings of Hurin" and the meaning of the name Feanor ("Spirit of Fire"). Some of his guesses were very wrong as to its contents and the interrelation of its parts, but a few seem inspired.

What I haven't found, and what I'm doing myself for my own enlightenment and edification, is gathering into one place all the relevant passages from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle, so that they can be easily read at a glance. This is undoubtedly the best way to grasp what was known about the Matter of the Elder Days before the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977. Also very helpful for understanding what was known is Robert Foster's A Guide to Middle Earth (1975; original edn. 1971). Less so (and ungracefully written) is J.E.A. Tyler's The Tolkien Companion (1976).

Also worth investigating is Clyde S. Kilby's summary of The Silmarillion that was meant to be Chapter III of his Tolkien and the Silmarillion (1976), belatedly published in VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review, Volume 19, 2002. At the request of Christopher Tolkien, with whom he shared a draft of the work, it was withheld as giving away too much of the story. He got a lot wrong, but it's still a valuable document.

I have also found some Fanzine scans online that also contain useful information.
 
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Extollager

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Those sources pretty well cover it. Have you seen the interview with Tolkien in Niekas #18?

http://efanzines.com/Niekas/Niekas-18.pdf

There's a transcript of Henry Resnick's long telephone call to the Professor from back in the Days of the Craze (which I write about for Beyond Bree).
 
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Those sources pretty well cover it. Have you seen the interview with Tolkien in Niekas #18?

[link]

There's a transcript of Henry Resnick's long telephone call to the Professor from back in the Days of the Craze (which I write about for Beyond Bree).
Hadn't seen this one yet. Thanks!

Here are two examples of what I have in mind:

It is now difficult to fully recall the degree of expectation with which The Silmarillion was awaited among at least some Tolkien fans, and even more difficult for relative newcomers to Tolkien to envisage it. The knowledge that such a work in fact existed and that Professor Tolkien was working on it began to leak out in the mid-60s (notably in Henry Resnik’s landmark article ‘The Hobbit-forming World of J. R. R. Tolkien’, Saturday Evening Post, 2 July 1966). There were hopes that Professor Tolkien might bring it out in his lifetime, but it was not to be. When one enquired of Allen & Unwin in those days one would be told by Joy Hill that the Professor was working on it but that they didn’t know when it would see the light of day.

When Tolkien died without completing the work, the publishers stated that Christopher Tolkien would bring out an edited version: expectation reached new heights. The book was awaited with what Humphrey Carpenter called a ‘gruesome anticipation’. I can recall Rayner Unwin at the Tolkien Society’s 1974 Annual Dinner standing at the top table saying that the manuscripts of The Silmarillion, packed into box-files, together in a row, were about as long as the table he was standing at (roughly 8 feet, I estimated: big enough). In fact it would be pertinent here to recall a few other remarks of his. He described the state of the book as ‘inchoate’, although far from completely disorganised, and that it was being assembled and collated by Christopher Tolkien.

—Charles Noad, "Three Tolkien Book Reviews", excerpt from his review of Arda Marred, The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, 8 August 2009


Soon after I first discovered The Lord of the Rings, to satisfy my own curiosity, I began collecting in one place as much data on the Elder Days of Middle-earth as I could find, using Tolkien’s published works, and other sources containing information derived from Tolkien. Often a re-reading of all or part of The Lord of the Rings would bring to my attention a previously unobserved incident or connexion. The result is a reasonably coherent narrative, though not an unbroken one.

—Jim Allan, A Speculation on The Silmarillion (1977), p. 3

The first excerpt brilliantly conveys the excitement preceding the publication; the second, the attempt to survey systematically what had already appeared in print (along with a few oral and written communications, such as "The Dick Plotz Letter" and reports of interviews, as with Resnick among others).

If it hasn't already been done, I'd like to write up a representative account and hopefully post it on the Web somewhere.
 
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Extollager

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Barding, I hope you will write up that account. If you were interested in submitting it to Beyond Bree (established 1981), the monthly Tolkien newsltter, I bet editor Nancy Martsch would like to print it.

