12 April, 2007

TSV 45 - the Key to Time issue

TSV 45

TSV 45 (September 1995) has recently been added to the online archive. This issue was the last of 1995, so an entire year's worth of issues have been digitally republished in just four months. Which doesn't seem right somehow given how long it took to assemble these issues the first time around - and this particular issue had challenges all of its own.

As I noted in my blog entry about the making of TSV 44, I had arranged with the local video distributors to get review copies of the videos. As a result, the lead focus of each issue would now be a major review of each of the new video titles. The six Key to Time stories were all released individually over three months in mid-1995, so I hit on the idea of doing an issue themed around Season 16, with a major review of each of the stories. I contacted a number of reliable TSV regular contributors and signed them up to each write one of the reviews. Some of these articles turned up promptly, others took a worryingly long time after the deadline to arrive. The problem with this was that unlike most TSV pieces which, if they arrived late, could simply be included in the following issue, the six reviews needed to be collected in this one themed issue. Nick Withers came to my rescue, stepping in to write a review of The Power of Kroll at very short notice. I don't recall now if that was down to a reviewer failing to deliver or simply that I was unable to sign anyone up to tackle this most unloved of the Season 16 stories.

Alistair Hughes designed a brilliant Key to Time front cover as an interlocking jigsaw. The individual jigsaw elements were also used to illustrate each of the six reviews, and other rather wonderful Key to Time themed artwork was provided by Peter Adamson, Paul Potiki and Chris Girdler among others.

Peter Adamson and Andrew Cook contributed a neat Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9 comic strip story, Sums Over Histories that although featuring the Season 17 line-up was still a reasonably close connection to the issue's theme.

For a bit of diversity, I also had an article by Kate Orman about the writing of Set Piece. The article's title, But the Details Aren't Important, apparently comes from Chris Girdler's review of the novel in TSV 43. Kate's article is essential reading for anyone interested in her New Adventures novels, and I love such background pieces. It's a shame that Kate didn't contribute any further articles to TSV after this one, but she simply lacked the time to do so, given that each of her novels seemed to overlap the next with alarming frequency. Such is the price of success!

Meanwhile, things started to get a bit messy for the club in the latter half of 1995. The so-called 'Management Team' set up to run the club earlier in the year was already becoming a bit unstuck. Bill Geradts, who had been running the Auckland Chapter video days and monthly meetings disliked the Team's intervention and decided that he'd had enough of running events for the club. Bill went off in his own direction, setting up what would become his hugely successful Armageddon pulp culture expos.

Things were also rather turbulent for me personally at this time. I was working part-time as an after-school tutor to high school students, which left me with most of my days free to run the club and edit TSV. As ideal as that might sound I was, as you might imagine, rather strapped for cash and at one point had to take a temporary loan from the club just to get my car repaired. My life and bank balance took a considerable turn for the better when in September 1995 I gained a full-time job working at the main branch of Whitcoulls in Queen Street. This new job - combined with my tutition work which I was still committed to until the end of the school year - meant that both my days and evenings were booked up. I desperately needed help to get the incomplete TSV 45 finished. A weekend working bee was convened at Nicholas Withers' place, working in the same church hall that we would later use for the TV Movie and Tom Baker events.

At this point I should explain that up until this issue, each page of TSV had been pasted up from columns of typed, or latterly computer-printed text. I had an Amiga computer, a rudimentary word processor (Word Perfect) and an elderly dot matrix printer which produced a fairly legible font. Aligning, cutting and pasting columns of text on to A4-sized pages was messy and time-consuming. A couple of readers volunteered to come along to help out with the layout, but frequent mistakes were made with the paste-up meaning that some pages had to be redone from scratch. Tensions rose, arguments broke out among the helpers and for a time it looked as if the issue would never be finished.

Thankfully Nick came to the rescue, taking me aside and basically saying, "look, there's another way of doing TSV that will take a fraction of the time and effort and the end result will look much better." Nick selected some of the items for this issue - including the six story reviews and the Kate Orman article - and recreated them on his PC in Microsoft Publisher (a rather nifty desktop publishing application), and printed them out on his inkjet printer. I was enormously impressed with the results. Nick and I resolved then and there that from the following issue we would give TSV a complete make-over and do all of the layout using Publisher.

If you have a printed copy of TSV 45 and TSV 46, compare the two and I'm certain you'll be able to see the jump in quality.

Next up, 1996; the year everything changed...

Meanwile, read TSV 45 here.

Fellow TSV 45 bloggers:
Alden Bates
Jamas Enright


Anonymous said...

You know, I think I wanted to review The Power of Kroll solely to point out that Androzani appeared to lift the gun runners out of it. For some reason at the time I had a thing against Androzani.

Paul Scoones said...

Nick, great to see that you're reading these recollections since you were such an integral and invaluable force behind TSV at this time. I seriously wonder if TSV would have survived if you hadn't pushed for the change to desktop publishing.

Anonymous said...

Plus the experience helped me with my eventual employment. I keep on meaning to join you all at a pub meet at some stage.

Paul said...

You definitely should - it'd be great to catch up. Unfortunately you've just missed this month's meet; it was last night! :)