1997 Southern Fandom Confederation Handbook & History
PART II: DSCs, Rebels, Rubbles, & Phoenixes


The Phoenix Award was first given out in 1970. The committee-chosen award is given to a pro who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom. Some committees have asked previous winners of the award for suggestions, but this is not mandatory. The form the award takes (as with the Rebel) varies according to committee whim. Since it's been almost thirty years since the first of these was given, I thought it would be nice to include short biographies of the winners here, and ask the committee chair (or someone else who might know), just why it is that they chose the people they chose. If I didn't track down the con chair, I consulted Irv Koch's profiles in the DSC 22 program book and swiped them. Vital statistics and other information were also gleaned from the Nicholls' SF Encyclopedia, both editions.

Richard Meredith (1937-1979)

1970, DSC 8, Agacon, Atlanta, GA, Glen Brock, Chair.
[From a conversation with Binker Hughes.] "At that time We All Died at Breakaway Station was blowing people's minds." Author of six novels, he wrote mostly alternate history and space opera. "RCM's sense of history was acute and atmospheric, and his alternate worlds tales are, as a consequence, hauntingly suggestive."--SF Encyclopedia. Titles include: The Sky is Filled with Ships and the 3 novels of the Timeliner series.

R.A. Lafferty (1914-)

1971, DSC 9, PeliCon, New Orleans, John Guidry & Rick Norwood, Co-chairs.
[From a conversation with Don Markstein.] As Don Markstein puts it: "I was seriously impressed by his writing, the first time I read it and have never stopped being impressed." A resident of Oklahoma, when he attended conventions, Lafferty astounded by the sheer level of inebriation he managed to keep up, while being completely genial (if not particularly verbal). "Nevertheless, when he was GOH at the DSC [maybe in New Orleans in 1968?--TKFW], he gave a great speech (so far as I know unrecorded & never printed). Finally, Lafferty knows the secret of the universe." [See "The Nine Hundred Grandmothers."] Other works include over 200 short stories and the novels Past Master, the novels of The Argos Mythos.

Thomas Burnett Swann (1928-1976)

1973, DSC 11, New Orleans, John Guidry & Don Markstein, Chairs.
According to Don Markstein, Swann was the Phoenix winner this year: "Because Lafferty got it when Guidry was Chairman [for the first time, in 1971]. He came to a couple of DSCs, seemed to enjoy himself. He wrote real, real well. A Southerner....Everybody liked him, everybody liked his writing, so the committee decided it to give it him." A Florida native, he taught English at Florida Atlantic University. His novels were mostly historical fantasies about mythological creatures and ordinary people interacting. He published 13 books (novels & collections) starting in 1966 with Day of the Minotaur. He was not yet fifty when he died of cancer.

George Alec Effinger (1947-)

1974, DSC 12, AgaCon '74, Atlanta, GA, Joe Celko & Sam Gastfriend, Co-chairs.
His first novel, What Entropy Means to Me (1972) was nominated for a Nebula. Recent novels are When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun and The Exile Kiss, all starring Marid Audran. Effinger lived in New Orleans until this year.

Andre Norton (1912-)

1975, DSC 13 RiverCon I, Lousiville, KY, Cliff Amos, Chair.
Norton's first work appeared in the 1930s and she has been continually published since then. One of the greatest and most consistent writers of SF adventure, her novels include the "Witch World" series, Star Man's Son, and several newer collaborations with Mercedes Lackey. In the recent years she has been active in supporting the works of new writers, establishing an award for an unpublished fantasy novel written by a woman, and organizing a permanent facility for an SF writer's retreat in the South. She has lived in Florida for many years.

Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986)
Gahan Wilson

1976, DSC 14, Atlanta, Binker Huges, Chair.
[From a conversation with Binker Hughes.] "Both of 'em were Southerners that had done major things but had not been recognized for them by fandom. Wilson's cartoons not only included fantasy and SF but had gained great visibility beyond fandom. So when we decided to give an art Phoenix as well as a writing Phoenix, it was natural to include one whose impact was so broad. It seemed a great crime that Wellman's contributions had not been recognized for so long, and that we could rectify."

