23/01/2012

Up-words

The Best of This way up on paper 2002-10

 

Introduction by John Connors

It really is a whole ten years since the first issue was written and produced which is amazing. It’s flown by very quickly. By the time This way up was launched in early 2002 I’d already been editing fanzines for quite a long time but the landscape had changed. Instead of rival paper zines competing for readers, most fan activity had migrated online in the form of message boards, blogs and websites. However the content of many of these was very similar to paper based zines except not usually as thorough or well written.

My theory was that if a paper zine could beat the blogs and websites in quality, the fact that it couldn’t match the speed or interactivity would not matter to the proportion of fans that preferred to read more considered material. In order to level the playing field further I also decided to offer the zine free. This was something that had not really been done before mainly because it means the editor having to pay for the printing costs. Luckily these were falling relatively year on year. The idea was that you could request a particular issue or be added to the mailing list to receive all issues.

By the end of the last decade it was becoming obvious that online articles were now as good as ones in paper zines, in fact I was amazed by how quickly perceptive in depth pieces were being posted within 24 hours of broadcast or release. A new generation of writers had grown up without the space to refine and re-edit their work making the idea of regular `issues` redundant if they were trying to compete with up to date online formats.

So in 2009 we started a dual format; still producing a paper version for people who wished to receive it but also having the issue available in PDF format from the Live From Mars website. In truth, this was only ever a temporary fix and after a few issues solely as PDFs, in 2011 This way up moved into this current format which allows new material to be uploaded quickly while retaining something of the feel of a zine.

The other main aspect of the zine from the start is that while starting with a proportion of Doctor Who content this would gradually be phased out to fulfil the remit of covering things not well served by the professional media. This was all going well until the 2003 announcement of the series’ return which meant a change of direction albeit a welcome one.

Up -words is a new series that starts this week and will run throughout our tenth anniversary year interspersed between regular posts. I’ll be selecting what I consider to be the paper zine’s `greatest hits`. I’ve tried to include the articles or reviews that generated the most response or which I feel are the most interesting, different or accomplished. There may be some issues not represented at all and lots from other issues. I’ve left them in the context they were written so you can see how accurately (or not) we predicted trends.

Watch out- it's starting very soon!

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