Punk Planet was a 16,000 print run punk zine, based in Chicago, IL, that focused most of its energy on looking at punk subculture. In addition to covering music, Punk Planet also covered visual arts and a wide variety of progressive issues -- including media criticism, feminism, and labour issues. The most notable features in Punk Planet were the interviews and the album and zine reviews. The interviews generally ran two or three pages, and focused on the motivations of the artist (or organizer, activist, or whoever) being interviewed.
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The first issue was published in May of 1994 and was created in part as a response to the perception that Maximum Rock and Roll was becoming too elitist. Early issues of Punk Planet were said to be rough and clearly trying to emulate the format of Maximum Rock n Roll, however, the publication certainly developed into a force in its own right. It started as a newsprint punk fanzine that was originally published out of Hoboken, New Jersey but it featured a cleaner, more readable lay-out than many punk-oriented zines of that time. Regular columnists back in '95 included Sinker, Will Dandy, Kim Bae, Darren Cahr, Julia Cole, Jim Connell, Dave Hake, Larry Livermore, Joel McClemore, Slim Moon, Leah Ryan, and Jersey Beat zine's Jim Testa.
Punk Planet reviewed hundreds of underground zines and albums and each issue contained pages upon pages of such reviews. The zine contained left political writing together with its music journalism. Over the years, Punk Planet has dealt with issues of labor, race, gender and sexuality. It was, for example, a stalwart supporter of the anti-globalization and contemporary anti-war movements, and famously challenged the U.S.-led sanctions on Iraq. It has also been said that Punk Planet was a major force in the underground popularization of the "emo" subgenre of hardcore in the middle 1990's. It is said to have covered daring music – not just conventional punk, but any independent artist with a punk ethos. It also contained a fiction section. The zine is said to have retained a sense of community over the years in which the letters section sought to make reader active participants.
After the launching of its website, Punk Planet did not reprint its content online, choosing instead to focus on community interaction and breaking news of interest. Its editor and publisher, Dan Sinker, holds that freelance journalists should retain exclusive digital reprint rights for their work and the zine has discussed this including in a seminar held in November 2006 on intellectual property and copyright issues for independent publishers, artists, zine-makers and students. This was hoped to be a provocative and educational evening for publishers, freelancers, visual artists, zine-makers and students involved in the Chicago independent press community.
On June 18, 2007, an email was sent out to subscribers 30 minutes before a post at punkplanet.com informed the public that after 13 years and 80 issues, Punk Planet's final issue was being sent out. The reasoning pointed to "bad distribution deals, disappearing advertisers, and a decreasing audience of subscribers".
A few hours later, Alan Lastufka made a video eulogy, dedicated to Punk Planet co-editors Dan Sinker and Anne Elizabeth Moore. The video featured Alan, Dan Halligan, Mack (KungFuFlipperBaby on the PP forums), Kevin (KPunk on the PP forums) and M. Brianna Stallings. The video can be watched on YouTube. The Onion's AV Club also commented on its demise.
The Punk Planet website continued to be active for about 2 more years but has also since been shuttered.
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- Daniel Sinker - publisher, co-editor, art director
- Josh Hooten - associate editor, columnist, art director
- Joel Schalit - associate editor, columnist, books editor
- Anne Elizabeth Moore - associate publisher, co-editor
- Joe Meno - contributing editor
- Dave Hofer - reviews coordinator
- Laura Pearson - editorial associate
- Charlie Bertsch - contributing writer
- Jessica Hopper - columnist
- Al Burian - columnist
- Mimi Nguyen - columnist
- Sam McPheeters - columnist
- Kim Bae - columnist
- Lawrence Livermore - columnist
- Slim Moon - columnist
- Janelle Hessig - columnist
Notable Issue Topics/Subjects
- Issue 22 — first issue with full color, cardstock cover
- Issues 24, 46 and 67: Art & Design 1, 2, and 3 — theme issue
- For Issue 67, which was the third Art and Design themed issue, the zine covered known and unknown artists and designers working in and around the underground. Included were a poster and comic artist, a painter, a tattoo artist, a graphic designer, a love artist and a prolific designer. Articles included a Midnight street art run, DIY fashion, the art of mapmaking and a story about non profit art organisations that use E bay. The themed issue also contained three limited edition covers by contributing artists.
- Issue 30 and 60 which covered Iraq
- The cover of issue 30 had a bloody and bandaged foot with the writing “The murder of Iraq”. It was released in March/April 1999. As noted in the book We Owe You Nothing, this article generated the most mail the zine ever received. The article was a conversation with members of the humanitarian organization Voices in the Wilderness, which delivered medicine and supplies to Iraq in defiance of the economic embargo that was on at that time, and since the US led invasion of Iraq of 1991. Besides painting a grim picture of the death and hardship incurred by Iraqis as a result of the sanctions, the piece is moving in its conveyance of the dedication and sense of outrage that fuels Voices' efforts.
- Thirty three issues later, in issue 63 of 2004, Punk Planet again featured Iraq. In the five years between that issue and the 63rd issue, PP continually returned to Iraq, covering the rehabilitating sanctions, the leadup to war, and life during wartime, but the cover had always been about something else. In the 63rd issue which was a year and a half since Bush declared the war in Iraq as a “mission accomplished”, Punk Planet put Iraq back on the cover of the zine with the moving first-person story “Iraq: Live through this”. This featured the writing of a 24 year old Iraqi blooger and offered a glimpse into what the war had been like for an average Iraqi. Punk Planet were trying to bring new viewpoints to the situation in Iraq. In addition to the Iraq stories, the issue had articles on living with an eating disorder, a portrait of Latino artist Marcos Raya and a photo essay on illegal immigration.
- Issue 34 — first issue with perfect binding
- Issue 50 The Chicago Issue — theme issue
- Issues 55 and 75: The Revenge of Print 1 and 2 — theme issue
Punk Planet Books
As of August 2006, Punk Planet has printed 75 issues of their bi-monthly publication, and in the fall of 2004 launched a book publishing arm, Punk Planet Books, in conjunction with the New York-based small press Akashic Books.
- The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno (September 2006)
- 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels by Jay Ryan (November 2005)
- Lessons in Taxidermy by Bee Lavender (March 2005)
- All the Power: Revolution Without Illusion by Mark Andersen (September 2004)
- Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno (August 2004)
- We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, The Collected Interviews