Taral Wayne: Old Toys
As indicated by the title, Mike Glicksohnís appreciative piece about Fan GoH Taral Wayne was first published in Old Toys, a collection of Mr. Wayneís fan writing published by DITTO.
A long time ago, in a fanzine fandom far, far away, there were Les Croutch and Beak Taylor. Later no star shone brighter than Boyd Raeburn. For a while Susan Wood and Mike Glicksohn took centre stage. And then it was the time of Wayne MacDonald, who morphed into Taral Wayne.
One might have thought that our shared passion for fanzines and fanzine fandom and fanhistory would have made me and Taral instant friends but the truth is for some time we didnít get along at all well. I thought he was strange and socially less than ept and lived an unfocussed existence and wore weird clothes at conventions. For all I know he thought I was an aging hippy, an over-the-hill drunk who was overpaid and used to wear weird clothes at conventions. We co-existed in our world of choice but we werenít friends.
And yet my reaction to Taral the person never prevented me from acknowledging that he was a prodigious talent, a fan who enriched the world of fanzines and deserved much greater recognition than he ever got. (That Taral never won a Hugo for his artwork while others with not a fraction of his ability have done so makes a travesty of the award.)
Initially, I considered him an artist. I may not always have enjoyed the subject matter of his many covers and illustrations but there was no denying the amazing artistic talent he brought to all his work, his painstaking incredible attention to detail.
Then he established himself as an excellent editor and publisher and I became aware of his writing ability, firstly as a reporter of local fannish news and then as the creator of some excellent pieces of major fan writing which, at least to my eyes, were reminiscent of the superior work of such famed Irish fanwriters as John Berry and James White.
My appreciation of this multi-talented fan just continued to rise with each new addition to his fannish canon. (And, Iím pleased to say, we overcame our initial mutual reactions and became if not friends at least friendly associates.)
DITTO has put together an anthology of a half dozen of Taralís significant pieces of fanwriting. If you think of Taral primarily as an artist I believe youíll be astounded at what a fine writer he is and I envy you the pleasure enjoying these works for the first time will bring. If, like me, youíve read most of these articles before give yourself a real treat and read them again. And remind yourself what really excellent fanwriting is like.
Taral is one of the most significant figures in the entire history of Canadian fandom and I applaud the DITTO committee for acknowledging that and giving him the recognition he so richly deserves by producing this anthology. Now stop wasting time, turn the page and get into the really GOOD writing!
ó Mike Glicksohn
5 October Ď02
Taral Wayne: Neverware
Robert Charles Wilsonís short appraisal of our Fan Guest of Honour was originally commissioned by Mr. Wayne for a heretofore unpublished collection of his artwork.
Iíve watched Taralís artwork evolve over the course of some twenty-five years now Ė through science fiction art, cartoons, comic and ďfurryĒ art Ė and what strikes me, despite all this diversity, is the consistency of his vision.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Stephen Millhauser wrote a short story called ďin the Penny ArcadeĒ, in which an adolescent boy re-visits the amusement park he has loved every summer of his childhood. But the boy has reached a critical age. What seemed magical is suddenly tawdry. The quick-draw cowboy automaton, black-hatted villain of his dreams and nightmares, has become a vulgar machine.
The moment passes. He can recapture the magic; it isnít lost; but what once came naturally is now an effort, a willed act.
What is marvelous about Taralís artwork is precisely this willful reclamation of the childís eye. Here are sticky sidewalks, window displays, Christmas presents, spaceships, comic books… simple objects rendered with loving attention. Here also are depictions of a more adult sensuality, but the focus isnít so much genital as textural: fur, glass, stone, liquid.
I remember a drawing Taral once showed me, of a boy dragging a sled through a cold winter night. The sledís tracks fade into the distance. The boy is bundled in Canadian winter gear. Heís alone, and the stars are shining. (Imagination supplies the cloud of frozen breath, the crunch of brittle snow.)
Itís as effective a self-portrait as Taral has produced, and it shines through all the pieces in his collection. Enter, and watch the automaton spring to life: yes, by God, itís possible, even after all these years.
ó Robert Charles Wilson
16 March 2000