Wertham VS. Kleefeld

By | Friday, October 16, 2009 2 comments
I'm still working on my book, Comic Book Fanthropology. And it's still progressing fairly well. I'm a tad less sure about my end-of-November release date, but I'm still hopeful for hitting it. Regardless, it'll still be out in time for Christmas, so be sure to set aside some money for it now. I do have a couple elements in the works with it as we speak that should make for more compelling reasons to buy it, too!

But this isn't a book update post!

As I've been writing, I've been a little concerned that I might end up with a slightly slimmer book than I'd like. I had no intention of making it some monster tome, but it ought to have a little something there, you know?

But today, I finally got my hands on my own copy of Fredric Wertham's The World of Fanzines. He didn't exactly reverse the position he took about comics in Seduction of the Innocent but he gave fanzines a pretty fair shake, as I understand it.

So I started flipping through it and noticed a lot of art in the front 1/3 of the book. Like, every page. Appropriate seeming -- mostly fan cartoons and fanzine covers -- but a lot. But, curiously, I didn't see any in the last 2/3 of the book. So, off to the Table of Contents I go to find...

Chapter One. Introducing Fanzines. Page 33.

The first page with any of Wertham's actual content is page 33.

He then writes several chapters (most of which are each only four pages long) before he starts a glossary on page 61. Which is then followed by a list of fanzines and their states of origin. Wertham starts writing again on page 71 and finishes out on page 133, followed by a ten page, single column index. Plus a few more blank pages at the very end to be able to set the binding properly.

So, out of a 160 page book, Wertham provided content for only 90 pages. Plus, the page layouts could easily fit into a typical 6" x 9" paperback size instead of the larger 7.5" x 9.5" he went with. Meaning there's a lot of white space on every page.

Yeah, I'm not quite so worried about the amount of content I'm writing now. Plus, mine is going to look a heck of a lot better!
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David Beard said...

Hmmm. Be wary of your measuring stick, though. You want more READERS than that book had, right?

As many readers as, say, Jenkins or Putsz if you want one kind of sales or as many readers as a TwoMorrows style book (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Comic-Fandom-Reader/Bill-Schelly/e/9780964566965 or http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Best-of-the-Legion-Outpost/Glen-Cadigan/e/9781893905368/?itm=1&usri=legion+outpost) for another kind of readership and sales.

Go Kleefeld! Go Kleefeld!

I was mainly surprised at World of Fanzines in that I was expecting something more akin to SotI. Not quite as vengeful, naturally, but something that at least looked like it was written by a professional psychologist.

As far as readers and sales go, I'd be happy if I sold 50 copies. Thrilled if I sold 100. I'm not really writing it to sell a crapload of them and make a lot of money. (Tho' that would be nice.) I'm writing it to try to get people to think about fandom a little differently and steer the overall conversation. The audience I'm writing it for is basically just people like me, who will hopefully be able to take the ideas from it and pass those along to their friends.

So, in that sense, I'm not really comparing it Jenkins or Pustz or Wertham or Schelly or the Thompsons or anyone else, really. My hope is that my book can stand on its own and not need to be compared against others.