Aaron Cometbus began creating zines with teenage friend Jesse Michaels in the 1980s. These early zines, now lost, lead to the publishing of Cometbus.
Aaron Cometbus' writing captures a slice of life in Oakland and Berkeley, California from the late 1980s through the 1990s. This includes squatting, collective living, falling in love and other perils of the punk rock lifestyle. His writing is characterized by stories of loneliness and alienation, tempered with episodes of brightness and perennial hope in the ability of humans to connect to one another.
One unique factor with Cometbus was more people bought it directly from the publisher than any other zine. Aaron's travels led him accross the U.S. where he'd meet zinesters, fans, and make many new fans selling his zine at shows, conventions, punk houses, parties, book stores and on the street to people he'd meet. In the 1990s he became a human connection between zine publishers in different cities and at conventions and on alt.zines it seemed every other zinester had an a story about meeting Aaron Cometbus.
Cometbus morphs with every issue - sometimes entirely contributor-based, sometimes short stories, sometimes tour diaries, a hitchhiking trip in Europe, sometimes focused on a single subject, lots of anecdotes based around living a fairly glamorized punk lifestyle, the history of the 924 Gilman Street Project has filled many issues, and one issue was even John Catrona's novel read onto a vinyl record.
Aaron Cometbus is also a notable musician who has performed and recorded with quite a few seminal bands including Crimpshrine; Pinhead Gunpowder which included Billie Joe Armstrong; Scooby Don't; Mundt; Redmund Shooting Stars; The Blank Fight; Cleveland Bound Death Sentence; Astrid Oto (featuring Cindy Crabb of Doris zine on vocals); Harbinger, including Robert Eggplant, editor of Absolutely Zippo zine on vocals, and many more.
Aaron is currently living in New York City - packing and shipping for Autonomedia Press. He still plays drums in an ever-growing and changing list of bands. After a few year hiatus with an uncertain future, he released Cometbus #50 in 2006, the 25th anniversary issue. It is a return to basics issue of sorts after issues like "Back to the Land" and one featuring The Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis were poorly received by his readers.
Selections from 48 issues of Cometbus have been collected into a single volume, titled Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus (Last Gasp of San Francisco; September 2002, ISBN 0867195614).
Double Duce (Last Gasp, 2003, ISBN 0-86719-586-X) is about Cometbus's life in a punk house called Double Duce, and collects material published in Cometbus 32, 35, 37, 38, 41, 43, and 45.
Chicago Stories (self published, 2004) is a small collection about Chicago, originally published in Cometbus issues 35, 37, 38, 41, and 45.
- Absolutely Zippo
- Maximum Rock N Roll
- Punk in my Vitamins?
- Tales Of Blarg
- Something For Nothing
- Anderson Valley Advertiser
- Thrasher Magazine
Cometbus' distinctive handwritten script can be seen in early Green Day album liner notes, the Jawbreaker collection "Etc.", and is emblematic of the decidedly lo-fi zine culture.