An amateur press association (APA) is a group of people who produce individual pages or magazines that are sent to a Central Mailer for collation and distribution to all members of the group.
APAs were a way for widely distributed groups of people to discuss a common interest together in a single forum before the advent of electronic bulletin boards or the Internet. Many were founded in the 1930s and later by fans of science fiction, comics, music, cinema and other topics as a way to develop writing, design and illustration skills. Many professional journalists, creative writers and artists practised in APA groups and email mailing lists.
A Central Mailer (CM) (sometimes called a Distribution Manager or Official Editor) is the coordinator of an APA. The heart of the role is the distribution of the association's publication to its members. The CM manages the subscription lists and the deadlines to which the association works. The CM is usually responsible for chasing members to ensure maximum participation although some APAs simply accumulate contributions between deadlines and mail out whatever is available at the mailing deadline.
Where the APA requires the submission of multiple copies by contributors, the CM merely collates the contributions. Some APAs involve the submission of camera ready copy; in such cases the CM arranges the reproduction of the material. Most APAs require the members to submit a minimum amount of material in a specified format to a specified number of mailings. This minimum activity (abbreviated to "minac") is usually specified as something in the form of (for example): "at least two A4 pages to at least two out of every three mailings". Most APAs also require each member to maintain a credit balance in a central funds account to cover common reproduction costs and postage.
In most APAs the CM provides an administrative report listing the contents of each mailing and any business information associated with the association. This can include financial accounts, membership information and some news items. Although most APAs have predetermined deadlines at regular intervals it is normal practice for the CM to specify the next mailing deadlines explicitly in each mailing.
Although some APAs are autocratic, most run on a democratic basis and the CM usually chairs any discussions and arranges any management meetings.
APAs that require members to submit multiple copies of their contribution (commonly called "apazines") usually set a limit to the number of members and run a waiting list if this becomes necessary. In many cases people on the waiting list are permitted to contribute to mailings and may receive excess apazines provided by the members.
The first APAs were formed by groups of amateur printers. The earliest to become more than a small informal group of friends was the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA) founded February 19, 1876 by Evan Reed Riale and nine other members in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is still running in 2011.
The first British APA was the British Amateur Press Association founded in 1890. This is a different organisation from that launched by comics fans in 1978 (see below).
The second United States APA was the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA) founded in 1895 by a group of teenagers including William H. Greenfield (aged 14) and Charles W. Heins (aged 17). This became a confederation of small amateur publishers which split into two organisations known interchangeably as UAP and UAAPA. The American Amateur Press Association (AAPA) was formed in 1936 by a secession from what was then called UAPAA.
The first science fiction APA was the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) formed by a group of science fiction fans in 1937. It continues to be active in 2012. SAPS, the Spectator Amateur Press Society, started in 1947 and is still active in 2012. VAPA, The Vanguard Amateur Press Association, formed in 1945 and lasted until 1950.
The first comics APA was started by Jerry Bails in 1964 in the United States. Called CAPA-alpha (sometimes abbreviated to K-a) it grew to its present limit of 40 members. It has become the archetype for most subsequent comics APAs. Its members have included Dwight Decker, Mark Evanier, Carl Gafford, Fred Patten, Richard and Wendy Pini, Roy Thomas, Dan Alderson, Rick Norwood, Don Markstein, and Don and Maggie Thompson. Michael Barrier's animation fanzine Funnyworld began as a CAPA-alpha contribution.
Decker and Gafford were also founding members of the minicomics co-op the United Fanzine Organization. The difference in a co-op and an APA is that an APA is helmed by a central mailer, to whom the members send copies of their publications. The central mailer then compiles all the books into one large volume, which is then mailed out to the membership in "mailings" (called "bundles" by a few APAs). In a co-op, however, there is no central mailer; the members distribute their own works, and are linked by a group newsletter, a group symbol that appears on each member work, and a group checklist in every "member zine."
The first European comics APA was called PAPA and launched by a group of comics fans in January 1978. Soon renamed BAPA (for "British APA"), it celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2003, but folded the following summer.
The APA model was picked up by artists in the 1980s. Groups of artists contributed elements of combined duplicated artworks that omitted the conversational elements of the fandom-based APAs (these pieces are sometimes called "assembly art"). During this same period, a group of British science fiction and comics fans also set up a short-lived "tape APA", contributing music and spoken word to a central anthology.
