Reading Frenzy ~ An Independent Press Emporium

Day 1: Happy International Zine Month!

July 01, 2012: What was the first zine you ever read?

The year was 1986, I was 16-years-old and visiting my Aunt Tookie who lives in the Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco. Most days I would hike down to Haight Street and spend the day exploring. One day I found an odd little publication in a knickknack shop called Murder Can Be Fun edited by John Marr. Now, I'm not a true crime buff, and I don't tend to revel in other people's misery, but I loved MCBF! It was a hilarious and insightful look into the human condition through the lens of murder, mayhem, malice and general misfortune and it spoke to my prematurely cynical teenaged heart. I went back and bought the rest and read them repeatedly. I still have them to this day.

It would take a couple more years until I hit the zine mother lode with the discovery of Factsheet 5 at Powell's in 1988, but MCBF was my gateway to a world previously unrevealed. Books had been an escape and refuge, mainstream (and even alternative) magazines were a window onto a world I had no entry to as a teenager growing up in rural Oregon, but zines were an open invitation to come along for the ride, to participate, and to do-it-yourself! I didn't ultimately start my own zine, although I contributed to many (including Portland's own Snipehunt and Art Rag), but what I did find in zines led me to open Reading Frenzy in order to provide a dedicated outlet for independent, small press, and self-published titles.

Murder Can Be Fun was among the first batch of titles we carried when Reading Frenzy opened in 1994, and continued to be a perennial favorite throughout the 90s and early 2000s. The last issue, #20: A MCBF Miscellany, was published several years ago. Murder Can Be Fun and John Marr will be profiled in my upcoming reading memoir, Many Nuts Were Sent Some Mail.

Murder Can Be Fun website and zinewiki.

What was your first zine encounter? We'd love to hear about it here.