The zine revolution had its roots in science fiction fandom. When my unsavory pals and I first starting putting Black Leather Times (BLT for short) together, a lot of our social lives revolved around going to science fiction conventions, where we gave out a couple thousand free copies of each issue. We even did a new issue for each time we attended a DragonCon, EveCon, CastleCon, and BaltiCon. As well as the occasional Disclave or Phenomicon or other event which seemed like a good excuse for a road trip in outlandish garb.
Each issue of BLT featured cool artwork, insightful humor, and a special theme. Our themes included Conventions, SF&F, and D&D/B&D, as well as more mundane topics such as Back to School, Valentines, and Cannibalism. Some of the fandom-related topics included convention sex-checklists, fannish lexicons, how to tell if you are dating a vampire, and deconstructions of the debate on differences between elf ears and Spock ears.
Author Shariann Lewitt worked on many of the early issues of BLT. She and I co-wrote a lot of appalling (but funny, and sometimes helpful) advice, regarding dystopian SF and travel and special occasions and mohawks, for the black-clad crowd in the con circuit. Shariann once convinced me that we had to eat at every sushi restaurant in the DC area because our zine totally needed a page of sushi reviews. She and I did co-write a DC sushi round-up, so I guess all that deliciousness was sort of work and possibly some of the most reasonable advice BLT ever offered. Unless one considers it more reasonable to have a PhD write an academically sound set of instructions for making shrunken heads from one’s enemies.
BLT is about to turn 25 years old. For its silver anniversary, we’re doing a Kickstarter to publish a giant, 400 page retrospective omnibus book. It will contain every hilarious issue of the BLT zine, some reminiscences, and technical information on production for fellow zinesters. If you feel like checking it out, the Kickstarter page features a couple sample pages and I’ll be adding more to the Updates section over the coming week.
Thanks for reading!