Cover of Snarl zine (Fall 1988) published in Madison, Wisconsin, USA
As the third installment featuring documentation of a huge mailing we received from Borderline Grafix in Texas, we are pleased to present excerpts from a rare 1980s zine movement artifact. Smile is one of the better known mail-art network zines from that era and Snarl, released in the Fall of 1988, is one of the fascinating variants. Borderline Grafix managed to obtain a complete issue, which he kindly shared with us.
Much of the content of this issue of Snarl is dense essays that take an anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-sexist and anti-consumerist stance. The spirit of Bob Black’s The Abolition of Work is much in evidence. Snarl reflects the dominant (leftist, radical, anarchist) ideology that permeated the zines; but it is much more academic and pointedly political than the majority of its post-punk counterparts. We would venture to guess it was connected to (graduate) students at the University of Wisconsin. The true identity of the authors is obscured, giving the impression of collective writing. Plagiarism was much in vogue then as well. Snarl does include reviews (above) which appeared in many zines and helped build the network.
While text-heavy, Snarl does offer some good examples of zine art.
Of special interest to us in this issue of Snarl is an emphasis on the Karen Eliot multiple-user identity so central to Neoism, which by 1988 had reached a peak and was slipping into a decline, at least of its first iteration.
Karen Eliot is very erudite in Snarl.
And even more, helped by some artwork…
A punky back cover:
Many thanks to Borderline Grafix in Austin, Texas for sharing this lost classic with us!