Long before social media – a time before YouTube channels, podcasts and Twitter – the only way a generation of Doctor Who fans could find their voice was to produce a fanzine. Following in the slipstream of mid-1970s punk rock music fanzines, for a decade or two it seemed anyone with a shaky old typewriter and buckets of enthusiasm was putting together their own amateur magazines filled with news, reviews, interviews, convention reports, fan fiction, artwork and comic strips. Schoolkids and students alike manfully struggled with sheets of rub-down Letraset, correction fluid, cow gum, hand-cranked duplicators and overheating photocopiers to try their luck at becoming fan publishing press barons. Some sold dozens of copies, others sold thousands.
This was the only platform fans of the time had to praise, criticise and share opinions on their favourite show, largely uncensored and unbound, sometimes controversially so and running into trouble with the BBC and the Doctor Who producers of the era; Philip Hinchcliffe, Graham Williams and John Nathan-Turner.
Covering UK fandom’s earliest beginnings in the 1960s, through to the ‘golden age’ of the 1970s and 1980s, several hundred different fanzine titles are documented, discussed and displayed in this fully-illustrated coffee-table hardback, from hand-stapled newsletters to full colour, professionally-printed magazines. It includes everything from Aggedor, The Animus and Ark in Space to Zygon, Zodin and Zeiton-7 and covers fondly-remembered classics including Celestial Toyroom, TARDIS, The Doctor Who Review, Gallifrey, Matrix, Skaro, Shada, Frontier Worlds, The Frame, Private Who and the best-selling but outspoken Doctor Who Bulletin.
From tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow and these fanzines included the first published work by many Doctor Who writers and artists of the future – many of them going onto comic strips, books, audios, Doctor Who Magazine and even the revived TV show itself, with at least one future showrunner helping run a local group newsletter of the 1980s!
With an Afterword by Doctor Who showrunner and writer Chris Chibnall, and a Foreword by the Master of fanzine writing Martin Wiggins, plus contributions and comment from many of the editors, publishers and writers who were there, this is the definitive look at the UK Doctor Who fanzine phenomenon and how it chronicled everything from the highs of the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker years, to 1983’s Longleat 20th anniversary event, to 1985’s cancellation crisis, to the show’s quiet demise in 1989.
Writer and researcher Alistair McGown – whose own first published work appeared in The Highlander fanzine in 1985, aged 13 – celebrates the fascinating story of the underground Doctor Who press in this latest slice of publishing history from Telos.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
‘The Fanzine Book really is a remarkable piece of work’ Paul Mount, Starburst Magazine (https://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/the-fanzine-book-the-golden-age-of-the-doctor-who-underground-press/)
‘It’s a thing of absolute beauty — wonderfully designed and produced, as well as brilliantly written. I love the finished artefact. It’s really special.’ – CHRIS CHIBNALL
‘The book is amazing, clever and informative.’ – GARY RUSSELL
‘Enough to inspire a new generation of fanzine publishers …’ SIMON STABLER, BEST OF BRITISH MAGAZINE
‘A beautiful book!’ – OWEN RICHARDS
‘What a treat. It took me right back to those early days of the DWAS.’ – BILL GALLAGHER
‘Absolutely amazing piece of work’ – COLINJOHN MURPHY-ROGERS
‘A lovely looking book. Lavishly illustrated.’ – GARY REED
‘I think a glass or two need to be raised to Mr McGown for his comprehensive and good-looking tome. I found it a bittersweet experience, in some ways it chronicled my personal journey from a wide-eyed innocent 11 year-old to a disillusioned and cynical 16 year-old! I couldn’t fail to get a warm feeling seeing some of the covers of issues of things I bought and pored over again and again as a feckless youth – it’s hard to underestimate what effect a page of Radio Times cuttings from Inferno had on me in 1980… But as soon as it goes into the era when I was actually contributing to fanzines, all the memories come flooding back of Big Name Fans and what seemed to me at the time (melodramatically) as a lot of petty back-biting, politics with a small p, rivalries and sharp-elbowed greasy-pole-climbing. – DARREN GIDDINGS
