Contrary to what many folk believe, fanzines existed before Mark Perry sat down with a children’s typewriter, some felt pens, scissors and glue (which hopefully he didn’t sniff) to produce early copies of Sniffin’ Glue. For example, in 1974, from his home in East Lothian, Brian Hogg began publishing and distributing Bam Balam, which Perry has often acknowledged as a big influence on his own fanzine. As he explained to Jon Savage in England’s Dreaming: ‘It showed you could do a magazine and you didn’t have to be glossy.’
Indeed, even further back, Macabre, a sci-fi carbon zine (meaning its pages are typed carbon-copies) was produced by a Scottish teenager in the early months of World War II and this debatably might be seen as the birth of the fanzine movement in this country.
An A to Z of Scottish Fanzines will be a new occasional feature in For Malcontents Only that will celebrate Scottish music fanzines, football fanzines, litzines, webzines and e-Fanzines from Bam Balam through the punk era of Ripped & Torn, The Next Big Thing and Hanging Around to the explosion of DIY activity in the 1980s that produced Juniper Ber-Beri and Alternatives to Valium as well as the debut of the football fanzine with the likes of The Absolute Game and smaller circulation zines dedicated to a single club like St. Mirren’s wonderfully named There’s a Store where the Creatures Meet (think the ground where that team played until recently) and Mass Hibsteria, which a young Hibee from Leith named Irvine Welsh regularly contributed to before his writing began circulating more widely in pamphlets from Duncan MacLean’s Clocktower Press and in Kevin Williamson’s brilliant and controversial litzine Rebel Inc. in the first half of the 1990s.
Again contrary to many folk’s beliefs, fanzines haven’t died out – killed off by the internet and most specifically blogs although many have migrated in that direction; admittedly the golden era might have passed but many are still being produced on the fringes of the mainstream and often in different media and so newer publications like Runnin’ Feart and Scotzine (which exists online and in paper form) will also be examined to bring the story up to date although the main focus will be on punk and independent music fanzines, primarily from the 1970s and 1980s.
Feel free to send suggestions for any title that you think deserves a mention as the list that I would come up with on my own would, I’m sure, be far from definitive.