(Visual) Notes on Culture

This is a first attempt at an on-going look at zine culture. Wikipedia provides a nice overview of the history of the zine, available here. The Lowbrow Reader is an incredibly funny slice of oppositional thinking. While unquestionably a part of zine culture, it stands out by virtue of its high production values. Most of its contributors seem to have experience as professional writers, but the emphasis here is on the casual, distasteful, and less mainstream. Recognizable names abound - issue 5 contains a comicbook/essay on The White Stripes, a symposium on Chevy Chase, and a salute to Don Knotts.

The contributors have a smart sense of the comic tradition (broadly conceived), giving credit where credit is due, but also calling out bullshit where it rears its ugly, crappy head. Joan Rivers garners a remarkably astute write-up by editor Jay Ruttenberg, pointing out her the bizarre circumstances of her comedy and its reception. The excellent accompanying artwork seals the deal.

By far the most fascinating piece comes from Jeff Ward, with illustrations by Mike Reddy. "Silent but Dead: A Guide to the Lesser Known Silent Comedians" is a brilliant piece of speculative, alternate history. We all know about Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd...pioneers, fictures of popular imagination. But what about Norman Clive (estranged from his trio of Laurel & Hardy & Clive) or the pocket-sized Pinky Chalmers?

The Lowbrow Reader delivers subversion with a sense of history and purpose. The scant $3 is a bargain! Check them out.
Some fine zines:


If you can find any of the zines Pettibon and Henry Rollins did in the 80s, those are rather intense and incredible. And LA punk so, you know, DIY OR DIEEE
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