Vanguard

The Vanguard Amateur Press Association. Fandom's second apa, a spin-off from FAPA that fancied itself fanzine fandom’s intellectual elite. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it had among its members at various times a number of well-known fans, some of whom became or already were well-known pros, including but not limited to James Blish, Robert Bloch, Mel Brown, Russell Chauvenet, Bill Danner, George Ebey, Virginia Kidd Emden (who later became Virginia Blish and then Virginia Kidd), Dale Hart, Joe Kennedy, Jim Kepner, damon knight, Robert A. W. Lowndes, John Michel, Alva Rogers, Samuel D. Russell, Art Saha, Larry Shaw, Norm Stanley, Raymond Washington Jr., Harry Warner Jr., Bill Watson, Basil Wells, Don &, Elsie Wollheim and Dan & Judy Zissman (later Judy Merril)

Contributors: Dr. Gafia

from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959
or VAPA. The Vanguard Amateur Press Association was announced by the Futurians in March '45. Since key Futurian FAPAtes had quit in the Little Interregnum of Feb '45, and since Futurian control of the new organization was solid, much hard feeling over "attempts to torpedo FAPA" resulted, and it was alleged that, having failed to dominate FAPA (which they had founded) the Futurians wanted to destroy it and start a new organization they could rule. (Actually, informs Larry Shaw, it was true that VAPA was formed by Futurians as an organization they could control, but not that their intention was to scuttle FAPA; they didn't care what happened to the older group.)

The group was originally conceived as the Gothic Amateur Press Association, and the first publication (Wollheim's GAPA Vanguard) came out with that name. Shortly afterward, a move began to change the name to Modern APA, and Jim Blish put that name on the first issue of Tumbrils. Finally a compromise was reached between Gothic and Moderns in the title Vanguard (and the first mag to bear this tag was Lowndes' Agenbite of Inwit).

(Vanguard, for obvious semantic reasons, was a popular name with Futurians anyway; Blish and Lowndes about this time planned a Vanguard Record Company that came to naught after a few discs; in the stf boom of the middle '50s, Blish edited a prozine titled Vanguard, which aroused discussion because people thought he was trying to capitalize on the use of that name by the US Govt for a rocket/missile.)

VAPA's setup was, to say the least, peculiar. An Official Manager ran the club — put out the mailings (5 a year), handled funds and records, published the OO Vanguard Amateur, and interpreted the Constitution; he was the only officer elected by the club. But a Board of Advisors (First, Second, and Third) dealt with admission to and renewal of membership. The idea was that each year the Third Advisor would drop out, the others move down one place, and the outgoing Official Manager become the new First Advisor. Since the OM for the first year (Lowndes) and all three advisers (Wollheim, Larry Shaw, and Virginia Kidd Emden, in that order) were pre-selected by the Futurians, accusations of a Plot to Dominate, whether or not true, had a certain plausibility. If such a plan existed, the Futurian split over the X Document, later in the year, ruined it.

VAPA folded late in 1950 of inanition, for tho it contained such illustrious braintrusters as Lowndes, Blish, Norm Stanley, Harry Warner jr, Bill Danner, damon knight and C Burton Stevenson, only the New Yorkers showed much activity; when their energy leaked away, there wasn't anything left. 'Tis said the treasury was turned over to CARE or some similar charity.

As of the 2nd mailing, May 1945, the following were VAPA members: James Blish, Russell Chauvenet, George Ebey, V. K. Emden (who of course was later Virginia Blish), Joe Kennedy, Jim Kepner, Damon Knight, Robert Lowndes, John Michel, Benson Perry, Alva Rogers, Art Saha, H. Loren Sinn, Larry Shaw, Norm Stanley, Raymond Washington Jr., Bill Watson, Felix Wilsey, Don Wollheim, Elsie Wollheim, Dan Zissman and Judy Zissman (later Merril). VAPA also had subscribers, who were at this point: F. Lee Baldwin, C. L. Barrett MD, Capt. Jack B. Emden, Walter Kubilius, Walt Liebscher, A. L. Schwartz and Graph Waldeyer. Lowndes was the "Provisional Manager," and Wollheim, Larry Shaw and V. K. Emden were the 1st, 2nd and 3rd
"Advisors," respectively.

By the 5th mailing, November 1945, the membership had changed considerably. Chauvenet was gone, and the following had been added: Robert Bloch, Mel Brown, William Danner, Dale Hart, John Hollis Mason, William R. Rau Jr., Samuel D. Russell, Henry Sostman and Basil Wells. Additional subscribers were Barbara Bliss, Donn Brazier, Walt Dunkelberger, Emil Petaja, Fred Pohl and Frank WilimczykBarrett had apparently let his subscription lapse.

Given some of the members and subscribers, I would question whether VAPA really was "fandom's intellectual elite." Certainly no one would accuse Dunkelberger of that!
Robert Lichtman

Members and Apazines: