FROM HECTO TO HYPERTEXT

Although it has been a long time since I started GROGGY, or even done any fanwriting, I recall the circumstances very clearly. It was 1978 and I was struck by an uncontrollable urge to publish. At the time I was attending school in New York, living in a fifth floor walk-up in Cobble Hill. My windows faced away from nearby Manhattan. My view was Brooklyn's tarred rooftops and at night the lights strung along the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, twinkling like Christmas decorations in the July haze. I had been involved in Fandom for half a dozen years receiving, reading and responding to fanzines. That had been enough, but then my favorite zine, Donn Brazier's monthly TITLE ended its run. Suddenly I needed a fanzine of my own.

It had something to do with the alien environment in which I found myself. Not just the city - so dirty and noisey and frantic, albeit exciting, to someone used to country - but also to the equally alien, and less exciting, environment of New York Law School. I needed a place where I could examine my beliefs, affirm my own way of looking at the world.

Mimeo was still the favored medium for fanzine production. But I couldn't afford a new one and wasn't resourceful enough to find an old one, although my search led me up worn staircases to dusty graveyards of obsolete technological marvels, none of which turned out to be a workable mimeograph, whatever else they might have been.

I settled on a hectograph. A shallow pan of tough gelatine. I brewed it myself on the stove, mixing in glycerine according to a formula found in an old World Book Encyclopedia. You wet the gelatine, and press down onto its surface a master - made by tracing on the backs of ditto masters. (actual hecto inks being nearly as hard to find as a living dinosaur) The gelatine absorbs some of the ink and releases it slowly. You press a clean sheet down. let it sit for a moment, then pull it off. There's your picture or your written words. The first copy is of startling intensity. The second less so. You get maybe 25 good copies, 25 poor ones. After a while the gelatine begins to bubble and tear away from the pan. As with ditto the predominate color in hectography is purple. And it's a hands on process so you end up with purple fingers. Purple fingerprints on the table, and your tea cup, and door frames. The first issue of GROGGY went out to 39 people. Yeah, I remember the exact number.

So that's how the zine started and now I've moved from hecto to hypertext. And by the way, if you want to see some real, authentic and beautiul hecto work, with inks, check out these examples from Mae Strelkov .

© 2000 Eric Mayer

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