Saturday, April 21, 2012

Time to Retire It: “The Issue At Hand” APA and Fanzine Column. (1994-2012)

This past week, I submitted the final “print edition” of The Issue At Hand, an APA and Fanzine column I’ve produced since 1994 – and the basis for this Blog.

I’ve reached an “Official Count” of 100 installments – with an unofficial count that would be much higher – and that seemed like the perfect place to call it quits.   

For the last few years, most of the material seen in the “print edition” was culled from that prepared for this Blog, via the miracle of “Copy / Paste”.  And finally, the effort of actually printing copies, carrying them to the central mailer, etc. began to wear on me.

It is bittersweet to bring to a close the process that lead to this Blog – not to mention many friendships and acquaintances, and some wonderful years of writing. 

But all “things” come to an end.  …I’ll leave it to those who had read it, year after year, to decide if “The Issue At Hand” was a “good thing” or just a “thing”.  All I know is that I enjoyed doing it for the 18 years of its existence!   

For now, the Blog will suffice… Until the day (as some long time readers may remember) “Cerebro-TIAH” will activate – beaming my commentaries on Life, The Universe, Comics, and DVDs directly into your brains!

Now, THAT’LL be fun!  


Chris Barat said...


Dead Tree TIAH is dead... Long live Virtual TIAH!

It was close, but DTT beat out my RICHVILLE RUMINATIONS run (in the sense of longevity). I can certainly emphasize with any feelings of "creative loss" you may have.


ramapith said...

Will "Cerebro-TIAH" be something like Emperor Joker invading Batman's head? Or merely Bat-Mite invading Batman's existence? (I'm guessing number two... shudder!)

Here's to an awesome-sauce 18 years of issues at hand, Joe. Here's hoping we'll tackle a lot more online in decades to come.

Ryan Wynns said...


Writing to you and Chris to inquire about a certain publication that had been a joint effort of yours led to me buying, and of course then reading, said publication. And that led to me becoming a member of the APA entitled WTFB. TIAH and Chris' News and Views were my favorite part of each issue, and usually what I read first! (Er, and second, in either order ... the way I tore through the pages to find them, I almost read them at the same time, really!)

Between, a), that "index" you'd joined forces to compile and that I've always found an invaluable resource, and, b), your respective APA columsn, you and Chris were my foremost influences during my initiation into fandom.

re: WTFB -- as has been said in other contexts, "Those were wild times!" Rip Hunter citing TIAH for time-violations! The trial of Bruce Hamilton from the perspective of Pinky and the Brain! And -- last, but NO FRAGGIN' WAY least -- Lobo as TIAH guest writer (and making irregular cameos, too)!

It was between the ages of 13 and 15 that I was a member of WTFB. For roughly the first three-fourths of that time, the APA was, in a way, my whole world. Of course, subsequently, throughout my teenage years and much of my `20's, I was elsewhere, in more than one respect. Now 30, I feel that I've learned a lesson or two in my time thus far; that age and wisdom has given me at least a little wisdom. Cutting to the chase, I'm grateful to be able to again be following TIAH and N&V, and intermittently corresponding with both you and Chris, via the Internet.

Still ... well, now, don't get me wrong -- I wouldn't want us to swear off our blogs and restrict ourselves to sharing our writings by post ... for in this day and age, that would just seem cumbersome. Nonetheless, there was something about the exhilerating rush that overcame me each time that I, in immediate succession, a), ravenously checked the mailbox to find a large envelope with Jeff Pierce's return address, b), ran back into the house, c), tore the envelope open, d), wrenched from it the dense, spiral-bound compilation of Xeroxed fanfics and opinion columns (each as individualized as excessively as each member would be if we all were gathered together in person) that I'd been pining for in agony for the past two to three (painfully long) weeks and, e), at last, dove into its contents, the rest of the world lost to nuclear annihilation for all I cared. And that something just cannot be replicated by the Internet.

That may have to do with age -- at 13, it was a precious rarity to communciate with others who shared my interests. In adulthood, there's considerable more autonomy in that respect. And also, undoubtedly, the Internet has normalized instant communication and access to information. That said, I think if the Internet had been as ubiquitous in life when I was 13 as it is today and an equivalent of WFTB were Internet-based, discovering and then participating in it to me would've had the same gravity to me that the analogue version did.

