Metal to the Core

February 1, 2016

Fanzines Part 2

by    Chris Forbes

My 1st issue came out December 1986. It was half size with 150 issues printed. I ended up selling/or passing them out at various shows. My 2nd 8 ½ by 11 issue came out a few months later with 200 copies printed at Staples and sold for mere dollar. With a couple issues out I started printing up flyers promoting my zine, the mail started coming in. Back in the day Bands that were around at the time only had demos (cassette tapes) were sending me in the hopes of being reviewed. I reviewed everything I received.

Fanzines from the US and overseas, would trade each other fanzines. Everybody made flyers back then of other bands and fanzines and spread them by mail. All interviews conducted would be through the mail. I would send a band questions and they would answer back and instead of being able to copy and paste like you can today, you had to actually type them out. The 1st couple issues were done on my dad’s typewriter and later a word processor which was 10 times better.

Chris Forbes with Gary Holt of Exodus/Slayer

I would make up a page of ads for my zine on one page and then make 1000’s of copies at work and spread them through the underground. I became pen pals with many bands over the years as I did my print zine from 1986 till 2000. The more issues I put out, the more mail I was getting. On top of getting demos, I started getting promos from labels such as Metal Blade, Noise, Earache. Combat, etc.

I totally had fun doing my zine and I never looked at it like a jobl. Of course you had bad bands and well as good and great bands I always tried to be fair with my reviews.

I loved getting other fanzines in the mail as it was a great way to discover new bands. If I saw a review in say a fanzine and I had never heard of the band I would write off a letter in the hopes of getting a demo. You did have some people pretending they were doing a zine, only trying to score free stuff.

Back then there were 100’s of fanzines and while some only lasted a few issues, it was a golden time in the underground that will never be seen again. When you actually to meet a band that you just wrote to was a humbling experience. Same with meeting a fanzine editor. Waiting for the mailman to bring you your mail everyday was also very fun back in the day.

Now as time went on I was able to sell ads to labels in my zine and since postage was not as bad as it is today I was actually not losing money putting out Metal Core.

Metal Core Issue 25

Now around the time of my issue # 23, fanzines were being more newsprint than just black and white paper. Some were even printing a few thousand copies and giving them away and making up the cost with ads. I decided with issue 25 to print 10,000 copies! I found a place in California that printed fanzines cheap, but you had to do 10,000 copies or more, I thought I would never get rid of them. Turns out it was no problem. There was a store in North Jersey called Vintage Vinyl which let me place a 1000 issues there. Was also able to place in many other locations & stores in Phila, PA. Hell I was able to unload another 500 or more at concerts so they were gone in under 6 months.

I did 5 more issues like that until issue 30 which was my last. Print fanzines were a dying breed and the internet was the way to go. I started up my own website (www.metalcorefanzine.com) which I still do today. I admit it is easier to do reviews and interviews these days, but I still miss the old days and I am glad I got to experience that whole era first hand.

See ya next month

 Chris Forbes

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