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DONT PANIC WE ARE FROM POLAND £1

POLISH PUNK ZINES. GRAPHIC PROCESSES AND DISTRIBUTION METHODS.


FROM THE AUTHOR The lo-fi aesthetics of punk were always more about originality and message than quality. Anyone who had somethi ng to say could participate rather than be just a consumer. The visual language that punk adopted, was a kind of mixture of agitprop and street culture; creating interesting new kinds of commun ication in terms of imagery and tonal voice. Fanzines in particular were an amazing platfor m for the visual part of punk culture. The authors used whatever material and equipm ent they could get hold of. They used office equipm ent and technology to create a visual languag e which differe d from other creative process es at the time. In Poland fanzines also became an important element of punk culture. The young people there, similar to their colleag ues in the UK or the US, adopted fanzines as a way to express themselves and as a tool of commun ication. Also the creative process didn’t differ much as some of the original solutions can be found. This work aspires to show a variety of creative process es in Polish punk zines, based on examples of three titles from three different Polish punk eras. Also the specific historical circumstances are describ ed to give a better understanding of the specific status of polish punk zines. This publication is the result of interviews with the authors of chosen titles which I made in Septemb er 2012 and some analysis of their zines. I hope you will find in this publication some interesting facts for yourselves. Enjoy!


CONTENTS

pic. Piotr Obal

04 METHODOLOGY 06 GABBA GABBA HEY! A few words about punk and zines 08 DON’T PANIC! WE ARE FROM POLAND Polish punk beginnings 10 THE BOREDOME OUSTED US TO THE CITY STREETS ’SZMATA’ case studies 14 CARNIVAL OF SOLIDARNOSC 16 ASK A POLICEMAN ‘QQRYQ’ case studies 22 FREEDOM AND PEACE ‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ case studies 28 PUNK’S NOT DEAD Conclusion 31 Bibliography


METHODOLOGY The preparation for this report started with research of British punk zines from the beginning of punk to some contemporary titles, to gain a general overview about the punk zine scene. The result of this activity, was a collection of information about graphic and binding techniques, visual language, printing methods and content. The used sources were LCC Library archive collection and online collections. The next step was to collect data to compliment a knowledge about fanzines, as holders of information and tools of communication for DIY punk culture. As a source to find out about the general motivation of the authors and how publishing a zine looks like the documentary film about US zines ‘100$ and a t-shirt’ was watched. To find information specifically about punk zines and their DIY aesthetics ‘Scissors and Glue’ by Teal Triggs was read, which is a collection of case studies of some punk zines from the first wave of the punk period. This reading helped with analysis of collected materials, and brought new facts to the research. To compliment the research about punk aesthetics and its influences and importance, an interview was made with Russell Bestley, an expert of punk visual language and coauthor of ‘The Art of Punk’ book. This interview helped to define important elements of punk aesthetics, especially those used in print. These activities established solid information about the visual language of punk culture. The next step was to research the Polish fan zine scene with a special focus on punk zines. The sources of information mostly were websites where a couple of articles and some case studies were found. One of the most interesting was ‘Underground press on a time of breakdown’ analysis on Polish punk and alternative culture zines by Bar-


tosz Glowacki. Also a few zine collections on-line were researched, such as zinelibrary.pl, especially their collection of zines. At this stage enough data had been collected and compared with earlier analysed info about punk aesthetic and fanzines, to establish criteria for the choice of titles for the case studies. To show the wide spectrum of visual techniques but also the different circumstances in politically changing Poland, the chosen titles were: ‘SZMATA’ as one of the first Polish punk zines, ‘QQRYQ’ as one of the most influential and representative of the second wave of Polish punk; and ‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ as one of the most original in terms of the graphic process and representative of next Polish punk wave. To collect necessary primary data from the source, the authors of the chosen zines were interviewed. In Warsaw Anna Dabrowska (Ada Lyons) and Stefan Mikulski (Mikes) from ‘SZMATA’ and Piotr Wierzbicki (Pietia) from ‘QQRYQ’, and also in Poznan, Grzegorz Kmita (Patyczak) from ‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ were subsequently interviewed. This report also attempted to find out what the very beginnings of Polish punk was like; in order to understand the content in more depth. Established facts were based on Mikes’s radio broadcast about punk beginning in Warsaw, collected information from Polish punk pioneers and two biographies recently published by two important figures from the Polish punk scene. The first one was ‘Crisis in Babylon’ by Robert Brylewski and the second one ‘It’s completely unbelievable’ by Pawel Rozwadowski. All further details and references can be found in the bibliography.


