By D.K. Holm
We live in the Era of the Nerd. It is now considered okay to be openly smart about obscure and deeply specific subjects. Attention to detail is the new sexy. And with the rise of the World Wide Web, deep and detailed information on obscure topics that were once the preserve of English eccentrics puttering in their libraries or guys from the AV department can now be found on dedicated websites.
Before the website, though, there was the fanzine, a sort of samizdat for apolitical goofballs. The first fanzine was created by a bunch of science fiction nerds in 19301, and soon the format (usually an 8x10 sized mimeographed and stapled publication, distributed in trade to other fanzine manufacturers) proved an attractive forum for specialists in horror movies, comic books, rock music, and later, punk rock. Subsequently, the punk movement became instrumental in the rise of the 'zine, the fanzine's more aggressive offspring. The 1980s were partially defined by the 'zine - and there were so many of them that the format even had its own trade journal, Factsheet Five.2
If the fanzine can be broadly defined as a celebratory publication composed by appreciative specialists of an obscure topic, then the 'zine was an obnoxious scream of rebellion against the bland Reagan 80s.3 But the 'zine was also rather liberally defined: Scooped into its net were all manner of publications - including a few circulated to smoke shops and newsagents via conventional national magazine distributors.
Video Watchdog is such a magazine.
From its digest-sized dimensions, its colorfully illustrated slick pages and overall professional appeal, there is no doubt that Video Watchdog is a magazine. But in subject matter, its heritage lies clearly in the fanzine.4
Video Watchdog is the brainchild of Tim Lucas, and Tim Lucas is the King of the Nerds. He is a man whose attention to detail has recently ushered forth his magnum opus, the ultimate nerd testimony to a beloved subject, the book All the Colors of the Dark - Lucas's definitive, 1,128-page critical biography of Mario Bava, the Italian horror director.
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