Loserdom is put together by Anto and Eugene, the Loser brothers. Loserdom covers such topics as Punk rock, D.I.Y., independent music, cycling and bikes, politics and anti-war sentiment. The zine has featured interviews with bands such as Fugazi, the Redneck Manifesto, The Ex, Mudhoney and Sebadoh and with people such as activist Ciaron O'Reilly, poet Saul Williams, musician Guy Picciotto and zinester P.A. of A New Clear Threat zine. It also features articles and comics of the Loser brothers adventures by Eugene.
Format and History
The first issue of Loserdom appeared in June 1996 as a freesheet. At this time in Dublin, Ireland, there were several monthly freesheets or small zines which included Gearhead Nation, Sl@nted @nd Ench@nted and React as well as bigger zines such as Nosebleed, Smegma, The Damage is Done, Non Plastique and Mind Riot. There was also a resurgence of the D.I.Y. punk gig collective, the Hope Collective, at that time. Loserdom was given out for free at these gigs and at record shops in Dublin.
The second issue of Loserdom was a split zine with another freesheet that was starting called “Why me?” and was a 20 page A5 fanzine with a cover. This was very much a cut and paste production. The editing of the Loserdom part was poor and often mistakes were only marked out in pen and still visible to the reader, whereas the part of the zine that was “Why me?” was edited much better. Some time later, the Carlow zinester Ciarán Walsh would say that this was one of the things that inspired him to start the first of his many zines, Scream as he felt he could do just as good if not better.
The third issue was released as a comic freesheet but was of poor quality. The format of Loserdom finally took shape with the fourth issue and that was of a cover, articles, interviews and reviews, as well as featuring comics by Eugene. For the first four issues around 100 copies were made and distributed mainly in Dublin.
From the fifth issue on the number of copies increased to 200 which was partly thanks to the fact that Carlow zinester Stephen Doyle, who had just started writing Scream fanzine with Ciarán, had access to a photocopier. The print run increased further to 300 issues thanks to one of Loserdom’s contributors, Jonathon, having access to a modern photocopier. The interviews and articles continued to evolve through the issues as Loserdom interviewed local bands such as Monkhouse and Cheapskate as well as well known bands such as Sebadoh, Citizen Fish and Mudhoney.
The zine was closely tied to the D.I.Y. punk gig scene in Dublin at the time and regularly featured interviews with Irish bands and bands touring Ireland, as well as reviewing their music. The zine also reviewed zines that were coming from and available in Ireland. With the ninth issue, Loserdom had no longer access to free photocopiers and due to the increasing size of the zine and the costs of photocopying it, Loserdom was no longer free. For the tenth issue on, there was a change in the zine in that there was no interviews done and the start of the cycling themes was beginning. Recycled paper was used from the tenth issue onwards.
The zine evolved to try to cover grassroots political actions around Ireland and abroad as well as the major theme of cycling which is in all recent issues ranging from describing cycling as comuting, to comics highlighting the danger of cycling in Dublin and Cork, the idea of a punk bike race or simply the loser brothers having a conversation while cycling.
After the tenth issue, Anto and Eugene decided to do their own separate zines for a few years. Eugene made five zines which had different names but for simplicity could be referred to with the name of the fifth one, The way of D.I.Y. Rocking, while Anto released three issues of Promise me skies. During this time, the theme of cycletouring as a way of travelling was written about in both Anto and Eugene’s zines.
Loserdom eleven appeared in April 2003 and was in the classic format which had been missing from the individual zines that Anto and Eugene had been doing. It was released just as the war in Iraq was starting and it reflected a lot of the anti war sentiment that was in Ireland at that time together with the horror that the bombs were already being dropped in Iraq. In addition, it featured a controversial comic about the true story of Dublin punks who went over to Denmark and stole bikes to do a cycletour around Denmark and Germany which was called “The Bicycle Thieves who wore Bike Punx badges”. It also featured a diary of a cycletour around Ireland to a big environmental festival the summer previously and an interview with Fugazi.
