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What They're Saying About Us
by Chip Rowe

Used to be nobody knew much about zines. Mike Gunderloy slaved away at Factsheet Five in relative obscurity and people traded their handiwork without any mainstream reporters trying to put a meaning to it all.
Then, suddenly, zines became the back-pocket bibles of Generation X, whatever the hell that is. Instead of Gilligan, they were Marlon Brando. Instead of Twinkies, they were wedding cake. Instead of Volkswagons, they were Miadas. Everyone, from the painfully hip Details to the stodgy New York Times to the "Readings" section of Harper's (where excerpts from zines now seem to outnumber those from verbose literary journals), suddenly crowned zines as the voice of something.
These days, zines are forever being "discovered" by some young intern, who notifies some young editor, who sends a young breathless reporter to bring out the cliches and endless social worker analysis of ANSWER Me! and The I Hate Brenda Newsletter. Let's review the record:

"WebZines," Penthouse, May 1996
Zines Are....
"a very little magazine"
Webzines Mentioned: Addicted to Noise, Covert Action Quarterly
Quote Seth? No, goes with Jerod Pore of F5 Electric.
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Webzines: "More than 1,000"
Bonus Points: +5 for citing Sturgeon's Law as it applies to zines, -5 for messing up one of the Web addresses.
Comment: Filler column for a slow month.

"Bet You Can't Browse Just One," Newsday, April 21, 1996
Zines Are....
"Like potato can't settle for just one"
Webzines Mentioned: Addicted to Noise, Blue Penny Quarterly, bOING bOING, BRETTNews, ClueLass Mystery Newsletter, Cybersphere, Daily Muse, DargonZine, Edge, eGG
Quote Seth Friedman, current editor of F5? No.
Quote Mike Gunderloy, past editor of F5? No.
Estimate of Webzines: "Approximately 1,000"
Bonus Points: +5 nice selection, good line about potato chips
Comment: Well done (mentions this guide).

"Zine Dreams," New York Times Magazine, December 17, 1995
Zines Are....
"occasionally obscene and invariably idiosyncratic," "vanity projects," "a place where the author is in command."
Zines Mentioned: Ersatz, Beer Frame, Dirty, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Bolt Flash, Boiled Angel, Crap Hound, ANSWER Me!, Murder Can Be Fun
Quote Seth? Yes. "Zine culture is the inspiration for the mainstream media."
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: None.
Bonus Points: None. Find something else to write about, already.
Comment: Fuck the New York Times.

"Hot 'Zines on the Web," Time, September 4, 1995
Webzines Are....
"bright new publications," "primitive"
Webzines Mentioned: Word, Total New York, IntrrrNrrrd, FaT GiRL, Urban Desires, SnuffIt, Mr. Showbiz
Quote Seth? No.
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Webzines: "Hundreds"
Bonus Points: None. Only a few of these are zines in spirit.
Comment: Log off, Time.

"Zines of the Times: Have an Obsession? Then, Why Not Publish Your Own Magazine," The Wall Street Journal, September 1, 1995
Zines Are....
"a national obsession," "the poor man's version of vanity book publishing," "at the bottom of the publishing food chain,"
Zines Mentioned: Murder Can Be Fun ("a granddaddy of zines"), Teen Mom, Bully, The I Hate Brenda Newsletter, Madame C, Report from the Star Wars Generation, ANSWER Me!, Yo! NaCl
Quote Seth? Yes.
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: More than 50,000
Bonus Points: +5 for recognizing a great zine, MCBF, when they see it
Comment: Fuck the Wall Street Journal.

"Now, the Magazines of 'Me,' " The New York Times, May 14, 1995
Zines Are....
"public diaries," "more outrageous than Geraldo, much hipper than the Internet and fueled by some sloppy solipsism"
Zines Mentioned: Pagan's Head, Dishwasher, Chip's Closet Cleaner, Notes From the Dump, Pathetic Life, Tom's Life, Ricknews, Susan's Letter to You, Glen Burnieland, Even Tank Girls Get the Blues, Sludge Pond, Rollerderby, You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahato News
Quote Seth? Yes. "Zines are by and for people who are sick and tired of mainstream culture and the mainstream press."
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: 20,000 to 50,000
Bonus Points: -10 No addresses, as usual. What did we expect?
Comment: Fuck the New York Times.

"Behind the Zines," Rolling Stone, August 25, 1994
Zines Are....
"defiantly small-time," "slightly subversive"
Zines Mentioned: Ben Is Dead, DreamWorld News, Pills-a-Go-Go, Teenage Gang Debs
Quote Seth? Yes. "A zine is a publication where the ego is bigger than the income."
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: 20,000 to 50,000
Bonus Points: + 5 for letting a zinester write it (Stephen Sherrill of "Paris in the '20s")
Comment: Fuck Rolling Stone.

"Zines: A Tour of Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Publications," Playboy, June 1994
Zines Are....:
"just below the surface of the mainstream media"
Zines Mentioned: It's a Wonderful Lifestyle, Murder Can Be Fun, Voices of Spirit, The Picardian, Fugitive Pope, Dishwasher, The Last Prom, Roller Sports Report, Paranoia, Pills-a-Go-Go
Quote Seth? No.
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: "thousands"
Bonus Points: +25 article by which all others must be judged (I wrote it).
Comment: Predictable middle-class white boy bullshit.

"Zine-o-phobia," Phoenix New Times, May 4-10, 1994
Zines Are....:
"low-budget ruminations"
Zines Mentioned: Thing, Grind, Ben Is Dead, Wide Awake, Taste of Latex, Attitude Problem, Hooker, Cactus Prick
Quote Seth? Yes. "The future of journalism is zines."
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: No guess
Bonus Points: +5 mentions zines in same sentence as "Poor Richard's Almanac," +5 Grind editor disses Ben is Dead; -5 odd title—fear of zines?
Comment: Ho-hum.