First published in 1927 in Weird Tales, Wellman's first novel, The Invading Asteroid, was science fiction. Other works include Twice in Time and short stories about the occult detectives Judge Pursivant and John Thunstone first published in Weird Tales. He was a prolific writer for the pulps in all genres, but perhaps his best-known and best-loved series were the regional fantasies featuring Silver John the Balladeer set in the hills of North Carolina, where Wellman lived for many years. He was a friend and mentor to authors in the area, including David Drake and Karl Edward Wagner.

Wilson is a cartoonist and writer, best known for his excellent and extremely weird cartoons published in Playboy, The New Yorker, and, for many years, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He had a story in Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous Visions. He is currently a reviewer for Realms of Fantasy magazine.

Michael Bishop (1945-)

1977, DSC 15, B'hamacon, Birmingham, AL, Penny Frierson, Chair.
A Georgia resident, Bishop started publishing his literary SF in the 1970s. At least one novel and a series of stories are set in a future Atlanta. A frequent award nominee, his novels include Unicorn Mountain, Who Made Stevie Crye, No Enemy But Time (a Nebula winner), and Count Geiger's Blues. Bishop is also a widely published poet and literary critic.

Karl Edward Wagner (1945-1995)

1978, DSC 16, Atlanta, GA, Richard Garrison, Chair.
Heavily influenced by Robert E. Howard, Wagner's best known novel-length work was the series featuring the warrior Kane. The Tennessee native was the editor of Year's Best Horror for DAW for several years, and wrote horror short fiction himself. His small press, Carcosa, published volumes by Phoenix winners Manly Wade Wellman, Hugh B. Cave and others. A North Carolina resident, the burly, bearded redhead partied at Southern conventions on a regular basis until his death.

Jo Clayton (1939-)

1979, DSC 17, GumboCon, New Orleans, LA, Justin Winston, Chair.
[From the DSC 22 program book by Chris Mills & Irv Koch.] Jo Clayton had her first novel, Diadem from the Stars published in 1977. She has written half a dozen SF adventure books since then, most of which were published by DAW Books. They include Ghost Hunt, Moonscatter and Lamachas.

Piers Anthony (1934-)

1980, DSC 18, ASFIcon, Atlanta, GA, Cliff Biggers, Chair.
[From the DSC 22 program book by Chris Mills & Irv Koch.] Born in England and educated in America, Piers Anthony now lives in Florida, producing 3 or 4 books a year. Rumor has it that he wrote 14 novels before his first, Chthon, was published in 1967. He tends to write in series, with his best work being the the fantasy series about Xanth (which is probably the best known sword and sorcery set in Florida), and the Phaze trilogy, set in the far future on a worn-out planet and its parallel world. Throughout his fantasy, Anthony has added his won brand of "humor" (*awful* puns).

Mary Elizabeth Counselman (1912-)

1981, DSC 19, B'hamacon II, Birmingham, AL, Jim Gilpatrick, Chair.
[From the DSC 22 program book by Chris Mills & Irv Koch.] Mary Counselman began her writing career in the late 1920s as a contributor to Weird Tales during its golden age. Her stories were reprinted in 1978 in the Arkham House collection Half in Shadow. Her stories have a strong Southern atmosphere about them.

Frank Kelly Freas (1922-)

1982, DSC 20, ASFIcon II, Atlanta, GA, mike weber, Chair.
Freas started doing SF illustrations in the Fifties, and has done covers for Astounding, Ace, Daw, Lancer, and almost everybody else. Also Mad magazine. He and his first wife Polly lived in Virginia and were active convention goers and art show organizers. Iconic SF images of his include the green Martian grinning through a keyhole for Fredric Brown's Martians, Go Home (my personal favorite). He has won the Hugo Award for Best Artist 11 times. For a better picture of Kelly Freas, see mike weber's memoir of DSC 20 below, "Catching Kelly Offguard."