The latest innovation is a digital distribution, e-APA. Copies of past "mailings" are archived at the online resource eFanzines.
List of APAs
This list is not exhaustive. Unless otherwise stated, these APAs are based in the United States.
- Alarums and Excursions – role-playing games
- All Of The Above – the game GURPS
- ALPS (Amateur Long-Playing Society) – music APA founded by D Potter
- American Amateur Press Association – Founded in 1936. "The purpose of the association is the promotion of amateur journalism and fellowship of amateur writers, editors, printers, and publishers; and the circulation of their work among the membership."
- ANZAPA – Australian and New Zealand Amateur Publishing Association – science fiction; Southern hemisphere's oldest APA, founded in 1968
- Aotearapa – New Zealand's longest running science fiction publication
- APA Enterprise – Star Trek, started by Mark Ernst (New Hampshire) roughly 1980. Alumni include Derek McCulloch
- Apa Lambda – science fiction; lesbian, gay and gay-friendly members of science fiction fandom
- APA-247 – British based APA for Comic featuring Legion of Super-Heroes
- APA-5 – comics; the birthplace of Dark Horse Comics; alumni include Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick and Mark Verheiden.
- APA-50 – founded by Chris Sherman in 1974, originally for science fiction fans and writers born after 1950.
- APA-B – founded by Britain's Birmingham Science Fiction Group, but later detached and run as The Organisation
- APA-Centauri – general interest; started as science fiction but morphed to a general interest APA (international). Alumni include Derek McCulloch
- APA-F – science fiction; the first weekly APA (New York City)
- APA-I – comic book indexing
- APA-L – science fiction; the second weekly APA, collated at meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society since 1964; participants have included Bruce Pelz, Fred Patten, Lee Gold, John Hertz, John DeChancie. Still running in 2017.
- APAcalypse – role-playing games
- APAplexy – Ottawa-based general-interest APA, started by Farrell McGovern and Marc (The Starwolf) Gerin-Lajoie in 1984. While the majority of the membership has been from Ottawa, it has had members from several other cities in Canada, as well as from the United States and now one from Brazil. It was spun off from TAPA (see entry in this list). Lajoie "franked" a flyer by Mr. McGovern in the March 1984 issue of TAPA calling for people interested in forming a new Ottawa based APA.
- Apatoons – animation; founded 1981 and still publishing as of April 2008
- ATDNSIN (The APA That Dares Now Speak Its Name) – comics with an LGBT focus
- Barr Wars – cartoonists' collaborative with a centaur theme, 1987–1989; alumni include Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory
- British Amateur Press Association – the first British APA, primarily for amateur printers
- British Amateur Press Association – an unreleated British comics APA (1977–2004)
- BunAPA – random topic-driven (UK)
- C.A.P.A. – Central Michigan University's sponsored Comics APA (1993–1995); changed to a literary magazine in 1996. Founded by Louis Bright-Raven and John Napolitano. Alumni include Louis Bright-Raven, Chris Burns, Chad Curry, Bob Nugent, and Darin Petersen.
- CAPA – British, comics, folded in the late 1980s
- CAPA-alpha (also known as K-a) – the first comics APA. Alumni include Mark Evanier, Carl Gafford, Fred Patten, Richard and Wendy Pini, Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, Dan Alderson, Rick Norwood, Don Markstein, and Don and Maggie Thompson.
- CAPRA – cinema oriented, reviews of film and commentary of film industry. Alumni include Derek McCulloch
- CARTOON LOONACY – a comic and cartoon APA begun in 1984 and still active in 2017
- CFA-APA – an APA devoted to Comic and Fantasy original art and artists
- The Clobberin' Times – an APA devoted to the Champions role-playing game
- Comicopia – an international comics APA (established in 1990)
- The Cult – science fiction; rotational (defunct)
- Cuneiform – zines, journals, philosophy, literature, postal service, mail art (established in 2012)
- DAPA-EM (Elementary, My Dear APA) – mystery and detective fiction, founded 1973
- Dapper – science fiction; Holland-based but contributions are produced in English by an international membership. Name said to stand for "Dutch Amateur People's Press Energetically Reproducing."
- e-APA – digitally distributed, still running in 2011. Open distribution occurs 1-2 times each year.
