We make a concerted effort to acquire publications by or about Australians that are produced overseas, but it is really difficult to know what’s “out there”. I was recently lucky to find a special issue of the zine Cyäegha, which is produced in the UK, that focused on the Australian Vol Molesworth – a writer of science fiction and horror pulp fiction from the 1940s and 50s. How did it happen? Well here is the story ….
The author of the zine, Graeme Phillips, was looking for some cover images of publications by Vol Molesworth to illustrate the special issue he was preparing, did a search and found that the National Library had copies of some journals that contained stories by Vol Molesworth – Forerunner: a Science Fiction and Fantasy Quarterly (1952 and 1953) and the 1949 edition of Arna the journal of the Arts Society of Sydney University. So he contacted us to order some scans of the covers and mentioned the reason why he wanted them. Luckily the staff member handling the request realised that we might be interested in getting a copy of this zine when it was published, given the Australian connection, and sent Graeme’s contact details on to me. Of course I was delighted!
I fired off an email to Graeme straight away to let him know I would be really keen to obtain a copy of this issue of Cyäegha as soon as it was published. Knowing that numbers would be limited, I wanted to get in quickly to make sure we didn’t miss out!
Graeme promised to let me know, and lo and behold, a few months later sent me a message that he had mailed some copies to a friend in Australia and asked me to contact them to obtain a copy. Hot on the trail, I immediately emailed them and got the very generous reply that they would donate a copy to the NLA. Wonderful news! A few days later that precious little zine arrived in my in tray, having travelled half way round the world to be preserved safely for the future in our collection – one of only 75 copies that were published. Here is the catalogue record we created for it.
And here are some pages from the zine, including one that shows the cover images from those journals in the NLA collection that started this whole chain of events.
So you can see we’re really serious about our Australian collection, and building it can be both time-consuming and also a great deal of fun. Now, if you know of any Australians producing comics, graphic novels or zines overseas, I would love to hear about them. Just add a comment to this post to let me know. I really enjoy the hunt!