Was there an official Buckaroo Banzai newsletter?


Yes. World Watch One began in 1985 as a response to fan mail sent to 20th Century Fox. As former newsletter staffer Steve Lee explained in his blog (http://hollywoodlostandfound.net/blog/2006/08/buckaroo-banzai.html), “The Buckaroo Banzai mail was being answered at the Fox offices by several other fans of the film, including Dianne Wickes and Denise Tathwell. With the studio's permission, they had taken it upon themselves to form a real "Banzai Institute" - an informal fan club with its own newsletter. They promoted the film by sending out left-over press kits, stills, Banzai headbands, and lots of other cool stuff.”

Dianne, Denise, and others began collecting names for a growing mailing list as they sent fans what Dianne described as, “neat stuff down in [Fox’s] storeroom, waiting to be trashed.” In August, 1985, World Watch One began its turbulent history. Additional information about the newsletter Founders can be found under the question Who was behind the official Buckaroo Banzai newsletter? (http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/publicity6.html)

The newsletters are listed below. Copies of the originals can be found in pdf format on the net at http://www.worldwatchonline.com/library.htm.

The following information was originally provided by Rob Chatlin. It was expanded and revised by Dan Berger in the summer of 2007.

The latest issue of the 25.75th anniversary issue of the World Watch One newsletter released in June, 2010. More information can be found below. 

Neat Stuff From Fox's Storeroom

*APRIL 1985*

TABB Movie Production Info - a 2 page, black glossy document with photos, cast and crew info.

"Some Hard Facts and Persistent Rumors Concerning Buckaroo Banzai" by W.D. Richter

"The Hong Kong Cavaliers" by Mrs. Johnson

*APRIL 1985*

Separate mailing, "Moving Through Matter with Buckaroo Banzai" by Dr. Cary I. Sneider. A copy of this essay can currently be found on the web at http://www.geekazon.com/banzai/index.html.

*MAY 1985*

Just a letter to me (Rob) from the fan club people at 20th Century Fox.

*JUNE 1985*

Another letter and fan club flyers asking for members (3x).

Official Newsletter

 

*AUGUST 1985*

Inaugural Newsletter - 17 pages

Download here : http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-aug85.pdf

The August 1985 edition of World Watch One established the tone and format of the newsletter for several years to come. The cover, emblazoned with an early line drawing of the back-to-back “Bs” of the Blue Blaze Irregular logo, lists the newsletter’s editorial credits and contributors/contents, as well as the familiar shout-out encouraging any “Irregular Blue Blazes” to write Fox and have their names added to the mailing list.

Page one is a “Letter from the Directors,” introducing the newsletter and encouraging fans to send their own “…letters of comment, reports on local chapter activities, questions, cartoons, anecdotes and items for the Bulletin Board…” Page two is a brief letter to the fans from W.D. Richter welcoming readers and describing some of the declassified documents to be found inside. The rest is filled with  4 drawings by Earl Mac Rauch, various updates on cast and crew from the film, various Lectroid cartoons by Cory Edwards, several brief news clips of “goings-on” around the Institute, Jet Car concept drawings, the first ever (and ever popular) “Bulletin Board” feature, and a Buckaroo Banzai trivia quiz.

*DECEMBER 1985*

Supplement - 11 pages

Download here : http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-dec85.pdf

Aside from the Blue Blaze logo disappearing from the cover of this (and subsequent) issues, the December 1985 edition shows all the signs of having settled into a groove. It opens with a Letter from the Directors explaining why this is a supplement and not a full blown installment, as well as news that the mailing list had grown to over 3,500 members. Contents include cast and crew updates, an order form for Banzai t-shirts, the Bulletin Board, a list of films then in production at 20th Century Fox, and Holiday greetings from the Banzai Institute’s West Coast offices.

*APRIL 1986*

Newsletter - 28 pages including 2 page merchandise flyer

Download here : http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-apr86.pdf

This issue’s Letter from the Directors opens with a mixed bag of news. All rights to TABB were set to revert from Twentieth Century Fox back to Sherwood Productions (since re-named Gladden Entertainment) in July of that year, thus prompting the announcement that a June, 1986 edition of World Watch One would be the last. Plans were in place to release a BBI Directory listing many of the then 5,000+ members on the mailing list, prompting the sentiment, “With over 5,000 of you out there, we can see that our funeral, too, will indeed be a big one!” Fortunately, such dire predictions proved to be premature.

The remainder of the newsletter included cartoons/illustrations by Jeff Huddleston, Cory Edwards, Theodor Schwartz, and Dianne Wickes, various and sundry bits of Institute “news,” a crossword puzzle, directions on how to tie a bow tie in eight easy steps as well as several other articles on subjects ranging from the song “Since I Don’t Have You” to locations shot in TABB, and TWO articles by W. D. Richter. First is a “Strike Team Alert!” which serves as a teaser for the Banzaiesque TV series HEROES IN TROUBLE then in development at ABC by Richter and Rauch. Richter also elucidates that greatest of mysteries, “Why is there a watermelon there?” The issue is rounded out with concept drawings for the Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems logo and the 1950s Jet Car featured in the originally cut prologue to the film, as well as the ever-lovin’ zaniness of the Institute’s Bulletin Board.

*NOVEMBER 1986*

Newsletter - 28 pages including 4 page merchandise flyer

Download here : http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-nov86.pdf

As will happen on occasion with fan newsletters, the promised June, 1986 edition of World Watch One did not make an appearance until several months later. The ubiquitous “Letter from the Directors,” also states, in contrast to the tone of the April issue, that the newsletter would in fact continue unabated with the financial backing of Steve and KathE Walker of Denver, CO based Starland. The readership at this time tallied an astonishing 7,000+ subscribers.

The rest of the newsletter continued in the mold established in previous issues, including the Bulletin Board, news from around the Institute, a word puzzle, cartoons and illustrations by fans, many of them Lectroidcentric, as well as many examples of production art from the film. Some of the highlights include two pages from an early draft of Earl Mac Rauch’s HEROES IN TROUBLE script then nearing its December completion, as well as another fragment by Rauch (credited to Reno Nevada) describing the origins of the Buckaroo Banzai videogame, from a piece with the familiar title, “Bastardy Proved A Spur.”

*FALL 1987*

Newsletter - 24 pages, some for merchandise

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-fall87.pdf

On the face of things, the fourth issue of World Watch One was “business as usual,” with the exception that the publication’s offices had moved to Denver. Matters appeared more turbulent below the surface. The tone of the Letter from the Directors had changed from looking forward to the contents of the current issue to looking distinctly backwards and a little inward. These sentiments are best summed up midway through the introduction: “It has been nearly three years since ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai’ was released, yet interest in the film and the world it depicts continues to grow. Unfortunately, due to the pressures of work, family responsibilities, changing lifestyles, etc., some of our fellow Directors have had less time of late to participate in BBI activities.” The Fall 1987 issue would be the last under the stewardship of the original BBI Directors.

All of the usual suspects noted in previous issues are present. Of special interest is an interview with Peter Weller by Steve Lee conducted from the set of Robocop, as well as storyboard art from the film itself.

*WINTER 1988-1989*

Newsletter - 16 pages

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-win88.pdf

By Winter, 1988/89, the complexion of World Watch One had drastically changed. More than a year had passed since the last issue, and a new editorial team was in place after the exodus of the original Directors.

The second coming of World Watch One was shepherded by the husband and wife team of Nancy and Alan Smith. As stated in the Editors’ notes, now called “Greetings & Salutations,” “The Founding Directors are no longer involved, due to changes in their careers and interests. However, Steve and KathE Walker of Starland in Denver are still eager to publish and distribute this newsletter…When this came to our attention, we volunteered to take on the responsibilities of reviving the club.”

It was a tall order. After four years, changes in the careers and interests of many fans seemed to be taking them away from Banzai fandom too. Circulation had dropped from 7,000 to 3,000 over the previous two years. Worse still, the once free newsletter now came at a price—$2.00/issue or $5.00/three issues—an indication that profits from TABB merchandise sold by Starland to support the costs of publication were in decline and a deterrent to those interested in the newsletter so long as it was free.

The tone of the newsletter had changed as well; assuming a more purposed, less quixotic voice. Much of the issue was taken up with the articles “Start A Troop [of BBIs]”, and “BBIs At Conventions.” Rather than news from around the Institute, news focused more squarely upon the real life goings-on of TABB actors and various fan activities.

