Walt Willis

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Walt Willis at the London Science Fiction Convention, 1953

Walt Willis (Walter Alexander Willis) (1919-1999) was a science fiction fanzine editor from Belfast, Ireland.

Walt Willis published his first fanzine in 1948. Called Slant, it immediately drew attention due to the writing of Willis, and also featured the linoleum cuts of Art Editor James White. Slant was published from 1948 till 1953.

In 1952 he began Hyphen, first co-edited with Chuck Harris till 1958, and then with Ian McAuley till 1962 and then with Madelaine Willis from 1963 till the zine ended in 1965, with a special edition published by both in 1987.

In between issues of Hyphen Willis published Toto as a supplement, with a number of editors including Chuck Harris, Redd Boggs (Sky Hook), Harry Turner (Zenith), Richard Bergeron (Warhoon), and others.

In 1958 Willis was awarded the Hugo Award as "Outstanding Actifan" (active fan). He was nominated for a best fan writer Hugo in 1969 and two retro-Hugos in the same category (in 2001, 2004 for work in 1951, 1954). In 1959 and 1957 he was nominated in the fanzine category for Hyphen, and he received fanzine retro-Hugo nominations in 2004 for Slant and Hyphen. He shared a retro-Hugo for Slant with that fanzine's art editor James White.

His best known single work is "The Enchanted Duplicator" (1954), co-written with Bob Shaw, an allegory of a fan's quest to produce the perfect fanzine.

Willis was well known for his writing for other zines, especially for the column "The Harp That Once or Twice" that began in the U.S. fanzine Quandry, edited by Lee Hoffman, in 1951. This led to Willis's fame in SF fandom in the U.S.A., and to his attending the 1952 Worldcon in Chicago as a special guest, recipient of travel funds raised by fans under the leadership of Shelby Vick, editor of Confusion, who called the fund-raising 'the Willis Campaign', with the slogan, "WAW with the crew in '52!' which led to the establishment of the annual TransAtlantic Fan Fund.

Ten years later, on the Anniversary of the first trip, Larry Shaw and Noreen Shaw began their fanzine, Axe, and another WAW Fund to help bring Walt and Madelaine back to the U.S.A for the 1962 Worldcon.

He published one book professionally under the pseudonym Walter Bryan called, The Improbable Irish (1969), a linked sequence of mostly humorous essays about Ireland's history and its people.

In 1978, Richard Bergeron produced a 614-page hardcover mimeographed issue of his fanzine Warhoon, devoted to collecting most of Willis's writings. Warhoon number 28 contains all of Willis' columns; "The Harp That Once Or Twice", "The Harp Stateside", and "Twice Upon A Time", as well as other writing.



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