Self-published fanzines were an important, almost synonymous aspect of the punk subculture. The influential trailblazers were Punk (in NYC) and Sniffin’ Glue (in London). On the west coast, 1977 saw the birth of Search & Destroy (San Francisco), Slash and Flipside (LA), Twisted (Seattle), and Vancouver’s own SnotRag.
SnotRag was created by Steve Taylor (a.k.a. Steve Trevor) and Don Betts who had been reading about punk in the UK music papers that were available in Vancouver from import record shops. In November 1977 they published the debut issue of SnotRag. Steve supplied the photos in the early period and his wife Wil handled layout & design. After the Skulls moved to Toronto at the end of 1977, SnotRag almost single-handedly kept alive the illusion of a punk “scene” in Vancouver. From 1978-1979, as new bands proliferated, SnotRag documented the creative expansion of the Vancouver scene. Soon, Grant McDonagh (a coworker with Don Betts at Quintessence Records) and his sister Lynn (a photographer) joined the SnotRag staff. Articles came from Stephen Macklam, Phil Smith, and various Quintessence staffers. SnotRag produced 19 issues and stopped publishing in late 1979.
Vancouver’s other early punk publication was Public Enemy, a newsprint tabloid launched later in 1978 by staffers from the Georgia Straight (including Bob Mercer and Ken Lester, among others), roughly modeled on New York Rocker and the British music weeklies. Public Enemy had a rocky relationship with the Vancouver punk scene. It was never really a fanzine at all; it occupied an uncomfortable middle-ground. They were criticized for giving too much coverage to out-of-town bands (they rarely featured local bands on the cover), and were resented for being too critical of local bands. Nevertheless, P.E. featured plenty of local coverage, reviews, and great photos (including early contributions from Bev Davies). P.E. produced six issues, ending in late 1979.
After the demise of SnotRag and Public Enemy there was a fallow period. Skitzoid published seven issues from 1979-1980. Vacant Lot (by Brent Taylor) published a couple of issues. Other zines included Dolt, Law N Order, Opposition, Bazooka Comics (by Bob Montgomery), Fotopunk (by Eric Foto), and Bev Davies’s Punk Rock Calendars in 1980 and ’81. The next GREAT Vancouver fanzine, however, was Idle Thoughts, launched in late 1979 by Len Morgan, a teenager from suburban North Delta. Len was one of the first Vancouverites to hook into the international fanzine and cassette trading network that accompanied the punk/hardcore subculture into the early eighties. From 1980 to 1984 Len exposed his readers to the next wave of punk, hardcore and post-punk bands that would dominate the following decade, keeping readers connected to the international subculture. In the late eighties, Len (a bass player) co-founded Oversoul 7, who released a full length album. Tragically, on April 30, 1993 Len Morgan died in a motorcycle accident in Bangkok. He was 26.