This has been a roundabout way of answer your question. So, anyway, I emphatically attest that The Issue At Hand has absolutely, unequivocally been "a good thing". Here's to both its history and its future!


joecab said...

Ah that's a shame, but time marches on, eh?

Are there still many APAs/fanzines (yeah, I know they're not the same thing, shaddup) around anymore? As we know, the internet boom really took away their big appeal of connecting people all over who were ecstatic to find others out there sharing their same passions...

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris, David, Ryan, and JoeC:

First, thank you all for the kind words. I don’t know if JoeC ever ran across a print edition” of TIAH, but I somehow knew that, of those who did, Chris, David, and Ryan would be among the first (maybe even the “only”) to respond to the news, as they were there for pretty much the whole run.

Now, I’ve got a confession to make (…and doing so on a Blog that everyone can read, may not be the wisest place to do that, but what the heck)… for all the years, I pretty much wrote TIAH ONLY for the enjoyment of a very small number of readers, whom I thought might be interested in (as I say in the Blog’s header) “The Things That Interest Me”. And that was primarily “you guys” and a very small number of others.

And THAT (as I elaborate on "more delicately" in my final column) is one of the primary reasons for its discontinuance. I felt adrift among an audience that didn’t seem like the audience I was seeking. Within the confines of the final publication TIAH had appeared in (as Ryan, who is still a member, will no doubt attest) I felt lost and isolated amid an increasing number of poets and people’s vacation photos. It was my impression that audience had minimal interest (if any) in “The Things That Interest Me”.

Even back as far as WTFB, I’ll confess to a general disinterest in the “fan-fic” aspects of that publication and enjoyed the commentary portion, and those who had contributed to it -- and it was THOSE people that I was writing it for.

I’d like to think that some of “those people” followed me to the Blog – and that we’ve picked up a few good new friends along the way (Hi, JoeC!)

So, now I hope I get the audience that enjoys what they find here (no matter how large or small that audience may be), and the poets, vacationers, and fan-fic-ers can go on without my getting in their way.

And, hey… as long as you’ve got me in rare “full disclosure mode”, the irony is not lost on me that, while I never wrote a line of unauthorized Disney character fan-fiction in those WTFB days… that is was *I* (…and Chris, as well – and with my ENERNAL GRATITUDE to David, for granting me the privilege) that would get to write for Disney characters in the professional arena – and, if the comments I receive are any indication, was successful at it!

Though WTFB *did* help me in that regard, as I give some credit where it’s due, in that “writing in character” as Pinky and The Brain, Webby, Rip Hunter, Lobo, etc. (Thanks for remembering, Ryan!) helped hone my skills at dialogue creation.

In truth, every writing experience I’ve had, from The Duckburg Times fanzine, the comprehensive DuckTales, Index done with Chris – and other comics indexing projects of the pre-Internet age, through comic book letter columns, “Dead-Tree TIAH” (Thanks, Chris!), TIAH Blog – and the comics I’ve been (truly, no sarcasm) been blessed and privileged to work with, has been WONDERFUL! And, I’m not stopping any time soon.

…Take that as both a promise and a threat!

And, to JoeC, APAs and fanzines are STILL around… just fewer and fewer – and, unless you’re somehow connected to one of them, or to one of the contributors, it’s almost impossible to even know that anymore.

Thanks to all of you for “being there” then – and “being here” now! It’s appreciated more than you could ever know! …“Awesome-Sauce”, right back at ‘cha!


joecab said...

Huh! (That's me taking all this in.) Then the switch from print to web really makes sense.

And you are correct, my first exposure to TIAH was right here. Joe, I think I saw you had posted something somewheres, and since I recognized your name from letter cols (Gladstone comics, I assume), I poked around and found your enjoyable little oasis of Things I Like.

Joe Torcivia said...

Sounds like a logical progression to me, JoeC!

No matter the path, I’m glad you’re here – and thanks for your contributions to this “oasis”!

More “Brave and the Bold” coming soon!

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Congratulations, Joe! What a fantastic legacy, and I'm glad to read that it will continue online.

Your columns and the other columns in THFT! were incredibly educational and entertaining for me back in the early "ots."

Like I told Chris, you should really self-publish them or sell them as e-books or even offer them as .pdf downloads.


Joe Torcivia said...

Thanks very much, Pete… but, SELL THEM?

Who’d give me two-cents for “my two-cents”!

Pete Fernbaugh said...

I would, but no more than two cents... ;-)

Joe Torcivia said...