where the term "Where Fandom Meets" comes into play! The BPP (Blue Plague Publications) is a long time organization, The following is their history which is rather interesting. After which go to the link (logo) and see what you like. So enjoy..and tell them INTER-FAN sent you!
A HISTORY OF THE BPP
Written by Steve Keeter
It all began in 1968, when Carl Gafford, publisher of MINOTAUR, came up with an idea. He wanted to start a small press (or “fanzine,” as all small press comics were called in those days) co-op... a group for trading and promoting homespun comics and zines. There had been other self-publishing groups in the past: primarily, apas-- Amateur Press Alliances, which had a central mailer. In an apa, each group member printed up 30 to 50 copies of a fanzine, and then mailed them to the Central Mailer, or CM. The CM would then compile all the smaller zines into one huge zine and mail it out to members of the group. But Carl’s idea was different: there would be no central mailer. Each member would publish and distribute his/her own works, and each memberzine would carry a symbol identifying it as a group member, and a checklist of available group titles as promotional free advertising for the group. And this new type of small press group, which was NOT an apa, was to be called a “co-op.”
Carl created a symbol for this first co-op, a plaque with the letters “BPP” on it. And the BPP stood for Blue Plaque Publications.
Gafford felt that small press publishers, as artists and writers not in the mainstream of the comics world, should be constantly striving to produce better and more respectable works, so he emphasized a certain level of quality for memberzines to adhere to. Thus he came up with the wording, in the original indicia: “BPP polices its own ranks and should a member zine sink below the level of quality allowed, it is swiftly expelled.” This may seem harsh today, and in fact this statement was later abandoned, but one has to understand it in the context of the times. In the ‘60s, the entire comics industry was striving for acceptance among the mature adult crowd, comics were looked down upon as “kid stuff,” and badly produced fanzines were laughed at and labeled “crudzines” by other small pressers-- who were working hard to achieve respectability with their products. So, Carl’s intentions were actually pretty noble.
Gaff (as he was called back then) proceeded to launch his group, and its BPP NEWSLETTER, by contacting a number of the finest small press publishers of the day and inviting them to join. And join they did: such now legendary publishers as Gordon Matthews (publisher of the boldly experimental COFFINWORM), Artie “Ed” Romero (who produced an early offset fanzine of great quality called REALM), Chuck Robinson II (COMIQUE, one of the finest ditto zines ever published), Laney Loftin, Charlie Smith, Mike Raub, Steve Shipley (he pubbed TOUCHE #1 with Gaff’s help, and would, years later, become well-known for his DYNAMITE title), the fine writer Dwight Decker, and more.
Most of these comics and zines were published by the now-long-abandoned ditto, or spirit duplicating, process. This is a process that some of you may recall from the old high school days-- a ditto master (carbon paper and white backing) is placed on a spinning drum which makes contact with paper being fed through the machine, and an alcohol-based solution causes the ink from the carbon to stick to the paper. Voila! Cheap printing! As offset printing was very expensive in the 1960s and early 1970s, and photocopy was only just beginning and hadn’t been perfected yet, this was the printing method of choice for most comics self-publishers.
Carl Gafford, as Chairman of the BPP, spearheaded this ground-breaking co-op for several years. He even took on the mantle of Central Printer for some time, offering printing services (via his trusty spirit duplicator, which younger brother-- and current BPP member-- Sam Gafford fondly recalls to this day) to members who couldn’t afford their own spirit duplicators. This was abandoned when it got to be too much of a chore.
Carl published an occasional BPP NEWSLETTER, with co-op news, info, a group constitution, an up-to-date checklist and roster, and artwork and letters from the membership. 6 issues in all were published, and these are now so rare, it’s uncertain if even Gafford himself still has copies. This writer remembers reading through Chuck Robinson’s NL copies, when I met Chuck in the early 70s (he lived in my hometown of Edenton, North Carolina at the time), and, in retrospect, my meeting with Robinson turned out to be fateful indeed... but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
By the early 1970s, Carl was growing tired of the work involved in running a co-op, and had begun setting his sights on a potential professional comics career (which was to soon achieve fruition with his hiring as colorist for DC COMICS). This, compared with some major personal problems, led to his decision to disband the BPP in early 1972. At the very end, he wrote a moving letter to Chuck Robinson II in which he painfully detailed the reasons for his decision... a letter which I was privileged to read. CBRII made it a point to show it to me, because not only was it a notification of the demise of a great small press organization, but it also announced that the final 3 applicants to the group-- Mark Proskey, Frank Miller (yes, THE Frank Miller), and Steve Keeter-- had been voted in as Official Members.
