Information moves at a snail’s pace in the world of zines. I only recently learned that long-time fanzine publisher Cuyler Warnell “Ned” Brooks, Jr. passed away on August 31 at the age of 77. He was working on his house in Lilburn, GA when the ladder slipped out from under him and he struck his head. Ned was involved in self-publishing for six decades.
He published many titles over the years, the most well-known being his bimonthly zine It Comes in the Mail which ran for 28 issues in the 1970s. In Ned’s own words: “[It Comes in the Mail] worked on the basis that I would comment on everything pertaining to science-fiction and science-fiction fandom that I got in the mail. It died of success – with only an electric typewriter and a mimeograph machine, I could not keep up – the larger the zine got, the more came in the mail.”
I always looked forward to his zine It Goes on the Shelf which he started in 1985. IGOTS was mostly made up of Ned’s comments about the thousands of strange, obscure books that filled his home.
cover of IGOTS #28 by Brad Foster
Every time I sent out a new issue of a zine Ned was always, without fail, the first person to respond. His letters were filled with interesting anecdotes and fascinating tidbits of information on obscure subjects. I still had the last letter he sent me sitting on my desk, unanswered, when I heard the news that he had passed away.
Ned, a lifelong bachelor, worked for Nasa for 39 years as a wind tunnel engineer. In an interview with Ned that appeared in the first issue of this humble little zine, he told me how he stumbled into fandom:
“In 1949 in Chile I bought the first issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction off a newsstand. Then, in the 1950s an aunt gave me a subscription to ASTOUNDING/ANALOG. By 1961 I was out of college and working for NASA in Hampton VA, and in one of the digest-size prozines – there was also GALAXY, AMAZING, IF, etc – I noticed a small classified ad. It read:
“Discover Fandom! – send $2.”
“This was placed in such magazines by a man named Seth Johnson. Fanzine publishers sent him their zines – people who sent $2 got a stack of recent fanzines.”
It wasn’t long before Ned acquired a spirit duplicator and then a mimeo and began to publish. After he retired he helped many others with their projects and research by scanning artwork, sharing his knowledge of the history of fandom and being even more generous with his time than ever before. Ned had a will and his collection of roughly 12,000 fanzines, apazines and convention program books will be going to the University of California at Riverside for posterity. According to George Beahm, the executor of Ned’s will, the collection weighs in at over one ton. A home is still being sought for Ned’s collection of roughly 300 vintage typewriters.
Ned’s website is still up and running. You can read all 36 issues of It Goes on the Shelf here: http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/IGOTS/
Ned in the mid-1970s from file770.com
“I have been buying on average a book a day for the last 50 years and shelf space is getting tight. I am not likely to be cured of the addiction…” – Ned Brooks