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Mag Bag #9

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #100

Publish Date:
Fenruary 1997

It’s been a while, but here we are back with a bumper crop of zines. To stop this issue expanding by yet another four pages, let’s get on with the task…

First up (well, first picked by a random pluck from the pile) we have issues 9 and 10 of Broadsword. Issue 9 is layout in some ways as if it was a comic — fun! This is one of their best issues yet, chocka with articles, chaotic layout and silly things. I dunno about the pop-up thingy in the middle, though. Four-and-a-half months to go till the Beeb takes over, out of five. Onto issue 10, and they devote considerable space telling us about the new companion Samantha Jones for the BBC’s range of books (which I reckon should be called the Now Adventures and the Missed Adventures, just to really piss off Virgin). This issue is a bit flat, however, as apart from the obligatory reviews and some news, there’s bugger-all else to capture the attention. Oh well, I hear the next issue has at least half-a-dozen interviews! Issue 10 gets two-and-a-half collaged covers out of five.

Next up comes the South Australian club with issue 72 of Chameleon Factor. Under Gerard van Rysbergen’s editorship the zine has taken on a less-polished look but has picked up massively in the readability and comedy stakes. This is a relaxed zine, but with some great content. There’s the obligatory look at how the club members saw the telemovie, a very long but varied and occasionally hilarious review section, and a thought-provoking article on Time Lord regenerations. Plus an interview with Kate Orman — at least it had a monstrously silly picture to accompany it. Get this one! Four silly puns out of five. (There’s also been three Wall of Lies newsletters during this time — still gets my vote as the best news-only newsletter around.)

Now for something different — two novelisations of Who stories by NSW fan Matthew Lee, forming issues 36 and 37 of Zerinza. I must admit I haven’t read these two fully yet, but from the snatches I’ve grabbed Matthew Lee writes well. First up, released in 1993, is The Power of the Daleks. This issue had been planned well before John Peel gained permission to novelise the tale, but came out afterwards. A key difference is that this novelisation is based on the TV story, and not on Ian Whitaker’s original scripts as John Peel did. The other novelisation is a very good choice — The Pirate Planet. Douglas Adams has publicly stated he doesn’t want to do his books, nor let anyone else do them. Combined with the recent record of the ABC missing an episode of this story during it’s screening, and at twice the length of the typical Target novelisation, this becomes a very valuable resource.

Onto our next candidate, and, yet again, it’s the pick of the bunch. Eternity, edited by Lee "King of the Potato People" Zachariah, has reached issue ten and unfortunately is going to stay there for quite a while, possibly forever (Lee’s got old enough to get homework, ooh). This issue has all the strengths of the run: silly humour, thought-provoking articles, really silly humour, insulting Star Trek, even sillier humour and a cool computer pic by Tristan Nieto. It even has something they certainly previously didn’t do: good fiction! Get it, get it, get it, get it, get it (that’s five get its out of five).

A diversion now: let’s look at Futurist, a slightly pro-zine that has a hard science look at the future and science fiction. Edited by Geoffrey Dale, who was kind enough to send me a review copy at late notice, it features some classic science fiction from times long past as well as new tales and articles: for example, a tale of the final destruction of twentieth century items in a far-future museum, and an article on how other planets in our solar system could be made habitable for us. It’s available at both some specialist book stores as well as by subscription. Gets three-and-a-half thingies.

Next up is the latest Double Gamma winner of Best Zine, Strange Matter. Issue 16 shows editor Sian O’Neale once more declaring it isn’t really just a Doctor Who zine (he changes his mind every second issue), and has the usual six zillion zine reviews (yes, Sian, you can stop bugging Andrew for the return of "Mag Bag" now!), fiction, a stack of clips to do with the telemovie and film reviews. The funny bit is a seven-page comic strip by regular contributor Martin Cash — I can see why he’s claiming he did it when he was much younger… Still, forty pages of value: three-and-a-half Who-only zines out of five.

Whoops, this column has been so long in coming that I also have issue 17 to peruse. If you know Sian’s usual pace at getting out zines, you’ll appreciate that comment! It features covers showing why Sian should leave artwork to the specialists, the breaking down of his PC to ensure half the issue was done on a typewriter, Sian doing his 78th review of State of Decay (I dare anyone to ask him if he likes it — if they’ve got a day or two free, of course) and lots of other goodies. Just to be incestuous, the best bits are probably Lee Zachariah telling us how to create your own Star Trek series (bagging Trek? Woo-hoo!) and yet another bloody long and bloody nasty tale by Daniel Payne. Good stuff — four Sandwich Men out of five.

The Queensland club has followed the path of the South Australian one, putting out a small newsletter between issues of Mistfall to keep their members up to date with both Who and club news. It does the job well. Plus out comes issue 19 of the flagship — with lots of bits in pig Latin to confuse us all. Don’t worry, dear reader, there is a logic behind it all, and the comic by Peter Shaw certainly makes it worth it. This guy is a wonder! This issue also sees a professional graphic designer doing the layout, and it shows. The thing is GORGEOUS! Apart from Peter’s comics still being somewhat poorly reproduced, this is almost certainly the best-looking zine I’ve ever seen. Plus there’s great writing within, and I’m on my way to delivering a record three 5 Mary Whitehouses out of 5 for this column!

Back to Victoria now, with issue 21 of Ultrawarp from the Time Trekkers in Bendigo. They continue to add content, be it Who, Trek, Blakes 7 or Aliens. Plus it’s good to see someone else remembers Starblazers (aka Space Cruiser Yamato)! The scary bit is the never-ending "Once upon a Time-Warp" which sees a continuing story each issue penned by a different author — the latest instalment has the Seventh and Eighth Doctor, along with Benny and Ace on the USS Voyager, topped off with an ethereal blue glow forming around Ace and her saying ‘Oh, boy…’. Three SF series out of five (that’s the rating, not a comment!).

