I'm pleased to present this retrospective of Harry Bell's fan art at eFanzines. Rob Jackson, who compiled and produced the original print edition, explains how it came about in his introduction below. Nine years later, the fannish cameraderie of the IntheBar email group continues, and has resulted in the resurgence of many fanzines, and also in several small conventions.
Rob Jackson writes (October 2006, with August 2015 updates):
Bellissimo! is a collection of the very best of Harry Bell’s artwork in fanzines over the past forty years.
Harry has been known for years for his cartooning skills, his fannish wit and sense of humour, and his eye for line and detail, among many other qualities. He started with his own fanzine, Grimwab, in the Sixties, but really came to notice in the Seventies as part of the Newcastle/Sunderland group, Gannet-fandom, who were one of the most productive groups of fanzine fans around then. (I know, I walked round our dining room table many times collating quite a lot of those fanzines.) With the growing links with US fandom at that time as well as better fanzine reproduction, he helped set new standards for layout and visual humour in British fanzines. And we had fun, dammit.
But the artwork is not the only fannish stuff he's been doing. Since 2004, he has been the laid-back host of a uniquely active fannish email group. With understandable obeisance to alcohol, this is called IntheBar. It has brought a number of talented fans (and me) back into fannish activity again after too long a break. The warmth, friendship, and stimulus to discussion, generated in this group – or rather regenerated, as many of the members are experienced SF fans some of whom have been part of fandom since as far back as the Fifties – has been pretty much unique. This is down to Harry’s laid-back, accepting style as a Moderator of the group.
Why was this collection published? It supported a campaign to help Harry get to Corflu in Austin, Texas in February 2007, which proved very successful, and the portfolio is now available here for a wider audience. Quite a lot of these pieces count as rarities – they are from some obscure fanzines, some fairly exclusive ones and even some unpublished pieces, as well as the best-known ones.
And the other contributors to this introduction can also say why they like his stuff. Over to them….
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