Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Worth Quoting

Yesterday, I received a package containing back issues of Christian's delightful Loviatar 'zine (whose eighth issue is available now). I spent a better part of the afternoon -- when I should have been doing other things -- reading these slim volumes and wishing I had both the energy and the know-how to produce something similar. As I've said before, I was never a big reader of fanzines back in the day and I kind of regret that now. Unfortunately, the Digital Age doesn't seem to have been kind to this hallowed medium of our hobby, which is why I'm especially grateful that Christian is keeping it alive.

Which brings me to some paragraphs I wanted to quote from the Introduction to issue #3 (October 2011). Here's the first one:
On the subject of .pdf copies of Loviatar, I am firmly committed to print. I have published .pdf zines in the past, but felt that the process was too impersonal. I could see that hundreds of copies were being downloaded, but I had no idea who was doing so. There was seldom any feedback and it didn't offer the same experience as producing a print product.
I found myself cheering Christian's thoughts here, as I largely share them. In truth, I hate electronic products. I will purchase them only grudgingly, preferring a printed copy every time. But, as is so often the case, I'm in the minority on this score, which is why, though I'd rather not, I hypocritically offer PDF versions of Thousand Suns and my other creations.

Christian goes to say:
Finally, I have been asked if I will accept submissions. I feel that a zine's identity comes from the personality of its creator, and should reflect his or her ideas, vision and quirks. In that respect, a zine is an extension of the writer. Accepting submissions changes that, moving the zine author from the role of creator into the job of editor. There is a risk that the zine could lose its focus and identity.
Again, I found myself nodding my head in strong agreement. One of the many reasons I'd rather read an irregularly-updated blog over forums is that blogs feel much more "personal" to me. Even when the blogger is anonymous or using a pseudonym -- practices I don't much care for, but I digress -- they still reveal about themselves in their writing. And they can do so without interruption by pettifoggers and self-appointed gadflies. 'Zines are even more like this than blogs, because it takes a lot of effort to produce one and I doubt anyone's going to go to that effort unless it matters to him.

That's something worth celebrating.


  1. Right on, James. I am so glad that you get where the zine is coming from. I derive a lot of pleasure from just doing my own thing in my own way. The fact that people actually enjoy receiving my mad scribblings in the mail is like icing on the cake.

    Rock on,

  2. Well met. In other news, I think you've just about sold me on Loviatar.

    I'm also super-nodding on the whole idea of electronic media. I can see 100% the appeal of having everything available to you in a single device - laptop, kindle, what have you. But I don't think I'll ever be able to free myself from the allure of physical media in the form of books, magazines, etc.

    That's why, when I play my 1980s video games, I seek out the actual console and cartridge rather than play them on an emulator. It's also why I bought all my 1E books online instead of downloading PDFs. And it's why I'll likely buy physical copies of some of the Osric literature, and Dwimmermount, when that comes out.

    James, you may have missed out on zines when they were common, but count yourself lucky that you were alive at all in that time period. The stars weren't right for me, and I didn't play RPGs until the gold, silver and bronze ages had all run their course. I'm just glad I can remember a time before the Internet, even if it was only a handful of years.


  3. That's interesting. As anyone who's gotten the first issue of Dungeon Crawl (link) knows, I put a line allowing for submissions at the bottom. I don't really expect it to bear fruit, but I figured since Dungeoneer wasn't just written by Paul Jaquays, whatever works will work.

  4. In truth, I hate electronic products. I will purchase them only grudgingly, preferring a printed copy every time. But, as is so often the case, I'm in the minority on this score, which is why, though I'd rather not, I hypocritically offer PDF versions of Thousand Suns and my other creations.

    Mind you, principled stands on printed copy are rather easier to take in North America, where you are only a domestic postage away from pretty much everything you might want. Here in Australia, where there's oceans, sharks, and poisonous snakes separating us from everyone, PDF is a godsend.

    1. Indade. USPS rates for international shipping are horrendous (generally doubling the cost of the book).

      And you forgot the blue-ringed octupi.

  5. This is some insightful stuff. In a way I always felt the same way about working on projects, but to read it on the screen in someone else's words somehow shines a light on the sentiments. Good post guys!

  6. I too prefer the hard copy. I think that there is something to holding the work in your hand and I regret the move to more and more .PDF only releases. I am willing to pay more for POD and hope to see some more products use that model

  7. For those of you who _love_ electronic stuff, please be reassured that Jame's graphic designer also loves electronic stuff, and works to make them as awesome as possible, even if the beauty of them is lost on his grognardtastic self. ;-)

  8. Although my my primary experience back in the day was with the heavily contributed to Alarums & Excursions (that I made a couple of pedestrian contributions to), the multi-contributer fanzines from modern day I've seen just leave something to be desired IMO. Maybe personal, single vision projects like Loviator are the way to go now. Consistancy is never a bad thing.

  9. Yes. No. Maybe. A physical product has its advantages - above all the craftmanship of it - but as PCB has written, overseas postage and the limits of distribution can be a major hindrance. There is also the issue of longevity - will I be able to obtain Loviatar and other low print run products eight years from now? Maybe, maybe not. If it goes out of print, it will be downright impossible to find, and its contents will have been lost to the gaming community. What would people in 1978 have done if they had desktop publishing and the Internet? My hunch is that they'd have mostly gone PDF at the first opportunity.

    I am not saying these disadvantages outweigh the pros of doing a print fanzine. Everyone should set his or her own preferences. Myself, I like print, which is why I print out my PDFs. If I wanted to, they would look like proper digest-sized fanzines, too.

    1. I know what you mean. I wish I could get a full collection of Unspeakable Oath, but will never happen. They are worth their weight in gold (or more).