Saturday, June 29, 2024

What the Heck is APA

After I stopped working for Louis, I would spend the afternoon and early evening staying late at school prior to rehearsal. Platt College had a rather impressive computer lab. 


One of their courses was computer aided drafting or CAD. I wasn't part of that course, but any student was welcome to use the computer lab, provided room was available. There was always lots of room in the lab in the afternoon after classes were over. 

I used to contribute to this thing called an APA. It stands for Amateur Press Alliance, which sounds pretty fancy. I found out about APAs from an article in Comics Scene Magazine. The article focused on the APA as a means of expression for comic book fans, and it even name-dropped a few famous comics creators who had first cut their teeth by contributing to APAs (like, current at the time of the article, Daredevil writer/artist Frank Miller.) 

The article included contact information for several APAs that were active at the time of the article. I wrote all of them. One APA wrote back. The person who wrote me back was Mary Bierbaum. (She and her husband Tom will go on to write the Legion of Superheroes for DC comics.) The next thing I knew, I was contributing stories and art based on my favorite comic characters and sharing them with 2 dozen like-minded fans. 

How it worked was that amateur writers and artists would draw or write comic book stories. Sometimes these would be about original characters but mostly it was fan fiction. Then the creator of this material would make copies of their work. They would make a number of copies equal to the number of members in the APA. This was usually around 25-30, I think. 

Membership in the APA was restricted and numbers kept small to reduce the financial burden of making copies on its members. The copies were then sent to a central location, to a member of the group elected as the "central mailer." That person would take all of the copies received from all members and divide them up. Everyone would get one copy of their own work back and also get one copy of everyone else's.

You shared art and stories, and you commented on everyone's stuff. It was an awesome, supportive, and creative community. It was really one of the best things that I've ever been a part of. What's more, the APA motivated me to grow. That's what I was doing there in the computer lab everyday after school. I was teaching myself desktop publishing. 

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