GABBA GABBA HEY! Despite it all starting in the US, British Punk completely influenced the wider European punk scene. It happened probably because youngsters across Europe were struggling with similar problems which were different from their colleagues in the US. “A definition of ‘punk’, along with its primary aesthetic elements, or ‘art’, is something particularly difficult to pin down. Even within the context of youth subcultures and popular music, punk occupies its own unique space-underground and commercial, antiauthoritarian and traditional, nihilistic and forward-looking; its breadth, depth, and diversity seem tailor-made to defy historical narrative.” (Bestley and Ogg 2012) The bands, fashion and graphics showed a strong will to create a new own culture which expressed the voice of youth rather than simply consuming what was offered by the media. Punk created new methods of direct action where everyone could be a creator. They showed alternative culture to the existing - DIY culture where skills often were replaced with courage and passion. Lack of knowledge often


caused discovery of new unknown possibilities and solutions as a result of breaking rules by people who were not aware of any rules. With its unique attitude to culture, punk spread very fast across the world and still expands. Punk in various countries was about the same – creating its very own culture, but it started for slightly different reasons and transformed differently under varied social and political circumstances; however it was always about the same concept ultimate independence. Fanzines very quickly became the perfect tool of communication for punk culture. As a self-publication, fanzines perfectly suited the DIY ethos and young people started to communicate through them, sharing information and documenting their movement. Very limited facilities (usually only paper and glue, plus access to a photocopier or another printing source) and limited knowledge, created a new, very recognisable form of aesthetic. “Yet, it remains within the subculture of punk music where the homemade, A4, stapled and

photocopied fanzines of the late 1970s fostered the ‘doit-yourself’ (DIY) production techniques of cut-n-paste letter forms, photocopied and collaged images, hand-scrawled and typewritten texts; to create a recognizable graphic design aesthetic. The employment of such techniques and technologies has had an impact on an overall idiosyncratic and distinctive visual style affiliated with punk fanzines.” (Triggs, 2006)

Although the authors of the zines used very similar techniques and tools, the individuality of styles is vast. We can also observe how some authors learnt from their experience and how their zines developed according to their growing knowledge of graphic design.


DON’T PANIC! WE ARE FROM POLAND. In the mid 70s in Poland, the government was still communist. Economic situation in the country was bad and the prices were rocketing. Even though the system at this time wasn’t as tough as several years earlier, the government continued to react with repressions, due to the strikes of the labourers. The communist party couldn’t be criticised as there was no freedom of speech and censorship controlled every aspect of life, such as public information, education and culture. It was a prevention censorship model which controlled information before bringing it to the public. Even performing artists had to provide their lyrics, so they could be censored before they were accepted to play at any gig. Life behind the iron curtain at this time wasn’t much fun especially for youngsters. In music, pop, jazz or art rock dominated and on television the entertainment was mainly ridiculous dancing shows. Poland was a place of absolute boredom. It was time for a change and therefore the perfect background for punk to begin. Punk in Poland started in various places in 1977 and 1978. At this time a few significant events occurred. In the middle of 1977, occasionally on Polish Radio Channel 3, DJ Marek Gaszynskiego in his show ‘Muzyczna Poczta UKF’ played a few tunes by Eddie and The Hot Rots, The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers. This broadcast was listened to by a few teenagers who already had formed a band playing rock music. Fascinated with this new music style which they didn’t even know the name of (the word ‘punk’ came to them a bit later), they made a decision to play such music. Those youngsters were Bogdan ‘Plexi’ Rzezniczak,


Maciej ‘Brunet’, Kolacz and Trupek, and their band was called The Trogs. As part of the International Art Festival ‘I am’, on 1st April 1978 the very first punk rock gig took place in Warsaw, in the student club ‘Remont’. The Raincoats from London performed. In the audience were Robert Brylewski, Tomek Lipinski and Maciej ‘Magura’ Goralski; in the future they were to become some of the most important people in the Polish punk scene. On the very same day, on Polish Radio Channel 3, DJ Wojciech Mann in his show introduced punk rock and played some tunes by The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers. This kind of music was played on the occasion of ‘Fools Day’. At this time in Poland there was censorship for music from the ‘Free World’ which made access to good music very limited. It was a bit easier on the coast, where sailors brought some records from abroad but in other parts of the country it was really difficult to get new tunes. Punk started independently in various places in Poland in 1977 and 1978. Around the middle of 1977 in Gdansk the band The Trogs (shortly afterwards they changed their name to Deadlock) changed to punk. In February 1978 Plexi and Brunet painted PUNK in huge black letters near Gdans-Zabianka railway station. In the same year in Ustrzyki, the hard rock band called KSU switched to punk. In autumn 1978 in Warsaw a band called The Boors started (shortly afterwards they changed their name to Kryzys (Crisis)) and this is roughly how the story of Polish punk began.


