The arrival of the WV Encyclopedia and a bit of bartering has got me to thinking about some of the great Appalachian publications that a body can find both on paper and on the Internet.
I mentioned Ken Sullivan and the nationally acclaimed Goldenseal, but there are other publications that I think our readers should know about. I reckon a good number of you already know these fine works and I am but preaching to the choir yet again. But in case some of these publications have slipped your notice I will risk having the Department of Redundancy Bureau come after me.
I am not sure if the West Virginia Hillbilly is still being published but no discussion of Appalachian publications could be complete without a mention of Jim Comstock. The legendary Jim Comstock has to be the undisputed grandfather of Appalachian newspaper folk and bloggers. Indeed the iconoclastic style of many of today's bloggers is probably more reflective of Jim's antics than that of the crisp and professional print magazines. West Virginia and Appalachia owe a great debt to Jim Comstock. His best known contribution was that of founder of the West Virginia Hillbilly, a weekly newspaper. Long before P. J. O'Rourke wrote the Republican Party Reptile, Jim Comstock was the seemingly unlikely mixture of Republican, humorist and West Virginian. Since I am a former board member of Mountain State Press, I did know that Mr. Comstock was the founder of that organization but the new encyclopedia informed me that he was also the guiding force behind the preservation of Pearl Buck's birthplace and the Cass Scenic Railroad. I hope that Jim appreciates Rednecromancer and the fanciful ideas suggested on its pages. I don't know who the Internet service provider is in Heaven but I am certain that Jim's current location looks exactly like his native Richwood complete with the perfume of ramps.
A few weeks ago I got a package from Randall Sanders, the managing editor of Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. It certainly is. Randy traded me a current issue of this wonderful publication for a few APL stickers and I suspect a review of the magazine. While Goldenseal has to be the best state sponsored folklore magazine in the country, Now & Then holds that spot for the entire region. Now & Then is a bit expensive with a newsstand price of $8.00 and and an annual subscription of $15 for the twice yearly publication but this isn't the sort of magazine that goes in the recycle bin once you are done reading it. It should go into a magazine binder and onto your bookshelf.
Each issue is themed. The current issue of Now & Then is: Celebrating Appalachian Institutions. One of those institutions celebrated is Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Labor schools, Appalachian League baseball, YMCA, TVA and the Carter Family Fold are among the other institutions examined in volume 22, number 2. In between the articles there are poems with the obligatory book reviews.
Eastern Tennessee State University and the Center Appalachian Studies and Services (one of my favorite Appalachian institutions) publishes Now & Then.
It may have just been a coincidence but the main force behind Hillbilly Savants, Eric Drummond Smith, posted an article a week or so ago about some of his favorite websites. This is some pretty high praise coming from Eric as Hillbilly Savants is as fine of an Appalachian magazine as any in print. The fact that so many individuals contribute to this work and yet the quality is consistent has to be a statistically anomaly. Hillbilly Savants specializes in points of interest mostly from eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia but is indeed a regional eZine. The photographs are worth a weekly visit.
One of the grand services offered by Hillbilly Savants is an exhaustive list of Appalachian area media outlets, art establishments, educational institutions, various web pages for federal, state and local government and of course web pages of other Appalachian interest.
Appalachian History by Dave Tabler is one of the web magazines that Eric and I recommend. Again the pictures on this site are worth the bookmark and Dave seems to be a prolific writer and poster with new articles added almost daily. He explains that he became interested in Appalachian history while helping is dad write an autobiography about growing up in Appalachia during the Great Depression. The rest of us know about growing up in Appalachian during the “Never-ending” depression.
I encourage those with the means to subscribe to Goldenseal and Now & Then and absolutely demand that everyone visits Hillbilly Savants and Appalachian History. In my opinion these four publications represent the very finest examples of both paper and electronic magazines about Appalachia.