Not all had changed. World Watch One 2.0 still had room for the Bulletin Board, a TABB video quiz, and a little Banzai Haiku. More importantly, World Watch One hadn’t given up the ghost. The newsletter, however, was soon to take an extended leave of absence.

*SPRING 1990*

Newsletter - 13 pages

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-spring90.pdf

More than a year would pass before the final issue of World Watch One’s second incarnation hit the streets. Matters were getting grim. The Editors’ notes open to state, point blank, “…the meager response from those who received the Winter 88/89 issue wasn’t very encouraging, (as far as we can figure, 1 in every 200 wrote) and made us question whether we wanted to continue with any ‘formal’ newsletter… Then, we lost contact with StevE and KathE Walker…”

Not all was gloom and doom, however. The year-plus between issues was time well spent. A new infusion of documents and production art from the film had been acquired in the interim, to the newsletter’s benefit. Amongst the goodies were an official location list dated May 16, 1983, a portion of the shooting schedule for day 1 of the film, and various concept drawings of Lectroid spacecraft. One innovation was an offer on the part of the editors to make and send free Team Banzai buttons to any BBIs willing to answer a couple of questions.

All in all, the newsletter appeared to be settling down creatively after a slightly rocky transition. In the end, however, the fan base had moved on to the point where the newsletter’s continued existence was no longer fiscally viable. Starland pulled the plug, World Watch One came to an end, and time passed.

*FALL 2004*

20th Anniversary Newsletter – 36 pages plus bonus materials

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-fall04.pdf

Four years after the 1990 issue of World Watch One, Banzai fandom began to re-emerge as a presence on the Internet, first in the AOL newsgroups, then on various fan-made websites beginning with Relayer’s Blue Blaze Station #23, this FAQ, and World Watch On-Line, among others. In 1998, the internet presence went official with the launch of http://banzai-institute.com.

By TABB’s 20th Anniversary in 2004, paper newsletters had long since been reduced to almost nil by the Internet’s ability to distribute images and text on a global scale at minimal cost. At the same time, Banzai fandom lay in a torpor caused by an almost complete absence of new material. With the exceptions of the official Banzai Institute website, some fan fiction and Ernie “Rafterman” Cline’s years-old AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE script, Blue Blazes could find little more than tantalizing hints of book and media projects that never seemed to come to fruition. A predominantly middle-aging fan-base saddled with the distractions and responsibilities of adulthood didn’t help matters.

The general malaise amongst fans may best explain why, in January of 2004, TABB’s anniversary was greeted with only a tepid enthusiasm. All concerned agreed that something should be done to celebrate—as long as no travel or heavy lifting was involved. The answer seemed clear: Revive World Watch One for a special issue as an actual paper newsletter. Dan Berger floated the idea amongst fans, attracting the interest of previous editor Alan Smith. The two joined forces as co-editors and got down to business.

No mailing list existed to ship a new World Watch One to prospective BBIs after the publication of the last newsletter 14 years earlier. Even if one existed, it is doubtful that many of the addresses would still be valid after more than a decade. To get the word out, notices appeared on the World Watch On-Line mailing list as well as in the Bunkhouse at the Banzai Institute website.

In drumming up subscribers, World Watch One 3.0 could only be called a modest success at best, with circulation down to just under 100 copies. Much of this could be attributed to the previously noted burnout amongst fans, but the low circulation was dictated somewhat by design as well. Without formal financial backing, the editors faced the prospect of funding the entire venture out of their own pockets.

By contrast, the scope of the newsletter’s contents was ambitious. Many key players emerged to help those ambitions succeed. Among early boosters of the project were Mike Okuda and Jim Van Over of the official Institute website, and, most importantly, TABB director W. D. Richter.

The result was a broad sampling of Banzai goodness spanning the previous two decades with attention to equal parts whimsy and factual news. Central to the proceedings was a massive five page retrospective interview with director W. D. Richter, bringing readers up to speed on everything from the origins of the film to the novelization, the absence of a film sequel, the DVD, and various attempts to bring Team Banzai to the small screen. Many other notable interviews abound, including contributions from Earl Mac Rauch, actor/musician Billy “Pinky Carruthers” Vera, Red Lectroid extra Keith Chrismon, and a number of the BBI directors from the original World Watch One. There was room enough left for features galore including a review of the Chicken in a Watermelon recipe seen in an Easter egg on the TABB DVD, Banzai Haiku, the Bulletin Board, and many, many articles of multiple descriptions both large and small. A number of bonus items were included, among them a Jr. Blue Blaze cryptography set, Banzai Trading Cards, an Institute parking pass, and HKC concert tickets.

