What is First Fandom Experience?
First Fandom Experience (FFE) is a cooperative publishing project.
What’s the purpose of FFE?
The purpose of FFE is to honor, preserve and bring to life the experience of the “first fans” – the pioneering fans who were instrumental in defining, driving, growing and supporting science fiction and fantasy in the 1930s and beyond. We seek to give the readers of FFE material a visceral sense of what it might have been like to be a science fiction fan during a seminal period in the development of the genre.
We also hope to establish and maintain a definitive digital archive of fan-created and fan-related material from the decade of the 1930s and the “war years” from 1940 – 1945.
What is the target audience of FFE?
FFE publications are intended for today’s fans of science fiction and fantasy with an interest in the history of these genres. Today’s fans may be exploring that history by collecting and reading early pulp magazines such as Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories. They may have read books on the topic including Sam Moskowitz’s The Immortal Storm. They may have had some exposure to the fan-created publications that began appearing in the early 1930s and proliferated throughout that decade and the decades that followed.
We also hope to engage fans who have never considered how science fiction grew from an obscure literary niche into a pervasive cultural phenomenon and multi-billion dollar industry. We’ll seek ways to connect the past to the present by through visual exploration of how early fandom sparked, nurtured and spread ideas that changed the world.
Who is sponsoring and supporting FFE?
FFE was conceived in April 2018 by David Ritter, based in part on a suggestion by John L. Coker III. Daniel Ritter is the Managing Editor. We hope to attract the involvement of collectors and enthusiasts with an interest in the history of science fiction and fantasy who will contribute material or otherwise support the project.
In this effort we explicitly recognize, thank and hope to engage with the people who have already spent vast amounts of time and energy in preserving fan history. We have had the privilege of meeting or corresponding with a few of them, including John L. Coker III (FirstFandom.org), Joe Siclari and Edie Stern (Fanac.org), John Locke, Doug Ellis, Alistair Durie, Phyllis Weinberg, Lloyd Currey, Ray Walsh, David Aronovitz, Jim Halperin and Dave Kurzman. Through this work we hope to meet and collaborate with many others.
What will FFE publish?
The primary initial focus of FFE will be to publish fan-created content from the science fiction and fantasy fields dating from the 1930s, in facsimile form. This will include the most prominent “fanzines” of the period (The Time Traveler, Science Fiction Digest / Fantasy Magazine, Phantagraph, The Fantasy Fan and many others). We will also seek to find and republish other related ephemera of the period, especially content relating to the fan club activities and conventions held through the 1930s. To provide historical context, FFE will also publish material related to seminal events that influenced scifi and fantasy at this time, such as the release by RKO in 1933 of the movie King Kong.
In addition, FFE will offer new content authored by current fans and historians reflecting on their experience and knowledge of the genres in the 1930s. Sadly almost all of the First Fans have left us, but many folks remain who knew them and have captured some of their memories.
What form will FFE publications take?
To allows its subscribers to experience 1930s fandom in the most realistic sense possible, FFE will focus on high-resolution images and accurate facsimiles of original fan-created material. These artifacts will be accompanied by new narrative and graphical content that provides context and insight.
Our latest publications, including The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom – Deluxe Preview Edition, can be purchased here.
We are creating facsimiles in two forms:
- Large-format bound books where the pages of the original material are reproduced at their original size. For example, our plans include a 9×12” book where the pages of The Planet or The Time Traveler are shown in their original 8.5×11 format.
- In select cases , separate “true facsimiles” that match the original size, appearance and binding format. For these we will also seek to choose representative media and paper, but will substitute modern, acid-free and durable materials that approximate the weight and feel of the originals.
We are also considering options for offering access to content in the digital archive.
Why just the 1930s (for now)?
The decade of the 1930 is when organized fandom started and grew. The scope of materials from that period is of manageable size. Fanzines proliferated extensively in the early 1940s, so assembling a robust or even representative collection represents some real challenges. We hope to extend our work to cover the war years (1940 – 1945) in later stages of the project.
What about semi-professional fiction magazines like Marvel Tales?
At present, we don’t intend to include these.
Is FFE a for-profit, not-for-profit or non-profit project?
To be determined. The founder doesn’t expect to make money on it, but hopes that proceeds from the project will cover the bulk of the related costs. It’s mainly a labor of love.
Is FFE part of the First Fandom organization?
No. FFE is committed to ensuring that our work is complementary to, broadens awareness of and increases interest in the important work done by First Fandom. John L. Coker III, the President and Archivist of First Fandom, provides ongoing guidance to our team to help us achieve these aims.
From where will FFE source its content?
We have direct access to a large collection of 1930s and 1940s fanzines, correspondence, art and other artifacts, including many rare and one-of-a-kind items. FFE will also draw on material held by other collectors, historians and libraries who are willing to participate. Material will only be used with explicit permission.
Our work to find artifacts that tell the story is ongoing. You can see a current list of material we’re seeking here.
How will FFE address copyright issues for content it re-publishes?
The expectation is that all of the content FFE intends to re-publish is already in the public domain. We will make every attempt to understand and respect any copyright restrictions that may apply to the material. Please contact us if you believe that anything you encounter in our work requires permissions beyond those stated in citations accompanying the material.
How can I participate?
There are lots of ways. Suggest ideas. Contribute content. Share your experiences with First Fans, or the origin story of your own fandom.
Start by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.