THE BOREDOM OUSTED US TO THE CITY STREETS. Similarly to western countries, Polish punk wasn’t the only music. As same as everywhere else, all aspects of this culture were involved. So, zines became a tool of communication between Polish punks too. Despite the fact that the first punk zines had similar legal status, like the samizdat publications printed by political opposition in Poland, their authors never cooperated in any way. Punks sympathised with the opposition movement to a point, as they also were fighting the system, however they were not interested in politics at all. One of the first Polish punk zines was SZMATA. In September 1979, high school teenagers Anna Dabrowska (Ada Lyons) and Stefan Mikulski (Mikes) influenced by some zines and musical magazines brought by the future Kryzys drummer Kamil Stoor (Blitz Krieg) from Sweden, coupled with a strong will to do something creative; they came up with an idea to make their own punk zine. The only graphic education they had was that from primary school art classes, but Ada was a photographer and had a camera, and Mikes’s mum promised to borrow a typewriter from her work (which was actually illegal). They also invited Julian Rokicki (Vex), who as a student of an engineering college had high technical drawing and calligraphy skills. The other participants were Jurek Woszczynski (Juras Zero) and


Tomek Wisniewski (Majonez) who made some translations from English publications and also Robert Brylewski who did some drawings for them. At first they designed the logo which was based on the flag image from the heading of the communist party main newspaper ‘Trybuna Ludu’ and named the zine ‘SZMATA’ which means ‘a rag’. They wanted the zine to inform about western (mostly British) bands and have some reports from gigs, festivals and reviews. They also didn’t forget about humour and on the last page they placed funny jokes about their friends written in the style of gossip about celebrities. When all the material for the first issue was collected, the design process started. As absolute amateurs they didn’t know any design rules. They only knew from their own observations about text columns and layout. The lack of skills and practice made any pattern too difficult to repeat. At first they started to design the layout. The first step was drawing on the blank boxes for photos. Then they typed, wrote the text using one finger mostly. If they made mistakes, they made corrections using Tippex. To those prepared pages Vex added some graphics and type using rapitograph pens. On the last page called ‘Vex Club’ all the type was hand written by him. The next step was to glue the pictures to appropriate places and the master pages were then ready to copy.


Printing the zine however was another task. In 1979 in Poland all the usage of printers, even photocopy machines were under strict control and any usage by any person who had permitted access, had to be noted in a special book where it had to be noted what materials were being printed and for what reason or purpose. The printers had built in copy counters, which made printing something extra difficult, but not impossible. They managed to print 30 copies of their very first punk zine. Even 30 copies only made over a hundred illegally printed pages on a Polish national lottery photocopier by Mikes’s dad, who then had to cover it up. If such activity had been discovered he would have lost his job at the very least. Because the printing was free they made the copies free of charge and dispensed the first issue between friends in ‘Remont’ (a student club). SZMATA became very popular between Warsaw punks and encouraged by their success, the authors published the second issue just over one month later. The first issue was dated September 1979, the second one had dates of October and November 1979 as if it was a double issue. They used exactly the same process as the first time and the same distribution methods; however this time a few copies were taken to Gdansk and given out to the local crew there. Despite

the small run of SZMATA those few copies were passed from hand to hand and the audience of this zine soon became vast. SZMATA zine finished soon due to a series of strange accidents that took place.

“As you know at that time (1979) Poland was under communist regime. From the very beginning of being punks, me, Kamil Stoor and Jurek Woszczynski we had constant troubles with our high school communist headmaster. She always had some issues about our appearance and attitude. We were so often called to her office for moral talks with series of tricky questions and the lectures of communist propaganda. Once I brought to the school a copy of SZMATA. I kept it in my school bag which I left as usual in the classroom for the break time. When I got back to the class the zine disappeared from my bag and then the big troubles started.” (Mikes, 2012).


