Ben Is Dead
Ben is Dead was one of the more popular zines in the 1990's, launched October 31, 1988 by Darby Romeo and published through 1999. The name is said to have come from a dream Darby had about her ex-husband Ben.
Each issue of Ben is Dead had an theme, including revenge, depression and obsessions, and celebrity (the final issue). The content featured a wide variety of columns and stories and included contributions from famous zine writers like Lisa Carver and Vaginal Davis. Darby and the zine gained national attention through the Kill Zinesters Tour, which opened the doors of national distribution and created somewhat of a backlash to it within the zine community who saw the zine as getting a bit too big and too much national attention to be still called a zine.
A Ben is Dead book collection has been talked about for many years, but has yet to go to print. Retro Hell: Life in the '70s and '80s from Afros to Zotz, which collected Issues 25-27, was released in 1997.
No. 24: The Black Issue Interviews with Boyd Rice, Anton LaVey, Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Carcass, Pavement, Black Angel's Death Song; short interviews with the Beastie Boys and Gene Simmons; articles: "the Lovely and Wicked Lydia Lunch takes in a stray" (by Carla Bozulich); some rants, some reviews, other pieces by Nicole Panter and Falling James.
No. 25: Retro Hell, Part One The first installment in the Retro issues, includes articles on various retro obsessions: teen idols, hairstyles, Jonathan Paley, Cookbooks, paper games, cartoons, video games, hand games, John Hughes, waltz music, zoot suits, kiddie records, prog rock, etc., etc., etc... And, as if to flaunt the fact that they were on the top of the zine heap, feature interviews with Debbie Harry, Anton LaVey, John Lydon and Tom Jones!
No. 26: Retro Hell, Part Two
No. 27: Retro Hell, Part Three
No. 29: The Comics Issue The Comics Issue: Interview with Mr. T, Ron Turner (Last Gasp founder), Mike Diana, Adriane Tomine (Optic Nerve), Christine Shields (Blue Hole), Jhonen Vasquez (Johnny The Homicidal Maniac), Peter Bagge, Shonen Knife... short interviews with R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and Robert Williams. Comics by Fiona Smyth, Jim Woodring and Jim Blanchard.
Ben Is Dead is included in the Sophia Smith Zine Collection at Smith College and the Sarah and Jen Wolfe Zine Collection at The University of Iowa.