Friday, January 7, 2022

FFMagazines: SPECIAL REPORT: FICTION May-July 1990: "Humor" issue; edited by Keith Bellows: contributions by Harvey Jacobs, Elizabeth Berg, Roy Blount, Jr., et al. (in progress)

Special Report: Fiction, May-July 1990, no volume nor issue numbers, Humor issue. William S. Rukeyser, editor-in-chief; Keith Bellows, editor; Elise Nakhnikian, managing editor (Whittle Communications, $3.50--though not known ever to be distributed to newsstands, individual issues were offered for sale, including postage, for that amount, with a four-issue yearly subscription for $14), 70pp plus covers, 10.5x14" full-color slick with heavier-grade slick paper covers. Cover photograph by Philip Saltonstall; another on the TOC on page 1.

2 * Letters: Ramsey Campbell, complimenting the fantastica issue, August-October 1989/"Another Dimension", which reprinted his story "Little Man" (originally in Night Cry, Winter 1986); also letters from Donna D. Vitucci, Pamela Kennedy, Lillian J. Taylor, Andrea Cirillo, Ann Shields, Lottie T. Caldwell, and Sarah Aronson
5 * In This Issue: What's So Funny? *  The Editors* ed/cs (illus. as a comic strip by Joey Waldon) 
7 * Salvation Sunday * Liz Newall * ss (illus. Laura Levine)
12 * Liz Newall * anon * bi (photo by Brian Dressler)
14 * About Men * Jay Neugeboren * vi (illus. Dudley Reed)
16 * Jay Neugeboren * anon * bi (photo by Chris Wade)
19 * The Poet Lariat * Roy Blount, Jr. * poems about Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Donne, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Jonathan Swift, Stephen King, William Faulkner * gp/hu (illus. Edward Sorel)
23 * Second Thoughts * Elizabeth Berg * ss  (illus. Cary Bartholomew)
31 * Elizabeth Berg * anon * bi  (photo by John Goodman)
33 * 3 Faces of Fiction  (Humor, Mysteries, Romance) * Walter Gurbo * cartoons
34 * Because It Was There * Harvey Jacobs * ss (illus. John Craig)
40 * Harvey Jacobs * anon * bi (photo by Patrick Harbron)
43 * Pequod II * Frank Gannon * hu (illus. Robert de Michiell)
46 * Hotline! * William Price Fox * ss (illus. Karen Kuehn)
55 * William Price Fox * anon * bi (photo by Brian Dressler)
57 * Punch Lines * gp/hu (excerpts) 
57 * Bred Men Don't Wear Checks * P. G. Wodehouse * ex (from The World of Jeeves, Harper & Row 1967) (illus. Tom Bachtell)
57 * Easy Come, Easy Go * Elmore Leonard * ex (from Labrava, Arbor House 1983) 
57 * Dinner's in the Freezer * Calvin Trillin * ex (from "Barnett Frummer Learns to Distinguish Packaged Paprika From the Real Article" The New Yorker 31 March 1967/Barnett Frummer is an Unbloomed Flower E. P. Dutton 1971) (illus. Tim Lewis)
57 * Remedies that Stink * Mark Twain * ex (from "Curing a Cold" The Golden Era 20 September 1863) (illus. Robert Andrew Parker) 
58 * Till Flirting Do Us Part * "Groucho" Marx * ex (from "Private Life" in The Groucho Letters Simon & Schuster 1967) (illus. Robert Andrew Parker)
58 * Shall We Dance? * Dorothy Parker * ex (from "The Waltz" The New Yorker 2 September 1933
58 * Lonely at the Top * Gracie Allen * ex ("If you don't have time to cultivate all your friendships, plow under every fifth one.") from How to Become President Duell, Sloan and Pearce 1940
58 * Children We're Stuck With * Fran Liebowitz * ex (from Metropolitan Life E. P. Dutton 1978) (illus. Tim Lewis)
58 * The Trick to Toy Assembly * S. J. Perelman * ex (from "Insert Flap A and Throw Away" The New Yorker 5 February 1944) (illus. Tom Bachtell)
60 * The Long Fly Ball * Bill Bickel * ss (illus. Steve Carver)
65 * Bill Bickel * anon * bi (photo by Joyce Ravid) ("Bickel, now 35, lives in Hillside, NJ"--thus born 1955, NYC, raised in Yonkers and spent most of his adult life in Northern NJ...thanks to Dennis Lien, I've learned he died on 16 September 2020. Obituary/remembrance on his Comics I Don't Understand site)
68 * Elsewhere in Special Reports * house ad for the other Special Report: magazines, about health, sports, etc., part of a line of quarterly magazines sold primarily to and for doctors' offices.
70 * Passages * ex from a story/article in each Special Reports: current issue * house ad

A review of the contents will be posted tomorrow (or, really, later today)...even given the relative difficulty in trying to strike a balance between the types of humorous writing, this issue is reasonably successful, even if the cover was the worst I saw on an issue of Special Report: Fiction during its brief run, if more in concept than execution. The image below is more "bleached" than my copy's front cover. 

Bickel's story is a baseball fantasy; the Jacobs story is a well-turned satire on corporate dissembling; the Newall story a gently funny account of church-based romance. More post-sleep.

images courtesy layout designer William Grimes

Previous index and review here:

Incomplete contents of two previous issues:
Special Report: Fiction November 1989-January 1990: Growing Up Female
A Single Ounce of Good * Kaye Gibbons * ex A Virtuous Woman Algonquin Books 1989
In the Courtyard of the Five Julias * Anna Monardo * ss 
--from references in the letter column detailed above

Special Report: Fiction August-October 1989: Another Dimension
Little Man * Ramsey Campbell * ss  from Night Cry Winter 1986 (as noted above)
I Just Kept Staring at the Rock * Bill Bickel * vi --cited in his bio blurb indexed above; Bickel in ISFDB and in the Fictionmags Index

Publisher Chris Whittle standing in front of first-issue cover images from other Special Report: magazine titles: Health. Living. Family. Whittle had been publisher of Esquire.


George said...

Magazines like this seem to have totally disappeared. Instead, we have some blogs and podcasts attempting to fill this gap.

Todd Mason said...

Well...this one was on some Very shaky financial ground. And it caught up with them. McSWEENEY'S is probably the closest thing to the SPECIAL REPORT: FICTION project and its siblings active now...though I should Go Look at McSWEENEY'S to see how they're doing...