Tag Archives: fanzines

Outre’ #5

31 Jul


Outre' #5, cover

Outre’ #5, cover

The cover above is  from Outre #5, which ran through mailing 34 of The Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA), circa 1968. Ned Brooks, official archivist of of SFPA, was kind enough to provide it for me, along with the text below from the issue . Science-fiction fanzines then and now came in two general types: genzines and apazines. Genzine is short for general interest fanzine, and genzines tend to feature general interest (to SF fans) articles and reviews. Apazines are printed for amateur press alliances, which in science-fiction fandom were (are) much like paper chat rooms. Most apazines feature a section of natter in the front, in which the editor shares some of what has been going on in his or her life, followed by a section of mailing comments, in which the editor comments on the zines done previously by the other members of the apa. “Talk Talk” below, was the natter section from Outre’ #5, and I reprint it here to give you a sample of apa natter and to remind myself what 1968 was like in southern Illinois. You will perhaps notice that none of the natter involves science-fiction. This is actually pretty typical of apazines.


We’ll, I had an outline made out of all the wild things

that happened at SIU this Spring, but I lost it, I don’t

feel like outlining it again, so I guess I’ll forget about

writing about them, By wild things I mean there was a sit-

in on our President’s lawn, there were over 4,000 people

there, there were walk-outs in protest of women’s hours by l,000’s

of girls, and somebody burned down Old Main (a classroom

building)- Well, it books like I did right about all the wild things

at SIU, after all — if not in as much detail as I had planned.


pick up a hitch-hiker if he’s got a suitcase: I figure that a

guy must be traveling as opposed to just on the road, if he’s

carrying a suitcase. Anyhow, the first thing he told me was

that he had Just gotten out of prison, which made me feel

real secure. Then, a little later, he told me that my hair

was going to get me killed, “People are tired of these

long-haired trouble makers, boy! They‘re gonna start shooting ‘em

down before long!” He then predicted that the 4th of July

would be the start of a full-scale war against long-hairs.

Damn, it’s scary to know that there are people like that around

As a matter of fact, I’ve been having quite a few strange

experiences on the road. Last Sunday a friend and

I left for SIU. Before getting out of Metropolis we had a

flat. We changed it and waited for over an hour for the tire

to be fixed. After getting the tire fixed and starting off again,

we had gone about fifteen miles out of Metropolis when I heard

a flop-flop-flop that brought me to the sickening realization

that we had another flat. I pulled off the highway onto a

country road to change the tire. It was dark, and we had a

little trouble getting the jack set up and put under the car

correctly. Once we got the car Jacked up, we discovered that

my car-tool wouldn’t budge the nuts. So, my friend hiked to

a nearby farmhouse, and came back with a better car-tool.

With it we quickly changed the tire and were ready to leave.

Then I noticed that we had, not one, but TWO flats. We decided

to walk over to the farmhouse and call a service station.

Of course, when we got there, it turned out that they didn’t

have a phone. However, we were told that the house across

the highway had a phone.

Well, when we reached this house,

the people there turned out to be paranoid. Not that I

blame them for being leery of strangers (freaky strangers, at

that), but they really presented a spectacle. The

wife ran out of sight when we came to the door, and her hus-

band came up to the door and peered out its window with wide

frightened eyes. He wouldn’t let us in the house. Instead,

we had to carry on our conversation by shouting at each other

thru the door, Finally, in this way, we managed to get our problem

across to him and persuaded him to call a filling station for us.

So our second tire was soon repaired, and we were on our

way — but not before finding out why the farmer who had called

the service station was so paranoid. It seems that some

guy had come into the man’s house a couple of months earlier

armed with a shotgun and demanded some

gas for his car. I guess that would have been enough to scare

anyone. But, what is really strange is that the farmer was

somehow able to disarm the stranger and instead of turning

him in to the cops, he pointed the man’s gun at him and said.

“get your gas and leave.” He then held the gun on him as

he filled his tank. And, then as the burglar pulled

off, the farmer threw his gun back in his car. Strange….

One more little twist to this tale: the freaky farmer turned

out to be the uncle of one of my usual riders to SIU. Unfortunately,

this rider wasn’t along on this trip; if he had been

with us, the farmer might have let us in his house.


a hackneyed subject (they have been written on a lot),

but recently the john walls at Morris Library at

SIU have taken an interesting turn. They have become a forum

for racism. Although much of the space is devoted to such unoriginal

entries as “Nigger!”, some interesting dialog has developed.

The following are a few examples:

1. “The Klu Klux Klan is an exclusive fraternity of

high-minded men”

“So are the Black Panthers and Blackstone Rangers.“

2. “It is a medically proven fact that niggers have double

skulls. What does this tell us?”

“That whites will eventually have double skulls. also.”

3. “Go back to Africa, you black apes.”

“My sentiments exactly. Signed. Adolph Hitler.”

The days of white supremacy seem to be over, at least as

far as rest room wall put downs go. Oh, one more restroom

anecdote along the same lines has just occurred to me. In the

dorm that I lived in Fall quarter, the john walls

were covered with writing. The janitor, who was black. was

told to clean it all off. He did his Job well. The walls

were spotless — except for one slogan which he inadvertently

missed: “Wallace Sucks.”

I had a course in Southern history this quarter. I was

struck by the strange names of many of the Southern politicians.

Apparently, a strange name or nickname was necessary

 equipment for a Southern politician in the early 1900’s Here are

a few of the more intriguing names. Cyclone Davis, Stomp

Ashley. Hoke Smith (who unkind newspapers sometimes referred

to as Hoax Myth), James S. Hogg (who must have had a

sadistic sense of humor, as he named his daughter Ima Hogg)

Pitchfork Ben Tillman, and Theodore Bilbo (who was included

for all you Tolkien fans)

And, on that profound note ends this issue’s installment

of Talk Talk.