Doug Chaffee

1983, DSC 21, Satyricon II, Knoxville, TN, Vernon Clark, Chair.
[Adapted from the DSC 22 program book by Sharon Webb.] A South Carolina resident, Doug Chaffee's illustrations have been featured in such national magazines as Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and National Geographic, to name a few. His artwork has appeared on the covers of numerous SF books and magazines including DAW, Baen, TSR, Amazing, and Analog. He painted the 1982 World's Fair poster, and the cover of the 1986 Worldcon program. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian and at NASA headquarters. He won the "Best of Show" award at the National Assoc. of Industrial Artists 4th Annual Exhibit. And he's also a really nice guy.

Joe Haldeman (1943-)

1983, DSC 21, Satyricon II, Knoxville, TN, Vernon Clark, Chair.
[Adapted from the DSC 22 program book by Chris Mills & Irv Koch.] With his brother an ancient convention organizer (early '70s DC area), Haldeman has long since entered the Hugo arena but will still tell war stories (Viet Nam) or sing dirty filk songs if properly potted. He lives in Florida with his charming wife, Gay.

David Drake (1945-)

1984, DSC 22, Chattanooga DSC, Chattanooga, TN, Irvin Koch, chair.
A long-time North Carolina resident, Drake is best known for his military SF series about "Hammer's Slammers." First published in Galaxy in the 1970s, he has written almost every kind of SF and fantasy, including stories set in North Carolina about "Old Nathan" (inspired by Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John" series). He was a silent partner in Carcosa House (run by Karl Edward Wagner). One of the original movers behind the World Fantasy Convention, he is nevertheless not a big convention goer. To those who have had a chance to meet him, Dave Drake is known as a sweetie-pie.

Sharon Webb (1936-)

1985, DSC 23, Huntsville, AL, Mary Axford & Richard Gilliam, co-chairs.
[Adapted from the Chattacon 7 program book profile, probably written by con chair Nancy Tabor.] While living in Miami, FL, Webb, a registered nurse, began writing. She wrote articles, features, and mystery stories; she enjoys good ghost stories. She moved to Blairsville, GA in 1973. It's a good thing she came to Georgia because she hates heat. "I would rather die than sweat." Since 1979 Webb has been a full time writer. Her humorous nurse in space stories were first published in Asimov's magazine and later collected as The Adventures of Terra Tarkington. Other titles include the "Earth Song" trilogy and several medical horror thrillers.

Andrew J. Offutt (1937-)

1986, DSC 24, L&N DSC, Louisville, KY, Sue Francis & Ken Moore.
[From the Rivercon 1984 program book profile by Steve and Sue Francis.] Ten years ago (how time flies) when we were planning the first Rivercon, only one person was ever considered for the position of toastmaster. We wanted someone who was well known and liked in fandom, who spoke well in front of crowds, and whose presence somehow would set the tone for the type of convention we wanted. That person was Andrew J. Offutt, and not to keep those of you who were not at RiverCon I in suspense, Andy did all of the above and much more besides.

Andy continued to contribute to Rivercon every year--appearing on panels, doing readings, giving speeches, being there--to the extent that we have felt for several years that further recognition was necessary. However, we had a self-imposed rule that no individual should appear more than once as a RiverCon Guest.

Well, we made the rule, and so, for perhaps the first and last time, we're breaking it in order to have Andrew J. Offutt as RiverCon's official Guest of Honor.

Coincidentally, this year also marks another significant anniversary in Andy's career. It was in 1954 that he won a story contest in Worlds of If, and his first SF story, "...And gone Tomorrow," was published in the December issue. Andy was then a student at the University of Louisville (becoming one of U of L's youngest graduates).