I was stunned, for sure. Here I was in the process of assembling my first BPP zine, OM #1, and Chuck Robinson had even drawn up a cover with the BPP symbol on it, and the co-op that I had joined suddenly vanished into oblivion! Chuck suggested that I publish the zine anyway, with the symbol but without the checklist, as a swan song to Blue Plaque Publications. So, OM #1 was the final BPP zine.
But, I felt that I couldn’t let it die there. If Gafford was gone, then why did the BPP also have to disappear? After consulting with CBRII, I came up with an idea to revive the group, under the name Blue PHOENIX Publications, and I sent out a flyer (THE BPP NEWSLETTER Vol. 2, No. 1) in the summer of 1973 asking for support to raise the co-op “from the ashes.” The flyer was sent to all of the original members. As reported in December of that year, in THE BPP NEWSLETTER Vol. 2, No. 2, I received “an astounding total of two replies... from Frank Miller and Mark Proskey, who elected me editor of the BPP NEWSLETTER for the coming year by an overwhelming vote”... after which, they both vanished. Undaunted, I mailed out this second Keeter Newsletter to a few other small press publishers who I thought might be interested. Within days, I had received responses from Rod Snyder, Jack Monninger, Kurt Erichsen, and... Jim Main. These 4 publishers and myself comprised the charter membership of the revived BPP.
Our new version of the old esteemed co-op quickly began to pick up steam. And more members began appearing, including some of the original BPP crew who decided to rejoin (Chuck Robinson, Ed Romero, Mike Raub), further establishing our legitimacy. However, there was still a nagging uncertainty in the back of my mind that some of the original members might not like the idea of a whole new cast of characters using the old logo and group name, so it was decided by May of 1974 that a name change was in order. The name of the group was changed to the UNITED FAN ORGANIZATION (a name suggested by CBRII), and soon after... to the UNITED FANZINE ORGANIZATION (UFO). This group continues to this day.
Jim Main and I were members of the UFO, on and off, for much of 3 decades, and we both served as Chairman of the co-op numerous times, especially during the 1980s, when we pretty much just kept taking turns at it. By the mid-’90s, however, we both found ourselves concentrating on our mundane lives, and we were both pretty much out of the small press loop. Jim made a half-hearted effort to rejoin the UFO, but didn’t really feel comfortable for various reasons. So he soon after bailed out again.
And then came that strange night in 1999... Jim called me on the phone, and we began discussing the UFO, and co-ops in general. It seemed that we both missed that sense of belonging, and all the fun we had had in the BPP, the UFO, and other small press groups. And we had both, independently of each other, begun thinking of starting our own co-ops! We even had similar ideas, about keeping the rules simple, keeping feuding out of the group, etc. etc. And before we knew it, we were hatching plans for a new group... a group much more like the original BPP that had inspired us both (Carl Gafford was a personal friend and mentor of Jim Main’s, even before he joined the BPP/UFO). And, since no one else was using the name, we brazenly decided to call the new group BLUE PLAQUE PUBLICATIONS... picking up where the old group had left off, but (we felt) improving on some aspects of it.
Well! We knew this move would be controversial, but we were so energized at the time, there was really no stopping us. Jim quickly enlisted Sam Gafford to help us out, and Sam contacted Carl Gafford... who gave us his full support. And it was only a week or two later that Jim Main released an all-new BPP NEWSLETTER #1. Soon after, we had a brand new charter membership, including Jim and myself, Sam Gafford, Tony Lorenz, Steve Skeates, and Charlie Smith, a returning member of Gaff’s original co-op. Not only that, Chuck Robinson II shortly after made a return to small press after almost 3 decades, and is planning a revival of his classic COMIQUE title, which he plans to submit as a BPP zine.
And that pretty much brings us to the present moment, a time in which the new BPP continues to grow and expand, and we’re just as enthusiastic now as we were in ‘99... if not more so. Jim and I, while focusing much of our energies on promoting this re-born group and its talented membership, are also actively engaged in promoting the entirety of the small press network, including the other fine co-ops out there (the UFO, SPS, SPL, SPA). And the future looks bright indeed!
My mind still drifts back to a day in 1968, and how it all began... when a young comics fan named Carl Gafford came up with an idea that would change the face of comics self-publishing forever.
Here are some fanzines that BPP (some with SPS) have put out, More soon!