Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Apples, Oranges and Banana Wings

Or, why VCR never killed off the cinema.

Is it even possible to compare a paper-based fanzine to an e-zine or blog? As Scott Sandford's study demonstrates, it is entirely possible to compare apples and oranges, and by extension, anything with anything else.

For Mark Plummer, co-editor of Banana Wings, it's clear that the two are completely different. Answering questions at the BSFA open meeting on the advantages of the fanzine, along with co-editor Claire Briarly, he points out what might be the most significant difference: a fanzine has a much more controlled circulation, going out only to those who have requested it, and shared with only a few others - again those who are interested. For a blog with a similar sized circulation, some readers will be looking for the specific content while others may come across the website by any number of routes or search terms, so a fanzine might be a better way to foster dialogue between like-minded fans.

There are other differences too: a fanzine is likely to be released on a monthly schedule or even longer, while a blog is generally more frequent: so articles can be written more thoughtfully. And for Mark and Claire the process of putting together the publication is very much part of the pleasure of - and reason for - the enterprise. I can report this is also true of the different process of blogging!

From right: Claire Briarley, Mark Plummer, Tony Keen. Photo by Chad Dixon.

The Sci-Fi Gene may possibly have some very old copies of ZZ9 buried down the back of a sofa, appropriately enough, but has been away from the fanzine scene for too long so is looking forward to reading Banana Wings for the first time very soon. One of the great things about independent media is the many different forms it can take, each with its own advantages and unique pleasures, and the way each format can take on a life of its own.

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