Friday, April 30, 2010

FAB Fanderson

It's FAB FRIDAY! And what better way to celebrate all things fabulous in the world of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson than to plug for FANDERSON!

Fanderson offers the FABulous world of all things Anderson as the official Gerry and Sylvia Anderson fan club. The club's magazine, FAB, offers in-depth analysis and interviews on the creators, directors, writers, producers and stars behind the works from the wonderful minds of Gerry and Sylvia like Thunderbirds, Space:1999, The Protectors and UFO to name a few of my personal favorites.

I have to confess I am now officially a member of the Fanderson fan club. The last time I actually signed up for a fan club was quite some time ago, and I thought it might have ended with the birth of children, but here I am still doing it. It's funny I tell you. It's all a rather strange enterprise to belong to an official fan club of anything.

My sexy Space:1999 girl Maya played by the lovely Catherine Schell for Year Two also notable for her role in Year One, Episode 8, Guardian Of Piri interviewed in FAB #42.
If you want to get something special regarding a movie star, music artist, television show, you'll have to join the fan clubs too. I had been eyeing the Fanderson club for quite some time unwilling to pull the trigger. I believe the American fan club counterpart is Andersonic. I'm uncertain if Andersonic is still active stateside. Anyway, there were a good number of items from Fanderson I was desperate to get my hot, little hands on, but really cringed at the thought of paying for another fan club's access. I mean, I am so over fan clubs [or so I thought]. My biggest fan club is my kids and I really don't have the time for other clubs. Unfortunately access to the good stuff is often held within the loving arms of these sincere and labor of love-filled clubs.

Despite my resistance, and it was futile, I relented and succumbed to official status. The holy grail of the Fanderson club, the official Gerry Anderson fan club, was a DVD produced by the group for UFO and the queen mother of science fiction, Space:1999. The DVD is called, drum roll please, Space:1999 UFO The Documentaries. Okay, not complicated and kind of makes sense. Leave it to the fan clubs to get right to the heart of the matter. Even FAB is filled with insightful, well-researched, fantastic information you simply wouldn't find in any off-the-rack UK publications that might dedicate even a mere paragraph to Gerry Anderson's productions, and this is one of their own. No stone is left unturned in recording the world of Gerry Anderson and the historical aspect of all those involved. Of course, I really wanted to see the DVD documentary on Space:1999 given it is graced with interviews from across the creative spectrum of that series in two parts. There's input from Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, Catherine Schell, Fred Freiberger, Derek Wadsworth and Zienia Merton in the flesh, not to mention scriptwriters Johnny Byrne and Christopher Penfold as well as Production Designer Keith Wilson and Visual Effects Supervisor Brian Johnson [the man behind the Eagle]. You'll also find the man himself, Gerry Anderson. This is about as close to a living document as you get with Barry Morse, Fred Freiberger, Derek Wadsworth and Johnny Byrne no longer with us and the rest of the cast not get any younger much like the rest of us. I was dying to see these aged creators to one of my all-time, favorite science fiction series present some of the behind-the-scenes stories and historical perspectives themselves up close and personal. If you can't make the convention circuit, this is as good as it gets.
As a bonus, my recent discovery of Ed Bishop and UFO has piqued my interest with each passing episode. Contributors to that documentary include Gerry Anderson, the late Ed Bishop, George Sewell, Dolores Mantez and Vladek Sheybal in person. Addition input comes by way of Production Designer Bob Ball and Visual Effects Supervisor Derek Meddings himself. What a real treat. I hope to learn more about these two amazing, live-action, science fiction classics that I simply may have overlooked along the way. Not to mention, the shows were released to the pop culture consciousness when fandom was but a mere cottage industry and the internet was a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye. Perhaps I will bring a few of the most interesting moments from those documentaries to you right here.
Additional DVD goodies include 45 minutes of extras including Derek Meddings: The Anderson Years, Space:1899 [a Victorian take on Space:1999], Message From Moonbase Alpha written by Johnny Byrne and starring Zienia Merton, Deleted Scenes and an interview with Prentis Hancock to name some of the highlights.
Ah, the world's greatest ship design graces the cover of FAB #48, the Eagle, in all her glory.
So, along with my membership, I also picked up a few of Fanderson's FAB magazine back issues. I can't say that I was overly excited about the fanzines. I had very low expectations. Well, can you say blown away? WOW! FABulous! Was I ever wrong!? Was I ever impressed! Yes, the creators behind FAB magazine, led by Editor/ Writer Chris Bentley, really assemble a high grade production. The splendid little book-sized magazine is fully loaded with black and white and full color series and behind-the-scenes images, lengthy interviews, thorough analysis, news, reviews, comics and much more. It is a highly entertaining read, especially while kicking back between cat fights on BRAVO's The Real Housewives. I must admit I am reinvigorated to order more of those back issues that I didn't purchase initially. They are that good! I picked up a few zines to try that included interviews with Catherine Schell [Space:1999], Martin Landau [Space:1999], Christopher Penfold [writer for Space:1999], Michael Billington [UFO] and more. The Fanderson publication is truly something special. The creators of the magazine really pay attention to the details and the writing and is easily a labor of genuine effort for all things Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. As far as fan clubs go, this is one of the finest I've ever seen.
FAB #46 features an outstanding interview with Martin Landau.
As I mentioned, I was not overly optimistic about joining a fan club. After all, once you join, you have to periodically rejoin and that is a right pain in the ass. Fanderson will give you everything you need to know on the classics. The work of Fanderson in many ways provides a dynamic, thoughtful historical outlet for all of the Gerry Anderson productions and is very much under the steady guidance of Chris Bentley and others. It's no wonder its officially sanctioned by the creators of these works.
As a teenager, I recall joining a few fan clubs along the way. Let me see if I can recall some of them. First, there was the EIS [Erasure Information Service] fan club for all things Erasure. I loved the crisp electronic creations of Andy Bell and Vince Clark and still enjoy them to this day [inspired to make a CD as we speak]. It's easy to see their influence on the likes of someone like Lady Gaga. Yes, I'm currently addicted to that irresistible female nutter. I did get a few nifty items along the way exclusive to the Erasure fan club. Admittedly, the EIS fanzine was NOT impressive early on, but the quality improved as it went forward.
I also joined the Pet Shop Boys [PSB] fan club for a time to receive the periodic Literally fanzine. Writer Chris Heath handled the writing chores for that quality fanzine. I also managed to get a few nifty PSB CD rarities for a time, but then some of it became available after the fact. Despite some of the music becoming available, I do think Literally, a fanzine book of superb quality, was worthy of admission.
There are so many others out there and I wish the rarer music was more easily available whether it be The Waterboys or someone else. I simply don't have the time or patience for joining fan clubs. I have patience mind you, but not for the process of joining fan clubs. Having said all that, fan clubs have their place in the fan community and I think they are exceptionally good fun when you love something as much as Space:1999 or Firefly or Erasure or what have you. Fanderson is very much a community and it made me rediscover the fun of fandom. I think Fanderson is one of the best examples of such a concept and it offers a superior product for fans.
So the Fanderson membership will hopefully bring some additional insights into the world of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson that I can share with you right here.