In the thirty years between then and now, a lot has happened. Andy met a pretty Irish lass named Jodie and married her. (Jodie was RiverCon's Fan Guest of Honor in 1976.) They have four Offutt-spring named Chris, Jeff, Missy and Scotty, now all grown up. Andy became an independent insurance agent for a time ("the most independent insurance man you've ever seen," he once described himself). He wrote dozens of pseudonymous novels, but very little SF or fantasy until Evil is Live Spelled Backwards in 1970. This was followed by the semi-autobiographical The Castle Keeps in 1972, which many still consider their favorite of Andy's science fiction work. From the mid-seventies, Andy has devoted most of his writing time to SF and fantasy. He expanded and developed stories and novels from Robert E. Howard characters, and he edited a series of five volumes of heroic fantasy called Swords Against Darkness, discovering or encouraging several authors who later became well known. His novels My Lord Barbarian, Ardor on Aros, Chieftain of Andor, and King Dragon acknowledge Andy's love affair with Howardian and Argosy-type adventure fiction. During this period Andy also served as Secretary and later President of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

For nearly the past three years Andy has been producing, under his old John Cleve byline, the Spaceways series ("High Adventure for Adults!"), with the 19th (and final--for now) volume to appear this fall.

If you've never met Andrew Offutt, an almost inconceivable concept at an SF convention, don't be shy about speaking to him or asking him to sign a book, for Andy is a most accessible person. This is one of the qualities that makes it a joy to welcome (finally) him as RiverCon's Guest of Honor.

Orson Scott Card (1951-)

1987, DSC 25, Huntsville, AL, Patrick Molloy & Richard Gilliam.
[Freely adapted from the Con*Stellation 5 (1986) program book profile by Richard Gilliam.] Card's first sale was in 1977, a novelette to Ben Bova at Analog titled "Ender's Game." The novel version of that story, and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won the Hugo Award. Scott also wrote a fiction review column in Science Fiction Review and, for a short time, published a fanzine called Short Forms. A North Carolina resident, Scott established himself as one of the most sought after convention guests of the 1980s. Even before his impressive Nebula and Hugo wins, word was passing between fans that the Secular Humanist Revival was not to be missed. And he's always interesting on panels, no matter what the topic.

Hugh B. Cave

1987, DSC 25, Huntsville, AL, Patrick Molloy & Richard Gilliam.
[Adapted from "A Man Called Cave" by Audrey Parente from the 1987 DSC program book.] Crawling forth, emerging as a phantom, from the depths of darkest known and unknown continents, came a man called Cave....

Hugh Barnett Cave began his career writing fantasy literature in the pulps. Nineteen years after his birth, he gripped the pages of many thrilling publications and spicy issues of the cheap paper magazines which filled the corner stands. This man romanced his words, dragged his characters through adventures, mysteries, horrors, and left his readers hanging in suspense through many a four-part tale. The English-born lad contributed to the pages of Astounding, Black Mask, Weird Tales and Detective Fiction Weekly and more than ninety other pulps. More than eight hundred stories, crossing almost every genre in the old pulps with the possible exception of SF, belong to Hugh B. Cave, under his own or a handful of pen names.

The Eel, one of the popular private eye series characters of the pulp era, who appeared in Spicy Detective, Spicy Mystery and Spicy Adventure Stories, came from the pen of "Justin Case," a pseudonym used by Cave alone. "Red River Roundup," "Lost Lode," "Ghosttown Gamble," and "Trouble Tamin' Tumbleweed," are among Cave's many alliterative western story titles.

Over the years, more than 350 of his works have been published in such magazines as Redbook, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, Womans Day and Family Circle. Cave had been a war correspondent, which took him, among other places, to a Borneo he had only imagined in his jungle adventure and weird tale pulp stories. The maturity travel and experience brought to his writing helped his work become published in hardcover during the war years. One of his most renowned novels, Long Were the Nights, is the story of the first PT boats at Guadalcanal.

When the war was over, Cave lived in Haiti for five years. He was invited to participate in voodoo rituals to which no other white man had been a part. In Jamaica, Cave built a coffee plantation from 541 acres of mountain wilderness. Cave used these experiences with the island natives and their religion in Cave in his fiction and in a work of nonfiction, Haiti: High Road to Adventure, which was critically acclaimed as the "best report on voodoo in English."

