The Beholder story
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:00 pm 
 

I was just browsing round the web and came across The Acaeum.  Wow!  People still remember The Beholder after all these years.  I thought you might be interested in some history...

The idea for a new D&D fanzine came to me and Guy in a physics lesson at school in Dorking, Surrey.  We both enjoyed Underworld Oracle and thought that it would be fun to start up our own mag.  From the start we wanted to produce issues every month (which none of the other fanzines did at that point) to keep things ticking over and build a loyal base of readers.  We were told we'd never manage it and, to be honest, some months it was tough but I think we achieved it most of the time.

Guy did the artwork and usually the main dungeon while I wrote most of the other articles and handled the "business" side of things.  No PCs in those days so every drawing was by hand and every article was laboriously typed on an portable typewriter.  I got very quick at typing and used up loads of ribbons!

We found a printer who worked at a local firm and he produced every copy of TBH for us.  His charges were suprisingly low and we came to believe that he was doing everything on the quiet when his boss was out!  We never knew what colour the cover would be until the printing was done and all the pages turned up in big A4 boxes - uncollated!  I spent many a (happy?) hour sorting them all out, stapling them togther and writing out all of the envelopes/parcels for shops and subscribers.

The rarest TBH item must be original copies of issue 1.  You can tell if it is original because the print quality was terrible and you could hardly read the articles!  If it's easy to read then it's not an original first run copy.  There are 200 of these out there somewhere.  From issue 2 onwards (and all reprints) our printer friend had things sorted and the quality was much better.

TBH ran for 25 issues until we sold on the "goodwill" and it went A4.  We had no involvement at all from that point on.  By issue 25 we were up to about 800 copies a month.

Due to the volume of sales and the cheap printing we actually ran at a profit and I bought my first car (a green Mini Countryman - SKR853H) thanks to TBH.

As things went on we got lots of articles sent in and sometimes to hit a monthly deadline we'd resort to more of these than we probably should.  One month about 2/3 of the mag was made up of articles sent in by Graham Stablehurst who wasn't too happy about it and sent us an annoyed letter.  We sent him loads of free issues though.

The supplements were a bit of a side line.  Most of them were done by my brother John would wanted to get a bit of the TBH action.  I think all of them had white covers, and I can still remember him getting them sorted out with loads of fancy Letraset.

My postman thought there was some sort of religious cult going on at my parent's house, what with all these letters I'd get addressed to "The Beholder" - several a day for two years.

We won best fanzine at Games Day (twice I think) which was brilliant.  I can remember us walking round selling the latest issue of TBH and getting grief from the organisers because we hadn't paid for a stand.  We also signed a few copies so those will be out theer somewhere, but VERY rare.  The next year there was a "fanzine table" where we all jostled for position and, as the frontrunner at that point, we got a bit of stick from some of the other mags - this was the source of some of the "we're the best - stick with us" comments in various TBH editorials.

We had to stop the mag when we went to university (me to Birmingham and I think Guy went to Durham).  I haven't seen or heard from Guy since then!  He always wanted to tour the world and climb mountains and stuff - maybe he did!  I went into I.T. (yawn) and now work for Yellow Pages in Reading.  I also play guitar in a rock band called ROUGH JUSTICE (www.roughjusticerock.com).

Amazing to see that a set of TBH is on ebay - currently for £142 with two days to go.  I had loads at home once but I think they got thrown away by the parents years ago.  Of course I have got the original one-of-a-kind proofs for each issue, i.e. the original hand drawn pieces of artwork and hand typed (and Tipp-Ex'd articles), but I'm sure no-one would be interested in those...

If anyone's got any questions/memories about TBH I'd love to hear them.

All the best,
Mike

  

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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:06 pm 
 

MikeStoner wrote:Amazing to see that a set of TBH is on ebay - currently for £142 with two days to go.  I had loads at home once but I think they got thrown away by the parents years ago.  Of course I have got the original one-of-a-kind proofs for each issue, i.e. the original hand drawn pieces of artwork and hand typed (and Tipp-Ex'd articles), but I'm sure no-one would be interested in those...

If anyone's got any questions/memories about TBH I'd love to hear them.

All the best,
Mike


to come to a site like this and mention this bit and say "i'm sure no-one would be interested" is likely to get you bombarded by at least 5-6 ppl from here my friend :)

if you want to sell them, how much do you want ? :D

there nice and out in the open...i am definately interested.

oh and by the way - welcome to the acaeum. a collectors paradise (most of the time) - nice to hear from you.

i think TBH is a great fanzine and have been collecting it bit by bit for quite a while...all good fun :)

Al



  

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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:43 pm 
 

And there's the man! :D

Greetings, Mike.
Yeah, great timing with me just heading out the door...

