by Bill Bodden, a holder of the Twelve Corflus merit badge.
What is Corflu?
Corflu is an annual convention of fanzine fans. Corflu typically moves its venue from year to year. The name Corflu is derived from CORrection FLUid, a substance in much demand during the low-tech, pre-computer days of fanzines.
What happens at a Corflu?
Corflu features a fanzine and memorabilia auction primarily to benefit the two major US-related fan funds. These funds are named TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) and DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund), both of which seek to foster good relations between fanzine fans in the US and Europe (TAFF) and the US and Australia (DUFF). Conversation is highly regarded at Corflu, so be prepared for it, even if you mostly just listen. Another popular activity is the Meal Break, where small groups of fans sortie out to explore nearby restaurants. It's considered bad form to invite yourself along to an existing party, but that rarely stops fans from doing so.
How is the location of a Corflu decided?
This is typically done in a bid process, but with a laid-back attitude. Folks who wish to bid to host a Corflu generally start getting the word out between two years and one year in advance of the blessed event. Most Corflu bids have been uncontested, and good advance notice of a group or individual's desire to host is essential for keeping this tradition alive. To do a real bid in the fashion of world science fiction conventions costs money. The preference for Corflu bids has been to keep the laid-back attitude and forgo spending lots of cash on room parties, particularly when that cash could be better spent on stocking the future Corflu's hospitality suite with good beer!
Is Corflu the only fanzine convention?
Heavens, no! There is also at least one other such convention, Ditto, likewise held on an annual basis and changing its venue from year to year. Typically, Ditto is held in the autumn, and Corflu in the late winter/early spring. Other conventions with a strong fanzine aspect are held across the US, Australia and the UK, but Corflu and Ditto are two that keep fanzines as their primary focus.
I've heard that fanzine fans are snobbish and aloof. Is this true?
In point of fact, no. Any group that has existed for any length of time is bound to develop cliques, and Corflu is no exception. Corflu can be an intimidating event for first-timers, as it's mostly a group of people who have corresponded through fanzines and LoCs (Letters of Comment) for years, and know each other fairly well. However, for many fans recently joining the fanzine community, the extra effort seems well worth it. Talk nicely to Corflu attendees, and they're pretty likely to talk nicely back. Offering to buy them a beer doesn't hurt any, either.
How can I get more involved in fanzines?
The best way to get started is to attend a Corflu or Ditto, grab all the free fanzines you can find, (and there will be quite a few - trust me on this!) and write letters of comment to the ones that you find interesting. A letter of comment needn't be anything grandiose or remarkably eloquent; many people write simple postcards, saying how much they enjoyed the 'zine, and how this part or that part reminded them of something, or asking 'what did the author mean by this or that comment?' et cetera. LoCs are the coin of the realm among fanzine fans. Get a reputation as a fan who writes LoCs, and fanzines will begin flooding into your mailbox! If electronically inclined, make sure to visit a site like efanzines.com to check out the fanzines available online.