Cave's most popular short story is "The Mission," first published in the Saturday Evening Post in the early 1950s. It was released as a hardcover by Doubleday, and been reprinted in many textbooks and translated into many languages. Fan mail generated by "The Mission" still continues: the latest letter appears in the February 1987 issue of the Post! In 1977 he won a World Fantasy award for "Murgunstrumm," which was republished in a Karl Edward Wagner Carcosa collection, along with 25 other of Cave's stories from the pulps.

Cave (a naturalized American citizen now living in Florida) has continued writing on into the 1980s. Four successful fantasy novels were published in that decade: The Dead, The Nebulon Horror, The Evil and Shades of Evil. Cave often promotes the small press industry, and has contributed new stories to Crypt of Cthulhu, Fantasy Tales, Whispers and others. He will be a guest of honor at the 1997 World Fantasy Con in London.

Gerald W. Page (1940-)

1988, DSC 26, Phoenixcon III, Atlanta, GA, Bill Sutton, Chair.
You'll see testament to Jerry's long and valiant fannish career throughout this fanzine. And that's why he won a Rebel Award. But Jerry's a pro, too. And that's why he won the Phoenix. [The following is adapted from the DSC 22 program book profile by Sharon Webb. Of course for the Real Truth about Page, see Part IV below, "Miscellaneous Silly Stuff."] Following a precedent set by even older stalwarts of fandom like Bob Tucker, Robert Silverberg and Marion Zimmer Bradley, Page began publishing in various prozines in the early Sixties. The March 1963 issue of Analog contains his first pro sale, "The Happy Man." Other short fiction has appared in F&SF, Weird Tales, Weirdbook, Magazine of Horror, Startling Mystery, Whispers, and many anthologies. Jerry contributed a number of entries to the academic work Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers. His editing ability has been employed in Amazing & Fantastic, Witchcraft & Sorcery, the Arkham anthology Nameless Places, several volumes of DAW's Year's Best Horror Stories and with Hank Reinhardt for the DAW anthology Heroic Fantasy, his favorite book "despite the cover."

Robert Adams (1932-1990)

1989, DSC 27, Memphis, TN, Richard Moore, Chair.
[From a letter from Greg Bridges.] "Robert Adams had a clear, almost unanimous, choice from our letters to previous Phoenix winners. [...] In our process of polling the previous Phoenix winners, it was brought to our attention by several people that a previous winner had never actually gotten his award, as it seemed to have been lost in the mail. That previous winner was Piers Anthony! We figured, we're giving two Rebel Awards [Maurine Dorris & Stven Carlberg had tied in the poll of previous Rebel winners.], might as well give two Phoenix awards to rectify the matter. We got a very nice letter from Mr. Anthony thanking us, too. The award had arrived on his 33rd wedding anniversay!"

A Virginia native, Adams served in the Korean War and during the Berlin Crisis. He began writing full time in 1969. The first of the post-holocaust Horseclans novel appeared in 1975. Eighteen novels and two volumes of Horseclans stories by other writers were published by the time of his death. Adams was a regular convention attendee and active in the SCA.

Wilson Bob Tucker (1914-)

1990, DSC 28, Chattanooga, TN, Ken Cobb, Chair.
Author of more than twenty novels (about half SF, half adventure/mysteries), Tucker won the first John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Year of the Quiet Sun. For many years he has been a favorite convention guest, serving as Kubla's perennial toastmaster, as well as returning many times to Rivercon, Con*Stellation, the various Chattanooga conventions and many others across the South. Invariably gracious and always fun, Tucker has acted as a much-frequented bridge between Midwestern fandom and younger Southern fandom. And we're not even going to mention the jacuzzi.