- ERBapa – dedicated to the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs
- The Everlasting Club – Ghost story fans, primarily English membership
- Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) – science fiction; the first science fiction APA, founded in 1937 by Donald A. Wollheim, who went on to a long career in writing, editing and publishing (DAW Books). Wollheim conceived of FAPA after hearing of the United and National APAs from H. P. Lovecraft. The first FAPA mailing in July 1937 contained only 42 pages, but over the ensuing decades mailings have been significantly larger than that, with the largest ever being the 100th mailing in August 1962 at 1,219 pages. Alumni include Forrest J Ackerman, Gregory Benford, James Blish, Robert Bloch, Marion Zimmer Bradley, F. M. Busby, Terry Carr, Jack Chalker, Willis Conover, E. Everett Evans, Richard Geis, Jim Harmon, Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Lee Hoffman, Damon Knight, David Langford, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Sam Moskowitz, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg and Wilson Tucker. It is still running in 2012.
- The Final Frontier – Star Trek/science fiction APA based in Canada. Founded by Derek McCulloch
- First Draft – Writer's APA, offering critique and commentary of contributors' works
- The Force – Star Wars
- The Fossils – "The Historians of Amateur Journalism"
- Frank's APA – music; currently published from Ireland, with members in Britain, Ireland, the USA, and the Netherlands
- Frefanzine – Libertarian science fiction
- Friends of Lulu – APA for members of the women-friendly comics organization, including Trina Robbins, Heidi MacDonald, Deni Loubert, etc.; several issues published in 1994
- The Furthest North Crew (FNC) – a major Canadian-run Furry APA
- Gallery – APA/'zine for cartoonists and illustrators, a significant proportion (but not all) of whom were interested in anthropomorphics and funny animals.
- Galactus – comics; based in Canada; birthplace of Strawberry Jam Comics; alumni include founder Derek McCulloch.
- The Golden APA – devoted to Illuminatus! and related topics
- Gothik APA – comics
- Haymaker! - an APAzine about Champions (a super-hero roleplaying game) and the rest of the Hero System (a generic role-playing game), founded in 1992.
- Huzzah – APA/'zine for anthropomorphics and funny animals
- Imaginapa – Long-running, very high quality fiction and general discussion APA, last (and most frequently) CM'd by the great Eric L. Watts. Started by APA-5 waitlisters who got tired of waiting.
- Interlac – Legion of Super-Heroes comics. Alumni include Jim Shooter (founding member), Tom and Mary Bierbaum, Dave Cockrum, Colleen Doran, Paul Levitz, Tom McCraw, and Mark Waid.
- K-a – see CAPA-alpha, above
- Klordny – North American APA focused primarily on Legion of Super-Heroes comics
- LASFAPA – science fiction, monthly; founded October 1976, still running in 2013, run by Marty Cantor at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS).
- Legends – DC Comics
- MilwApa – science fiction; Milwaukee-area fandom; 300th mailing in Sept. 2009; still running in February 2011; alumni include David D. Levine.
- Myriad – science fiction, comics, etc.; founded by Stven Carlberg [sic] in 1967 and active until 2005
- MZS-APA - (Marvel Zombie Society); founded as MZS Newsletter in 1988 by Robert Hough, became an APA with #25 in 1990. Final issue #277 in 2011.
- N'APA – science fiction; for members of the National Fantasy Fan Federation
- The Nameless APA – British APA, set up in the 1990s but no longer active
- National Amateur Press Association – general publishing; the first U.S. APA, founded in 1876
- NightStalkers – horror apa with an LGBT focus, primarily dealing with werewolves and vampires.
- Northstar – comics with an LGBT focus (named after the Marvel Comics superhero Northstar)
- NYAPA (New York APA) – long-lived general discussion APA, based all over North America during its lifetime
- OMPA (Off-trail Magazine Publishers' Association) – a British science fiction fan APA (although with many American members). It started in 1954 and folded in 1976. Alumni include John Brunner (novelist), Michael Moorcock, Kenneth Bulmer, Arthur Thomson and Ken Slater.
- ORComix-APA – comics
- The Organisation – British APA (see APA-B)
- OSFMapa – The Old School Fantasy Miniatures Amateur Press Alliance. For fans/collectors/historians of early fantasy gaming miniatures.