In the main, the 20th anniversary newsletter accomplished what it set out to do—celebrating the persistence and diversity of Banzai fandom while positing the idea that the most difficult years for the franchise might be over. Nobody could know just how realistic those hopes were save an independent comic book publisher headquartered in the Chicago suburbs and several people connected with bringing Buckaroo to the silver screen. Things were about to get interesting again.

*APRIL 2006*

Newsletter (Chicago Bureau edition) - 16 pages plus 2 page supplement

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-apr06.pdf

One thing Team Banzai thrives upon is serendipity. Another is expecting the unexpected. Both factors figured heavily in the events leading up to the next World Watch One.

2004’s 20th Anniversary edition was initially approached as a one-shot publication. It soon became apparent that there was interest enough to justify another issue. The only obstacle came down to one of new material. After spending so much time bringing fans up to speed on the previous two decades of Team Banzai, the possibility of the next newsletter dipping into retread territory became a real concern.

Then, in January 2005, Moonstone Books announced their intentions to publish an all new three-part Buckaroo Banzai comic book adventure written by Earl Mac Rauch. At last, new Banzai material was on the way to give fans something to ponder, enjoy, and most importantly, something fresh to talk about.

But along the way toward the next newsletter, troubles emerged. Creative tension between the co-editors of the 2004 edition turned by degrees to creative friction. By Autumn 2005, the divergence appeared irreconcilable, and the editors parted ways to work on their own separate editions of World Watch One.

The first to make an appearance was the Chicago Bureau edition, a group effort headed by Dan Berger and greatly aided by fellow editors Scott Tate, Amber Richter, and Sean Murphy.

Visible effort was placed in differentiating the Chicago Bureau edition from previous editions. The cover featured updated title graphics as well as placing emphasis on a cover illustration taken from the first issue of Moonstone’s “Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw” comic book. Content focused on fewer, longer articles--mostly of the “behind the scenes” sort. These include the story behind HEROES IN TROUBLE based in large part on interview material with W. D. Richter and a copy of the final pilot script draft written by Earl Mac Rauch for ABC television in December 1986, a look at the making of Moonstone’s “Return of the Screw” comic, and an interview with TABB location manager Mike Neale as well as an interview with one of Return of the Screw’s issue one cover artists, Matt Haley. A generous helping of concept and finished art from BUCKAROO BANZAI: ANCIENT SECRETS & NEW MYSTERIES and “Return of the Screw” added visual impact to the issue. Of special note was the newsletter’s supplement—a collection of character bios written by Earl Mac Rauch with introductory text from the editor, called the “World Crime League Watch List.”

In aiming for a more informative approach, the Chicago Bureau edition missed some of the pure fannish fun of the original. Much of this could be attributed to a reduced page count, some to editorial focus. Whatever the cause, fans wouldn’t have to wait long for more on that score.

*APRIL 2006*

Letter

Within a week of the Chicago Bureau edition’s release, BBI’s began to receive envelopes from the other World Watch One edition edited by Alan Smith. Rather than a newsletter, people found an envelope with a “tampered” seal containing a flyer from “Wong’s Chinese Laundry” (undoubtedly a World Crime League front) and a message from Hanoi Xan himself. The mailing served both as a tip of the hat to the original press mailings for the film back in the 1980s and a teaser for the newsletter’s Underground edition.

*SPRING 2006*

Newsletter (Underground Edition) – 14 pages plus bonus items

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-spring06.pdf

Two months after the appearance of the World Crime League mailing hijinks, the Underground edition of World Watch One made its appearance. The delay was a result of editorial tweaking and the extra work required to create an innovation unique to the Underground edition.

The newsletter saw the return of Alan and Nancy Smith as editors. Speaking more plainly about the recent editorial divide since the 2004 issue, Alan noted in his Introduction from the Editor, “This experience, working on this issue, has had its ups and downs as might be expected. It’s been a substantial personal sacrifice and learning experience, a source of frustration, stress, excitement and creativity, the details of which I shall leave to my memoirs.” The contents were described as, “…a collection of various ‘short subjects’…” with top billing going to an interview with W. D. Richter.

