Zinesters are some of the most creative people around, so it should come as no surprise their talents extend to the music world. Here's my top five zinesters that know how to rock the page and the stage.
Perhaps the most well-known zinester around, Aaron Cometbus is the creative powerhouse behind the seminal punk zine of the same name, Cometbus. A self proclaimed "punk anthropologist," he's had his fair share of contributions behind a typewriter and a drumkit. His most well known contributions are as co-founder of the highly influential Bay Area band Crimpshrine, along with his tenure as the drummer of Pinhead Gunpowder (formed alongside Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong).
Another zinester to call the Bay Area home (by way of Florida), Erick Lyle has been producing the zine SCAM since 1991. An active writer, Lyle's work has also been featured in such publications as Maximum Rock N Roll, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and NPR's This American Life; in 2008 Soft Skull Press released a collection of his essays, anecdotes, and memoirs entitled On the Lower Frequencies. Lyle is also a prolific guitarist, playing in numerous bands including San Francisco's pop-punk power trio Onion Flavored Rings, Black Rainbow (featured above), and his latest project, Knife in the Eye.
Before the Riot Grrrl movement took female empowerment to the DIY masses, Kathleen Hanna was just like every other twentysomething looking to be heard. The result? Hanna and her friends released the now infamous zine Bikini Kill, which also spurred a band of the same name. Although both the zine and the band only lasted for a few years throughout 1990's, their impact continues to be felt for generations. Hannah later followed up her musical ambitions with the bands Julie Ruin and Le Tigre.
Love him or hate him, there's no denying Ben Weasel has left his mark on the underground art world. As the frontman for the legendary band Screeching Weasel, he's put out dozens of albums and an endless array of singles, both with the group that bares his namesake, as well as with The Riverdales and his own solo projects. While his music--and notorious temper--have often been at the forefront of his profile, Weasel is also an accomplished writer. In addition to his former long-standing column in Maximum Rock N Roll, Weasel has published a number of zines ranging from the punk manifesto Panic Button to the sex-filled Teen Punks in Heat; in 2001 his novel, Like Hell, was released by the Chicago-based publisher Hope and Nonthings.
Janelle Hessig started her comic zine, Tales of Blarg, at the tender age of fourteen. Since then she's become a figure synonymous with both the punk and DIY publishing scenes. Hessig's work has been featured on countless record covers, magazines, and even underwear, but her talents aren't limited to just the print world--she's also played in tons bands like Panty Raid, Baby Jail, The Tourettes, and Rat Attack. But what's more punk rock than playing in a punk band? Having punk songs written about you. For better or worse, Hessig has been the subject of numerous tunes, including tracks by Born Against, Bratmobile, and Scared of Chaka.
So does being a successful zinester also mean having to play in a band? Not necessarily, but having outlets that can support both forms of creativity is never a bad thing. I think that's the reason why the work of these five individuals has reached the levels of popularity they have, cause their talent wasn't limited to a few pieces of paper. Consider that the next time you're finding yourself staring at a blank page--maybe all you need is a different kind of canvas.
San Francisco Zine Fest is a member of the Intersection Incubator, a program of Intersection for the Arts providing fiscal sponsorship, networking and consulting for artists. The views and opinions expressed by the member projects and their artist/participants do not reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Intersection for the Arts.