Just a quick "thanks" in advance. More to follow, no doubt! :)

thx for the background, Mike. We ain't all UK 'zine fans here, and that's always appreciated, anyho!
MikeStoner wrote:We both enjoyed Underworld Oracle and thought that it would be fun to start up our own mag.

Heh, heh. My "local" bunch from around the Games Gallery in Edinburgh.
*g*. Did you spot the TBH thread? => viewtopic.php?p=32648&highlight=#32648

MikeStoner wrote:The rarest TBH item must be original copies of issue 1.  You can tell if it is original because the print quality was terrible and you could hardly read the articles!  If it's easy to read then it's not an original first run copy.  There are 200 of these out there somewhere.

That many? Big commitment to say the least!
I'm now trying to remember my (incorrect) sources who'd stated either 75 or 150.

Hmm... d'you remember whether that was blue/small type 40p price or blue/bold type 40p price, 'coz then it cut back over to orange/small type 40p.
I had thought the first (purchased new in Edinburgh, per pic below *g*) was earliest, but I've only even seen one of those blue/bold type price ones.

Image

And/or perhaps you can clarify whether different colored card was ever used in the same print run, 'coz those differences in #1 are somewhat anomalous.

MikeStoner wrote:TBH ran for 25 issues until we sold on the "goodwill" and it went A4.  We had no involvement at all from that point on.  By issue 25 we were up to about 800 copies a month.

Good. At least I remember that right, although that's requote in DL, too.

MikeStoner wrote:Due to the volume of sales and the cheap printing we actually ran at a profit and I bought my first car (a green Mini Countryman - SKR853H) thanks to TBH.

*yay*. Now, I don't recall /that/!

MikeStoner wrote:My postman thought there was some sort of religious cult going on at my parent's house, what with all these letters I'd get addressed to "The Beholder" - several a day for two years.

:lol:
Should've made the issues on a lunar month, too, to freak out the Post Office, then! :)

MikeStoner wrote:We won best fanzine at Games Day (twice I think) which was brilliant.

*nod nods*. Kudos indeed for putting together that content.

MikeStoner wrote:and, as the frontrunner at that point, we got a bit of stick from some of the other mags - this was the source of some of the "we're the best - stick with us" comments in various TBH editorials.

:P That's the quote I meant. Well, true enough, I guess! :)

=
Oops... time :? Apologies for any rushed typos. And little talk 'bout content, too. :(

Sorry to hear you ain't seen Guy since. Popped by our IT department in Reading many times when I was working with BR; right location, but wrong date!
Neat 'bout the band. Different sorta artistic talent there & hoping you enjoy that! :)

Later... (or tomorrow, more like *hrrr*).

  


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:07 pm 
 

Hi Mike - Bloody Hell, good to hear that you're still out there somewhere - there seems to be a black hole into which old the old 'zine editors seem to have disappeared (although Trevor Mendham still has a website: http://www.trevor-mendham.com/).  

Andy Ravenscroft here - Quentin Manley and I got involved with Beholder when you called me back when I was living in Maidenhead after I'd had some stuff published in Demonsblood.  I think it was issue 5 or so through about 11 or 12 that we contributed stuff.  I also helped GM the D&D competition the year you and Guy ran it at Games Day.  Wonder if I still have the scenario somewhere?  As I recall it that was a pretty intense day.

I've upped sticks and moved to Madison, Wisconsin.  I haven't heard from the old D&D fanzine crowd in a while.  Lost touch with Brian Dolton back in the late 80's, although I continued to hang out with Dom Elias at punk gigs until the early 90's.  Did you ever turn up for the fanzine editors monthly drink sessions at the Lamb in Lamb's Conduit Street?  Can't remember.  I remember Pete Tamlyn, Dolton and a few others being there.

I haven't heard from Quentin in quite a while, although I expect that if I ask my friends in Maidenhead I could probably track him down.  BTW, if you ever consider selling Quentin's original cover art to Beholder 11, I'd like a crack at it - that's my old PC Xiombarg killing the dragon.

See you around the board,

Andy

  


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:10 pm 
 

The first print run of TBH issue one was in light blue, but so was one of the reruns so I'd need to see a scan of an inside page to confirm genuine first run status by the poor quality of the text in the articles.  Maybe I can dig one out from somewhere and scan it myself to show you what I mean.