Since reading the FAB magazines I have recently updated the tail ends of a few Space:1999 entries and the background information on a number of cast members for those interested. Matter Of Life And Death and Guardian Of Piri have both received some additional information regarding the stars of Space:1999. I have also updated UFO, Computer Affair. Again, the magazine is a treasure trove of information on everything from the world of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, but you have to love their work if you really want to take time to appreciate these efforts. Had I the chance to conduct a few of these interviews myself I might attempt to plug a few missed opportunities. Nevertheless, there are few quibbles. These FAB fanzines are exhaustive, enlightening and comprehensive historical documents capturing all of the color and fun of the Anderson universe.
One year later...

Now, Sci-Fi Fanatic how about a renewal of your Fanderson membership? Tell me, I can't be the only big kid on this great, blue-green Earth. Sign me up.


Unknown said...

Wow, that was quite a post! I'm more of a casual fan of Anderson's work with CAPTAIN SCARLET definitely being my fave. I have watched that collection of all the episodes numerous times and appreciate it the more times I see it.

SFF said...

I hope you liked it. Thanks J.D. I was a bit brief this week with baseball going on.

This was short and sweet for me and it was still probably a bit verbose, but I have got a passion for Gerry. : )

I've never seen Captain Scarlet. Interesting. Coming from you that says alot to me.

Martin said...

Agreed, Fanderson's DVDs and magazine are exceptionally good.

A small correction: Andersonic- - is British (well, Scottish I think). It's not a fan club as such- just a quarterly fanzine.

SFF said...

Thanks for correction. I've never actually seen Andersonic, but it looks pretty nice. Thanks for that information here. We like accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Andersonic is in fact neither Scottish nor associated with an American fan club (I'd love to know where the Scottish link came from!). We're an independent fanzine with our own website) that publishes twice a year - but thanks for the mention!

SFF said...

My pleasure. Thanks again for the clarification on Andersonic! I'll be picking up a few issues soon to check it out. All the best.