The Richter interview served as a further extension of the information from the 2004 interview, explaining the troubles with two unpublished Banzai novels written for Simon & Schuster by Earl Mac Rauch. Time was also spent speculating about what form a future Buckaroo Banzai feature film might take, whether it might be a remake or prequel, etc., new actors vs. the original cast, whether or not Richter would want to direct such a film, etc.

The remainder of the issue harkened back to the lighter side of BB, among them another Steve Mattsson gem, “The Sekrit Origins of Yoyodyne” including a reprint of “The Yoyodyne Hymn and Glee” from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, an article about the Hong Kong Cavaliers by Richard Gregg titled, “Not Sidekicks: Heroes,” and a number of brief news stories from around the Institute and the world of science. Present also is the Bulletin Board and a one page “Banzai Institute Mail Order” catalogue offering items for sale such as Roadside Grill Jerky, a “Universal History – From the Earliest Accounts to the Present,” and Team Banzai plastic model kits.

In many ways, the Underground edition represented the flipside to the Chicago Bureau edition, aiming more for the humorous and eclectic rather than the more purely informative. But the newsletter’s greatest innovation by far was the addition of a website supporting the newsletter at http://www.geocities.com/bbidragon/worldwatchone/index.html, “…where the experience continues with related topics from this publication as well as new ones, periodic updates and a look at what’s going on at the Banzai Institute West, somewhere in Arizona.”

The newsletter also came with a wrist band modeled after headbands distributed at various science fiction conventions in the 1980s in promotion of the film. A more complete description of the wrist bands and promotional project associated with them can be found at http://www.geocities.com/bbidragon/worldwatchone/wristband.html.

*SPRING 2007*

Newsletter (Underground Edition) – 32 pages plus bonus item

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1-spring08.pdf

With Banzai back on the map by way of Richter, Rauch, and Moonstone Books, the frequency of World Watch One increased. If not as frequent as the original run during the mid-1980’s, they were at least reliably regular.

The second issue of the Underground edition approached the ambitions of the 20th anniversary edition from three years before. The Introduction from the Editor defined the newsletters aspirations from the start, saying, “If there is a theme to this issue, it is to expand and develop what has already been set as a base in the Spring 2006 WW1 publication... Some of the content is grittier and more controversial than in the past... I’ve taken a few more risks in everything, from the general appearance to some of the features.”

Perhaps the greatest departure in this regard was a three page interview with W. D. Richter. In contrast to similar interviews from the past, the subject focuses primarily on Richter’s politics—particularly as they bear on the US occupation of Iraq and the War on Terror, rather than matters Banzai.

Greater emphasis was also placed upon the intersections between the world of Team Banzai and the everyday world, particularly amongst fellow BBIs. These include two articles by fans involved in rescues for companion animals, an article about the IAU resolutions demoting Pluto’s planetary status, and an article about Rocket 88, both the car and the song. Other articles include an interview with Earl Mac Rauch, a piece tracing possible connections between the origins of Hanoi Xan and Walter B. Gibson’s The Shadow novels, and another revealing Dr. Lizardo’s first appearance in Rauch’s 1969 novel Dirty Pictures from the Prom, as well as an interview with the winner of Moonstone’s “You can be a Cavalier” contest, done in character.

The issue ends with a note saying, “The Editor is very much looking forward to OF HUNAN BONDAGE,” a reference to one of the next Banzai comics written by Rauch then in preparation at Moonstone.

*SUMMER 2010*

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1_jun10.pdf

The 25.75th anniversary issue of World Watch One, brought to you by the combined effort of both the Underground Edition under the direction of BBI Dragon and the Chicago Bureau team of BBI's Big Shoulders, Camelot, Rainbow Kitty, and Figment. 128 pages of Banzai goodness

*FALL 2016*

Download here: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/newsletters/ww1_oct16.pdf

The 32nd anniversary issue of World Watch One, brought to you by editor BBI's Big Shoulders and contributers Camelot, Rainbow Kitty, Dragon, and Figment. 34 pages of Banzai goodness


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