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Watershed

Terry Wessner

Mailbox Books is ceasing operations on April 30, 1999. This brings to a close twelve years of exceptional service from owner Ed Zolna.

For over a decade Mailbox Books has served as the premiere source for anthropomorphic animal publications, first in North America, and later to the world at large. Ed's mail order Vast Catalog of Other Good Stuff! gave fans the convenience of one stop shopping for comic books, magazines, portfolios, single prints, and even the occasional roleplaying game.

Although Mailbox carried professionally produced publications such as Usagi Yojimbo, the vast majority of its stock was amateur or fan created material. This served both the creators and the audience of such publications very well. Typically these zines and portfolios are the smallest of the small press, often having print runs of less than 100 copies.

With such low numbers, distribution has often spotty at best. It's very common for a fanzine or sell published and self printed comic book to be available only within a single province or state. But Mailbox Books gave these works a wide distribution. The creators got their work out to more interested customers, and fans were able to discover work that they normally would never have even heard of.
 

Rather than lamenting the loss of Mailbox Books, I want to congratulate Ed Zolna for all his hard work. Here's just a few of the things about Mailbox Books that have impressed me over the years.

  • The range of material offered. Besides the furry publications that were its bread and butter, Mailbox also carried science fiction comics by the likes of Matt Howarth and Phil Foglio.

  • The speedy responses. Whenever I mailed an order to Ed, I always got it delivered to me with two weeks. Later, when Ed got set up to receive email, he usually replied to that within one or two days.

  • The frequent updates. Ed sent his customers regular updated listings to the Vast Catalog every quarter, and sometimes even once a month. This meant getting new stuff sooner, and being less likely to miss out on items with very limited availability.

  • The backstock of publications. Many times I was able to fill holes in my comic book collection. When I discovered a new magazine or comic through Mailbox, I was usually able to get all the previous issues as well.

  • All around friendliness. Whether it was by letter, email, or chatting with him in person at conventions, I've always found Ed to be very personable and professional.

  • And finally, I want to thank Ed for stocking and selling Fang, Claw, & Steel since its very first issue!

At the time I write this, there are a number of proposals making the rounds for a replacement or alternative to Mailbox Books. These range from small press zines offering each other advertising space, or the creation of a small press ring on the Internet, all the way up to the possibility of someone purchasing Ed Zolna's entire stock and reincarnating Mailbox Books under a new name. Whether any of these ideas takes hold remains to be seen.

Fang, Claw, & Steel will continue. New and back issues will still be available from the address on the inside front cover. Starting with next issue, FC&S will also be offering prepaid subscriptions.

It's going to feel a little strange not sending my usual stack of copies to Mailbox, though. So this issue is dedicated to the departing Mailbox books, and to Ed Zolna, a swell guy!


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