Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From the fanzine archive under the stairs

I've been rummaging through my fanzine stash, most of which is in a box under the stairs. Probably not the best storage solution since it's hot and, well, under some stairs, from an entry point in the garage. Even worse is that I've been keeping my old films and videos in there while living in a geographical area known for summer heat. I'm letting go of my past by letting it molder away slowly.

Anyway, let's revisit the golden era of zines, which was anytime before the Internet hit. Y'see, long ago, before computer communications, people with creative obsessions and a love of suffering would put all their thoughts and blossoming layout skills to good use in print format. If the zeitgeist was working its mojo, some of these fanzines caught on and were read by countless weirdos, musicians, and future and fallen celebrities. If not, they still make a fun read from under the stairs.

I don't have any permissions to post this stuff, so just a smattering will do. Click on the images to read them.

A very early example of a music zine: Greg Shaw's "Who Put The Bomp!", is from 1974. I found this issue at Saturn Records in Oakland, which is more of a mail-order house than a store now, but that's how it's going, isn't it? Saturn always had an interesting array of books and magazines on its front rack. The only reason I'm going into this detail is that I still marvel that I could pick up a 20-year-old zine for $2.95, and it's in good condition too. The 90s were affordable, I guess. I especially liked getting the whole Sky Saxon/Seeds article since my band She Mob had played with him once. The print throughout is so small, that I suspect this might be a reprint edition. I mean it's SMALL with my reading glasses on. The Bomp! label continues to soldier on...

Can you guess what band this ad was referring to? Hint: they're now a major motion picture starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart.

I found this ad so inspirational, I made it into a She Mob flier for one of our East Bay shows. I'm sure anyone who took the time to read the (slightly altered) copy had to wonder what the hell was going on here with this She Mob situation. Let 'em wonder. Fliers without in-jokes are only half finished, in my opinion.

Look at how cool Trouser Press's 10th anniversary issue is. There's Joey and cake and everything.

Then you open the cover and find this full-page ad for the BOSS hand clapper. Just not cool at all! The cowboy in white, and the berating tone ("Who taught you guys to clap--Lady Di?"), plus an offer to buy the poster of this really sad concept in advertising, is almost 3D-unfortunate. But at least TP got some advertising, which most small-sized zines could barely manage what with their sporadic publishing dates and irreverent tones.

Speaking of tones, I hope Andy and the Kools were able to put that hot, uptempo clap beat to good use.

An exploration of the 70s was rich, fanzine loam to writers in the 90s. Candi Strecker's "It's A Wonderful Lifestyle" was a multi-volumed look at the 70s which refrained from sneering by using a pleasant, archival tone throughout its pages.

Here's a helpful sidebar on how to make a bong with a Pringle's can. So 70s, yet practical even today.

Part Two (published three years after the first issue--nothing wrong with that) featured an article on terrible cars of the 70s. You know you want to read this.

Don and Erin of "Teenage Gang Debs" knew there was a certain TV viewer out there who felt that Eve Plumb's Jan of the Brady Bunch had it all going on. Her suffering with glasses, braces, and Marcia (did Jan ever get a real, not imaginary, boyfriend?--no, thanks to the sadistic Brady Bunch writers; meanwhile Marcia got dozens before she graduated from high school), made her the focus of all the other neglected suburban preteens. Ahem. So yes, I bought this issue.

I'm not going to post the Eve Plumb interview, even though it's swell (and she doesn't like talking about the Bunch at all). But here's a little segment on brushes with celebrities. The Ted Koppel supermarket conversation is notable.

"Greed" lasted for three years and nine issues in the late 80s (pretty good run) and featured a lot of comic-book artists that I liked, such as the Hernandez Brothers and Chester Brown.

Here's an article on the horror of trying to locate underground music on that newfangled compact-disc format in 1986. We hipsters worked hard for our indie cred back in the day. You young'uns with your downloads and streaming content have NO IDEA.

I have so much more under the stairs, like "Ben Is Dead," and the one-shot "I Hate Brenda" newsletter. My cherished "Monk" magazine issues from New York, Santa Fe and Las Vegas. "Nancy's Magazine," "Rollerderby," "Snipehunt," "Bunnyhop," "Beer Frame," "Chin Music," "Thrift Score," "Guinea Pig Zero," and even my own zines that got shuffled around the Bay Area back in the day.

Let me tell you something about making a zine: it gave me valuable PageMaker skills which were in demand until PageMaker was completely obliterated by QuarkXPress, which might be obliterated by InDesign, which will be obliterated by...? It also probably got me into grad school (I think) when I included my zines in my application. I met lots of writers, editors and comic-book artists through zines, and I interviewed such luminaries as Mojo Nixon, Eugene Chadbourne, Camper Van Beethoven, and other long-ago musical mayhem-makers. I rarely got dates though. I should have worked that angle more.

Kara Herold's documentary, "Grrlyshow," portrays the feminine side of zine-making. Here's a clip.

Wiki Zine is an Internet encyclopedia of zines that for some reason barely comes up in Google searches. I'll be adding to their list using my collection, no doubt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this piece. Thanks for writing it.

nazz nomad