A Thousand Mark Feld Charms

A Till Dawn Review By Paul Johnstone

For those of you who have not seen a copy of ATMFC you may expect it to be a standard format fanzine packed with photocopied articles and pics from old pop mags from the 70's.
Not so. Obviously there are some copy articles and interviews but ATMFC is different because it is produced by Gavin Ross who is clearly a very talented artist with a flair for producing interesting "interpretations" of Bolan compositions in the form of drawings and comic strip narratives. This might not be to everyone's taste but, personally, I think that Gavin deserves credit for producing something which is quite possibly unique among the currently available Bolan fanzines. However, I do not subscribe to all of them so I could be wrong about that!
The current issue of ATMFC is Charm 9 (Summer 2000) and it could be said that this issue seems to mark a change of direction/format for Gavin. There is less emphasis on Gavin's artistic interpretations and a more evenly balanced fanzine which contains a lot of news and information about current happenings in the 21st Century T.Rex world. Thankfully, though, Gavin has not abandoned his artistry which dominated the ATMFC of old. There is an eerie comic strip visualisation of The Visit (one of my favourite tracks from the T.REX Brown Album). Marc is portayed as being the subject of a close encounter with an alien space craft and is shown having his heart stolen by rather large Greys (well - the drawings are in black and white so they look grey to me - better check with Fox Mulder for a more accurate categorisation).
The main feature article entitled "The Wizard" stays with the theme that Marc had a "real - life" close encounter. It skilfully weaves a seductive argument using interview quotes from Marc and song lyrics to support the theory that Marc's famous Wizard story is possibly the Gods-honest-dogs-bollocks-truth not P.R. fantasy (or a wildly embellished grain of truth with jewel-encrusted Bolan ad-libs added with each further telling of the tale). Whether or not you subscribe to the views expressed is neither here nor there. Gavin has done his research and it is a very entertaining read.
In previous Charms there has been more emphasis on the artwork and less on the general fanzinesque "news" type articles. However Charm 9 is packed full of the latest news about the Bolan scene including a justifiably "rave review" of the wonderful "Bump 'n' Grind" CD (recently released by Thunderwing Productions Ltd.) an obituary for Chelita Secunda and a very thought provoking article on "Rolan's Quest for Justice". One of the great "mysteries" of the Bolan world is (to paraphrase a well-known song lyric) "Whatever Happened To The Teenage Dream's Money ?" - sadly no answers but a very welcome spotlight being shone in a very murky corner.
Charm 9 must be one of the most "professional" editions of ATMFC produced so far. It's good to see that the printing problems that marred Charm 8 are nowhere in evidence with the latest issue. Well done to the production team - which includes Stuart Macfalane and the intriguingly named "Energy English".
So, even though Gavin's individual and unique contribution to keeping the name and memory of Marc Bolan alive may not be to everyone's taste, I hope that some of you will be tempted enough to send a couple of quid - only 6.95 for the next 3 issues! Subscription/Address information is at the end of this article.
One final point - with the advent of the internet and Bolan related websites and chat groups springing up all over the place there is a tendency to assume that the traditional fanzine is largely redundant. However, I wholeheartedly agree with Gavin's editorial that hard copy fanzines like ATMFC, Mainman, Electric Boogie, The Groover and Rumblings (and the others - both past and present) are great to look back on in years to come - I doubt we'll be keeping our eMail print-outs for a similar purpose!
By the way the Mainman fanzine recently ran a very interesting article about "old fanzines" if anyone is interested in finding out more information about the many and varied publications that have been produced over the years.
The web is a wonderful tool for instant worldwide communication and has re-energised my "active" participation in the Bolan community but those old fashioned, handcrafted, photocopied or privately published labours of love such as ATMFC have a very special place in the grand scheme of things as far as I'm concerned.
After all, if it was not for those dedicated fans who spend many hundreds of hours of their own time putting these mags together the Bolan scene would be a poorer place. As a general comment we should be thankful for all those fanzine editors who have worked so hard particularly since Marc died for members of the Bolan community to be able to communicate and maintain contact with each other.
It is amazing to think of how these independently produced fanzines can have an impact which is completely out of proportion to their size. If anyone had any doubt about the influence Marc and T.Rex had on the global music scene it is worth remembering that there have been fanzines produced from all over the world. For instance: Discovering publications like these must have been like finding an oasis in the desert for fans in those countries where Marc Bolan was not exactly a household name (which sadly now includes the UK - Time Marches On. . . . . etc).
I'm certain that it must have been so much easier for UK fans to share their passion for T.Rex and to meet up and swap stories and memories to help fill the void that was left when Marc was killed. Imagine what it must have been like if you were a T.Rex fan in the USA, Sweden, France, Canada or even Russia. I know that such people do exist because I have communicated with them!
Traditionally through fanzines and now even more so through the realisation of genuine worldwide mass communication via the internet fans can reach out to each other to share their passion for Marc Bolan and T.Rex. I wonder who is going to be the first person to produce the first on-line Bolan fanzine ? Whoever it is we should do our best to support and encourage them in their efforts to keep the music and memory of Marc Bolan alive in the 21st Century.
Rock On !
Paul Johnstone - XX


Editor's note: A special thanks to Paul for all his hard work, and for having to deal with me and my "how about adding/changing this bit". A nod goes out to all the people past & present that have helped keep Marc's legacy alive through the art of the "fanzine". I think it is an important flame for Bolan fans to keep burning.

Rick
ATMFC is available for 6.95 for the next 3 issues (or 1.95 each for back issue copies). Send to Gavin at:
ATMFC
2 Gainford Avenue
Middlesbrough
TS5 7RF
England
Copyright 2000 The Till Dawn Organization. All Rights Reserved.