Friday, 9 June 2017

Twin Peaks: It is Happening Again


When Twin Peaks burst onto our TV screens here in Australia in 1991, we knew immediately we were watching something special.

At the time, Narrelle Harris and I were deeply involved in science fiction fandom, particularly those sections serving enthusiasts of British programs such as Doctor Who and Blake’s 7.

So it made sense for us to extend our fannish habits toward this astonishing new American show, with strong strands of horror and fantasy in its DNA.

One thing we did was to hold a costume party, on 18 May 1991. That’s where the above photo comes from – yes, that’s me as Doctor Jacoby, at the tender age of 26. Here's another shot of some attendees, appearing as (from left to right) Nadine, Audrey, James, two Coopers and Blackie:


The second and more substantial thing was to create a fanzine, Wrapped in Plastic (no relation to the US magazine of the same name, which ran from 1992 to 2005).

Publishing a fan magazine like this was second nature back then for ardent fans of popular science fiction or fantasy TV shows. For – and bear with me here – the Internet as we know it was yet to be born.

Yes! The World Wide Web was only opened to the public in late 1991, and the Mosaic browser which made it useful and easily accessible debuted in 1993. Email had been around for a while, but generally only scientists and academics used it back then.

So, in the age before digital, we had to share our passions in pure analogue style.

That meant typing, collating and literally cutting and pasting material onto sheets of A4 paper, which would then be photocopied, stapled and posted to subscribers.

Aside from meetings where people might get together to watch bootleg copies of episodes unavailable on VHS cassette, fanzines provided one of the few regular forums for fans to discuss their favourite TV programs.

They contained articles analysing minutiae of episodes, and speculating what might come next. There were short stories continuing the adventures of characters outside the confines of the small screen.

There was fan art, and clippings from newspapers and magazines. And there were lively letters to the editor, our forerunners of Facebook posts.

So… here for your download pleasure is an edited PDF version of the four issues of Wrapped in Plastic, which ran from August 1991 to June 1992.

For copyright reasons I’ve removed the various photocopied clippings which took up a fair chunk of each issue, as well as an ongoing episode guide which seems redundant now.

At Twede's (aka the Double R), North Bend in 2015
What remains are articles, letters, reviews, cartoons, crosswords, short stories (one a bit saucy), and a lot of fan art.

Amongst this are marvellous covers by Andrew Williams and Tim Howe, and many entertaining illustrations by my late, great friend Ian Gunn – don’t miss his absurdly overcomplicated flowchart on the last page on Issue One.

As you flick through the PDF, you’ll notice changing fonts – sometimes quite horrible dot-matrix style ones – along with variations in contrast that can make the text difficult to read.

What can I say? I didn’t have a computer then, so most of the fanzine was typed on an electric typewriter. However, if a contributor provided an article on a sheet of paper in their own chosen font, it was much easier to paste that in than to retype it. Hence the variety.

Overlooking the Snoqualmie Falls (aka White Tail Falls)
and the Salish Lodge (The Great Northern) in 2015.
They were simpler times. But not, luckily, in Twin Peaks USA.

And now, all the way here in the future, it is happening again. As I said to my future self back in 1991, “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” And I made that date. Sort of.

Thanks to all the contributors to Wrapped in Plastic back in the day; if I’ve lost touch with you and you happen across this post, please get in touch so I can thank you directly.

My greatest gratitude goes to David Lynch and Mark Frost, for sharing their extraordinary creation with us, both in the 1990s and again today.

Its dreamlike sounds, images and characters have stayed with me through the years, and in 2015 I was delighted to visit its filming locations in Snoqualmie and North Bend (with the assistance of Visit Seattle), and write about them three times:
  1. Postcard from Twin Peaks, for The Age;
  2. Welcome to Twin Peaks: a guide to the locations, for Lonely Planet;
  3. Welcome to Twin Peaks (aka Snoqualmie USA), in this blog.
It was good to looking through issues of my fanzine again, handmade expressions of enthusiasm for a superlative television series. And great to be doing so in the middle of new episodes exploring the strange world of Twin Peaks.

In the words of Agent Cooper, “I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen.”

With the new Twin Peaks season, it's once a week. But you get the idea.

Twin Peaks continues until September 2017 on streaming service Stan in Australia, with new episodes available each Monday afternoon. The omnibus edition of 1991-1992 Twin Peaks fanzine Wrapped in Plastic can be downloaded from this link.