Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Rambling Interview with Robert S. Napier, Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of our senses-staggering bull session with Bob Napier, you can catch up by clicking right HERE. And if you're one of the few remaining earthlings yet to order your copy of his latest book, The Toyman Rides Again, you can do so below.

Last time we yapped about Bob's days in comics fandom, leading up to his arrival on the mystery scene. Got your seat belt fastened? Let's go.

ME: As you mentioned last time, you moved from comics fandom directly into mystery fandom. And that means Dapa-Em (a twisted acronym for Elementary, My Dear Amateur Press Association) Could you explain, for those unfamiliar with it, how Dapa-Em works?

BOB: Well, there was a three-year hiatus when I wasn't in any kind of fandom--my lost years. Dapa-Em is a mystery apa (Amateur Press Alliance/Association). An apa has a limited membership and each member is responsible for producing a small zine for the mailings (or issues). Enough copies of each person's zine are produced to cover the number of members plus a few extras. Those zines are mailed to the Official Editor, Central Mailer, Ramrod, or Big TOE--whatever the title might be. He or she collates each person's zine into a large zine, or mailing. The mailing is then sent to each member and includes his zine as well as everyone else's. There are usually dues to cover postage costs and a minimum number of pages a member must submit to stay on the roster. In Dapa-Em, minimum activity (minac) is four pages every other mailing, and mailings come out six times a year. I ramrod a Western apa called OWLHOOT* that is quarterly.

ME: How was Dapa-Em born? Who were some of the principles involved? Were you there at the beginning?

BOB: I wasn't there at the beginning. A woman from New York named Donna Balopole started it. I don't know the year, but around '74 I'd say. Art Scott mentioned its existence when he was in APA-5 but I wasn't reading mysteries then so I didn't think anything of it. By 1979 I was at loose ends and wanted to be in an apa again. I wasn't reading comics, but I knew of Dapa-Em and by now Art Scott had taken the helm. I joined and my mystery knowledge grew exponentially from there. Some of the people who are or were members include Bill Crider, Barry Gardner, Don Sandstrom, Marv Lachman, Bruce Taylor, Steve Stilwell, Janet Rudolph, Sue Feder, Steve Lewis, Beth Fedyn, and some guy named Dave Lewis.

ME: I recall someone (I think it was that Dave Lewis guy) once describing Dapa-Em as “a cross between a religion and a disease”. I understand the apa recently celebrated its 200th mailing, but now appears to be winding down. Is it true this mystery institution may soon go the way of the dodo?

BOB: We're looking forward to #212 as we speak. Art Scott will give up his job as Official Editor in January 2011. Either Dapa-Em will die then or it will continue on for 17 more mailings under me. I've volunteered to keep it alive if certain conditions are met. I'm pretty sure that even if it continues with me for 17 more mailings it will end at that point. I might mention that a large number of Fan Guests of Honor at Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime came from the ranks of Dapa-Em.

ME: Dapa-Em has generated an incredible amount of valuable material related to mystery fiction. Has there been serious talk about a series of "Best of Dapa-Em" anthologies, or creating a website to share some of this info with the world?

BOB: Kate Derie wanted to copy the entire run to CD or DVD but that isn't likely to happen. A "best of" wouldn't be a bad idea but I don't think anyone wants to do it. Also, much of what goes on is casual. Other than reviews you won't find much sercon material. Where would you sell it, and to whom? Who would produce it? Mystery fandom isn't really very fannish and I'm not sure there would be a market for such an endeavor.

Coming soon: Part 3

Below: Cap'n Bob in days of yore with his two darlings. The one on the left now attends the University of Washington, the one on the right has a bun in the oven, and the guy in the middle has a new pair of glasses.

*OWLHOOT is devoted to wide-ranging discussions of western fiction, movies, TV, pulps, history, OTR, comics, music and more. The current roster includes: Fred Blosser, Bill Crider, Paul Dellinger, Frank Denton, Dale Goble, Jim Griffin, A.P. McQuiddy, Richard Moore, Bob Napier, Laurie Powers, Richard Prosch, James Reasoner, Thom Walls, Joseph A. West and me. Interested? Comment here or shoot me an email.


Richard Robinson said...

Hey, Cap'n Bob, I'M in DAPA-Em too, you forgot to mention. Sheesh. I can hardly wait to find out what those "certain conditions" that will have to be met will be...

I'm enjoying this series, and am already looking forward to #3.

Evan Lewis said...

My stint in DAPA-Em lasted three or four years, I think, and was sometime in the 80s, I think. Details are hazy, but I sure enjoyed it.

In coming days and weeks I'll be asking the Cap'n about goings-on at mystery conventions, the late, lamented Mystery and Detective Monthly, and his alter-ego Jack Lorentz.

Cap'n Bob said...

Sorry, Richard. I should have added the usual,"and other notables I'm sure I'm forgetting." You certainly are a key member, as is Ted Hertel and others I'm omitting. Blame my failing memory.

Richard R. said...

All is forgiven, Cap'n. I'm eager to see the "certain requirements" when the mailing comes. I guess that old saying is true, you can take the man out of the apa, but you can't take the apa out of the man.

Anonymous said...

What am I, chopped liver?


Anyway, great interview. Can't wait for chapter three.

Jeff M.

Cap'n Bob said...

Yes, you're another valued member, Jeff. And Richard Moore, Ted the Younger, George Kelley, et al.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

Good interview, I must say I enjoyed it very much. :)