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My walk from the Herald Square subway stop to The Empire State Building (the headquarters of Graphic Universe) takes me through one of the most tourist-saturated areas in New York City. The block is lined with high-end clothing stores. Imagine my surprise to see a mannequin dressed in this shirt, on display in such a busy shopping district.
This might not mean much to you, but I was stopped in my tracks. Why was Forever 21 selling a Sniffin’ Glue shirt?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sniffin’ Glue, which I’m guessing is most people, it was influential but short-lived punk zine (published from 1976-1977). It was launched right on the heels of Punk, another definitive publication of the era. In 1976, punk rock was brand new. These publications helped define punk and gave it a wider audience. Zines were a very relevant form of communication during these years (you couldn’t find punk rock on TV, and there was no internet).
I like to say there’s no such thing as a famous zine, but Sniffin’ Glue might be an exception. It’s publisher, Mark Perry, initially put out print run of 50, but that soon grew to 15,000.
Perhaps the most important thing Sniffin’ Glue did was help instill the DIY attitude in the punk culture. For some, that is punk’s one, true defining characteristic. Mark Perry encouraged his readers to rip up his zines, and also to make their own.
To learn more about punk, check out these Lerner publications:
I’m curious to what type of audience would buy a Sniffin’ Glue shirt at Forever 21. I figure there are three categories:
Old punk rockers who read zines in the 70s.
Aspiring zine historians (that’s me!)
People who just think it looks cool.
I guess the real question is, should I buy the shirt?
Some of my favorite comics, the ones a seek out and treasure most, are published in small batches by individual artists, rather than traditional publishing houses. These kinds of comics are often called mini comics, or more broadly indy comics. Since the Underground Comix movement began in the late sixties, there has been a community of cartoonists focused on creating noncommercial works on the fringes of the publishing world. Their comics tended to avant garde and at times offensive, and in general very grown up.
After years of defending comics as legitimate medium for grown-ups, the indy press has begun to turn its eyes towards comics’ youngest readers. Here are a few of my favorites.
DRAGONS! Comics and Activities for KIDS! was edited by Alec Longstreth, and includes some of my favorite cartoonists from the indy press. In addition to comics, the book includes mazes and puzzles. And the best thing is, this comics was absolutely free!
This summer I picked up Were-Pups, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was published by Team Werewolf, a small group of graduates from The Center for Cartoon Studies. Team Werewolf has published five issues of their grown-up anthology, Werewolf, and this special issue just for kids. I have to say, the quality of the cartooning on Cubs was a step above their grown up material.
“Where-Wolf?” by Melissa Mendes, who is a real master at capturing the childhood experience.
“We Like the Moon” by Dakota McFadzean. Keep an eye on Dakota, he’s going places!
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend! There’s room in the indy press for comics for all audiences.
Who doesn’t like hot and hunky vampires?
Starting today a preview of My Boyfriend Bites will be serialized on the My Boyfriend is a Monster website. New pages will be uploaded on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Take a look at this fun and quirky take on current monster craze.
A preview of I Love Him to Pieces, the first book in this series, is also available for the zombie fans out there.