The twelfth issue of the zine was released in September 2004 and was dedicated to a former contributor who had just died at the time, Jonathon (mentioned above). This issue featured articles on Palestine, Fair trade foods, the anti war sentiment in Ireland and Bush’s visit to Ireland as well as zine reviews and comics. The main parts of this issue was an article by Anto investigating subcultures and a comic by Eugene called “Le Tour Punk.” In the article Anto interviewed several zinesters Willie of Non Plastique zine and Natalia of Sweet Olive who also were running an alternative book and zine shop called Red Ink and Niall McQuirk who used to write React and several other zines. The comic, “Le Tour Punk” was the fictional story of a punk bike race in the east of Ireland that featured well known punks and zinesters from in and around Dublin. The idea of the comic was to humorously put these people in the roles of competitive athletes who were all fighting for a specific winner’s punk patch to put on their clothes. This comic received a mixed reaction. At this time, Eugene was living in Cork (a small city in the south of Ireland) and found it impossible to sell zines outside of the small anarchist community there which led him to become disillusioned and less motivated about writing zines.
In October 2005, Loserdom 13 was released. This issue featured the first in a series of articles that chronicles the Early Irish Fanzines history, complete with reproductions of covers and descriptions of each zine as well as an interview with Saul Williams and a Loserdom top 5 Irish films. There was also zine reviews and comics by Eugene and Vinnie. In spring 2006, Anto did Loserdom 14 entirely on his own except for a few drawings by Eugene and a lino print that Eugene printed on the back cover of each copy of the zine. This was because Eugene was very busy in college. This continued the theme of Early Irish Fanzines with an interview with PA of A New Clear Threat zine as well as Anto’s diary of cycletouring around Ireland as well as zine reviews and comics by Anto and Vinnie.
In the summer of 2006 Anto, together with Carlow zinester Ciarán Walsh organised what was called “Zine Show – A celebration of Zines and Do-It-Yourself publishing in the form of an exhibition of zines/zine art (both Irish and international).” The exhibition was a collection of covers from the Forgotten Zine Archive, which is the home of an Irish zine library, which were displayed along the main wall of a Dublin bookstore, alongside a number of handouts and freesheets to take home. The opening event attempted to mirror the mixed-content, cut-and paste aesthetic of zines by presenting a range of activities from people involved in the local zine/underground scene which included readings by local zinesters and acoustic music.
Having moved to the Netherlands, Eugene felt inspired to draw and to do the zine again. Anto made a website archive of the zine. The issue to reflect these changes was Loserdom 15, which was released in December 2006 and marked the ten year anniversary issue which was 68 pages long. This issue featured interviews for example with the Redneck Manifesto – the members of which had been around the DIY independent punk scene since the zine began and contained a former zine writer – Richie of Fake zine. There was a diary of a cycletour around the west of Ireland and special contributors from old zinesters who were around when the zine started; Willie from Non Plastique, Boz from Nosebleed, Thomas from Paranoia Critica and Ciarán from Scream. It also had articles, zine reviews and came with a free badge. Just over 450 copies were made of this issue and it was produced on recycled paper.
Loserdom 16 was released in June 2007. Continuing with the lino printing that was used for the back cover of Loserdom 14, Eugene made four lino pictures for the front and back covers and the reverse sides of these pages. These lino cuts were printed just over 300 times each. For around 100 of these cover pages, pages from very old books which had texts in Dutch and German were used (and printed on using the carved lino pictures) in order to add some character and use a different form of recycled paper. This lino printing took several weeks to complete as it was done in the evenings. The issue was the biggest yet with 76 pages which was called ‘the interviews issue’ as it contained many interviews for example with Neil Turpin a prolific drummer of several independent DIY bands from Leeds in the UK who used to write the zine Little Spanner and Angus who used to write Smegma zine from 1986 to 1998 which is a part of the theme of Early Irish fanzines. There were also zine reviews and comics including several by Eugene on cycling in the Hoge Veluwe nature park, cycling in Amsterdam and a comic about the loser brothers trying to assess what Dublin punks eat, drink and weigh in relation to their risk of chronic diseases which was called the “Loserdom Punk Food Consumption Survey.”