Television Information: Fanzines, A Guide To These Publications

Fan zines are the hybrid of TV & magazine. What happened to your favorite characters when the show was cancelled.

Ever wonder what happened to Gage and Desoto? Starsky and Hutch? Sam after that final Leap? Or maybe you just wonder what's really going on between Chakotay and Janeway or Mulder and Scully.

Whatever your thoughts, you can find the answers in fanzines; fan-written and owned publications that provide alternative realities, stories and essays on your favorite characters long after the shows they existed on have headed down the road to syndication land or total cancellation.

The premise behind fanzines are simple - fans write stories using their favorite characters, fanzine publisher edits and produces fanzine, you purchase it for your own reading. All for the fans, by the fans.

Fanzines first came into existence over thirty years ago with the appearance of Star Trek - startling the audience with vivid and deep characters that leapt off the screen and into your hearts and minds with complicated personalities and a universe that begged to be explored. With the cancellation of this popular series fans decided to keep it alive in their own way - sending stories to each other and eventually binding them into volumes so that you could share your vision of the universe and of Spock and Bones long before the current series of novels and magazines.

This format leapt to other series as well, non-science fiction. Emergency!; Starsky and Hutch, Knight Rider... if you enjoyed a series in the past forty years; it's likely there's a major fanfiction base out there waiting for you to dive into. Angry with the last Quantum Leap? Upset at Katherine's death in Beauty and The Beast? Fanzines offer a much more palatable existence and stories abound of alternative endings.

With the explosion of the Internet fanzines and fanfiction went online, with various groups being set up to showcase and explore the fictional stories easily produced and shared by fans around the world. The X-Files is one such group; with over ten thousand stories being archived on special sites that offer everything from intense novel-sized cases to light fluff for a quick read. Other series found a whole new life on the Internet where fans could meet and discuss their love for long-gone shows such as M*A*S*H and Hawaii Five-O with people around the world.

Fanzines adapted to this by offering their services online; providing sites for authors to offer their stories to the editors and for the avid reader to order online - instead of having to find a local outlet for them to purchase these bound volumes from.

Personal contact is still a major part of the fanzine world, with one of the major conventions being MediaWest, held in Michigan each year. Here you can browse table after table of fanzines for almost every type of show imaginable and walk out with a year's supply of reading material without even having to own a computer. Many fanzine publishers aim for this convention alone, with the rest of the year spent preparing for the next MediaWest where the majority of new fanzines are revealed to an adoring and waiting public who need their next fix of fanfiction.

There are infinite varieties of stories available for the average reader, from intense thrillers to raunchy sex stories to deep complicated technical discussions - all for only a few dollars and unavailable anywhere else. Here the fan rules, and the fanzine the physical manifestation of the love the fans have for the show.

The average fanzine publisher doesn't make a lot of money from the publication of his/her zine - barely enough to cover the publishing expenses. This is one of the major reasons why the Networks and Production companies (at this point) don't want to intrude in the fanzine world. In a way the production and distribution of zines help to increase demand for their "official" product, with many companies like Paramount turning a blind eye.

Many artists find fanzines a wonderful first outlet for their work - almost every fanzine publisher is looking for an artist to offer great illustrations for their product, and many artists get their first exposure through these publications. As well, many writers have moved on from fanzine publication to mainstream work; taking skills developed through their love of the show combined with the urge to write and finding their way in the publishing world with their own characters and stories.

Finding fanzines is now as easy as hitting the "search" button on your computer. While many shows like Emergency! and Charlie's Angels have been off the air for years, they live on in the creative minds of the fanzine writers and publishers. For a few dollars you can relive your favorite shows of childhood and perhaps even explore the creative spark inside yourself. New authors and artists are always in demand, and who knows? You might even want to become a publisher yourself? Ever really wondered what happened to Huggy Bear? Check out fanzines!

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