"Magazines Like You've Never Seen," Miami Herald, February 7, 1994
Zines Are....:
"little advertising but plenty of attitude"
Zines Mentioned: bOING bOING, Jack Ruby Slippers, Satan Wears a Bra, Gnonis, Covert Action Quarterly, Gray Areas, ANSWER Me!, Cross-Talk, Smart Drug News, Diseased Pariah News, Girljock, It's a Wonderful Lifestyle, Prison Life, Whorezine, Mercury Rising, Presence, Short Circuit, Skeptical Inquirer, Frostbite Falls Far Flung Flier, American Window Cleaner, European Trash Cinema, Black Leather Times, Twilight of the Idols, Science Fiction Eye.
Quote Seth? No. Goes with Richard Kadrey of "Covert Culture Sourcebook"
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: No guess.
Bonus Points: -25 Ignore Seth? Major faux pas.
Comment: What people won't say to sell their books.

"Think it, publish it: the zine scene, " San Francisco Examiner, January 23, 1994
Zines Are....:
"labors of love"
Zines Mentioned: Welcome to Our World, 8-Track Mind, Eraser Carver Quarterly, The Nuditarian, Better Homos and Gardens, Murtaugh, I Love Amy Carter, Three Twenty-Seven, Screen Dump, Mom, Glen Burnieland
Quote Seth? Yes. "You do it for ego, not profit."
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: 20,000 to 50,000
Bonus Points: +5 mentions zines in same sentence with Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac"
Comment: Wide-eyed and deferential.

"Telling All With Wit and Rage," Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1994
Zines Are....:
"international postal salon inspired by equal parts humor and rage"
Zines Mentioned: I Love Amy Carter, Thorn, X Magazine, L.A. Gang Bang, Mom, Nine Months After Diagnosis, Dishwasher, Seamonkeys From Guatemala
Quote Seth? Yes. "Seattle, Austin and San Francisco really kick butt" in zines-per-capita
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: 20,000 to 50,000
Bonus Points: +5 notes importance of zines as chronicler of age when paper documentation is scarce, +5 mentions zines in same sentence with Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," -5 for quoting expert who calls zine readers "voyeurs"
Comment: Slow news day.

"Soapbox Samurai," Details, August 1993
Zines Are....:
"invisible literature," "political without being politically correct"
Zines Mentioned: Ben Is Dead, Cometbus, No Longer a Fanzine, Poppin' Zits, Motorbooty, Maximum Rocknroll, Silicon Womb, Holy Titclamps, Queer Zine Explosion, Diseased Pariah News, Murder Can Be Fun, Food for Thought, Whorezine, Taste of Latex, It's a Wonderful Lifestyle, Why Music Sucks, Rollerderby, On Our Backs, Bad Newz, Duplex Planet, Your Flesh, Flipside, Subterranean Pop, Forced Exposure, Feedback, Contribution, Infected Faggot Perspectives, I Hate Brenda Newsletter, Girl Germs, Pool Dust.
Quote Seth? Yes. Ninety percent of zines "are just shit."
Quote Mike? Yes, explains origins of F5 name
Estimate of Zines: 10,000
Bonus Points: -10 Refers to MCBF's postal worker issue as his "most famous," when everyone knows his "Death at Disneyland" is better, +5 photo of Debbie "Answer Me" Goad sucking on a big ol' cigar got me hot and bothered
Comment: Fuck Details.

"Wacky magazines know no limits," USA Today, August 3, 1992
Zines Are....:
"wacky, obscene, gross, tender, funny"
Zines Mentioned: Diseased Pariah News, Troubled Times, Walking Stick News, Urine Nation News, Geraldo Must Die!, Flapjack, Noisy Concept, Lookout!, Obscure Publications, Funny Pages, Far Corner, The Last Prom, Flipside, The Sabot Times, Scream, Murder Can Be Fun, Food for Thought, Scream Box, Processed World.
Quote Seth? No.
Quote Mike? No.
Estimate of Zines: No guess.
Bonus Points: +5 kept guesswork to a minimum
Comment: Introduced zines to the McDonald's set

"My Magazine, My Self: Becoming A Media Event Without Leaving Home," Village Voice Literary Supplement, March 1991
Zines Are....:
"contacts, not contracts"
Zines Mentioned: Letter Parade, L.A. Gang Bang, Sidney Suppey's, It's a Wonderful Lifestyle, Kreature Comforts, Monk, Out West, Derogatory Reference, Sandcastles, Nancy's Magazine
Quote Seth? No.
Quote Mike? Yes. "People don't have to accept being spoon-fed a life."
Estimate of Zines: No guess.
Bonus Points: +5 for having zinester write it (Pagan Kennedy of "Pagan's Head")
Comment: Way ahead of the curve.

"If a 'Zine' is Weird, This New Yorker Has It," Associated Press, 1989
Zines Are....:
"slavish devotion," "obsessive detail"
Zines Mentioned: American Window Cleaner, Civilian Defense, Chokehold, Daily Cow, Frostbite Falls Far-Flung Flier, Filth, the Lame Monkey Manifesto, Nuclear Mutinous Dogs, Occasional Journal of Nothing in Particular, Maximum Rocknroll, Flipside, The Colleen Scene
Quote Seth? No.
Quote Mike? Yes. "It has happened that the Rensselaer post office has sent me stuff just because it looks flaky."
Estimate of Zines: 6,000
Bonus Points: +5 Major exposure (ran in New York Times, Los Angeles Times)
Comment: Two birds, one stone.

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