Eight Years Of Twll-Ddu

(or Oh My God, Did I Really?)

This business of reprinting old fanzine stuff is ideologically quite unsound: I remember D. West saying so, even as he reprinted his own. Another saying I'm trying not to remember is that of Chris Priest when he got wind of This Project: "God, you're going to become the Richard Bergeron of fandom!" Of course the primary blame falls on Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who failed to win me over with enthusiastic burblings about the need for a reprint of "TD, the great fanzine nobody ever read" – but then struck a low blow to the conscience with talk of how it might raise money for TAFF. If, as he shrewdly reasoned, fans will pay upwards of $100 for a single one of Walt Willis's original staples, surely a complete run of D. Langford's first solo fanzine must by now be in the $1.25 class?

I dunno. As I recall, up to about issue 8 the critics were pointing out with some justice that my efforts at funny writing had a long way to go. Thereafter to issue 20, the general trend of fannish literary analysis seemed to be that TD was past its best. En route, fond memories include surprisingly many dollops of ego fodder: fan polls, the 1977 Nova Award delicately referred to within, the mindboggling 1979 Hugo nomination, TAFF in 1980, and two early responses which still overshadow the rest. The first was a good word from Greg Pickersgill, then legendary as the Beast of Ealing and Eater of Neofans; the second an encouragingly abusive letter from Leroy Kettle, whose True Rat had been inspirational.

(Actually the best critical comments came from D. West in 1976, so embarrassingly on-target as to make me writhe. Unfortunately Patrick says I mustn't revise or omit the relevant parts of early issues. Consult D's Fanzines in Theory and Practice for his careful qualification of the extravagant phrase "best new fanwriter since Raleigh Evans Multog".)

For crazed bibliographers and statisticians, the record looks like this. TD started with blinding originality and issue 1, on 3 April 1976 in time for Mancon, with a photocopied print run of about 60. After that they were all duplicated. Numbers 2-5 followed in the same year; 6-10 in 1977; 11-14 in 1978; 15 and 16 in 1979; 17 (a special TAFF fundraiser in collaboration with Jim Barker) and 18 in 1980; 19 in 1981 (vast print run of 600 sponsored by the Yorcon II Eastercon committee for distribution there – I was fan guest of honour that year); and 20 in 1983, my 100th fanzine, just in time for Albacon II at Easter. By then the print run was 440, and the page count had risen from 3 to 16, and since August 1979 I'd also produced 32 issues of the grubby newszine Ansible, and ... silence.

I'm photocopying this on left-over duplicator paper (print run: tiny, but subject to occasional repetition on demand): the originals were not necessarily the same colour, but who cares? Aesthetically sensitive fans, that's who, since the interpolated Original Sheets from my collection of over-runs will doubtless clash something rotten. Which brings me to the Pale Grey Face in the first issue: in the original this was a vile bilious yellow, an eldritch colour from beyond space and time, otherwise seen only in convention-breakfast scrambled eggs. Odd that TD's only other piece of spot colour was to be on the last page of the last issue (the wavy "Twllscape" lines were red). To travel thus in time may not be so complex and difficult an affair as we are prone to suppose. It is possible that from the beginning Langford had some presentiment of his future. [DRL]

94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU
Contents copyright (c) Dave Langford, 1976-1981, 1983, 1986.

On Another Bloody Fanzine
[an inserted page in the bound reprint volume]

Not by any means an issue of Twll-Ddu, the ever so rare and esoteric Another Bloody Fanzine is included at its chronologically correct point, here. (June 1979, to be precise.) Our Joseph and Our Alan had been threatening this shit-hot new production for ages, and Kevin Smith and I thought it only generous to give them a spot of advance publicity. Most of the "Nicholas" polemic was mine; most of the "Dorey" was Kev's. It was eerie to feel the mantle of Doreyspeak descending upon us in a crackle of pentecostal fire, with spontaneous typos and typewriter breakdowns which lent true verisimilitude to the whole....

Joseph's chief objection was that the whole imposture was transparently absurd since, in fact, he had no notion what the words "sisyphean" and "tropism" might mean. Alan seemed more miffed that "some toad out there in the cess-pits of fandom" had covered the duo's planned ground so extensively as to leave their first real issue with rather little to say. [DRL]