Beyond Bree

In any event I'd enjoy seeing it. I don't suppose any Tolkien fans would wish we didn't have The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Letters, The History of Middle-earth, etc., but there was a special excitement and interest in correlating the bits that were available prior to 1977 and speculating. I do, to this day, think a good way to read Tolkien is publication order--Hobbit, LotR, Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Road Goes Ever On, "Once Upon a Time" and "The Dragon's Visit," "Bilbo's Last Song," etc., plus such bits as Tolkien released in interviews and letters that circulated in the fannish community. Don't overlook the rare Diplmat magazine issue.

Diplomat, October 1966 - Tolkien Gateway

A scan of the best page from that magazine is here:

"Tolkien on Tolkien" Rare 1966 Diplomat Mag Autobiographical Article

You might find something of interest--historical perspective at least--in Gary Hunnewell's ongoing Tolkien Fandom Review project, which I mentioned above. Here's the first one:

http://efanzines.com/TFR/TolkienFandom2ndEd.pdf

I'm sure there must have been some comparing of notes at fan gatherings. In a series of columns in Beyond Bree (beginning Dec. 2015), I have chronicled the first Tolkien conventions, held during the 1965-1969 "Days of the Hobbit Craze." I take the first to have been held at Mankato State College in 1966. I was able to get in touch with several people who were there and include their reminiscences.
 
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Of course we want all the previously unpublished Tolkien we can get! What I'm interested in doing is reviewing what Tolkien shared about the First and Second Ages in print (or otherwise, whether orally or by letter) during his lifetime, as well as investigating what readers made of the evidence. For instance, it turns out that, of the Three Kindreds of the Elves, only the Second and Third are named (although it wasn't obvious that that was so), and likewise with the Three Houses of the Edain: only the First and Third are mentioned by name.

Again, it was revealed that one Silmaril was recovered from the Iron Crown of Morgoth, but that the other two were lost at the end of the First Age. Encyclopedists like Robert Foster and J.E.A. Tyler were left to puzzle out how the other two went from Morgoth's Crown to being lost.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

As for your suggestion about Beyond Bree, I'd be happy to submit my work for publication if it ever gets that far.
 

Extollager

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This is a clear and exciting idea. Hope you will follow up on it. If you wanted to refine it, you could even do it as a "What did we know and when did we know it?" thing, starting with the publication of LotrR in the 1950s and the occasional addition of elements year by year. I like to think of a time when the release of, say, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was a major event, with new things to glean--some of them only by implication.

I remember being excited around 1972 when I bought Foster's Guide to Middle-earth (Mirage Press, second printing, 1971) and discovered there were precious bits of information credited to Rick Bjorseth and Dick Plotz, e.g. in the entry on "Morgoth." From the fan bulletin Green Dragon Oct. 1967 (which I acquired a few years after its date), I learned of a "long narrative poem set in Numenor, a work on which Tolkien was reputedly at work in 1967," called A Man and His Wife [sic; The Mariner's Wife], according to a note I interleaved with my copy of Foster. Another interleaved note transcribed a news item published in the Portland Oregonian newspaper 4 Sept. 1973, "Tolkien Work May Be Published," which describes The Silmarillion accurately as "a series of legendary tales," and which quotes a "spokesman" as saying "'The manuscript is enormous, as long as Lord of the Rings.'" The article said that the legends are "unconnected" and that it was expected that Tolkien's son Christopher "'will thread them together.'"
 
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This is a clear and exciting idea. Hope you will follow up on it. If you wanted to refine it, you could even do it as a "What did we know and when did we know it?" thing, starting with the publication of LotrR in the 1950s and the occasional addition of elements year by year. I like to think of a time when the release of, say, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was a major event, with new things to glean--some of them only by implication.