‘The Fanzine Book by Alastair McGown from Telos Publishing is a must have book for anyone who grew up with fan produced magazines about the TV legend that is Doctor Who. Back in the 70s to 90s – when there was no instant sharing of news and views on social media platforms, there were scores of photocopied and printed what were referred to as fanzines available offering interviews, reactions, debate, artwork and photos from the series. I am proud to have been the editor of 2 of these publications. Alistair has written and designed a mammoth hardback book looking at not only the history of these fanzines but placing background behind them and their creators plus a fascinating look how fandom developed into what it is now. Illustrated profusely with good quality reproductions of covers of the fanzines this is a most fascinating read with clearly lots of meticulous research having gone into its preparation. I would highly recommend that you buy a copy if you were part of the pre social media Doctor Who appreciation circles.’ – RICHARD WALTER
‘This is superb. Massively entertaining and massively informative. It covers some very tricky areas sensitively, and never loses track of its focus (i.e. the development of fanzines, not the development of fandom). The way that technology changes how these items were made and distributed is fascinating – and the delineation of this “Golden Age” period is also very astute (while I have immense fondness for the “Silver Age” covered with more brevity in the closing section of the volume, I can easily understand why the “Golden Age” is the important period that is far more deserving of study). A very lavish, specialist volume – and a real delight to have the luxury of time to sit down and enjoy the wonderful illustrations and text that it had to offer.’ – ANDREW PIXLEY
‘The Fanzine Book is absolutely incredible! So well done to Alistair. All your hard work has really paid off and it looks beautiful! It is a fantastic reference work and is such a valuable record of what were often such ephemeral publications. There was nothing like those early days when these were really the only tangible link with the show and other fans. Wonderful!’ – RONALD BINNIE
‘Many thanks for making this book. So much of it is a history of the DWAS, which shows how significant the Society is for fans and the continuation of the television programme itself. Invaluable.’ GORDON BLOWS
‘An extraordinary book … beautifully put together … one of the great Doctor Who books of the year.’ PAUL MOUNT (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GaFsNpFTtM)
For Doctor Who fans of a certain age, this is an astonishingly entertaining book, and I think you’ll love it.
‘All-in-all, this is a nearly 300 page love letter to all of that hard work, which will somehow help the efforts of all those enthusiastic, eager young fans to achieve some kind of immortality, and, really, what better tribute to all of them, and the foundations they put down for all of fandom, could we possibly hope for? The Fanzine Book is a highly recommended reference work about a topic many might have almost forgotten about, but which was often the engine room of fandom, and fun, for decades.’ EMANON on Amazon
‘Just a quick thank you to yourself, Stephen and, of course, Alistair McGown for the fantastic Fanzine Book. My daughter bought me a copy last month as a birthday present and I’ve been absorbed in it since then. Without a doubt one of the best – if not the best – Dr Who nostalgia type book ever produced. It brought back a lot of memories of perusing ‘zine-dealers’ tables at conventions and mailing off for various fanzines in the early eighties. Definitely think we all had a more creative and exciting time back in those days!’ Johnny Waudby
Copies of this book are available to USA-based customers through the following retailers:
WHO North America: https://www.whona.com
288pp. 11×8.5 format full colour hardback.
Published 1 August 2023
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Alistair McGown is a writer, researcher, editor and graphic designer who has worked in publishing in these varying capacities for the last 20 years.
He has been a regular contributor to Doctor Who Magazine for the last decade, including bookazine specials such as The Chronicles series, also writing around 270 personnel profiles for the Panini/Hachette partwork Doctor Who: The Complete History between 2015-19. He is also currently part of the team at Fanderson, the appreciation society devoted to the programmes of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, designing the club’s FAB Express magazine.
He has written about archive television, comics, film and old tat for magazines including SFX, Infinity and TV Years as well as the BFI’s screenonline website. His first book The Hill and Beyond, co-written with Mark J Docherty, was a history of children’s TV drama published by the BFI in 2003. He edited the BFI Television Handbook 2005, and designed two compendium volumes devoted to classic comic Look-in in 2007-8. He was consultant on the original DVD release of Star Maidens, issued in 2005 to the eternal gratitude of TV lovers everywhere.
His first published Doctor Who fanzine contributions were some dodgy Chris Achilleos rip-off artworks in 1985, drawn as a 13-year-old, and he later slaved over many an overheating photocopier in the 1990s producing ’zines including Paisley Pattern and November Spawned a Monster.