On Police Brutality: “Gentlemen, get the thing

Straight once and for all — the policeman isn’t there

to create disorder, the policeman is there to

preserve disorder.”

On Law and Order: “I would assume any (police)

superintendent would issue orders to shoot any arson-

ists on sight.” (April 15, 1968) “There wasn’t any

shoot-to-kill order. That was a fabrication-“

(April 17, 1968)

On the fortunes of politics: “They have vilified

me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even

criticized me.”

On Viet Nam Doves: “Everyone is entitled to his

position, but we need unity as well as division.

Dissent is one thing but division is another.”

(All quotes from –shudder — Time)

Here’s another shot of that cover:

Outre' #5, cover

Outre’ #5, cover

Artist Robert E. Gilbert (REG)

13 Jul


Alien landscape by REG

Robert E. Gilbert, who signed his work REG, was arguably the most prolific and popular illustrator of SF fanzines in the 1960s. His covers and interior illos were nearly ubiquitous, particularly in midwestern and southern zines. They appeared everywhere from popular regional zines like IscariotMaelstrom, and Double Bill to Hugo-nominated zines like Yandro and Amra. And he regularly won “Best Fan Artist” in the egoboo polls of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance.

With their generally bold simple lines, his drawings were perfect for the

An REG fanzine illo from the Sixties.

zines of the day, most of which were mimeographed. The mimeograph has gone the way of the VCR, but it was the way most zines were done in the 1960s, and art had to be traced laboriously onto a mimeograph stencil with a metal stylus. So the relative simplicity of REG’s drawings was a plus, but his work was hardly crude; it was well-designed and frequently hinted at some story.

A few years ago I rejoined the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA), after having been away a mere four decades, and as SFPA’s 50th anniversary approached, some discussion arose about how to commemorate it. I suggested to the group’s official archivist, Ned Brooks, that a portfolio of REG

cover from, Amra, a Sixties Sword & Sorcery fanzine

covers would be an excellent thing to include in the 50th anniversary mailing of SFPA. He demurred–perhaps shrinking from the prospect of rummaging through his 12,000 fanzine archive for REG covers. He did, however, dig up two REG covers and printed them in his zine, The Newport News, using one for the cover of issue.

Having thought of Robert E. Gilbert for the first time in years, I Googled him. I didn’t find a lot, but I did get two surprises. One was that REG had made three professional sales of SF stories. (These can be found at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/34313) Another was that a gallery had purchased over 400 of his drawings and paintings. Paintings? I never knew REG painted. I found all that interesting but soon forgot about it.

November, 1952 issue of Galaxy, in which REG's story, "A Thought for Tomorrow," appeared.

That’s because, unlike my old friend, Bill Plott, I’m not a seasoned professional journalist. Back when he was in his teens and early twenties, Bill Plott edited a couple of now legendary zines, Maelstrom and Sporadic, before he left SF fandom behind for a distinguished career as a journalist. Much like myself, he was recently drawn back into publishing through SFPA, after four decades away, and resurrected his zine, Sporadic. As he relates in the latest issue (#18) of that zine, this eventually prompted him to delve into his boxes of old fannish material, where he discovered a trove of some 20 unpublished REG illos.

Once he stopped doing backflips around the neighborhood, he got curious: Maybe Robert E. Gilbert was still around. So he Googled him, as I had done, and found the site with all of REG’s paintings at http://www.folkartisans.com. Unlike me, though, he didn’t think, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and shrug it off; he eventually contacted Folk Artisans, a gallery in Mentone, Alabama. First, he went to their website, where he saw that REG, a Tennessean, had died in 1993. Bill sent that information to his friend, genealogist and fellow SFPA member, Larry Montgomery. Larry got back to him with the information that REG was born May 26, 1924 in Sullivan County, Tennessee and died April 4, 1993, seemingly in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Further REG had served in the US ARmy from January 31, 1943 to August 9, 1944.

That was pretty much all they had, until Bill reached one of the gallery owners, Matt Lippa, by phone. In Sporadic 18, Bill writes:


Another strange landscape by REG, 1964

He [Matt Lippa] said that they bought the paintings sight-unseen via auction.

“It was very last minute. We got a call from a friend who was going to the auction. We literally had our topcoats and hats on and were heading out the door for a trip when the phone rang. I answered and was told about the art. It was not catalogued, put on at the end and never advertised. I told my friend to bid up to a certain amount–sight unseen. Got a call from him the next night that we got the bid and he would bring it to us.

“We did finally speak with the auctioneer who could give us NO info, and said he tried to get it. He said the family was very uncooperative with information about Gilbert. He was something of an outcast, apparently, and they wanted nothing to do with him. Our Friend took one of them to dinner and a bar and was not able to break through that,” Matt related.

The gallery acquired the collection in 2003.

Later in Sporadic 18, Bill writes:

I have speculated a lot on the estrangement from his [Gilbert’s} estrangement from his family. Living in that mountainous region, I wondered if his family was very fundamentalist and found pictures of scantily clad women sinful. I wonder if it was science fiction, being something just too weird for them to relate to. Or some behavioral situation totally unrelated to his art. We will likely never know.

Like Bill, I’m curious about REG’s black sheep status. I’m also intrigued by the picture of REG that emerges. Estranged from his family, living in a small town in the rural South, creating hundreds of illos for fanzines, writing the occasional SF short story, and painting hundreds of unearthly paintings, few of which, it would seem, ever sold. It’s an archetypical image of the lonely artist, toiling in obscurity.10reg_big

What parts of the picture are we missing though? Does anyone have any more information on Robert E. Gilbert?

To view more of REG’s artwork, go tohttp://www.folkartisans.com.