“We will create our own media”: alternative and underground publishing in Iowa City

Exhibition curated at the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections
June-September 2013

The Iowa City zines, newspapers, fine press books, little magazines, comics, and artist’s publications in this exhibition represent the underground, the alternative, and the independent — the choice to produce one’s own textual culture. They represent an alternative history to our City of Literature.
These publications are produced by processes that vary in craft, complexity, and expense — letterpress, silkscreen, offset, mimeograph, photocopying, digital print-on-demand. Some are ephemeral and cheap, some are exquisitely hand-crafted. Some are produced to be sold, some traded or given away.
They present — and reproduce — radical, underrepresented, or unpopular ideas, local or esoteric interest, personal expression, or works of art. They vary widely in form, content, context, and motivation, but each publication shares at least one purpose: to speak for itself.

“I think it’s important that women use whatever equipment they have access to to produce what we need to produce, even though the result may not be the slick looking books of new york publishing houses.” – Introduction, Greasy Thumb Automechanic’s Manual for Women

“The Toothpaste Press began, in a sense, when Allan Kornblum helped collate an issue of Adventures in Poetry…looked around, and thought, “ I could do that”. Upon moving to Iowa City, Toothpaste Magazine was announced, manuscripts solicited, the issue mimeographed and stapled, and sold on the streets in August, 1970.” -grant application draft, Toothpaste/Coffeehouse Press Records

“instead of begging for the ‘coverage’ that the corporate media may or may not give us, we will create our own media. Thus, the Garlic Press is dedicated to presenting information and opinions that cannot be found in Iowa City’s mainstream media…The Garlic Press is committed to giving those oppressed and silenced an outlet.” – Garlic Press, Vol. 1 Issue 1, 2001

“it was as if we set out to make our own cultural world, furnishing it according to our fancy” -Lloyd Dunn, “Photostatic Magazine and the Rise of the Casual Publisher”

“I want to show how other people have used the media of zines to exist as artists. It’s a way of existing for me, a way for people to experience my work.”
-Bradley Adita, quoted in “Making the scene by making a zine” The Daily Iowan, 4/29/2002