This was possibly the most successful number of the first year of publication. Fueled by spite, cold sodas, and an angry mob, the organization set out to Show Them. Topics were farmed out at a bull session held in the back room of a bar in the back of a bowling alley.
Pieces were written up, layout was accomplished, and a friend of the editor volunteered a midnight print run at a place better known for funeral programs. One dealer discount, and several hours with teaspoons and staplers later, the issue hit the streets. The actual content may not be much to write home about, but all involved look back fondly on the production and focus of the theme. Even if it’s not all that apparent now.
A noted number. The first theme issue. It seemed like a good idea, and draft layout and most of the content was written on Christmas Eve, 1993. It was a snowy day, and extended into the early evening. One of the founders drove from Allendale to Grand Haven for a family function after the most striking element of the issue was composed. Neither of the authors slept well for several days after, and final layout–and posting–took place during the week between Christmas and New Year. It is widely rumored that the University now locks, bars, and puts chains around the door handles of the computer labs each year during that week.
The end of an era… makes me go all teary just thinking of our lost youth. We believed so, so much in the purity of our ideals, and the primacy of humor, and our ability to just get along with everybody we met on campus. Unity, you know.
This number was the final issue without a theme. The founders ran on at the mouth. As usual. And they didn’t get the puns in their contributor’s pen names. As usual. And the best part was the cartoon. As usual.
Despite its better judgment, the funding source agreed to a bit of the old filth in support of some of the new filth. Having seen only the first and second numbers, it may be reasonable to assume they did not know what they were signing on for. Nevertheless, they agreed.
Certain sophisticated design standards were applied to this number, making it appear more like a serious publication, and less like a mimeographed flier from a very small chapter of the John Birch Society. Again, it’s best not to dwell too long on the actual content. Except for the cartoon, which rewards sustained contemplation like nobody’s business.
After being taken public, the Harpoon attracted wise assistance from people the founders tended not to listen to very much. A good way to get listened to was to be obnoxious and loud, take charge-y, and good at something.
This number is a mock-up of a more refined style, created to impress upon a board of funders the notion that it would be a good idea to stake the endeavor. Its content is possibly the most even of all the numbers, and it has the good sense to be 25% less filling than the standard issue. It’s quite rare, so feel good about seeing it.
Honestly, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, sure, it was August, group housing was involved, a touch of Tom Sawyer, a healthy dollop of heat exhaustion, and probably some dehydration. But when the idea presented itself, it seemed natural. One download from… probably Compuserve… using a 26k modem, and the Harpoon was in business. Yes, that, and most importantly a vase of flowers for a friendly receptionist in the university print shop.
There was some writing involved, but it’s probably best to not dwell on that.