- OWLHOOT – Western fiction, Western films and Old West history. Founded 2003 and still running.
- PAPA – original name of the comics-related British Amateur Press Association
- PHAPA – Pulp Hero APA (now defunct)
- PEAPS – Pulp Era Amateur Press Society, founded by Lynn Hickman in 1987 and still running in 2013. Focuses on all aspects of the pulp magazine hobby and related topics. Current members and alumni include some of the most accomplished pulp magazine fans and professionals in the world including Al Tonik, Glenn Lord, Howard DeVore, Jerry Page, George Evans, Rusty Hevelin, Scott Cranford, Doug Ellis, Will Murray, Anthony Tollin, Brian Earl Brown, and Curt Phillips.
- Phoenix – comics, science fiction and other entertainment media.
- Pieces of Eight – British APA
- Point of Divergence – science fiction, specifically alternate history
- Quarternotes – Interlac spin-off devoted to music
- REHUPA – Robert E. Howard and his works
- REHEAPA – Robert E. Howard and his works – an online APA: The Robert-E-Howard Electronic Amateur Press Association
- Rowrbrazzle – anthropomorphics and funny animals; its founder dedicated it to "Funny animals, plants, machines, and squash."
- Samizdat – General interest APA with a closed membership, spun off from Galactus
- Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) – science fiction APA based in the southern US. Still running in 2015.
- Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS) – science fiction; the third science fiction APA, founded in 1947 by a group that included Joe Kennedy (later known as the poet X. J. Kennedy). Still running in 2012.
- Shiot Crock – for regulars of The Comics Journal's web-based message board
- Slanapa – The Slanderous Amateur Press Association, created in 1969, monthly, "no rules, no dues"
- Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (S-TAPA); superhero teams, general interests. Still running in 2009. Alumni include Derek McCulloch, David Elyea (current Central Mailer), comics historian Randy Duncan, and comics professionals John Dennis and Louis Bright-Raven.
- STIPPLE APA – General interest APA out of Minneapolis/St-Paul MN. Created in 1980 by people tired of languishing on MINNEAPA's wait list.
- SWAPA – the APA for members and friends of SWIL, Swarthmore College's science fiction club. Still running as of 2014 .
- TAPA – Toronto APA, a general Science Fiction APA with members from across Canada, and around the world (CA)
- The Tape APA – British audio APA, run during the 1980s
- TAPS – The Terrean Amateur Press Society, a rotating APA organized along the same lines as The Cult, but with 12 members instead of 13 and a different, less confrontational style of interaction.
- TWP (The Women's Periodical) – for women who are UK-based or have strong UK ties.
- United APA – general publishing; the second U.S. APA; primarily for amateur printers
- United Fanzine Organization – Minicomic creators.
- Vanguard APA – science fiction; the second science fiction APA, founded in 1945, discontinued early in 1950; alumni include James Blish, James Kepner, Damon Knight, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Judith Merril and Donald Wollheim.
- WAPA – the "W" Amateur Press Alliance, originally the Western Amateur Press Alliance, a comics apa. Alumni include Tom and Mary Bierbaum, Derek McCulloch, and Dan DiDio. Both Tom Bierbaum and McCulloch served as Central Mailers. Web site exists, though apparently long dormant.
- WAPA – Whimsical Amateur Press Association, a short-lived APA for science fiction fans with an emphasis on humor.
- WTFB – devoted to Disney, especially classic 1990s TV series of the Disney Afternoon, takes name from Disney Afternoon slogan Where The Fun Begins; disbanded
- Yarf! – APA/'zine for anthropomorphics and funny animals
- YHapa – Young Heroes APA – an APA run primarily by young people in the late 1980s, devoted to popular comic books of the time
- .zap!! – an APA for participants in the alt.zines Usenet newsgroup. Published several issues in the mid-'90s and was revived by the original editor in 2008
- Z-FLapa – short-lived local APA based in Zephyrhills, Florida; merged with NYAPA
- Spencer, Truman J. (1957). The history of amateur journalism. The Fossils, Inc. 227pp.
- Watts, Eric L., The New Moon Directory, self-published from 1988-1998 (contained complete index of all known APA's at the time)
- Wertham, Fredric, The World of Fanzines, (Carbondale & Evanston: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973)