Cruising down to Melbourne, we’ve got issue 19 of Black Light. (Issue 20 also came out ages ago, but certain subscribers never got sent their copy, even after repeated reminders!). Of course, there’s lots of stuff on the telemovie and some tributes to the late Jon Pertwee. For some reason, however, the centrespread goes to a rather offensive and unfunny tale. Oh well. Two late issues out of five. I’ve also managed to grab a copy of the very first issue of Black Light recently, and can report it far outranks many of its predecessors. The layout is more interesting (very similar, in fact, to the issues of Sonic that Sean-Paul Smith did previously), and the contents chunky with looks at plant physiology in Who, the cancelled Season 23 stories, and the background to Who production in the Sixties. Four good starts out of five.

I dare say, if they can keep it up, that Gallifreyan Graffiti has well and truly made the jump from being a newsletter to a full-fledged zine. Congrats to new editors Grant Watson and Simon Oxwell with issue 129. I particularly like the news, and how they’ve had fun putting a tabloid look on it. Two main pieces are an interview with Lance Parkin and a detailed look at Sylvester McCoy’s role as the Pied Piper in the play of the same name running between 1986 and 1988 in London. But best of all is the brilliantly-written "Fear of Dying Alone" by Canadian Cameron Dixon, showing the Master at his scheming best. Worth signing up to the full year just to get this one. I can’t see a thing wrong this issue, so I’ll give it 4.99 West Lodges out of five (look, I committed myself to calling Eternity the best for this column about 1003 words ago. Sorry!).

And finally, as I reach the bottom of the pile, we’ve had four more issues of Date Extract pop in — issues 122, 123, 124 and 125. Don’t even try to think how many reviews that encompasses — urgh! Highlights have included the umteenth resurrection of the EFG debate in their letter column "Think Tank", gobs of info and reviews of Whovention III as well as Lalla Ward days around the country, and a healthy serving of politics. Without getting (hopefully!) too much further into the mire, let’s just say that it can sometimes be difficult to get the full and correct truth from just a single source… One other thing to note is that issue 125 sees a much appreciated "lighter" layout — yes, it’s readable again! Give issues 122 and 123 a ‘Who cares?’, 124 a chunky improvement and 125 a pretty flippin’ good rating.

And thus we come to the end of our biggest "Mag Bag" yet — hopefully the next one won’t be another six months in the writing!

• • •

Edited by David Robinson
153 Wardell Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
$6 for 6 issues

Chameleon Factor & Wall of Lies
Edited by Gerard van Rysbergen for the South Australian DWFC
GPO Box 3227, Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000
$12 for a year ($10 if you’re under 16 years) (that’s 3-4 & 6 issues respectively)

Contact Dallas Jones at GPO Box 2870, Sydney NSW 2001 or dallas@eagles.bbs.net.au

Edited by Geoffrey Dale
PO Box 197, Ferntree Gully VIC 3156
$17 for four issues

Strange Matter
Edited by Sian O’Neale
185 Kooyong Rd, Toorak VIC 3142
$10 for four issues, or The Fannish Usual

Mistfall & QDWFC Newsletter
Edited by Paul McDermott, Paul Shaw and Alexander Craig Evans for the Queensland DWFC
PO Box 10308, Brisbane QLD 4000
$15 for a year (4 & 6 issues respectively)

Edited by Michael Cloonan for Time Trekkers
PO Box 934, Bendigo VIC 3550
$10 for six issues

Black Light
Edited by Damian Christie & Sean-Paul Smith for Gallifrey
GPO Box 910G, Melbourne VIC 3001
$12 for six issues (I think!)

Gallifreyan Graffiti
Edited by Grant Watson and Simon Oxwell for the West Lodge
Write to PO Box 190, Mt Lawley WA 6050

Data Extract
Edited by Neil Hogan for the DWCA
GPO Box 2870, Sydney NSW 2000
$12 for 8 issues (or $22 for 16 issues)

End of Review

Here’s the list of the Doctor Who reviews available here:
Benny Adventure: Beyond the Sun
Benny Adventure: Deadfall
Benny Adventure: Ghost Devices/Mean Streets/Tempest
Benny Adventure: The Sword of Forever
Fanzines: Mag Bag #1
Fanzines: Mag Bag #2
Fanzines: Mag Bag #3
Fanzines: Mag Bag #4
Fanzines: Mag Bag #5
Fanzines: Mag Bag #6
Fanzines: Mag Bag #7
Fanzines: Mag Bag #8
Fanzines: Mag Bag #9
Fanzines: Mag Bag #10
Fanzines: Mag Bag #11
Fanzines: Mag Bag #12
Missing Adventure: Dancing the Code
Missing Adventure: Downtime
Missing Adventure: Invasion of the Cat-People
Missing Adventure: Lords of the Storm
Missing Adventure: Scales of Injustice
Missing Adventure: Shadow of Weng-Chiang
Missing Adventure: System Shock
New Adventure: Bloodheat
New Adventure: Death of Art
New Adventure: Dimension Riders
New Adventure: Eternity Weeps
New Adventure: Falls the Shadow
New Adventure: Legacy
New Adventure: No Future
New Adventure: Sleepy
TV: The Curse of Fenric
TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
TV: The Happiness Patrol
TV: Season 25 Review
TV: Season 27 Review (the 2005 return)
TV: The Twin Dilemma
→ Or just head back to the Doctor Who Index

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This page last updated by David J Richardson on Tue, 10 Apr 2007.