Charles Grant (1942-)

1991, DSC 29, ConCat III, Knoxville, TN, Chloie Airoldi, Chair.
A New Jersey native, Grant prefers to do his convention going in the South. Besides publishing numerous novels of horror, fantasy and SF (some under pseudonyms), Grant has also been active in organizing the World Fantasy and World Horror Conventions. His talents as a suave and witty toastmaster and masquerade emcee have been employed at innumerable cons across the South.

Brad Lineweaver (1952-)
Brad Strickland (1947-)

1992, DSC 30, Phoenixcon DSC, Suwanee, GA, Mike Reasor {Errata}, Chair.
[Profiles by Sue Phillips.]

"Are you a good Brad, or a bad Brad?"

Brad Strickland, Southern writer and all-around nice guy. The "good" Brad.

Brad Lineweaver, Southern writer and right-wing Harlan Ellison. The "bad" Brad.

Brad Strickland, author of Moon Dreams and Shadowshow.

Brad Lineweaver, author of Moon of Ice and co-author of the Doom books.

Brad Lineaweaver and Brad Strickland were awarded the Phoenix Award for services above and beyond the call of duty to Southern Fandom.

I'm not actually sure that's correct, since we can say that is true of every one of the pros who have won this award. The year they won, 1992, had been a year of great activity for a group called MRAP (who have since become somewhat of an institution in Atlanta fandom...and beyond). They wisely, or unwisely, contributed their talents as writers and actors in a spoof of Siskel and Ebert entitled "Brad and Brad at the Video Room."

But there is more.

Both have been known to give of their advice, both professional and personal, to friends just for the asking. Both have been there for Southern fandom when needed. They were such a part of the Southen fannish gestalt for a number of years that it was simply a matter of time before they were awarded the Phoenix.

Terry Bisson (1942-)

1993, DSC 31, Conjuration, Louisville, KY, Jennifer Wilson & Jack Heazlitt, Chairs.
[Profile by Naomi Fisher & Patrick Molloy.] At first glance, you might wonder why author Terry Bisson, firmly entrenched in New York, has the quintessentially southern Phoenix Award sitting on his shelf. That is, unless you've read his stories. Bisson grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky, and spent a number of years in other parts of the state before moving to New York to pursue his writing and editing career. Even now, years later, he often uses the South as a recognizable backdrop for his stories, even when he doesn't explicitly locate the action. In his classic novel Talking Man (a World Fantasy Award nominee), for example, a road trip to the North Pole with a modern-day wizard starts from a junkyard on the KY-TN state line. The median of I-65 in central KY was the setting of "Bears Discover Fire," his Hugo and Nebula Award-winning story. Fire on the Mountain, perhaps his most ambitious work to date, gives us a tantalizing look at what the South, and the rest of the nation, might have been had John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry succeeded. His view of worlds that never were is often moving, occasionally distrubing, frequently hilarious, and always astonishing. If you put Faulkner in a really fast car, gave him a wild sense of humor, and armed him with a remote control to change reality at whim, you might roughly approximate Terry Bisson's writing. How fortunate that it's not necessary--we have the original. [And "he's made out of meat."--TKFW]

Toni Weisskopf (1965-)

1994, DSC 32, B'hamacon III, Birmingham, AL, Julie Wall, Chair.
[Hey, that's me! But maybe I should shut up and let Julie talk--TKFW.] We first knew Toni as a young femmefan and party animal from Huntsville, AL. We felt it a credit to Southern Fandom that one of our own became a big-time pro editor at Baen, a well-known publishing house. We also liked the idea that Toni did not forget her roots, she still comes to see us and throws great parties. She remains active in Southern Fandom, as witness this publication. Her work professionally and fannishly has advanced the cause. Local girl makes good! [*blush*]