I remember being excited around 1972 when I bought Foster's Guide to Middle-earth (Mirage Press, second printing, 1971) and discovered there were precious bits of information credited to Rick Bjorseth and Dick Plotz, e.g. in the entry on "Morgoth." From the fan bulletin Green Dragon Oct. 1967 (which I acquired a few years after its date), I learned of a "long narrative poem set in Numenor, a work on which Tolkien was reputedly at work in 1967," called A Man and His Wife [sic; The Mariner's Wife], according to a note I interleaved with my copy of Foster. Another interleaved note transcribed a news item published in the Portland Oregonian newspaper 4 Sept. 1973, "Tolkien Work May Be Published," which describes The Silmarillion accurately as "a series of legendary tales," and which quotes a "spokesman" as saying "'The manuscript is enormous, as long as Lord of the Rings.'" The article said that the legends are "unconnected" and that it was expected that Tolkien's son Christopher "'will thread them together.'"
Thanks for the additional leads.

I just came across that reference to 'A Man and His Wife' the other day. Hilarious!

As for 'Rick Bjorseth' (abbreviated RB in the textual citations), after seeing his name in Foster's Introduction (where he credits Clyde S. Kilby as Bjorseth's source), I did a Google search but came up empty. His contribution to the Guide, however, is evident from the following entries:

MELCHAR (Val.? Q.?) The real name of Morgoth (q. v.). (RB 11/15/67)

MORGOTH (S. ‘Black-power’?) (First Age) <...>
Also known as the Great Enemy, the Enemy, Morgoth the Enemy and the Dark Power of the North. His real name was Melchar. (I 260; III 388. 389, 452, 507, 511; RB 11/15/67)

So Foster had in his possession a letter from Bjorseth, dated 15 November 1967, relating the (supposed) real name of Morgoth as 'Melchar'. Close, but no cigar!

As for your suggestion about my project, I would definitely present the texts in chronological order, starting with The Hobbit, and ending with The Road Goes Ever On. I believe that a deep dive into the relevant passages would serve as a helpful introduction to an informed reading of The Silmarillion.
 

Extollager

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Probably outside your topic, but it's also interesting to reflect on the gradual accumulation of information about things Tolkien had read that he admitted affected him or that might have done. For example, Lin Carter's March 1969 Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings" (p. 20) said that the "only influence Tolkien will admit to these days [aside from Norse mythology] is H. Rider Haggard's She." Carter was drawing on that Niekas interview, which was awfully obscure for this 12-year-old reader! But Carter's mention was enough to set me off after the Haggard romance at a public library.

Quite early on, various sources mentioned Tolkien in connection with the Inklings--something "everyone" knows about now. But when the American paperback editions appeared in 1965, there was just a puzzling reference to the Inklings in the Ace edition of Fellowship, while I don't think the Ballantine mentioned them at all. If one saw some of the fanzines of the time, one might learn much of interest! And of course Richard West's annotated bibliography on Tolkien was a fascinating little book to mine for bits.
 

Extollager

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Don't forget the two or three poems released in Tolkien's lifetime--"The Dragon's Visit" and "Once Upon a Time," and "Bilbo's Last Song (at the Grey Havens)"--the last of them all, I think.

There's some uncertainty about "Bilbo's Last Song" in my mind. This

Bilbo's Last Song - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

cites a 1974 poster illustrated by Pauline Baynes. But that wasn't the first issue of the poem as a poster. I'm quite sure it was first released as text superimposed on a murky orange sunset photo or something of the sort. That version might have been released after Tolkien's death, too, but I'm not sure it wasn't released while he was alive.

The other two poems were first published in a British book, and then appeared in an American paperback, in one of the inaugural releases of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, The Young Magicians, Oct. 1969. "Dragon's Visit" is not a Middle-earth poem, but "Once Upon a Time" seems to be a "Bombadil" poem that introduces the mysterious lintips--probably to be taken as hobbit inventions.
 

Extollager

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I said Tolkien "conventions" in #14 above. A slip of the pen. I should have said "conferences."

Clyde Kilby gave a number of presentations on various campuses (e.g. at Gordon College in Feb. 1968), and would have been a major source of tidbits about the Silmarillion material. He would have highlighted the Tolkien-Inklings connection, too.
 
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