I kept on waiting for the snark and condescension – and it never came. Awesome.
I’ve just posted to several UNCLE lists, and I’m posting here as well, because of this section:
You could begin a history of fan fiction in any number of places, but one of them is The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a TV show about the agents of an international espionage organization called the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. It ran for four seasons, 1964 to '68, and although it was never a runaway hit — it peaked at No. 13 in 1965 — it had another, less easily definable quality. It attracted not just viewers but fans: people for whom the world in which The Man from U.N.C.L.E. took place felt so real that it seemed to have a life beyond the show, as if you could turn the camera around and see not a TV studio but an entire planet populated by men, women and children from U.N.C.L.E. The fans published mimeographed and xeroxed fanzines about it, and a few of the zines ran original stories that were set there.
I’ve seen this assertion several times over the years – that UNCLE fandom became a template for the fandoms that followed. But I can’t find any evidence for it. I’d love to be convinced, so if anyone has information on 1960s and early 1970s UNCLE zines and fic, please let me know.
My own experience:
I got into fandom in 1975, and I had three fannish passions: Star Trek, Dark Shadows and The Man From UNCLE. I found tons of Trek zines through the fanfic chapter in “Star Trek Lives!” and then through the Star Trek Welcommittee. I found several Dark Shadows zines through the Marvel magazine “Vampire Tales”, which listed addresses of other DS fans.
I started writing to lots of other fans, and immediately got into conversations about our fannish passions. My # 1 fannish interest was fanfic; I kept asking people, “Where’s the UNCLE fic?”
No one had any leads for me. Almost everyone I spoke with remembered UNCLE fondly, just as they remembered other fannish favorites such as The Wild Wild West, but no one knew of any fic. The woman who introduced me to DS fandom was into fic. She also ran a science fiction/fantasy convention in the mid 70s which attracted over 6,000 people, myself included, so she had fannish contacts all over the place. She didn’t have any leads for UNCLE fic either.
The Time magazine article mentioned Xeroxed fanzines – when were they published, what did they include, and:
How did I miss them???
The first Trek zine, Spockanalia, was published in 1967. The first Dark Shadows fanzine (I’m spacing on the title) was published in 1968. (By 1975, there had been many dozens of Trek fanzines published, as my bank account at the time can testify. There has also been at least 30 Dark Shadows fanzines published – even more, if you want to count the fan club newsletters for specific actors which also included fic.)
When was the first UNCLE zine published? And if UNCLE was in any way a template for the fandoms which followed, what is the continuity?
I didn’t find any UNCLE fic until – I believe – the multifandom zine Warped Space ran a short piece in an issue some time in the late 70s. I *did* find UNCLE fandom in the late 80s, and I snapped up every zine I could find. (Other 60s shows like The Wild Wild West, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Garrison’s Gorillas also went on to develop zine fandoms in the 80s and 90s, which is about the time UNCLE zines seemed to really take off.)
As far as I can see, Star Trek fandom became the template for many of the fandoms which followed. There have always been feral fandoms – Dark Shadows being one, because it developed entirely separately from Trek fandom – but most of the fandoms with which I’m familiar seemed to base their traditions and terminology on the Trek model. I remember when Star Wars took off in the late 70s; Starsky & Hutch as well. Many of the early people in those fandoms came from Trek.
As I said, I’m open to being convinced. I’d love to know about the early history of this fandom.