For more than 60 years, fanzines have been one of the most significant forms of self-expression. Often handmade and disseminated through underground networks, the fanzine is credited as being both the original medium for many of today’s mainstream publications and the predecessor to the blogging craze.
The fanzine subculture, born under the warm glow of photocopiers the world over, was celebrated with a brash flashmob of self published literature in LCC’s The Well Gallery on Monday Sept 30th, 2010. This was a high-impact (one night only) visual presentation of the most interesting fanzines ever produced. Ephemeral and irreplaceable, many have been lost to all but a few passionate collectors.
Teal Triggs has accumulated a huge collection of zines over the years and has already published several books on the subject, but this is the first of large enough scale to really show off the form properly. It’s a really welcome addition to the magazinaholics library.
Fanzines have been one of the liveliest forms of self-expression for over 70 years. Now a new generation of graphic designers, illustrators, artists and writers combines self-expression with a rediscovery of the handmade, crafted object. Their subject matter is as varied as the passions of their creators, ranging across music, comics, typography, animal rights, politics, alternative lifestyles, clip art, thrift shopping, beer drinking …
Ripped and Torn Issue No 15 / Nov 1978
Produced in small quantities, fanzines were the original medium of super-niche interest groups and the cultural underground. Many of the most exciting zines have been made with very basic tools: scissors and glue, a photocopier, staples or string, yet their collaged photos and hand-drawn type and illustrations explode across the pages
Teal said “that the art of fanzines is flourishing as new writers are reverting to the printed page more and more and she has never seen so much interest in the fanzine culture: both looking at the old and writing the new.”
Whether obscure or prescient, subversive or downright weird, fanzines have an irresistible energy and style that allow us to glimpse grassroots social and cultural movements at their most explosively creative moment.
‘Fanzines’ is divided into six clear chapters (origins, punk, protest, girl power, e-zines and the future), each with an introduction and an endless flow of well-captioned images.
As the cover, above, shows, it’s beautifully designed to reflect its subject, with subtle use of xerox effects, but not to the detriment of the images of the zines.
This highly visual compendium showcases the best, most thought provoking, and downright weirdest fanzines ever produced. With topics ranging from punk to personal politics, Fanzines includes both widely known fanzines as well as rare publications culled from passionate collectors.
Spanning the history of the fanzine from the early experimentation with underground presses to contemporary and electronic fanzines, this is a comprehensive and unprecedented look at a fascinating phenomenon. Fanzines is the ultimate book on the subject, full of reproductions of the best fanzines ever created, from the superhero tributes of the 1950s and 60s, to punk fanzines such as Sniffin’ Glue, right up the contemporary e-zine scene.
In the 1970s, the DIY aesthetic of punk was forged in fanzines such as Sniffin’ Glue and Search and Destroy, while the ’80s saw the flourishing of political protest zines as well as fanzines devoted to the rave scene and street style.
The Riot Grrrl movement of the ’90s gave voice to a defiant new generation of feminists, while the arrival of the internet saw many fanzines make the transition to online.
Ripped & Torn was a fanzine from Glascow, Scotland.
The first issue appeared in November of 1976.
Ripped & Torn was one of the first generation of fanzines to emerge from the UK punk scene. The cut and paste zine covered bands such as The Damned, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Generation X, Raped, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, Only Ones, Suicide and, in later issues, Throbbing Gristle.
The zine was put together by Tony.D ( tony Drayton) with help from Skid DeSade and Grant McNally. Other contributors included Jeremy Gluck and Alex Fergusson.
Tony D. says, “Already you can hear the shrieks of the old rich as they realize they’ve been made redundant by the energy-ridden bands who work out of necessity in cheap clubs with lousy P.A.’s”.
Ripped & Torn announced itself on the cover as “the first Scottish punk mag written by fans…for fans” and proclaims that “This mag fights against the customary the average the dull”.
Selections from Ripped & Torn were included in the book Punk, edited by Julie Davis, which was published in 1977 in the UK.
