Virginia Fandom

TKFW: Yes, Virginia, there is fandom. And this is what Curt Phillips, Ned Brooks and I know about its history. More than that, I'm afraid you'll have to get from the individual clubs, 'cause I haven't.

[From Curt Phillips of Abingdon, VA, personal correspondence. First he reminded me of Bradford Day, author of the Index to Weird & Fantastic Fiction the Magazines, who lives in Hillsville, VA. Then...] "What! Nothing on fandom in Virginia? We've had quite a bit of it, you know. Rovacon, Magicon, Starcall, NoVacon, Technicon, Mysticon, and a dozen others. Clubs in Arlington, Richmond, Blacksburg, Roanoke, Va. Beach, and even Abingdon. The dottering old relics in the Hampton Roads Sci-Fi Association will be SHOCKED, SHOCKED, I say, if they're not mentioned. (hhok) Surely you'll at least include the stirring account of Guy Lillian's 1995 visit to Abingdon! Oh, it was big news in these parts, I tell you. Very big news! Someday the true story must be told... [And if anyone is silly enough to print it, it'll be me--TKFW.]

[From Ned Brooks of Newport News, VA, AKA "dottering old relic" and "Cool Dog"] This area of Virginia is loosely referred to as "Tidewater," and I have been here since 1959. The first fan group I know of was our own Fellowship of the Purple Tongue, a very loose informal group (there were no dues or officers, but we alternated meeting at the homes of Norfolk-area members Phil Harrell and Phil Walker, who always served grape Kool-Aid, hence the name). Other members of FePuTo, as it was called, were myself, Frank Dauer, visiting military Colin Cameron, Fred Lerner, and Steve Stiles; and a couple of others whose names I have forgotten--I don't think there ever was a membership list. I knew about Jim Avery and Herman Stowell King, but they weren't members. Tag Gibson (who now calls himself Wolf Dancer) was a fringe member, most noted for his cartoon character Madame Frog. Hard to date exactly a group that left so little paper behind, but roughly it was 1964-1969.

The next local fan group I had anything to do with was the Hampton Roads Science Fiction Association, also known as HaRoSFA. I made up the name and mentioned the totally mythical group a few times in SFPA and used The HaRoSFA Journal as the title of my Slanapa zine from the beginning of that apa in January 1970. The real organization was founded in 1977 by a small literary group that met in the Grafton branch of the public library. It was a great success and exists to this day, but its main activity is the local SciCon. A preliminary effort called the HarKon was held at the NASA/Langley Activities Building in 1978 (many of the members were NASA employees) and the SciCon convention series started in 1979. There was a short-lived clubzine called The Liberated Quark, but the club now only produces the occasional 1-page newsletter and I have little contact with it. Major factors in the success of the SciCons was the presence of Kelly and Polly Freas in the area and the Norfolk-based SF publishing of Donning Company; also the SF and fantasy music of Norfolk folk musician Bob Zentz.

My own genzines were The New Newport News News (with Red Avery, son of the James Avery who published Spaceways with Harry Warner) in the '60s, followed by It Comes in the Mail in the '70s and '80s and the current It Goes on the Shelf.... I was also a member of NFFF and published ten issues of The Collector's Bulletin for them.


Special thanks go to Samuel A. Smith, who digitized the SFC Handbook 2nd edition and gave gracious permission to use his existing work in the preparation of the 3rd edition. The main text of this page came from Sam's hard work.--MLR


Table of Contents