Shortly afterwards, Militia officers knocked at Mikes’s and other two boys doors. They came to confirm the anonymous information about some activities against the state. Fortunately the officer was a thinking guy and after a short quiz at home and an explanation from the boys, he didn’t recognize the reported crime and closed the case. But it was not the end of their problems. Shortly before the graduation exams the boys were called to the headmaster’s office again, but this time individually with their parents. The headmaster had been given information that Mikes’s dad printed the zine and his mum lent him a typewriter which could have caused massive trouble for them.

“She had something for every one of our parents which was very scary at that time. Finally as a punishment I had pay back to the system by participating in a day of ‘party action’ which was unpaid work for a couple of hours which I would have done with pleasure because of one of the girls there I really liked.” (Mikes, 2012) The history of SZMATA clearly shows the creative attitude of young people at the time and the circumstances they grew up in. Despite all the troubles and chicanery (punks were often bitten or mentally abused by militia forces) the youngsters in Poland made their punk revolution and showed the forceful power of youth and free thinking.


CARNIVAL OF SOLIDARNOSC The first wave of Polish punk never achieved much commercial success as punk did in western countries. This happened for two reasons. Firstly, because punks in Poland never aspired to accomplish it. Secondly, because within communism, a free market and profit making were not the main goals; so not many people were interested in promoting such culture and music. Punks didn’t exist in the media. The record labels weren’t interested in recording punk music and not many bands at that time were ready for the studio. The first era of Polish punk finished, when NSZZ Solidarnosc started a sixteen month period of a kind of freedom from the communist regime, called ‘carnival of Solidarnosc’. Many of the bands split or were looking for a new members. It happened because many punks had to focus on their high school exams (Matura), and some of them used the gap in the system and migrated to the western countries via West Berlin. Musicians started to experiment with music and search for new sounds. In addition to this, about mid 1981 some new bands created more aggressive sounds, and this led to the end of Polish punk in its original form. 1980 in Poland became a time for change. The economical situation of the country became very bad and strikes of unsatisfied labours spread across the country. The government tried to resolve this dramatic situation and


on 31 August, as a result of talks with delegations of striking workers, agreement was signed for the introduction of independent trade unions. Shortly after NSZZ Solidarnosc was established and hope for improvement sparkled. The ‘carnival of Solidarnosc’ started and the life of Poles changed. The changes also effected what was happening within the culture and the music industries. Gigs of bands associated with punk culture were organized by cultural institutions and

bands were paid. They started to make professional studio recordings and sporadically appeared in the mass media. This was due to the passing of the Censoring Act in Summer 1981, forced by public demand. Unfortunately this situation lasted for only sixteen months. Solidarnosc from the very beginning was very unwanted by the communist state and on the 13th December 1981, with the beginning of martial law, it was delegalized and all the improvements were gone. The Censorship Act and other achievements were suspended and as a result the situation in the country became tougher, with much stronger repressions from the regime and limited and irregular food supplies. This situation lasted for over a year and on 31 December 1982 martial law was suspended and it finally finished on 22 July 1983.


punk hailed again to the DIY idea of fashion, publishing, music recording and distribution. Influenced with the second wave of Polish punk Piotr ‘Pietia’ Wierzbicki in 1985 started one of the most significant punk zines in Poland - QQRYQ. Pietia as a youngster had writing aspirations. He wrote poetry, stories and tales and some of them were published in magazines ‘Fikcje i fakty’ and ‘Na Przelaj’. Pieta’s punk crew was a group of forward thinking youths with a creative attitude. They were fed up with people who thought punk was only about getpunk Polish of ting drunk, sniffing glue, causThe second wave ing violence and getting into a became more deep-rooted in its gig for free. Highly influenced underground character as a rewith the band Crass and their DIY sult of evolving under martial the when 1982 attitude, Pietia made a decision law. In spring to make a zine which would not communist government gave back only inform readers about the permission to organize musipunk scene in Poland cal events; punk had established messound, and abroad, but also educate peoa completely new ple about important sage and appearance. issues such as femiIt was much rougher, nism or animal rights. dirtier and aggresHis visual knowlaspect. sive in every edge of punk zines was In the summer punk mostly based on zines bands made a very from western countries strong appearance to which he started at Jarocin Festito get access in about val where a few punk 1983. Most of the bands performed. The zines belonged to Robnumber of punk bands from punk band Dezevery Matera increased ert at this festival erter whose brother Zbyszek was year and in 1984 the festival was Pietia’s best mate. He got the completely dominated with punk zines from correspondence with bands and became known as a punk Polish of wave punks from foreign countries. festival. This

