By Mike Huskisson
My stroke in May 2021 that paralysed my right side ruled me out of any fieldwork but though confined to home and hampered by only having the use of one hand, and that the non-dominant hand, I found something useful to do in scanning for the HSA membership my archive of every issue of the highly regarded HOWL magazine.
The early HOWLs were A3 sized which gave me an early problem as I only had an A4 scanner. I had previously photographed the front pages of early copies by simply laying the magazine on the ground and holding my camera above it. That worked adequately for single pages but now I needed a more professional method. Initially I tried photographing the A3 HOWLs using a camera mounted on a copy stand. I used a spirit level to ensure my camera was level, but lighting was a problem. Even when I used the camera flash to eradicate shadows, I could not ensure even lighting across the whole page. I solved the problem by buying an A3 scanner with a generous donation from an HSA legend.
The staples now binding HOWL proved more and more of a problem. The first HOWLs were not stapled – they were easy to scan. Staples were first used for HOWL 44 (Summer 1990). To preserve my archive copies I decided not to remove any staples for scanning. Replacing the staples after scanning would be hard enough with a long reach stapler and two hands – limited to one hand it would be all but impossible. Folding back pages to scan them was no problem until the arrival of 40-page heavyweight HOWLs when it became an issue to keep the pages flat on a flat-bed scanner – even with a weight on the scanner lid! This explains the variation in quality of the scan across some pages of later copies…
I checked each scanned page and removed minor glitches, such as stains and tears, in Photoshop.
I started this project on November 3rd 2021 by scanning HOWL 28 (Autumn 1984) and completed it by emailing HOWL 127 (Autumn 2021) to the HSA on March 3rd 2022 by which time I had scanned all copies, though the HSA already had scanned versions of some. I feel privileged to have found this useful role that was also therapeutic in terms of my mental recovery from stroke.
Our highly informative magazine has a long history. The name HOWL (Hounds Off Our Wildlife) was agreed at a meeting of sabs in a pub after they had attended the AGM of the National Society for the Abolition of Cruel Sports on Wednesday October 10th 1973. The first edition of HOWL was mailed out to about 550 recipients on December 3rd 1973. By the time the last copy of HOWL 3 was posted to members on January 11th 1975, that number had risen to 650 – the HSA was rapidly growing!
The first three HOWLs were black and white but HOWL 4 appeared with a colour masthead (green). HOWL 8 (Spring 1977) was the first to display an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) – 0308-2709.
HOWLs 1, 2, and 3 were undated. The first issue to carry a date was HOWL 4 (May 1975). HOWL 1 was produced in November 1973. HOWL 2 in April 1974 and HOWL 3 in December 1974. HOWL 1 was near enough A3 sized. It was not until HOWL 27 (Spring 1984) that the A4 size we are familiar with today was adopted.
HOWL 13 (Summer 1979) was the first to appear with a supplement insert, and that continued for the next three HOWLs. For HOWL 17 (Winter/Spring 1981) there was no supplement but instead the magazine was expanded to 8 pages.
HOWLs have always been free to HSA members. HOWL 1 had a sale price of 5p, a price that was held through HOWL 15. The international ambitions of HOWL were made clear by numbers 4 to 10 inclusive being priced at 15 cents (US) as well as 5p. For HOWL 16 (Autumn 1980) the price increased to 15p. That was increased to 25p for HOWL 34 (Autumn 1986) and then to 50p for HOWL 36 (Summer 1987) but that was clearly judged too sharp a rise because for HOWL 37 (Autumn 1987) the price was reduced to 30p. That price was held until HOWL 45 (Autumn 1990) when it increased to £1. For HOWL 61 (Spring/Summer 1996) it increased to £1.50. HOWL 67 (Autumn 98) showed no price on the cover. For HOWL 102 (Spring 2013) a price of £2 appeared on the front cover. That remains the price today, free to members.
HOWL 64 (Summer 97) was the first to carry a full colour picture on the front cover. HOWL 100 appeared in Spring 2012 and to celebrate the occasion included full colour pictures on the inside pages. The next issue reverted to black & white pictures inside, but the case had been made for colour and HOWL 102 Spring 2013 had colour pictures inside as did subsequent HOWLs.
HOWLs 103 (Winter 2013) and 104 (Spring 2014) were curious in not carrying a number on the front cover. HOWL 103 celebrated 50 years of existence and success for the HSA (1963-2013).
HOWL has seen numerous changes of Editor and numerous changes in the HSA Committee. It has always been written by sabs; not only for fellow sabs but for anyone with a desire to protect our fellow creatures from cruelty by direct action. Whatever the cover price, whatever the size or the format HOWL has throughout its long illustrious life retained its integrity, its adherence to the truth, good or bad, and its prime position as a factual source for sabs. Perhaps most of all it is both humorous and inspirational!
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