Today’s featured fanzine is The Full Lid, a newsletter edited by two time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer Alasdair Stuart.
So I’m thrilled to welcome Alasdair Stuart to my blog.
The Full Lid is a weekly pop culture newsletter. It goes out at 5pm UK time every Friday, so that folks can have something nice in their inbox at the end of the week. Rocking up as we are on a year in near-lockdown, that release date now works as well as a means of marking the passage of time.
I cover the full range of pop culture: movies, games, TV shows, RPGs, podcasts, music, concerts (when those were a thing), radio shows, food. The one proviso is it has to be something I encountered and enjoyed in the last week.
Who are the people behind your site or zine?
I’m the writer, but always happy to have guests join in. Past folks include Andrew Reid, Hugo award winning Matt Wallace, Dark Crystal (AND OCTONAUTS!) writer Margaret Dunlap, and amazing editor and writer Chloe Yates. Editing is by Marguerite Kenner, my partner in all things who is both amazing and has the power to make my words look amazing.
Why did you decide to start your site or zine?
I had it gently and affectionately pointed out to me that there was no reason not to. I’d had a lot of frustrations with freelance projects at that point (multiple projects paid years late, another company going insolvent, etc). So one day I made a joke about what my newsletter would be and 50 ‘I’d read that’ emails later I realised I had an audience if I wanted to do it. And I did. I took Matt Wallace’s words about building your own platform to heart and started building mine.
The other point I want to make here is that I wanted to build something I couldn’t — and wouldn’t — monetize. I was going to write these pieces as much for me as anyone else, but I didn’t want to put myself under financial pressure. Which is a good thing – we all know the ridiculously complex knot that is ‘fan writing’ and ‘compensation’.
What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, email newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?
I use Mailchimp, which is easy to put together, flexible enough for the types of media I like to share, and forgiving in terms of cost. I also run a paid supplement, Full Lid Plus, which at the moment, is on Substack but will be relaunching later this year on a different platform. The goal with Full Lid Plus is to earn enough in subscriptions to cover the costs of the (seemingly ever growing number of) streaming services I use to source my reviews.
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?
Comic writer Kieron Gillen once described UK conventions like Nine Worlds and Thought Bubble as the petri dishes where the future is made. That perfectly reflects the best about the fan categories: an incredible, never-ending parade of amazingly talented and diverse writers taking risks. It’s an innovation engine, and in 2020 we learned how much hope and escapism those categories can provide.
In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?
I think we’re on the cusp off something really lovely there. The newsletter and email bump we;ve seen over the last couple of years is going to continue and I’m seeing early signs of print finding new avenues too. Services like itch,io enable indie press creators to realise physical editions of their games and once that sort of functionality steps across to zines (Which just takes someone to do it) the fanzine is going to be what it always needed to be in the 21st century; simultaneously a nice thing to own and the physical part of a larger, digital/physical hybrid publication.
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. Do you have any recommendations for any of the fan categories?
Good grief do I ever!
Fanzines: Most of my picks here are my fellow newsletter writers: Aidan Moher, Andrew Liptak and Kameron Hurley have all been doing excellent work in the field for a while. Jason Sanford’s Genre Grapevine is great. Sarah Gailey’s pivoting of Stone Soup into a community as much as a newsletter is absolutely brilliant and deserving of wider recognition. Regarding publications with teams, I’d say Nerds of a Feather have been doing some amazing work for some time and I have nothing but love for SciFI Bulletin too.
Writers: Adri Joy, Aidan Moher, Paul Weimer, Xalavier Nelson Junior, SpaceSquid, Maria Haskins, Charles Payseur, I could fill pages here, they’re all so good! Adri Joy is a relentless campaigner for positive change in the field. Likewise Aidan Moher, whose video game work is exceptionally good. Paul Weimer is a pillar in the fan writing community, and he’s suffered at times for it. Maria Haskins and Charles Payseur do exceptional work in reviewing. Finally, Ciaran ‘Zalia’ Roberts is another one of those incredible dedicated individuals who quietly build and sustain communities. She’s best known for her work with Six To Start and in the Rusty Quill community, but has been instrumental in organizing and maintaining all sorts of fan communities. Sooner or later someone in fandom is going to notice what Ciaran can do and give her a budget and then we’ll see something truly amazing I’m sure.
Artists: I’m less well versed here but an artist whose work I’ve really enjoyed lately is Andrew Mercator, part of the Neighbourly Podcast team.
Fancasts: Breaking the Glass Slipper, Claire Rousseau’s various projects, and Brave New Words top my list. I’ve only listened to a few Tales from the Trunk but I loved them.
Where can people find you?
The best all-in-one for links is my Carrd — https://alasdairstuart.carrd.co/. I’m on Twitter the most (@AlasdairStuart), daily on TikTok, weekly on Twitch and of course The Full Lid. The other good hub is my website — www.alasdairstuart.com.
Thanks for having me!
Thanks, Alasdair, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do subscribe to The Full Lid, cause it’s a great newsletter.
Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.