ASK A POLICEMAN


Earlier, even before Pietia became a punk he read SZMATA and a few other Polish zines which were passed from hand to hand in his high school. The zines from western countries he knew, were not very visual but contained lots of informative content about punk music and culture. About the same time, making kinds of Dadaistic collages was a popular activity which youngsters practiced, and Pietia also created some of them, which was a very useful skill for later on when he started to design his zine. Impressed with punk zines from the free world, Pietia wanted his zine to be different from the other zines at this time in Poland. He wanted his zine to inform about punk bands in Poland and from around the world; with publicism and educational elements. One of the sources of the content were western fanzines (especially ‘Maximum Rocknroll’) which Pietia received as a result of exchanging with punks and bands from abroad. This form of international exchange of information and music was very popular between punks, as they were really interested in what was happening in music on the other side of iron curtain. Another important source was correspondence with bands and punks

from other Polish cities regarding music and events in their area. There were also Pietia’s friends Darek ‘Stasiek’ Stewula, Zbyszek Matera and Darek ‘Kwiatek’ Kwiatkowski, who were writing reviews, making interviews and drawing illustrations. When in 1985 Pietia started to produce the very first number of QQRYQ, he had some awareness about text columns and layout but ignored them. The design was based on his enthusiasm rather than any rules, which resulted in a quite chaotic layout. The most important

element for the author at this time was to keep the text easy to read with an appropriate font size and amount of the text on the page. “At this time I was so ignorant. I only focused on the text to make it readable and didn’t care if the columns were crooked at all. But later on I did.” (Pietia, 2012)


With the basic tools like scissors, glue, newspapers and mags as a source of imagery and a type writer, which his mum owned, he started to design the first edition of his very own zine. The only graphic skills he had at the time was collage making and type writing, but it was enough to produce templates of the pages for the first edition of QQRYQ. To prepare the master pages, he worked in a very similar way as SZMATA did, and I presume the majority of zine makers at this time did. At first Pietia placed images on the pages and then tailored the space with the

text by hand or by typewriter. With the master pages prepared for copying Pietia tried to find a place to print the zine. Because censorship still existed (it finished in 1990) and the special services still invigilated the information, nobody wanted to print such suspicious material. After an unsuccessful search for a printing place in Warsaw, Pietia finally met a guy from Lodz who promised to print some copies. It never happened. At the end Pietia lost contact with this man and lost all the master pages too. He never got them back. Not discouraged at all with the complete loss of the first issue, Pietia soon prepared a


second one, but this time with help from a friend and he managed to print six copies of his zine. To print issue 3 of QQRYQ Pietia used the same personal connections and one of his friends managed to print 50 copies of the zine using office equipment from his working place. Before printing issue 4 of the zine, Pietia found a man who worked in the Student Union’s photocopy service, and on the side he made some extra money by printing private stuff. He charged a regular price and never asked any questions. When finally Pietia managed to print No 4, this time over a hundred copies, he faced another challenge - arranging the pages together into zine and stapling them together - it was quite a job.

“Often it was like this, I took a case of beer and with a couple friends we sat down and for hours put the pages together. Also stapling wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t buy anywhere a stapler with an arm long enough to bind the pages on a spin. Finally after more than a year of searching I bought one in a graphic shop. It has an arm long enough to staple A3 pages in the middle to make an A4 zine. But the quality of the staplers was very poor and we used about 6 or 7 of them for every issue. When in 1988 we were allowed to travel to the western countries and the communist regime gave us passports, on my first trip to West Berlin, my first stop was a graphics shop to buy some good quality staplers; but unfortunately they were to expensive.” (Pietia, 2012).


Because of these difficulties of stapling the pages, each issue was bound differently and some were not stapled at all. QQRYQ became a very influential fan zine in a very short time. Passed from hand to hand, it became very well known and appreciated because of its content. QQRYQ increased their run and from No4 to No7 the run was between 150 and 400 copies. The run for numbers 8 and 9 increased to 500. In 1988 Stasiek organized cheap screen-printing and number 10 was printed using that technique. Because of the lower price for the same budget more copies could be printed, so, No10 had a run of 1000 copies. Unfortunately screen printing wasn’t a very fortunate medium for zine printing additionally the people who printed No10 shortly afterwards sold their screens and stopped printing. Pietia got back to printing his zine on a photocopier which after 1988, when communism was ending and there was no more censorship, printing was no longer a problem, except for the expense of it.

