Mix tapes, tv, and movie marathons: fanzines from the collection

To continue the exhibition move to the next room: Self-publishing as resistance: Political zines from the collection 

Sliding down a sunbeam

Selected by Blanca

On the day I interviewed for the LCC Special Collections library assistant role in August 2019, the LCC Zine Collection 10 year anniversary exhibition was beautifully on display. I will always remember looking at the A1 posters featuring zine covers, feeling so overwhelmed (and so sure it wouldn’t happen!) by the idea of working with zines as a possible job for myself. I remember most of these posters pretty well, but on that anxious waiting to be called into the interview room, my sight kept going back again and again to the red riso printed face of Helen Shapiro, the list of bands — many of whom I adore — and the title: Sliding down a sunbeam

Cover image of Sliding down a sunbeam: a fanzine. Red printed face of Helen Shapiro. List of music bands: Lush, Brenda Lee, The Hollies, Patsy Cline, The Zombies, The Field Mice, Frank Sinatra, Biff Bang Pow!, Teenage Fan Club.

I grew up in in a small post-industrial region in the north of Spain, known for its strong independent scene and DIY synergies in an otherwise depressed environment for the younger generations. I was 16 in 2008, but we dressed and acted as if we were 90s teens from an Anglo-Saxon country, listening to either Sarah records or riot grrrl bands, getting politically mobilised by genuine underground ethics around anti-classist conceptions of creativity and community building, sharing enthusiastically all that brought us joy or rage, and, of course, making zines.  

At one glance I recognised in Sliding down a sunbeam what in my (ridiculous but in this case accurate term) formative years I had conceived to be the perfect model of a fanzine, only confirmed when I finally got to read it. Each double page printed in different coloured one-ink risograph, and exactly the expected mixed style of typewrite, letraset and handwritting. The rants of a young, very enthusiastic and unashamedly sincere Jem, explaining in a mix of emotional writing and random information dump why all the music (and a film) he goes on about are so great. I thought I’d enjoy the most reading his thoughts on one of my all-time most loved bands (The Field Mice), but this bit only comes as my second favorite after I had read the fragment entitled “the makers of the best pop! in the world”, a great anti-snobbery short text that could even be understood as a precedent for what is nowadays called ‘poptimism’. It starts as strong as: 

Pop snobbery just doesn’t wash with me sonny. Clutching your spanking new ‘Ride’ Ep to your chest and laughing uproariously at your little sister as she walks in the door all a beam because the new Kylie single had found its way into the local Our Price. What kind of superiority is that? It’s outrageous behavior if you ask me. 

Sliding down a sunbeam became part of the LCC Zine Collection as part of a transfer of duplicates from Alan Lawrie/Edinburgh Fanzine Archive’s collection into ours. Most of these zines are music themed and share many of the characteristics described here. Reading many of them over the first months of my work with the collection not only felt like bringing back familiar voices, memories of friends and experiences from my teens, but truly made me reconnect with core beliefs about a DIY approach to music, to arts, to living and relating, and there’s not a day I don’t feel extremely privileged I get to work with this collection. On the day of my interview, I was totally convinced I would never be so lucky as to get the job, and just enjoyed the glance of those posters, of the zines in the cabinets. If only I had known that, a few weeks later, one of my first tasks on the role was to take down that very same display. 

Sliding down a sunbeam can be read in its entirety thanks to its author, Jem Stone, who’s uploaded scans to his flickr account [accessed 29/06/2021]. Our copy of the zine is kept in Folder 29: Library Catalogue


Selected by Holly

I was anything but cool in the 90s. There isn’t much you can do in a small town when you’re obsessed with the teen-c pop band Bis but the internet hasn’t been invented yet so you dream about what life will be like when you are old enough to leave and buy records and go to gigs.  

Ablaze! fanzine made me feel cool though. Oh, you read the NME and Melody Maker? Maybe a little bit of Kerrang? How nice for you, I read Ablaze! 

Cover of issue 2 of Ablaze! zine. The cover is risograph printed with red ink on white paper. The central image is obscured and the cut and paste text on the cover list featured bands from the zine: The Janitors, Gaye Bykers on Acid, Happy Mondays, Pop will Eat Itself, King of the Slums, live reviews and more...

Ablaze! is the legendary music fanzine created by Karren Ablaze! documenting the local leeds music scene.  My small West Yorkshire town was just 10 miles away from Leeds but it might as well have been in Narnia. I was too young and too poor and too lonely for gigs, and nightlife, and music, and diy bands. I stayed at home taping songs from John Peel and Steve Lamacq dreaming about my future life. And then I discovered Ablaze! 

I came to Ablaze far too late, just as the zine had ended. A penpal sent me a bunch of back issues and I  inhaled the cut and paste words like it was a lifeline. Because it was.  Reading about bands I’d never heard of, gigs I wouldn’t have been allowed to attend, and records I couldn’t afford to buy made me feel alive. 

And there was none of the pompous music journalism I’d seen in the NME. Instead of boring questions like who are your influences? And please tell us about your difficult second album. Ablaze! was funny, like ACTUALLY funny. It was biting and sarcastic and joyous and hilarious. This particular issue of Ablaze! features a disastrous interview with the band The Janitors using a tape recorder illegally plugged into a wall in a Chinese restaurant with very sarcastic band members and completely irreverent interview questions. The NME certainly didn’t have an anti-advertisment pages advising its readers not to buy products from South Africa, or Morrison’s peanut butter because it was crap. This was music journalism at its finest. 

We hold a copy of this issue of Ablaze! as well as other issues in our library catalogue, folder 26.


