One of the most significant developments in zines in the past 25 years is the shift from interest-based research zines to personal zines (“perzines”, as they are sometimes called). In their earliest years, zines focused on specific fan interests. Most notably among these interests was science fiction, with fan publications starting in the 1930s. There is a reason these early publications were called “fanzines”.
A 1933 sci-fi fanzine by no other than Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This is the first printed appearance of the Superman concept.
Today autobiographical zines dominate the self-publishing culture. Doris by Cindy Crabb, Greenzine by Cristy C. Road and King-Cat by John Porcellino are popular examples. A zine that promoted this move into personal territory is Cometbus, by Aaron Cometbus. Cometbus got its start in 1981, when Aaron was still a teenager. Initially, it was your standard punk fanzine, with band interviews and show reviews. By issue 24 Aaron was focused on the culture of punk: the people, the energy, the struggle and the passion.
As Aaron put it, in Cometbus #24: “By the way, Cometbus is still a punk zine, as far as I’m concerned. How can it be a punk zine without covering bands, records or “the scene”? Because all those things are temporary, and covered enough anyway. more important is taking the lifestyle, perspective, and attitude of punk and applying it to real life.”
An early issue of Cometbus
Cometbus Issue 24
Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus does a wonderful job of documenting this shift, and it is great introduction to Aaron’s work. The Schulz Library currently does not own a copy of this book. Do you have one you’d like to donate?
- Robyn Chapman