Fanzine Spotlight: SMOF News

Hugo season is upon us and nominations for the 2023 Hugo Awards have opened, so my Fanzine and Fancast Spotlight project continues as well. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here. And if you need more Hugo nomination inspiration, also check out my series of Non-Fiction Spotlights and Semiprozine Spotlights.

On of the most enjoyable things about the Fanzine and Fancast Spotlights has been to discover that there is a  huge range of fanzines and fancasts on any SFF-related subject imaginable. Case in point: The subject of today’s spotlight is a fanzine that focusses on convention news.

Therefore, I am happy to welcome Petréa Mitchell of SMOF News to my blog today:

Tell us about your site or zine.

SMOF News is a weekly newsletter about geek-oriented fan conventions, published every Wednesday evening (Pacific time). A typical issue is divided into four parts:

1) The big news of the week, or, if there isn’t any, informational articles about various aspects of cons.
2) News in brief, for minor news and routine items like Convention Adds Guest, Fan Fund Opens Voting, or (sadly) Convention Goes on Indefinite Hiatus.
3) Worldwide convention listings for the next five weekends.
4) One interesting link which does not necessarily have anything to do with conventions.

The overall tone it aims for is “industry newsletter”.

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

Just me and anyone kind enough to send me news tips or letters of comment.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

There was an unfilled niche. I used to contribute to a convention news blog, Con News, and didn’t have enough spare time to take it over when the editor had to give it up. Convention-related news doesn’t get much attention from more general fannish news sources unless it’s the editor’s home convention or one they’re attending that’s affected.

I’m one of the lucky people who suddenly had a lot more time on their hands when the world switched to remote work, and in late 2020 I got to thinking about that unfilled niche and what kind of publication I could create to fill it.

What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?

Substack newsletter. Yes, I am aware of the concerns about who Substack offers a platform to. I looked around, and my other options were either Substack-like features being offered by social media companies, which had been knowingly profiting from bigoted content for far longer than Substack has been around, or pay-to-publish outfits which had no content filter at all. With no unbigoted platforms to choose from, I chose to endorse the one that I think has the healthiest model for paying writers (although SMOF News is 100% free).

I picked Wednesdays for publishing because if anything big happens at a weekend convention, there will usually be multiple accounts of it, official statements, and so forth available by Wednesday.

The fanzine category at the Hugos is one of the oldest, but also the category which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines and sites are important?

Because they are fandom. Conventions are just the parties where fandom gets together.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?

Pretty much like now.

The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?

I have subscribed to a zillion convention-specific newsletters, and my favorite so far is Metropol Con’s, Das Krähende Schwein/The Crowing Pig, because it usually contains items of general interest to sf fans that I wouldn’t have read about anywhere else.

For my fellow anime fans, I’d like to point out Sakuga Blog, which is primarily about appreciating the art of anime, but which has also become an important source for learning about the working conditions for animators in Japan; and Day With the Cart Driver, which you can count on for solid reviews and hilarious season previews.

Where can people find you?

Read and subscribe to the newsletter:
Or, if you prefer RSS:

Thank you, Petréa, for stopping by and answering my questions.

Do subscribe to SMOF News for all your convention news needs.


Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast or a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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