Therefore Pietia had to print the zine using his similar connections like the guy from the Student Union. The run of QQRYQ at this time was about 800 copies. It is very difficult to estimate the exact number of copies, because so often extra

copies were printed or printing was in parts because of money matters. In summer 1989, for the first time QQRYQ was printed by an offset printer. Issue 13 was the first one printed in this medium and it continued to No18; the last issue of QQRYQ, with a run of about 1500 copies. Also the size of the zine changed to B5 dictated by the printing technique. Pietia designed all the numbers by himself, except for double issue No16/17 where Stasiek participated and the last issue was designed by Sta-


siek only. Pietia used the same process of master pages making through many years, but after a while he started thinking more about the layout to achieve a more organised appearance of the pages. We can observe how a very chaotic layout at the beginning transformed into very organized pages later on. From issue 14, Pietia started to use a computer for QQRYQ design, but as a typewriter only. The very last issue was designed using a computer and its various functions. Despite QQRYQ being published over several years and under different circumstances; the distribution methods were the same all the time. The most common and best form of distribution was selling it at gigs and festivals. The other way was selling through colporteurs (other punks). But this method had a disadvantage which was the money settlement. Fortunately most of those people were into DIY culture and they had other products (musical tapes, records, zines etc.) for exchange as a payment. The last method of distribution was by post. Despite the address for correspondence being revealed for the first time in No15, QQRYQ was sold in this manner much earlier. People organized a way to

access Pietia’s address. After censorship ended, the last two issues were also sold by a few music shops. The price of the zine was calculated to cover the costs of production. It was a tendency to keep the price of zines or music as cheap as possible and therefore more available to a wider audience. When in 1989 Poland became freed from communist rule, QQRYQ legalized its position also as a music label and an event organizer ‘Qqryq Productions’. Before its end in 1999 Qqryq Productions released several dozen punk albums (especially HC punk).


FREEDOM AND PEACE

Another way of communication adopted by punks in Poland was graffiti. Writings on the wall were deeply originated in Polish resistance since the Second World War, when Poles painted massive images such as swastikas hung on a gallows or the letter P on an anchor, a symbol of Polish resistance. This form of opposition was also very popular during all of the communist period where comments about the regime and anti-soviet slogans were painted. Punks also adopted this form of street art to accent their voice on the walls of the cities.

Political and social revolution was also influenced Polish punk. It started splitting into different directions in music and ideology. Some punks were involved in politics, ecology and freedom actions. They used the opportunity to present their opinions to a wider audience and bring more impact to their world. This was reflected rapidly with graffiti on the walls. Graffiti works at this time were mostly stencil ones but free forms were also observed. One of the punks making graffiti was Grzegorz ‘Patyczak’ Kmita. Graffiti works, especially the stencil ones, intrigued Patyczak as he always desired to make them himself, and learnt this skill at the earliest opportunity. As a punk Patyczak travelled a lot through the country and everywhere he travelled, he painted with his stencils. He very quickly became fascinated with his graffiti making and gained a vast knowledge of the subject which he then wanted to share. As a person with a good recognition of the Polish punk scene, he knew there was no zines about graffiti. He couldn’t find any graffiti zines abroad either, so he made a decision to make one himself. He had undertaken a massive amount of research about punk zines because at the time (1989/90) in Poland there was a real zine madness with a couple of hundred titles available. In addition he had access to punk zines from abroad due to exchanging with foreign punks.


but Patyczak wanted his zine to be more connected with the subject visually, and also by the medium. Like most of the zines authors, Patyczak didn’t have any graphic design background, only the knowledge from his own observations as a zine reader. But it didn’t stop him creating something very unusual and unique which was never repeated (except once by himself). He decided his zine was going to be a kind of manual for other and future graffiti artists. There was no content about music. The fan zine contained instructions, basic but detailed, for example how to make stencils and how to use them, to more advanced instructions of how to cut a stencil from a photo image and create somebody’s portrait. There were also very useful tips on how to regenerate a spray tin. (At this time graffiti artists in Poland mostly used rollers to print their stencils because spray paint was very expensive and hardly available.) There were also some arti-

