FROM THE ARCHIVIST:
DECORATED FOR DEATH was published in 1981, only 2 years after the Starsky & Hutch TV series ended in the States, but before today's computer age. The show was still popular in syndication through much of the U.S. and Britain, home of the author and artist of Decorated for Death. DFD was, on every level, an ambitious undertaking. It was the first Alternate Universe (AU) story to be published in this fandom. While AU's were very popular in Star Trek fanfiction, and would later be extremely popular in The Professionals fanfiction, AUs never had a big following in Starsky & Hutch. SH fans seem to prefer reading about the boys as they worked at being cops in their own familiar universe of Bay City. DFD took that familiar universe and turned it on its head.
There are numerous story conventions in SH that evolved from social events of that time that now are often lost to modern readers. The show seems to have a strange obsession with Satanists and cultists, which were featured in episodes such as Satan's Witches and Bloodbath. Back then, cultists and cult murders were front page news, much like terrorists are now. At the time, the Cold War was hot, and the possibility that the world would destroy itself in nuclear or biological holocaust was an oppressive reality. It was a frequent subject of popular movies and TV shows, and debates of how such a holocaust would impact the world were common. This concern was so pervasive that it features in a number of classic SH fiction pieces, of which DFD is the best known.
We are lucky, as a fandom, that DFD was ever produced. It was a substantial book at 289 pages and had 14 separate art pieces. Back then, publishing a zine was a much more complex undertaking than it is now, and in the UK, according to the author, some of the publication methods available in the US weren't available to fen there. In the early 80's some zines in the US were still being produced by mimeograph machine or offset printing, while others were able to take advantage of photocopying, though that still wasn't as easily available as it is today. In a personal correspondence with me, the author talked about the difficulties of producing DFD:
Producing the net version of the zine wasn't quite as labor-intensive, but it did take a considerable effort. Because of the print quality, the zine couldn't be scanned and had to be typed, then proofread, then finally translated to html. Because of the uniqueness and the depth of detail of the art, I was reluctant to reduce the images too greatly, since the superb detail would be lost, so the art images are larger than I normally use. Since I was reluctant to make the individual files too big, in consideration of fans who still have older computer equipment, that meant having more files. But at last it's done. I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Sue D., Beth C., and Cindy L.
If you talk to first-generation SH fans, their opinions on DFD as a story are usually strong: they either love it or hate it. The strange tale of a post-holocaust LA reduced to chaotic societies run by unethical communes who control through fear and power is not for everyone. But at the heart of the tale are our heroes, who have now become professional enforcers for their individual communes. The world has become so altered since the holocaust that Starsky & Hutch, separated before the event known only as The End, no longer remember their previous relationship as partners, or what life was like before. They are known only as The Champion (Hutch) and The Other (Starsky). And their eventual meeting is the beginning of a complex and unique tale.
I am one of the fans who loves this story, and I hope you will, too. Enjoy.