Revenge of Print… and the rebirth of Crimewave USA

5054648639_04d79fe58eAs some of you may know, I used to publish a little magazine called Crimewave USA with my wife, Linette. We put out about 15 issues over ten years or so, and, in that time, did some pretty good work that we’ll still proud of. We didn’t change the world, but I’d like to think, at the very least, we helped a few misfit kids grow into cool, contributing adults. We haven’t put out a new issue in a few years now, and, I suppose, it’s quite possible that we never would have again, if not for a campaign started recently by Benn Ray at Baltimore’s Atomic Books, called the Revenge of Print. The initiative, directed primarily at former zine publishers, like ourselves, is intended to coerce the last remaining sparks of creativity from people who, for the most part, have long since given up. Following is my discussion with Benn on the project, why it’s important, and what he hopes to achieve.

MARK: Can you tell us about the Revenge of Print campaign and why you started it?

BENN: The Revenge of Print is an attempt to encourage/give an excuse to current/former/potential zinester to do one more issue.

The campaign is in response to the seemingly constant “Print Is Dead” mantra that we hear seemingly echoed everywhere.

It’s based on the principle that print is only dead if you want it to be. I started thinking about how awesome it would be if everyone who ever made or wanted to make a zine, mini-comic, comic, etc. made at least one more issue this year.

Then I noticed this sort of “Where are they now” section in Xerography Debt where they talk to former zinesters and ask them if they’d ever do another issue. And the responses were fairly uniform in that most said would if the time was right, or there was a reason or something. Like these wayward zinesters were sort of missing making zines and were looking for an excuse to make another issue – to get back into it.

So I figured, what the hell. Let’s put out a challenge and see what happens.

I also figured that it would be fun to use the medium frequently blamed for the supposed “death of print” – the internet – to organize, promote and broadcast the campaign.

And I asked Quimby’s, Xerography Debt, etc. if they thought it was a good idea and would like to help out and they were very into it. Then Zineworld, Razorcake, etc. all came on board to help spread the word.

Initially I was hoping to get maybe 20/30 people to sign on. At 175+ and counting – I have to say I’m pretty stunned by the response.

MARK: Have you prepared yourself for the eventuality that everything that we retired zinesters from the 90’s produce is absolutely horrible? I hope that’s not the case, and that we can, despite our advanced ages, still find interesting things to say, but it’s possible that our best work is behind us, isn’t it?

BENN: I don’t think of the Revenge of Print as a “let’s get the band back together, it’ll be awesome, let’s relive the golden days” sort of nostalgia kick. A lot of what was produced in the ’90s was absolutely horrible too. But, the point is, it was produced. There was a vibrant zine culture. Today, as much isn’t produced. At least not in print.

I’ve always thought of zines and zine-making as a conversation. And the more voices involved, the more interesting, the more dynamic the conversation.

It’s true some folks might not have as much to say. But in that case, they’ve had years to think about and suss stuff out. Surely 1 issue wouldn’t be too taxing or depleting for most. Also, many zinesters are older. Ideally, they’re wiser too. Or perhaps crazier. I’m curious to see what kind of perspective the years have given folks.

But also, this isn’t just about zinesters from 2 decades ago (although I’m hoping a lot of them will feel compelled to make another issue). The Revenge of Print, I hope, will also be a call for people who have always wanted to make a zine to finally make one, and also, for those who are somewhat more erratic in their publishing schedules to commit to turning out a zine this year. And, of course, for those who are doing zines anyway to commit to another year.

And for those participating – the best case scenario I think is they’ll realize they still have stuff to say – they still want to make zines and keep going. The worst case scenario – well, maybe some folks will get a sense of closure. A lot of zines just kind of evaporated instead of ended.

I’m hoping people will realize they still have stuff to say that’s worth being photocopied, collated, stapled and media mailed and not simply click “post”-ed.

MARK: You’ve got a lot of great zines already on the list, but I’m wondering if there are others that you might still be hoping to recruit. I’d love, for instance, to see another issue of Doug Holland’s Pathetic Life or Amy Fusselman’s Bunny Rabbit. Are there favorites of yours that you’d still like to get onboard?

BENN: I’m already overwhelmed by the amount of favorites that have signed on, but some that I fantasize about getting involved are: Bunnyhop, Ben Is Dead, Crank, Answer Me, Murder Can Be Fun, Thriftscore, Beeframe, Chunklet, Motorbooty, West Virginia Surf Report, Tight Pants, Rollerderby, Peko Peko, 8-Track Mind, Modern Drunkard, babysue, Bamboo Girl, Dishwasher, Monozine, Farm Pulp, Flatter!, Fancy, Holy Titclamps, Temp Slave, Hermenaut, The Imp, Guinea Pig Zero… there are so many zines I’d love, LOVE to see another issue of.

So who knows. Maybe a few of those people will hear about The Revenge of Print and feel like kicking in an issue. And if not, well, if those who have signed on all deliver – there’s going to be so much to read this year, it’s going to be awesome.

