Friday, February 21, 2003



Promoting the 'zine scene are, clockwise from top left, Dr. Lovepunk, who publishes No-Na-Me, a music-meets-current-events 'zine; Cade Roster, publisher of Shower; and Otto, a local punk rock promoter. By combining a fanzine exchange with a live concert, Otto hopes the Seventh Annual 'Zine Fest will help revive a dying art.

Saving ’zines
from extinction


Shawn "Speedy" Lopes

Blame it on the World Wide Web, the commercialization of punk rock or plain old apathy, but the 'zine scene just ain't what it used to be. The fanzine, that fabulously low-tech, do-it-yourself method of distributing personal ideas and essays through the written word, may be facing its own extinction.

'Zine Fest 2003

featuring Absents of Void, the Crowd, the 86 List, Buddah Toy Soldiers, Postmodern and Upstanding Youth
Where: Otto Cake, 2928 Ualena St.
When: 6 p.m. tomorrow
Admission: $5; all ages welcome
Call: 834-6886

From its earliest days as a science-fiction fan newsletter (The Comet, first published in 1930, is generally regarded as the first fanzine), 'zines were an ideal outlet for the common man to express opinions and share ideas -- no matter how objectionable or off the wall -- with the general public. All that was required was a printing apparatus and a little imagination.

In the mid-1970s the same DIY attitude that gave rise to punk rock also gave fanzines a much-needed shot in the arm. Technology, in the form of the photocopier, helped in the proliferation of 'zines to no small degree. Unfortunately, some say, the introduction of its high-tech cousin, the Internet home page, has caused a slow, steady decline for the 'zine.

By combining a fanzine exchange with a live concert, local punk-rock promoter Otto (he never uses a last name) hopes the Seventh Annual 'Zine Fest will help revive a dying art. Whereas homemade fanzines once jammed shelves of Honolulu's coffee shops and record stores, he says they've become rather scarce lately. "Last year, I ended up with just five (contributions) compared with about 20 for (previous) shows," he notes. "I'd like this show to motivate others to keep 'zines alive."

It is also hoped that Maui bands the Crowd and Absents of Void will help pique the curiosity of prospective attendees. "I've always tried to have a band from another island play the show," says Otto, whose own group, the 86 List, is also slated to play, as are local punk outfits Postmodern, Upstanding Youth and Buddah Toy Soldiers.

Clockwise from top left: Dr. Lovepunk, Cade Roster and Otto.

ONE LOCAL 'zine publisher who refuses to let the fanzine fade quietly is Dr. Lovepunk. A printmaker by trade, the enigmatic 22-year-old publisher of No-Na-Me, a music-meets-current-events 'zine-slash-comic book, sees the fanzine as the perfect antidote to an artless, impassive society. "It's kind of my gift to the world, in a way," he says. "That's why I believe in giving away my 'zines for free."

Although 'zine makers typically don't receive payment for their creations, Dr. Lovepunk says sharing ideas with the world is reward enough. "Being able to express my views keeps me going," he says. "There's always something going on in the world, and there's been a lot to talk about lately, especially since Sept. 11. People oftentimes give me donations, anyway, because they see how much work was put into it. It actually ends up working out for me in the end."

As for fanzines' future, Dr. Lovepunk is unconcerned. He believes the printed word will always find readership, even in the digital age. "I kind of look at it the same way as books," he says. "I think we're always going to have books. There's always going to be this underground network of publishers who feel like putting together 'zines is the thing to do. It's really a subculture in itself."

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