Regression Toward the Zine (11)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Popular, Read-outs, Spectacles

PREVIOUSLY: Mike Gunderloy of Factsheet Five explains where the action is, circa 1990.


The years 1988–89 were the apex of the Zine Revolution. Ever dilatory, I began publishing a zine after that pinnacle — during my senior year (1990–91) in college. As is typical in DIY culture (whether we’re talking about music, movies, crafting, or whatever), I began as a fan and eventually, inexorably joined the movement as a fellow creator.

First, I was inspired: I visited Sherman Wilmott (mentioned earlier) in Memphis and spent a couple of days poring over his pile of zines. I also met Eric “Chiz” Friedl in Memphis — later known by his stage name, Eric Oblivian, after he a co-founded the Memphis garage-rock band the Oblivians. Eric was also into zines — he later started publishing the excellent garage rock fanzine WIPE OUT!. Sherman and Eric turned me on to Factsheet Five, issues of which I read cover to cover back at college in Massachusetts.

wipe out

Second, I was in trouble: When I started applying to grad school programs, I realized belatedly that I was expected to list my (non-existent) extracurricular activities. Everyone else had been padding their résumés for four years, while I had been doing nothing at all.

I had a brainstorm. I would publish a few issues of a fake zine — beginning with issue no. 9, say, in case anyone actually wanted to see it — and list this Potemkin zine as my extracurricular activity. I enlisted a friend, Patrick Hubenthal, as co-editor, and asked my girlfriend (now wife) Susan, and my friend John Cradock (see earlier installments of this series) to write and draw contributions. This zine had to seem like the real deal.

luvboat 9

The first issue (pictured above) of Luvboat Earth featured a list of back issues that were fictional and permanently unavailable. At last, the truth can be told — they never existed.

luvboat 10

And then a funny thing happened. I couldn’t stop publishing a zine. For the next ten years!


NEXT: The zine Pagan’s Head from the Joshua Glenn Zine Collection, and the DIY scene in Allston, MA circa 1991.

This is a 25-part series in which HiLobrow editor Joshua Glenn, who from 1990–93 published the zine Luvboat Earth and from 1992–2001 published the zine/journal Hermenaut, bids a fond farewell to his noteworthy collection of zines, which he recently donated to the University of Iowa Library’s zine and amateur press collection.



Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.