MORE ABOUT US - A Brief History of SC
Updated Wednesday 3rd May 2000
No-one thought the Sussex Circular, as it was first known, would become the globally-read motivator it now is when the idea of a local news sheet for around twenty Sussex-based crop circle enthusiasts was first mooted at the inaugural meeting of what was then the local branch of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies in 1991 (now Southern Circular Research, see Southern Circular Research Monthly Meetings). After all, there are many such regional newsletters in the world of paranormal enthusiasts and few break beyond their initial bounds, but SC did.
Andy Thomas had already been editing newsletters for an opera company when he became involved in setting up SCR on the initiative of Barry Reynolds, who called together Sussex-based CCCS members with a view to forming a local branch in the autumn of 1991. SCR would go on to be very active in surveying and researching many crop formations in East and West Sussex (as recorded in the book Fields of Mystery and the video Circular Sussex) and carrying out a series of unique experiments (documented in the book Quest For Contact - see Books and Videos by Andy Thomas). It seemed obvious that Andy’s task should be producing the newsletter, for which he duly volunteered. And so SC was born.
The initial two-sheet report on the first CCCS Sussex meeting was our first issue and our second turned into the A5 booklet it has been ever since as more and more people seemed to have things to contribute. As it was only initially intended to reach a small and intimate group, we felt we could say anything we liked - and did, speaking frankly, and sometimes crassly, as the mood took us, with lashings of in-jokes and humorous references as well as the latest circle information. It wasn’t originally meant to be anything more than a regional newsletter. This open, don't-care attitude was, of course, much of the reason its reputation grew and why our subscribers spread ever wider. SC is now read by people in places as diverse as New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and even Nepal, to name just a few (though the bulk of our readers live in the UK and USA).
Originally monthly and reproduced in bright blue print, SC became known as the 'underground' magazine for crop circles. With the gradual acquisition of more across-the-board readers from different areas of thinking and varied sensibilities, we reigned in some of our more extreme qualities over the years, ditched the blue print and toned down the voice of our opinions a little. Our heartfelt conviction but cheerful demeanour hasn’t diminished however, and though the journal has taken on a more commercial, open bent since, this feeling of honesty, in which people expect to read things they won't elsewhere, remains intact. Though having become bimonthly, the reporting is still up to date and fresh in an area of interest where things are appearing almost daily throughout the summer months, which more infrequent publications can’t cover.
SC is essentially a 'fanzine', a publication by enthusiasts for enthusiasts with no pretensions of appealing to anyone outside this arena, though it often does. Its appeal is raw and has never aspired to glossiness or being anything more than it needs to be. Although our visual style has improved immeasurably from the diminutive typed manuscripts of yore, we've actively resisted converting to a larger format. Its size and portability is part of its appeal.
As far as we can tell, SC is now the most read circle journal around the world. We shift many hundreds of copies each issue through our subscribers and at talks by SCR lecturers and there's even a thriving bootleg industry in the US (shame on you - subscribe and support us!). Add to that the fact that most seem to lend their copies around and each one gets read by several people on average, there's a lot of people out there reading SC each month.
As a result, we've been very influential in the research community over the years, inspired the creation of other circle journals and stirred up (necessary) controversies which have had knock-on effects throughout the whole croppie world. If anyone has something important to say, SC is the widest forum available to them this side of the Internet. Another factor in our influence has been our utter refusal to bow down to the fashionable disease of hoax delusion. We've never denied the existence of man-made formations, but we've always demanded evidence for all the copious amounts of hoaxing some would have us believe is going on. It has never been forthcoming. Yet evidence for the larger part of the phenomenon being genuine has been far clearer. So we compare the available evidence and make our general judgement - and treat the hoax-boosters who ply their ungrounded opinions as fact with the contempt they deserve. Why should they expect better?
That SC was born in the immediate wake of Doug and Dave, not before, is a key factor in our continued enthusiasm for the subject. So many cerealogical lecturers and writers had their pride and ambitions dashed by the media hoax scare, that many subsequently turned to sceptical cynicism as some kind of crude defence mechanism, scared to speak out for what they really believed in lest someone try to catch them out and hurt their reputations. Others, in fits of weak-mindedness, became convinced, without the slightest justification beyond rumour, that perhaps many of the circles were man-made, and so the ninety-percenters were born, regularly pontificating their opinions as fact to the lesser informed as to which formations were genuine and which were not. That the SCR team actually came in at the point of the deepest scepticism and we had our beliefs forged in the fires of the hoax scam, is a crucial part of our persistent deep conviction. We didn’t believe the cheap and sometimes deceitful attempts to debunk the phenomenon then and don't now. We have no illusions of a past mythical 'golden age' of circle research, continually spoken of by disaffected predecessors, and know that the real times of excitement are what is going on in the fields now.
This remaining conviction has kept the SCR team together. Of all the existing crop circle publications, SC is the only one which is still essentially produced by the same people who began it, with only a minor change of personnel over the years. This has given rise to a consistency of tone and a natural evolution which has eluded other long-running journals in similar areas of interest.
Leafing through all the past issues of SC reveals, month by month, year by year, the ebbs and flows of cerealogical history, its triumphs and controversies, dominated, of course by the sheer inspiration and deeper thinking the beautiful crop circles themselves have precipitated. One day, when the crumbling remains of a full run is found in someone’s attic chest when the circles are a lost footnote in history or their task has been fulfilled, they will make for a compelling record of an extraordinary period of human life, chronicling the astonishing patterns which appeared and the lives, loves, hates and laughs of those who were drawn like moths to a very bright flame, which, inexplicably, much of the world ignored.
The SC team…
(Photos by Karen Douglas, Andy Thomas & Marcus Allen)
Steve Alexander, Sloane Noakes & Martin Noakes
Editor Andy Thomas with subscription mailers Jason Porthouse & Di Brown
Barry Reynolds & Kaye Thomas
Karen Douglas & Steve Alexander