cles about graffiti. One was about the adventure of a graffiti crew from Lodz, which was a reprint of article from another zine. The other was an article discouraging graffiti makers from sending their works to ‘Na Przelaj’ magazine for youngsters. The young management of this magazine in the late 80s started introducing alternative cultures like punk or new wave. However these authors didn’t have bad intentions and so it was treated by punks as s ‘scout alternative’, controlled by government, and therefore they didn’t want to participate. ‘Na Przelaj’ was criticized in QQRYQ zine for the same reason. The zine also contained two lyrics of songs about graffiti. One was ‘Moje Miasto’ (my city) by one man band Brudne Dzieci Sida (dirty kids of Sid) which Patyczak was the only member, and ‘Napis’ (writing) by band Kolaboranci. In the middle was a mini poster on both sides covered with images of graffiti from Poznan walls, where Patyczak was studying for his de-


gree at the time. In addition every copy contained a little booklet with Cortasar’s tale ‘Graffiti’, which was printed in the same way as the zine. The graphic process Patyczak used to produce his zine was absolutely unique. The paper he used was taken from A5 school notebooks, and for the cover he used sheets from drawing pads for kids. At first he prepared pages for print, painting them with various colours using watercolours and sponge rollers. Additionally on one of the pages the author made his own handprint. Onto this prepared background he printed text. To print the text Patyczak used an unusual technique, a kind of screen printing.

“The print was made in the kitchen of ‘Zbyszko’ a student house, using an archaic technique, called ‘ramka’ (a frame). It was a primitive version of screen-printing, a frame with mesh stretched on it. The best was the original screen-printing mesh, but it was difficult to get, so instead a nylon flag or curtain from a train carriage were often used because of their meshy structure. The next step was to prepare the text for printing. The text was typewritten on special heavily waxedpaper (same like for mimeographs - auth.) so that the typewriter cut through the paper creating a kind of stencil. The prepared text stencil was attached from the bottom of the frame with stretched mesh and using a squeegee, the text was printed page by page, until the waxed paper stencil was worn out. Because of the poor quality of Polish waxed paper, it was only strong enough to print about 300 copies. There was better waxed paper found in well known Pelikan, but it was very expensive and impossible to buy anywhere. So I used Polish or Chinese waxed papers, which after printing a couple of hundred copies were loosing their quality, which made the printing on some parts of the latter printed pages very poor and sometimes impossible to read, so sometimes I had to made a corrections with a pen.” (Patyczak 2012)


Because such a technique of printing allowed only text to be printed, the illustrations had to be printed separately. Patyczak used stencils and a roller to print some illustrations, and also printed some of them on a photocopier; cutting them out and gluing them by hand into each copy of the zine. It was a massive job but Patyczak managed to do this with a little help from about 30 of his friends, which cost him many complimentary copies. But there were other more unusual solutions used to produce this zine. The cover was printed in three colours using a roller and similar stencils like the ones used for the walls. At the bottom of the front cover, the date and the price is written individually on every copy by hand using a coloured pencil. Moreover the hand cut stamps were also used. The only part made in the traditional way was the earlier mentioned mini poster. For this part the author prepared the master pages with scissors and glue and then photocopied them. To prepare the photographs for the zine,

Patyczak’s friends who owned a darkroom, helped him to process the photos and taught him this skill. It was the only professional support he got. The author of the whole concept and content (except the reprint and one of the lyrics) of ‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ was Patyczak and the most help he got from others, was manual but not conceptual support.


Patyczak printed his zine in spring 1990 with run of 333. He sold all the copies almost immediately and was a bit surprised but also very encouraged with the popularity of a zine with such content. A few months later he printed 222 extra copies. For the second run he had to prepare text stencils again and repeat all the processes. The production of ‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ involved a lot of work but the author priced still on the same level of cost as a photocopied zine.

pic. Przemyslaw Nowak

“‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ was mostly distributed by exchange with other creative people for stuff they produced, but also on occasions Patyczak was selling some copies by himself. “I had many friends who were distributing punk zines and music. At that time there was not a very large number of punk, hard core and alternative community people, so we roughly knew each other and all the distributions were based on exchange, e.g. I give you 10 copies of the zine I made and you give me 5 copies of the album (on cassette usually) you released. I don’t remember selling that many by myself. Mostly I was giving the distributors 10 or 20 copies and they were selling them at gigs or through their networks” (Patyczak, 2012)


‘Nie daj sie zlapac’ is an unique, 100% handmade zine where every copy is slightly different as a result of the creative processes applied. Every copy is actually an original as there are no two copies the same. The author has shown an extremely impressive visual outcome with very interesting and useful content. Because of the way this zine was created, copying it is unachievable.


