Download 50+ Issues of Legendary West Coast Punk Music Zines from the 1970–80s: Damage, Slash & No Mag


If your under­stand­ing of ear­ly punk derives main­ly from doc­u­men­taries, you’re sore­ly miss­ing out. As I wrote in a post yes­ter­day on inter­na­tion­al trea­sure John Peel—the BBC DJ who exposed more than a cou­ple gen­er­a­tions to care­ful­ly-curat­ed punk rock—finding such music before the inter­net could be a daunt­ing, and excit­ing, adven­ture. With­out a doubt the best way die-hard fans and curi­ous onlook­ers could get a feel for the music, man­ners, and per­son­al­i­ties of any num­ber of local scenes was through mag­a­zine cul­ture, which dis­sem­i­nat­ed trends pre-Tum­blr with a spe­cial kind of inten­si­ty and aes­thet­ic per­son­al­iza­tion. Punk pub­li­ca­tions doc­u­ment­ed first­hand the doings of not only musi­cians, but visu­al artists, activists, pro­mot­ers, man­agers, and, of course, the fans, offer­ing points of view unavail­able any­where else.


The breadth and range of local punk rock fanzines, from the UK, the States, and else­where, can seem stag­ger­ing, and the qual­i­ty curve is a steep one—from bare­ly leg­i­ble, mimeo­graphed broad­sheets to large-for­mat newsprint affairs with pro­fes­sion­al lay­out and type­set­ting, like leg­endary titles Touch & Go and Search & Destroy. The lat­ter pub­li­ca­tion emerged from the rich, but often over­looked San Fran­cis­co scene and fea­tured fre­quent con­tri­bu­tions from Dead Kennedys’ singer Jel­lo Biafra, who appears on the cov­er of anoth­er San Fran­cis­co ‘zine, Dam­age (top), “as fine an exam­ple of the [punk ‘zine] form as any you care to name,” writes Dan­ger­ous Minds. Thanks to Austin-based archivist Ryan Richard­son, you can down­load 13 com­plete issues of Dam­age, from 1979 to 1981, in one large PDF.


Through his project Cir­cu­la­tion Zero, Richard­son has made oth­er punk mag­a­zine col­lec­tions avail­able as well, in “an attempt to answer some ques­tions…. Are col­lec­tions bet­ter off inside insti­tu­tion­al libraries or in the hands of col­lec­tors? Should ancient in-fight­ing pre­vent bring­ing the punk print hey-day to a new gen­er­a­tion?” Obvi­ous­ly on that account, he’s come to terms with “eggshell walk­ing over copy­right issues” and decid­ed to deliv­er not only Dam­age but two more sem­i­nal titles from the West Coast punk scene’s gold­en age: Slash and No Mag. Each down­load is fair­ly large, includ­ing as they do “sin­gle search­able PDFs” of print runs over sev­er­al years. In the case of Slash, we get a whop­ping 29 issues, from 1977 to 1980, and Richard­son gives us 14 issues of No Mag, from 1978 to 1985. Because “some pub­li­ca­tions stuck around for a long time,” he writes, “I’ve picked a rea­son­able stop­ping point based most­ly on when my fas­ci­na­tion pre­cip­i­tous­ly declines head­ing into the mid-80s.”


Even so, these col­lec­tions are mag­nif­i­cent rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the most fer­tile years of the move­ment, and they cap­ture some of the most nec­es­sary pub­li­ca­tions for fans and schol­ars seek­ing to under­stand punk cul­ture. “The impor­tance of Slash,” Dan­ger­ous Minds writes, “to the L.A. punk scene, and real­ly to the world­wide punk scene in gen­er­al, can­not be over­stat­ed.” The edgi­er, “filth­i­er” No Mag’s “trans­gres­sive art and pho­tog­ra­phy, along with the inter­views of now-leg­endary bands, make this run a cru­cial his­tor­i­cal resource.”

Found­ed in 1978 by Bruce Kalberg and Michael Gira—before he moved to New York and start­ed pun­ish­ing noise-rock band SwansNo Mag’s cat­a­log includ­ed the usu­al roundup of L.A. punk heroes: X, Fear, the Germs, Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies, along with sev­er­al for­got­ten local stal­warts as well. This par­tic­u­lar rag—as an L.A. Week­ly piece detailed—“fre­quent­ly bor­dered on the porno­graph­ic… forc­ing [Kalberg] to man­u­fac­ture it in San Fran­cis­co, where print­ers are appar­ent­ly more tol­er­ant.” It may go with­out say­ing, but we say it all the same: many of these pages make for unsafe work view­ing.


Cir­cu­la­tion Zero gen­er­ous­ly makes these invalu­able col­lec­tions avail­able to all, osten­si­bly free of charge, but with the under­stand­ing that read­ers will “decide what your expe­ri­ence was worth and then donate” to char­i­ties of Richardson’s choice, includ­ing the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion and Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders. You’ll find down­load links for all three titles on this page, and dona­tion links here. How­ev­er much, or lit­tle, you’re able to give (on your hon­or!), it’s worth the time and cost. Whether you’re an old-school punk, a new fan learn­ing the his­to­ry, or an aca­d­e­m­ic cul­tur­al his­to­ri­an or the­o­rist, you’ll glean an ines­timable amount of knowl­edge and plea­sure from these archives.


via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 834 Rad­i­cal Zines From a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Online Archive: Glob­al­iza­tion, Punk Music, the Indus­tri­al Prison Com­plex & More

The Night John Belushi Booked the Punk Band Fear on Sat­ur­day Night Live, And They Got Banned from the Show

The Cramps Play a Men­tal Hos­pi­tal in Napa, Cal­i­for­nia in 1978: The Punk­est of Punk Con­certs

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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