It seems like one cultural critic or other is always declariAbramsng something dead. In recent years, print media has been declared dead. In the past, punk was declared dead, though many still maintain that punk’s not dead. The new book Punk Press: Rebel Rock in the Underground Press 1968-1980 returns us to a time where newspapers, leaflets, newsletters, and flyers were a dynamic way for the punk community communicate. More than just informative, these communiqués allowed punks from all over to covey their ideas and share their city’s scene with others.

Punk Press is no kind of exhaustive anthology, but rather collection of fanzine covers, show flyers, Eraserheadwith a few articles reproduced for good measure. Mostly this book is about images. What surprised me is that some of these images must have become immediately iconic. I remember a few in this collection as reproductions in fanzines of my own youth.

The title pushes the early date of punk to 1968, but articles inside the magazine challenge that date back even further to 1964, which made me think that trying to pinpoint the birth of punk might be as difficult as pinpointing the beginning of jazz. Most of the works are from the New York, Paris, and London scene. And because the upper period is 1980, by extension we don’t get much if any from the West Coast hardcore scene, which came to dominate punk thereafter.

Compiled by Vincent Berniere and Mariel Primois, Punk Press is an Eyeinteresting look back to a time when the printed word connected and energized an entire subculture. Punk Press is a larger format book, 9 x 13 1/4 , which makes it possible to read the text reproduced within. (This large size also prevented me from scanning these images for you, which is what I usually do. Sorry.) The pages are matte and mimic the original pulp that most of these missives were printed on. Though there is little editorial insight by the authors, the collection of images that they complied do an excellent job speaking for themselves.

Punk Press: Rebel Rock in the Underground Press 1968-1980

by Vincent Berniere and Mariel Primois,

240 pages, paperback

Harry N. Abrams, 2013

ISBN: 9781419706295


Terri Griffith

Terri Griffith has published fiction and criticism in Art21, Bloom, Suspect Thoughts, and BUST, as well as in the anthologies Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class (Seal Press, 2003), Are We Feeling Better Yet? (Penultimate Press, 2008), and Art from Art (Modernist Press, 2011). Since 2006, she has been a literary and culture blogger for Bad at Sports. Griffith is the author of the novel So Much Better (Green Lantern Press, 2009) and the co-editor of The Essential New Art Examiner (Northern Illinois University Press, 2012). She teaches writing and literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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