Each print run or reprint run was one colour all the way through.

I enjoyed reading some of the other threads, especially comments from people I've never met who seem to know more about TBH than I do!  Maybe one of them is Guy Duke using an alias!

Just confirmed with the parents that they haven't got any old TBH stuff hidden in the loft somewhere, although apparently they did keep 100s of copies of 2000AD back to issue 1!

  


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:17 pm 
 

Andy!  Off in the States now, well I never.

I remember that Games Day very well and I think intense was the word.  That would have been at "Chelsea Old Town Hall" if memory serves - very close to where I got married a few years back.  There was also some TV coverage I think and my brother John got his arm into shot as his moment of glory!

I totally lost touch with the D&D/fanzine world when I went to Uni so I never went to any meets or reunions - I guess that sort of thing doesn't happen any more, we'd all be fat, balding blokes in our 40s.

Dom was always a good laugh and used to come to our gaming sessions at Dorking Youth/Community Centre every Sunday.  Great times!

  


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 6:27 pm 
 

Mike.  Welcome to the forum.  TBH was the only fanzine that I subscribed to and it was such a great read.  I still have a couple of notes from yourself explaining that certain copies were out of stock.  Used one of those letters to try and get hold of you over a year ago.  I spoke to your parents who seemed pleasantly surprised that you were remembered for TBH from way back then.  But they said that you weren't involved in D&D anymore.  I was going to ask your folks if there was any boxes of old fanzines lying around and pop the BIN question  :wink: (forum joke).  But my conscience got the better of me :cry:

Just checked my TBHs.  I have a blue and an orange copy.  And both seem to have the same standard of internal printing.  So, I guess they are both reprints.  But would be good to get a scan or more information to clarify a true #1.

I also have a loose voting form insert in the blue #1 for Games Day 1979.  I think it came with the mag.  But I can't be certain.

Cheers.

John.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:15 am 
 

I'll steal some of that for my fanzine page :D I'm sure that I have some questions myself eventually.. now just to clear up another point, when a issue was reprinted the price was changes on the cover to reflect the current price of the zine, yes? ie 45p and 60p, the 60 p was the reprint at the time the zine was priced at 60p. Were all the reprints the same colour as well??

( my zine page BTW
http://www.arielarchives.com/Brett/Magazines/index.html)

Brette:)

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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:37 am 
 

Great to hear from you.  We US gamers never got the choice of fanzines that went around in the UK.  You should make an effort to look up Guy.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:57 am 
 

Dusting off my Dragon #50, I see that The Beholder was given the highest grade of 11 fanzines that were reviewed in that issue (a 9 on a 10 scale).

I was just a wee sprog when that issue came out and I remember thinking "I've never even heard of any of these things." Mark is right: U.S. fans were never able to enjoy fanzines the way UK fans did.

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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 3:09 am 
 

I've just checked my old TBH copies and can confirm that the original issue 1 had a pale blue cover which was more like paper than card, certainly nowhere near as thick as later issues.  It also featured the large bold "40P" on the front.  The print quality is not actually as bad as I remember it, although if you look at the "Deep" monster, for example,  some of the words should be very unclear.

Any inserts to the mag would have been done by shops, apart from the subscription slips that we tucked in.  These were added before the mag was stapled so they would normally sit between the cover sheet and the first page sheet.

The price on the reprints reflected the going price of the mag at the time the reprint was done.  Every time we asked the printer to produce more copies or do a rerun we had no control over the colour of the cover (it was down to whatever he had available) - however all copies produced within one specific rerun would be the same colour.  For example I think we did 3 reruns of issue one - blue (small 40p on the front), pale orange (as currently showing on ebay) and yellow.

I've no idea where Guy is these days and even googling him didn't help.  If anyone has any suggestions...?

  


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:13 am 
 

MikeStoner wrote:I've no idea where Guy is these days and even googling him didn't help.  If anyone has any suggestions...?

Mike, check your PM Inbox.

  


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:48 am 
 

Mike,  good to hear from you.  I was a big fan of TBH all those years ago, and regularly bought issues at my local games shop in Plymouth.  I still have a complete run of issues, although some are reprints.

I fondly remember playing and DMing some of the great scenarios, especially '16 Trader's Row', 'The Alchemist', 'The Gorge of the Afterlife' and others.  Great stuff!  The City State campaign adventure write-ups were really good too.