Eighteen issues of Ripped & Torn were released during the period from 1976 till Tony D bequeathed the zine to Vermillion Sands, who continued publishing until 1979.
Tony D is mentioned in the FanZine book and Teal said, “the Fanzine book shows how important Ripped & Torn was both in terms of content and also graphically. I certainly have enjoyed keeping up with things from your Kill Your Pet Puppy website”.
Shortly after Thatcher was elected as prime minsister in May 1979 Tony moved to Europe and lived a bohemian lifestyle. Upon his return Tony started work on a more extreme and uncompromising fanzine, initially as a reaction to the way the original punk movement had been sucked into the hated Record Industry establishment: something he’d seen and experienced at first hand.
Kill Your Pet Puppy was started by Tony D, in 1979. A name was born in the puppy collective hell of one room squatted by eight people with no bathroom or running water. Kill Your Pet Puppy was the chosen moniker.
Tony D recalls …. “Getting the new fanzine out onto the streets proved a problem until Joly of Better Badges agreed to print the new publication (then title unknown) in as many crazy colours as Tony wanted. Both wanted to experiment.
The first issue was finished in time for the Ants new years eve concert at the Electric Ballroom Dec 79/Jan 80. 500 copies were finished and taken to the event. 500 copies were sold that night. Nothing was to be the same again. Kill Your Pet Puppy was alive…
The focus of this new zine was on the anarcho-punk and goth scenes emerging at the time, and was informed by Anarchist and Situationist theories. The bands featured included Bauhaus, Crass, The Mob, Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult, The Associates, The Ants, and Alien Sex Fiend. Articles embraced a range of topics and included titles such as “Magick and Anarchy”, “In Praise of Stupid Songs”, “Gay Punks”, “Sid Vicious Memorial Day” and issues such as feminism, squatting and the occult.
The zine was written by a fluctuating group of twelve members of the Puppy Collective, as they were known. The members included, among others, Tony D, Alastair Livingstone, Kilty McGuire, Cory Spondence, Jeremy Gluck and Val Not-A-Puppy. It was distributed by Better Badges. The Puppy Collective were also involved with Wapping Autonomy Centre, an anarchist centre opened from 1981 till 1982, where bands such as Crass, Conflict, Hagar The Womb, and The Apostles played. After this centre closed they were involved with the Centro Iberica Anarchist Centre in 1982, the Black Sheep Housing Co-Op and the Stonehenge Free Festivals of ’82, ’83, and ’84.
Six issues of Kill Your Pet Puppy were produced between the years of 1979 and 1984.
Kill Your Pet Puppy also reflected punk life as it was under the newly-elected Thatcher cosh: squatting, skinhead NF and British Movement attacks, speed being replaced by tunial and scraping a rainbow life from the hell of reality. Kill Your Pet Puppy was at the forefront of a cultural landscape and an alternative world of squats, squatted venues and self-sufficiency that became known as ‘anarcho punk’. They were liberating times.
Kill Your Pet Puppy – the website – was started in October 2007 as a way to document the fanzine but also the culture of the time. This was because we could hear cultural archaeologists beginning to restrict this history to a mere musical framework.
This website has developed through many people’s photos, scans of printed material, downloadable music and written contributions into a communication point for those who were there, those who wish to know more about the time and as something that is as culturally significant today as it was then.
About Teal Triggs
Teal Triggs BFA (Hons), MA, MA, PhD, FiSTD is Professor of Graphic Design and Head of Research, School of Graphic Design, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.
As a graphic design historian, critic and educator she has lectured widely and her writings have appeared in numerous edited books and international design publications. She is co-editor of the academic interdisciplinary journal Visual Communication (Sage Publications) and has edited two special issues The New Typography (2005) and with Dr Carey Jewitt, Screens and the Social Landscape (2006). She is author of The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovations in Contemporary Type Design (2003; paperback 2005) co-published in five languages; co-editor with Roger Sabin of ‘Below Critical Radar’: Fanzines and Alternative Comics From 1976 to Now (2000); and editor of Communicating Design: Essays in Visual Communication (1995).
