comicbookhistory

A little bit about the pre-internet history of Titans fandom. by Wonkeaux

gather ‘round children, and adults, and let me tell you a little about the history of Titans fandom. once upon a time there was no internet, but there were comics, and fans, and conventions, and fanzines, and a special kind of fanzine called an APA.  an APA is an amateur press association, anyone could print a fanzine, get people to contribute art and fanfic, and articles to it, photocopy it and sell it at conventions, or through a magazine called Factsheet 5, through the mail, and anyone could buy a copy of it, if they could find one. 

An apa is different in that in order to subscribe to it, you also had to be a contributing member, if you couldn’t draw, that was ok, even if you couldn’t write fiction, that was ok, as long as you contributed something, reviews of the latest issue of the comic which was the focus of the zine, and reviews of the previous issue of the apa. photocopies of articles and interviews with comics creators from industry magazines like Comic’s scene, Hero, Wizard, Comics buyers guide, etc.  There were many APAs in the old days, not just about comics, but about tv shows, and probably about cars and golf who knows?

     But the internet kind of killed most of them and here’s why; the way the APAs functioned was this, I as a member would type up my zine, on a typewriter, or a computer, (this was before there was an internet, can you imagine such dark ages?!), draw my pictures, write my fanfic, and comments about the previous issue of the comic, or the previous issue of the APA, answer questions people asked me last time, pretty soon I might have 6 or 10 pages, or more, take them to the copy shop, make 40 copies of each page, collate them, staple them in the upper left corner, and mail them to the CM, the Central Mailer, the CM would then collate it with everyone else’s contributions into the APA zine, and staple them all together with a honkin’ huge stapler that could do 100 or 150 pages (I still have one), and mail them out to the members. we would then get our copy, with one copy of the zine we sent in, and one of each thing that everyone else sent in, a table of contents, and all we paid was postage, which we sent in advance so the CM didn’t have to buy stamps for everyone. if there were any members living near to the CM they might have come by for a collating party to help put it together. sometimes we would travel hours to do that. we had members all over the US and in the UK, and Australia. I got to meet many, and crash on a few couches in my travels. good long lasting friendships were formed, some people met their spouses through APAs.

    6 issues would come out each year, and it was a blast when the latest issue finally arrived, each APA could be 100 pages or more, some of them were so thick they had to be in 2 or 3 sections because the staplers couldn’t handle bunching them all up into one tome.  you might not love everything everyone sent in, maybe fanfic about Aqualad’s sidekick Tusky the Walrus wasn’t your cup of tea, but there would be enough stuff you liked. and all you paid was your own copy costs and postage. at some point in the original Titan APA Titantalk, some people had a falling out with some other people, and branched off to start a new APA called T'n’T Teams'n'Titans, focussing on the New Teen Titans and other team comic books like the Legion, or Gen13, several people were in both of those APAs. about 1996 the internet really got rolling and pretty soon there were fan sites where people could post their fan art and fanfic, and get instant feedback about it from members of the community, sadly, this caused people to slow down in their contributions and most of the APAs whithered and died. I was the CM of both Titans apas at the end, and by the last issue, I just didn’t have enough contributions to justify stapling anything together and mailing it out, it all just fell apart.

But the internet comic fan scene was the new thing, and in many ways is better, the community isn’t as intimate, but it’s much more global, and no paper is wasted. Times change, you have to roll with it. so here we are on the interwebs, posting our fan art and fanfic, which anyone can see for free, and in colour (colour photocopying is still relatively costly), meantime I’ve been sitting on a treasure trove of Titans fan stuff most of which has never been posted online, I don’t really know that I should be posting the works of other people without their permission, although one friend of mine has died and I will be posting a few pieces she drew for me which I inked, some stuff is already in the public domain in one way or another.

  George Perez was an honourary member of TitanTalk, he wasn’t required to contribute regularly to maintain his membership, unlike us fen (plural of fan), he sometimes did, and he paid his own postage! Rob Leifeld started in TitanTalk, and when he was starting out was trying to draw like Perez, and his early work was quite promising, personally I wasn’t really enamoured of his style once he tried working more in a Jim Lee/image style, but some people obviously liked that. Colleen Doran, an amazing artist of A Distant Soil, and many other projects was a member, I have some lovely art she contributed to the APA before she turned pro. several other artists and writers got their start in APAs honing their craft, like Barry Lyga, any others. we used to send a copy to the DC offices in NYC, they would sometimes send us preview promo material, sometimes we got the scoop before comic book shops would! I remember asking Tom Grummett to sign a preview copy of the New Titans which he was working on, at a convention, and he asked me “where did you get THAT!?” they used to send them out to comic book shops to promote the books, we had permission to run them through the APA.

we would call them up and talk to them on the phone! I remember talking to Eddie Berganza when he became editor, I think it was him, no wait it was John, Peters (?) I think,  (went on to write film scripts), he told me his wife had never seen Star Wars, and I gasped. I got to hang out with George Perez in his home, and have lunch with him (he paid!), my friend from Australia was visiting and admired his prototype statuette of his character JJ Sachs from a book he did with Peter David called Sachs and Violens, she said her husband had wanted to buy one of those figurines but they were expensive, without hesitation, George handed her the unpainted protoype he had and said “give him this!”
 

George also in his home made us a photocopy of the roughly 70 pages he had drawn to that point, of Games, as well as the plot outline, which was on hold indefinitely, and it looked like it would never be published (took 20 years before it got finished, and he got paid 3 times for it!) and he allowed us to copy it 40 copies only, for the APA, and asked that we did not post it on the internet, which was just getting started then, no one posted it of course! you do what the Maestro asks! (I guess I can post it now, since the book finally came out!)  I gave him a painting I’d made of Starfire, based on Marilyn Monroe’s famous Playboy centrefold, tasteful nude, wasn’t sure how he’d feel about it, he started telling us about the history of that photoshoot! a couple of years later I ran into him at the Chicago comic con and he made me a lovely Kori headshot for just $20 (for charity) and told me he had hung my painting in his studio! major egoboost! I would have expected it to end up in his closet. been lucky enough to talk to George on several occasions at various cons and signing appearances since, always a hug, such a nice guy. I met Marv once, I think I freaked him out a little. someone else told me that was easy to do though. d:

there is a tradition of writing (and drawing) fanfic featuring a character who is a thinly veiled stand in for the author, a MarySue, having a romantic fling with their favourite character, and I am certainly guilty of plenty of that! as you shall unfortunately see.

oh yeah, before the internet we had LOL and ROFLMAO and other acronyms not to mention smiley emoticons : ) yes they predate the interwebs!  

so there’s a little chunk of Titans fandom history, from my perspective, I will be scanning and posting my own contributions from the days of APAs some of the works of others where I feel it’s ok, or if I can track them down and get their permission. I still have some extra copies of old APAs if anyone’s interested feel free to write to me about that, message me on here.