Regression Toward the Zine (23)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Read-outs, Spectacles

PREVIOUSLY: Zine books — a harbinger of doom!

In this installment: Letters to Hermenaut.

Now that we no longer mail letters to one another, will today’s creative projects spawn archives like this one — for the amusement and edification of the future?


A nice note (first page, anyway) from poet, songwriter and independent media activist Rich Jensen, who helped to establish and grow the K, Sub Pop and Up recording labels. He was general manager of Sub Pop at the time, and sent some advertising our way.

rich jensen


I wrote several fake conspiracy theories for Hermenaut — I’m a fan of the paranoid style. So I was thrilled to receive this note from the magazine Paranoia. They wound up publishing my “Woodstock Never Happened” theory, and my “Rosey Grier Killed RFK” theory too.



A note from cartoonist Dan Clowes.



The first letter I ever received from Tom Hodgkinson, editor of England’s The Idler. We became good friends, and years later I’d write the first version of The Idler’s Glossary for his journal.



Larry Charles got all his ideas for Seinfeld — and, later, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan — from Hermenaut.

larry charles


A note from Rob Walker — with whom, a decade or so later, I’d collaborate on the Significant Objects project.

rob walker


A Hermenaut staff portrait, ca. 1999. Yours truly at far left.

hermenaut staff

NEXT: Hermenaut snapshots

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.