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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:09 am 
 

otherworld wrote:Mike,  good to hear from you.  I was a big fan of TBH all those years ago, and regularly bought issues at my local games shop in Plymouth.  I still have a complete run of issues, although some are reprints.

I fondly remember playing and DMing some of the great scenarios, especially '16 Trader's Row', 'The Alchemist', 'The Gorge of the Afterlife' and others.  Great stuff!  The City State campaign adventure write-ups were really good too.


i ran a campaign early last year and used "the gorge of the afterlife" in one of the side-adventures - was a real blast too.

i was recommended it by an old gaming buddy of mine and it turned out great - will use some of the others now as and when i can fit them into the campaign.

Al



  


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:01 am 
 

That would have been at "Chelsea Old Town Hall" if memory serves


That's right - eventually it moved to the Royal Agricultural Hall. Wasn't Dragonmeet later held at Chelsea Town Hall?

I totally lost touch with the D&D/fanzine world when I went to Uni


With the exception of Brian and Dom, that's pretty much my story too.  I'd hang out at the Lamb once in a while since it was a short tube ride away, and contributed to DDTS and Lokasenna but I really stopped playing RPG's when at university.

MShipley88:  
We US gamers never got the choice of fanzines that went around in the UK


Which is an interesting thing.  There was a grassroots fanzine movement in the UK - maybe that's a product of geography or something.  For a while it seemed like that there was a new magazine every convention.  Some didn't last long, like Illusionist's Vision, but there did seem to be an active 'scene' for a while.  

I recall being keen to get copies of The Dungeoneer and Alarums and Excursions, but never really heard about any other US fanzine publications.  I seem to remember there was some fuss about TSR enforcing copyright and much high dudgeon in many of the fanzine letter columns about how TSR didn't approve of fan publications and was trying to shut them down.  Don't know how much truth there was in this, but that might help account for the shortage of fanzines in the USA.

  


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:43 am 
 

Mike---

Do you know/recall the status of the rights to the content for Beholder?  Given that it seems to have been very well regarded, it would be cool to publisher an official CD archive of the Beholder.  Dragon did this a few years ago, and similar projects have been done by White Dwarf (in a limited fashion), and Different Worlds is looking at one as well.

There are some legal issues with respect to the rights of the authors to consider; Wizards of the Coast didn't when they published the Dragon archive, and as a result they ran into some legal difficulties with some of the contributors.  If Beholder owned the rights and/or had reprint rights (which it sounds like may well have been the case, given the number of reprints done for the first issue, for example), then an archive might be a very cool project to publish :D


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:27 pm 
 

grodog wrote:Mike---

Do you know/recall the status of the rights to the content for Beholder?  Given that it seems to have been very well regarded, it would be cool to publisher an official CD archive of the Beholder.  Dragon did this a few years ago, and similar projects have been done by White Dwarf (in a limited fashion), and Different Worlds is looking at one as well.

There are some legal issues with respect to the rights of the authors to consider; Wizards of the Coast didn't when they published the Dragon archive, and as a result they ran into some legal difficulties with some of the contributors.  If Beholder owned the rights and/or had reprint rights (which it sounds like may well have been the case, given the number of reprints done for the first issue, for example), then an archive might be a very cool project to publish :D

And thankfully not enough issues of TBH for PDFs to drive down the prices of later issues (he said hopefully  :? ).

If this does turn out to be a possibility, please let the forum know first.  It might be the decider to sell my originals.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:10 pm 
 

I don't think that a .pdf disk of The Beholder issues would drive down the value of the fanzines themselves.

1)  The original print runs were quite small.

2)  Middle range collectors such as myself would not have the capital to put into The Beholder...unless a collection were available....in which case we would be among the first buyers.

3)  Collectors who are already inclined to collect The Beholder would still want the actual publications.  (It was .pdfs that got me interested in collecting the real thing.)

4)  The original publishers of The Beholder are not making any money from it at the moment, so anyone with the right to publish stands to make some cash regardless of the collecting world.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:11 pm 
 

johnhuck wrote:If this does turn out to be a possibility, please let the forum know first.  It might be the decider to sell my originals.


it would be nice to have a CD with them all on as they are pretty damn hard to get, but saying that, i would still want to hunt down the originals anyway.

Al



  


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:23 pm 
 

killjoy32 wrote:
johnhuck wrote:If this does turn out to be a possibility, please let the forum know first.  It might be the decider to sell my originals.


it would be nice to have a CD with them all on as they are pretty damn hard to get, but saying that, i would still want to hunt down the originals anyway.

Al


I'd second that.


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