Rediscovered: More Contrappasso

Recently a 1977 issue of The Diversifier that I’d never seen before passed through my hands. It included a memoir of Edmond Hamilton by E. Hoffmann Price and a two-pager I hadn’t known about, in which Fritz Leiber discussed his tribulations trying to land stories with Weird Tales magazine — and his one meeting with WT editor Farnsworth Wright.

Got me thinking about magazines. . . .

My main theory about magazines is pretty simple, and obvious: if you’re doing a magazine, you have to come out frequently. If you’re Esquire or Playboy or Newsweek back in the day, no problem. You’ve got money, a production and editorial staff — you ought to be as regular as clockwork.

If you’re a fan or semi-pro zine like The Diversifier, though,  you’ve got hurdles to leap — no real budget, no staff, just a guy or two with a dream. The fact is that most fan mags in my experience are lucky if they can release an issue a year, but The Diversifier kept them coming, hitting around thirty issues or so before finally folding. I wasn’t there for the long haul, but I got involved in the early days of that mag when I first came to San Francisco in 1974 — did articles, fan art, even helped crank out issues on a mimeograph machine, if you can believe that. Caveman stuff!

I always count the first seven or eight issues of The Diversifier as one of “my” credits, since I was chipping in, doing my bit.

But overall I haven’t done that much with any given magazine — yeah, I am a presence in the eldritch Harry Morris zine Nyctalops, one of my faves. I co-edited that time-lost and delightfully eccentric annual The Romantist, which NEVER came out annually, and I assisted with the great — and frequent — The Cimmerian during its five-year run. And I have appeared in a few regulation mags along the way, such as Firsts or PW or AHMM — at least for awhile.

Which is why I’m happy to note that Matthew Asprey is chugging along and has a second issue of his magazine Contrappasso available right now. Looks like he has a really good shot at getting it going on a regular schedule — in short, a real magazine.

I blurbed the first issue because Matthew has been out on the tour, but more because it included a long piece by Up and Down These Mean Streets favorite Floyd Salas. Floyd shows up again in the second issue with a group of poems and line drawings, including the long poem “Steve Nash, Homosexual Transient” which I’ve heard Floyd do at readings. And in addition to the other contents, I figure people who lurk around this website would be interested in the sixty-plus pages of interview done with Elmore Leonard that appear this time — Elmore isn’t an absolute fave of mine, like Willeford, but he’s close enough.

You can get Contrappasso in print form or via Kindle —or in other electronic formats courtesy Smashwords.

And if you like what you see there, Matthew has a novella titled Angelique in San Francisco which you can pick up as a free ebook — and Floyd has polished up his personal website, added more stuff, not long ago — check it out if you haven’t surfed into Floydville in awhile.

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