Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OWARI: The Lost Issue (1997-98)

In my review of the checkered past of the fanzine incarnation of OWARI, it seems only appropriate to discuss the issue I labored over for much of 1997 and 1998. The problem is that it doesn't exist. I abandoned that version of OWARI #4 before it was ever completed, and much of what was prepared has subsequently been either lost or filed separately from the layouts of the published issues. Still, I can reconstruct for you what would have been in that issue, and also why it was fated to remain incomplete.

The cover feature for OWARI #4 was intended to be an article by David McRobie about the film GODZILLA'S REVENGE. I had even settled on the cover, which would have spotlighted Gabara to cheese off a certain contingent of the Godzilla faithful. If all had gone to plan, the article would have been printed as David submitted it. That would have been good, but it also would have meant that there would have been few, if any, pictures. That would have been bad. This won't be the last you'll be hearing of this article in the OWARI chronicles, but it was originally meant to appear in the fourth issue.

Also slated for the fourth issue was the original version of the third "Return of Jetman" story. You can read the current version right here. Elsewhere on the ROJ site, I discuss the fact that my editing input was starting to go a bit far by this time, so it's likely just as well that the version that was prepared for OWARI #4 never saw the light of day. You can, however, see the color version of a frontpiece that would have been relegated to B&W in the issue by clicking here.

Ronnie Burton's "The Kaiju Detective" column was scheduled to return as well, with coverage of KING KONG ESCAPES for #4. I never published this, did I? For the life of me, I cannot explain to you exactly why it never appeared in print - especially since I ran "The Kaiju Detective" as a feature in later issues. So I suppose this article is really and truly "lost", and I deeply regret that. Hopefully, the manuscript and/or layout is lurking in my files somewhere.

I am a little sketchy on this part, but I am pretty sure Marc Dunworth had submitted something to me for inclusion in this issue as well. Was it toy reviews? I think so. I recently reconnected with Marc and his memory matched mine with regard to the fate of his submission. Since he sent it "cold" (in other words, I hadn't requested it), I passed it along to another fanzine editor for possible use in his publication. I want to say that editor was none other than Jerry Cornell, another contributor to OWARI #3.

You may notice in my listing of contents of this "lost" issue, there is something missing - namely, my own work. That's one of the big reasons why this issue never happened. I had considerable difficulty putting together anything of my own to fill out the issue. And since I was still persevering with the format seen in #3, there was a lot of filling out that needed to be done. And yet, beyond Bone Ghidorah, I did not have a single doggone piece ready for publication for this incarnation of OWARI #4.

There were, however, plenty of near-misses that almost became part of the issue:
  • At the end of OWARI #3, I promised to review some of the recent books dedicated to Japanese science-fiction that had been published. Not only did this never happen, but I never even began it. Considering the turmoil in Godzilla fandom at the time, I probably avoided a lot of problems.

  • I floated the idea of doing a retrospective on THE WAR IN SPACE in honor of its 20th/21st anniversary as either a submission to a bigger 'zine or something in OWARI itself. Again, though I do have a rough draft of an article covering that movie in my files from this era, this went nowhere.

  • During this time, I was working on a particularly angry piece of fanfiction I called "Red King's Revenge". Thematically, it would have fit the issue, and probably earned me a lot of enemies. It didn't matter, since it was never completed. The rough draft has seemingly disappeared, but I wrote about it a few years ago on my old LiveJournal. I should probably resurrect that piece and revamp it for this forum.

  • Given the positive feedback I got on the "El Beardo" nonsense in #3, I tried to write a biography for the character. I have no idea how that would have come across back then, but I later drew from the mythology built up around His Beardiness and crafted something along those lines years later.

  • Contrary to the way it seems, I did complete at least two articles for possible use in OWARI #4. One was an appreciation of sentai music and another was a sorta review of MAZINGER Z VS. GENERAL DARKNESS. Neither got much good initial feedback, and honestly, they didn't deserve it. The sentai article was largely hopeless beyond the initial conceit of being a top 10 list. The Mazinger article was marginally better, but it was shooting for something well beyond my abilities at that time. I pulled both of them and never found suitable replacements.
When I wrote about the end of the first phase of OWARI for the ROJ site, I said the following:
I stubbornly continued to work on the next issue of OWARI even though I knew I really couldn't publish it. [...] Eventually, the whole thing just petered out.

And that pretty much sums it up. My circumstances changed, and that prevented me from being able to focus on the issue. When they changed again for the better, I found my enthusiasm for the fandom that had led me to create OWARI had cooled. I had no desire to put all that work into a Japanese monster fanzine. By the time 1999 rolled around, I had decided that OWARI was finished.

But then, you know it really wasn't. The story of OWARI's surprising (even to me) return awaits in the next installment.

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