Oh Cardiff, Up Yours music fanzine, 1977-78
The editor reminisces about his teenage fanzine-producing years (© urban75, March 2007)
Way back before the time of cut-price computers, snazzy desk top publishing packages and t'internet, if you wanted to publish a magazine on the cheap it was a damn fiddly business.
Design (if you could call it that) was a strictly hands-on affair, involving much use of scissors, sellotape and Tippex and the only 'fonts' you were likely to be able to include in your 'zine would be:
a) the one that came with your cheap mechanical typewriter
b) whatever Letraset sheet had enough letters left to make a headline
c) letters cut out from a magazine and manually reassembled or
d) whatever you could draw yourself.
Photocopying was expensive and even if you managed to blag some time on the work machine, they were rarely up to reproducing graphics, so images inevitably came out as a blotchy mess.
Even if you managed to get the thing printed and stapled together, there were virtually no local or national distribution channels available, and with no advertising budget to dip into, shifting your hard work was always going to be an uphill struggle.
Despite all these challenges, we were so fuelled up by the energy and DIY enthusiasm of the punk revolution that we wanted a piece of the self publishing action, and in 1977 set about creating our own punk rock fanzine and named it, "Oh Cardiff, Up Yours!" (after the still-fantastic X Ray Spex song).
Well, I say 'punk' but as the issue one front cover reveals, we weren't quite ready to give up our rock roots, even if some of us had abandoned the flowing locks and greatcoats for something a little more new wave (incidentally, the writer for the Thin Lizzy review got in on my cheeky forged ticket!).
The mag led with stories on Thin Lizzy, Sex Pistols, err, Welsh dandruff shakers Lone Star and new wave legend Tom Robinson (who has since gone on to play my Offline club three times).
I can't remember how many copies we printed up, but I can remember standing outside the Top Rank on band nights trying to flog copies to deeply uninterested punters.
Even though they were a mere 10p, it was a struggle shifting the things, and it was always a heartache dragging home unsold copies.
Things looked up when we persuaded two local record stores to stock the fanzine; the long gone Sound Advice in Castle Arcade and the ever-excellent Spillers Records in the
(currently under siege from evil developers).
We somehow managed to eventually sell out of issue one and set about creating the follow up, with a growing editorial staff regaling under suitably punk rock names such as, Dai O'Rheea, Cess Pitt, Rick O'Shay, Mal Function.
Photos were supplied by 'slug' with the typing taken care of by the delightfully sounding 'Kath Arsegrinder.'
Once again, the fanzine was knocked out on a photocopier and stapled together at home, with the price rising to 20p in an attempt to offset a painful loss of £20 from our first venture.
Issue two looked a little more new wave-focussed, with the front cover offering even more Sex Pistols and features on The Adverts, XTC, The Pirates and Wire, but we hadn't managed to completely shake off those headshaking roots, with pieces on camp metal wailers Judas Priest and Brummie soft rockers City Boy.
In an attempt to lure punters we'd managed to secure discount vouchers for two albums and expanded the page count from 11 sides of single sided A4 to a positively generous 16 pages on double sided paper. We were going upmarket!
Sales were looking pretty good too, but by this time I'd already moved to London with my new wave/mod band Beggar and the other writers were busy with jobs, beer and girlfriends so it proved to be our last issue.
Several years later, I would return to the fanzine format and publish five issues of the Bluebird Jones football/political comic, which managed to earn the distinction of being the fastest selling Small Press comic in Britain for a while.
From there, it was only a relatively small step to jump over to the web to publish urban75 and take advantage of a publishing medium that lets you create and distribute work for next to nothing and reach a potential audience of millions.
Ain't the web brilliant?!
UPDATE: MAY 2016
Punk Rock fanzines exhibition at the British Library
British Library feature on 'Oh Cardiff - Up Yours!'.
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