BILL BOWERS: "I need friends..who care
by Cy Chauvin
I first saw the name 'Bill Bowers' in a
fanzine review column in 1970. It was
a review of Outworlds, and the reviewer
called the. fanzine "pretty" but downgraded it because it "only consisted of
letters and a short editorial." This was
before there was a heavy emphasis on
graphics and artwork in fandom; when
the written word was more important
This review put me off Outworlds, so
it wasn't until some time later that I
bought a subscription. I was graphically
amazed, but found it a bit confusing.
Why did the fanzine begin with page
134? Why were there names under all
the illustrations? A fanzine done for my
Outworlds, from the beginning, was
knowji for its experimental graphics.
When I first bought the fanzine, it was
mimeographed, with offset covers. Impeccably mimeographed. There were
half-page inserts (made by folding one
page lengthwise), color coordinated ink
and paper, large margins around the artwork (unheard of when he began his
fanzine, at least to me) and special art
folios, which have almost disappeared
again from fanzines. In some issues, to
place more emphasis on the artists' contributions to Outworlds, he typed their
names underneath their artwork. One
issue, he had a special Alfred Bester
tribute: a folio of artwork drawn by
Stephen Fabian, illustrating some of
Bester's stories and also the man. Another issue Bill produced in an SY2 x 14
format. Just to experiment.
Arnie Katz once wrote that if Bill
Bowers were president, he'd soon have
artists out trimming the borders of the
states, so that maps of the USA would
be more graphically pleasing.
Certainly, fandom's artists have never
had a better friend than William C.
As an editor (rather than graphic
designer) Bill seems to be "looser". Discovering the Bowers' "editorial slant"
would be difficult. His editorial policy
tends to change every other issue, and
usually Bill would devote half his editorial to explaining it—often, one suspected, to clear it up in his own mind
as much as to inform the readers. He's
had many conflicting goals.
Bill seems willing to publish anything; serious criticism, humorous anecdotes, poems, cartoon strips, fancol-
umns, procolumns, even some off-beat
fiction. There are two types of fan editors: those who accept what comes in
over the transom, and those that actively solicit material of a certain kind and
style. Bill has always tended to be the
former; this is not to say that he'd publish your laundry list if you sent it to
him (unless, say, your name was Mike
Glicksohn), just that he is unprejudiced.
Anything Bill finds entertaining I suspect he finds fit to publish in Outworlds.
What impressed me most about Outworlds, however, were neither its graphics or the wide range of written material, but Bill's own editorials. They
seem written with an honesty and sense
of personal vulnerability that is rare
in fandom, and almost unknown in the
outside world. In the last issue of Outworlds published to date (No. 28/29),
he writes "I think I am a rather 'open'
individual—and yet always qn guard and
conscious of protecting that part of
me that makes me me instead of you...
I probably will be writing more, with
more candor than ever before." (P.
1104—the page numbering is continuous, from one issue to the next.)
Does the editor of Time—or even
Analog—write things like that? This
element of soul-searching and personal
evolution is as unique as the graphics
in Outworlds. Bill wants to communicate himself to his readers. (He once
wrote that he was reluctant to sellf
Outworlds through dealers, because he
wanted to know who got each issue.);
His comments on the "status" involved
in being a Big Name Fan (a humorousj
appellation, originally, but now taken!
seriously by many) say even more about
Bill Bowers, the person:
"/ won *t deny that I have spent lA
years working to be accepted andl
acknowledged by my peers, striving
to become a Famous and Respected
fan editor/producer. But, having attained that to such a degree that /
detect envy (and, damnit, "awe")]
from some other fans, I have to ask\
myself..was ii worth it?
".../ do sometimes wonder.. .ij\
the people who spend time with me\
do so because Vm me, or because\
Vm Bill Bowers, Big Time, Big Deal
Faneditor. The answer, of course, is\
that some do, some don't. The
fame* is useful for making contact;]
it is a detriment if it is the only rea\
son for maintaining that contact..-
and while I've certainly 'used* it,
that is not what I want: What l\
want, what I need, is friends who
care for me in spite of the 'image
rather than because of it." (p. 1104)
IGUANACON PROGRAM BOOK