new frontiers (issue 6)

'Zine Scene

The first of the modern soccer fanzines appeared over 10 years ago (early 1980s), one sheet of paper, typed and folded over. Spelling corrections scribbled on.

Things have progressed a lot since. Personal computer, bubble jet (even laser) printing and desk top publishing are among the pre requisites for today's aspiring fanzine editor.

Days of sneaking a few photocopies at work are over as up and down the country, professional printing companies offer a high quality service. In Sheffield, Juma print a wide range of titles. In South Wales, Blue Print print over 60 titles including New Frontiers.

Since the Frank Ormston / Mick Kettlewell Terrace Talk first made its appearance things have certainly progressed. Indeed, Terrace Talk can take a lot of credit for what has happened since. It helped When Saturday Comes and its contemporary Off The Ball to get established and then provided start up guides and help to countless other club based fanzines around the country. While When Saturday Comes has flourished, sadly, Off The Ball fell by the wayside. However, its editorial staff went onto other things, important roles in the Football Supporters Association and Radio 5 journalism included.

Today, there are about 200 fanzine titles regularly published in Britain. The club fanzines sell anything from 50 to 10,000 copies per issue. Celtic's Not The View is probably the top selling club based fanzine. Size of club in no way can be a pointer to fanzine quality. Probably a lot more than 200 other titles have fallen by the wayside. When Saturday Comes, with its nationwide distribution into virtually every high street newsagent sells many more.

Up in Scotland, The Web, a Queens Park fanzine goes as far back as Terrace Talk. Bradford's City Gent is probably the best known (and one of the best) of all club fanzines.

Similar style fanzines have occasionally appeared over the last 40 years, these tended to be much smaller, generally club based, affairs that never sold outside their immediate publication area. Of course the exception was Foul which appeared between 1972 and 1976. The name was chosen as parody on titles such as Goal and Shoot! the glossy top selling weekly titles of the era. Produced by 2 Cambridge university graduates issue one was produced on the student union typewriter. It cost 54 to produce 1,000. Later, Tim Rice provided financial backing that helped circulation figures reach 12,000. Libel suits and lack of interest saw the final issue produced in October 1976.

Alongside the soccer fanzine has been the music fanzine. These can be dated back to 1976 and the punk rock revolution. In 1976 it was a case of if you wanted to read about punk rock then you had to write it yourself.

The father figure being Sniffin' Glue which first appeared in July 1976. Photocopied at work and sold outside gigs and the more trendy London markets it soon established a big reputation. However, it was not until issue 4 in October 1976 that the circulation figures reached 3 figures.

Taking its title from The Ramones song, the earliest issues featured the likes of The Ramones, The Flamin' Groovies, Television and Patti Smith. This was pre British punk. The autumn of 1976 saw the pages of Sniffin' Glue devoted to the likes of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned and their ilk. This was before any of them got a mention in the national music press. As well as the bands, many contributors got their break on Sniffin' Glue before moving on to the national press.

Mark Perry was the editor. Danny Baker was a contributor before joining the NME and going onto greater things.

As with the soccer fanzines, Sniffin' Glue gave birth to a whole range of other music fanzines. Today, they still flourish, but on a smaller scale than soccer fanzines. Probably due to the fact that they are much more insular, largely band based, and without the figure head that When Saturday Comes and Sportspages provides for soccer's fanzines.

Sportspages, the specialist sports' book shop has become a mecca for fanzines. Stocking many titles it provides a shop front for the fanzine world. The original London shop was joined by a Manchester branch last year and together they provide an excellent choice of reading for the dedicated fanzine reader.

In its hey day Sniffin' Glue sold 20,000 copies per issue and was read around the world. Founder Mark Perry put his editorial duties alongside his band Alternative TV until Sniffin' Glue ceased publication in August 1977 with issue 12. Perry was faced with a choice, go glossy or pack it up.

He packed it up. The final issue coming complete with a free flexi single of "Love Lies Limp" by Alternative TV.

Alternative TV continued after Sniffin' Glue finished. I remember them playing York's Pop Club in 1979, I missed it, I was at a work colleagues' leaving do. The band had a highly acclaimed career but without selling the amount of records they deserved to sell.

Perry ran his own record label, "Step Forward" which released early recordings by The Fall, Sham 69 and Chelsea.

They used to say old hippies never die. Well the same can be said about this old punk as Mark Perry has recently returned to the stage, performing poetry and singing with Loop Guru. Various Alternative TV recordings are due for (re-)release this year. A new album, "My Life As A Child Star" was released in the summer alongside a living album recorded in 1978. Other back catalogue albums will be released later this year.

2005 Footnote. The demise of New Frontiers heralded a downturn (no connection) in the fortunes of the fanzine. The radio phone in and rise of the internet replacing the printed word. New Frontiers is remembered as City's second longest fanzine and the recent demise of Ginner's Left Foot leaves a gap for some entrepreneur to fill the gap. To this day, the young fanzine editor goes on to be tomorrow's super hero. Kate Moss' latest squeeze, Pete Doherty started his artistic career as a QPR fanzine editor. His back copies now sell on the internet at 60 a copy.

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