Friday 2 March 2012

The Lankhmar Star Daily

It’s nearly the anniversary of the Lankhmar Star Daily, thirty years since the now almost-forgotten fanzine rocked society to the core.  Founded in Cornwall, its first incarnation drew on the popular-culture of the very early 80s for those that missed the 60s to cling to the 70s with bloodied and rather dirty fingernails. Since in 1982 it was still 1973 in Cornwall this was rather easier than perhaps the scathing critics and later Lord Chancellors knew. Certainly when I visited a couple of years later cars were horse-drawn and young men went to work in tin mines wearing striped loons, or practised being old by spending the day in a library composed of yellow paperbacks reading the paper.
Closed down by issue 3, the Lankhmar Star Daily (curiously and still proclaimed to this day as an accident  regarding the initials) was forced to move to Bournemouth and the exploding hippy scene there amongst a Christchurch Road that mostly sold litter. Still facing charges of obscenity (later acquitted) the mysterious editor ‘Adeptus Magus’ living on cheap beans and listening to home-taped music re-launched the ‘fanzine of dissent’ on April fool’s day, selling 6000 copies by lunchtime. Challenging the law on homosexuality, tight trousers, Kate Bush, and the ongoing war in Vietnam some thought it had something to do with role-playing-games when a typo replaced ELP with RPG.
It was here that the multi-author franchise fiction Hurry On Sundown was born where with very few exceptions stories were written by a widely spread band of thin, hairy people but which was described by the then Lord Chancellor as ‘a wankfest’. He still contributed though. The still unnamed Adeptus Magus was joined towards the end of its run by the equally shadowy ‘Great ArgleBargle’ who wrote a lot about punch cards for computers and how to make a Nuclear device. Sundown was picked up as you doubtless know by Trident Comics which is why the Adeptus Magus is now more popularly known for his long run on Batman, the Black Canary, and famously the twelve issue miniseries lauded by Alan Moore  Three Wax – the story of a belly dancer, a valkyrie and Kate Moss fighting crime in a post-modern tale of psychedelic superhero nudity. And very good it is too. 
For myself I came on board during the still legendary Schoolkids Of LSD issue. Before this point I had only made any sort of contribution by getting noted in the Player’s Handbook alongside small iron spike and small leather pouch, the inclusion of Small Homosexual Tendency. An inclusion that saw the whole run withdrawn by TSR. It wasn’t much of an issue, not much of my stuff made it in since those similarly ungifted lads in their mid teens were insistent on the issue being about sexism, the role of women in gaming, and poetry about why don’t the nice girls like me?
In these days of instant... blogs, it’s hard to imagine a time when fanzines fulfilled that role. Typed, pasted, photocopied and sent out in envelopes it took effort and dedication to do. And the LSD was by far the best of them, especially those that tried to do exactly the same thing but not nearly so well.      

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