Remembering Ed Fancher, a Village Voice Founder
He kept the paper alive through the early, lean years.
by R.C. BAKER
The front page of the January 4, 1956, issue of the Village Voice looked much like the others that had run since a trio of World War II vets founded the paper, three months earlier: the elegant Voice logo, designed by the painter Nell Blaine; a headline about Off-Broadway theater; a picture of the artist Marcel Duchamp, who had recently become an American citizen; and a headshot of the novelist Norman Mailer. What wasn’t typical was one of the bylines: “Edwin Fancher, Publisher of The Village Voice.”
Fancher had mostly handled the business end of things: advertising, circulation, and distribution. But in this eleventh issue of the paper, he announced, “Leading Novelist to Write a Column for ‘The Voice,’” followed by:
Beginning with our next issue The Village Voice will have a weekly column contributed to our pages by Norman Mailer. Mr. Mailer needs no introduction to most of our readers. At the age of 32 he has already had a most controversial career, and each of his three novels has received almost a total spectrum of praise and abuse. For your curiosity we quote these samples, inspired by The Naked and the Dead:
“The greatest writer to come out of his generation” — Sinclair Lewis.
“Insidious slime” — Life magazine.
Fancher went on to enumerate more of Mailer’s contrasting reviews, noting that the famous writer had to go through six publishers before one would agree to print a “debatable passage” of six lines contained in his third novel, The Deer Park, which, Fancher noted, “received without question the most contradictory and confusing reviews of any novel in years.”