PUNK’S NOT DEAD In its beginning, Punk in Poland was like an island of independence surrounded by a communist regime. The young people created their own culture and didn’t care about the adult world soaked with politics. Punks were colourful, young, enthusiastic and absolutely crazy in comparison with the greyness covering Poland at the time. Punks were like from another planet and didn’t suit being governed by a communist system with their concept of being average. For so many commoners it was extremely difficult to accept and tolerate such an attitude and they reacted with aggression. Probably caused by this difficult situation, punks created very strong bonds, supported each other and built arguably the most interesting subculture purely by themselves, without any support from outside i.e. cultural organisations, music promoters or record labels. They established their own homemade record labels, their own fashion style, their own press (zines) and distribution methods. Because of the illegal status of fanzines, the distribution of them wasn’t simple, but on the other hand it was easy to sell them as they were a very desired product, as the only source of information about punk. The most popular method of distribution at that time was to exchange them with other creative people for merchandise they produced and resell or swap items for other things. It was not a very big group of people in Polish punk culture, who created something, not only consumed, but almost everyone knew one another. There were many people who produced zines, music tapes etc. and had many of them from exchanging with others and they distributed them through a network of customers they organized. However this method was very slow because firstly the customer had to send a letter to the distributor attaching a stamped addressed envelope in order to receive a catalogue. Then the customer had to send another letter with their order. Next the distributor sent the ordered items and the customer paid the postman for it when it


was delivered. The post office then sent the money to the distributor. Ufff.... A much easier method was to sell the zines and other merchandise at gigs or festivals. In the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, punk gigs of the Polish scene were organized across the country quite often, however bands from abroad didn’t play there very regularly. When they did play it was for one or two gigs only. So, if a well known band such as UK SUBS or ‘No Means No’ came to play in Poland, punks from the whole country travelled to see them, which was a great opportunity to meet many people and exchange or sell merchandise. Punk zines in Poland had a very important role. As a kind of independent press, they wrote not only about punk music but also often about taboo issues such as anarchism, feminism and ecology. They created a stream of independent information gained and distributed by youngsters for youngsters; representing completely different lifestyles than the ones imposed by the commoners. Even having such an important status didn’t allowed punk zines aesthetics to influence main stream culture. Punk in Poland still has a very underground status, probably even more than before. Despite the punk revolution in Poland being very similar to that in the UK for example, Polish punk never achieved much commercial success. Even after communism when punk music started to appear in the mass media and major record labels started to release punk music; it didn’t change the situation much. Nowadays, probably in every punk band the members have to do something else in life to support themselves financially. Punk in Poland is a kind of niche with its own very independent status. It has kind of returned to its position similar to when it was under the communist regime. There is no punk in the mainstream media anymore, because this is now flooded with pop music as it sells more advertising and is therefore more lucrative.


Thanx to: Ada Lyons, Catherine Smith, Isabella Turner, Jola ‘Bajerka’ Paluszek, Leila Kassir, Mikes, Patyczak, Pietia, Plexi, Robert Brylewski, Russell Bestley, Tina Snowdon, Yarecki + family


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bestley R. and Ogg A., 2012. The art of punk. London: Omnibus Press. Brylewski R., 2012. Kryzys w Babilonie. Krakow: Wydawnictwo Literackie. Dabrowska A. and Mikulski S., 2012. SZMATA, the graphic process and distribution methods. Interviewed by Neil ven der Knutsen [audio recording] Warsaw, 08 September 2012. Kmita G., 2012. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Nie daj sie zlapacâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, the graphic process and distribution methods. Interviewed by Neil ven der Knutsen [audio recording] Poznan, 13 September 2012. Rozwadowski P., 2012. To zupelnie nieprawdopodobne. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. Schneck M., 2011. Trzeci obieg Piotra Wierzbickiego [online] Available at: < http://www.zinelibrary.pl/index. php?option=com_content&view=article&id=185:trzeci-obieg-piotra SZMATA part 1, 2012. [Radio programme] Pawarota Radio, www.pawarota.listen2myradio.com, 08 May 2012, 20.30 Triggs T., 2006. Scissors and glue. [pdf] Available at: < http:// www.rsu-design.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/punk_fanzines. pdf> [Accessed 7 July 2012]. Wierzbicki P., 2012. QQRYQ, the graphic process and distribution methods. Interviewed by Neil ven der Knutsen [audio recording] Warsaw, 07 September 2012.


LONDON 2013

Don't panic! We are from Poland  

Polish punk zines. Graphic processes and Distribution methods.

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