Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Oxygen Destroyer: The Magazine of Japanese Animation Hell

Long, long ago--why, it's been nearly two days!--Dave Merrill once pointed out "the great thing about Usenet is that every embarrassing, ranty message is preserved forever and ever for our continuing entertainment." Fanzines, APAs, and all that other pesky print stuff make it such that the follies of one's wasted youth may be forever forgotten once the issue vanishes. And that'd just be a shame, wouldn't it! With that in mind, my fellow AWO cohosts Gerald and Clarissa took it upon themselves to begin an Otaku Archive, a scanning project for the preservation of all those con program guides, fanzines, newsletters, posters, badges, and such from the infancy days of US anime fandom before the advent of the World Wide Web. You know, like what Dave's talking about in today's Let's Anime post.

After a year and change the website's still not live due to concerns about "content management systems," but after some prodding from "Battlehork" James by way of the establishment of this Flickr group, it was decided that in the meantime the fruits of their labors thus far could be viewed here. As you can see, each thing scanned is available in multiple sizes ranging from "I can't read this because it's too small" to "I can't read this because it's too big"! Don't worry, there's also "I can read this!" sizes available, which is why special thanks are due to the Archduke of [Anime] Hell Ryan Gavigan for contributing many things, including this beaut:

Yep, before the days of this blog that you're reading RIGHT NOW there was Oxygen Destroyer, so named after the big ol' dry ice bomb used against Godzilla. Put together by a host of luminaries such as Dave Merrill, Matt Murray, and CB Smith of Corn Pone Flicks infamy (say, 2009 is one of them big deal anniversary years!), these guys must have been like, twenty or so at the time. With headlines such as "FIRST NATIONAL ANIME CONVENTION A SMASH!" declaring Project A-Kon a riveting success due to the premiere of The Making of the Star Dipwads, there is no way this should be allowed to fall into the annals of history! Also included is a Star Blazers fanfic, reviews (which despite being written like 20 years ago strikes me as more rad than what I'm writing TODAY), THE TRUTH about conventions, and an ad for the Animeigo release of Riding Bean! Say, that's what the next AWO is about!

And on that note, perhaps nothing for me illustrates "history repeats itself [try and you'll succeed...]" more than Oxygen Destroyer's opening manifesto, which so closely echoes that of both the Anime World Order podcast and Otaku USA Magazine which came on the scene over a decade and change afterwards:
Anime fandom has come a long way from the early days - the modern availability of animation far surpasses the existing documentation. In other words, there's lots of anime but not much knowledge. We are going to try to be something more than just another anime fanzine, full of traced artwork and yet another Z GUNDAM episode guide. The object, very simply, is to publish a magazine that we would want to read.
Despite owning a scanner myself, I have not so much as lifted one finger to aid in this endeavor since I don't have anything anyway. In fact, neither do Gerald and Clarissa because we weren't in anime fandom at the time! So here's my contribution to the cause: much like all those conventions Rob Fenelon staffed back in the day as well as Oxygen Destroyer itself, the success of the Otaku Archive now hinges upon YOU, dear reader, so check out the initial batch of scans (currently unorganized, but once the site goes live there'll be tags and stuff!), get those forgotten relics from out of the attic / garage / closet where they've been buried, head on over to the Anime World Order homepage and send us an email! AND TELL 'EM DARYL SENT YA.

Feel free to direct folks here from message boards, mailing lists, or wherever you think people might be interested. Heck, you could post it on Usenet!


Tohoscope said...

How about I box up all the zines and APAs and dittos and mail 'em to you to scan?

d. merrill said...

Oxygen Destroyer was designed by Scott Weikert using his Mac Classic and one of those little handheld scanners that you had to pull across the image. Man, was I opinionated! I got an irate letter from an Animecon rep after I wrote in a later issue about how the Red Lion Inn was charging people $25 to hook VCRs up to the TVs. Animecon had its own color stationery letterhead, BTW. Too bad they only did one convention.

Carl said...

Yasuhiro Takeda has a few things to say about AnimeCon from General Products' perspective in his THE NOTENKI MEMOIRS. Basically, putting together cons is in the blood of Gainax (it's sort of how they all got together in college), but Takeda regrets that a lot of their newly-hired staff in 1991 were basically treating AnimeCon as a U.S. vacation, rather than pitching in.

Incidentally, this is part of the reason Gainax gets along so well with FanimeCon, because Fanime, as the name implies, has done a good job of staying close to "we're doing this because we're fans" (one trick to doing this is to recruit staff from student anime clubs, people whose energy and enthusiasm is fresh). And Gainax makes good guests for the same reason. If they see some staffer running around in a panic because a sudden crisis came up, they're not going to tut-tut--many of them have *been* that staffer at some past Japanese con.

The San Jose Red Lion (which is now the Doubletree, I think) was the top venue for fan conventions in the Bay Area until the mid-90s. Toren Smith helped put together at least three major anime shows at the big regional SF con held at the Red Lion, BayCon, including the mind-blowing BayCon '86 program. That last show was right before he went to Japan to make his successful bid to start Studio Proteus, and the first time I ever stayed overnight at a con (I was 15).

The last con I went to at the Red Lion was Anime America '96: the second strangest con I've ever attended (the first was Otakon '95). Both of them had that bathyscaphe feeling, of being in a chamber that was sinking, sinking, sinking away from the light of the world.

I remember being on the outdoor walkway at Anime America when we'd just got word about the bombing at the Olympics. People started saying in all seriousness "Oh yeah, it was all planned by the NWO, the coup d'etat's gonna be tomorrow," and I suddenly realized I was surrounded by militia types. Come to think of it, the first I ever heard about that movement was from some vendor in the dealer's room at BayCon '85. I mentioned I was in driver's ed at high school, and he started talking about how as a "sovereign citizen," he didn't need a driver's license. It's a good thing I actually liked driver's ed (as it was held in a big lecture hall where you could draw manga well out of view of the teacher), or I might have inquired further and ended up on a compound in Idaho. Has anyone else run into political radicals of some stripe at a con or anime club, or is it just me?


Christian said...

Awesome stuff. I got a message from Dr. Surat about this and I'm glad to see the gears are turning. I've got a relatively small stash of some stuff from the early-to-mid-90's I'll root through as soon as I can. It's mostly old mail-order catalogs and flyers, but I'm pretty sure there are some old zines in there too.

Dang, I wonder if my old club still has any of the old zines we'd collected back in the day. Conveniently, someone that's currently in the club contacted me recently.

Chris Sobieniak said...

I feel ashamed I never had a fanzine at all! :-(