What can one say about the Fred Norris fan club, and its publication The Earthdog News, that hasn't already been said? Well, lot's actually, since no one's really had anything to say about it.
Holly Weber and I started the Fred Norris Fan Club one night in October 1989. We'd seen Fred that night at the US Open Sores, a faux-tennis event concocted by Howard Stern, and decided we were in love with Fred. I'd just gotten (a year before, I think) my ever-lovin' PS2 70, a super-fast 386 with a whopping 4 megabytes of RAM and a hard-drive smaller than most people's Talking Pikachu watches, running DOS 4 and a run-times windows for PaceMaker (I mean PageMaker). I'd been doing zines on it for the past year, and I always wanted to be president of a fan club since my days of joining every fan club from the Archies to the Banana Splits to Sparks, so it seemed a natural, normal thing to do at the time. We'd have a fan club, and a fan club newsletter. We decided to call it Earthdog News, rather than the Fred Norris Fan Club newsletter, as a reference to a nickname that Howard occasionally used for Fred. I figured it'd cost next to nothing if we copied it at work and we could make people send us postage if they wanted copies. Basically I was looking for reasons to write goofy stuff and fax it around and annoy people, and Holly was looking to get closer to Fred. Peter Bernard helped with writing and layout and of course, illustrations. It probably took us about 2 weeks to finish our first issue (it shows, I know). We faxed it to K-Rock, the station that Howard Stern was on at the time (and still is, in New York), and went around telling people that we were the presidents of the Fred Norris Fan club.
Backstory? Fred is a writer for the Howard Stern show, and is notoriously weird. Highly reclusive, until he'd gotten married and attempted to be normal, very few of his close co-workers had ever seen his apartment. He allegedly had blankets nailed over the windows rather than buy curtain, ate strangely (he'd bring a pouch of nuts to work every day), visited his parents in Connecticut every weekend, fell asleep in front of the tv... in other words, the sort of guy who, in another world, would be that weird neighbor who still lives with his mom at age 45, sequestered in the basement, with a huge collection of obscure hillbilly records. Also, in other words, the least likely person to have a fan club devoted to them. At the time, Howard Stern, while not quite obscure, was only on the air in a few markets, and very few women would admit to listening to him. So I can sort of imagine the laughs around the Stern Show offices upon finding out that two hot babes had a fan club for Fred!
It didn't take very long before Howard and crew began discussing the newsletter on the air. Articles were read, our mental health was questioned... instant fame! We garnered fan club members and additional staff members (Mr. Marv, Matt Feightner, and David Graifman joined the original staff of Peter, Merv Thing, Holly, and me). We heard first and second-hand accounts of how much Fred and the rest of the crew looked forward to each issue, and how Fred actually took the issues home to his parents!
Earthdog News died a premature death in its 2nd year. Peter moved on to animation and cartooning, and we collaborated on a celebrated one-shot zine called Snevil. Holly and I had a falling out. Mr. Marv moved to California, Matt Feightner moved to Buffalo, and David Graifman joined MENSA.
I still run into people who remember the Fred Norris Fan club, and it's nice to know that I was able to make an impression in a very strange way.
coming very soon: pdfs of the Earthdog News!