She is currently working on a book about fanzines based upon her PhD thesis undertaken in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. She has received several AHRC grants for her work on feminism, design and comic books, and was a co-instigator on Designing for the 21st Century Research Cluster: ‘Digital Design, Representation, Communication and Interaction: Screens and the Social Landscape’.
Teal is also co-founder of the Women’s Design + Research Unit (WD+RU), an organisation which seeks to raise awareness about women working in visual communication and related areas. WD+RU has recently completed a Royal Female School of Art Foundation funded research project exploring the cultural identity and role of women in craft and design history in the Elephant & Castle community
Interview Via Birmingham Zine Festival
Can you give us a brief description of your new book?
‘Fanzines’ is written from a collector’s perspective and provides a historical and visual overview of amateur magazines from the 1930s to present day. The zines are produced by fans passionate about their subjects ranging from science-fiction, punk and comics to thrift shopping, riot grrrls and celebrity culture.
How did you get interested in fanzines in the first place, what sparked your interest?
I grew up in Austin, Texas where there is a well-established music and counter-culture scene, with all the graphic ephemera that goes along with this – flyers, broadsheets and zines.
My dad was also a designer and academic, so there always seemed to be stacks of 1970s underground magazines and broadsheets laying around the house which from a design perspective, were visually amazing.
Cut-n-paste punk zines also emerged while I was at University as a design student and we all thought these were really novel forms of graphic design. It wasn’t long after this that I started collecting zines and valuing them not only from a design standpoint, but also in what their producers had to say about particular moments in time.
How does your new book ‘Fanzines’ differ from your previous book on the subject ‘Below Critical Radar’?
‘Below Critical Radar’ was a co-edited book with Roger Sabin and we decided to look specifically at the relationship between comics and fanzines. Other contributors provided insights into the themed areas of consumerism, horror, and the then new electronic publications. Obviously there is some overlap, but my new book focuses specifically on the history of fanzines, and celebrates their visual qualities.
What are your favourite fanzines and why?
This is an unfair question! With so many different kinds of zines out there and so many different authorial points of view, it is hard to choose a favourite handful. But if I had to say, I have a strong interest in feminism, so a lot of my collection is focused on early feminist and the more recent riot grrrl fanzines. There is such an honesty and passion to what these women are writing about as well as a playfulness in how they design their publications. What’s not to like about them?
If you were to make a zine today what would it be called and what would it be about?
I have been thinking about doing an online meta-zine called Zine Weekly. My thinking is that I could review zines and publish interviews with producers who are doing interesting things. I don’t think I could produce an actual zine per se as there are so many wonderful zines already out there worth reading.
Why do you think print zines still remain popular today?
Print zines are enjoying a flurry of activity. You are getting zine producers exploring letterpress and printmaking alongside the photocopied (or even risograph) production methods. I think the popularity has to do with a couple of things: the recent craft DIY revival, the tactility offered up by the production methods, plus the fact zines are homemade by someone who shares similar interests to you!
What role do you feel print zines play in an age where everyone can twitter/tumblr/blog?
Zines still play a key role in bringing people together – just look at the number of zine festivals taking place and how many people are actually attending these events. This may sound nostalgic, but print zines are still the visible evidence of a kind of human interaction – from the maker to the reader. Or, as the author Frederick Wertham suggested, zines are ’a novel form of communication’.
What do you see as the future of self-publishing?
I firmly believe that self-publishing will continue to exist in one form or another – especially as new technologies are allowing individuals to become be self-sufficient as authors, designers and publishers. For example, I have been thinking of what a zine would be like if designed for the iPad. We are already seeing barcodes embedded in mainstream magazines which when scanned provide another layer of information. I could see the possibility for much more interactive narratives which maintain a zine attitude but with the sophisticated use of new forms of storytelling. I think the future of self-publishing is really exciting!