AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN LOCK (PART TWO | THE FANTASY ADVERTISER YEARS)
So when BEM was unable to be published due to NMP’s bankruptcy, you resurrected Fantasy Advertiser. How did that come about?
Martin: I was checking upstairs to see what issues I still have, and found this in my last issue publishing Fantasy Advertiser, number 89 - so as my memory of such things was fresher then, let me quote from that “Publishorial” from February 1985:
"I never intended to revive FA, which was comfortably in limbo back in 1981. What I was expecting to do was take over Fantasy Trader from Mark Ellis, since he seemed to have come to a halt as far as actually publishing issues went, and I was a previous editor of that particular fanzine. However, Mark kept assuring me that he wanted to publish one more issue before retiring, and in the end I lost patience; once he actually publishes that last issue, maybe FT subscribers will get transferred to us even now.
"So, if FT wasn’t available, what about FA? It was not a fanzine I’d had much to do with, beyond a few letters back when I was a very new fan, and one article, but the more the idea rattled around, the more it seemed logical. I phoned up Dez Skinn [who had been a former editor of FA], and he squared things with founder Frank Dobson; we were in business!
"I was still involved with another fanzine called BEM at the time, and was thus in contact with quite a few prospective advertisers and contributors. The new FA wasn’t going to be a very lavish operation, with a few columns, letters, lots of advertising… There was an obvious need for a new source of comics news for Britain, so maybe about 3 pages of news would be a good idea too. There wasn’t a subscription list for FA to take over, but Colin Gould, whose comic shop duties forced him to give up the fanzine called Ogre, passed his subscribers over, and Mike Taylor, unable to continue the much-acclaimed Masters of Infinity, officially folded it into the newly-revived title. They might not have exactly volunteered, but we had subscribers!
“Fantasy Advertiser #70 had 32 pages, with a two-colour cover featuring Dark Phoenix. Dez Skinn kindly wrote us an introduction, which just happened to mention his new Warrior project once or twice. There was news, starting off on the latest price-rise from Marvel, following DC to 60 cents; would the Wolverine mini-series be drawn by Frank Miller or Mike Golden? DC were to start issuing annuals, after a lay-off of 17 years; and Pacific’s second title, Starslayer, finally was ready to be printed…
"The SF section was less than half a page; the strip from Masters of Infinity, “Moonstone”, by Mike Collins and Mark Farmer, took up residence; and ‘big news about BEM' was promised. And we had some columns, too, including, as another MoI refugee, Kev F. Sutherland’s FA debut.
“FA #89 I haven’t seen as I write this, and, for the first time, it’s so much in Skidmorian hands that I know very little about its contents, but I think I can safely say that this magazine has developed in the course of my 20 issues. More pages, more colour, more articles - and a news service that would make a reader of BEM’s old competitor, Comic Media News, have palpitations! Much of the recent improvement in FA is down to ‘Skidders’ of course, who, after a guest-appearance in #81, came aboard as ‘Managing Editor’ in #85. I didn’t have enough time to develop FA as much as it, and you, deserved; and now that I’ve got not only Conqueror but also Swiftsure to run, even a couple of weeks of my time is more than I’m able to give. Exit Lock, leaving Skidmore as Martin-in-Chief.
"I’m going to miss it, of course; I’m going to miss fanzine publishing in general, after 36 issues of BEM, 20 of FA, an ‘apazine,’ my Fantasy Trader stint, and work on other fans’ titles, such as Fantasy Unlimited and Comic Media. I may even miss the endless collating weekends, surrounded by pile after pile of FA or BEM sheets, or the times I’ve ended up working 12-hour days at the printers just to make sure that the magazine came out on time, doing part of almost every stage of the work from plate-making to stitching. I’ll miss the news-gathering chats with 2000AD, Dez, Nick Landau, Alan Moore, and British Marvel. All the interesting news release packages, and letters, and complimentary copies…
"Say, is it too late to change my mind?
"Anyway, Martin Skidmore has some good plans for FA, and I hope everyone supports him in his endeavours. FA was needed when I brought out #70, and it’s still needed now, to keep British fandom in touch with itself. Once upon a time, there were about five or six main fanzines that could do this, and the end of one of them was unfortunate, but no tragedy; the editor could afford to say ‘If I can’t continue, nobody else can take over my creation, and I’d rather refund all my subscriptions than give my old rival a circulation boost by handing them on’, and it didn’t matter much. But none of the competitors to FA these days are big or regular enough to do FA's job, it seems to me, so be good to old FA, & treat Skidders well. I want to see issue 100 within two years, and I want to see Martin Skidmore editing it.
Fanzines may come and go, but FA goes on and on and on, to misquote Dez from #70. May it ever be thus!”
Next: Martin Lock on Harrier Comics