MARK: Weird you should mention him – I just talked with Jeff from the West Virginia Surf Report and I think he’s up for it. And I bet I can get Hischak (Farm Pulp) and Russ (8-Track Mind) onboard through a combination of flattery and intimidation. Let me make a few calls. I might be able to make a few more of your dreams come true.

For what it’s worth, I really appreciate the fact that you’ve lit a fire under our asses. It’ll likely be a costly and aggravating experience that will put many relationships in jeopardy, but it’s something that I need to do. I’m just hoping that my contribution doesn’t turn out to be a diatribe about the fuckers at Desert Moon who ran off with all of our money, or, worse yet, a pathetic treatise on growing old and fat.

I know it might not conform to everyone’s design specs, but it would be cool if each of us would somehow include mention of the Revenge of Print campaign in some way and perhaps point back to an online list of all the other zines that have participated, with information on how to acquire copies, etc.

BENN: Hopefully, retired zinesters’ relationships are established enough they can withstand a new issue. I mean, it’s not like buying an antique car and reworking it or joining a civil war re-enactment troop. Well, I guess it kind of is like that. Ha!

As for topics – in a way – Desert Moon diatribes and old age treatises might be hilarious.

Maybe that can be a theme for 2012: Old Age Crackpottery.

I like the idea of including a mention of Revenge of Print in zines (I think somone did a barcode thing) and listing all the participants. But I was concerned if I suggested people put a Revenge of Print logo on their zine, there would be blowback/pushback on that. And I’m not sure how to list all the participants as just keeping up those pledging is difficult enough. I’m totally open to any suggestions.

We’ve also been invited to setting up an installation/display at the Baltimore Book Festival for this – but I’m not even sure how to go about. I guess I could just put out a call for folks to send a copy of their zine or something?

MARK: I just checked and, if this is the same Baltimore Book Festival that you’re talking about, it doesn’t happen until September 23. That’s not a bad target date to urge people toward. I don’t want to put more responsibility on your shoulders, but it might not be a bad time to host a little zine reunion at Atomic Books. (Can we sleep in the aisles?) As for how to get people to include mention of the “Revenge of Print” campaign, I think you just need to make the logos available to people who want to use them. Some will, and some won’t. I suspect, however, that most would like the idea, as it could increase the possibility that their zine would be seen.

And that’s kind of where communications stopped last nigth… Judging from the Atomic Books blog, though, it looks as though he got my last email… More to follow… Now, go cancel your cable. THe world is about to get more interesting.

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15 Comments

  1. Pudrick
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    That makes me think of one more thing. He said “print is only dead if you want it to be.” Well, you people can want it all night long and into the morning but I ain’t going nowhere without a knuckle round your knees.

  2. mega minutes
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Why bother, when Fox News tells us everything we need to know?

  3. Krick
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    Has Kinko’s been alerted to the mass theft about to take place?

  4. kjc
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    omg i loved Hermenaut. Those guys were brilliant.

  5. Edward
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Bring back the buggy whip!

    Seriously, this is cool news. The world could use more zines.

  6. Jennifer Gariepy
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    The nice thing about ‘zines is you can read them when the power goes out and your computer battery’s dead. . . and when you can’t afford a computer in the first place. The “paperless” world cuts out everyone who doesn’t have the hundreds of bucks to spare for a machine. When the Man decides to choke off Internet access, there will still be ‘zines.

  7. Eel
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully your follow through on this is better than your follow through on the “I’m going to cut down on my blogging” announcement over Xmas. The world needs more Crimewave.

  8. Posted January 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the info about this! I posted about it as well, and have called out my own list of publications I’d like to see do this. Here’s hoping to it happening! [b]

  9. Kim
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    While you’re at it, could you bring back SPY magazine for an issue too?

  10. dan gillotte
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Such good times we had in the 80s and early 90s, didn’t we? Reading crazy zines with crazy articles about how the government was evil and the aliens were coming, watching crazy bootleg videos about our evil government and drive-in movie theater intermission footage, etc. Wait, that’s now, but we do it on the computer.
    Anyway, I for one am big on this and will gladly even pay NEW money to see it happen.

  11. steph
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    A big YAY! from one of those former misfit kids you mentioned…

  12. Posted January 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    YAY! YAY! MORE CRIMEWAVE!

  13. Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we can get one last Factsheet Five to review them all.

  14. Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    So it’s going to be like a rock reunion tour.

  15. Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    hello:) this is awesome! i’ve recently been trying to get into the whole “zine” thing again.. many of the ones you listed i read, corresponded to, send stuff to and received stuff… (your statement of zines being a conversation, so true;) Anyway, i hope to dig what is left of the zine i was making, but never got printed, Raging flamingo out of its exile in a backwoods shed, and out into the world… would one that was never out work for what you are doing? please let me know:) i would love to participate either way…Oh i recently reconnected with Sean Tejaratchi on twitter of all places…. he was the maker of Craphound … oh all these names, have me stoked, like the ones i forgot like babySue wow…
    other names that come to mind are Chuck & Aint nothin like f-n moonshine….ok feel free to email me, neato site btw:) like the look of it:) have a good day and i hope to hear from you, tim (conan sugarsmak) davis….=)

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