By John Tynes, © 1994
TUO3 was a real breakthrough issue. It was our longest to date at 68 pages, and was packed with useful material. The two scenarios were quite good and the big “Mysterious Manuscripts” section was chock full of good stuff. The look of TUO3 was also improved over past issues, and TUO3 introduced our first mail order offerings — TUO1 & TUO2, subscriptions, a t-shirt, and our limited edition book STARK RAVING MAD!
That latter item was touched on in the The Annotated TUO2, and I promised to discuss here a bit more. So here goes. STARK RAVING MAD! began because I wanted to do a special book that would be free to subscribers — I just had no idea what it actually be. At the first get-together of Kevin Ross, Scott Aniolowski, and myself, we were standing on the porch late at night watching a thunderstorm move through the area and began talking about the idea. What they suggested was a book to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Call of Cthulhu (1981-1991), which would contain interviews with the game’s creators, writers, and artists. They offered to put the project together, and assembled a standard set of questions to send to each interviewee. These questions dealt with the nature of horror, HPL’s work, and various things relating to CoC and what made it tick. Contributors included CoC creator Sandy Petersen, Chaosium staffers Lynn Willis and Keith Herber, and a variety of writers and artists including Tom Sullivan, Mike Szymanski, Bill Barton, Mark Morrison, as well as Kevin and Scott. Several contributors provided brief articles or (in the case of Sullivan & Earl Geier) artwork to use in the book. The whole thing was published as a 52-page booklet with a cover by Jeff Barber, and printed in a numbered edition of 200 copies. These took more than a year to sell out, but I was very pleased with the project and still am. I don’t think many readers have ever heard of this book, but if you can find a copy you should pick it up.
Pagan’s first GenCon (operating from within the Chaosium booth) also saw the debut of White Wolf’s VAMPIRE game. I distinctly remember tagging along with Mike Szymanski to thrust copies of TUO1-3 and SRM! into the hands of VAMPIRE author Mark Rein-Hagen in trade for some White Wolf stuff. He hadn’t seen TUO before, and had a look on his face like “Uh, okay, sure, whatever,” as he took these oddly-colored black-and-white little zines. At the next GenCon, though, he came by the booth and had some very nice things to say — having read TUO1-3 and more in the meantime.
That GenCon (1991) was where the debut of TUO3 occurred, along with the t-shirt and Stark Raving Mad! as well. It was a coming-out party of sorts for Pagan, although no one there really knew who we were or even noticed us except for the Chaosium folks of course. Still, we had fun.
This series contains the complete contents of TUO3, lacking artwork and four articles. The first, “Automatic Weapons in Call of Cthulhu” by John H. Crowe, III, has been superceded by John’s massive reference work THE WEAPONS COMPENDIUM, once available through Pagan Publishing’s mail order catalog. The second and third, “The Travesty” by Chris Klepac and “The House On Stratford Lane” by John H Crowe, III are two scenario gems that appeared in THE RESURRECTED * VOLUME TWO in the spring of 1994. The fourth, “Excerpts From The Investigative Journals Of Mikhail Aksakov,” was the first part of a two-part short story by artist Blair Reynolds that concluded in TUO4.
All annotations by me are enclosed in brackets, and are © 1994 John Tynes.