Darrell C. Richardson

1995, DSC 33, Parthekhan, Nashville (more or less), TN, Ken Moore, Chair.
[Adapted from a profile by Greg Bridges.] A short review of Dr. Richardson's career is illuminating: An ordained Baptist minister, a former pastor, a former Army chaplain, an active leader of the Boy Scout movement, a nationally known Western Americana collector, writer, noted genre art collector, blurb writer, crime crusader against snyndicates in norther Kentucky in the early '50s, world renowned collector of genre publications, archelogiest, author of 44 books, and devoted father and husband. His best known books is Max Brand: The Man and His Work. He also wrote and edited three volumes of The Edgar Rice Burroughs Library of Illustration. He had been a very active fan writer, appearing over the years in almost all of the Burrousgh fanzines as well as such zines as Microcosmos and Otherworlds. After moving to the Memphis, TN area in the mid '60s, Dr. Richardson set up the first organizational meeting at his house of the SF club for all the local people interested in SF and fantasy--what is now the Memphis Science Fiction Association (which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1995!). Besides the Phoenix, Dr. Richardson has been awarded the E.E. Evans Big Heart Award (1982), The Lamont Award from the National Pulp Magazine convention (1986), and several others in and out of fandom. Dr. Richardson always has fascinating tales to tell of his life (only slightly exaggerated at times). He has always said one of the greatest role models in his life has been Tarzan. I believe he chose well and has lived so.

Jack C. Haldeman, II (1941-)

1996, DSC 34, Beachcon, Jekyll Island, SC, Bill Francis, Chair.
Per Bill Francis: [Since Jay had long before been scheduled as the con's Toastmaster and later unanimously chosen by the committee to be the Phoenix winner,] I had the mischievious idea of having Jay present his Phoenix award ("May I have the envelope, please?") to himself. This prank, which went over rather well, however, was just icing on the cake. Jay was very deserving of the award and we felt that he had been overlooked for too long."

Jay Haldeman was active in organizing early Disclaves in Washington, DC, back when they were fun. His first short story was published in 1971 and he's had more than 50 published since then, many with sporting themes. Novel length works include Vector Analysis, There is No Darkness (a collaboration with his brother Joe), and a Spaceways novel written in collaboration with Andy Offutt. He is a long-time Florida resident. Also, he likes artichokes.

Catching Kelly Offguard

mike weber

In 1981, the group i called the Tuesday Night Clique (from our/their habit of meeting at The Hungry Fisherman every Tuesday for all-you-can-eat seafood) had successfully put on one DSC (ASFiCon I, 1980) and one successful non-DSC regional (the imaginatively-named ASFiCon II). As constituted in its by-laws, ASFiCon was run by a sort of troika, consisting of Cliff Biggers (de facto Chair of the first DSC ASFiCon), Rich Howell ("Let's make Rich do it this time"--ASFiCon II) and Me ("What'a'ya mean--that means i have to chair the next DSC bid?!?")

The committee (me, Cliff & Susan Biggers, Susan Phillips, Rich & Angela, Deb Johnson, Janice Gelb and the Other Usual Suspects) fairly quickly decided on Lon Atkins as Fan Guest of Honour, Karl Edward Wagner as Pro GoH...and decided we wanted to ask Frank Kelly Freas to be our Master of Ceremonies.

I thought this was great, until i was asked to approach Kelly about this idea. I had spoken to Kelly a few times, but had no reason to believe he would remember my name particularly...and i wondered at what form of address i ought to take with him--"Mr Freas"? "Kelly"? In the event, i placed a person-to-person call, letting the operator ask for "Mr Frank Kelly Freas"...when he said "Speaking" in that inimitable slightly lisping voice, i plunged ahead "My name is mike weber, i'm chairing an Atlanta DSC bid, and we'd like to invite you to be our MC and..." Kelly politely said "Just a moment, please..." then turned away from the phone and hollered "Polly!" and i negotiated their attendance (assuming we won) with his wife, Polly, who took care of all of his business matters.

It has been suggested that i ought to profile Kelly for this piece. Aside from the fact that i really don't have the necessary facts at my fingertips, i feel that that would be basically a bootless errand, anyway. For the only proper profile of his career, pick up his two collections of his works. Buy some of his prints. Look at old Astounding covers...and Mad Magazine covers, too. (For many of us, Kelly's year or two as Mad's main cover artist still furnishes the definitive portraits of Alfred E. Neuman--not to mention the infamous poster caricature of "Rusty" Calley over the caption "What? My Lai?")

