Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OWARI: The Fanzine Years In Review (1995-2005)

Do I miss it?

People have asked me that occasionally since 2005. Do I miss doing the fanzine? It's a fair question; after all, OWARI ran for a decade (even if it really was only 7 years). Anything that lasted so long must have been an important part of my life, and there's no doubt that OWARI was just that. I mean, I just spent over two years writing a retrospective on it! Was that whole exercise just a nostalgia trip, with me pining for "the good old days?"

Actually, I have a much deeper reason. There's an old saying that history is written by the winners. If defined by success and popularity, OWARI was not a "winner." With its relative obscurity and miniscule circulation, not a lot of people saw OWARI or were even aware of its existence. I am sure there are literally thousands of fanzines out there that are identical in one important respect - they are almost (if not totally) forgotten. If I don't chronicle the history of OWARI and ensure that it's remembered, who will?

Was OWARI a failure then? I don't think so. Oh, there were many instances of me thinking that over the years, but I'd like to believe time has allowed me to gain a better perspective on it. OWARI gave me a place to learn and grow as a writer, an editor, and a creator. It allowed me the chance to write about whatever I wanted, regardless of my audience's interests (since I didn't have much of one). It gave me the opportunity to figure out what did and didn't work and the luxury to screw up (which I did often). It even afforded me the ability to give other people a place to hone their craft and find their way into print. OWARI served as the blueprint for all of my subsequent work, and paved the way for everything that has happened since it straggled into print in 1995.

In reality, "OWARI" is not a fanzine. There was a fanzine named OWARI, and it was the first permutation of that concept. But really, OWARI is the name I've given to the vehicle for expressing my opinions, ideas, and interests. OWARI isn't about glue sticks and typewriters and a pile of a zillion photocopies; OWARI is about Japanese monster movies, comic books, superheroes, music, and a zillion other TOPICS. Whether it exists as a fanzine, a rudimentary website, a message board, or a blog, there is one common denominator uniting all versions of OWARI. OWARI...is me. The history of the fanzine OWARI is a glimpse into the evolution of Christopher Elam as a person.

Do I miss it? I sometimes miss having something tangible I can hold in my hands and being able to say, "I made that!" But missing OWARI itself? Hey, it never went away.

Since my reminiscing about OWARI did take over two years, here is an index of each individual entry that is part of the story of the fanzine.

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