Selected by Stephen

Start with the murderer and then work backwards. That’s how we’re told the whodunnit writers do it.

Building a trick in close up magic, too: think of the effect first; four aces, thought lost, reappear, sure, sure; now think of how what you can do could make that dazzling.

Shock, I’m saying; surprise. When it’s not just a balloon pop in your ear, it can be artful. The artful communication of some new information. The surprise is it reaching you, before you even realise.

As a budding cultural maven, that sacred cow tipper, you can be drawn too much towards the pop kind of shock. There’s a bit of that in some of the appraisals of Ungawa, cult film zine.

Cover image of Ungawa Issue 1.  Text in red reads Weird Films, Strange Behaviour, Russ Meyer, Jess Franco, Rudy Ray Moore and much much more... Image of person in carnival dress and fish nets on one knee with crotch trust towards the camera, arm raised and hand in claw pose.

But on, say, Doris Wishman or Jess Franco, there is more considered thinking, of the sort all good contrarians should aspire to.

These artists, derided for working in low budget, exploitation or genre films, in fact acted much like our close up magicians above.

They chose what they hoped their art would achieve, considered the means, in terms of talent and of coffers, at their disposal, and then, went to work.

Their solutions still surprise.

Full magazine format, stapled, and in one instance falling apart, these zines have clearly been well loved.

I too loved, remembering the pleasure, not very distant at all, of reading lists of obscure films with such evocative titles, in the days, very distant all, when the films themselves weren’t easily found online.

And all the black and white photos too, of gore and long gone beautiful people.

We hold issues 1, 3 and 4 of this zine. All issues are kept in Folder 17: Library catalogue

Smiths indeed by Mark Taylor

Selected by Anthony

The Smiths, the indie music group from the 80’s has been a favourite of mine especially when I was young and was discovering artists from other countries to my own. Not so much for their music. Their basic guitar-and-drums 60’s rock and post-punk had a recurrent pattern- though they had few catchy songs, too.

But those lyrics!!

They had sadness, boldness, reality, depth, and were exceptionally relatable. Were talking about things in life that many felt uncomfortable to touch or were unpleasant however many people experienced them at some point. Not a surprise that the world opened its arms.

“ ..And you think they’re sad because you’re leaving/ But did you see the jealousy in the eyes/ Of the ones who had to stay behind?..” Song: London-1987

My admiration for the group brought me to this Zine. Taylor started Smiths Indeed at age of 16yo with limiting printing means. It reflects the fan’s talent, pure love and honesty so makes it more real. It was fantastic that the actual group collaborated with the young creator, in the end.

The Zine cover artwork is intelligent and reminiscent of the artwork pattern that the group was using on their albums. Mono-chromatic, retro images of people.

We hold Issues 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10 of The Smiths Indeed and these can be found in Folders 11, 63 and 66: Library Catalogue

Adventures close to home: a zine about The Slits

Selected by Holly

Riot Grrrl and queer punk rock saved my life but I’ve always struggled with my connections to the legacy of ‘proper’ punk. In Adventures close to home, Melissa articulates her own detachment to the documentation of 70s punk. 

“ The thing is if you’re one of the uninitiated like me, you really have to do away with any pre-conveived ideas about what a 70s punk band is. I mean they aren’t at all like The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Clash. If you believe the mainstream, women’s contributions to the punk movement was all about how they looked.”  

The zine looks back at The Slits and the punk ethos of their sound and their approach to making music and operating on their terms, in between current discussions around riot grrrl feminist punk and experiences of what it’s like to be a woman playing music or going to punk shows. Seeing the history of The Slits connected to contemporary queer and feminist punk I felt like missing pieces of the jigsaw were falling into place. Connections I didn’t realise existed and histories I’d always read but were maybe just written by the wrong people.  

Cover image of Adventures close to home: a zine about the Slits.  Text is hand drawn in black bold.  Black and white background image of a road flyover and flats behind.  In the front is a black and white cut out image of The Slits.

In the zine Melissa talks about Tobi Vail as one of her contemporary heroes. MINE TOO! As someone who is often credited with the birth of Riot Grrrl, but is rarely celebrated when it comes to any documentation of that scene, Melissa does what mainstream music journalism can’t / won’t, and places Vail front and centre. Reading Melissa’s words I was reminded of why I screamed and sobbed when I saw Bikini Kill play at their reunion show in New York in 2019 and how I just completely lost my breath when Tobi Vail came to the front of the stage to sing lead vocals during I Hate Danger. Nothing makes me feel connected like that except for music fanzines. Just nothing.  

Adventures close to home is held in our library catalogue, folder 6

The Ghost Girl’s Guide to Living by The Queen of the Ghosts, 2007

selected by Jeanny

I chose this zine based on the title and it was a surprise. This zine is not what it appears. This unassuming 15×21 cm booklette bound together with lovely glitterly thread, printed in black and white has a hand-made feel. Feels gothic and modern.

Admiral Butterfield, Delia Derbyshire pioneer of electronic music of the 60s. Lyrics to Dead Funny by Archie Bronson Outfit ; Arcade Fire Neon Bible. It feels like a journey of music and ends back to Delia Derbyshire. Follos this guide to a journey through music through pirate shantys and discover indie music and people. Through this zine I came across bands which I would never known.

Perhaps this zine is the creators journey with music that got them through a in their life in 2007.

The Ghost Girl’s Guide to Living is a delightful, whimsical, and surprising.

Our collection has a copy of The Ghost Girl’s Guide to Living Library Catalogue

To continue the exhibition move to the next room: Self-publishing as resistance: Political zines from the collection 

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