For a proper profile of the man, you really have to hear most of it live--preferably from his own lips (like the infamous John W. Campbell/grass episode-Kelly had delivered a highly symbolic cover showing a grey infinite plain, on which, due to perspective and distance all of the important influences in a man's life-from a child's block in the foreground to a spaceship about to blast off, way in the distance-were the same size. Campbell looked, said "Needs grass." Kelly tried to explain his concept. Campbell said "Fine, Kelly. Still needs grass." Kelly took the painting home. Said "You want grass? I'll give you grass!" Painted grass. Green grass, yellow grass. Bluegrass, crabgrass. Tall grass, short grass. Whole blades, broken, cut or cropped blades. Finished. Stepped back "...and I looked at it and the son-of-a-bitch was right!" Or the Flying Scot--cover for Heinlein's Double Star, again for Campbell. Kelly wanted to paint a model of the famous locomotive, which was referenced in the story. Found a local hobbyshop that had a brass model in HO--they wanted like a hundred dollars for it (this was the early-to-mid Fifties, recall). Kelly goes "Eek. Can I just rent it for a few days?" and did so. Today that exact model--extremely limited production and high craftsmanship--is one of the most sought-after collectibles in the model railroading hobby, worth thousands'n'thousands of dollars...

Or his stint as Chaplain to the Klingon Diplomatic Corps...

Anyway. After we won the bid, we decided that the Rebel, for fanac, would go to Lon Atkins. And we decided that we would give the Phoenix (for Southern Professional) to Kelly. Nowhere did it say we couldn't give the Phoenix to an artist-it had just, pretty much, always been given to writers...

I was delegated to get the awards made (there being {to this day, for that matter} no standardised form). I chose walnut plaques with engraved metal plates. Jerry Collins did a very nice little "alien Rebel" character sketch, which we used on Lon's Rebel, and for the Phoenix, we got permission from Bob Maurus to use a very pretty little phoenix he'd done years before for some con bulletin or other.

And then i got the Evil Idea. Obviously Kelly couldn't be asked to present his own Phoenix. So, while mapping out the award ceremonies with him, i casually said, "By the way, Kelly--you'll be presenting the Rebel to Lon Atkins, and he doesn't know he's getting it--but, for personal reasons, we're going to let Lon present the Phoenix, okay?"

And so it went. Lon, apparently feeling his long-term California expatriate status made him ineligible for the Rebel was so jolted that all he could do was to stammer out was a couple of sentences of gratitude and then head back toward his seat through the cheering crowd. "Lon," i said, "haven't you forgotten something?"

Kelly, seeing Lon coming back to present the Phoenix, stepped back and began, i'm sure, running over the closing remarks he would make...and his jaw dropped like a Tex Avery wolf's when Lon announced his name. It was pretty much the only time i ever have seen Kelly at a loss for words--and, as the crowd surged forward to congratulate both winners, Polly Freas in the forefront, Kelly caught my sleeve and asked, "Did Polly Know about this?" "No, she didn't," i said. "Good," he said, "that means I don't have to kill her."

Later, helping Kelly load out for his trip back to the airport and home, i said, "Kelly--you've got--what--ten Hugos already? I can hardly believe that a little award from a three-hundred person regional con where the winners aren't even chosen by the members is so much of jolt in comparison." He looked me straight in the eye (as straight as he could, given our disparity in heights, anyway) and said slowly and distinctly, "Don't you believe a damn word of that."

[IMAGE: Kelly Freas Caricature]

Questions? Comments? Send e-mail to: ssmith@smithuel.net

Copyright (C) 2003 Samuel A. Smith and T.K.F. Weisskopf All Rights Reserved
Last Revised: Sun Sep 21 14:50:22 CDT 2003

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